Complementary And Alternative Medicine For Myeloma

Many people with cancer use complementary and alternative medicine to ease their symptoms and treatment side effects. Complementary therapies can improve your overall quality of life and give you a greater sense of control over your own health.

What is Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Myeloma?

Complementary and alternative medicine refers to non-traditional medical treatment that is used either in complement with, or as an alternative to, traditional Western medical practices. No alternative cancer treatment method has provided a cure for cancer, so complementary therapies are best used as a supplement, not a substitute for your regular treatment regimen.

People choose to use complementary and alternative medicine for a number of reasons. Complementary therapies:

  • Are typically noninvasive
  • Improve your physical and emotional well-being
  • May be effective for individuals with treatment-resistant cancer
  • May reduce your need for medication
  • Provide relief of a number of myeloma symptoms and treatment side effects.

Myeloma Alternative Treatment: Acupuncture

Acupuncture may relieve feelings of nausea associated with chemotherapy. It may also reduce pain and alleviate stress and depression. However, acupuncture may be unsafe if you’re taking medication that increases your risk of bleeding. Talk to your doctor before trying acupuncture as an alternative cancer treatment.

Aromatherapy as a Complementary Therapy

Aromatherapy is the use of fragrant oils to improve your mood and relieve anxiety. Different oils produce different results so you should visit a naturopathic doctor who can recommend the right oils for you.

You can apply oils directly to your skin or dilute them in bath water. Aromatherapy candles often produce the same calming effect. Candles may be preferable if you’re receiving radiation treatment, as the oils can make your skin more sensitive.

Biofeedback and Relaxation Therapies

Biofeedback is a multiple myeloma alternative treatment that teaches you to control certain functions in your body. During a biofeedback session, electrical sensors monitor the physiological state of your body. You receive this information in cues, such as a beeping sound. For example, the sensors may locate an area of muscle tension that is responsible for tension headaches. As you learn to exercise control over your body, you’ll experience pain relief, relaxation and stress reduction.

Other relaxation techniques include:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Music therapy
  • Tai chi
  • Yoga.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can be an effective alternative cancer treatment for fatigue, pain and stress. Talk to your doctor before receiving massage therapy, as a vigorous massage could damage fragile bones. Doctors recommend that you forego massage therapy if your blood counts are low.

Are Complementary Therapies Effective?

Although alternative cancer treatment is not yet a widely researched topic, evidence does suggest that the complementary therapies outlined in this article offer some benefit to individuals with cancer. Use of alternative cancer treatment is growing in popularity and most oncologists are comfortable with their patients’ use of such therapies. However, you should talk to your doctor before you consider any type of complementary and alternative medicine for myeloma.

Resources

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2010). Alternative cancer treatments: 11 alternative treatments to consider. Retrieved October 12, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cancer-treatment/CM00002

Myeloma Canada. (2010). Complementary therapies: Non-medical care. Retrieved October 12, 2010, from http://www.myelomacanada.ca/en/complementary.htm

National Cancer Institute. (2005). Thinking about complementary and alternative medicine: A guide for people with cancer. Retrieved October 12, 2010, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/cam/thinking-about-CAM/page1

Rheingold, S. R. (n.d.). Complementary and alternative medicine: A brief synopsis for patients. Retrieved October 12, 2010, from http://www.oncolink.org/treatment/article.cfm?c=4&s=19&id=52