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Natural Awakenings San Diego

Cancer Diagnosis?: Holistic Therapies Can Really Help

Jul 31, 2013 10:45AM ● By Susan Silberstein

Patients treated for cancer often suffer from long-term compromised immune function, low blood cell counts, lack of appetite, poor energy, weight loss, digestive disturbances, pain, anxiety and depression. Besides these side effects, they often develop recurrence or another cancer. Perhaps the most pressing issue they face is quality of life, or lack thereof. According to a 2012 study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, millions of U.S. cancer survivors experience lower-than-normal physical and/or mental quality of life. Patients who are not candidates for, have failed on, or refuse conventional oncologic treatment seek other therapeutic options. Approximately 83 percent of persons with cancer use at least one complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modality. 

CAM therapies can help to minimize the side effects of conventional treatments, support immune function, interfere with tumor growth, stimulate cancer cell death, reduce anxiety, stress and pain, enhance energy, improve nutritional status, support the body after treatment has ended, restore hormone balance, detoxify and repair damaged organs, extend survival, and prevent recurrence. Little can go wrong with a program that focuses on nutritional, immunological and psychological healing.

Diet and Nutrition

Tens of thousands of articles have been published in hundreds of biomedical journals documenting the scientific relationships between diet and cancer survival. Some researchers have found over 20 times increased lifespan among cancer patients supported by proper nutrition.  Eating a high fiber, heavily plant-based diet (especially the cabbage family), lowering total fat intake, improving omega-3 to omega-6 ratios, reducing animal protein, and eliminating refined carbohydrates can help fight cancer in at least a dozen different ways.

Herbal Therapy

The use of herbs in cancer therapy has been an integral part of traditional Asian and Native American medicine for centuries. Herbal treatments, directed by a trained herbalist, can activate immune cells, stimulate circulation, improve digestion, support kidney function, detoxify and regenerate the liver, relieve lymphatic congestion, improve glandular function, and stimulate elimination.

Mind-Body Work

Findings in the field of Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) have been applied to cancer treatment in three basis areas: relaxation and guided imagery, support groups, and counseling and psychotherapy. Thousands of studies have shown that stress management techniques, better communication and coping skills, and resolving emotional trauma can help enhance immune function, improve quality of life, increase survival time, and even reverse disease.

Other wonderful approaches for cancer patients include acupuncture, homeopathy, reiki, massage, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, hypnosis, aromatherapy, colon hydrotherapy, and sauna. These and other holistic therapies offer empowering ways to significantly improve patients’ quality of life, risk for recurrence, and survival.

Susan Silberstein, PhD, is the founder of in Richboro, PA. provides research-based education on how to prevent, cope with and beat cancer through diet, lifestyle and other immune-boosting approaches. The Center offers, on a donation basis, individualized coaching to help clients explore holistic, complementary and alternative treatment options.

Resources: Silberstein, Kitchen Chemotherapy, 2011; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, Oct. 30, 2012.