From the day after diagnosis, through treatment and life after cancer, complementary or holistic therapies can be used to ease symptoms, promote well-being and make life that little bit easier for patients affected by this life-changing disease.
Whilst holistic therapies should not be used as an alternative to traditional cancer treatments, there is much research to suggest that these therapies can provide vital mental and physical support for patients. In particular, complementary therapies may help to ease symptoms such as stress, anxiety, nausea, tiredness, pain and digestive issues.
What is a complementary therapy?
Unlike more traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, complementary therapies work by fortifying and supporting the bodies natural immune system. Some therapies are physical, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, nutritional therapy and yoga. Whilst others, such as hypnotherapy and counselling focus on the mind and mental well-being of patients.
Here at Rowan House we offer a variety of holistic and complementary treatments, many of which can help improve the daily lives of people suffering from cancer and other life-changing illnesses.
Yoga is an ancient practice and has been used for centuries to improve strength, promote flexibility and aid relaxation. According to Cancer Research UK, many patients say that regular yoga helps them to cope better with their cancer treatment. Others reported that gentle yoga helped to reduce many of the side effects of cancer, including physical pain, tiredness, and depression.
We caught up with Yoga Instructor Julie Burrows to find out more:
“Yoga is a such a wonderful therapy, not just for cancer patients, but for anyone living with a long term health condition. It’s easy to become isolated when you’re unwell, you lock yourself away, which can eventually lead to depression. Yoga offers the opportunity to connect with yourself and others too. There is no judgement in yoga, so it doesn’t matter what size you are, whether you’ve lost your hair or if you wear support bandages, everyone is welcome.
There are three big benefits of yoga. First, the gentle, stretching movements can help release blockages and aid the flow of energy round the body. This creates a wonderful feeling of warmth and well-being. Second, the calm, breath work we do gives you the opportunity to really zone out of the world, reconnect with your body and calm your mind. Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, getting out of the house, facing the world and being part of a supportive group is such an emotional booster. Even if you can’t do all the poses, just being there, absorbing the positive energy from others in the room can help lift your mood and remind you that you’re not alone.”
Would you like to join one of our yoga classes? Take a look at our class timetable to find a class to suit you.
Massage therapy can be a wonderful way to ease the symptoms of cancer, but it’s best used with care. Before you book a massage check with your GP that whether it’s an appropriate treatment. Patients with lymphedema may need a more specialised treatment, and it’s generally advised to avoid massaging areas of your body that have been treated with radio therapy.
If it’s safe to proceed then you’re in for a treat! We asked Shasta Waters, a Holistic Massage Therapist to share her thoughts:
“The rollercoaster of emotions that come with your illness are such a huge ballgame and it’s here that massage can make such a difference. The mood enhancing benefits of massage are very powerful, especially when combined with the effects of essential oils. Orange Blossom is one of my favourites, it’s such an uplifting scent and may help to boost a patients mood or even lift depression.
I’ve seen the benefits of massage therapy first hand. I spent a year nursing my mother through cancer, giving her a daily back and shoulder massage. It really eased her pain levels, aided her digestive system and gave her that warm ‘cared for’ feeling.”
To book a massage with one of our experienced therapists call the clinic on: 01603 813999
It’s common knowledge that a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats is good for our health. This is particularly important when it comes to cancer and your body often comes in for a battering from conventional treatments. Eating the right foods is one of the simplest and quickest ways you can support your body and boost your immune system naturally.
Of course your cancer or cancer treatment may make it difficult for you to eat and drink properly or to retain essential nutrients. For this reason a dietary supplement might also be beneficial.
Nutritional Therapist Catherine Jeans shares her top tips:
“I see many clients who have been given a cancer diagnosis or have just finished treatment, and they often want support on finding the right diet for them to support their health, now and into the future. When it comes to cancer fighting foods, it’s important to remember that balance is key. The aim being to eat as healthy as you can most of the time and not punish yourself for indulging in an occasional treat or two.
Pack your diet full of a rainbow of different coloured vegetables, particularly dark green leafy vegetables. Beans and pulses are a great source of plant based protein, iron and B Vitamins (tinned or dried are both fine). Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel or sardines deliver a tasty dose of polyunsaturated omega 3 fats, which are highly anti-inflammatory. Finally, a daily handful of seeds will also help to boost your zinc and magnesium levels.”
To book a consultation with Catherine call the clinic or email her directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Chinese medicine, it is believed that vital energy, called qi (pronounced “chee”), flows through 20 pathways, or meridians in our bodies, which are connected by acupuncture points. In acupuncture, sterile, hair-thin needles are inserted into specific acupuncture points on the skin and can be effective in relieving fatigue, nausea and pain. Several studies have shown that acupuncture can be extremely effective, making it a worthwhile investment for cancer patients looking for a more natural alternative to traditional painkillers. Acupunturist Nicola Rycroft tells us more:
“Traditional acupuncture is relaxing and nurturing. It can be very beneficial to help deal with any stress and anxiety when coping with a cancer diagnosis, as well as dealing with any physical side effects of conventional treatment. People seek treatment for help with hot flushes, pain relief, poor appetite and nausea. Nicola believes that acupuncture shouldn’t be too invasive, particularly at the time when someone’s energy is fragile. Instead the body is nourished and balanced through gentle needling techniques and the use of moxibustion (a heating herb).”
Book an acupuncture session with one of our experienced practitioners by calling the clinic on: 01603 813999