Alternative Therapy  Blessing or Curse? Finding out that one has cancer can be emotionally devastating for them. Some people learn to live with their condition while others take their time to make adjustments – it’s not an easy process for sure. Different people have different minds, and thus different ways of dealing with their condition. One of the things often talked about in cancer communities is an alternative therapy, also known fully as complementary and alternative therapy. It’s a debate that has no end unless a decision from the authorities sides 100% with one of the options. Even then there is no guaranty that the debate will come to an end.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

The common treatments for cancer patients are Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. All of these methods have their side effects. People would opt for alternative therapies alongside these treatments to overcome the side effects. Some people would even go to the extent of completely avoiding standard cancer treatments (as listed above) and choose alternative therapies instead.

What Type of Treatments Does Alternative Therapy Involve?

Alternative therapy does not refer to a particular type of treatment. It may involve a particular practice, supplements of some kind, herbal medicines, a complete system, lifestyle changes, etc. Your doctors will never tell you about any of those therapies. Some alternative therapies are done using hypnosis and some using old Chinese methods such as acupuncture. Detoxification of the body might be suitable for body cleansing. Sometimes the therapy requires you to eat certain foods and avoid some. Treatment providers can be professionals with proper education or with no education.

Sometimes, an alternative therapy constitutes nothing but the use of some herbal medicine promoted through an infomercial on TV. They can be cheap or costly. Costly ones might even require you to go to a foreign country for the duration of the treatment.

Why Do Cancer Patients Pick Alternative Therapies?

First of all, not all cancer patients opt for them – hence the debate. Even the ones who do opt for alternative therapies have different reasons for doing so. Here are some of the common reasons why they choose these therapies alongside or instead of standard cancer treatments.

  • They just don’t like having too many medicines. These medicines are prescribed by their doctors to fight the side effects of standard cancer therapies.
  • They want to opt for a treatment that “apparently” sounds more convenient, less hassling and less painful.
  • The patients want to be in control of their treatments and want to pick one that benefits them.
  • They might have a conflict of belief, i.e., they have more support for alternative methods than mainstream medicine.

The motivation to go for such treatments lies in the fact that these treatments often ask patients to use their bodies as powerhouses and the pure energies of the nature to fix the problem. To some, it’s just more appealing to be closer to nature and use their bodies for their benefits.

Are There Risks Involved with Alternative Therapies?

There are definite risks associated with complementary and alternative therapies. Here are some of the prominent ones.

  • Since they are not approved methods, the results can go in completely unexpected directions.
  • Some people don’t offer any treatments. They are rather offering gimmicks only to make money.
  • Some people end up picking alternative therapies over standard treatments. If these methods don’t work, they might have gone past the phase where standard procedures work for treatment. What it means is that by the time these people return to standard treatments, these treatments might not be able to help at all too.


There is no verdict favoring only one side. People on the opposing sides of the argument need to find the midway. Researches on the effectiveness of alternative therapies have also yielded mixed results. While some clinical trials have shown that a chemotherapy treatment might become less effective after the use of St. John’s Wort herb, others have revealed positive effects of acupuncture in relieving pain and treatment associated vomiting and nausea.

However, completely rejecting the mainstream methods is not wise at all. You have two different solutions and shutting off one does not make sense. Try a budget-friendly alternative therapy alongside your standard cancer treatment and continue if it works. If it does not, you still have the standard options available.

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