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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Alternative therapies for cancer

reiki"Complementary" and "alternative" are words used for a wide range of healthcare therapies and products outside of mainstream conventional medicine. People who have cancer often look at these options for a variety of reasons. They can help you deal with the emotional and physical impacts of the disease and the side effects of its treatments.

When making decisions about any of these options, it's important that you're fully informed and seek the advice of your doctor.

If you're already taking complementary products, it's important to tell your medical team. This is because your treatment may suppress your immune system, making some complementary medicines, such as raw or powdered products, unsafe. Some complementary products may also affect how your treatment works.

Examples of complementary therapies include Rongoā Māori, relaxation therapy, yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, reiki, music therapy, tai chi and massage therapy.

Advice on nutrition

Eating nutritious food will help keep you as well as possible during treatment. There are no special foods, diets or vitamin supplements that have been scientifically proven to cure cancer or stop it from coming back.

Many alternative diets, especially those that cut out food groups such as meat or dairy products, may not give you the nutrition (especially protein) that you need. As a result, you might lose weight and become very tired. These diets could also damage your immunity.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2021.

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