Alternative treatments for cancer

  • Health Insurance

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

A cancer diagnosis can be life-changing. It can throw your life out of balance and may cause you to pause for a while. But the only way out of this illness is through it. So, it is important to seek medical assistance and decide on the right kind of treatment for cancer early on. Targeted treatment can eliminate most kinds of cancers we have today.

But more often than not, patients diagnosed with the disease may want to try any kind of treatment that could help them. This includes alternative and complementary treatments that may not have as much scientific backing as modern medical treatments for cancer.

Nevertheless, although these complementary and alternative treatments for cancer have not been proven to cure the disease, some of them can give a bit of relief to cancer patients. So, let's take a closer look at the top alternative therapies that cancer patients tend to rely on.

Alternative treatments for cancer

Alternative medicine is a term that refers to any method of treatment that is not primary, allopathic medicine. Generally, these alternative methods are not strong enough to treat or cure cancers the way modern medicine does. However, when used in a complementary manner, these alt therapies can help you relax and can put you at ease during your cancer treatment.

Here are some such alternative therapies that may be useful during cancer treatment.

  • Acupuncture

    Acupuncture is the practice of stimulating certain specific pressure points with the help of thin needles. This pressure may cause small changes in the body's connective tissue, leading to some positive changes in the brain's electrical activity and in the release of serotonin. Studies show that acupuncture could help with some symptoms of chemotherapy, such as nausea and pain.

    If you are planning to try this alternative treatment, make sure you take these precautionary steps.

    • Get the treatment done by a licensed acupuncture practitioner.
    • Ensure that the needles used are sterile.
    • Avoid using this treatment if you are on blood thinners or if you have a low blood count.

    For some people, the related therapy of acupressure may be a more ideal choice. This practice involves applying mild pressure to some areas with the hand rather than with needles.

  • Yoga

    Yoga is the practice of stretching the body and taking on different poses that either relax, strengthen or do both. You may already be familiar with the practice of yoga. If you have been practicing yoga even before the cancer diagnosis, ask your doctor if it is safe for you to continue doing so.

    Yoga can help in many ways. Here are some of the top benefits of yoga for cancer patients.

    • Reduces pain
    • Minimizes fatigue
    • Improves the quality of sleep
    • Regulates the body's stress hormones
    • Decreases inflammation in the body
    • Improves mood and helps you relax

    These benefits may all prove to be useful when you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, both of which may have some severe side effects. However, ensure that your yoga instructor has had experience teaching yoga to cancer patients before you begin this alternative therapy. And make sure you avoid poses that cause you pain.

  • Massages

    A massage involves pressing and kneading the skin, muscles, nerves and tendons in the body to relieve stress and tension, and to help you relax in the process. There are different kinds of massages. Some are gentler, while others like the deep tissue massage may be more intense. When done right, a massage can relieve pain, anxiety and stress - all in one go.

    There is also a special kind of massage for people with cancer, known as an oncology massage. It involves light and gentle movements with a slow and steady rhythm. This has the effect of relaxing the central nervous system.

    If you opt for an oncology massage, make sure that you approach a massage therapist who is trained in this particular kind of massage therapy. This is because trained oncology massage professionals have experience dealing with lymphadenopathy, which is a common side effect in cancer treatments. They also know how to work around tubes, ports and other medical equipment.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

    CBT is a kind of psychological treatment that can help deal with anxiety and depression, among other things. While it cannot help cure cancer, it can certainly be useful for patients who have been just diagnosed with cancer or are undergoing treatment for the same.

    This can be a stressful period for both the patient as well as their family. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can prove to be useful in managing the stress levels and in navigating the psychological aspects of cancer care. It may even help with sleep disorders that the patient may develop out of anxiety.

  • Aromatherapy

    Aromatherapy is another alternative treatment option that cancer patients may want to explore. This branch of therapy involves the use of fragrant oils that each have certain specific benefits. Here is a list of some common oils used in aromatherapy, and the positive effects they may have on the body and mind.

    Essential oil

    Uses and benefits

    Lavender oil

    Calms the mind and induces sleep

    Bergamot oil

    Heals the skin and reduces anxiety

    Chamomile oil

    Helps with cold, fevers and nausea

    Eucalyptus oil

    Relieves pain topically and acts as a decongestant

    Frankincense oil

    Enhances the mood and reduces stress


    These oils can be used via a diffuser or can be used as a part of massage therapy. However, some oils like tea tree oil and lavender oil can be counterproductive for people with estrogen-sensitive cancers like breast cancer.

Are alternative treatments for cancer covered by insurance?

Insurers have historically been hesitant to cover the costs of alternative medicine because of the lack of concrete scientific evidence. However, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India issued a regulation in 2012-13, wherein it advised insurance companies to cover the cost of treatment via alternative and non-allopathic methods.

Still, it is always a good idea to check the terms and conditions of your life insurance plan or your health insurance plan to see what is covered and what is excluded. Alternatively, if you want more flexibility with regard to your coverage, you can opt for a cancer insurance plan.

A cancer plan is a special kind of insurance that offers financial protection in case of a cancer diagnosis. Generally, both minor and major stage cancers are covered in cancer insurance plans.

Take the case of the ABSLI Cancer Shield Plan. It offers coverage for both minor and major stage cancers diagnosed during the policy term. Depending on the stage of the illness, the policyholder will receive an upfront lump sum payment or a monthly income. These funds can then be used by the policyholder to pay for the cost of cancer treatment via allopathic and alternative methods of treatment.

Conclusion

Bear in mind that alternative therapies are just that - alternative. Many of them may not have been scientifically proven to cure cancer. Many of them may offer relief and help you relax during your treatment. But it is always best to consult with your primary care physician and check if you can make use of these complementary treatments. Unsupervised usage may cause more harm than good.

ABSLI Cancer Shield Plan(UIN: 109N103V03) is a traditional non participating health insurance plan
ADV/5/22-23/334

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