8 Natural Options to Relieve Cancer-Related Pain
Pain can be a severe symptom of cancer. Of those who suffer from cancer, "Many have so much pain that they need sedating doses of narcotics. And they are often too tired to get up and move around; they spend most of the day sitting or even in bed," researcher Timothy C. Birdsall, MD, vice president for integrative medicine at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, IL reports to WebMD. Fortunately, a number of natural pain-relief options exist.
Various supplements may help to relieve pain naturally, but check with your doctor to find the proper dosages and safety information.
Cancer patients often receive treatment in the form of chemotherapy and/or radiation, which have been known to destroy cancerous cells. Unfortunately, these harsh treatments can also destroy healthy cells and deplete your body of energy and vital nutrients. Not only do nutritional supplements -- vitamins -- help restore vital nutrients to your body, they also have been shown to reduce cancer-related pain.
MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) -- MSM is a nutritional supplement that occurs naturally in plants, animals, and the human body. It has been shown to relieve pain and muscle spasms, improve circulation, and reduce autoimmune diseases. Evidence shows that when MSM is combined with DMG and SAMe, metabolic pathways are created that aid in cancer prevention.
Start with a low dosage of MSM (to avoid gastrointestinal upset) and gradually increase consumption over two to three weeks. MSM should be divided up and taken with meals, or in lotion form rubbed over the area of concern. Patients take anywhere from 2 to 60 grams per day. Talk to your doctor in order to find the dosage that works for you.
Vitamin C -- Healthy tissue is formed when healthy cells are bound together with collagen. Cancer cells spread by destroying the collagen that binds the healthy cells together. Vitamin C has been found to rebuild this collagen, which slows and prevents the growth of tumors. Slowing the growth of cancer is an indirect way of reducing cancer-related pain.
Consult your doctor before taking high doses of vitamin C. People have been known to take 50 -- 60 grams every day. Diarrhea is a sign that you've taken too much and vitamin C consumption should be reduced, but abruptly stopping the high doses of vitamin C can lead to scurvy and an increased susceptibility to cancer. So vitamin C consumption should be reduced gradually over several days.
Vitamin B17 -- Vitamin B17 can be thought of as a natural form of chemotherapy. Cancerous cells create unhealthy amounts of the enzyme betaglucoronidase. This enzyme breaks down vitamin B17 into two helpful components. It creates the painkiller benzaldehyde, and also the poison cyanide, which kills cancerous cells, while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
Although B17 is cheap and readily available overseas, it is more expensive and more difficult to find in the U.S. because of the politics involved when it comes to large drug companies wanting people to purchase their patented drugs. Talk to your doctor, herbalist, or pharmacist about where to find B17 in pill form.
The good news is that B17 is found in a number of foods, such as barley, bitter almonds, garbanzo beans, wheat grass, lentils, flaxseed, and in the seeds of apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, and plums. To treat cancer, consuming a few seeds each day might be recommended (50-60 seeds a day). To prevent cancer, consume several seeds, bitter almonds, garbanzo beans -- whichever you prefer -- each day.
Salts of Cesium, Rubidium, and Potassium -- A study conducted by a Dr. Keith Brewer on high pH therapy for cancer elicited promising results. Over the period of several weeks, not only did tumor masses disappear, but "all pains and effects associated with cancer disappeared within 12 to 36 hrs."
The salts raise the pH in cancer cells, which ultimately destroys the cells. The presence of these salts in your body neutralize the acidic toxins that are released from the cancerous tissue, rendering them nontoxic.
Each day patients ingested 3-6 grams of cesium chloride or rubidium chloride paired with 2-4 grams of potassium chloride and other nutritional supplements. The doses were divided up and given at meal time.
Biofeedback therapy teaches you to learn to control bodily functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, muscle relaxation, etc. through the use of a device that detects very small physical changes. The device alerts you to these changes with easily-identifiable signals. Over time people can learn to calm themselves and control their body's reaction to pain, stress, anxiety, etc.
A 2005 report from the American Cancer Society notes that biofeedback may be able to ease pain and "improve the quality of life" for some cancer patients. Certified biofeedback therapists can teach patients this treatment method. With practice patients can ultimately perform this method on their own.
Hypnosis is a process of deep relaxation/intense concentration that utilizes the power of suggestion to help people change how they perceive pain. A hypnotherapist will give simple suggestions to help you experience the pain in an alternate way. The same can be done for stress and anxiety.
Findings published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management showed that children who were hypnotized in trials reported significantly less cancer-related pain (as well as anxiety and distress) than those who were not.
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4 & 5. Aromatherapy & Massage
Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that is used to affect a person's mood or health through the use of essential oils (volatile liquid plant materials) and other aromatic compounds from plants.
Massage therapy promotes relaxation and relief of muscle tension, aches, stress, etc., through kneading of the skin, muscles, and tendons.
Especially when used together, aromatherapy, particularly utilizing chamomile essential oil, and massage therapy have been shown to alleviate pain in cancer patients.
A randomized study in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews observed the effects of massage with or without chamomile essential oil on cancer patients. Pain was decreased most significantly through the use of massage with the chamomile oil.
Massage should be avoided by people with a low blood count, and for those with osteoporosis, bone-related cancer, or other bone diseases, make sure that the massage therapist only applies a light pressure.
Massage promotes relaxation and relief of muscle tension and stress, which helps to relieve pain.
The ancient Chinese healing technique of acupuncture is another way of relieving pain by controlling the pain sensations of various parts of your body. This is done by inserting very fine needles into the specific points on the body that are related to the areas of the body feeling pain.
Findings from a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (Vol. 21, No. 22: 4120-4126) showed that ear acupuncture therapy reduced pain by 36% in participants with advanced-stage cancer.
"It's important that the acupuncturist should have experience working with patients who have cancer, or at least experience working with patients in the hospital," advises Lily Zhang, MS, who manages the acupuncture program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. "The acupuncturist should have a close relationship with the oncologist so if there are any concerns, the acupuncturist can communicate it to the doctor right away."
Anyone taking blood thinners or having a low blood count should know that acupuncture is not safe for them. It's a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning any new treatment.
Meditation is a state of deep concentration and mental control where you use relaxation techniques, deep breathing, etc. to help focus on one image, thought, or idea. According to information given by Moores Cancer Center of the University of California, San Diego Medical Center, meditation may decrease pain and stress in cancer patients by calming the mind and relaxing the body.
8. Music Therapy
Music therapy is the use of musical intervention, such as listening, making music, song writing, or improvising with instruments in order to reach a person's therapeutic goals. Scientific data supports the idea that music therapy occupies neurotransmitters that would otherwise be used to send pain messages to the brain, thus decreasing your perception of pain, according to information from the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.
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Alkalize for Health. Twelve Ways to Reduce Cancer Pain. September 2008.
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