There are many ways of healing and maintaining health. Modern western medicine is just one of them and although there is probably a lot more research into drugs and other treatments than in other approaches, that doesn’t mean that other ways can’t help. In China acupuncture is widely used alongside modern medicine and in some cases it is used instead of anaesthetic during operations. Certainly there are ways we can complement the medical treatment we are having and help boost our life energy.
There are contacts listed for most of these and of course its important to check out that the fees are realistic, practitioners qualifications, experience, membership of professional body and insurance.
Cancer BACKUP produce a useful free booklet on Complementary and Alternative Therapies. I have found them to be very helpful.
Revitalising our energy.
“In Eastern philosophies energy systems are seen as a reflection of the universe and are influenced by diet, climate and environment plus mental and spiritual attitudes.
Chi (in China), ki (in Japan) and prana (in India) are words for energy. Hence rei ki is universal energy.
Chi (also known as qi) is the Chinese term for “vital energy” and enters the body through the air we breathe and the food we eat. Poor, unclean air and poor breathing habits such as shallow breathing result in imbalance and thus illness.
Chi flows through the body along a network of channels, the meridians. There are 12 major ones, most linking to an organ in the body. Yang energy comes from the sun and flows down the body, yin comes from the earth and flows up the body.
If a person is unhealthy the energy flow is uneven, disturbed or even blocked. Most of the effective methods of revitalising energy come from Eastern philosophies.” (an excerpt from Everything you Need to Know to Help you Beat Cancer by Chris Woollams.)
The other goal of most complementary therapies is to help induce relaxation.
Relaxation is the first step towards normalisation and it is when the body is relaxed and resting that many of the healing and regenerative processes take place.
This ancient system of healing works directly on energy (chi) flowing throughout the body in channels called meridians. If this energy is blocked or out of balance symptoms of dis-ease will usually show up. An acupuncturist will diagnose any blockages or imbalances in a number of ways including, asking detailed questions, checking various pulses, looking at your tongue. They will then treat it by inserting very tiny, thin needles to regulate the energy flow as necessary. Having experienced this many times I can testify that I have hardly felt anything. If you don’t like needles they can often use acupressure instead.
This approach incorporates many aspects of homeopathic medicine and some traditional forms of herbal medicine. It has evolved several new forms of therapy - e.g. artistic therapies, rhythmical massage, hydrotherapy, eurythmy and spatial dynamics. These are prescribed as appropriate and help to strengthen the patient on all levels.
Viscum Album (Misletoe)
Over the last 70 years anthroposophical doctors have been working on the development of medicines prepared from mistletoe (Viscum Album). The use of Viscum forms the backbone of medical care given to cancer sufferers at Park Attwood. Viscum has been shown to stimulate and strengthen the immunological defence systems and thereby support the body in fighting the effects of cancer. Its main support is a significant improvement in the quality of life, addressing problems such as nausea, digestive weakness, weight loss, sleeplessness, depression and concurrent viral infections. Viscum can also contribute to a reduction in pain. It is best given in conjunction with conventional medication, though this can be an option for patients who decline conventional medication. Co-operation is sought with the responsible oncologists and general practitioners.
The Park Attwood Clinic is a non-business charity providing affordable medical care.
Park Attwood has cared for many patients suffering the effects of cancer, on an in-patient basis, over the last 24 years and in recent years has extended its service to include an out-patient clinic. A 14 bed nursing home, Park Attwood is based within orthodox medicine and extends beyond this with a range of complementary medicines and therapies arising out of Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophical medicine. These are available within the NHS, but not yet widely.
Park Attwood Clinic Trimpley Lane, Bewdley, Worcestershire DY12 1RE
Tel. 01299 861444 Fax 01299 861375 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
“Excellent herbs had our fathers of old,
Excellent herbs to ease their pain,
Alexandrers and Marigold,
Eyebright, Orris, and Elecampane.” Rudyard Kipling
In the course of thousands of years the healing properties of plants must have gradually been discovered. Aromatherapy belongs to the realm of natural therapeutics. The essences of certain plants are associated with particular illnesses or problems. Some are well known for their medicinal properties e.g. lavender for calming, eucalyptus for clearing blocked noses, peppermint for indigestion, etc.
There are a number of ways of using essential oils including steam inhalation, bathing, massage. There are some excellent books that will help you decide which oils to buy and how to use them to best effect. Some oils recommended for cancer by Robert Tisserand in The Art of Aromatherapy are Cedarwood, Cypress, Eucalyptus (Geranium and Bergamot for Uterine cancer).
This may well be available through your GP or hospital. hopefully you will have been given information.
There are currently no legal requirements for counsellors to be qualified but it is unlikely that any employed by the NHS would not be bona fide. Most counsellors will have received adequate training and experience. You can always ask them about their qualifications or training, insurance, membership of professional body and what supervision they get.
Talking to trained, independent professionals can be crucial as we go through the ups and downs of diagnosis, treatment and then living in the shadow of cancer afterwards.
Cranial osteopaths use the chakras and the line of the back bone to balance energy along the body. They look for blockage which can be linked to skeletal problems and rebuild the flow of energy levels where you need it by manipulation of both skeletal system and energy states.
Homeopaths can offer remedies to help reduce bruising and the effects of physical trauma during surgery. It can help set up a reaction in the body to reinforce its ability to fight a specific cancer and it can play a supporting role during radio or chemotherapy. It certainly can play a part in an holistic approach to cancer.
This is a must and although you’re unlikely to find any actual laughter therapists (what a great job!) I imagine there are people around who would be only too happy to participate. Get yourself some tapes of your favourite comedies, go to funny films and shows and let yourself have a real belly laugh.
There are many different types of massage. Shiatsu, a Japanese form involves a professional practitioner examining the flow of energy along the meridians and using deep finger pressure at “acupoints” to stimulate and regulate it. This benefits the lymph and nervous systems. There is much overlap here with acupuncture.
Thai massage traces the lymph system in the body and stimulates its free flow. It also involves deep, penetrating finger pressure. this helps drain the lymph system of any “toxins” and it’s important to drink plenty of water afterwards to flush your system out.
State of mind and breathing patterns are known to be linked, as an agitated mind can result in rapid shallow breathing. By focussing attention on our breathing it can be slowed and made deeper which has a calming effect on the whole body and brain. Research has shown that the vibrational frequency of brain waves changes, with different and slower frequency waves appearing during meditation. This affects the endocrine system. Meditation has a profound effect on reducing cortisol levels which then promotes levels of good hormones, reducing blood pressure and making you feel peaceful and centred in yourself.
Meditation may involve chanting or repeating one word or phrase. Focussing on a theme, e.g. love, peace, compassion can help the mind from wandering. This also releases favourable hormones.
Research tests on people who practise meditation and yoga show higher outer energy states and immune systems up to 30% stronger than normal.
This is distinguished from counselling because usually it is a longer term process. which is about helping clients to understand themselves and their patterns of behaviour. It usually involves unravelling past experiences (especially those that have been traumatic or unresolved) and examining our thoughts, feelings and behaviour to help us be more self aware and to develop the most effective ways of taking good care of ourselves now and in the future.
A psychotherapist is not there to offer us solutions but to help us get to our own as best we can. To aid the healing process and maintain freedom from cancer it is important to really get to know ourselves and what makes us tick. We need to reduce stress, listen to our bodies and take good care of ourselves. It’s a bit of cliche but we have got to love ourselves and therapy could help in that healing process.
There are many types of therapy and its important to check people out. The UKCP is the largest umbrella organisation in Britain that holds a register of practitioners who have achieved qualifications that are seen to be good enough. They can be found at www.ukcp.org.uk
Over 60 million Chinese people use qigong. It develops a body’s energy in 4 ways - breathing, movement, body stance or posture and meditation. Exercise, breathing and posture develop the body’s energy flow whilst specific exercises can be used to unblock meridians.
The hands and feet are the sites of nerve endings connecting to all parts of the body. Reflexology can be diagnostic and re-energising as it helps to remove crystals and blockages and stimulates the nervous system. If crystals (actually toxins) are found, they can be massaged, broken up and more easily expelled, thus re-energising the corresponding organ and its blood supply.
The goal of reflexology is to trigger the return to homeostasis - a state of equilibrium or balance. The most important step towards achieving this is to reduce tension and induce relaxation.
Reiki is a form of hands on healing where a reiki master imparts universal energy into your chakras; he or she is merely a conduit for that energy. In Japanese traditional medicine ki resides about an inch below the navel and it is here all the energy for the body’s support systems finds it’s root.You lie down fully clothed and the reiki master moves their hands up and down your body slowly, without actually touching you. I have found this a very powerful experience at times.
Originating as a martial art, t’ai chi is practised by millions of people every day. Graceful, physical movements and breathing combine with balance to improve the circulation, open up the lymph systems and the flow of vital energy, which stimulates the immune system.
I have found a class run locally which has been very beneficial in helping me fell more relaxed, balanced and in tune with my body. It’s fun too!
Yoga can have great benefits as well as increasing flexibility. It aims to create a link between your breathing, your mind and the control of energy into your body. Also to open the energy channels and chakras to allow maximum flow between them and the internal organs. It is excellent at releasing and cleansing toxins from the body and great for enhancing calm and relaxation.
If like me, you’ve had a hysterectomy, you might still be able to find a class to suit you. I have been attending a yoga for pregnant women class, which is gentle enough until I feel able to go to an ordinary yoga class. The other woman seem quite happy to have me there, even though I’m a fraud!