Saturday, January 22, 2011

Natural Cancer Therapies

By Krista Peterson

For most types of cancer, the success of treatment depends upon early diagnosis. Some cancers such as mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the chest and abdomen, are difficult to diagnose because of a delay in the appearance of symptoms and often go untreated for years.

Mesothelioma treatment generally includes traditional therapies like radiation, chemotherapy, and – more rarely – surgery, but
these treatments are often of limited effectiveness by the time the cancer is in its later stages.

As a result, many cancer patients turn to alternative treatment as a method of alleviating symptoms. There are many natural alternative remedies available, and most are used in conjunction with traditional therapies rather than replacements for them. The reason these treatments are not part of standard medical care is that most have not been proven to show significant positive effects in clinical trials.

However, “unproven” does not necessarily mean “disproven,” and when even conventional medical treatment offers little chance of recovery, it is only natural to search for alternatives.

Vitamin C – an important nutrient found in citrus and other fruits and vegetables, given intravenously in large doses. This therapy is based on a 1976 study that suggested the vitamin may increase survival time for terminal cancer patients. However, the results of this study have not been able to be reproduced.

Mushroom extract – the use of mushrooms for medicinal purposes. Compounds called beta-glucans found in some mushrooms are thought to boost the body’s immune responses, allowing it to better fight the cancer.

Iscador – an extract of the mistletoe plant, especially popular as a cancer therapy in Europe. Though the National Cancer Institute does not list it as an approved treatment, some tests have been promising and the extract is currently undergoing clinical trials.

Quercetin – an anti-oxidant flavonoid found in some fruits and vegetables. Some in vitro studies have shown quercetin to suppress malignant cancer cells, and the National Cancer Institute highly recommends a diet rich in fruits and vegetables for cancer prevention as well as during treatment.

Macrobiotic diet – a diet that consists primarily of whole grains, vegetables, and beans while avoiding refined or processed foods. Practitioners claim this diet is linked to the traditions of Chinese, Japanese,or Incan cultures and is based on the principle of balance in food and in life.

Detoxification – a removal of dangerous substances from the body. In cancer treatment, it often refers to the theory that a build-up of toxins inhibits the body’s natural metabolic processes, and the goal is to get rid of them by fasting, avoiding certain foods, or taking specific “cleansing” herbs. This must be
undertaken carefully in order to maintain the correct intake of necessary nutrients.

An Important Note

If you are receiving medical treatment for cancer or other serious illness, it is imperative that you speak to your doctor before beginning any alternative therapies to prevent possibly dangerous interactions or side effects. Any changes in diet should also be discussed with a medical professional, since chemotherapy or radiation may change the way your body takes in nutrients and malnutrition can be a
serious risk.

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