Exploring complementary therapies for cancer patients

If you are facing a cancer diagnosis, you may be considering holistic therapies that work with your conventional cancer treatments to provide a more complete healing experience. Complementary therapies of this nature can help you feel healthier and stronger throughout your treatment by strengthening your immune system and encouraging a more positive attitude. While you will want to remember that these therapies should be used in addition to (not instead of) therapies such as radiation, surgery and chemotherapy, there are unique benefits to consider for each of the holistic therapies discussed below.


As an ancient healing art, acupuncture has a long list of uses in western medicine. It works with the precise placement of tiny needles that target energy pathways, which line up with critical points in the nervous system. For cancer patients, acupuncture may provide relief of symptoms such as vomiting, anxiety and general discomfort related to other cancer treatments. You may also sleep better at night following acupuncture treatments.


Reiki is a unique therapy that reveals the power of the human touch with gentle placement of the hands to release energy that promotes natural healing mechanisms in the human body. Reiki sessions are completely non-invasive and last about 15 to 20 minutes. Caregivers have also noted benefits of Reiki, which can help promote relaxation and self-awareness—two important avenues of stress-relief for those who dedicate themselves to the care of others.

Pet therapy

Cancer treatment can be a lonely experience at times, so pet therapy has become a popular way for patients to seek companionship. Animal companionship has been shown to reduce stress and provide patients with an emotionally engaging relationship that can promote a more positive attitude.


Individuals who eat right and exercise during their cancer treatment tend to have greater success in their recovery. Yoga is an excellent source of exercise, because it involves low-impact movements that incorporate a meditative approach to muscle-toning activities. Patients may consider practicing yoga in a large class or as a private activity at home. Either way, yoga may help boost a patient’s energy, improve daily comfort and increase a patient’s confidence.

Laughter therapy

Laughter is often referred to as the best medicine, and in many ways this is true. By laughing more, patients may have a better overall mood and notice an increase in energy throughout each day. However, it may be difficult for cancer patients to laugh sometimes, so they may find humor through structured laughter therapy. While this therapy is in no way considered a cure for cancer or any other disease, it is clear that laughter can play an important role in the state of mind of the patient.

The Elmhurst Memorial Center for Cancer Care understands the importance of complementary therapies for cancer patients, so they provide free Reiki sessions and affordable acupuncture services for patients and caregivers. To learn more about the incredible cancer care services offered through Elmhurst Memorial, visit their website or call 331-221-5900. 

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