Homeopathy and Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma and other cancer patients often turn to alternative and complementary types of medical practice alongside traditional medical treatments like chemotherapy and surgery. Patients are looking for alternatives to help them feel better, both mentally and physically, and to have greater control over their own care. While there is no evidence that homeopathy can treat or cure cancer, many patients turn to homeopathic practitioners for relief from anxiety, depression, pain, fatigue, and many other of the symptoms and side effects of cancer and cancer treatment.
What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is an alternative medical practice that was developed more than 200 years ago by a physician named Samuel Hahnemann in Germany. He theorized that “like cures like,” or in other words that if a substance produces a certain symptom, it can be used to treat that same symptom in a patient. He also thought that if that substance is diluted, then it will actually become more potent and have more healing power.
Based on this philosophy of treating symptoms and illnesses, homeopaths use a range of substances, like herbs or minerals, heavily diluted, to treat patients. To make homeopathic medicines, a practitioner crushes up the substance and dilutes it in a liquid. This liquid can then be used to make the dilutions that are used to treat patients. Some of the substances used are actually toxic, but they are diluted to such an extent that they pose no risk.
Why Cancer Patients Use Homeopathy
People turn to homeopathic practitioners for a number of reasons and for many different illnesses and symptoms. For mesothelioma and cancer patients, there is no hope of curing the disease with homeopathic medicine, but many report getting relief from symptoms and experiencing a better quality of life. Some patients want to try an alternative, while others want control over their health care, but most simply want a treatment that will provide some relief from symptoms.
For cancer patients, the symptoms of the cancer and the side effects of treatment can range from uncomfortable to debilitating. A homeopathic practitioner may be able to help relieve some of these, like pain, fatigue, insomnia, sore mouth caused by chemotherapy, skin sores caused by radiation therapy, and mental health symptoms like depression and anxiety.
Homeopathy for Symptom Relief
There is no evidence that homeopathy has any actual impact on cancer, but many patients report feeling better after being treated by a homeopath. The research into how it can help patients get relief is mixed. Some researchers believe it is a placebo effect, in which the patient expects to get relief, and so does feel relief. There is nothing wrong with the placebo effect, and in fact it can be very powerful.
There are also some studies that show homeopathic remedies do actually relieve some symptoms. For instance, a couple of studies found that a homeopathic skin cream helped to prevent the skin soreness that many patients often experience after receiving radiation therapy, and that a homeopathic mouthwash could relieve the soreness caused by chemotherapy.
A small study found that cancer patients being treated with traditional medicine and using homeopathy experienced better quality of life and less fatigue than patients who only got traditional treatments. Another very small study of just nine women found that a homeopathic injection could relieve pain in patients with breast cancer.
Boosting the Immune System to Fight Cancer
There is some interesting research that hints at the possibility that homeopathic remedies could boost the immune system, which in turn could help fight cancer. In one study, researchers used several homeopathic remedies against breast cancer cells in the lab. The remedies slowed and stopped the growth of some of the cells and even caused some of the cells to self-destruct. The research is considered very early, but warrants further study. Another very small and early study found that certain homeopathic remedies enhanced the ability of certain immune system cells to kill cancer cells.
Is Homeopathy Safe?
While the research is mixed on the effectiveness of homeopathy to treat certain conditions, symptoms, and side effects, it is generally considered safe. Studies have shown that when homeopathic remedies are administered by a trained practitioner, the risks are very low. It is always important to speak with your doctors before trying a new type of treatment, but homeopathy is unlikely to cause any harm.
What to Expect During a Homeopathic Session
If you are living with mesothelioma and have thought of trying homeopathy, speak to your doctors first. They may be able to help you find a good practitioner and can tell you if there is any reason you should avoid homeopathy. If you do start working with a homeopath, you can expect that you will answer a lot of questions during your first visit. Your homeopath will need to know a lot about you, from your cancer symptoms and treatments to your emotional state and how you are sleeping.
Your first visit may take as long as 45 minutes as your homeopath gets to know you and your health needs. You will be given a set of homeopathic medicines, or remedies, and your homeopath will direct you how and when to take them. It is possible to find some homeopathic medicines over the counter, but it is always best to work with a trained practitioner. After your first visit you will probably come back regularly for check-ups and to have your remedies adjusted as needed.
Homeopathy is often a controversial topic in medicine, with those who believe fully in its powers to heal and bring relief and those who strongly state there is no evidence that it treats anything. In spite of the mixed reviews of this kind of medicine, it is increasing in popularity and many people report that using homeopathic remedies helps them to feel better. As a mesothelioma patient you may experience a number of uncomfortable and painful symptoms and side effects, and homeopathy could be a source of relief. Talk to your doctors about trying homeopathy and be sure to work only with a trained practitioner, and you may just find that homeopathic remedies do bring you relief and improve your quality of life as you continue to battle cancer.
Page edited by Dave Foster
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