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What Are the Different Alternative Treatments for Lymphoma?

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  • Written By: R. Bargar
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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Alternative treatments for lymphoma — cancer of the lymphatic system — fall into several broad categories of alternative medical therapies. Herbal therapies include a variety of plant based traditional medicines. These are more frequently used by patients seeking an alternative to conventional medicine and are not commonly prescribed in conjunction with conventional treatment protocols. Other natural treatments include homeopathy, which has been found helpful in alleviating the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Hydrotherapy is an alternative therapy that is believed to increase the flow of lymphatic fluids while enhancing the immune system.

One of the herbal alternative treatments promoted for lymphoma and many other diseases is based on a traditional American Indian medicine. Called essiac tea, this remedy has varying formulas and a decades-long history of alternative use. Four main herbs are generally the basis of this medicinal tea — burdock, slippery elm bark, sheep sorrel and rhubarb root. Although this herbal tea has anecdotal evidence supporting its use, there is no standard scientific research confirming its effectiveness.

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Similarly, many other alternative treatments for lymphoma have no conclusive scientific studies establishing their effectiveness. Alternative medical practitioners instead base their treatment choices on medical case studies and the properties of certain herbs or other therapies. Some alternative treatments are the focus of scientific research studies, including studies of the cancer fighting actions of a green tea extract and curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric. Clinical trials are underway for additional alternative treatments to determine if they have any positive effects on lymphomas and other cancers. Some scientific studies have indicated that certain herbs and dietary supplements may have adverse effects when combined with conventional treatments.

Integrative medicine practitioners use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in addition to conventional medical treatment for lymphoma. Some of these alternative care options help patients cope with the side effects and symptoms of conventional therapies and the disease. Others address issues of stress and quality of life for patients. In addition, some CAM therapies are thought to enhance healing and overall health. Most conventional medical professionals do not believe that alternative treatments for lymphoma can slow the progress of the cancer, though.

Conventional medicine uses radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy or some combination of these to address lymphoma. While using these methods, integrative medicine practitioners may also prescribe alternative treatments such as meditation, acupuncture, yoga, massage, and art or music therapies. These sometimes help reduce the pain and nausea that accompany some conventional treatments, improving the quality of life for the patient. Increasing numbers of conventional treatment centers include CAM therapies when devising a plan of treatment for patients with lymphoma and other cancers. Patients have advocated for the inclusion of alternative treatments for lymphoma and seem to generally appreciate the increased level of patient involvement in alternative therapies.

Diet and nutrition modifications are commonly advised alternative treatments for lymphoma used in conjunction with conventional medicine. Eating nutrient-dense foods is believed to aid in healing and general health. A diet high in antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits, berries and many vegetables is advised. Eliminating refined and overly processed foods is another component of a healthy diet. Certain dietary supplements, such as probiotics, fish oil and melatonin, are also advised for lymphoma patients.

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