Are There Alternative Treatments for Cancer of the Liver?
Treating Liver Cancer
Liver cancer is often treated with one or more conventional therapies, including surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, heating or freezing cancer cells, and targeted drug therapy. While usually effective for at least slowing the growth of a tumor or stopping the disease from spreading, if not eliminating the cancer altogether (much depends on the stage of the disease), conventional therapies do tend to come with side effects. Also they do not focus on improving the body’s ability to heal naturally, focusing instead on destroying or removing cancer cells.
This is where alternative treatments for cancer of the liver can play a valuable complementary role. Nutritional therapy, traditional Chinese medicine and mind-body medicine are three types of alternative medicine which you can discuss with your doctor.
Diet and Nutrition
Diet and nutrition can help to prevent, manage, and help the body overcome the side effects of conventional liver cancer treatments. Providing vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants can improve functioning, natural detoxing and the healing process. A healthy diet may focus on:
- Cruciferous vegetables for antioxidants and vitamin C — broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale
- Orange, red and green fruits and vegetables for carotenes — watermelon, tomatoes, carrots, sweet peppers, watercress and arugula
- Sea greens for a variety of minerals and cleansing chlorophyll
Beneficial supplements include flax seed oil, alpha-lipoic acid and coenzyme Q10. Stay away from fatty, processed and sugary foods and alcohol. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as some grains and soy protein.
These nutritional tips are only meant to serve as a guideline. Talk to your doctor about your own specific dietary needs.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Through working towards achieving harmony, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) attempts to correct the imbalance that may have contributed to the disease. Chinese herbs may be used to work towards this balance. They may for example invigorate qi, or life energy, support the spleen and regulate circulation. With a knowledgeable therapist who is capable of properly determining what your body requires for balance, TCM may be able to lengthen life, support conventional drugs or therapies and reduce the symptoms of liver cancer.
While choosing this alternative treatment may help some patients it is so important to first, find an experienced TMC therapist, and second to
talk to your doctor about any herbs you are considering taking. If possible, ask your doctor to refer you to a TCM therapist that they are comfortable with. Herbal medicine can conflict with certain medications that are being taken to treat cancer of the liver, or any other conditions. Only consider botanical medicine after discussing this options with your physician.
There are several different forms of mind-body medicine that can be useful for liver cancer patients. Medication, yoga, deep breathing, guided imagery and energy healing can all help by decreasing stress and improving mental well-being. Better psychological health does two things. First, the quality of life while dealing with liver cancer can improve. Addressing stress, anxiety and depression can make it easier to live with this disease. Second, it increases the body’s ability to heal. While only a subtle effect, any positive action is beneficial for dealing with symptoms and side effects.
Alternative treatments for cancer of the liver are ideal when used in conjunction with conventional care. Talk to your doctor about what is right for your primary care and then ask what alternative therapies may assist this treatment process. Combining the potency of modern medical practices and the gentle healing of alternative medicine, you can find the ideal treatment path for you.
Page, Linda. “Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition” (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
National Cancer Institute, https://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/adult-primary-liver/Patient/page4
Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/liver-cancer/DS00399/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs
Zuo-Qing, Li. “Traditional Chinese medicine for primary liver cancer.” www.wjgnet.com/downpdf.asp?url=/1007-9327/4/360
Cancer Treatment Centers of America, https://www.cancercenter.com/liver-cancer/mind-body-medicine.cfm
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