Found this article on active.com. I hope this helps explain, complementary vs. alternative and the growing bond between these therapies and western medicine when it comes to medical conditions like cancer. – jess
Dr. Michael Adolph
COLUMBUS, Ohio — When it comes to relieving the nausea, pain and fatigue often associated with cancer treatments, some patients look beyond conventional remedies to alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage and yoga.”And that’s just fine, as long as the patients let their oncologists know what they’re doing, before proceeding,” said Dr. Michael Adolph, a palliative medicine physician at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.
“It’s always in the patient’s best interest to let their physicians know what they’re doing, so as to have the best treatment possible,” Adolph said. Complementary and alternative therapies are tools that patients may choose to promote wellness, help control symptoms and take control of what’s happening to them during their cancer experience. But not all complementary therapies can be endorsed for all patients.
Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, while alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. Integrative medicine combines mainstream medical therapies with complementary and alternative therapies that have been scientifically proven to be safe and effective.
“The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies, such as vitamin and herbal supplements, along with mind-body therapies, and others, has been gaining mainstream popularity in recent years,” Adolph said.
For example, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, established by Congress in 1999 as part of the National Institutes of Health, supports clinical and basic science research projects in CAM, with more than $120 million in funding in 2006. Congress began funding the study and validation of CAM therapies in 1991.
“Studies have shown that up to 70 percent of cancer patients acknowledge practicing some form of CAM at their homes, including meditation, guided imagery, prayer, dietary changes and exercise in an effort to improve their quality of life,” Adolph said.
“Patients report substantial relief, and we support patients in their endeavors to cope and conquer in cancer survivorship,” said Adolph, who specializes in alleviating cancer patients’ pain and other symptoms during and after the entire course of cancer treatment. “We’re here to assist oncologists with any suffering the patients have incurred with the cancer process and treatment.”
“Many patients often are hesitant to discuss alternative methods they’re trying on their own,” Adolph said. Yet good communication between doctor and patient is key to incorporating CAM safely and successfully as part of treatment, he said.
Some herbal supplements can cause unwanted drug interactions, provoke bleeding during procedures or alter the efficacy of certain cancer-fighting drugs such as chemotherapy, Adolph said.