Mind-body therapies are seen to help prevent cancer.

Prevent cancer

Diet and exercise are prescribed as cancer prevention. They are adjuncts to cancer treatment. Mind–body therapies are being mainstreamed into cancer treatment. These seek to reduce pain, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, hot flashes, and mood improvement.

Adjunct treatments include relaxation therapies such as meditation, hypnosis, yoga, art, music, tai chi, and qi gong (Elkins et al., 2010). Fatigue in cancer survivors disrupts normal functioning and quality of life. Nonpharmacologic approaches are being tried to provide relief (Bower et al., 2014).

Ayurveda and TCM emphasize the ability of the body to self-heal. Most of our genes are turned off and on by environmental signals. These include stimuli from thoughts, actions, beliefs, and emotions. Negative emotions are known to trigger stress hormones such as cortisone and adrenaline. Hormones such as oxytocin and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) are known to be healing hormones.

Several studies have demonstrated the complementary role of yoga-related exercises in alleviating cancer side effects and trauma management. These were observed to lower fatigue, reduce stress, improve physical functioning, help patients sleep better, and reduce the chances of recurrence.

Asanas are yogic exercise postures. These are being increasingly prescribed by oncologists. Breathing exercises—pranayamas—are also often recommended. Yoga helped improve the physical and emotional well-being of individuals. Several empirical approaches to studying the role of yoga in improving the quality of life in cancer survivors have been undertaken.

Nine studies on cancer patients and survivors showed modest improvements in sleep quality, mood, stress, cancer-related distress, cancer-related symptoms, and overall quality of life (Bower et al., 2005). Breast cancer patients who practiced yoga showed positive results (Smith et al., 2009, Mustian et al., 2010).

Yoga practices by cancer survivors 65 years and older helped reduce cancer-related physical and mental fatigue and reduced side effects (Sprod et al., 2015). A 7-week yoga program by breast cancer survivors showed improved quality of life and physical parameters (Culos-Reed et al., 2004). The beneficial effects of yoga were observed in patients who had not been exposed to chemotherapy (Moadel et al., 2007).

Cancer patients are often physically and mentally in a fragile state. The asana and pranayama recommended must be appropriate for such patients. In yoga, the focus is on restorative postures and helping the individual relax. Yoga will help reduce side effects from cancer treatment and disease-related trauma.

The practitioners of qi gong claim that it is helpful in internal organ ailments, circulatory, nerve, and joint system ailments, general physical disease, and cancer. The focus is on bringing about inner tranquility and reducing stress.

To learn more about psychotherapy, exercise, and other natural approaches to cancer, you can look here.

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