Integrative Medicine Strategies for B-Cell Lymphoma

When you talk with your doctor about treatment for B-cell lymphoma, he may suggest you try integrative medicine. It's a strategy that looks at all of your health needs -- physical and emotional -- and comes up with a tailored plan that treats your cancer and manages symptoms and side effects, too.

You'll get advice on how to use complementary therapies in addition to standard treatments, not in place of them. Your plan might include things like an exercise routine, traditional Chinese medicine, massage, or meditation. The goal is to soothe your spirit along with healing your body.

Acupuncture

In this traditional Chinese medicine, a practitioner puts fine needles into specific points on your body. You can find independent professionals, though acupuncture is now offered at a growing number of major cancer centers around the country.

Many people with cancer say it helps relieve nausea, pain, anxiety, insomnia, and lack of appetite.

Mind-Body Therapy

If you're feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or having trouble sleeping, a mind-body therapy may help.

You can try different types of meditation, including quiet contemplation or meditative walking.

You can also do tai chi, which combines meditation with Chinese martial arts.

Yoga, which tends to combine meditation and a focus on breathing with specific postures, is also a popular option.

Massage

Massage may help you manage pain and muscle tension. It can also relieve stress so you feel better and have less anxiety.

If possible, look for a trained oncology massage therapist. Ask if your hospital has one on site.

Reflexology

Reflexology is another hands-on therapy that focuses on your hands, feet, and ears.

A trained therapist puts pressure on specific points, sometimes with the help of rubber balls, rubber bands, and pieces of wood to help you relax, relieve pain, and increase your circulation.

Aromatherapy

Some people with cancer find that the fragrance from essential oils from certain plants helps them feel more relaxed or eases nausea. A therapist can also massage the oils into your body.

Talk to your doctor before trying essential oils and discuss how you plan to use them.

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Dietary Supplements

Some people with lymphoma try a variety of vitamins and herbs, such as multivitamins, vitamin D, green tea, and flaxseed.

Keep some things in mind about this. Dietary supplements, like medicine, can have risks and side effects. But the FDA doesn't regulate them as strictly as drugs, so they don't get the same careful testing of how well they work or whether they're safe to use.

Also, you can't always be sure that the supplements you buy contain exactly what's on the label. Researchers found that some supplements had ingredients that weren't listed or contained different amounts than described.

Talk to your doctor before you try any vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements. He can tell you whether they might interfere with other medicine you take.

Exercise

Research shows that people with lymphoma who get regular exercise are happier, healthier, and less tired than those who aren't active. Some physical activities you might try are walking, swimming, or strength training.

Before you start an exercise routine, check with your doctor to find out if there are certain activities you should avoid. He may suggest you meet with a physical therapist, who can set up an exercise plan that's tailored to your needs.

Nutrition Counseling

Your cancer treatment may curb your appetite and sap your energy. Choosing the right foods can help you feel better, stronger, and more energetic.

Ask your doctor if nutrition counseling is available at your cancer center. If not, he can refer you to a dietitian who has experience working with lymphoma patients.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on January 02, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Can I Safely Use an Alternative or Complementary Therapy?" "What Are Complementary and Alternative Methods?" "Dietary Supplements: What Is Safe?"

Center for Lymphoid Malignancies, Columbia University Medical Center: "Nutrition Counseling."

Journal of Clinical Oncology: "Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Physical Functioning and Quality of Life in Lymphoma Patients."

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: "Can Massages Spread Lymphoma?"

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: "Integrative Medicine."

Leukemia & Lymphoma: "Widespread Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) among Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) Survivors."

University of British Columbia Faculty Medical Journal: "Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the Management of Lymphomas: Prevalence, Rationale, and Contraindications."

Mayo Clinic: "What is reflexology? Can it relieve stress?" "Integrative Medicine and Health."

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: "Types of Complementary Therapies."

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