Researchers are now studying how to imitate or stimulate the immune system's natural response to cancer. There may be ways to assist your own immune system in fighting cancer without interfering with chemotherapy, radiation or other traditional forms of treatment. In fact, some may actually enhance the efficacy of traditional methods. You could help your immune system by any of the following:
- Elicit your relaxation response often. You might consider massage, Yoga, meditation, breathing methods or other less structured forms of relaxation.
- Incorporate the right fats into your diet. Eliminate trans fats, add Omega 3's with 1-2 tablespoons of flax oil, or 2-4 tablespoons of freshly ground flax seed, or 2-4 grams per day of fish oil.
- Consider taking Melatonin (10 to 20 milligrams one hour before bed).
- Take an immune modulator: eat gourmet mushrooms, take mushroom extracts, herbal preparations of Astragalus and Ecchinacea, purified in concentrated colostrum products. A product called AG-Immune by BodyWise has these elements in one capsule.
- Add enzymes before meals to enhance chemotherapy drugs and possibly extend survival. Over-the-counter supplements are available at health food stores. If you are serious about enzyme therapy, you should consult a practitioner familiar with appropriate dosages.
You should always inform your doctor of any type of treatment you are considering. More information on diet and nutrients for the cancer patient is found in the very readable and short book by dietician and three time cancer survivor, Diana Dyer, "A Dietician's Cancer Story."
Gene Therapy and Replacement Gene Therapy both hold hope for the future. Gene therapies may be a way to correct an abnormal gene that causes cancer to grow out of control. Gene Therapy treats cancer at the DNA level. Replacement Gene Therapy involves replacing a mutated or missing gene to prevent cancer from growing out of control.
PDT uses a laser to stimulate a photosensitive drug. Used in conjunction with surgery, the laser kills only the cancer cells when they react to the photosensitive drugs. For a patient with mesothelioma, a laser light chosen for its ability to activate the photosensitizing agent targets the pleura or other area of the tumor through a fiber optic device.
Visual or Guided Imagery
Visual Imagery refers to the creation of mental images which could positively effect the state of one's health. Cancer patients often use relaxation and mental imaging to improve their immune response or to combat negative side effects of traditional chemotherapy or radiation. Imagery may be a powerful weapon against cancer. It is practiced extensively by some cancer patients, and some therapists who work with cancer patients, even though its potential for bringing about physical recovery remains an open question. The classic book on imagery is "Healing Yourself: A Step-By-Step Program for Better Health Through Imagery" by Martin Rossman, M.D.
Other alternative therapies include treatments such as acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy, and therapeutic massage. Many patients use alternative practices in conjunction with traditional therapies. This type of "integrative" approach is considered holistic because it treats the "whole" person, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Consultation with a specialist in these fields and with your doctor is always recommended before beginning any treatment.
For more information regarding alternative treatments, you are encouraged to read "Choices in Healing," by Michael Lerner.