Alternative Medicine: You Asked, We Answered

Acupuncture can relieve the pain and discomfort, but it will not affect the underlying problem itself. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal formulas are quite effective, but not through over-the-counter products. Instead, the patient needs to be evaluated by a qualified practitioner who can customize the formula to the particular individual and her condition.

Many TCM doctors are trained to specialize in gyn problems (and in other specific areas of clinical practice as well). An early small study suggests that a pine bark extract is effective for endometriosis, but best bet is to find a well-trained expert. CLICK HERE to read more about the study.

For more information about herbs and other dietary supplements, try www.MSKCC.org/Aboutherbs.

7) To what extent do touching therapies (massage, reiki, polarity) reduce stress and to what extent does stress reduction help fight individuals fight cancer? -- Bill

Barrie Cassileth, Ph.D., chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center:

Good question, Bill. Massage and other touch therapies are soothing and relaxing. They can decrease pain, anxiety, fatigue and other problems. In reducing stress, such therapies help people get through the rigors of complete cancer treatment. In this indirect but important way they help patients' receive treatment and therefore combat the disease. Neither the therapies nor stress reduction directly destroys cancer cells or reduces tumor size.

8) What is the best way to go about getting info on alternative cancer treatments? There is a lot of garbage out there also. My son has a very rare cancer and now after traditional treatments, we are at the point of being "given time". Are there any real quality alternatives in this country? -- Knowles

Barrie Cassileth, Ph.D., chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center:

What a very difficult situation you are facing. You seem quite knowledgeable in pointing out the existence of the vast array of bogus cancer treatments out there. Unfortunately, there are no viable or useful "alternatives" to mainstream cancer treatments. Rare cancers are best managed in special settings, such as major cancer centers or at the National Cancer Institute: http://www.cancer.gov/search/results.aspx

The Duke Cancer Center has a special NIH-supported program in rare cancers: http://www.dukehealth.org/HealthLibrary/HealthArticles/exploring_rare_cancers

Best of luck to you all.

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