Complimentary and Alternative therapies

Hi all,

I’m new to the forum but currently undertaking research into the validity of complimentary and alternative therapies particularly surrounding care for cancer patients. A close relative of mine passed from Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and another grandparent is currently battling through radiotherapy for skin cancer melanoma which inspired me in some way to focus my research on how CAM can be used in care for such long-lasting illnesses after seeing her experience. Considering the gruelling side effects many face with conventional treatment plans such as radiotherapy, do you believe there should be increased usage or at least awareness/ NHS funding for therapies such as homeopathy, herbal remedies for pain relief and nausea for example or acupuncture as mentioned above to mitigate these side effects?
Likewise, whether it is common to involve the use of CAM to help with the after effects, perhaps with relaxation through herbal remedy, prayer or yoga to ease anxiety or ptsd - both common while in cancer remission.
I would be very keen to hear everybody’s views on the matter!!


I have just copied my response to your other post under Alternative therapies accupuncture.
Hi @carlyw a great big welcome to our forum, my mother was brought up with homeopathy.
I will be very honest with you I am very wary of taking anything or doing anything that has not been checked out with my medical team.
I would also like them to refer me to the relevant expert as I am never sure of a persons qualifications, experience and their approach.
Have you got a blood cancer and I am also interested in hearing more about you.
Look after yourself


Hi @carlyw

That’s an interesting area to research.

When I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, and throughout treatment, I used hypnotherapy/guided meditations to control my fear, to think positively and to visualise my body doing what it was meant to. It helped me enormously. I believe - and research backs this up - that the mind is an extremely powerful tool in recovery from illness. For example, meditation has been proven to lengthen DNA telomeres in breast cancer survivors. I would add the link to that research, but it’s easy enough to google.

I’m sure the mind in conjunction with homeopathy can have some effect too. However, I have read research that debunks homeopathy completely - it perhaps only works because of the placebo effect, ie. our belief that it will work. But maybe that is good enough? But like Erica, I wouldn’t consume any substance that my conventional medicine consultants hadn’t approved.

I’m open to anything like massage or essential oils that help with relaxation, but was not offered anything during treatment, possibly because of covid.

I’m interested to see what others think.

Best of luck with this.

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I have had failures, and one success,
I tried acupuncture for frozen shoulder - prescribed by my doctor, it didn’t do anything, all I can remember was how cold was, as it was in a draughty room.
I went privately to a physio, she recommended the Bowen method, I was sceptical, but I was in such pain, I’d give anything a go, … after the first treatment, I had some movement back, and after six treatments, the pain was gone, and I had all the movement back.

I tried homeopathy for my migraines, … I thought if it was so watered down, it wouldn’t do any harm, and there might be a possibility it would work(I’ve had them since I was about 10) it didn’t do anything ,
when I started on low dose asprin for my ET, my migraines went away altogether - vision distrubance, sickness, and pain,
My migraines are caused by bright lights, or flickering lights, the ET consultant said people with this type of migraine are caused by the blood vessels constricting in reaction to the lights, and this reduces the bloodflow to the eyes and brain - and asprin helps the bloodflow, so my migraines disapearing were actually a side affect of the asprin, and she had seen this happen with others.
If only my GP had known!

However, I would not try untested drugs, on something as serious as ET, unless it was the last throw of the dice… which, thankfully, it is not.

In relation to thinking more positively, I just talk to my mum - with everything going on the the moment, she had been talking about how she survived the blitz in Plymouth, when she just turned 11.
Plymouth was not considered a target, (It’s a major dockyard, so the reasoning baffles me) so children were not evacuated, until after the worst of the blitz was over, then they had to be evacuated quite a long way away, as everywhere close was already full of evacuees from London, Sheffield etc… and when they did eventually go, they went alone, their parents stayed.
In Plymouth, 33,000 of 200,000 were made homeless, over 1,000 died - in a 2 week period - the city was rubble, one morning, after being in the shelter in her garden all night, she lost her way going to school, as there were no landmarks left, they were flattened and burning, so she asked a fireman for directions, and off she continued to school!..

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Thank you for your response!
I personally don’t suffer from cancer but blood cancer in particular has been prevalent in my close family so i’m very much aware of it and the impacts it can have on the patient and patients relatives. This research stems from an extended project I am carrying out in my lower sixth year (Year 12) of Sixth form where I am currently trying to grasp people’s current views on the matter but also have an intense interest on the matter.
Hope you are well :slight_smile:

I have quite similar views on the matter - you’re right it is hard to make judgements when the topic sparks very mixed response. I have found many medical articles refuting the use of alternative therapies however I believe when used in conjunction they can be very beneficial to often the more long lasting effects of an illness i.e. fear as you said. I think viewing the mind and body as whole is a beneficial outlook to have with regards treatment as we know our brains are incredibly powerful the link is most likely stronger than we realise!!


Hi @heatherthomas
That’s really useful feedback to hear.
When you mentioned how the low dose aspirin you took as part of your homeopathy treatment cured your migraines despite the GP not figuring this out, do you feel that to some extent training or awareness in “alternative medicine” should be implemented more into general medical practice? To think that these more specific therapies could be really beneficial to patients but they don’t receive sufficient treatment due to lack of funding or knowledge to some extent is a real shame. I agree we cannot rely entirely on these therapies due to some medical disbelief however I feel their place in conjunction to conventional medicine is relevant.

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@carlyw, I think @heatherthomas hits on something important there - that we do often try non-conventional approaches in desperation to relieve pain, or because our options are running out. A friend of mine was in great pain in his shoulder for 18 months, and tried anything and everything, because even the strongest pain killers prescribed by his GP were not touching it. Neither did the alternative treatments, unfortunately.

He was eventually diagnosed with a lung tumour (a Pancoast tumour) after a visit to A and E with the pain, and this tumour was so advanced it was inoperable and terminal. He felt quite angry that alternative practitioners had taken his money again and again, and delivered treatment, but did not advise him to seek urgent medical attention, or even raise their eyebrows at his persistent pain. He had of course visited his GP on numerous occasions, but the GP wasn’t putting his symptoms together to see Pancoast Syndrome and Horner’s Syndrome, which was a failing on his part.

My friend was given 3 months to live, and in the next few weeks, his pensioner mother bought him hundreds of pounds worth of high dose vitamins, which she had read online treated cancer. She had also read that dog worming tablets could treat lung cancer, and she bought them too. She naively believed anything she read in alternative therapy sites, and didn’t look for peer-reviewed medical research on these subjects. Her son took these tablets to appease her desperation, and perhaps in desperation himself. He died a month after diagnosis (and a month before my blood cancer diagnosis - I was admitted to the same ward I had just said goodbye to him on.) My personal feeling is that the alternative practitioners and vitamin/dog worming pill advocates in his case behaved incredibly irresponsibly. And that can be a problem - many practioners have no medical knowledge, but purport to ‘treat’.

I think this sadly illustrates the extreme end of seeking out alternative ‘medicines’ and treatments when desperate to relieve pain, and when desperate to live. People will grasp at anything, and spend considerable amounts of money doing so. It’s a bit of a cynical industry at times. The treatments most likely to work are free on the NHS (usually.) But of course, there’s much ground before this point of desperation, and there are many therapies that do help with symptoms like fear and pain, as you undergo conventional treatments. But it is important to be aware of the downsides to this ‘industry’. And it IS an industry - it’s about making money. No-one gives you a massage or homeopathic remedies for free, (although you can get free hypnotherapy on YouTube) whereas you do get conventional medicine for free. Although I have read about Maggie centres, and maybe you can enjoy aromatherapy etc for free at these? I wasn’t offered anything like that, though - but it was during the pandemic that I was treated, so maybe that is why.

It’s an interesting topic, and I’m glad you raised it, because I should think there’s a huge range of opinion to be tapped into just amongst us forum members.

All the best.

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The low dose aspirin was not homeopathy, it was prescribed by my consultant for the ET (Essential Thrombocythaemia), it’s to keep the blood less sticky, so you don’t get clots,
When you get migraines due to bright lights, it’s because the blood vessels constrict, causing the blood flow to reduce, giving you the vision disturbances and the horrendous headache, and nausea
as the aspirin helps the blood flow better, the constriction of the vessels have a lot less impact on the blood flow - so no more migraines

I can’t remember the exact homeopathy treatment they gave me for migraines, it was liquid in a bottle - a very small bottle, except it was expensive and useless
I wouldn’t want homeopathy funded by the taxpayer (me).

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@Fullofbeans - I think going into alternative therapies has to be done with eyes wide open, a cynical approach, and a big wallet

Yes, it’s very wrong to prey on people, who are at the end of their tether, that is an horrendous thing to do.

The acupuncture was useless.
The Bowen treatment worked on my shoulder, but I wouldn’t have done more than 4 weeks, if I saw no improvement - I noticed the improvement after the very first session, and each time things got better - so a thumbs up for that one.

The homeopathy was an expensive waste of money, but I did do all the first bottle, (you pay for the consultant, and the “medication”), although it was having no impact, but I wouldn’t repeat something that didn’t work.

  • nothing much had an impact - (including prescribed migraine medication) until the wonderous side affect of the asprin!

and I forgot, I broke my wrist, it was “plastered” for 8 weeks ( a very bad break), and I had 6 weeks of “physio” prescribed by the doctor - which just amounted to them showing me how to do exercises
I then went to an osteopath - who massaged my hand and wrist - said I had very bad “knots” in the tendons and muscles, and the exercises I was given would not have done anything.
Three sessions with the osteopath, actually massaging and manipulating my wrist (it actually “cracked” once), and hand, I was again pain free, and I could drive again, as previously I didn’t even have the strength to pull on the handbreak.

So from my observations, the physio who did the Bowen, and the Osteopath who did the manipulation, were well worth it,
The asprin prescribed for ET had a wonderful , unintended side affect, of ridding me of my migraines.
The homeopathy, and acupuncture, might just as well have been a witch doctor throwing bones and telling me my fortune - a complete waste of time and money.

That’s just me, different things may work for different people - but they also might not - eyes wide open!

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Yes, I agree @heatherthomas - all worth a try, but not worth pursuing for endless sessions and money if not working. Eyes wide open indeed. Am so glad the aspirin had such an unforeseen benefit, and that the osteopath did the trick. I can see how people pursue things which aren’t working though, when they’re in a lot of pain. It may prevent them from evaluating things clearly. It is so wrong to take advantage of that.

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I’m so sorry to hear about your close friend @carlyw. I hope the treatment will go well for your grandmother.


Along with leukaemia I have a blood clotting disorder which is managed and gives me no difficulties. I did however have pulmonary emboli in the past which did damage me.
I was told not to use herbal medicines which often work by changing the thickness of the blood and can be dangerous for anyone with any blood clotting disorders. Even arnica applied to the skin is not recommended.


Hi @GrandmaJo That is really interesting to hear what you were told about using herbal remedies.
Look after yourselves, we are complex beings

Post amended

Information not intended to influence anyone


I do Yoga on a weekly basis
Meditation weekly
Gentle exercise for cancer 3 times a week
The above 3 via zoom over lockdown and still doing it.
Yoga is Alexander technique and yoga breathing
All provided by a local Cancer Charity Therapy and support centre

I also have physio and reflexology via a local hospice
Before lockdown and after my first stem cell transplant I enrolled in mindfullness

Power of prayer or just sending out love and blessings/healing to all that need it

Free for everyone is nature
If you can’t access it it’s known that 10 mins through the window is therapeutic also

For a friend of mine bed bound from Myeloma I would send videos for her so that she could access nature from her bed
A good friend of mine in New Zealand did a couple of ocean videos to give to her p


Wow @2DB I so agree with you and I certainly did not know the extent of what is available out there.
Nature is so wonderful, free and ever changing and if you are nosey like me it is fantastic.
If it hadn’t been for Covid I probably would not be such a convert to Zoom, you tube etc.


Firstly it is important to note that no treatments or therapies should be undertaken without first checking with your GP or consultant, as the replies above demonstrate clearly that they can exacerbate conditions, rather than assist.
On a more personal note, my sister was diagnosed with a brain tumour in January 2021, had surgery, radiotherapy and is currently on her penultimate round of chemotherapy. She has tried reiki, yoga and homeopathy to cope with the implications of her chemo and none of them have made a blind bit of difference to her, apart from the dent in her bank balance!


Dear @carlyw, this is such an interesting subject and thank you for posting. So very sorry to hear that your close relative died of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and that your family is also experiencing another cancer diagnosis. It is very positive that you are putting your energy into this project. Here at Blood Cancer UK have some information regarding Complementary Therapies which I would encourage you to read Complementary and alternative therapies | Blood Cancer UK. As the Forum community has previously said, any therapies not already prescribed by the patients medical team should be checked with them before starting. This is because there are some significant complications to be considered. Whilst considering this, in my experience as a nurse, we had an incredible Complementary therapy team that worked alongside our Doctors and Nurses giving incredible support that was safe. There is a place for this as long as there is a robust communications regarding the therapies and therapists. Our collegues at Myeloma UK Complementary therapies - Myeloma UK and Lymphoma Action Lymphoma Action | Complementary therapy also document their recommendations so this may be useful for you to contact them too. Best of luck with your Research. Kind regards Gemma


I guess it’s what works for you. There’s certainly no harm in trying these things. I personally prefer not to but it’s possibly because I think my circumstances are complicated enough as it is. As others have said, it would be wise to run anything like this past your medical team first though just to be on the safe side.