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Complementary & Alternative Medicine

Many individuals diagnosed with cancer choose to take charge of their own destinies by working with health care providers to make decisions in their treatment plans. By taking such an active role, they feel a great sense of control and work hard to improve their overall well-being.

What is Integrative Oncology?

The Integrative Oncology Program provides safe and effective complementary health care for people with cancer. Services and therapies are offered as an adjunct to conventional medical treatments and enhance the continuum of care offered through RWJBarnabas Health’s oncology and cancer care programs. Integrative Oncology honors each patient’s physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual needs as integral to the healing process.

The Benefits for Oncology Patients

Complementary and alternative therapies can improve a cancer patient’s quality of life by reducing symptoms of disease, alleviating the side effects of treatments and facilitating emotional and spiritual peace. An integrative approach to cancer provides patients and their families with expanded health care options and the ability to become more proactive in their overall treatment plan.

Integrative Medicine Consultation

Our board-certified medical director with expertise in integrative and preventive medicine provides an individualized care plan utilizing appropriate complementary modalities and healing options during a one-hour consultation. Making complementary and alternative care decisions in an era when there is such a broad range of options can be confusing. The Integrative Medicine Consultation creates a clinically responsible balance between the science of cancer medicine and the comfort of complementary care.

Mind/Body Medicine

Mind/Body Medicine focuses on the powerful ways in which physical, emotional, mental and spiritual factors directly affect health. It involves the application of a variety of psychological techniques and knowledge proven to be effective in changing mood, behavior and consciousness.

Health care providers recognize the powerful link between a patient’s spiritual beliefs, social beliefs, general emotional outlook and their ability to heal. Learning how to use the power of the mind enables patients to minimize the negative effects of stress and feel alert, self-assured and more in control.

Modalities include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Guided Imagery
  • Hypnosis
  • Biofeedback

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a system of health care used to diagnose and treat illness, prevent disease and improve well-being. Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine disposal needles into the skin to redirect the flow of healing energy throughout the body. Acupuncture treats both mind and body, and addresses many aspects of the body’s functions simultaneously.

In a 1997 Consensus Statement, the National Institutes of Health indicate the practice of acupuncture may be “useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative [treatment]” for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Acupuncture is a reasonable option for a number of other clinical conditions including post-operative pain, musculoskeletal and back pain, anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue.

Massage/Bodywork

Massage is the therapeutic manipulation of the soft tissues of the body. Massage provides health-related benefits that affect the musculoskeletal, circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems of the body. Bodywork modalities help to improve muscle tone, enhance flexibility and circulation, and relieve the pain and tension associated with daily stress. Massage has direct physiological and psychological benefits for the patient with cancer. Massage relieves fatigue, reduces tensions and anxiety, calms the nervous system, promotes a sense of relaxation and renews energy and emotional comfort.

Modalities include:

  • Swedish Massage
  • Reflexology
  • Trager Approach
  • Cranio-Sacral

Nutritional Counseling

Nutritional Counseling provides an individualized and carefully constructed diet. A professional dietician will take into account your special needs, likes and dislikes and physical abilities. A balanced diet helps patients maintain a healthy weight, support tolerance of chemotherapy and radiation treatments and improve quality of life. Nutrition is an important component in understanding the relationship of diet to health promotion and disease prevention. Proper nutrition varies for everyone based on physical environment, body composition and activity level.

Dietary and Herbal Supplement Counseling

A professional consultation will provide guidance about incorporating natural medicines into your individual health plan, therefore minimizing risks of interactions and maximizing therapeutic outcomes. Herbs and dietary supplements that are safe and reasonably effective for one person are not necessarily the appropriate choice for another. People have been using natural plant substances to enhance health and treat illness since the beginning of recorded time. Today, herbal remedies remain the main form of healing throughout much of the world.

Movement and Exercise

A program of sensible exercise strengthens lungs, tones muscles, keeps joints in good condition and increases ability to cope with stress. People with cancer can participate in a number of regular movement and exercise programs that are less strenuous and provide physical, mental and spiritual benefits.

A mind/body oriented approach to exercise and fitness provides empowerment strategies for improved mental attitude, restful sleep patterns, and increased appetite. Awareness of breathing and sensations while performing low-impact activities brings attention and self-importance back into daily life.

Programs include:

  • Qi Gong
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga

Insurance

Many insurance companies offer coverage for complementary and alternative treatments. Each insurance policy must be reviewed to determine actual benefits on an individual basis.

Contact Us

For more information about the Integrative Oncology Program or to schedule an appointment, please call (973) 322-7007.