Integrative Medicine: Overview

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Integrative medicine combines Western medicine with other modalities, treating "mind, body, and soul" to help a person to achieve a healthier state than they would using any individual modality. Examples of the use of integrative medicine in the care of breast cancer patients include the following:

  • Yoga and aloe to treat fatigue and skin changes from radiation
  • Meditation and stress reduction techniques, such as art therapy, to address the emotional aspects of being a breast cancer patient
  • Dietary changes to aid the body during chemotherapy

It is important for you to tell your cancer specialist about any non-Western modalities you are considering so he or she can ensure they are safe for you and will not interfere with your treatments.

The following modalities can be utilized in integrative medicine:

  • Acupuncture
  • Art/dance/music therapies
  • Biofeedback
  • Herbal medicine
    • Naturopathy
    • Homeopathy
    • Non-Western traditional medicine
      • Chinese medicine
      • Ayurvedic medicine—medicine with its roots in India
  • Hypnosis
  • Meditation
  • Mind/body
    • Chiropractics—a healthcare discipline that focuses on the disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems
    • Kinesiology—adaptation through exercise
    • Massage
    • Mind-body techniques
    • Osteopathy—a manipulative technique
    • Qigong—Chinese discipline of movement, breathing, and focused intention
    • Reiki—An alternative medicine using hands-on-healing
    • Tai chi—Chinese internal martial arts
  • Visualization/guided imagery