Mind & Body

Mind & Body Therapies

Mind/body therapy uses a variety of techniques designed to enhance the mind's capacity to

affect bodily function and symptoms. Some techniques that were considered complementary in the past have become part of conventional treatments, such as patient support groups and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Other mind/body techniques are still considered complementary, including meditation, prayer (both by the patient and intercessory), mental healing, aromatherapy, and therapies that use creative outlets such as art, music, or dance.

The mind/body techniques of meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or relaxation techniques are safe, inexpensive, and patient-controlled, an important factor in preventing cancer from psychologically controlling the patient at every moment.

Other mind/body practices also empower the patient. Hypnosis is relatively safe, and very good for conditioned responses, such as dealing with anticipatory nausea that a patient feels walking into the chemotherapy treatment room, or doctorÕs office.

Visual imagery via feedback has been proven beneficial to patients from spiritual and psychosocial perspectives. Mindfulness-based stress reduction is offered as a treatment modality at Johns Hopkins because it has been shown to lessen stress, decrease pain, and improve coping mechanisms for patients with cancer.

Manipulative and Body-based Therapies

Manipulative and body-based practices are based on manipulation and/or movement of one or more parts of the body.

Acupressure and acupuncture have been documented to benefit patients with nausea, vomiting, acute pain, fatigue, dry mouth, swelling, and shortness of breath. The side effects are minimal, so these are deemed a safe modality of complementary treatment.

Acupressure and acupuncture are contraindicated, however, in patients with: unstable spines, clotting or bleeding disorders, very low white blood counts, a neutrophil count less than a thousand, and lymphodema.

Chiropractic treatments are relatively safe, since most patients experience only minor discomfort for a day or two, but, with manipulation of the cervical spine, there have been some adverse reactions, such as tinnitus. A patient must engage only a certified chiropractor.

Massage therapy has been documented beneficial for relaxation, pain control, and insomnia. Doctors are treating patients who have lymphodema, a swelling of their limbs due to surgery, with massage therapy called Òmanual, emphatic drainageÓ. The side effects are very minimal, and the benefit is high.

The contraindications of massage therapy are few. If a patient has open wounds, massage therapy is not recommended because of the oils used in the practice. If a patient has fractures, bone metastases, massage therapy is not recommended because it would put pressure on those areas. It is debatable whether massage therapy is safe to use over the internal bed of a tumor.