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Holistic Cancer Treatment Now Offered At Rush University Medical Center September 15, 2007

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternatives.
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Sept 13, 2007 

A new program at Rush University Medical Center focuses on the emotional, psychological and spiritual effects of cancer, offering new therapies that complement traditional medical therapies. The Cancer Integrative Medicine Program is designed to relieve stress, pain and fatigue, as well as help patients take an active role in enhancing their health.

The new program offers integrative and behavioral medicine methods of treatment including acupuncture, biofeedback, guided imagery, medical hypnosis, yoga, massage, nutritional counseling, and herbal counseling.

“We created this program to improve the quality of life for our cancer patients,” said Janine Gauthier, PhD, director of clinical services for the program. “We look beyond the illness to treat the whole person.”

According to Gauthier, this means making stress relief a top priority. Stress can worsen pain and even weaken the immune system.

“Stress is a huge issue for people with cancer,” said Gauthier. “When patients get relief from stress, they gain a sense of control and may even tolerate their medical treatments better.”

In addition to acupuncture, yoga and massage therapy, participants in the program are offered mind and body processes to help manage stress and relieve pain. These services include biofeedback, relaxation and guided imagery and medical hypnosis.

Biofeedback uses monitoring equipment to provide visual or audible signs of activity in muscles and the part of the nervous system that controls heartbeat and breathing. Patients are trained to use the signals from their own bodies to relax muscles and help relieve pain.

Relaxation and Guided imagery are forms of relaxation therapy. Relaxation teaches individuals how to modify stressful breathing in order to trigger the relaxation response which helps to decrease heart rate, decrease muscle tension, and create and overall sense of well being. Guided Imagery is used in combination with relaxation and is based on the formation of meaningful images in the mind. Mental pictures are used to achieve relaxation, reduce heart rate and heal illness.

Medical hypnosis is a state of focused attention or altered consciousness. During this period of restful alertness, distractions are blocked allowing a person to concentrate on a particular subject, memory, sensation or problem.

The program also offers nutrition and herbal counseling. A registered dietitian provides a personalized nutrition plan to help patients sustain health through treatment and into recovery. A pharmacist identifies which herbal medicines may be helpful and which may interact with other medications.

“The combination of one or more of these complementary therapies with mainstream medical care builds on the strong connection between body and mind,” said Gauthier.

Six highly qualified integrative medicine practitioners comprise the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program team. They work in close collaboration with physicians at Rush to provide patient-centered care.

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