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How Acupuncture, Reiki, Massage and Yoga Can Help Cancer Patients

May 10, 2023

The human body can generally take care of itself, but sometimes a little help is needed – especially when its undergoing cancer treatment.

Integrative medicine treatments like reiki, massage, therapeutic art, yoga or acupuncture can boost the body’s potential for self-healing, says Eric Secor, PhD, chief of integrative medicine at the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute.

“Our goal is to provide support to our patients throughout their cancer treatment by helping manage pain, anxiety, stress and related treatment side effects. This not only helps preserve patients’ schedules but, ultimately, maintains quality of life,” he explains.

Struggling with a cancer diagnosis?

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Many benefits for cancer patients

There are numerous benefits of integrative medicine services – from reiki and massage to mindfulness and stress management – including:

  • Helping patients tolerate chemotherapy and radiation
  • Providing a general sense of well-being, minimizing anxiety, depression and stress
  • Improving sleep quality
  • Increasing and maintaining range of motion, muscle strength, balance and endurance
  • Improving digestion
  • Reducing pain
  • Preventing and treating lymphedema
  • Boosting relaxation
  • Stabilizing weight through personalized nutrition

“Research shows that adding a consistent, common sense lifestyle and wellness approach to the best medical treatment enhances overall healing,” Dr. Secor says. “We believe in caring for the whole person and the entire family. So while our top cancer specialists use the best in technology and trials to address and treat very complex disease, our team helps patients in other meaningful ways.”

> Related: 14 Surprising Uses for Acupuncture

Why it helps

Each integrative medicine modality is unique so patients should find one or more that meet their needs, he says, explaining popular services and benefits:

  • Acupuncture. The traditional Chinese healing practice applies tiny needles to specific points on the body to relieve physical symptoms, increase body function and enhance quality of life, Dr. Secor says. Patients actually relax and even sleep during treatment!
  • Therapeutic massage/reflexology. Manipulating soft tissue in the body helps patients slow down, quiet their mind and relieve stress and pain. The Cancer Institute team practices Swedish, deep tissue, sports, manual lymph drainage, chair and cranial-sacral massage.
  • Reiki. One form of energy therapy, reiki is a gentle, hands-on relaxation technique that leaves patients feeling calmer and more comfortable to better heal the mind, body and spirit. Hartford Hospital has one of the area’s oldest reiki volunteer programs with more than 70,000 sessions.
  • Therapeutic art. Engaging in art helps reduce stress, pain and anxiety, and provides an overall sense of calm and accomplishment. The many options include adult coloring books, stenciling, crafts, paint by numbers, mixed media and wood working means there’s no need to be a Picasso or Andy Warhol!
  • Yoga for cancer. Gentle movement and stretching through yoga improves strength and mobility while helping modulate the stress response. Certified yoga therapists focus on safety and relaxation while encouraging patients to give it their all.

“We encourage all Cancer Institute patients to engage in a wellness and lifestyle activity – or several! – to help them and their families along their cancer journey. Our therapists are all licensed by the state, overseen by Hartford Hospital, and the therapies are safe and incredibly helpful to anyone fighting cancer,” Dr. Secor notes.

Struggling with a cancer diagnosis?

The emotions that come along with a cancer diagnosis and journey don’t simply turn off when treatment ends. At the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute, we’ve created the Center for Cancer Survivorship to help our patients and their loved ones move confidently into the next phase of life.

Visit website Call Call 855.255.6181