Health Partners: Integrative Medicine

April 5, 2023

The content below is provided by Virginia Oncology Associates, a sponsor of H4TG’s A Calendar to Live By/Guide to Caring for Yourself.

Integrative medicine unites conventional and alternative medicine techniques to improve a patient’s wellbeing during treatment. While patients receive treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy, they also get the support of complementary therapies like acupuncture, yoga, MBSR, meditation and energy medicine.

“Studies and clinical evidence show that integrative medicine approaches can help manage cancer symptoms and treatment side effects during and after treatment,” says Boon Kok, MD, medical oncologist and hematologist with Virginia Oncology Associates. “For example, studies show progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness therapy are better for hot flashes than soy.”

Integrative medicine may also help with other common side effects of cancer treatment, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Mood, depression and anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Stress

Many patients who use integrative medicine for these side effects report a higher quality of life throughout their cancer treatment and into recovery.

Integrative Medicine Treatments

Each integrative medicine treatment plan is personalized to match a person’s most pressing symptoms as well as their preference.

“Integrative medicine is a patient-centric approach,” says Dr. Kok. “It takes into consideration each person’s mind, body and spirit as well as their cultural and community background.”

Treatment plans might include multiple alternative (also called complementary) therapies such as:

  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Meditation
  • Nutrition
  • Massage
  • Music and/or art therapy
  • Exercise
  • Biofield/energy medicine

By incorporating these therapies into cancer care, physicians can offer their patients a better overall experience throughout their cancer journey.

Virginia Oncology Associates (VOA) will begin offering integrative oncology consultation soon. Each treatment plan will vary depending on symptoms as well as current research and evidence. Physicians at VOA will work closely with each patient to determine which therapy could help them better manage their symptoms and side effects.

Patients who are interested in integrative medicine therapies should speak to their oncologist for more information and recommendations.

Content provided by Virginia Oncology Associates | Boon Kok, MD (Medical Oncologist and Hematologist with Virginia Oncology Associates)



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