Introduction to alternative herbal cancer medicine use by cancer patients for treatment Rapid developments in the conventional management of cancer have been accompanied by an increased consumer-driven move toward choice and individual control. While alternative (or complementary) medicine has always existed, its availability and variety are growing and its use increasing. 1
Cancer patients use alternative therapies despite arguments such as lack of scientific validity, proven ineffectiveness of some treatments and reliance on the placebo effect. It may be helpful for Australian doctors to know the range of alternative therapies used by cancer patients, and to have an understanding of the reasons why they use such therapies, as this may cast some light on deficiencies in the current standard of conventional care.
We aimed to investigate the range of alternative therapies used by cancer patients attending outpatient clinics conducted by a teaching hospital clinical oncology unit, and to assess the level of satisfaction with these therapies and with conventional therapy. Methods
The questionnaire sought demographic data, and the following information about their conventional treatment: understanding of diagnosis and treatment, expectations before treatment, impressions at the conclusion of treatment, and overall satisfaction. All questions were multiple choice, with the exception of diagnosis.
Those who had used alternative medicine were asked (in multiple-choice questions, but with space for comments) to outline their reasons for doing so, as well as the treatments chosen. The questionnaire did not seek details of the chosen therapies. The same questions that were used to assess their conventional medicine experience were used to assess their alternative medicine experiences. In addition, they were asked about the reaction of family and friends to their use of alternative therapy, whether they had discussed alternative treatment with their medical oncologist, to estimate the financial cost, and whether they felt they had received value for money.
Data were analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences 2 to determine associations between patient characteristics and alternative medicine use; significance was measured by the odds ratio. Logistic regression analysis was used to analyse all variables which may affect use of alternative therapy.
Results Five hundred and seven patients attended, of whom 335 (66%) responded (271 from RNSH, 64 from PMBH). Sixteen questionnaires were excluded from assessment (the alternative medicine question was unanswered in 12, no demographic details were given in 3, and one was returned blank), leaving 319 (62%) to be assessed.
It is noteworthy that in our study women, married people, and those with high levels of education and private health insurance predominate. Only 22.9% of the 319 patients were in paid employment, and median household income was in the $20 000-$40 000 range. A wide variety of diagnoses were represented; breast cancer was the single most common diagnosis.
Experiences of conventional treatment Most respondents had received chemotherapy, and many had undergone other kinds of cancer therapy (Box 1). When asked about their expectations at the beginning of treatment, 85.6% believed that it would cure them or prolong their lives. By contrast, at the end of conventional treatment 63.0% felt that they had been cured or that their life had been prolonged, while 8.2% felt that their treatment had been of no benefit, or had made them worse. Most respondents (75.3%) were either satisfied or very satisfied with their experience of conventional therapy, while only 3.1% were either unsatisfied or very unsatisfied.
Seventy patients of the 319 assessed (21.9%) indicated that they were using alternative therapy. The most frequently given reasons were a preference for natural therapy, and seeing the alternative therapy as another source of hope (Box 2). Box 3 shows the alternative therapies chosen; dietary and psychological methods were most prevalent, followed by herbalism. Seventy-five per cent of patients tried more than one therapy (median, 3; range, 1-8) Most of the patients had learnt of alternative therapies through friend or family recommendation (37; 52.9%), and personal research (32; 45.7%), while doctor's recommendation (11; 15.7%) and media reports (6; 8.6%) were less common (some patients cited more than one source). In addition, family and friends were overwhelmingly supportive, with those of 64 patients (91.4%) being either encouraging or tolerant of the use of alternative therapies.
At the beginning of alternative treatment 51 patients (72.9%) expected it would cure them or prolong their lives, while at the completion 34 (48.6%) felt that they had been cured, or that their lives had been prolonged. Only seven (10%) had the impression that alternative treatment was of no benefit, or had made them worse. Overall, 49 patients (70%) were satisfied or very satisfied with alternative treatment, and only one (1.4%) was unsatisfied.
Forty-five patients gave an estimate of the annual cost of their alternative therapy; the median annual cost was $530 (range, 0-$20 000). Of the 70 patients who had alternative therapy, 45 (64.3%) felt they were getting value for money, five (7.1%) did not, and the remainder did not answer this question. Importantly, 37 (52.9%) felt that they could discuss their alternative treatment with their physician, while 28 (40%) felt they could not.
Patient characteristics and alternative therapy use
Being young and being married were significantly associated with use of alternative medicine, with marital status significant at P = 0.02. Logistic regression analysis showed that age and satisfaction with conventional therapy are the key predictors for a decision to use alternative therapy. Overall, younger patients used more alternative therapy (odds ratio, 1.67; P < 0.0001; 95% CI, 1.32-2.13), and those who were very satisfied with their conventional treatment used less alternative therapy (odds ratio, 0.55; P < 0.0001; 95% CI, 0.38-0.79). Sex, level of education, employment status, income, private health insurance, diagnosis, expectations at beginning of treatment or impressions at the end of treatment were not significantly associated with use of alternative therapy.
posted on 1:08 PM
For decades, allergy sufferers in Europe and much of South America have been able to control their allergies with daily under-the-tongue drops instead of shots.
And although the prescription drops are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, their use is spreading across the U.S. too.
Like shots, the active ingredients in the drops are customized to the patients' allergies and use the same allergy antigens for treatment. Alternative Botox and blood pressure medications prescribed for migraine headaches are common examples of off-label use.
Allergy drops work in the same way that shots do. The idea is to inoculate people with small amounts of the substances they are allergic to so that their bodies gradually develop immunity. Because such small amounts of the allergens are introduced with each shot or drop, it can take three to five years to reach a point at which a patient allergic to pollen, for example, will not sneeze in the spring.
Instead of going to a doctor's office for weekly shots treatment, patients can take allergy drops at home. Patients place one or two drops under the tongue first thing in the morning and before going to bed at night.
There is no taste, and the only reported side effect can be some itching under the tongue for the first several weeks of treatment.
The idea of treating allergiesalternately by desensitizing the immune system dates back to the early 1900s. By around 1915, doctors were treating hay fever by inoculating their patients with pollen, some with injections, and others by mouth. Shots and drops were virtually interchangeable until the 1950s, when most practitioners had switched over to shots.
"It's gaining such ground it's hard to completely ignore it," Cox says. "It's just expensive to introduce something in the U.S. market."
For allergy sufferers, an alternative to shots for treatment
posted on 12:10 PM
Came to our center with Sever Hypertension 240/160 mm Hg, Diabetes with fasting blood glucose 350 mg%, Sever Migraine headache, Tingling and numbness in hands and feet, Obese, sever Arthritis, Post menopausal syndrome, Hormonal Imbalance, unable to stand, walk and work, Allergy, Weakness, Constipation, Loss of hair, Dark skin with under eye dark circle unable to work. Now every thing is corrected. Working confidently and leading normal life. Share her experience with us.
posted on 11:35 AM