Cancer has reached almost every household in today’s era of lack of exercise, unhealthy food habits, addictions, stress and moral famine. The overall treatment options available in the medical ‘market’ provide more pain than relief. Various kinds of surgery, radiation and newer chemotherapy drugs, in their own way, are posing a threat to the individual’s quality of life. Apart from the treatment options, the patient is getting bogged down by the battery of investigations and imaging requisitions, often without assessing the case clinically. The pain of cancer has thus extended from the physical and emotional sphere, to moral and financial downfall. The patient is exhausted and emptied in every sense, and gets nothing in return, but a different form of suffering. Is there anything that we as homeopaths can offer?
Most of the patients we meet at our clinics are already in an advanced stage of cancer, or have already undergone a couple of cycles of chemotherapy for the respective malignancy. They pose three significant questions to a homeopath:
- Do you offer anything for cancer, and if yes, what is its scope?
- Is it safe to take homeopathy simultaneously with chemotherapy? Will that affect the efficacy of either of them?
- Can you prescribe anything on a preventive basis, to avoid the recurrence of disease for this patient, or the rest of the family?
We will try to discuss all such issues…
I have heard a lot of claims by eminent homeopaths of my city regarding the CURE of cancer, but I think “Let’s not cheat patients or homeopathy”. I do not doubt the efficacy of homeopathy, but if we make such claims without statistically and objectively proving them, the medical community will accuse us of misguiding the patients, which in turn diminishes the faith of the public in our system.
Apart from its effect against malignant growths, I have seen homeopathy doing wonders by –
- Dealing with the mental trauma that the cancer diagnosis causes, as with further depression and a hopeless mental state.
- Reducing the side-effects of chemotherapy, especially in cases of CINV (chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting).
- Relieving the pains in terminal cancer cases.
The shock and the aftermath
It is very common to have a patient in a mental state of shock and its aftereffects after being diagnosed with cancer. There is a strong sense of approaching death, leading to mixed feelings of fear, despair, hopelessness and sadness. Within no time, you suddenly shift to a permanently unhealthy state, never to return back to your original health. The strong feeling of ‘Why me?’ haunts the patient day and night, leading to a sense of guilt.
ARNICA is the best remedy for such a mental shock, and I have used it often to relieve the effect of this sudden blow, when the patient least expected the diagnosis. There is a strong sense of being good for nothing in such a patient, with a morose and hopeless feeling, along with great apathy.
An ARSENICUM ALB patient will be in a state of anguish with marked restlessness and fear of approaching death. The restlessness gets aggravated at night, keeping the patient awake. There is an oversensitive mind with great melancholy and despair of recovery. He gets irritated at trifles, especially over untidiness around him.
A patient needing PHOS ACID would be sitting quiet, with unwillingness to talk or discuss his health status. There is a strong apathy and indifference with great reluctance to answer questions. It is a hopeless state with dread of anticipated crisis or death. There is a weeping mood triggered by the least stimuli.
ACONITE will be called upon if the patient is in an agonizingly frightful, anxious state with a strong sense of death. He screams with fear and is afraid to go out of the house. It is a situation of emergency, due to the state of panic and terror. There is an overwhelming nervous state with the typical prediction of death.
I have also seen remedies like SEPIA and AURUM MET do excellent work to lift the mood of the patient from the sad and indifferent state. I also use certain Bach flower remedies like Aspen, Rock Rose, Wild Rose, Gorse, White Chestnut, or Rescue Remedy to relieve the acute panic and hopelessness.
CHEMOTHERAPY INDUCED NAUSEA AND VOMITING
Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting can negatively affect the quality of life, making it hard for the patient to function in a normal manner on daily chores, and motivating him to stop chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments. Up to 60% of patients experience severe nausea and vomiting and rank it as the most disturbing side effect of the cancer therapy.
Along with remedial measures, the patient should follow a pattern of small and frequent meals. Dry toast or crackers can help relieve the nausea. One should drink plenty of fluids throughout the day and avoid eating spicy and oily foods.
Among the top-rated remedies for CINV, I have used – IPECAC, ARSENIC ALB, VERATRUM ALBUM, RADIUM BROM and COLCHICUM.
Where colchicum is indicated, I have often found the patient craving carbonated drinks [pepsi or coke] and alcohol [which obviously should not be provided]. There is a strong nauseating feeling from the slightest odor of food. The patient craves a specific food, but when offered, the smell gives rise to nausea preventing him from enjoying it.
The RADIUM BROMATUM patient shows a strong feeling of nausea that is better by eating, as in the case of SEPIA. The patient who needs VERATRUM ALBUM would complain of a strong nauseating feeling that is triggered by starting to eat, along with marked prostration.
I often get patients who are in advanced or terminal stages, and were referred for pain relief, especially when due to bone metastases. There is severe bone pain that is relieved by nothing in particular. No specific position can relieve the pain and it gives rise to intense physical restlessness.
I had used various remedies for this bone pain – including ARNICA, RUTA, EUPATORIUM and RHUS TOX; but the most significant relief has been achieved with the administration of SYMPHYTUM in a mother tincture form.
Homeopathy has much to offer in cases of cancer, apart from treating the malignant growth. A patient or his family will often inquire about the role we as homeopaths can play in the overall treatment process. We need to be clear within ourselves about our scope.