Cancer research has developed a variety of conventional medical treatments over the course of a century. Apart from this, biological or holistic cancer therapy exists. Rather than focusing on cancerous tumor, biological or holistic therapy considers the entire organism (body) of the patient. Its primary goal is to eliminate the causes of the disease instead of eliminating the cancer cells themselves. To this the alternative therapy employs different treatment methods.
Principles and approaches of holistic therapy
The basic principles of biological cancer therapy can be attributed to naturopathy. Here, among other things, the immune system should be strengthened, the body detoxified and a balanced nutrition should be ensured. Instead of drugs established in conventional medicine, holistic cancer therapy increasingly relies on alternative substances. Examples are infusions with high doses of vitamin c which are applied to patients or mistletoe therapy.
Furthermore a variety of treatment methods are employed, for example hyperthermia, which should contain tumor growth by overheating the corresponding part of the body. Other treatments include oxygen therapies, exercise therapy, pain therapy, nutritional therapies and relaxation exercises.
Risks of holistic cancer therapy
Advocates of holistic cancer therapy emphasize low adverse effects and treatment costs. Often substances, which are cheap and can be bought quickly, are promoted as a "miracle cure" for the fight against cancer. However, many of these substances are not officially approved for cancer treatment and their intended effect or possible side effects are not proven with sufficient scientific research.
Dichloroacetate (DCA) is one such example. DCA is a salt and widely used in the chemical industry. In 2007 DCA became famous for cancer treatment. It was promoted that DCA can reactivate the "self-destruction" function of diseased cells that was "shut down" by cancer. However, research had pointed out that the DCA was not able to reach the affected cells and largely remained in the stomach. Due to its highly corrosive and toxic properties, DCA is even potentially harmful to the organism.
Realistic assessment of biological therapy potential
There is a great deal to warn about euphoria with regard to holistic cancer therapy. However, one should recognize their potential as well: Many naturopathic treatment methods help to improve the general condition of the patients, which is of great help to many cancer patients. In many places, traditional medical procedures, such as targeted cancer therapy, are already being combined with alternative forms of treatment.