Ajendra S Rampaul
Pink Hibiscus breast health specialist
There is an increasing worldwide trend and in fact is very common in Trinidad for patients and women to explore alternative treatments, conventional medicine does work there is no doubt about that, but it comes with many side effects and is very costly.
These are not features that are suitable for everyone and in fact many treatments for breast cancer today such as chemotherapy produces significant side effects, hormone therapy produces significant menopausal side effects. This not only makes it uncomfortable to have these treatments but also the side effects makes the journey almost worse that the cure.
To tell someone that they can stay alive if they take that makes them sick and almost feel like they're near deaths door is often a very difficult convincing conversation to have.
Many patients turn to alternative treatments such as herbal remedies and other forms of alternative treatment in the hope that they provided the same cure. What is obvious about alternative treatments is that they carry very little side effects the question is whether they work.
One particular area of treatment is acupuncture, this forms part of what is Eastern medicine which includes herbal Chinese remedies and Tibetan medicine, these are growing areas of scrutiny under Western conventional medicine and in fact there are many research studies showing that Chinese herbal remedies do carry potent anti-oncological anti-tumour effects and have been shown to be beneficial in what we use in saline and mouse models.
Tibetan medicine has been shown to have significant effects also in improving the efficacy of chemotherapy. Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and has been used in many forms of treatment. I have found in my own practice that having women use acupuncture alongside conventional medicine for breast cancer has been shown to be of significant benefit.
Many areas that I recommend it for would be to improve or reduce the side effect profile for many drugs which can be used for nausea and vomiting but it could also be used for pain and menopausal symptoms.
Many drugs such as Tamoxifen which reduces the amounts of circulating estrogen in a women's body is used to fight tumour cells, but the problem is that it gives rise to many menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and mood irritability. Using acupuncture can improve these symptoms thereby making it easier for the patients to have these treatments and not have a worse quality of life.
Acupuncture has to be delivered by a specialist, a person skilled in the technique but it carries very little side effects. It is highly efficacious and produces no untoward problems when used in the right setting. It would be very useful to embrace some of these emerging, very ancient forms of treatment and for western medicine to explore it further, because there is a place for a continuum of western versus ancient and alternative eastern treatments.