Sunday, October 1, 2023

Emotional wellness

Mind-body approaches

The NCCIH or the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health defines mind-body interventions or approaches as those practices that “employ a variety of techniques designed to facilitate the mind’s capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms.”

Recently, specialists have become more aware of the fact that cancer symptoms do not appear in isolation but rather ‘cluster’ together. When one sign is treated, its side effects may lead to another set of symptoms or distress signals in the body, thus demanding an entirely new way of treating such symptoms. In other words, it is not enough to treat each symptom separately; rather, a holistic approach that works on the entire spectrum of symptoms is required to make treatment more efficient and beneficial for the patient.

Mind-body approaches are known to contribute significantly to reduce headaches, chronic pain, especially in patients with cancer, and Nausea and Vomiting induced by Chemotherapy. There is also ample evidence to show that mind-body intervention has helped patients and survivors to cope better with both the physical and mental side-effects of medical treatment for cancer. At the very least, it improves the overall quality of life and helps boost the immune system.

Persistent or recurrent pain, fatigue, and disturbance of sleep are common and well-documented symptom clusters seen in patients with cancer. The usual methods of treating these symptoms include medications to reduce individual symptoms, so that improving one may lead to worsening of the other. For example, drugs used to help with Sleep Disturbances may cause Fatigue during the rest of the day. There is increasing evidence emerging that categorically shows that mind-body approaches and interventions targeted at clusters like the one mentioned above have worked on each individual symptom.

Some of the most common mind-body approaches include various relaxation techniques, yoga, music therapy, art therapy, journaling, tai chi, qigong, hypnosis, imagery, and other cognitive and behavioral techniques. Meditation has been highly beneficial in helping the patients reduce their Stress and Anxiety and also heighten their sense of awareness of the connections between the mind and the body. Yoga, qigong, and Tai Chi are different variations of movement-based mind-body exercises that have similar effects in helping the body and mind to work in harmony. Yoga was found to be especially helpful in the recovery process and in improving sleep. A study on senior Prostate Cancer survivors showed that practicing a mind-body activity like Qigong was much more helpful in coping with Fatigue and other distress symptoms than just physical activities like stretching. This shows the vitality of mind and body approaches and the importance of incorporating the wellbeing of the mind into the whole approach to Cancer Treatment. There are other techniques involved in the mind and body approach that are more physical in nature. These include acupuncture, massage therapy, Alexander technique, Pilates, and spinal manipulation, among others.

All of the treatment methods, techniques and approaches mentioned above and the corresponding studies on the different methods and approaches show that cancer patients who do not receive palliative care and integrative treatment are missing out on a whole lot, and such patients form the majority of the cancer patients and survivors, particularly in a country like India. They lose the opportunity to reduce both their mental and physical suffering drastically and manage all their symptoms, side-effects of treatment, and distress associated with treatment and recovery of cancer.

Although researchers, healthcare professionals, and cancer specialists all over the world are recognizing the importance of holistic treatment, that is not merely focused on pharmaceutical and medical solutions the healing of the mind as well through mind-body techniques, Indian medicine has fallen short of these developments. ZenOnco.io was created specifically to bridge this chasm and bring the much-needed integrative treatment methods to cancer patients and cancer survivors all over India treatments that are based on mindfulness, emotional and spiritual wellness, and mind-body intervention.