NON-CONVENTIONAL THERAPIES AND HERBAL MEDICINES IN CANCER: WHAT DO COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE PRACTITIONERS THINK?
*Dr. Dinesh Kumar, Dr. Naveen Krishan Goel, Dr. Awadhesh K. Pandey and Dr. Meenu Kalia
Background: The use of non-conventional and herbal therapies for curing cancer is becoming popular due to varied reasons. Opinions of non –conventional therapists / CAM practitioners are mostly unexplored by researchers. Objectives: To explore opinions of complementary and alternative medicine practitioners regarding role of non-conventional therapies and herbal medicine in cure of cancer meeting expectations of their patients. Methodology: Cross-sectional survey was conducted among selected practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine from different states of the country. Their opinions regarding role of non –conventional therapies and herbal medicine in cure of cancer were explored by conducting personal interviews using semi-structured interview schedules. Results: There were 61(25.0%) respondents had faith in Ayurvedic treatment and only 28(11.5%) in Naturopathy/ herbal medicine. Only 69(28.3%) respondents were of the opinion that cancer can be cured completely while 66(27.0%) agreed with this opinion provided patient approaches at an early stage. High mortality due to cancer was attributed to delay in diagnosis and treatment by 38.1% respondents reporting a broad spectrum of perceived reasons of high cancer mortality. Among all CAM practitioners, about 70% were also aware of Chemotherapy as well as stem cell therapy. Majority of respondents were in favor of vegetarian diet reporting its important role in curing Cancer. Vitamins and minerals were reportedly having role in boosting immunity of patients as reported by 36.9% respondents. Holistic approach for cancer cure combining physical, mental, environmental, spiritual factors, social factors along with social system was suggested by 26.2% respondents. Majority of respondents were of the opinion that there was an urgent need of discovering newer, more potent and specific drugs for Cancer. Conclusions and Suggestions: Faith in individual therapies by practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine was very low. Delay in diagnosis and treatment came out to be the most common reported reason of mortality due to cancer. The study suggests the need of early diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients with holistic approach combining together all therapies with no full reliance laid on use of a single therapy. There seems to be an urgent need of discovering newer, more potent and specific drugs for Cancer with proven efficacy on scientific basis.
Keywords: Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Therapists; Herbal Medicine; Holistic Approach; Non-conventional therapies.
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