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Herbal Medicine, Healing & Cancer Book Review

Overview of Herbal Medicine, Healing & Cancer

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Updated March 10, 2010

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Herbal Medicine, Healing & Cancer Book Review

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Herbal Medicine, Healing & Cancer. A Comprehensive Program for Prevention and Treatment presents information on using herbs, nutrition, spirituality, and a healthy lifestyle to heal after a cancer diagnosis. Authored by Donald R. Yance, a trained herbalist who regularly works with individuals affected by cancer, the book touches on cancer prevention too.

Please talk to your medical care team before implementing any suggestions from the book. The recommendations may be appropriate for individuals with cancer, but some herbs and dietary supplements can interfere with some types of cancer treatment.

Pros of Herbal Medicine, Healing & Cancer

If you keep in mind that you need to discuss use of dietary supplements and over-the-counter medications with your doctor, this book can be a helpful resource for learning about how herbs and lifestyle choices can help you cope with cancer.

Topics covered in this book are wide-ranging and include:

  • What cancer is and how it is treated
  • How cancer can affect the body’s ability to digest and use food
  • How herbal medicine can affect the immune response
  • Basic healthy-nutrition guidelines
  • Good foods to include in one's diet
  • Foods that should be limited or avoided for best health
  • How herbs may be used during cancer therapy
  • How to deal with fear and worry
  • The importance of exercise, proper rest and sleep, sunlight, and fresh air
  • Ways to cope with some of the symptoms and side effects of cancer care
  • Keeping a "healthy kitchen" (grocery shopping guide, cooking equipment, menu suggestions, etc.)

Many people diagnosed with colon cancer or other serious conditions find that they want to make positive lifestyle changes to improve health. This book can be a good place to find helpful information on some of the ways to approach holistic healing and wellness.

Cons of Herbal Medicine, Healing & Cancer

As with many books that touch on complementary and alternative medicine for cancer, Herbal Medicine, Healing & Cancer presents ideas the reader should consider with caution.

For example, chapter 10, "Making Decisions," discusses conventional therapy:

"The more experience I gain in working with people who have cancer, the more confidence I have that the natural approach I recommend can be successful in combination with the conventional medical approach, or even all by itself in many cases. At this time, I am not ready to make this claim for every person with every type of cancer, but maybe some day I will be able to do that too. I feel very confident using my approach alone for certain cancers."

It's true that conventional treatment may not be necessary in all cases. One example is less-aggressive prostate cancers in older men. These cancers sometimes are treated with a "watch and wait" approach.

However, most cancers require conventional treatment, such as surgery, to ensure that the cancer does not continue to grow and spread. This is true for colon cancer. There is generally no such thing as a "watch and wait" approach for treating colon cancer.

For someone faced with unappealing treatment choices, it can be tempting to find an alternative medicine practitioner who validates the idea that conventional treatment is "poison." Certainly, these treatments are hard on the body. However, in many cases, they offer the best chance for long-term survival after a cancer diagnosis.

Other Considerations

Keep in mind that the nutritional recommendations in this book may not be right for everyone. The author is a certified nutritionist (CN). This professional distinction is not recognized or regulated by any conventional medical, nutrition, or scientific organization. Becoming a CN does not require any university or college-level training or a degree in nutrition or science.

Nonetheless, most of Yance’s healthy-eating recommendations are good. Nearly everyone can benefit from eating more vegetables and fruit, and eating less sugar, other simple carbohydrates, processed foods, trans fats (hydrogenated fats), and salt.

Again, remember to discuss these issues with your doctor -- or in the case of nutrition, with a registered dietitian (RD) -- before using them during treatment.

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