If there’s one issue I take with mainstream medicine’s approach to treating cancer, it’s that so much focus is spent on defeating the disease while very little attention is paid to the health and vitality of the patient.
Unfortunately, this is a common and ultimately counterproductive mistake. When you’re up against cancer, permanent recovery requires balance and harmony within your body… and that means paying as much attention to your health as you do to your survival.
As an integrative doctor, I strongly believe in this principle of balance for attaining health. Finally, it seems that conventional medicine is catching on to some of the holistic practices that sustain this balance, as evidenced by brand new research that sheds light on the great value that yoga can have for cancer survivors who are on the road back to wellness.
As part of a study presented earlier this month at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, researchers randomly assigned 400 cancer survivors, most of who had received chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, to either twice-weekly yoga classes or mere follow-up monitoring. The group who did yoga practiced gentle and restorative forms of this meditative exercise, such as Hatha yoga, which focuses of breathing, mindfulness, and special postures to promote the integration of body, mind and spirit, leading to improved health and well being.
The results of the study found that the subjects who did yoga experienced a 22 percent increase in sleep quality and were able to cut back significantly on sleeping pill use, demonstrating nearly double the improvement of the control group in this important measure of lasting health. Chronic disruption of your body’s restorative sleep cycles has been linked to the development of numerous cancers, with population studies showing that breast, endometrial, prostate, and colorectal cancers are all more common among sleep-deprived individuals.
This study also found that yoga cut fatigue nearly in half, and contributed to a slight but significant increase in quality of life. This is an especially significant finding in light of the fact that conventional medicine has yet to come up with an effective cure for fatigue, by far one of the most common complaints among cancer survivors. And while drug-based approaches to ensuring proper sleep may work in the short-term, they also come with significant side effects and can lead to dangerous dependency.
Daily gentle and meditative yoga practice, on the other hand, doesn’t require you to take on even a single risk or side effect in order to reap its many health rewards. For cancer survivors—and anyone on the path to lasting wellness—you simply won’t find a better way to restore peace, balance, and harmony back into your health.
SOURCE: American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, June 2010.
Dr. Isaac Eliaz, a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine since the early 1980's, is a respected author, lecturer, researcher, product formulator and clinical practitioner.
Since 1991 Dr. Eliaz has maintained a busy private practice in northern California that focuses primarily on integrative, holistic protocols for cancer patients. He leads an integrative medical team at Amitabha Clinic in Sebastopol, California with focus on cancer and other chronic ailments.
To learn more, please visit www.dreliaz.org.
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