Alternatives and complements: What's out there?

SINGAPORE - The terms "complementary" and "alternative" are sometimes used to refer to non-traditional methods of diagnosing, preventing or treating ailments like cancer or its symptoms.

They include enemas, like colonic-cleansing, and no-touch "energy work" such as Reiki.

Some take a lot of time or cost a lot of money, such as strict diets or travel to another country for special treatments.

Others are more sensible and involve, for instance, only taking vitamins and being in a stress-free environment.

While some may opt for complementary or alternative therapies because they think they have no side effects, a big concern is that delaying mainstream treatment allows the cancer to grow and spread to other parts of the body, doctors say.

Patients should consult their physicians before embarking on any sort of non-traditional treatment.

Gerson Therapy

What: It was developed by Dr Max Gerson, a German doctor who devised it to treat his own debilitating migraines. It was eventually used to treat degenerative diseases such as skin tuberculosis, diabetes and cancer.

Proponents say: Therapy involves coffee enemas and an organic and vegetarian diet that includes lots of fresh fruit juice and natural supplements.

They claim that the diet naturally re-activates the body's ability to heal itself with no damaging side effects.

CA Care Therapy

What: Designed by Penang-based Dr Chris Teo, it does not claim to cure, but aims to alleviate cancer-related symptoms like pain, constipation, severe coughs and breathlessness.

Proponents say: Therapy involves taking herbs, maintaining a stress-free lifestyle and following a diet of mainly fruits, vegetables, grains and cereals. Meat and dairy products are not allowed.


What: It uses a technology similar to dialysis. The process claims to remove the inhibitors that cancer cells create to shield themselves from attack by the body's immune system.

Proponents say: They say this method elicits a natural immune system response that, in most cases, leads to tumour shrinkage.


What: This is a 5,000-year-old traditional Indian system of medicine. It claims to rejuvenate the cells, rather than kill cancerous cells.

Proponents say: Therapy relies on natural, often plant-based substances for treatment, which benefit patients by relieving their pain and extending their lifespan.

It can work alongside chemotherapy and reduce its side effects.

Reiki Therapy (main photo)

What: It originated from Japan in the early 1900s. It claims to reduce cancer-related fatigue, anxiety, nausea and pain.

Proponents say: Therapy involves channelling healing energy by placing hands lightly on the body or just above it.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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