‘Softer medicine’ growing in appeal

Acupuncture, reiki and aromatherapy were once dismissed as mumbo jumbo by the medical establishment but doctors say demand for complementary therapies is burgeoning in WA.

A decade ago when someone was diagnosed with cancer the only thing that mattered was surviving, but health experts say more patients are turning to “softer medicine” to take some of the sting out of gruelling rounds of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

With one in three people facing a cancer diagnosis and the WA health system groaning under the weight of more than 10,000 new cases a year, there are predictions demand for complementary therapies will keep rising.

But bad publicity about unproved alternative cancer treatments has prompted a shift to the term “complementary integrated therapies” to make it clear they work hand-in-hand with conventional cancer treatments rather than replace them.

One of the biggest providers of therapies, SolarisCare, has provided 35,000 treatments since it was launched 10 years ago and has 100 people a week coming through its doors. Its founder, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital head of haematology David Joske, said centres in Perth, Bunbury and Albany offered free treatments to cancer patients.

Massage was the most popular but there was growing demand for reiki, a Japanese healing therapy said to correct energy imbalances in the body by the “laying of hands”.

Dr Joske said ancient therapies often helped improve compliance with high-tech medical treatments such as chemotherapy.

“Patients say they used to dread coming into hospital for treatment and now they look forward to it because they get something nice as well,” he said.

The charity bike ride Red Sky Ride, which has raised more than $1.1 million for SolarisCare in the past four years, will be held from February 26.

Co-founder Kim Gilbert said 20 riders would cycle through the South West to raise funds.

This year’s ride will be dedicated to 53-year-old Fremantle mother Chadia Scheel, who for the past six years has been battling chronic lymphatic leukaemia. Ms Scheel credits complementary therapies for helping her cope with nine rounds of chemotherapy.

Originally published here

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