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What is complementary medicine?

Complementary is a term used to describe many kinds of products, practices and systems outside of conventional medical treatments. You may hear the word used to refer to methods to help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life during cancer treatment. We call these "complementary" because they are used to assist wellness along with your medical treatment.

Complementary treatments can be appealing because many of them involve using your own body, your own mind or things found in nature. Some also have no side effects. Another plus is that complementary therapies are things that you, and only you, choose to do.

For more than a decade, Gundersen has offered many complementary therapies, most of which are now available in one convenient location—the Integrative Medicine Center in Onalaska, Wis. They include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Ayurvedic medicine
  • Biofeedback
  • Chiropractic care
  • Dry needling
  • Essential oils
  • Herbal therapy
  • Massage therapy, including specialized lymphatic drainage massages and chronic medical condition massages
  • Medical consultation
  • Menopause help
  • Nicotine cessation programs
  • Neutraceuticals
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Prolotherapy

Cancer patients and others may decide to use one or more complementary medicine for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common being:

  • For relief of symptoms or side effects while undergoing conventional treatments, such as nausea relief during cancer treatments.
  • To help with pain or symptoms not alleviated by conventional medicine.
  • To manage stress, anxiety, depression or anger.
  • For insomnia or fatigue.
  • To increase a sense of well-being.

The decision to receive complementary methods of treatment is an important one. No matter your reason for seeking out such therapy, you may want to first talk to your provider about which would best compliment your cancer treatment plan. Doing so will help ensure you choose safe and effective complementary therapies to help you feel your best. Learn more about complementary therapies.

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