Dr. David Simon, co-founder and medical director of the Chopra Center, continues his three-part series by offering advice for women starting and continuing treatment.
My experience at the Chopra Center has convinced me that combining holistic approaches with effective conventional medical care leads to the best health outcomes, and with reduced side effects. Cancer challenges people at physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual levels; therefore, support in each of these dimensions of life can be invaluable.
The treatment protocols for breast cancer are effective in lowering the risk of recurrence and maximizing the possibility for a long, healthy life. If interventions promised a high probability for success with a low risk of short- and long-term side effects, there would be little aversion to using them. Unfortunately, cancer is a deep-rooted imbalance, and therefore standard treatments carry some toxicity. In the quest to eliminate the unhealthy cells, some healthy ones suffer collateral damage. You can reduce some of the unwanted side effects through safe holistic approaches. In addition to conventional radiation or chemotherapy, you can awaken your inner pharmacy and enliven your intrinsic healing system through your daily lifestyle choices. These are my top five suggestions for people undergoing cancer treatment:
1. Learn and practice a meditation technique that quiets the mind. The physiology of stress creates a chemical fog that impairs healthy immunity. Learning effective ways to quiet mental turbulence can provide both psychological and physical benefits. I presented a simple breathing meditation practice in my first article. An effective meditation technique that we have taught for many years at the Chopra Center is called Primordial Sound Mediation. We have certified teachers throughout the world offering this valuable means to create a state of restful awareness.
2. Listen to guided meditations and creative healing visualizations that awaken the healing response. Inspiring audio or video material can boost mood and support healing. Choose imagery that enhances peace rather than conflict in your body and mind.
3. Eat healthy foods, including a wide range of fresh and colorful fruits and vegetables. Think in terms of taste and color. According to Ayurveda, the ancient healing system of India, a healthy diet contains foods representing six major categories -- sweet (complex carbohydrates, low-fat protein sources), sour (citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes), salty, pungent (peppers, ginger, spices), butter (green and yellow vegetables), and astringent (beans, legumes, green tea, pomegranate). Healing nutrients are most abundant in colored fruits and vegetables such as red peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, oranges, carrots, bananas, corn, spinach, asparagus, grapes, and eggplant.
4. Practice yoga and breathing exercises on a daily basis. Keep energy circulating throughout your body.
5. Consider the use of detoxifying and immune-supportive herbs. At the Chopra Center, we use ashwagandha, shatavari, guduchi, and amla, based both upon traditional Ayurvedic principles and scientific studies. Before taking any nutritional supplement, have a candid conversation with your health provider.
Making the commitment to these simple principles will help you maintain your balance and the sense that your choices can influence your health. Your thoughts and actions can have an important effect on your healing.
David Simon, M.D. is CEO, medical director, author, and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. He is a board-certified neurologist and author of The Ten Commitments: Translating Good Intentions into Great Choices, Vital Energy, Wisdom of Healing, and Return to Wholeness: Embracing Body, Mind, and Spirit in the Face of Cancer.