Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Pain Management in Cancer Patients

CAM for Cancer pain management

  • Srujana Naramala Sparsh Holistic Hub


The field of Natural Health Sciences and Occult sciences is getting high attention and gaining importance in treatment of several diseases, that are not responding the traditional practice. However, the lack of extensive research and data supporting these fields is preventing them from becoming accepted method of treatment.  Complementary and Alternative Medicine  is not mysterious but science itself. In the last decade there is substantial research in these areas like aura, bioenergy or electromagnetic energy, radiation energy from bodies and techniques to measure these energies leading to wider acceptance. Holistic Healing is the practice of health that considers the  entire person and all of the factors affecting the person and it is based foundational principles of Aurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Herbal medicine. Holistic medicine uses Mind and Body techniques, Natural products, Energy and Spiritual healing. Survey released by National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine  (NCCAM-NIH) revealed that 56% of  population in  US and in advanced countries uses CAM. Randomized Clinical studies conducted with 189 Patients undergoing standard chemotherapy, placebo or Reiki found that Energy healing (Reiki) was statistically significant in raising the comfort and well-being of patients post-therapy. Further, in the systematic review of 5 randomized clinical trials,  two studies reported statistically significant reductions in pain when Reiki was used in addition to opioid agents. Additionally, energy healing on oncology patients undergoing infusion, showed 50% reduction in mean pain scores after each treatment. The investigations suggested that the sessions were considered helpful to improve well-being (70%), relaxation (88%), pain relief (45%). Similarly, in another cross over study, it was shown that in all sixteen cancer patients included in energy healing sessions, fatigue decreased, and quality of life was significantly improved with the reiki sessions compared with rest.  Recent studies demonstrated that acupuncture was significantly associated with reduced cancer pain and can decrease the use of analgesics with moderate certainty of evidence. In addition, biology based practices like Herbal, probiotics and vitamins are also used to reduce pain. These methods are accepted by various professional certification agencies like National Certification Center of Energy Practitioners (NCCOEP) and Alliance of Energy practitioners (NAOEP) that is serving as resource for research and literature support. In summary, the complementary and alternative medicine field is upcoming and gaining acceptance as therapeutic method to increase patience confidence and reduce impact of ailment.

Keywords: Pain Management, Cancer, Energy Healing, Acupuncture, Natural Products, Reiki, Complementary and Alternative medicine


Download data is not yet available.


1. Aldred EM, Buck C, Vall K; Analgesia and relief of pain, Editor(s): Aldred EM, Buck C, Vall K. Pharmacology, Churchill Livingstone, 2009, p247-254,
2. Ricciotti E, FitzGerald GA. Prostaglandins and inflammation. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2011; 31(5):986-1000.
3. Wilkinson J, Faleiro R. Acupuncture in pain management. Contin Educ Anaesth Crit Care Pain. 2007;7(4):135–138
4. Urits I, Schwartz RH, Orhurhu V, Maganty NV, Reilly BT, Patel PM et al,. A Comprehensive Review of Alternative Therapies for the Management of Chronic Pain Patients: Acupuncture, Tai Chi, Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, and Chiropractic Care. Adv Ther. 2021; 38(1):76-78.
5. Toms R. Reiki therapy a nursing intervention for critical care. Crit Care Nurs 2011; 34: 213-217.
6. Moore A. Reiki energy medicine: enhancing the healing process. Integrative Medicine Quarterly News 2005; 2: 1-5
7. Brathovde A. Reiki for self-care of nurses and healthcare providers. Holist Nurs Pract 2006; 20: 95-101
8. Jain S, Hammerschlag R, Mills P, Cohen L, Krieger R, Vieten C, Lutgendorf S. Clinical Studies of Biofield Therapies: Summary, Methodological Challenges, and Recommendations. Glob Adv Health Med. 2015; 4 (Suppl):58-66.
9. Mannem M. Improved universal aura scanner. World Wide patent application 2019; WO2019058184A1
10. Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH); Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India
11. Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin RL. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007.National health statistics reports; 2008; 12: Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.
12. Cowen VS, Cyr V. Complementary and alternative medicine in US medical schools. Adv Med Educ Pract. 2015; 6: 113–117
13. Fisher P, Ward A. Medicine in Europe: Complementary medicine in Europe. Brit Med.J. 1994, 309: 107-111.
14. MacLennan AH, Wilson DH, Taylor AW. Prevalence and cost of alternative medicine in Australia. Lancet 1996, 347: 569-573.
15. Posadzki P, Alotaibi A, Ernst E. Prevalence of use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by physicians in the UK: a systematic review of surveys. Clin Med (Lond). 2012;12(6): 505-512.
16. Nahin RL. National Health Interview Survey 2012 data on diseases and conditions for which adults use complementary health approaches. 2016 Unpublished raw data
17. van den Beuken-van Everdingen MH, Hochstenbach LM, Joosten EA, Tjan-Heijnen VC, Janssen DJ. Update on Prevalence of Pain in Patients With Cancer: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2016; 51(6):1070-1090.
18. Nowak, AK, Stockler, MR, Byrne, MJ. Assessing quality of life during chemotherapy for pleural mesothelioma: Feasibility, validity, and results using the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Core Quality-of-Life Questionnaire and Lung Cancer Module. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2004; 22: 3172–3180.
19. Kayl AE, Meyers CA. Side effects of chemotherapy and quality of life in ovarian and breast cancer patients. Current Opinions in Obstetrics and Gynecology 2006; 18: 24–28.
20. Catlin A, Taylor-Ford RL. Investigation of standard care versus sham Reiki placebo versus actual Reiki therapy to enhance comfort and well-being in a chemotherapy infusion center. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2011; 38 (3): E212-220.
21. Birocco N, Guillame C, Storto S, Ritorto G, Catino C, Gir N et al,. The effects of Reiki therapy on pain and anxiety in patients attending a day oncology and infusion services unit. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2012; 29 (4):290-294.
22. Olson K, Hanson J. Using Reiki to manage pain: a preliminary report. Cancer Prev Control 1997; 1(2):108–113.
23. Olson K, Hanson J, Michaud M. A phase II trial of Reiki for the management of pain in advanced cancer patients. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2003; 26(5):990-997.
24. Rubik B, Pavek R, Greene E, Laurence D, Ward R, Al E. In: Rubik B, et al, editors. Alternative medicine: expanding medical horizons: a report to the National Institutes of Health on alternative medical systems and practices in the United States. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office; 1995:r p13-57.
25. Gonella S, Garrino L, Dimonte V. Biofield therapies and cancer-related symptoms: a review. Clin J Oncology Nurs. 2014;18(5):568-576.
26. Anderson JG, Taylor AG. Biofield therapies and cancer pain. Clin J Oncology Nurs. 2012; 16(1):43-48.
27. Jain S, Pavlik D, Distefan J, Bruyere RL, Acer J, Garcia R, Coulter I, Ives J, Roesch SC, Jonas W, Mills PJ. Complementary medicine for fatigue and cortisol variability in breast cancer survivors. Cancer. 2012; 118(3): 777-787.
28. Wong J, Ghiasuddin A, Kimata C, Patelesio B, Siu A. The impact of healing touch on pediatric oncology patients. Integr Cancer Ther. 2013;12(1):25-30.
29. Yan X, Shen H, Jiang H, Zhang C, Hu D, Wang J, Wu X.. External Qi of Yan Xin Qigong induces G2/M arrest and apoptosis of androgen-independent prostate cancer cells by inhibit­ing Aki and NF-kappa B pathways. Mol Cell Biochem. 2008; 310: 227-234.
30. Yan X, Shen H, Jiang H, Hu D, Zhang C, Wang J, Wu X. External Qi ofYanXin Qigong Induces induces apoptosis and inhibits migration and invasion of estrogen-independent breast cancer cells through suppression of Aki/NF-kB signaling. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2010; 25(2-3):263-270.
31. Laird B, Colvin L, Fallon M. Management of cancer pain: basic principles and neuropathic cancer pain. Eur J Cancer. 2008;44(8):1078–1082.
32. Sharfstein JM, Olsen Y. Lessons learned from the opioid epidemic. JAMA. 2019; 322(9):809–810.
33. Vickers AJ, Vertosick EA, Lewith G, MacPherson H, Foster NE, Sherman KJ, et al. Acupuncture for chronic pain: update of an individual patient data meta-analysis. J Pain. 2018;19(5):455–474
34. Ge L, Wang Q, He Y, Wu D, Zhou Q, Xu N, Yang K et al. Acupuncture for cancer pain: an evidence-based clinical practice guideline. Chin Med 2022; 17, 8 (2022).
35. He Y, Guo X, May BH, Zhang AL, Liu Y, Lu C, Mao JJ, Xue CC, Zhang H. Clinical Evidence for Association of Acupuncture and Acupressure With Improved Cancer Pain; A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. JAMA Oncol. 2020;6(2): 271-278
36. Lyman GH, Greenlee H, Bohlke K, Bao T, DeMichele AM, Deng al. Integrative Therapies During and After Breast Cancer Treatment: ASCO Endorsement of the SIO Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Oncol. 2018; 36(25):2647-2655.
37. Mao JJ, Ismaila N, Bao T, Barton D, Ben-Arye E, Garland EL et al. Integrative Medicine for Pain Management in Oncology: Society for Integrative Oncology-ASCO Guideline. J Clin Oncol. 2022; 40 (34): 3998-4024
38. Li JW, Vederas JC. Drug discovery and natural products: end of an era or an endless frontier? Science. 2009; 10;325 (5937):161-165
39. Guimarães AG, Serafini MR, Quintans-Júnior, LJ. Terpenes and derivatives as a new perspective for pain treatment: a patent review. Expert Opin. Ther. Pat 2014; 24: 243–265.
40. Dagne E, Bisrat, D, Alemayehu M, Worku, T. Essential oils of twelve Eucalyptus species from Ethiopia. J. Essent. Oil Res. 2000; 12: 467–470
41. Menéndez L, Juárez L, García E, García-Suárez O, Hidalgo A, Baamonde A. Analgesic effects of capsazepine and resiniferatoxin on bone cancer pain in mice. Neurosci. Lett. 2006; 393: 70–73.
42. Jiang W, Wang Y, Sun W, Zhang M. Morin suppresses astrocyte activation and regulates cytokine release in bone cancer pain rat models: antinociceptive effects of morin on bone cancer pain. Phytother. Res. 2017; 31: 1298–1304.
43. Zhang JY, Gong N, Huang JL, Guo L.C, Wang YX. Gelsemine, a principal alkaloid from Gelsemium sempervirens Ait., exhibits potent and specific antinociception in chronic pain by acting at spinal α3 glycine receptors. Pain 2013; 154: 2452–2462.
44. Hashimotodani Y, Ohno-Shosaku T, Kano M. Endocannabinoids and synaptic function in the CNS. Neuroscientist 2007; 13: 127–137
44 Views | Downloads
How to Cite
Naramala, S. “Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Pain Management in Cancer Patients: CAM for Cancer Pain Management”. International Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol. 4, no. 2, Sept. 2023,
Review Article