Standards for Safety and Effectiveness in Complementary Therapies
Although many complementary medicine techniques have been used for centuries, the availability of scientific data on many of these techniques has been limited. However, researchers supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) are conducting well-designed studies of some complementary techniques, including acupuncture and massage.
Some complementary techniques have professional associations with developed standards, but many do not. And some therapies have several associations with different standards. In the United States, some complementary therapies require that practitioners be state licensed or certified to practice.
These complementary therapies require licensed or certified practitioners:
massage (not all states require)
Shiatsu (not all states require)
Other therapies that don't require licensing do offer practitioners the option of being certified with a certification board. It's usually best to look for a certified practitioner for these therapies:
massage (in states that don't require licenses)
Some therapies can have risks or side effects for certain people.
Therapies to avoid if you have certain conditions
If you have lymphedema, avoid:
Some types of massage
If you have bleeding disorders or take blood thinners, avoid:
If you have low white blood cell count or are receiving chemotherapy, avoid:
If you have irritated skin or are receiving radiation, avoid:
If you have weakened bones or osteoporosis, avoid:
If you have mental illness, avoid:
Progressive muscle relaxation
If you are pregnant, avoid:
The bottom line is that there is no scientific evidence that any complementary therapy can cure cancer. Complementary therapies work best as part of your total treatment plan, combined with conventional medical treatments. Always talk to your doctor about any complementary therapy you would like to try. He or she can integrate it into your treatment plan and possibly recommend a practitioner.
— Last updated on July 27, 2022, 1:45 PM