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Use of complementary and alternative medical therapy by patients with primary brain tumors.

The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing. CAM includes mind-body interventions, biologically based therapies, energy therapies, and body-based methods. Primary brain tumors arise within the brain and have a poor prognosis when malignant. Even patients with benign tumors suffer neurologic and systemic symptoms as a result of the tumor or its treatment. CAM is used by 30% of brain tumor patients, who often do not report its use to their physician. Herbal medicines may affect the metabolism of prescribed medications or produce adverse effects that may be attributed to other causes. In patients with systemic cancer, mind-body modalities such as meditation and relaxation therapy have been shown to be helpful in reducing anxiety and pain; acupuncture and hypnotherapy may also reduce both pain and nausea. Recent preclinical studies have reported that ginseng, Scutellaria baicalensis, and Angelica sinensis may promote apoptosis of tumor cells or exercise antiangiogenic effects. Further studies are needed to evaluate the impact of CAM on symptom control or tumor growth in this vulnerable patient population.

Armstrong TS, Gilbert MR. Department of Integrative Nursing Care, University of Texas Health Science Center School of Nursing, 6901 Bertner Avenue, Houston, TX 77030, USA. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2008 May;8(3):264-8.

Posted: 11/09/2008

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