7 Healing Practices
There is no question that eating well, moving more, managing stress and sharing love and support in your life are widely considered four pillars of building strength and resilience with cancer. These practices are interconnected, for each can strengthen the others. A poor diet, lack of movement and unresolved stress each hamper our body's resilience, while isolation is one of the greatest burdens—specially when we are not well.
Based on many years of experience and familiarity with research, we have added three additional items to make 7 Healing Practices. These connect with the previous four, with mutual reinforcement among all seven.
Sleeping well is a fifth practice, for sleep is essential for health and healing. Creating a healing environment, the sixth practice, involves not only reducing toxic exposures but increasing exposures to health-promoting environments: nature, clean air and water, bright light in the morning and darkness at night.
These 7 Healing Practices are widely endorsed in major cancer centers as components of their integrative care programs.
A seventh practice is hard to capture in a single word or phrase, or even a single concept. A first component relates to meaning and purpose. Some people find it in religion or a spiritual path. Some people—following Victor Frankl—call it our quest for meaning. Others describe it as the sense of purpose on our lives. Still others speak of what makes them feel most fully alive. Or they speak simply of what matters to them now.
A second, overlapping component of this practice regards our feelings of satisfaction, contentment and even joy. What brings each of us bliss? Some find it in nature or art or music or literature. Some find it in activity. Still others find it in their circle of family and friends.
In a sense, we are pointing to the place beyond words—to the ineffable—to the place from which meaning, purpose, belonging, joy and the feeling of being alive come to us. That place, so hard to pin down with names or labels, is the seventh healing practice: exploring what matters now.
Benefits of the 7 Healing Practices
These seven healing practices are the foundation of health-promoting therapies for people with cancer. Known benefits of one or more of these practices include these:
- Reduce symptoms of cancer and treatments:
- Increase resilience to the side effects of conventional therapies
- Improve quality of life
- Creating a body terrain that is inhospitable to cancer by reducing inflammation, metabolic dysfunction and other processes that drive cancer progression
- Sometimes reduce the risk of recurrence or slow the progression of illness
- Reduce the risk of comorbidities such as heart disease and diabetes
These 7 healing practices are widely endorsed in major cancer centers as components of their integrative care programs. The World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research includes these recommendations to prevent cancer, which correlate with our practices of Moving More and Eating Well:2
- Be physically active.
- Eat a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans.
- Limit consumption of "fast foods" and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars.
- Limit consumption of red and processed meat.
- Limit consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks.
A 2016 review of 124 articles reporting factors influencing human longevity found 14 factors that have a positive impact on longevity.3 We pair these 14 factors with our 7 Healing Practices:
- Caloric restriction (Eating well)
- Active effort and sports (Moving more)
- Happiness (Exploring what matters now)
- Vitamins (Eating well)
- Vegetarian diet (Eating well)
- Mediterranean diet (Eating well)
- Oriental practices (Managing stress, moving more, exploring what matters now)
- Socioeconomic status
- Sexual activity (Sharing love and support)
- Sleep (Sleeping well)
- Moderate wine consumption (Eating well)
- Religion (Exploring what matters now)
Read more about the 7 Healing Practices and approaches on these pages:
- Eating Well
- Moving More
- Managing Stress
- Sleeping Well
- Creating a Healing Environment
- Sharing Love and Support
- Exploring What Matters Now
- Miller M, Schettler T, Tencza B, Valenti M. A Story of Health. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Collaborative on Health and the Environment, Science and Environmental Health Network, Western States PESHU. p. 107.
- American Institute for Cancer Research. Cancer Prevention Recommendations. From World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A global Perspective.Continuous Update Project Expert Report 2018. Viewed April 24, 2019.
- Iacob S, Hersant B, Mezi MS, Meningaud JP. Factors that may enhance longevity: a literature review and a comprehensive update for aesthetic surgeons. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 2016 Aug;40(4):625-31.
This article has been taken from Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies.