4 Alternative Treatments for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

New innovations in cancer treatments are constantly in development. Alongside traditional medical advances, alternative medicine offers additional treatment and management options. Here are four such treatments for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system. About 90 percent of lymphomas are non-Hodgkin's; in 2010, there were roughly 65,000 new cases of this cancer.

The lymphatic system consists of the lymph vessels, which transport lymph fluid throughout the body, and lymph nodes, areas where lymph cells cluster, primarily in the armpits, groin, and neck. Lymph fluid carries white blood cells (lymphocytes), an important part of our body's immune system. Our tonsils, thymus, and spleen are also part of the lymphatic system.

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma develops when lymphocytes become abnormal and divide. They don't die when they should and thus accumulate, eventually forming a tumor. Symptoms include swollen, painless lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, night sweats, coughing, chest pain, persistent fatigue, and abdominal pain or swelling.

Chemotherapy and radiation are the primary treatment strategies for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. However, there are other alternatives.

Alternative Treatment 1: Watchful Waiting

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma tends to grow slowly and is often asymptomatic early on. Your oncologist may initially recommend not treating the cancer and watching it closely until it starts to grow or cause symptoms. This spares you the side effects of treatment. Unlike most cancers, which are easier to treat when caught early, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma actually responds better to treatment after it becomes more advanced.

Alternative Treatment 2: Nutritional Therapy

Cancer cells need metabolized glucose (a sugar) to grow. If you deprive cancer cells of glucose, you can starve these cells of the nutrients they need to build new blood vessels, which supports their growth.

The A.P. John Cancer Institute for Cancer Research offers patients Controlled Amino Acid Therapy (CAAT), a diet that reduces amino acids, carbohydrates, and glucose. This diet uses the chemical reactions of amino acids, foods, and nutritional supplements to impair the development of cancer cells, starving them to death while nourishing healthy cells. 

Alternative Treatment 3: Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine views the person and his body as a whole and taps into the healing power of nature. It focuses on the least invasive, most physiological supportive methods while minimizing harmful treatment effects. Naturopathic medicine enhances normal metabolism during cancer treatment, decreasing side effects, boosting the immune system, and increasing patients' energy levels and sense of well-being.

Alternative Treatment 4: Mind-Body Techniques

While not directly a form of treatment, mind body techniques, such as yoga or meditation, help non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (or any cancer) patients cope with the physical and emotional issues of cancer treatment and can even enhance the effectiveness of traditional treatment.

Work closely with your cancer doctor team to determine which treatments are best for you.


National Cancer Institute. "What you need to know about non-Hodgkin Lymphoma." Web. 12 February 2008.

A.P. John Cancer Institute. "What is Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma?." Web.

Cancer Centers of America. "Lymphoma Cancer Treatments - Complementary Medicine Therapies." Web. 30 July 2008.

Lymphomainfo.net. "LymphomaInfo.net Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma." Web.