Complementary therapies and traditional treatments

Complementary therapies are massage, meditation, acupuncture and other relaxation methods that are used alongside medical treatments.


They may help you to feel better and cope more easily with your cancer treatment. Alternative therapies include some herbal and dietary methods that are used instead of medical treatment. Many are promoted as cancer cures. However, none of these methods has been proven to be effective in treating cancer.


It is important to let your treatment team know if you are taking any complementary or alternative therapies, because some treatments may be harmful if they are taken at the same time as medical treatments.


Traditional treatments

Traditional Māori healing

Traditional healing has been an integral part of Māori culture for generations. Values, belief systems and teachings from kaumātua and tohunga alike have seen Māori focus on total wellbeing encompassing taha tinana, taha hinengaro, taha wairua and taha whānau (the physical domain, the domain of mind and behaviour, the spiritual domain and the family/whānau or social domain).

When Māori are faced with tough decisions on health care or treatment, some opt for traditional healing methods. These can include rongoā Māori, romiromi or mirimiri to name a few customary remedies based on native plants, massage therapy and spiritual healing. If you are thinking about using these treatments, please talk about them with your radiation treatment team. Both parties aim to provide you with the best possible care that has minimal side-effects. If you have difficulty expressing your needs to your treatment providers, find someone to advocate on your behalf, so that both traditional Māori healers and hospital treatment specialists are able to work together to support you on your cancer journey.

Pacific traditional healing

Traditional healing has long been used by Pacific people to help in their recovery. It involves taking a holistic approach to treating the person, where their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual needs are looked after together, rather than as separate parts. The treatment offered to each person can vary and depends on their needs. Medicinal plants and herbs may be used during the treatment process, as well as stones and massage.

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