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Smilow Integrative Medicine Program

Integrative medicine reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic, lifestyle approaches, and healthcare disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.

Our goal in Integrative Medicine at Smilow Cancer Hospital is to help our patients to navigate the physical, mental, and spiritual challenges that may arise during and after cancer therapy. We achieve this by complementing existing treatment plans with evidence-based, readily available interventions such as mind–body work, creative expression and nutritional interventions. We work closely with our colleagues at Smilow to find safe, effective, less invasive care to help ease the patient journey.

Our Services

All services are offered free of charge to patients undergoing cancer treatment at Smilow Cancer Hospital. Call 203-200-4325 (HEAL) to schedule an appointment.

Gentle yoga

A Gentle yoga practice of basic asana (poses) to enhance strength, stability, and balance. Poses are modified to accommodate each patient’s different capabilities. The class includes warm up stretches that support joint health, pain control, and balance. All classes end with a period of deep relaxation (savasana). Our emphasis is on healthy breathing. Simple, breath-focused meditation is also offered in this class.

Restorative yoga

Restorative yoga promotes deep relaxation that involves rest in poses for an extended period of time, fully supported by props (e.g., pillows, cushions, yoga bolster, yoga blocks, etc.). The emphasis is on releasing tension and stress using smooth, steady, even diaphragmatic breathing while resting in these poses. Classes may include the practice of Yoga Nidra, a deep restorative practice that helps soothe the nervous system and quiet the mind.

T’ai Chi/Qigong

T’ai Chi/Qigong is a centuries-old martial art and energy practice that uses gentle movement through postures to help promote mental focus, breathing, and relaxation. Students are taught the fundamentals of breath work, movement and postures which develop into the T’ai-Chi form. The benefits are improved strength, mobility, alignment, pain control, and overall physical and mental rejuvenation.

Meditation

Meditation is a practice used to increase mental focus and clarity. The benefits of meditation include improved mental and emotional stability, physical relaxation, and enhancement of overall health and well-being. Both live and recorded meditations are offered to our patients. Individual instruction from a trained practitioner is also available.

Chair-based exercise

This mind/body modality is based on spinal alignment and efficient joint and muscle movement to promote strength and flexibility. It allows for seated and standing movements in and out of a chair, and the use of a chair as needed. Participants will range from those with balance issues who may need the assistance of a chair to those able to move about freely.

Therapeutic massage

Our experienced and licensed therapists are trained specifically in oncology massage to help focus on improving side effects from cancer and its treatment. Research has shown that massage therapy may reduce pain, promote relaxation, and boost mood in cancer patients.

Reiki

Reiki means “universal life energy” and is a traditional Japanese energy technique that promotes relaxation and stress reduction. Practitioners place their hands lightly on or just above a person, with the intent of facilitating the individual’s own healing response.

Our Integrative Medicine physician meets with patients one-on-one to help formulate a plan to best enhance current cancer therapies. They will be provided guidance on safe use of dietary supplements/natural products, acupuncture, massage, meditation, and other complementary therapies. Topics that are often discussed include mind-body medicine, optimizing nutrition, disordered sleeping, pain and symptom management and overall wellness.