Penny Brohn - Cancer Care

Helpline: 0845 123 23 10


What are complementary therapies?

23 November 2011
Updated: 20/05/2013

We offer a wide range of therapies that work alongside your medical treatment. These provide emotional, physical and spiritual support in addition to practical advice, guidance, tools and techniques to use in your daily life.

The one to one therapies we offer include:

Practical Support

Our Integrative Medicine doctors offer information, advice and guidance to help you manage the strain of diagnosis and treatment, maximise general health and wellbeing, and maintain an attitude that is at once realistic and positive.


Nutritional Therapists offer information and advice on how you an eat well to support your health, and on the use of supplements. Good nutrition can help you manage some of the effects cancer and its treatments can have on appetite and digestion.


Cancer can change everything - the way you see yourself, the way you imagine the future, the way you relate to your loved ones, the way you feel about life. One to one counselling can help support you through the process of change.


Acupuncture uses very fine needles inserted through the skin at various points on the body. There is good evidence that acupuncture can be effective in treating chemotherapy-induced vomiting. It can also help to ease pain.

Art Therapy

Art therapy involves using art materials to help you express your feelings, communicate in a different way, discover greater self-awareness and explore your creativity. You do not need to be good at art to benefit from art therapy.

Homeopaths at Penny Brohn Cancer Care are registered doctors employed through the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital. Homeopathy offers a gentle and supportive way to manage some symptoms of cancer and its treatment.

Music Therapy
This therapy combines relaxation, creativity and an exploration of the unconscious through music. It involves listening to music and working with the images and feelings it evokes.

Bodywork uses touch to promote relaxation in the body, mind and the spirit. Gentle, loving touch can help you manage the shock and trauma of diagnosis and treatment and can ease symptoms such as anxiety, pain and fatigue. Our bodywork includes:

Healing involves a light touch or hands held close to the body. It is very gentle and nurturing, supporting deep relaxation at all levels. It is particularly useful for people who do not like, or are not well enough to receive bodywork.


The massage practitioner will generally work with oil, using gentle stroking, light pressure and stretching to improve your body’s circulation and promote deep relaxation. Massage brings many benefits including a chance to reconnect with and nurture your body.

In reflexology the thumb and fingers are used to press or pin point areas of the feet thought to be connected to organs, glands and other parts of the body. People who have had reflexology report benefits such as relaxation and reduced anxiety.

Like acupuncture and acupressure, shiatsu is based on the traditional Chinese medicine meridian (energy channels) theory. In shiatsu the aim is to rebalance the body by using specific meridians or points on a meridian.

The practitioner uses fingers, thumbs, elbows, knees and even feet, applying pressure to key points to influence and stimulate energy flow in the body. The treatment is extremely relaxing and given through your clothes so there is no need to undress.

Physical Activity
Physical activity is any movement of the body which uses energy, this might be a structured form of exercise or an activity that is done in daily life such as gardening.

Physical activity is key to the Bristol Approach due to the wide range of associated health benefits. Types of physical activity that we offer include:

Nordic Walking
Nordic walking is a form of walking with specially designed poles. It engages the whole body and is promoted as a simple method for maintaining and improving physical heath.

Is a combination of gentle movement, breathing techniques and meditation. The sessions are led by an instructor and are based on the Traditional Chinese medicine approach of encouraging the flow of Qi energy through the body.

Yoga involves a combination of physical postures, meditation and breathing techniques to improve physical fitness and promote relaxation.  

Self Help Techniques
Practices you can do yourself at home, these techniques can help you to manage stress and anxiety in the short term, and also form part of most spiritual traditions.

They are fundamental to the Bristol Approach and form an important part of all the services at Penny Brohn Cancer Care.

Tools and techniques that allow you to relax physically even in the midst of stressful situations.

Meditation and Mindfulness
Relaxing the mind by returning to a single focus of attention. This can help you gain a new perspective and come to a quieter more spacious place in your mind.


Builds on mental and physical relaxation, using the power of the mind to support healing. For instance, you may imagine a tumour getting smaller or the immune system getting stronger.

We offer a wide range of therapies that work alongside your medical treatment. These provide emotional, physical and spiritual support in addition to practical advice, guidance, tools and techniques to use in your daily life.