Integrative Therapies: Acupuncture, Asian Bodywork/Shiatsu, Healing Touch, Massage, Skin Care

The Health and Wellness Suite at the Cowell Family Cancer Center includes three integrative therapy rooms for patients, caregivers and family members, as well as the community. Eastern and Western therapies are featured. The Health and Wellness Suite also includes an exercise studio and a meditation room. 

Integrative or complementary therapies are products, practices, and systems that complement mainstream medicine. They are not “alternative” to mainstream medicine. They include holistic, self-care, or other care techniques that are integrated into a patient care plan to improve the overall care and wellness of a person. We call these “complementary” because they are used along with traditional medical treatment to help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life during cancer treatment.

Integrative therapies assist with anxiety, stress management, pain, and relief from some cancer treatment side effects. Examples include meditation to reduce stress, peppermint or ginger tea for nausea, and guided imagery to help relieve stress and pain during medical procedures. 

Patients who are thinking about using any integrative therapies should first discuss it with their health care team.

Free Mini Sessions in the Infusion Suite

Integrative Bodywork Practitioners are available to provide free mini treatments to patients in the infusion suite. A schedule of practitioner availability is posted at each nurse’s station and the infusion registration desk. Patients can receive a 15-minute treatment while seated in the infusion chair, which may include a neck and shoulder, hand, or foot massage, acupuncture, or healing touch.  Patients must get clearance from their assigned nurse to receive a complementary treatment.

Fees and Insurance Coverage

Integrative bodywork services are fee based. Some people have insurance coverage, an HSA, or other medical savings account plans that include integrative services, but many do not. Munson Medical Center requires payment for service and issues a receipt for use for self-reimbursement with HSA, medical savings and/or insurance coverage. A sliding fee scale for services offers below-market rates to Cowell Family Cancer Center patients.

Schedule an Appointment

Services are offered as posted in our schedules and by appointment at the Cowell Family Cancer Center, Monday through Friday, 8 am - 7 pm. To schedule a service, call 231-392-8400.

Types of Therapies


A form of Chinese medicine that dates back thousands of years. Acupuncture treatments are done by placing very fine, sterile needles into specific locations along acupuncture channels or meridians in the body. These channels circulate with the “qi” or body’s energy, along with blood and body fluids to promote circulation, healthy function of organs, detoxification, healing and balance. Acupuncture also stimulates the central nervous system, triggering systems of repair and regeneration. 

When our bodies are not balanced and qi is not free flowing, stagnation of qi, blood, and phlegm in the channels can occur. This can lead to disease, illness, and pain. Research has shown that acupuncture, in conjunction with traditional therapies, can be an effective form of treatment and help manage symptoms and side effects from both cancer and cancer treatment. 

Acupuncture can benefit cancer patients by reducing nausea and vomiting, pain, and other side effects from radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery including insomnia, digestive issues, fatigue, hot flashes and emotional disturbances, such as stress, anxiety and depression. Acupuncture treats the body as a whole by connecting organ systems, increasing blood production, and enhancing immune function. 

Asian Bodywork Zen Shiatsu

During a Shiatsu therapy session, clients are treated fully clothed while receiving gentle rhythmic touch including finger pressure, rocking, gentle shaking, rotating, stretching, and rubbing of tissue. These effects combine to support the body and mind’s innate ability to protect, regenerate, and repair itself. Shiatsu therapists study both classical Asian medical biology and modern anatomy and physiology along with the specific effects of highly sensitive touch.

Research shows that gentle pressure touch used in Shiatsu helps relieve/reduce:

  • Anxiety, stress, depression, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress
  • Fatigue and insomnia
  • Joint, bone, and muscular pain from injury or arthritis
  • Lymphedema
  • Nausea and other digestive issues
  • Neuropathy discomfort and pain
  • Pain and inflammation caused by cancer and cancer treatments, autoimmune disorders such as fibromyalgia, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis

Clinical Massage Therapy 

Involves manipulation, rubbing, and kneading of the body’s muscle and soft tissue. Some studies suggest massage can decrease stress, anxiety, depression, muscle spasms, tension headaches and pain. Massage can increase a sense of wellbeing, relaxation, alertness and endorphins (feel-good hormones) in the brain. Research shows massage benefits for oncology patients include decreased nausea, depression, anxiety, insomnia, pain, and numbness or tingling in hands and feet.

Massage may include therapeutic, relaxation, Swedish, cranial sacral, reflexology, deep tissue, clinical acupressure, passive stretching, manual lymphatic draining, and pregnancy. It also may include use of essential oils for aromatherapy or hot stones. 

Hand & Foot Massage

Hand and foot massage offers spot treatment of clinical massage on the hands and feet. It aids in relaxation. Acupressure and reflexology techniques may be used.

Head and Neck Massage

Offers spot treatment of clinical massage on the head and neck. It is useful in relieving tension headaches, neck stiffness, and soreness.

Healing Touch

Healing Touch uses a variety of light to near-touch techniques to influence the energy field surrounding the human body. There is research to support its use in the care of cancer patients for symptoms including nausea, anxiety, and pain. The non-invasive techniques used in Healing Touch also can aid in relaxation. Healing Touch complements conventional health care, and is used in collaboration with other approaches to health and healing.

Lymphedema Massage

Performed by a certified lymphedema massage therapist, this aids in lymphatic drain to improve pain and swelling of lymphedema. The specialized technique includes gentle touch directed toward the heart from the fingertips, up the arm and toward the shoulder, and uses specific directions and strokes to stimulate lymphatic vessels and result in manual lymph drainage.

Oncology Massage 

Designed specifically for cancer patients in treatment using a gentle touch aimed to relieve pain and stiffness, with adjustments for chemotherapy ports, post-surgery and treatment side effects, and skin conditions. 

Skin Care

Our Oncology Esthetician provides customized skin care for people living with cancer with a focus on safe, personalized spa treatments for individuals with health-challenged skin. The side effects of cancer therapies and how they are compounded by various medications, the importance of proper sanitization to support weakened immune systems, and providing a soothing escape for individuals living with the effects of cancer is our priority during these treatments. By safely and effectively working with the largest organ, the skin we directly support the psychological and physical care so necessary for a client living with cancer.