Some people may choose to use traditional healing methods as part of their cancer treatment.

What is traditional medicine?

Many countries have cultural beliefs and practices of healing that have developed over time. These are generally based on healing the whole person.

Traditional medicine in Aotearoa New Zealand includes: 

Traditional Māori healing

Traditional healing has been a central part of Māori culture for generations. Values, beliefs and teachings from kaumatua and tohunga alike have seen Māori focus on total wellbeing that covers:

  • taha tinana (the physical domain)
  • taha hinengaro (the domain of mind and behaviour)
  • taha wairua (the spiritual domain)
  • taha whānau (the family or social domain).

When Māori are faced with tough decisions in health care or treatment, some tend to choose traditional methods based on native plants, massage therapy and spiritual healing.

Pacific traditional healing

Traditional healing is also important for Pacific peoples to help in their recovery. It also involves taking a holistic approach to treating the person, where your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual needs are looked after together, rather than as separate parts.

The treatment offered to each person can vary, depending on your needs. Medicinal plants and herbs may be used during the treatment process, as well as stones and massage.

Using traditional medicine

If you are thinking about using these treatments, please discuss this with your treatment team.

If you have difficulty expressing your needs to your treatment providers, find someone to advocate on your behalf so that both traditional healers and hospital treatment specialists can work together to support you during your treatment.

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Last updated: August 6, 2021