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What We Do

For Over 25 Years we have cared for low-income women with cancer

Advocates of complementary integrative medicine since 1991, the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic is a California licensed free clinic and 501(c)(3) non-profit. There is no other organization in the United States providing complementary integrative cancer care and safety net services free of charge to underserved women with cancer.

Our acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy, bodywork, guided imagery, movement and nutritional therapies complement mainstream cancer treatments.

They are used to ease the pain, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, neuropathy and numerous other side effects that often accompany surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. We work alongside our client’s oncologist and primary care physician. Complementary integrative medicine improves the overall quality of our clients’ lives and works very differently than conventional medicine.

Our treatments and services improve the body’s innate ability to heal itself through the complex interactions of the mind and body.

The physiology of psychoneuroimmunology and endocrinology are only beginning to be understood, yet they have been an integral part of many traditional healing systems like Chinese Medicine for over a thousand years. CMC’s unique practice of integrative medicine includes the intersection of culture, race, poverty, immigration and sexual orientation with the individual’s health care treatment plans.

Organic produce and foods donated by local farmers markets and grocery stores are available to our clients at every clinic shift. We also provide grocery gift cards, emergency funds, and resources from local partner organizations.

We provide year-round lymphedema education workshops, healthy cooking, yoga and exercise classes as well as comprehensive integrative cancer care continuing education and training.

Integrative Cancer Care in Action

Kim is a 54-year-old African-American woman, diagnosed with and treated for cervical cancer. 

A year later, she was diagnosed with and treated for thyroid cancer, followed by having her gall bladder removed and spinal surgery to reduce symptoms of pain and neuropathy in her hands. Her medical needs and treatments were overwhelming and debilitating.  Caring for her grandson and disabled uncle, she was struggling financially.  CMC provided emergency funds to pay her rent and utilities while she underwent these various surgeries.  Through acupuncture treatments, we helped her successfully control symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, and irritability. By also using Western herbal medicine, we helped her prepare for all her surgeries and addressed post surgical symptoms successfully.  

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is part of a system of healing that has existed in China for thousands of years.

The vital energy of the mind, body, and spirit is called Qi (pronounced “chee.”) When Qi becomes blocked, the result is symptoms such as pain, nausea, fatigue, anxiety and insomnia. Acupuncture helps the Qi flow more smoothly, relieving pain and enhancing the immune system.  This is done by inserting fine stainless steel needles into points at various locations on the body. We use disposable, pre-sterilized, stainless steel needles. Acupuncture is generally painless; most our clients relax or fall asleep during treatments.

Massage & Bodywork

CMC offers several different massage, bodywork, and energy work therapies.

It is well known that these therapies enable relaxation and improve energy levels. By increasing blood circulation and improving lymph drainage, massage enables the body to receive more nourishment and improve its functioning. Massage has also been proven to lower cortisol levels, which reduces inflammation in the body. All bodywork and energy work gently stimulates the immune system, supporting overall health and wellbeing. Here are some examples of our offerings:

Swedish massage works primarily to induce general relaxation, which aids recovery from stress while enhancing and improving range of movement.

Shiatsu (acupressure) is a form of Japanese bodywork in which a practitioner applies pressure to specified points on the body using fingers, thumbs and palms. Shiatsu translates to “finger pressure.”

Reiki is an energetic healing practice that utilizes hands-on touch and focused visualization. It aims to create balance and support self-healing on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

Craniosacral therapy is a hands-on approach to healing that applies gentle non-invasive pressure aimed at restoring harmony and balance. It is used to alleviate pain and stress.

Herbs

Chinese and Western herbs are often prescribed to alleviate side effects and support health.

The careful prescription of herbs used in conjunction with diet, exercise and other integrative medicine treatments restores the body’s balance, strengthens the immune system and prevents disease. CMC uses organically grown or wildcrafted herbs whenever possible. We do not use plants that are endangered or threatened. Chinese herbs are available in powders or tablets. Western herbs are ingested as tinctures, teas or flower essences. They can also be used topically in the form of a salve, oil, or liniment.

CMC uses only the highest quality herbal medicine manufacturers (organic herbs if available) made in the USA or imported from Asia. All herbal vendors are GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) or US FDA GMP certified. Chinese herbs prescribed adhere to the legal Chinese Pharmacopoeia guidelines and are subject to stringent in-house and 3rd party laboratory testing to determine that the moisture content, dissolution, heavy metals (lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium) and microbial content are all within US Pharmacopoeia safe limits.  

Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a natural pharmaceutical science dating back to the 1800s that uses various plants, minerals, or animals in very small doses to stimulate the sick person’s natural defenses.

Because the body is not always successful in dealing with every stress or infection, it is important to find a substance in nature that has the capacity to mimic the symptoms the person is experiencing in order to aid the body in its efforts to defend and ultimately heal itself. Homeopathic medicine stimulates a person’s own healing processes.

At CMC, a detailed history of each client is taken and specific symptoms — physical, emotional, and mental — are identified. A customized homeopathic remedy is then created to help the body eliminate these symptoms.

Guided Imagery

Guided Imagery aids each individual in accessing her own power, wisdom, and healing potential. It works through and enhances the mind-body connection.

Guided Imagery often begins with deep relaxation that is facilitated by attention to breath and visual or other sensory experiences.

Each woman, working as a partner with her practitioner, is free to choose how she can best use her session. In addition to physical problems directly related to cancer, including pain, fatigue, preparation for surgery/treatment, and side effects, she may also address issues such as relationships, work, and feelings about living with cancer.

Practitioners come from diverse backgrounds, experiences and training, including: hypnotherapy, Reiki or other energy healing, visualization, and guided imagery. It is the practitioner’s intention, working with issues of body, mind, emotions, and spirit, is to serve each woman in the way that she finds most meaningful.

Social Services

CMC has a strong on-site Social Services Program founded by a former client, to help our clients deal with the dual crises of cancer and poverty.

We continually work with our clients by providing a comprehensive range of support, advocacy, case management, navigation, benefits assistance and community referrals to address the problems and concerns low-income women face every day in their struggle with cancer and poverty. Safety-net social services, in conjunction with integrative medicine treatments, carry out our mission of providing free complementary integrative cancer therapies and access to compassionate care to low-income women with cancer.