The Power of Naturopathic Oncology Care
Cancer has become far way too common and it is projected only increase in incidence. As of 2050, the National Cancer Institute has estimated 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will develop cancer (1), with liver, breast and lung rising most rapidly (2). It has become the epidemic of our time. In these days, it is common to have a close family member or someone you know with cancer. This is unacceptable, particularly with many factors within our control.
In comparison to pre-industrialization times, we have dramatically increased our daily toxic load of cancer-causing substances from foods, water, radiation, consumer products, lifestyle and industrial toxins. Not coincidentally, cancer rates have increased. This is why we need to understand the impact of these carcinogens in everyday life and how to avoid and/ or minimize them.
Integrative Naturopathic Oncology focuses on evidenced based therapies which have demonstrated effectiveness for the condition it is treating. The naturopathic doctor works with the goals of the patient. In most cases, it begins with prevention of symptoms from conventional therapies (chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, immunotherapy). Additionally, if other symptoms arise, the goal is to minimize or completely eradicate the side effects, thus ensuring a better quality of life and tolerance to conventional therapy. Moreover, the practitioner works to keep the patient's immune system balanced, detoxify the body, treat other concurrent diseases, and promote mind body balance. These factors are integral to quality of life and long term survival.
The following are examples of patient's I have treated naturopathically:
64 year old female Stage 2, ER/PR positive HER-2 negative breast cancer diagnosed in 2014. Naturopathic medicine played an integral role in her preparation and recovery for her initial surgery. She was given remedies for pain, tissue and scar healing, inflammation, antibiotic effects, and to decrease metastasis during the procedure. The patient did excellent and was off pain medicine within the first few days, she was discharged early due to the area's rapid healing. Throughout her treatment she was given a chemotherapy which notoriously caused neuropathy (numbness and tingling of hands and feet) as well as hand and foot peeling. She was given naturopathic agents once therapy was initiated in order to prevent these symptoms. The patient developed slight neuropathy but it never disturbed her quality of life and she never developed the peeling of her hands and feet. She was also given remedies which protected her heart due to the high risk of cardio-toxicity from one of the chemotherapy agents. Additionally, the patient was put on a regimen which stimulated her immune system, as well as powerful and widely studied anti-cancer naturopathic therapies. She responded well and her scans were clear post chemotherapy. She was put on hormonal therapy, which are burdensome to bone density and can cause hot flashes. She was given proper minerals to reinforce bone density and an herb which greatly helped her hot flashes. She was presented with information about how the studied benefits of exercise and stress management would benefit her, as well as foods which would help heal and detox and which ones would contribute to cancer growth. Today, she is doing well with a favorable quality of life and prognosis.
62 year old male with Stage 4, prostate cancer diagnosed in 2015 presented after multiple failed hormonal therapies. He was in dire shape nutritionally as well as symptomatically. He had profound fatigue which herbs, nutrients and vitamins were given to help facilitate energy production, stress balance and muscle strength. He was bloated, getting full prematurely and had extreme constipation. To support him I recommended gastro-intestinal support formulations for healing, high quality herbs and probiotics for digestion, and bowel regulation. Most concerning was his anxiety which translated to profound insomnia. He was also given a powerful sleep combination and a homeopathic, which he responded remarkably to. His wife explained he slept for 14 hours straight the second night. Well studied anti-prostate cancer therapies were also given for overall health and immune balance. Lastly, he was recommended a diet which is rich in nutrients that are specific for prostate health and healing. This patient was brought back to health within 3 months. His symptoms of poor energy, sluggish digestion, anxiety and insomnia all improved exponentially over that time period. He was eating again, gained weight, had better energy and began light exercising. The patient was sent home to pass but was doing well one year later.
As seen in these two integrative oncology cases, the focus of naturopathic care is for patients to be as healthy as possible during conventional treatment to facilitate the best outcome. Through evidence based therapies, patients' side effects are minimized and prevented, the immune system is balanced to fight cancer cells, and detoxification is stimulated. With naturopathic medicine, our patients are placed in an optimal position for long term survival.
1. Chutecka, Zosia. "Cancer strikes 1 in 2 Men and 1 in 3 Women." Medscape. 09, Feb 2007.
2. Christensen, Jen. Hume, Tim. "W.H.O; Imminent Global Disaster reflects Aging, Lifestyle factors." CNN. 04, Feb 2014.