Integrative naturopathic oncology involves a collaboration between the medical oncologist and naturopathic doctor. I strongly believe this is the future of oncology care. The appropriate combination of naturopathic and standard medical interventions results in improved cancer outcomes, reduced side-effects, reduction in cancer recurrence and overall improved patient experience. It is important to recognize that naturopathic oncology is a specialty in naturopathic practice. To find a list of naturopaths that focus on the field of oncology, visit the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians website, here.
The Cancer Opportunity
We don’t ask for cancer. Some of us dread the diagnosis and some of us assume it will never find us. For some of us, cancer means giving up hopes and dreams, and for others it means pursuing them with more fervor. Cancer can afford us the opportunity to heal relationships, and find personal growth, or it can afford us the opportunity to finally come home and rest. We can not change our diagnosis, but we can control the effect it has on our lives.
To Chemo or not to Chemo
Every person’s cancer diagnosis is different. The modern age of medicine has allowed us insight into different cell types, differentiation, surface markers and receptors. These variables combined with personal differences like age, sex and medical history create a situation in which no two people can have the same experience. As a naturopath working in the field of oncology I work with people who are not afraid to ask the chemotherapy question. The decision to do chemotherapy and/or radiation is personal. I am happy to offer insight and support while coming to this decision. To Chemo or not to Chemo?
The immune system produces antibody cells that work to eliminate cancers as well as infectious diseases. This process is one of our inherent protections against the progression of cancer and also the target of many new conventional treatments.
Natural Cancer Treatments
Nature has provided a multitude of anticancer agents that have been scientifically proven to discourage cancer cell growth or cause cancer cell death. Some of these agents have been isolated and formulated into common chemotherapeutics. Others are considered experimental, and some yet are largely unknown by the medical profession at large. These therapies are beneficial for people who have a goal of preventing cancer, including those with a known genetic mutation predisposing them to cancer development, those with a strong family history of cancer, or those who have been diagnosed and treated for cancer and are currently in remission.
For those who have been diagnosed with cancer and are not candidates for conventional treatments or decide not to pursue them, naturopathic medicine can offer many benefits. The main objective in this situation is to improve quality of life for as long as possible. Every cancer imposes specific side-effects that can be managed with natural therapies. People in this situation may also benefit from the natural anticancer agents discussed above, as they may help to slow cancer growth.
When choosing conventional treatments like surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatments, naturopathic therapeutics can have a profound effect at changing this experience. When under the care of a naturopath with oncology expertise, natural agents have the potential to augment conventional therapies, allowing them to be more effective at eradicating cancer cells. Some of the major side-effects of conventional treatments can be avoided or greatly minimized when the appropriate naturopathic treatments are used during treatment. The use of natural substances during conventional cancer treatment is the future of cancer care. Natural medicine is a powerful and useful tool that all patients deserve to utilize to improve the overall cancer experience. Some oncologists remain leery, however, and rightfully so. Medical oncologists are not trained in the use of natural agents, but they are aware of the potential risks when they are used inappropriately. It is extremely important that you talk with your oncologist about the supplements that you take during treatment. Naturopathic oncologists are trained in evidence based use of natural therapies during chemotherapy. I am happy to keep an open dialogue with your oncologist and provide supportive literature for the treatments that I recommend.
Naturopathic Medicine is abundant in it's offerings to the field of oncology. You can find a naturopathic physician that specializes in oncology near you at the OncANP directory.