Supportive Naturopathic Cancer Therapies
Many of the people with cancer that come to our clinic plan to, or are undergoing conventional therapy. In this case, conventional therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy do the heavy lifting and provide the strongest anti-cancer activity.
In such a case, we may see that it is more beneficial to provide supportive care to these patients. Supportive care could include:
Preventing and treating the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy
Improving wound healing and recovery time from surgery
Enhancing immune function
Improving quality of life
The goal in most conventional cancer therapies is the elimination of cancer over the support of the body. While these treatments are often instrumental in fighting cancer, they almost unavoidably impact the overall health and function of the body, not just specifically cancer cells.
These treatments are often as aggressive as the person can tolerate, and the person undergoing treatment needs to be able to be deemed healthy enough to endure the treatment before they're even brought into consideration.
This is where naturopathic philosophy and care excel. By employing different modalities, we tailor treatment plans personalized to our patients’ needs that not only limit the hospitality for cancer in the body, but that enhance the health of the body as a whole.
Many of the naturopathic therapies we use are intended to strengthen and reinforce the body so that conventional treatments are both more effective, and may be used more often to fulfill their intended effect.
Some of the modalities we commonly employ to support our patients:
Frequency specific microcurrent
If you’re curious how our naturopathic oncologists could help you to have the support you need, please schedule a consultation to see how they could be a valuable addition to your medical team.
Conventional therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can deplete the body of certain essential nutrients. They may also compromise digestive function, further preventing the normal absorption of needed nutrients from food or oral supplementation.
IV therapy allows the digestive system to be bypassed, instead allowing the bloodstream to deliver these nutrients directly to the cells. Further, IV therapies are tailored directly to your needs. This allows us to provide truly personalized treatment for your care.
Some of the nutrients that are typically depleted while undergoing conventional therapies are:
Magnesium - Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic processes in the body. Magnesium depletion can lead to a myriad of side effects, therefore it is an important mineral to maintain in proper levels to maximize health during treatment.
Zinc - An essential element to good immune function. May be supplemented to bolster immune function.
B-vitamins - Essential to numerous functions in the body. Depletion of b-vitamins can lead to neuropathy, anemia and other conditions.
IV C - One of our most commonly used supportive IV therapies is IV vitamin C (IVC). It is used to improve wound healing and prevent infection after surgery, to reduce fatigue, and stimulate the immune system after radiation therapy, and to prevent and reduce side effects as well as enhance the efficacy of some chemotherapies.
Vitamin C has been found to improve quality of life by reducing fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite and pain. Additionally, many patients report an improvement in physical, social, cognitive and emotional functioning after receiving IVC. Patients regularly undergoing IVC infusion also report an alleviation from the side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea, depression, bleeding, and dizziness. As stated above, we also use IVC to help stimulate the immune system.
If you're interested in determining whether IV therapy could be an appropriate way to provide added support to your current treatment plan, schedule a consultation with one of our physicians.
Proper diet and nutrition are fundamental to your anti-cancer protocol.
Research has found that diet can play an important role in cancer care. This includes both cancer prevention as well as treatment.
One of the first things many people do when they find out they have cancer is change their diet.
Because there is so much information online regarding diet and cancer, and much of this information is contradictory, many people are confused about what kind of diet is actually best for them. Furthermore, much of the dietary advice available online is non-specific individual circumstances, including the type of cancer someone is dealing with.
At Naturopathic Specialists we have done the research, so you don’t have to. We customize the personalized dietary recommendations for each of our patients to take into account their unique physiology, their cancer type, and the treatments they are undergoing.
Personalized Cancer Diet
A major priority at Naturopathic Specialists is to keep you as healthy, and strong as possible while you undergo your journey with cancer.
One of the cornerstones of our approach is understanding and implementing an appropriate diet. Everything you put into your body has a direct effect on your health.
At Naturopathic Specialists we consider a whole food, anti-inflammatory, diet the most beneficial way of eating whether working within a cancer context or not. Ideally, this diet should be plant-based and consist mainly of minimally processed whole foods. It should also contain organic vegetables, fruits, grass-fed protein, wild caught fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and omega 3 rich sources of fats.
This is in stark contrast to the way most people in North America eat, also known as the “Standard American Diet (SAD)”.
At Naturopathic Specialists we believe that every person is unique. Therefore, each person’s diet should be individualized and unique to their needs. Building on the general whole foods diet mentioned above, we then make individualized recommendations based on numerous different health parameters.
Fasting is a time-honored tradition that stretches back across human history. Examples of fasting can be found across all cultures on the planet. Our ancestors knew that there were numerous benefits to fasting. Fasting restores homeostasis to the body and upregulates cellular repair mechanisms.
Research has indicated that fasting results in a number of health benefits.
Some of these benefits include:
Decreasing blood glucose
Regeneration of the immune system, and
Increased cellular repair.
When it comes to oncology, it has been found that fasting while undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can improve the efficacy of these treatments and decrease their side effects.
Further, fasting while undergoing chemotherapy can help to alleviate some common side effects of the treatment such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. One of the reasons for this effect is that fasting has been found to protect normal cells while stressing cancer cells.
This is called the “differential stress response” and through this mechanism, cancer cells are more susceptible to anti-cancer therapies. Fasting itself may have some anti-cancer activity as it has been found to induce cancer cell death while reducing growth factors that have been linked with increased cancer cell proliferation.
If you have any medical conditions, such as cancer, for instance, it is best to be monitored while undergoing fasting. There are specific blood tests that should be run before beginning the diet to ensure you are an adequate candidate to undergo the diet. Furthermore, since the diet is low in calories it is important to be monitored while undergoing the diet.
Fasting is not for everyone and is contraindicated in some instances. We advise that anyone wishing to undergo fasting (or a fasting mimicking diet) do so under the supervision of a healthcare provider trained in its use. If you’re curious about incorporating such a change into your treatment plan, feel free to speak to one of our doctors to determine whether it would be appropriate in your case.
The ketogenic has numerous different applications based on its wide-ranging effects on the body.
As a supportive adjunct to patients with cancer, the ketogenic diet has been shown to reduce side effects of conventional treatment while enhancing treatment effectiveness.
The ketogenic diet has been found to reduce or slow the progression of cachexia.
Other beneficial aspects of the ketogenic diet include its ability to:
Lower blood glucose levels
Reduce inflammation, and
Decrease IGF-1/ inhibit mTOR all of which can stimulate tumor growth.
A ketogenic diet has also been found to enhance immune function which is also important in people with cancer.
For more information on the benefits of a ketogenic diet check out our three-part blog series on the Ketogenic Diet and Cancer. If you’re interested in determining whether a ketogenic diet could benefit you, schedule a consultation with one of our doctors.
Acupuncture is a facet of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) which is one of the oldest medical systems on the planet. Estimates place treatment with acupuncture to be over 2500 years old.
Acupuncture can be used to treat a variety of symptoms and conditions associated with cancer as well as cancer treatments. Acupuncture is increasingly being recognized as a safe and effective adjunctive treatment by the conventional oncology world. It is used in many major cancer centers throughout the United States such as Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Acupuncture is defined by the National Institutes of Health as:
“A family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical locations on the skin by a variety of techniques. The most studied mechanism of stimulation of acupuncture points uses penetration of the skin by thin, solid, metallic needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation.”
The mechanism of action of acupuncture is currently unknown, but it’s hypothesized that it works by stimulating and modulating the neuroendocrine system.
In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture points are chosen based on a TCM diagnosis. Different points are located on different meridians that run throughout the entire body. Qi flows along these meridians and blockages along meridians can lead to disease and dysfunction. Using specific acupuncture points stimulates the flow of Qi which in turn harmonizes the meridians, alleviating disease and promoting health.
Acupuncture has been found to treat many common symptoms associated with cancer as well as conventional cancer care.
It has been found to alleviate chemotherapy as well as surgery induced nausea and vomiting (in some cases, better than commonly prescribed medications).
A common side effect of many chemotherapies is neuropathy. For many people, this is a long-term side effect of chemotherapy.
Many people have found that acupuncture was helpful in the alleviation of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.
Another common side effect of conventional therapy is fatigue. Acupuncture has been found to help alleviate fatigue in patients undergoing both chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Many women with hormonally driven cancers are placed on hormone-blocking therapies and due to this experience intolerable hot flashes. Acupuncture has been found to alleviate hot flashes in women on these therapies.
Acupuncture has also been found to help:
Reduce cancer-related pain
Improve white blood cell counts
Reduce insomnia, and
There are numerous applications of acupuncture and treatment is more successful when it is tailored towards you and your specific symptoms. At NS we use acupuncture as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. If you would like more information about acupuncture and would like to incorporate it into your treatment plan, schedule a time to speak with one of our doctors.
Frequency Specific Microcurrent
Naturopathic Specialists offers Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM) as an exciting adjunctive treatment for nerve, muscle pain, and many other conditions.
FSM utilizes specific frequencies and micro-amperage current to address over 200 common conditions.
Micro amperage is measured in millionths of an amp, so small that there is not enough current to stimulate sensory nerves, which is why it is generally not felt. This is what separates it from traditional electrical stimulation devices that utilize sine wave and cause muscle contraction and stimulation.
Micro amperage current is the same kind of current your body produces on its own within each cell. You can tell it is running by watching the conductance meter on the machine and some patients can feel a sense of warmth as circulation is improved to the area.
Clinical application and study with frequency specific microcurrent have been found to address many common conditions. While there can be no claims made for the effects of the frequencies until research has documented their effects, present implementation is based on reports from patients and physicians noting results in the clinical setting.
At Naturopathic Specialists we have observed great improvement with neuropathy, adhesions, general nerve pain, lymphedema as well as endometriosis with FSM.
The exciting part is as we learn more clinically, the application of FSM becomes endless. The other benefit from this therapy is that there are generally no side effects or discomfort associated with the treatments.
The amount of treatments it takes to elicit relief varies, but most people have noted some improvement after the first few applications.
Typical protocols for addressing issues usually last a number of weeks but vary based on the individual outcomes.
To schedule an appointment to try frequency specific microcurrent please contact the front desk.
Female Pelvic Therapy
Dr. Jessica Stefanski, one of our doctors who focus on naturopathic women’s medicine, has specialized training in pelvic physical therapy, Maya Abdominal Therapy and Holistic Pelvic Care™.
These therapies can be highly useful to women who have undergone treatment for gynecological or bladder cancers like that have caused scar tissue or adhesions to form in the pelvic area. Long-term side effects such as incontinence, pain, gastrointestinal dysfunction, decreased sexual function among many other symptoms can see improvement from such therapies.
We don’t have a program in-house for men dealing with similar issues such as prostate, or bladder cancer, but we can refer to practitioners who have experience in manual pelvic therapies for men.
Women interested in pelvic physical therapy can speak with Dr. Stefanski. She will create an individualized treatment program that may help you to reduce or eliminate your symptoms, and improve your quality of life.
If you’re interested in learning more about female pelvic therapies such as Maya, and Holistic Pelvic Care, please contact our office and arrange a consultation.
Risk Reduction Education
One of the tenants of naturopathic medicine is Docere or “Doctor as Teacher”.
We take this tenant very seriously at Naturopathic Specialists and we strive to educate everyone in our care about their physiology, illness and potential treatment options (both conventional and non-conventional).
We feel that when people don’t understand either their treatment or their diagnosis, it actually impacts their health. Understanding what is wrong, as well as what’s being done about it is empowering, and a crucial step in patient follow through.
Another tenant of naturopathic medicine is Prevention.
Although many people come to our clinic with a pre-existing diagnosis, we believe it is never too late to practice preventative medicine. In the realm of oncology, this can include preventing the recurrence of cancer.
When it comes to risk reduction education we generally focus on the 5 pillars of health. These consist of aspects of your life you can influence today, that will immediately have an overall beneficial impact on your health.
Diet: Diet is important in the prevention and treatment of disease. What we put in our body is just as important as what we avoid putting into it and we speak at length on diet to each of our patients.
Movement/ Physical Activity: The majority of people alive today live relatively sedentary lifestyles compared to our ancestors, which has lead to an uptick of many negative health concerns. Because many people with cancer are limited in how much exercise they can perform, we teach individuals about what forms of movement can benefit them most without creating more problems.
Sleep Education: There are many health problems linked to a lack of sleep. We educate people in our clinic on the benefits of sleep and help them to understand concepts like sleep hygiene to ensure they can get the most restful sleep possible.
Stress Management: We counsel our patients and teach them stress reducing techniques that focus on reducing stresses both internally and externally. We also educate our patients about the many benefits of social connections and how building a strong social support network can greatly improve their wellbeing.
Identify Environmental Toxicants: Environmental carcinogens can be either natural or synthetic. Many of the compounds that we encounter on a day to day basis can act as carcinogens which could lead either to the development or recurrence of cancer. We educate our patients on how to avoid exposure to these harmful compounds.
Many people who come to our clinic have seen one (or several) other medical professionals, and yet a very small percentage of people actually understand either their diagnosis or their treatment. Of course, people who aren’t doctors themselves may not have the ability to really understand either, but there are inevitably unanswered questions that leave people with a sense of doubt - Is what I’m doing right for me?
We strive to educate people so that they understand their options, and don’t feel like a helpless passenger being driven from one point to the next. Our priority is to assist, empower, and help people understand that no matter the case, they need to be proactive in their management of the disease. They need to be involved, and a major part of that is doing what you can to understand what’s going on.
If you would like to benefit from our physicians’ experience in breaking down and explaining treatments, options, and how those choices could impact your care, please contact our office.
Ozone is a reactive form of oxygen that contains three oxygen atoms (O3).
Because it’s highly reactive, it is much more likely to interact with other molecules. It’s ozone’s ability to give up one of its oxygen’s so that it can become more stable is what provides a therapeutic benefit.
The first article published on the medical use of ozone was in 1892 where it was used to treat tuberculosis. In Germany, much of Europe and South America ozone is used regularly as a medical therapy.
Acting on numerous pathways, ozone:
Enhances the metabolism of oxygen in the body which in turn increases the production of ATP.
Causes an increased release of oxygen to tissue and increases blood circulation.
Upregulates our body’s natural antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione.
Has been found to modulate the immune response depending on the dose and route of administration.
Create a low-grade level of oxidation which upregulates the release of certain signaling molecules that stimulate the immune response.
Reduce inflammation in the body. By causing a low level of inflammation it upregulates certain pathways in the body that lead to an overall anti-inflammatory effect.
Ozone can also be used as an anti-microbial and research show that it can destroy bacteria, virus, yeast, and protozoa.
Studies have even indicated that ozone potentially inhibits cancer cell growth.
Though research is uncovering many uses for ozone therapy, it does have some contraindications to consider in connection with certain cancer therapies or diagnoses.
If you’re interested in discussing whether ozone therapy may be beneficial in your case, please schedule a time to speak with one of our doctors.
Read more below, or click here to contact us!