Naturopathic Cancer Treatment:
Integrative Adjunctive Cancer Care
Dr. Smith believes it is critical that patients receive the best supportive care before, during and after conventional treatment.
In this section, some of the types of interventions and therapies used are briefly described.
Naturopathic Doctors offer a unique approach to cancer care, with substantial evidence supporting therapies that lessen the side effects of chemotherapy, increase the impact of chemotherapy, and improve quality and length of life.
Why is Naturopathic Cancer Treatment valuable?
This form of medicine is so much more than just cutting something out or giving a medicine and then hoping for the best, (even though these methods are also crucial). It is about supporting immune function, getting obstacles out of the way, offering the body everything it needs to get back to homeostasis, have regular cell communication, have a disease-free equilibrium.
The body is always trying to right itself, and naturopathic medicine works within this principle. Nutrition, acupuncture, botanical medicines – they can collectively make a huge difference to a patient’s outcomes, and to their day to day experience with cancer.
Patients using Naturopathic cancer treatments always fare better, stay stronger longer, tolerate chemotherapy better. And, regardless of what some oncologists might say, there is evidence behind these therapies. Dr. Smith is very committed to evidence-based medicine; it is central to her practice.
Benefits of these therapies may include but aren’t limited to:
- Reducing side effects of chemotherapy
- Improving tolerance of chemotherapy
- Improving efficacy of chemotherapy
- Increasing survival rates and reducing cancer recurrence
- Improving quality of life by increasing energy, reducing pain and nausea, improving appetite, etc.
- Education and support for patients and their family
Dr. Smith continues her oncology education on an on-going basis due to the high demand for cancer care in her practice and because she has seen the tremendously valuable difference naturopathic cancer treatment can make.
Depending on your goals, treatments such as IV therapy, European mistletoe therapy, nutritional support, botanical medicine, acupuncture and oral nutrient therapy can all be effective treatment options, and Dr. Smith will create and individualized treatment plan.
Naturopathic Cancer Treatment can help:
Reduce chemotherapy side effects
The side-effects of chemotherapy can have a very negative impact on your quality of life. Common side-effects such as nausea, diarrhea, nerve damage and cognitive impairment can all be treated concurrently by a Naturopathic Doctor.
Nutrients such as fish oil, ginger, acetyl-L-Carnitne, and glutamine all have positive evidence for reducing side-effects and can be prescribed for each individual based on chemo/radiation dosing schedules. Effects can be seen in as little as 1-2 weeks.
Depending on the type and stage of your cancer, you can improve your outcomes with weight gain or loss. Weight loss is important in most cases of breast cancer, and plays a substantial role in preventing secondary tumours.
Maintaining weight and reducing cachexia (cancer induced weight loss) independently improves outcomes in most cancer types, which can be achieved through diet, supplementation and specifically prescribed nutrients.
Immune health and anti-cancer therapies
Reduced white blood cells is a significant concern during chemotherapy, and can interfere with your regularly scheduled treatments. Intravenous Vitamin C (IVC) has been shown to improve immune markers in cancer patients, improve the effect of many chemotherapeutic drugs, and improves quality of life of patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Collaborative discussion of IVC with your oncologist can help determine your dosing schedule of IV nutrients. Many patients can be treated 1-2 times per week depending on their
chemotherapy medications, and stage of cancer. Each case is unique, and warrants a discussion whether IV therapy during Chemo can be offered, or limited to follow-up care.
If you are experiencing late-stage cancer, or have chosen not to use conventional medical interventions for your disease, you can be greatly assisted by focusing on improving quality and length of life. IVC and other Naturopathic therapies have been shown to have a cytotoxic effect on cancer cells.
Treatments include herbs such as green tea and curcumin, and nutrients such as melatonin and vitamin D. Acupuncture has also been shown to improve pain, sleep and quality of life in late-stage cancer patients.
What to look for when selecting an Naturopathic Dr for Cancer Treatment:
- Someone who is able to talk with experience about the type of cancer you have
- Who has an established oncology patient-base
- Someone who will give you some time (pre-consultation) to establish whether this approach to your health care is something you want to pursue
- Someone who will customize your treatment plan
- Someone who will work collaboratively with your oncologist
- Someone who have an Intravenous Therapy license (this is a crucial therapy in adjunctive cancer care)
- Someone who continues to study in this specialized area
What Dr. Smith covers in the 15-30 minute complimentary session:
- Usually it takes Dr. Smith to go over adjunctive cancer care in about 30 minutes, as there is a lot to cover, and this also allows patients or family members to ask questions
- Dr. Smith will explain the various interventions that are valuable in cancer care
- She will ask to learn a bit about the type of cancer you have, where you are at in this journey, and what your goals are, to help you establish if this is a valuable addition to your care and a good fit
- There is a bit of time for you to ask questions
Intravenous Vitamin C and evidence based medicine
The research of Dr. Linus Pauling PhD, Nobel Prize Winner, and Dr. Ewen Cameron, MD, was what first put IV vitamin C on the map as an effective anti-cancer therapy, back in 1971. In their clinical trial they found a four fold increase in survival rates by those treated with 10,000mg of vitamin C intravenously. Subsequent trials have had mixed results however there is enough positive statistically significant research that more continues to be done and there is a renewed interest in this intervention that is gaining acceptance around the world as an additive treatment in cancer therapy. There are some studies evaluating the use of vitamin C with conventional treatments in ovarian, breast and pancreatic cancer that have shown the vitamin C to be both well tolerated and that the vitamin C may reduce the side effects of conventional treatments, improve quality of life and possibly positively impact treatment response. New research from the National Institute of Health in the United States has illustrated various mechanisms of actions leading to anti-cancer effects:
Chemosensitization. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has been tested on various animal tissues in cultures, in combination with various chemotheraputic drugs. Most well designed studies are showing positive results in that the vitamin C enhance the power of the drug. The studies that show adverse responses have resulted in a few chemotheraputics to be contraindicated with IV vitamin C therapy.
Inhibition of tumor growth and metastasis. Most tumors require certain enzymes to proliferate however vitamin C appears to inhibit the activity of these enzymes possibly by promoting collagen formation; which may be playing a role in stablizing the tumor and preventing local tissue invasion.
Selective cytotoxicity (cancer cell killing). Large doses of IV vitamin C increase hydrogen peroxide production in connective tissues. In healthy cells, this is absorbed and then quenched by intracellular anti-oxidants. In cancer cells however, there aren’t many anti-oxidants, so it builds up resulting in cell death.
Intravenous Vitamin C and evidence-based medicine
- Chen, Q., Espey, M. G., Krishna, M. C., Mitchell, J. B., Corpe, C. P., Buettner, G. R., … Levine, M. (2005). Pharmacologic ascorbic acid concentrations selectively kill cancer cells: action as a pro-drug to deliver hydrogen peroxide to tissues. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102(38), 13604–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.0506390102
- Pathi, S. S., Lei, P., Sreevalsan, S., Chadalapaka, G., Jutooru, I., & Safe, S. (2011). Pharmacologic doses of ascorbic acid repress specificity protein (Sp) transcription factors and Sp-regulated genes in colon cancer cells. Nutrition and Cancer, 63(7), 1133–42. doi:10.1080/01635581.2011.605984
- Chen, Q., Espey, M. G., Sun, A. Y., Lee, J.-H., Krishna, M. C., Shacter, E., … Levine, M. (2007). Ascorbate in pharmacologic concentrations selectively generates ascorbate radical and hydrogen peroxide in extracellular fluid in vivo. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(21), 8749–54. doi:10.1073/pnas.0702854104
- Chen, Q., Espey, M. G., Sun, A. Y., Pooput, C., Kirk, K. L., Krishna, M. C., … Levine, M. (2008). Pharmacologic doses of ascorbate act as a prooxidant and decrease growth of aggressive tumor xenografts in mice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(32), 11105–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.0804226105
- Hoffer, L. J., Levine, M., Assouline, S., Melnychuk, D., Padayatty, S. J., Rosadiuk, K., … Miller, W. H. (2008). Phase I clinical trial of i.v. ascorbic acid in advanced malignancy. Annals of Oncology : Official Journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology / ESMO, 19(11), 1969–74. doi:10.1093/annonc/mdn377
- Monti, D. a, Mitchell, E., Bazzan, A. J., Littman, S., Zabrecky, G., Yeo, C. J., … Levine, M. (2012). Phase I evaluation of intravenous ascorbic acid in combination with gemcitabine and erlotinib in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. PloS One, 7(1), e29794. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029794
- Welsh, J. L., Wagner, B. a, Van’t Erve, T. J., Zehr, P. S., Berg, D. J., Halfdanarson, T. R., … Cullen, J. J. (2013). Pharmacological ascorbate with gemcitabine for the control of metastatic and node-positive pancreatic cancer (PACMAN): results from a phase I clinical trial. Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology, 71(3), 765–75. doi:10.1007/s00280-013-2070-8
- Vollbracht, C., Schneider, B., Leendert, V., Weiss, G., Auerbach, L., & Beuth, J. (2011). Intravenous Vitamin C Administration Improves Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Patients during Chemo-/Radiotherapy and Aftercare: Results of a Retrospective, Multicentre, Epidemiological Cohort Study in Germany. In Vivo (Athens, Greece), 25(6), 983–990. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22021693
- Ma, Y., Chapman, J., Levine, M., Polireddy, K., Drisko, J., & Chen, Q. (2014). High-dose parenteral ascorbate enhanced chemosensitivity of ovarian cancer and reduced toxicity of chemotherapy. Science Translational Medicine, 6(222), 222ra18. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3007154