Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)
With any treatment plan the goal is to always use the least invasive therapy first before considering more aggressive invasive therapy. This makes it more likely that the health concern can be effectively treated without harming the patient. If someone has a mild infection that can be easily treated with a well tolerated low dose oral antibiotic then it makes sense to use this prior to trying high dose intravenous antibiotics that are more likely to cause complications. This rationale is common sense.
When faced with a diagnosis of cancer, patients are often overwhelmed with information and this can scare them into immediately resorting to the most aggressive treatment plan possible and in the process natural therapies are dismissed out of fear. In many cases, only after all conventional options have been exhausted do they seek integrative care. This is not the ideal time to integrate natural therapies into the plan as the bodies immune system is often severely weakened at this point in time. Naturopathic medicine should be integrated into the plan from the first day of diagnosis.
I am not in any way suggesting that patients should be avoiding conventional care. The evidence is clear, patients do better when they have an integrative health care team. This means that conventional and natural therapies are used together in a synergistic manner. After consulting with their oncologist, some patients are left with the impression that there is no evidence to support any therapy beyond what is being recommended. This could not be further from the truth. These therapies have hundreds of peer reviewed studies and depending on where you are in the world they can be the standard of care. In many major cancer centres in the USA, naturopathic doctors are now working in hospitals along side medical oncologists and patients are doing better as a result.
Naturopathic medicine can be very effective at supporting the immune system and reducing side effects during conventional cancer therapies. You can do all the chemotherapy in the world but if you do not have a functioning immune system to clean up the metabolic mess then it will not be a successful plan. This is where naturopathic medicine excels and it should be used from day one. It is not unusual for me to have patients at my office using the strongest and most toxic chemotherapy that medicine has to offer, and they breeze through it with minimal side effects.
It is critical to recognize that you must have professional guidance when developing an integrative treatment plan. Do not take advice from friends or the internet and start taking a supplement because you heard it was good for cancer. Not all cancers are the same and there are legitimate interactions that you must be aware of. Only a naturopathic doctor who works with oncology will be able to help you develop a targeted and effective treatment plan that is indicated for your unique health circumstances. Working with a naturopathic doctor also makes it possible to have true integrative care where multiple health care practitioners are working collaboratively on your case.
You do not have to take these supplements in secret. If you desire an integrative treatment plan then your naturopathic doctor should be making an effort to reach out to your oncologist to inform them about what you are taking. When oncologists are provided with information about what you are taking and why, they are often happy to work collaboratively. Both naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine have a lot that they can offer patients. The ideal treatment plan does not have to be one extreme where the other healthcare practitioners are completely disregarded. The most effective plan is a collaborative integrative plan that is developed based on the best available scientific evidence. Integrating naturopathic medicine with conventional medicine should be every patients first resort, not their last.
Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com