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Naturopathic medicine for breast cancer

naturopathic medicine

What is naturopathic medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is an approach to health care that uses natural, non-toxic therapies to treat the whole person and encourage the self-healing process. Naturopathic clinicians treat a variety of conditions, including digestive issues, respiratory conditions, chronic fatigue syndrome and cancer.

As part of our integrative oncology services, our naturopathic oncology providers focus on reducing the risk of harmful effects from cancer treatments. With a wide variety of natural therapies available, they select and propose the intervention that is appropriate for your health. Your naturopathic oncology provider acts as a consultant to your oncologist to support normal metabolism and digestion during cancer treatment; manage any side effects, such as nausea or fatigue; and boost immune function.

As part of the intake process, you'll meet with your naturopathic oncology provider, who will review your history and make recommendations from a wide variety of natural therapies. Your naturopathic oncology provider also will review current supplements to identify herb-drug-nutrient interactions.

Throughout your treatment, your naturopathic oncology provider will recommend natural therapies to support your immune system and reduce any treatment-related side effects, including:

  • Herbal and botanical preparations, including herbal extracts and teas.
  • Dietary supplements, including vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
  • Homeopathic remedies, extremely low doses of plant extracts and minerals that gently strengthen the body's healing and immune response.
  • Physical therapy and exercise therapy, including massage and other gentle techniques used on deep muscles and joints for therapeutic purposes.
  • Hydrotherapy, which prescribes water-based approaches like hot and cold wraps, and other therapies.
  • Lifestyle counseling: Many medical conditions can be treated with exercise, improved sleep, stress reduction techniques, as well as foods and nutritional supplements.
  • Acupuncture: Your naturopathic oncology provider may also recommend incorporating acupuncture into your treatment plan.

Experienced care team

All of our naturopathic oncology providers have extensive knowledge of radiation therapy, chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, in addition to their expertise in the effects of natural therapies. As a part of your care team, they are in regular communication with your oncologists and other clinicians to help guide your treatment plan.

Personalized treatment approach

We personalize treatment plans to the individual based on each person’s goals and experiences. Your care team would help you decide which naturopathic medicine therapies would help achieve your goals. You may have one or more of the above therapies during the course of your treatment.

Naturopathic medicine

Video: Naturopathic Medicine for Breast Cancer

Learn about naturopathic medicine for breast cancer patients

Dietary supplements and botanical medicines

Your naturopathic oncology provider may recommend nutritional supplements (e.g., vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes) and botanical medicines (e.g., herbs) for therapeutic purposes.

For instance, you may experience discomfort during or after eating, or problems with digestion. Some supplements can help support your body’s natural digestive process and minimize acid reflux, heart burn, bloating and gas.

Fatigue is also common. Supplements can be used to prevent and decrease fatigue from chemotherapy or the cancer itself. Supplements such as melatonin may help promote a healthy sleep pattern, which can help you feel more energetic during the day. Melatonin is also important for a healthy immune system.

Your naturopathic oncology provider may recommend ginger tea, ginger oil gel caps, candied ginger and other botanicals to help prevent or relieve nausea. In addition, your naturopathic oncology provider will work with your medical oncologist to determine if you would benefit from a pharmaceutical anti-nausea medication, such as Zofran.

If you are admitted into the hospital as an inpatient, the nursing staff will administer your supplements just like your other medications. Some nutritional, herbal and homeopathic supplements are available in both liquid and powder form if you have difficulty swallowing pills.

Safe use of supplements and botanicals

It is important to remember that vitamins, minerals, herbs and other therapies have strong effects on the body. Some supplements may interact with your medications or cancer treatments, or may be contraindicated for your cancer type. Your naturopathic oncology provider will work with you to ensure that the natural supplements you take are appropriate to your situation.

Throughout your care, your naturopathic oncology provider will monitor your supplement and vitamin intake to prevent potential drug-herb and drug-nutrient interactions. For instance, there may be supplements your naturopathic oncology provider will instruct you to avoid taking at certain times (e.g., during specific chemotherapy regimens).

The supplements and herbs available at our hospitals undergo a rigorous and extensive quality-assurance evaluation. Many of the supplements we recommend come from our own line of highly pure and potent vitamins, minerals and herbs. This line of supplements undergoes extensive testing to ensure they meet or exceed regulatory specifications for potency and lack of contamination.

Naturopathic medicine for breast cancer

Breast cancer and its treatments may cause symptoms, such as nausea, weight changes, sleep disturbances, fatigue and pain. Your naturopathic clinician will make naturopathic recommendations to identify and remove these obstacles to your recovery.

For example, in many types of breast cancer, the hormone estrogen causes breast tumors to grow. Your naturopathic clinician may recommend certain naturopathic therapies that decrease the amount of estrogen in the body by increasing the metabolism and clearance of this hormone.

The following are additional ways naturopathic medicine can help combat side effects of breast cancer treatments:

  • Some hormone therapies for breast cancer can weaken the bones. Your naturopathic clinician may recommend vitamin D to protect the bones.
  • Chemotherapy for breast cancer may cause numbness or tingling in the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy). Your naturopathic clinician can offer natural therapies to help treat this condition.
  • To help you fight nausea and vomiting, your breast cancer naturopathic medicine team may suggest ginger, peppermint oil, tea, sea bands, acupuncture and homeopathic remedies.
  • Some naturopathic remedies, such as green tea and melatonin, may help to decrease the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
  • Some endocrine treatments that are recommended for women with breast cancer are given for at least five years and have side effects that naturopathic medicine can help address. This allows you to tolerate these treatments and continue with important therapies to help decrease risk of recurrence.
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