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What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary health care. It is an art, a science, a philosophy. It is a practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness.
A central goal of naturopathic medicine is to use the healing power of nature to maintain and restore health. In addition, naturopathic medicine focuses on prevention. This is accomplished through education and promotion of lifestyle habits that create good health.
Naturopathic clinicians are specialists in natural health care who use natural, non- toxic therapies to support the whole person and encourage the inherent self-healing process, with an emphasis on building health. Their goal is to minimize the risk of harmful effects on you, and apply the least possible force or intervention necessary to diagnose illness and restore your health.
According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, the scope of naturopathic medicine may include: Clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, classical Chinese medicine, hydrotherapy, manipulative therapy, environment medicine and minor surgery. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), we use a variety of naturopathic therapies as part of our integrative approach to cancer treatment.
Naturopathic Medicine in Cancer Care
The goal of naturopathic medicine is to create a healthy environment both inside and outside the body. This is especially significant for people with cancer. Naturopathic medicine takes a holistic, or whole- person, approach to cancer care. It makes use of time-tested, scientifically grounded, natural methods to strengthen the body’s ability to heal itself.
The goals of naturopathic medicine for people undergoing cancer treatment include:
- Support normal metabolism during treatment
- Decrease side effects of cancer treatment
- Boost the body’s immune system
- Provide strategies for long term cancer prevention and health maintenance
- Improve energy, well-being and overall quality of life
Naturopathic Medicine at CTCA
At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), we believe in the importance of a whole-person approach to cancer treatment. That is why we offer our patients integrative care, including therapies such as naturopathic medicine, to deliver advanced cancer treatment.
The Naturopathic Medicine Department at CTCA focuses on the healing power of the body and nature to fight disease. Naturopathic medicine sees the body as having the inherent ability to establish, maintain and restore health, and the healing process as ordered and intelligent.
The naturopathic medicine team at CTCA aims to facilitate this process, to identify and remove obstacles to your health and recovery, and to support the creation of a healthy internal and external environment for you.
The naturopathic medicine team at CTCA is comprised of naturopathic clinicians who have Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (N.D.) degrees. Their training includes education in the following naturopathic therapies:
- Nutritional supplements, including vitamins, minerals and amino acids
- Botanical medicine (the use of herbs)
- Homeopathic medicine
Naturopathic Assessment and Plan
Upon your arrival at one of our CTCA hospitals, you will have the option to meet with a naturopathic clinicians. Your naturopathic clinicians will make an assessment and develop a plan to support you as you receive cancer treatment. This plan will include personalized natural therapies—backed by scientific research - to fortify you before, during and after your cancer treatment.
Your naturopathic clinician will try to lessen the potential side effects of cancer treatment so you can feel better as you heal. In addition, he/she will monitor your supplement and vitamin intake to ensure safety from potential drug-herb and drug-nutrient interactions. Since all of your care is handled under one roof, your naturopathic clinician is able to consult regularly with your oncologist and the rest of your care team to monitor the progress of your treatment.
Aside from personal consultations with your naturopathic clinician, you will have access to educational classes as well. Programs include information about vitamin and mineral supplements, natural remedies, nutritional guidance, lifestyle changes, stress management techniques and strategies for long-term prevention of recurrence.
Naturopathic Therapies at CTCA
Naturopathic therapies aim to support whole-body wellness, including the immune system, digestion, sleep, energy levels, diet, exercise and spirituality.
Even though it has its own therapeutic specialties, naturopathic medicine incorporates the natural therapies of many different healing traditions. What makes a therapy part of the naturopathic scope of practice is the way it is applied.
Naturopathic therapies at CTCA include the following six therapeutic modalities of naturopathic medicine:
The philosophy "food is the best medicine" is a cornerstone of naturopathic practice. Some medical conditions may be treated more effectively with foods and nutritional supplements than by other means, with fewer complications and side effects.
Botanical Medicine (Herbs, Minerals, and Vitamins)
Many plant substances are powerful medicines. Where single chemically-derived drugs may address only one problem, botanical medicines are able to address a variety of problems simultaneously. Their organic nature makes most botanicals compatible with the body's own chemistry; hence, they can work gently, and with few toxic side effects. Our naturopathic clinicians consult with our oncologists to use herbs, minerals and vitamins to complement your cancer treatment options.
Chinese medicine is a healing philosophy that is complementary to naturopathic medicine. Meridian theory offers an important understanding of the unity of the body and mind and adds to the Western understanding of physiology. Acupuncture may be an option for some patients at CTCA.
Homeopathic medicine is based on the principle of "like cures like." Clinical observation indicates that it works on a subtle, yet powerful, energetic level, gently acting to strengthen the body's immune response and triggering the healing process. Homeopaths believe that the more dilute the remedy (small doses), the greater its potency.
Our naturopathic clinicians use homeopathic remedies (i.e., plant extracts and minerals) to stimulate healing and deliver personalized, integrative cancer treatment options.
The use of various temperatures and applications of water is one of the traditional naturopathic treatment modalities. Applications of warm and/or cool water are used to stimulate the body’s immune system and decrease inflammation.
Low Level Energy Laser Therapy
We use Low Level Energy Laser Therapy to help minimize treatment-related side effects like peripheral neuropathy (numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, often caused by chemotherapy), pain, fatigue, lymphedema, mucositis (inflammation of the digestive tract, often caused by chemotherapy and radiation) and wound healing.
Some medical conditions may be treated more effectively with foods and nutritional supplements than by other means, with fewer complications and side effects. Our naturopathic clinicians work closely with our Nutrition Department at CTCA will address your nutritional needs.
Naturopathic medicine has its own methods of therapeutic manipulation of the muscles, bones and spine. The Oncology Rehabilitation Department at CTCA provides these specific modalities.
Mental attitudes and emotional states may influence, or even cause, physical illness. The Mind-Body Medicine Department at CTCA provides counseling, stress management techniques, hypnotherapy, biofeedback and other therapies to help patients heal psychologically.
Learn More: Naturopathic Medicine Tips
For helpful naturopathic medicine tips, read our September 2007 newsletter, featuring the role of naturopathic medicine in cancer. To subscribe to our free monthly e-newsletter, visit the CancerCenter Newsletter Sign Up page today.