Naturopathic Medicine: Therapies
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Your naturopathic plan
During your cancer treatment, your naturopathic clinician will provide various natural therapies to support whole-body wellness. From capsules to herbs in liquid form, natural therapies may help to address a broad range of disease-related or treatment-related symptoms and side effects.
For instance, naturopathic therapies can help to:
- Promote sleep
- Aid in digestion
- Increase energy levels
- Reduce nausea
- Support respiratory function
- Prevent peripheral neuropathy (i.e., numbness or tingling in the hands and feet)
- Aid in management of endocrine and blood sugar abnormalities
Your naturopathic clinician will consult with your medical oncologist to use some of the following naturopathic therapies alongside your conventional cancer treatments:
Dietary supplements & botanical medicine
As a supplement to your diet, your naturopathic clinician will 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 to support your body’s natural digestive process, and minimize reflux, heart burn, bloating, and gas.
Fatigue is also common. Supplements can be used to prevent and decrease chemotherapy and cancer-related fatigue. Supplements such as melatonin may help to promote a healthy sleep pattern which can help you feel more energetic during the day. It is also important for a healthy immune system.
Your naturopathic clinician may also recommend ginger tea, ginger oil gel caps, candied ginger, and other botanicals to help prevent or relieve nausea. In addition, your naturopathic clinician will work with your medical oncologist to determine if you would also 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. If you have difficulty swallowing pills, some of the nutritional, herbal and homeopathic supplements are also available in both liquid and powder form.
Safe use of supplements and botanicals
The supplements and herbs available at CTCA at Eastern Regional Medical Center undergo a rigorous and extensive quality assurance evaluation. In fact, many of the supplements we recommend come from our own line of highly-pure and potent vitamins, minerals and herbs, offered by CNCA. This line of supplements undergoes extensive testing to ensure they meet or exceed regulatory specifications in regards to potency and lack of contamination.
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 with your cancer type. Your naturopathic clinician will work with you to ensure the effects of the natural supplements are appropriate to your situation.
One of the roles of the Naturopathic Medicine Department is to educate you about the safe use of natural therapies, and to help you choose wisely from the myriad of options available.
Throughout your care, your naturopathic clinician will monitor your supplement and vitamin intake to ensure safety from potential drug-herb and drug-nutrient interactions. For instance, there may be supplements your naturopathic clinician will instruct you not to take at certain times (e.g., during specific chemotherapy regimens).
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 restore balance to the body and trigger the healing process.
Your naturopathic clinician may use homeopathic medicines, such as plant extracts and minerals, to stimulate healing and complement your conventional cancer treatment options. For instance, homeopathy may support symptoms such as post-surgical recovery, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea.
Acupuncture uses very thin, sterile needles applied to specific areas of the body, or acupuncture points, to stimulate energy flow (or “chi”). Acupuncture may help to restore balance and healthy energy flow to the body to control pain and other symptoms, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and post-operative nausea.
The hospital's Acupuncture Department includes two registered acupuncturists (RAcs). Acupuncture is available upon your physician’s referral.
Acupressure uses the fingers to gradually press key healing points on the body. When stimulated, these acupressure points may help to release tension, improve circulation and reduce pain.
Hydrotherapy involves the use of various applications of warm and/or cool water to stimulate the body’s immune system and decrease inflammation.