What is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic clinicians are specialists in natural health care who use natural, non-toxic therapies to support the whole person and encourage the self-healing process. Their goal is to minimize the risk of harmful effects from cancer treatments and select, from a wide variety of natural therapies, the intervention that is most likely to restore your health.
Your naturopathic clinician 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 clinician, who will review your history and make recommendations from a wide variety of natural therapies. Your naturopathic clinician will also review current supplements to identify herb-drug-nutrient interactions.
Throughout your treatment, your naturopathic clinician 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 clinician may also recommend incorporating acupuncture into your treatment plan.
All of our naturopathic clinicians have extensive knowledge of radiation, chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Since they are part of your overall care team at CTCA, they are in regular communication with your oncologists and other clinicians to help guide your treatment plan.
Dietary supplements and botanical medicines
As a supplement to your diet, your naturopathic clinician 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 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
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.
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).
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, 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.