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At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) we help you fight cancer on many fronts. We focus on healing you in mind, body and spirit, which is why we offer additional therapies – all under one roof – to complement your standard cancer treatments like radiation, chemotherapy and surgery.
Southeastern Regional Medical Center (Southeastern) offers integrative therapies such as naturopathic medicine, nutritional therapy, mind-body medicine and oncology rehabilitation in order to strengthen your body and help keep you comfortable during your cancer treatment.
What Is Naturopathic Medicine?
At CTCA, naturopathic oncology providers function to complete the comprehensive model of care, in order to support every person throughout his or her cancer treatment. 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.
Specifically, naturopathic medicine can complement your cancer treatment in the following ways:
- Boost the body’s immune system
- Decrease side effects of treatments
- Improve energy and well-being
- Provide strategies for long-term health maintenance
- Promote sleep
- Aid in digestion
- Reduce nausea
- Support respiratory function
- Prevent or help alleviate peripheral neuropathy (damage to the peripheral nervous system of the body which causes numbness or tingling in the hand or feet)
- Aid in management of endocrine and blood sugar abnormalities
The Naturopathic Medicine Department at Southeastern aims to support whole-body wellness, and strives to lessen the potential side effects of cancer treatment so you can feel better as you heal.
The Southeastern Naturopathic Team
Heidi Kussmann, ND, FABNO, Manager of the Naturopathic Medicine Department and a staff naturopathic oncology provider, began her CTCA career in 2010 at Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa. She joined Southeastern before the Newnan hospital opened in August 2012, and was integral in the development of the Naturopathic Medicine Department and of hiring staff naturopathic oncology providers Daniel Kellman, ND, FABNO and David Oster, ND.
“I was really excited to join the Southeastern team and assist with delivering comprehensive integrative cancer care to patients in the Southeast, as well as to all of the patients who travel to treat at our Newnan hospital,” says Kussmann.
Every naturopathic oncology provider at Southeastern has a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) degree from a doctoral-level program accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education. Naturopathic medical education involves a four-year post graduate medical degree that includes the study of basic medical sciences (including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology and microbiology), as well as clinical and physical diagnosis, nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, other natural therapies and pharmacology.
Naturopathic doctors at Southeastern meet the higher standards of naturopathic oncology expertise for naturopathic medicine with additional board certification as Fellows in Naturopathic Oncology.
Assessment and Plan
During your initial visit to Southeastern, you will meet with a naturopath, who is a member of your integrative cancer Care Team. This meeting occurs during the intake process, and a naturopathic oncology provider will gather baseline information related to your overall health, current symptoms related to your cancer plan and specific non-cancer health conditions that can also be addressed while at CTCA.
After the assessment, your Patient Empowered Care® Team will work together to create a comprehensive treatment plan which allows for both oncology and whole-person care. Your Care Team includes your medical oncologist, naturopathic oncology provider, registered dietician, mind-body therapist and care management nurse, as well as clinicians from other therapies that may be a part of your plan such as chiropractic care and oncology rehabilitation. Because every patient is different, your naturopath will work with the rest of your care team to develop a naturopathic plan that accommodates your specific cancer, as well as your unique health needs.
“Naturopathic oncology providers at CTCA work to support the oncology treatment plan via synergistic and restorative recommendations,” says Kussmann. “Our first visit is for baseline evaluation, and follow up visits determine treatment goals as a team, based upon the oncology treatment plan and changes needed by the individual patient.”
One of the roles of the Naturopathic Medicine Department at Southeastern is to educate you on the facts versus the fiction regarding supplements and other natural therapies, and to help you choose wisely from the myriad of options available.
Our naturopathic oncology providers have extensive experience with a wide array of natural products and therapies and are continually researching the latest supplements. Your naturopathic oncology provider will monitor your supplement and vitamin intake to make sure your supplements are appropriate for you, and to ensure safety from potential drug-herb and drug-nutrient interactions.
There are certain natural supplements that may alleviate your nausea, for instance. Also, there may be supplements your naturopath will instruct you not to take at certain times (e.g., on the days you are receiving chemotherapy). If you have difficulty swallowing pills, some of the nutritional, herbal and homeopathic supplements are available in both liquid and powder form.
The products available at our on-site Retail Pharmacy have undergone rigorous quality assurance investigation and are considered safe when taken as recommended. 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. We also carry supplements from additional vendors that have undergone a rigorous third-party quality assurance process.
In addition to working with supplements and other natural remedies, the Naturopathic Medicine Department provides the following treatments at Southeastern:
Homeopathy uses specially prepared very low dose remedies to address symptoms based on the concept of "like cures like." Clinical observation indicates that it works on a subtle, effective energetic level, gently acting to strengthen the body's immune response and support the healing process. Homeopathy may be recommended to support symptoms such as post-surgical recovery, nausea, constipation and diarrhea for example.
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.
Botanical Medicine (Herbs, Minerals, and Vitamins):
Where single chemically derived drugs may address only one problem, botanical medicines are able to address a variety of problems simultaneously. The foundation of pharmaceutical medicine is built upon botanical medicine. For example, the use of and extract from the pacific yew tree for the treatment of cancer was widely accepted until it became endangered and a synthetic version, Taxol was created.
A Collaborative Approach to Care
Naturopathic doctors at Southeastern work closely with other departments, such as nutrition therapy and oncology rehabilitation, as well as with traditional medicine departments such as radiation, surgical and medical oncology.
“We meet daily with each patient’s entire Care Team to discuss his/her past and current health conditions, past treatments, medications, supplements, symptoms arising and social and psychological well-being/needs,” says Kussmann.
Your naturopathic oncology provider will provide care as part of your integrative team throughout your journey – including when you are back at home after completing cancer treatment. He or she will continue to regularly discuss naturopathic therapies to strengthen your body via the CTCA Survivorship Support Program.