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We understand you are looking for every available resource to fight cancer. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), we offer traditional cancer treatments, as well as new and innovative cancer treatments. Yet, we don’t stop there. We understand you may need more than traditional treatments to support you in your healing journey—and to help you fight cancer on all fronts.
Naturopathic medicine makes use of time-tested natural methods to strengthen the body’s ability to heal itself. It focuses on creating a healthy environment both inside and outside the body. The Naturopathic Medicine Program at CTCA at Southwestern Regional Medical Center aims to use the healing power of the body and nature to fight disease.
The Naturopathic Medicine Team at Southwestern
Southwestern’s naturopathic medicine team is comprised of five naturopathic clinicians. Naturopathic clinicians are specialists in natural health care who use natural therapies to support the whole person, with an emphasis on building and maintaining health.
Each of our naturopathic clinicians has a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from a doctoral-level program accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education. They received education in therapies such as nutritional supplements (i.e., vitamins, minerals and amino acids), botanical medicine (the use of herbs), homeopathic medicine, and hydrotherapy.
The naturopathic team at Southwestern specializes in oncology. About half of the staff has completed a two-year specialized residency program in integrative naturopathic oncology.
In addition to working together, sharing ideas and knowledge, the naturopathic medicine team works hand-in-hand with your oncologist and other members of your cancer care team, including the Nutrition Department. Since our clinicians fully support an integrative care model, and communication flows evenly throughout your care team, you are able to get the individual attention you deserve.
Your Naturopathic Medicine Assessment & Plan
Upon your arrival at Southwestern, you will have the option to meet with a naturopathic clinician. Your naturopathic clinician will make an assessment and will work closely with you to develop a personalized naturopathic care plan. This plan will include natural therapies—backed by scientific research—to complement your traditional cancer treatments.
The Naturopathic Medicine Department aims to complement your conventional cancer treatment in the following ways:
- Boost the body's immune system
- Decrease side effects of chemotherapy and radiation
- Improve energy and well-being
- Provide strategies for long term health maintenance
Southwestern’s naturopathic medicine team will support you throughout your entire care process. Their objective is to be proactive—to fortify you before, during and after your cancer treatment. They will try to lessen the potential side effects of cancer treatment so you can feel better as you heal. Their overall goal is to support whole-body wellness, including the immune system, digestion, sleep, energy levels, diet, exercise and spirituality.
Empowering You Through Education
The Naturopathic Medicine Department also provides an educational component 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.
The Scoop on Supplements
It is important to remember that vitamins, minerals, herb and other therapies generally have a biochemical effect on your body. They may be helpful, have no effect, or even be harmful. Some supplements may interact with your medications or cancer treatments, or may be contraindicated with your cancer type. One of the roles of the Naturopathic Department at Southwestern is to educate you on the facts versus the fiction of supplements, and other natural therapies, and to help you choose wisely from the myriad of options available.
Our naturopathic clinicians have extensive experience with a wide array of natural products and therapies and are continually researching the latest supplements. Your naturopathic clinician 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). Also, if you have difficulty swallowing pills, some of the nutritional, herbal and homeopathic supplements are available in both liquid and powder form. Once you are finished with treatment, the focus of supplements may change from fighting cancer to preventing recurrence.
As a consumer, you have the power to make informed decisions about what to put into your body. According to consumerlab.com, as many as one in four supplements is contaminated or doesn’t contain all of the promised ingredients. For this reason, CTCA carefully selects the supplement brands it offers in our hospitals.
The products available at Southwestern’s Pharmacy/Nutrition Shoppe 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.
Naturopathic therapies at Southwestern include the following therapeutic modalities of naturopathic medicine:
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.
Homeopathy uses specially prepared remedies to address symptoms based on the concept 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. Homeopathy may be recommended to support symptoms such as post-surgical recovery, nausea, constipation and diarrhea.
The concept “let your food be your medicine and medicine your food" is one of the principles 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. Southwestern’s naturopathic clinicians work closely with our Nutrition Department to address your nutritional needs.
The art of touch, massage, physical therapy and spinal manipulation are the basic tools of Naturopathic Manipulative Therapy (NMT), which is used for chronic disease, neck and back pain, and other injuries. Southwestern’s Oncology Rehabilitation Department provides physical and occupational therapy to address your physical and functional needs.
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:
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.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture):
Chinese medicine is a healing philosophy that is complementary to naturopathic medicine. We have trained acupuncturists on staff who offer this method of treatment to unify and harmonize the imbalances present and promote healing. The following are specific acupuncture services:
- Electroacupuncture: Uses a device that generates low voltage electrical pulses. The device is connected via wires and clips to acupuncture needles to facilitate stimulation of acupuncture points. The machine is often used to help relieve joint pain, neuropathy and various myalgias.
- TDP lamp therapy: A special heating device used over the skin to create heat and increase local circulation. The lamp is used for relief of minor muscle and joint pain, arthritis and relaxation of muscles. It is often used over the feet to keep patients warm and comfortable.
- Moxibustion (Moxa): Moxa comes from the Mugwart plant and is traditionally used by heating the herb over acupuncture points. Moxa can be used with or without acupuncture needles and is also available as a topical treatment. It can help relieve digestive complaints, pain and cold syndromes.
Mental attitudes and emotional states may influence, or even cause, physical illness. Southwestern’s Mind-Body Medicine Department provides counseling, stress management techniques, guided imagery, and other therapies to address your psychological needs.