We believe in the importance of patients receiving the very best in supportive and Integrative cancer care, both during and after conventional treatment to:
- Reduce side effects and improve tolerance of conventional radiation and chemotherapy treatment
- Improve the efficacy of chemotherapy and radiation
- Reduce rates of cancer recurrence
- Improve the quality of life by increasing energy, reducing pain, improving appetite
- And more!
Table of Contents
- Message from our Naturopathic Oncology Focus ND
- About Naturopathic Oncology
- High Dose Vitamin C IV for Cancer
- Mistletoe Injections
- Other Naturopathic Treatments for Cancer
Recently I have seen many patients with advanced breast cancer and various kinds of cancer. Most of them failed many lines of chemotherapy (at least two lines), and now undergoing more aggressive chemotherapy with or without targeted therapies (like Herceptin/Cetuximab) and some taking hormonal ablation therapies like Leuprolide injections. From my conventional oncology background, I appreciate much these interventions as they all aim at reducing the tumor mass and getting better disease free/progression-free intervals.
More than gaining few months/ years for these patients, it is clear that the quality of life of these patients makes a huge difference. So treating advanced/metastatic breast cancer with chemotherapy can increase their disease-free interval few months but also it drains their energy, and some of them get depletion of their immune system, so they are more liable to infections and sepsis. The addition of naturopathic supportive care for these patients makes a lot of difference; like giving them proper nutrition, to support their immune system and replenish their depleted nutrients, managing pain with acupuncture or alternating heat and cold rather than giving narcotic sedatives with all know side effects like constipation, sleepiness, and drowsiness. I have seen many patients receiving subcutaneous Iscador ( a herb that helps boost immune function and improve stamina in cancer patients), or giving them high dose intravenous vitamin C can change the lives of these patients dramatically.
Due to regulations, I cannot definitely say that naturopathic interventions can improve survival for these patients until the proper research is done; but the one thing I am certain of is that the majority of advanced cancer patients do very well on naturopathic care when they receive it as compared to those who do not receive it.
Because I have been in conventional medical care as medical and radiation oncologist for over 20 years (outside Canada) and even when I visited Princess Margaret Hospital and General Jewish Hospital Cancer department; I found a great difference between patients treated with conventional medical care alone as compared to those who received this conventional care and naturopathic support as well, in favor of those who receive both types of care.
In some patients with advanced breast cancer, even the conventional medical care is just a supportive care with no chemotherapy, radiation or targeted therapy, because simply in this group of patients the oncologists find no benefit of giving further chemotherapy or radiation to them and the harm of getting these interventions supersedes the benefits of giving further chemotherapy and radiation; so these patients would be referred to palliative care service where they would be under pain killers and sometimes intravenous fluids, for this patient population naturopathic care plays even a greater role using other modalities like high dose intravenous vitamin C and intravenous multivitamins and minerals that supply these patients with their needs of essential nutrients, also giving them essential oral nutrition that suits their case is of paramount importance.
In summary; a modern oncology care necessitates the integration of naturopathic medicine for advanced breast cancer patients to optimize their quality of life.
The Need for Naturopathic Oncology?
Many people with cancer consider alternative and Integrative medicine in their fight against cancer .Naturopathic Oncology improve the quality of life and potentiate the efficacy of conventional treatment for cancer.Naturopathic doctors specializing in oncology serve as capable guides for patients interested in exploring alternative options as mindfulness meditation, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, botanical Medicine , specific diets and homeopathy.
Naturopathic doctors support cancer’s patients in their choices to use natural and safe therapies and in their goals to achieve overall health, fight disease progression , and reduce side effects of main stream cancer treatment regimens. Naturopathic Doctors’s promote wellness and educate on the best available evidence for supplements usage and design a diet in an individualized treatment approach.
Our Naturopathic Oncologist are trained in conventional and naturopathic oncology, Thus, he use his expertise on how best to work in a collaborative model of cancer co-management. He helps patients maintain their oncology treatment regimens and provide vital support for reducing side effects of those treatments.
Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid (AA) was first researched as an anti-cancer agent nobel Prize Winner Dr. Linus Pauling PhD and Dr. Ewan Cameron MD. Their first clinical trial began in 1971 and the results of this and other research was published in the book “Cancer and Vitamin C” in 1979. In their clinical trial they found a four-fold increase in survival time by those individuals treated with 10,000 mg of AA intravenously.
Why Intravenous Versus Oral Dosing of Ascorbic Acid?
Oral AA is absorbed through the intestinal lumen in an energy and dose dependant process. At Vitamin C dosage doses over 2g orally less than 20% is actually absorbed. The result is a large quantity of Vitamin C in the intestinal tract which brings water with it leading to Osmotic effects in the gastrointestinal tract leads to gastrointestinal upsets and diarrhea. Recent research has shown that high doses of vitamin C (25g-100g )have significant cytotoxic effects. These doses can only be achieved by intravenous administration.
The Mechanism of Action of Vitamin C in Cancer
Vitamin C is an important extracellular anti-oxidant and plays a role in a host of biochemical reactions in the body. Vitamin C has been validated as supportive therapy in case studies, Preclinical trials and cancer cell research. The results of these studies show that vitamin C acts in the following ways:Selective Cytotoxicity (cancer cell killing) Effect – vitamin c in high doses leads to the production of large amounts of hydrogen peroxide in the connective tissue of the body. Hydrogen peroxide is an important oxidative molecule involved in many immune reactions in the body. In healthy cells the hydrogen peroxide is absorbed and then quenched with intra-cellular anti-oxidants, but in cancer cells they often lack sufficient levels of anti-oxidants so hydrogen peroxide will build up. As levels of hydrogen peroxide rise in cancer cells they eventually go through apoptosis (programmed cell death).
- Selective Cytotoxicity (cancer cell killing) Effect – vitamin c in high doses leads to the production of large amounts of hydrogen peroxide in the connective tissue of the body. Hydrogen peroxide is an important oxidative molecule involved in many immune reactions in the body. In healthy cells the hydrogen peroxide is absorbed and then quenched with intra-cellular anti-oxidants, but in cancer cells they often lack sufficient levels of anti-oxidants so hydrogen peroxide will build up. As levels of hydrogen peroxide rise in cancer cells they eventually go through apoptosis (programmed cell death).Inhibition of Tumor Growth and Metastasis – most tumors require the activity of various enzymes in order to invade and metastasize. Ascorbic Acid inhibits the activity of these enzymes and promotes the production of collagen which may play a role in stabilizing the tumor and preventing local tissue invasion.
- Inhibition of Tumor Growth and Metastasis – most tumors require the activity of various enzymes in order to invade and metastasize. Ascorbic Acid inhibits the activity of these enzymes and promotes the production of collagen which may play a role in stabilizing the tumor and preventing local tissue invasion.Chemosensitization – Ascorbic Acid has been tested in tissue cultures and animal models in combination with many different chemotherapeutics to evaluate a combined effect on tumors. Most well-designed trials have shown a generally positive enhancement of chemotherapeutic success in studies where chemotherapy is combined with Ascorbic Acid. There are only a few select studies that show a negative interaction and we avoid concomitant therapy in those cases.
- Chemosensitization – Ascorbic Acid has been tested in tissue cultures and animal models in combination with many different chemotherapeutics to evaluate a combined effect on tumors. Most well-designed trials have shown a generally positive enhancement of chemotherapeutic success in studies where chemotherapy is combined with Ascorbic Acid. There are only a few select studies that show a negative interaction and we avoid concomitant therapy in those cases. ( copied from IVIT Course approved by CONO)
Mistletoe or Viscum Album is a safe therapy that has been used as a medicine for a long time for disorders of the heart and circulatory disorders and arthritis . Recently, Mistletoe was postulated to have anticancer effects by anthroposophy creator Rudolf Steiner. It has become the most commonly used natural cancer therapy in Europe and has been validated by clinical trials.
European Mistletoe has been widely studied both for its mechanism of action and its clinical effects on cancer patients. Current research has shown the following therapeutic mechanisms of action for mistletoe:
- Direct cytotoxic (cancer cell killing) effect –
- Inhibition of tumour growth and metastasis
- Strong Immunostimulant
- Selective Cytoprotection – protect the DNA of healthy immune cells.
- Strong Neuro-Endocrine Support, improved energy, sleep, appetite and reduced pain.
Many clinical trials and review articles have been conducted which validate the effectiveness of mistletoe in solid tumours like breast, colorectal and prostate cancer as well as leukemia and multiple myeloma.
Asian Medicine and Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2000 years. Recent research into the practice of acupuncture have shown that is can reduce adverse effects of chemotherapy like nausea/vomiting, peripheral neuropathy, decrease anxiety and depression, improve sleep, and increase energy
Botanical Medicine is an important part of integrative cancer care. Many of the most potent chemotherapeutic agents were originally derived from herbs. Herbs are showing great promise in the supportive care of cancer patients and in the context of prevention.
One of the most crucial aspects in treating cancer is diet. Conventional treatments for cancer focus mostly on treating the local tumour. Naturopathic medicine emphasis the whole health of the individual including their diet. Our Naturopathic oncologist educates patients undergoing treatment on what to eat and how much they should eat considering your current standard treatments, your current state of health and the progression of the disease.
Adjunct cancer care with high dose vitamin C should never be considered to replace an effective, proven treatment. It should only be considered where:
- It is used as an adjunct to proven medical treatments;
- Cases where medical treatment using proven methods has failed;
- Cases where there are no known effective treatments.