Naturopathic medicine offers gentle yet effective supportive and integrative care for cancer patients. The Naturopathic focus is on treating the whole person and not the disease. Our aim is to make the body as healthy as possible, remove obstacles to cure, restore balance, and enhance the immune system. At our clinic we focus on diet, nutritional supplementation, botanical medicine, homeopathy, and intravenous nutrients to boost the body’s innate healing powers in an attempt to enhance quality of life, reduce symptoms, reduce side effects from chemotherapy and radiation, enhance effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation, and to assist the body in regaining optimal health. It is possible, but not yet well established scientifically, that this approach may allow the body to put the cancer into remission (if the cancer is not extremely advanced). It is Integrative with standard Oncology therapies and in no way asks anyone to avoid convention therapies. These therapies are not considered curative.
Every case is unique and all people are individuals. Therefore, these treatments are tailored to the individual. The treatments are discussed thoroughly with the patient and protocols are worked out between the doctor and the patient depending on the patient’s needs, resources, level of commitment, other ongoing treatments, and willingness to use this approach. The treatments are based on research which has shown significant benefit and safety.
My experience has been that these treatments improve quality of life, increase life expectancy, and reduce side effects from more aggressive therapies. They do not cause harm, are very safe, and do not react adversely with other treatments. Therapies are aimed at improving the health of the individual in three fundamental ways: improving cellular energy production, decreasing inflammation, and stimulating the immune system. With improvement in the biological terrain of the body, the potential to overcome cancer is possible. Although curing cancer is not always possible, achieving clinical stability with good quality of life is usually possible, and significant life extension is quite common.
For safety, ensure that all treatments are approved and monitored by a licensed Naturopathic Physician.
Some of the treatments which may be suggested to you are as follows:
- Intravenous vitamin C: Intravenous Vitamin C has been shown to increase survival time in cancer patients, decrease the amount of radiation required, enhance chemotherapy, protect from damage of chemotherapy, inhibit the growth of some cancers, and reverse some abnormal cell lines back to normal. The injectable form allows much higher levels to be administered and enhances the health effects. At levels only reached by intravenous administration, vitamin C is a pro-oxidant that has been shown to kill tumor cells, but not normal healthy cells. Laboratory studies have reported that high-dose vitamin C has redox properties and decreased cell proliferation in prostate, pancreatic, hepatocellular, colon, mesothelioma, and neuroblastoma cell lines. Two studies of high-dose vitamin C in cancer patients reported improved quality of life and decreases in cancer-related toxicities. IV-Vitamin C has been well tolerated in clinical trials. It is not considered a monotherapy and to date, studies show it works best alongside conventional cancer treatments in an integrated manner. See www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/highdosevitaminc for research reviews.
- Intravenous Artesunate: Artesunate is a substance derived from the plant Artemisia annua. It was initially, and continues to be used to treat malaria, however, recently it has shown great promise as a cancer therapy. Further, it has been used in combination with some chemotherapies to improve outcomes in advanced cancer patients. When treating cancer patients, it is important to follow a holistic approach and use as many tools as are available to weaken the cancer and strengthen healthy cells. Artesunate is another weapon in the arsenal of natural remedies that can make a significant difference in the fight against cancer.
The mechanism of action for artesunate in the context of cancer therapy is very well defined. Cancer cells tend to absorb iron at high levels and this is thought to accelerate the mutation rate within these cells. Iron reacts with oxygen to form free radicals. This process is accelerated with Artesunate which activates mitochondrial apoptosis, or normal cell death, by iron catalyzed lysosomal reactive oxygen species production. In other words, this substance will use the iron within the cancer cells against them by creating excess oxygen in the cell. Cancer cells and pathogens, unlike our body’s healthy cells, lack the antioxidant defense system to protect them from this excess oxygen. Preliminary data from Bastyr Integrative Oncology Research Center indicates that IV Vitamin C (IVC) in conjunction with IV Artesunate makes a substantial difference in advanced cancers. IV Artesunate is often administered right before high dose IV vitamin C and there is evidence that these therapies work synergistically together. In patients with Stage 4 Breast cancer, after 1 year the group that received no IV Vitamin C and IV Artesunate had a 74% survival rate. Compared to the IV Vitamin C and IV Artesunate group which had a 90% survival rate after 1 year. By year 2 the results were even more significant as the group that did not receive treatment had a 68% survival rate compared to 90% in the treatment group. It is also important to note that no adverse events were associated with this treatment.
These preliminary results strongly suggest that high dose IV Vitamin C and IV artesunate improves survival in stage 4 breast cancer patients. Evidence is growing that the use of this therapy has positive effects for a wide range of cancers, including; lung cancer, prostate cancer, glioma, melanoma, colon cancer, liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, laryngeal cancer, and cervical cancer. Research has shown that Artesunate can increase quality of life in addition to improving survival rates. Just like any other cancer therapy, it is important that it is used under the supervision of an experienced Naturopathic Physician who focuses in oncology. It is not a monotherapy but a potential add on to regular oncological therapies.
- Intravenous Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) and LDN: Dr. Burton M. Berkson has pioneered this therapy due to success he has had treating Pancreatic Cancer with and without metastasis. This almost universally fatal cancer is very hard to treat, yet, Dr. Berkson reports that several advanced cases have been put into remission with a therapy of IV ALA plus oral low dose naltrexone (LDN). LDN is an oral pill that blocks opiate receptors in the body which in turn increases levels of endorphins and enkephalins. The effects of this is to improve the immune system against cancer. A 60% response rate has been recorded in analysis of patients with CLL, Lymphoma, and Carcinomas. See Dr. Berkson’s talk on Youtube by entering: “Dr Burt Berkson complete talk LDN09”. ALA functions in the body by the following mechanisms: Mitochondrial stimulant (increasing cellular energy), acts as both a fat and water soluble scavenger of free radicals and thus a reducer of oxidative stress (100 times stronger inhibitor of free-radicals than Vitamin E and C combined), increases glutathione activity to help detoxify the liver, detoxifies toxic heavy metals, reduces the side effects of radiation and chemo, strengthens the effect of and regenerates other antioxidants, reduces inflammation, improves tissue regeneration, stimulates the immune system, protects DNA, reduces fibrosis, can reverse neuropathies, stimulates apoptosis (cancer cell death), enhances and restores kidney filtration, and modifies gene expression. See www.drberkson.com for more information.
- Intravenous or oral DCA (Dichloroacetate): This small chemical has been studied at the University of Alberta by the Michelakis research team. They have shown that DCA turns on the mitochondria of cancer cells, allowing them to resume normal cell suicide (also known as apoptosis). One of the ways cancer survives is by turning off normal metabolism in the mitochondria which in turn, slows apoptosis. Cancer cells burn sugar at a very high rate (200 times normal) using the “Warburg Effect”, a term known as aerobic glycolysis. This bypasses normal mitochondrial energy production. Dr. Akbar Kahn at Medicor Cancer Centres in Toronto, Ontario is conducting ongoing observational research with cancer patients. As of April 2009 he had treated 347 cancer patients, most of whom had exhausted conventional therapies. They were able to demonstrate a 60% response rate (response defined as reduction in tumor size, reduction in tumor markers, improvement in blood tests, symptomatic improvement, and/or disease stabilization). Rat studies have shown that DCA slows the growth rate of tumors, and in a small human trial, DCA slowed the growth of, or shrank brain tumors known a Glioblastoma. Find these research studies at www.thedccasite.com , or www.medicorecancer.com . More research is required before we know the full effect of DCA as a cancer therapy. The initial evidence is promising but preliminary.
One of the main tenants of Naturopathic Medicine is to treat the whole person. To this end, lifestyle, diet, nutrition, and botanical medicine are managed individually in a safe, effective manner. All of these therapies are utilized in an integrated manner to support overall health and hinder cancer growth and survival.
Vitamin C references: