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You are likely familiar with naturopathic medicine, a specific branch of health care that focuses on supporting and nurturing the healing power of nature, identifying and treating the root cause of disease and treating the whole person — but are you aware that there is a specialized field of naturopathic medicine that focuses solely on cancer care and treatments known as naturopathic oncology?

The need for naturopathic oncology is immense. Once patients are diagnosed, they are often exploring other options to combine or pursue rather than radiation and chemotherapy. The information readily available can be confusing, staggering and vast — patients often tell me that they are frustrated and overwhelmed and do not know where to start or how to navigate alternative therapies when it comes to adding in supplement protocols into their cancer care plan.

Naturopathic oncology regimens are individualized to a patient’s needs as well as specific cancer diagnosis. Naturopathic physicians specializing in oncology are able to provide their expertise to the field of cancer care by offering suggestions that support overall quality of life, enhance the anti-cancer effects of chemotherapy and radiation and prevent or even reverse the side effects of conventional treatments such as nausea, mouth sores, fatigue, anemia and neuropathy (to name just a few). Above all, they are trained to make recommendations for progressive therapies such as nutritional injections, IV infusions, supplements and herbal protocols that are safe, evidence-based and have been demonstrated to support an anti-cancer effect in current research. They are also experienced in helping patients construct a long-term survivorship plan that will increase quality of life and can help with prevention of cancer recurrence. Lifestyle recommendations, nutritional and dietary counseling, as well as mind-body medicine, are often incorporated into a patient’s comprehensive, cancer care naturopathic protocol.

Naturopathic doctors with expertise in naturopathic oncology are well versed in the conventional care model and understand the standard of practice utilized by medical oncologists. They practice in hospitals as well as in clinical settings. They are able to employ and prescribe naturopathic treatment protocols that do not interact with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, medications, immunotherapies or hormone therapies. They also make suggestions that improve surgery and recovery time that often accompany a cancer diagnosis.

Cancer is an unnatural, aggressive pathological process that requires aggressive treatments. My experience in clinical practice has demonstrated, time and again, that the best outcomes for patients’ overall long-term survival include a combination of conventional therapies and naturopathic treatment protocols.

There is a vast difference in the scientific approach in centers using alternative therapies for cancer. The Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians as well as the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology list naturopathic physicians who have demonstrated expertise and proficiency in both naturopathic medicine and oncology.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, meeting with a naturopathic physician who specializes in cancer care is an excellent option to promote, support and maintain overall health through the cancer journey.

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