Cancer
Complementary and Alternative Treatment vs. Home Remedies
August 29, 2019
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Image by Wolfgang Claussen from Pixabay

I get a lot of inquiries about the traditional complementary and integrative medicine (TCIM) or complementary and alternative treatment (CAM) protocols I chose to heal my body of vulvar cancer. Many people who reach out to me are suffering from a cancer diagnosis themselves, while others are worried about prevention, or have symptoms and are afraid they may have cancer but have yet to be diagnosed. Often, during these conversations, I find that the person inquiring is actually confused about CAM treatments vs. natural or home remedies.

Let me be very clear here, there are no known natural or home remedies for cancer. The internet is full of forums, blogs, and Facebook groups touting everything from turmeric and baking soda to fruit juice and apricot seeds as the sure-fire cure for any and all cancer diagnoses’. While some of these claims are rooted in legitimate research, these claims are wild exaggerations perpetrated by fear and are not to be trusted. 

If you have or suspect you have a cancer diagnosis and are trying things at home that you’ve read about. Please, I implore you to seek out a medical or naturopathic physician in your area to investigate your case and put together a comprehensive treatment plan for you.

Cancer is a very complex disease, each type of cancer is different, and each person with cancer is different. There is no single treatment or solution for cancer and it is not something that can be addressed at home without the care of an experienced physician.

Complementary and Alternative Treatment

Interest in integrative oncology (IO) is growing globally. Patients with cancer are actively using TCIM or CAM as part of their cancer and survivorship care. Published studies from around the world report increasing use of TCIM by people living with cancer. (1)

CAM treatments are conducted with the oversight of an experienced physician, often a whole team of physicians including specialists in both conventional and naturopathic medicine. My own team included the following professionals:

  • Naturopathic Primary Care Doctor (NMD)
  • Naturopathic Oncologist (NMD, IFMCP, BSN)
  • Gynecologic Oncologist (surgeon) (MD)
  • Vulvar Specialist (MD)
  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
  • Licensed Massage Therapist & Reiki Master Practitioner (LMT)

Your physician, usually, a Naturopathic Oncologist (ND or NMD), will take your complete history and gather any lab work, scan results, or pathology reports available for your case. They will order additional labs to gather baseline data on blood markers that are relevant to your specific case and then put together a customized treatment protocol for your specific type, grade, and stage of cancer taking into consideration your current level of health and resilience, age, gender, metabolic and medical history, previous treatments, genetic components, environment, mental state, etc. This is why it is very important that anyone who chooses to seek CAM treatment for cancer begins with a conventional oncologist specializing in their type of cancer. The diagnostic tests run by the MD are required by the ND in order to assemble the proper treatment protocol.

Your CAM treatment plan will include nutrition and lifestyle interventions that address all areas of your health including sleep optimization, stress management, diet, nutrient deficiency resolution, detoxification, and mental and emotional health. The plan will also include clinical alternative treatments shown to be effective for your specific type, grade, and stage of cancer such as: 

  • Immune Stimulating Therapies:
    • Low Dose Naltrexone
    • Mistletoe
    • Cryotherapy
    • Hyperthermia
    • Botanicals
    • Nutraceuticals
  • Supportive Therapies:
    • Acupuncture
    • IV Therapies
    • Diet Support
    • Frequency Specific Microcurrent
    • Female Pelvic Therapy
    • Risk Reduction Education
    • Ozone Therapy
    • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
  • Restorative Therapies:
    • Detoxification
    • Constitutional Hydrotherapy
    • Body Composition Testing
    • Chelation Therapy

My own CAM treatment protocol included IV therapies, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, botanicals, diet support, and pharmaceuticals.

Your physician will monitor you on a frequent and consistent basis while undergoing your CAM treatments. They will order labs and scans frequently to track progress and ensure that nothing of additional concern surfaces during treatment. They will optimize your CAM treatment protocol based on the results of lab work as well as your symptoms as your treatment progresses.

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

Diet Alone is Not Cancer Treatment

Diet and Oncology Nutrition are one area in particular that seem to garner negative attention when it comes to CAM treatment protocols. There are several different ‘cancer diets’ out there all claiming to cure cancer. However, diet alone cannot cure cancer

The right diet for your type, grade, and stage of cancer can position your body to weather the storm of radiation and chemotherapy, improve mitochondrial health, enhance the antitumor effects of classic chemo- and radiotherapy, or even slow down cancer growth. (2) But diet alone will not heal your body of cancer or save your life. You must utilize nutrition as an element of your overall CAM treatment protocol and undergo your chosen treatment in addition to following the dietary changes that are appropriate for your specific diagnosis.

Dangers of Natural and Home Remedies for Cancer

Attempting to treat cancer on your own, without the help of an experienced physician can be extremely dangerous. Alternative treatments that help to heal some cancers can feed other cancers. The same treatment can also heal one person and harm another with the same kind of cancer simply due to the difference in their genetic makeup or medical history. Some alternative cancer treatments are toxic in the wrong dose and have lethal contraindications when combined with other treatments and medications. Without the proper knowledge and experience, it’s very easy to unintentionally make the situation worse.

Due to the lack of insurance coverage for alternative cancer treatments, more often than not, the best solution is a combination of conventional medical treatment alongside a complementary and alternative treatment protocol. But you must undergo treatment and you must work with an experienced professional.

References

  1. Grant SJ, e. (2019). Integrative Oncology: International Perspectives. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30791736 [Accessed 26 Aug. 2019].
  2. Weber DD, e. (2019). Ketogenic diet in the treatment of cancer – Where do we stand? – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31399389 [Accessed 26 Aug. 2019].
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About author

Heather Cooan

Heather is a marketing executive turned nutrition counselor, consultant, and educator. Heather is currently a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and Nutrition Therapy Practitioner candidate and advocates for informed consent, bodily autonomy, and self-directed healthcare. She speaks and writes on nutrition and lifestyle interventions for improved health and wellness. Heather successfully avoided radiation and chemotherapy and healed her body of vulvar cancer utilizing a food-as-medicine approach combined with conventional interventions such as surgery. Heather has also put two autoimmune diseases into remission (Hashimotos and Lichen Sclerosus) and reversed estrogen dominance, insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, and fatty liver through diet and lifestyle change.

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