By Dr. Randall Block
Everything is poison, and nothing is poison. This old naturopathic saying is hard to comprehend when we are talking about things like chemotherapy, or radiation. But it all depends on the dosage of a substance. Drinking too much water can even kill a person. And likewise, a very small amount of a toxic chemical like cyanide can be used as medicine.
Not only does the dose matter, but also who we are putting that substance into, what’s their constitution, and what else are they are taking along with it? After all, in naturopathic medicine we treat people, not disease.
When someone receives a cancer diagnosis they typically are overwhelmed by all kind of emotions. The last thing anyone wants to do is figure things out themselves. They have heard terrible stories about the standard medical protocols to treat cancer. Yet the doctor in front of them is saying that is their only option, the best thing available. So, what is the deal?
Cue naturopathic medicine: Here we find that there are many ways to treat a cancer patient, and none of those ways involve ONLY taking a chemotherapeutic agent. We now know from studies and clinical evidence that would be a crazy thing to do.
Chemotherapy alone is very harmful to the body. Well of course it is, that is why we use it to treat cancer! But we now have many excellent ways to protect a person’s healthy cells WHILE we are allowing chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy to kill cancer cells. Using dietary medical protocols, specific herbs and vitamins at the right times and the proper dosages, mind-body medicine, and some good old nature-cure, we have a potent system to keep the body healthy while going through standard cancer treatment. Many herbs are used to not only help the body stay strong during treatment, but even help the chemotherapy work better to kill cancer cells, hinder cancer cell drug resistance, and stop the progress of cancer stem cells! This last part is especially awesome, because cancer stem cell survival is the reason that cancer comes back so deadly if it ever returns from a state of remission. So, making sure that we kill those pesky guys is an important goal for a long and cancer free life.
Integrative oncology techniques are also the best way (and only way, other than luck) to help people to lessen the harmful side effects of cancer treatment. The most common side effects that we can help with include:
- Bone marrow suppression (blood cell depletion)
- Mouth and skin sores
- Extreme fatigue
- Nausea and other gastrointestinal symptoms
- Weight loss
- Kidney and other organ damage
- Neuropathy (nerve numbness and pain)
Naturopathy is big on prevention. There are so many ways to help prevent the development of cancer in later life. Curcumin, green tea, bioflavonoids, cruciferous vegetables, toxin avoidance, heat therapy, meditation! I will regularly put out information about old, new, and fun ways to have a lifestyle that decreases cancer risk, and keeps the body vigilant of stopping it in its tracks. After all, we have dysfunctional cells developing in our bodies all of the time, they just get taken care of quickly when the body is functioning properly. For clinical prevention we use herbs and diets backed by scientific literature, as well as ancient treatments for vitality of the human body. We are lucky in modern times to have the availability of genetic testing, which we now can use to create more in-depth programs of precision medicine, treating each person’s unique situation to optimize their body’s function.
In summation, naturopathic oncology is just logical medicine. We use treatments that make sense- we extend life, and bring about better outcomes than what would have been, period.
Seeing what this can do for cancer patients is the reason I decided to become a naturopathic doctor. I wanted to be the one across the table that had a better answer for them- to be able to give them their best shot at life. It’s a mission and a pleasure.
Randall Block, ND, LAc, MSC