Facets of Integrative Cancer Care from a Naturopathic Medical Standpoint
Desert Health News April/May 2011
Author: Sonja Fung, ND
What is Integrative cancer care?
Integrative cancer care uses a comprehensive approach to health, using the best combination of conventional and alternative therapies specific to the patient. That means treating the person who has the cancer, rather than treating just the cancer in the body. Integrative cancer care is NOT about replacing your medical oncologist; it is about creating diversified team of doctors and health practitioners each bringing their knowledge to formulate your unique treatment plan. Using an integrative approach to cancer care means using the best treatments at the most appropriate time to get an optimal result; it is not choosing one type of treatment over the other. This means that before your surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, appropriate use of complementary therapies can fortify your body with healing nutrients to maintain your energy, strengthen your immune function, shrink recovery time, augment your cancer-fighting ability, and minimize side effects for a more optimal quality of life.1
Role of naturopathic medicine in cancer care
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are an important addition to your cancer-fighting team that can focus on cancer care from a holistic standpoint. Naturopathic doctors are primary care physicians with expertise in complementary treatments used to support your body’s innate ability to heal and support itself. This includes diet and nutrition, lifestyle counseling, IV nutrient therapy, and appropriate supplementation to enhance cancer cell death. NDs are also poised for continued care post cancer treatment to address and minimize risks for cancer reoccurrence.1
Naturopathic doctors can further obtain board certification in naturopathic oncology but are not required in order to treat cancer patients.2
IV nutrient therapy: A facet of cancer care
The little-known gem of naturopathic cancer care has multiple facets: nutrition, botanical medicine, nutrient therapy, movement therapy, and mental and emotional support. I am focusing on one shining surface; intravenous nutritional therapy.
IV nutritional therapy is a highly concentrated infusion of vitamins, minerals, and other natural substances delivered directly into your cells to support optimal health and correct any nutrient deficiencies. It is one of the most effective systems used to stabilize and increase muscle mass, replenish your vitamins and minerals, and increase your energy and strengthen your immune system.3
IV administration of nutrients can achieve blood levels not attainable with oral routes, as digestion and absorption are not an issue. High dose Vitamin C infusions can be used to decrease tumor burden and boost your immune system.5 Doses as high as 50-100 grams of vitamin C are necessary for therapeutic effect and is only achievable when given via IV, whereas an oral intake of the same amount will cause severe diarrhea and cramping.
In certain cancers such as lung, ovarian, colon, and pancreatic cancers, disease progression is often marked by loss of appetite, loss of energy, and muscle wasting.4 For patients unable to intake enough food, IV amino acids, b vitamins, and minerals are commonly used in naturopathic clinics to halt and reverse progression of muscle loss and fatigue. It is best to start IV therapy before that point, however, it is one of the most effective therapies at any point of the cancer fighting process.
Dr. Sonja Fung is a Naturopathic Doctor utilizing IV nutrient therapy at Live Well Clinic. Live Well Clinic is located at 78-900 Avenue 47, Ste 102 in La Quinta, CA. For more information you can visit www.livewellclinic.org or call 760-771-5970.
- Alschuler, Lise and Gazella, Karolyn. Definitive Guide to Cancer. 2nd Ed. Berkeley: Celestial Arts, 2007.
- OncANP. http://www.oncanp.org/
- Anderson, Carter, Osborne. IV Nutritional Therapy for Physicians. Cedar Ridge: 2010.
- Abeloff, Armitage, Niederhuber, et al. Clinical Oncology. 3rd Ed. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone, 2004.
- Verrax J, Calderon PB. “Pharmacologic concentrations of ascorbate are achieved by parenteral administration and exhibit antitumoral effects.” Free Radic Biol Med. 1;47 (2009): 9-27.