Safe Support for Cancer Survival

Happy Saturday to you all.  Welcome to the Fourth and final piece in this series addressing cancer and all that comes with it.  Before I launch into this one - please note that I will be out of the clinic on a surf club secondment in Japan with some of our nippers as we exchange techniques and ideas with our sister club in Nishihama, Fujisawa.  If you need to arrange an appointment or a pick up of repeat prescriptions, please contact the clinic prior to 18th September. I will be back on deck on the 28th September, however on select days, Judy will be available to arrange appointments and some supplement pick ups during my absence. Now for this week's topic...

The past three weeks we have been gently exploring the why's, how's, and when's of arriving at a diagnosis of cancer.  This week I want to touch base on a few of the necessary safety tips when considering implementing a natural medicine support program to your conventional one of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

No doubt you will have heard a number of popularised theories on foods and nutrients that have the potential to improve the survival rate in cancer sufferers.  There are even some stories around spontaneous remission with some of the more unusual techniques - many are still yet to be substantiated.  As I mentioned last week, by the time your body has produced a detectable tumour , there would have been a number of inflammatory, genetic and chemical changes that have occurred leading up to that moment.  This is what needs to be targeted with a multifaceted approach in order to increase survival risks during treatment.

In my role as a Naturopath, I am highly aware that for many of my cancer patients - I am an integral part of the treatment process for the purposes of reducing side effects, increasing wellbeing before, during and after treatment protocols, improving responses at the cellular level and support to family and friends.  In few cases am I the primary practitioner, and where I am - the outcomes are just as favourable.  Either way, below are my suggestions and tips to keep in mind if you are aiming to increase your survival rates with or without traditional cancer treatment methods.

1.  Bear in mind that most herbs and supplements need to be ceased/recommenced around 48 hours prior/after to chemotherapy or radiotherapy.  In some cases, your oncologist may support the ongoing use of particular herbs and nutritional support during treatment but the general rule if you have chosen to self prescribe is to follow the 48 hour rule.

2.  Side effects can be minimised with a pre and between treatment protocol of a select herbal prescription I use which have dual actions in reducing inflammation and impeding certain chemical pathways to cancer cell spread.

3.  Stick to a guided ketogenic diet that favours 'starving' cancer of food chemicals it uses to 'hide' from your immune system without starving you. Some of the pain and fatigue felt by cancer patients is due to an increase of lactate from poorly metabolised sugars in foods - the lactate virtually acts as a food source and recirculates to feed a hungry tumour.

4.  If you are losing weight quickly and 'wasting' due to repetitive treatment cycles  (otherwise known as cachexia)- it is time to focus on specific nutritional dense foods to increase healthy weight gain by increasing muscle mass and healthy fat metabolism. Oils rich in DHA are favoured here to reduce these outcomes.

5.  Keep an eye on nutritional deficiencies and excesses such as low Vitamin D and either too high or too low Folic Acid/Folate and B12.  Supplement to these requirements and regularly retest every 3-6 months.  These are really important nutrients that control specific cellular signalling.  In breast cancer - iodine absorption and storage is vital and this can be easily tested and monitored with a home test.

6.  If you are struggling to eat solid food during chemotherapy cycles, create a menu of smoothies, soups and healthy fresh squeeze vegetable juices and saturate your body in small but frequent doses of these over the day.  The levelling of your blood sugar levels is vital in recovery during treatment and these are great mediums to incorporate super food powders, healthy DHA oils and protein powders for muscle mass.

7.  Pick your time to 'detox' - I would highly recommend you consult an expert prior to embarking on this protocol as a well timed 'clean out' can be very helpful in reducing oxidative stress from certain treatment programs, but a poorly timed one can in some cases be life threatening and treatment impeding.

8.  Keep exercise at the forefront of your mind in some capacity - don't fall into a fatigue cycle that keeps you bed ridden for long periods if you can avoid it.  If your fatigue is that low, there is something that can be done to pick it up again.  Research favours exercise as an important survival technique for cancer patients.

9.  Prior to starting a program of unusally named chemicals, programs, enemas, combinations, food items and herbs - get those checked with your allied practitioner - the Naturopath as well as your oncologist. I for one have a very measured and conservative approach to incorporating these practises until I have well researched their impact, safety and efficacy on your condition. If in doubt, don't till you have checked.

Remember - the support programs a Naturopath can set around your traditional treatment can make a marked difference to your survival rates over years and enhance your health along the way.  It is possible to feel good during treatment with little nausea and interruption to appetite, and it is also possible to enjoy a healthy, vital life after cancer treatment has ceased.

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