You don’t have to be a medical professional to know that the impacts of chemotherapy on your body can be harsh. Granted there are often significant treatment benefits, the reality is that many patients not only struggle with side effects, but many aspects of health can be permanently destroyed. There’s strong evidence clearly justifying the addition of naturopathic health support alongside your chemotherapy, and in many instances, beginning simple natural therapies will not only reduce the ill effects of these unpleasant drugs, but will hugely increase the potential to maintain and protect your short and long term health.
So are you starting chemotherapy? Support your health by engaging in the following integrative approaches now:
Although combining natural therapy with chemotherapy can still be controversial with oncologists this day and age, rest assured that you are in safe hands when considering an integrative approach. We know that by building up the health of the body before chemotherapy begins will only strengthen you as a patient and help ensure you can robustly handle the drug treatments upcoming. Studies have clearly stated that having a stronger immune system, better nutrition, more energy, healthier organ systems, and more optimized cellular support all improve how patients handle, manage, and respond during chemotherapy. The goal here is to reduce side effects, feel better, and have all round better health, as it’s scientifically validated that the stronger you are going in to cancer treatment, the better the chances you will have in dealing with these harsh drugs, and coming out stronger on the other end. Not only is an integrative approach beneficial to simply improving many specific parameters of your health, research continues to prove that adding simple natural care before chemotherapy starts will properly prime your body to actually improve the therapeutic impacts and effects of the chemotherapy treatment itself. This means that simple natural therapies before chemo begins can help make drugs works better, enhance susceptibility of cancer cells to treatments, and better protect healthy cells from being damaged during the process.
Regardless of the type of chemotherapeutic drug being used, the ultimate goal is for it to destroy rapidly growing cancer cells. Unfortunately, as many are aware, there are other (healthy) cells in the body that also grow and divide just as quickly. The end result? Not only are cancer cells killed, but so too are skin, nerve, digestive, immune, and many other cells as well. In turn, the body becomes ‘under attack’, can’t properly keep up with the rate at which it’s being destroyed, and thus major side effects of chemotherapy will likely be experienced. And to add insult to injury, the body must be efficient enough at trying to process these drugs, break them down, and eventually eliminate them out; and organs like the liver and kidneys often become overburdened with and unable to manage. So what to do? Integrative medicine offers safe, effective and useful natural compounds to offset and mitigate the negative effects during the actual administration of these chemotherapies. As a naturopathic integrative cancer focused doctor, I’m privy to the science, safety, and relationship that natural and pharmaceutical drugs have when used together. The common chemotherapy platinum drug cisplatin, for example, can have its nerve (neuropathy) damage reduced by simply giving the patient magnesium during its administration. Administering specific mushroom extracts during vincristine treatment, for example, can not only help the body overcome resistance to this drug, it can also safely increase its effectiveness, and support the immune system simultaneously. It’s all about safely and effectively matching the proper natural therapy with the specific chemotherapy drug(s) being used.
Once you have completed your chemotherapy, you will be doing so for the purpose of either taking a predetermined break before re-starting again, or will have fully completed your conventional chemotherapy care for good. Either way, it’s clear that your body has been poisoned (even if for the good of ridding your body of cancer), so is not only stressed and unwell, but in need of being rebuilt and replenished with the nutrition, cellular support and recuperative factors essential to feel and live well (remember, there’s a big difference between simply surviving versus thriving). It’s well accepted that most drugs (including chemotherapy drugs) deplete specific vitamins and minerals essential to proper biological functioning of the body. Without them, your body can’t function properly and eventually, symptoms and deficiency issues will develop. Within conventional oncology, your oncologist, depending on the chemo drug(s) used, will often administer certain vitamins or minerals before, during or after treatments; because even oncologists know the impact these drugs have on depleting such nutrients in your body. In addition, because your liver, kidneys (and other organs) are often extremely stressed and damaged from chemotherapy drugs, it’s critical to re-establish proper functioning and healthy organs. The liver, for example, tends to show elevated enzymes during treatment. This is an indirect indication that the liver is under a high amount of stress, to the point of being potentially damaged and in need of ongoing care. The filtration rate of your kidneys is also another biomarker used in oncology which is continually assessed. Oncologists use these (and other) blood measures to assess the insult these therapies have on a patient. Unfortunately, the conventional oncology system often has few options to help bring these systems back up to par (short of stopping chemotherapy early, which is something we never really prefer to see). The immune system is also often hit hard during chemo treatment, and so it is absolutely essential to restrengthen if you haven’t already done so throughout active therapy. Once a patient has completed their active chemotherapy care, we use many safe and effective therapies to help easily replenish, support, re-build and restrengthen the body once again, all while continuing to protect healthy cells and reduce side effects ignited by these chemotherapy drugs.
Do yourself a healthy favour and talk with me about initiating a safe, effective, and often ‘make or break’ integrative approaches to your cancer treatment, before, during and following care. Worst case scenario, it will help make you feel better, experience fewer side effects, and encourage the potential for better outcomes in a multitude of beneficial ways.