Recently there has been a surge in patients seeking alternative cures for cancer after watching the popular series “The Truth About Cancer.” This series does an excellent job of raising awareness about various natural therapies. Still, it does patients a great disservice by discouraging patients from using conventional treatments. This documentary has given patients a biased viewpoint. Consequently, they feel very polarized in their opinion against traditional care. The problem is that the best treatment plan involves integrating these two worlds. Both conventional and natural therapies have a lot to offer patients. Still, they must be used together synergistically for optimal results.
Patients have the right to choose whatever treatment plan they want. As a Naturopathic physician, I have always respected my patients’ choices, even if I disagree with that choice. It is not my job to force the patient to choose a treatment plan. It is my job to give them the information, and then they choose the treatment plan that feels right to them. The critical word is “integrative,” not “alternative” when creating a therapy plan.” It means using natural tools safely and effectively in conjunction with conventional therapies. Any licensed naturopathic doctor would propose an integrative approach. Unfortunately, this documentary confuses the public by giving them the impression that naturopathic doctors are against conventional cancer treatments. Presenting such a polarized view often discourages patients from seeking actual integrative care that could benefit them.
Make no mistake about it. I am a big believer in the healing power of nature. Still, this series greatly exaggerates the effectiveness of many natural therapies. Of course, there are home runs with simple natural treatments. I have personally witnessed patients’ dramatic responses to the most straightforward natural therapies on many occasions. Although these responses are excellent and require further investigation, it does not mean that everyone should abandon all conventional treatments in favor of an alternative approach. The documentary fails to document the many people who chose to pursue only alternative therapies and had poor responses. Cancer is unforgiving of delays and poor choices. Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery indeed have side effects, but cancer has side effects too.
Integrative oncology doctors do not usually suggest the many natural remedies featured in this film. Things like baking soda and apricot seeds are not mainstream natural cancer therapies and have virtually no evidence of being effective. Countless natural treatments are more effective than this and well supported by scientific evidence. Not all cancers are the same, and you must have professional guidance when developing a plan. In certain cancers, many natural remedies are entirely contraindicated. Just because it is natural does not mean that it is universally safe.
Of course, there are times when the use of chemotherapy is questionable. The cancer is unlikely to respond to the drug in some circumstances, and intensive therapies are being recommended only slightly to extend life expectancy. The longer lifespan must be measured against the reduced quality of life in these situations. There are certainly cases where the medical oncologists are only recommending such therapies because there are no other options. It is not unreasonable for patients to resist conventional care in some of these extreme circumstances.
The key thing to recognize is that this does not apply to all cancer cases. Conventional cancer treatments save lives when used in a timely fashion. The study cited in the series states that chemotherapy’s ineffectiveness is not presenting this information properly. This study questions the use of chemotherapy in the 5-year survival rate. By the time many of these cancers in the study were diagnosed, the disease had already greatly progressed. It is unlikely that anyone would live for five years, regardless of what therapy they choose.
When you take the time to dig deeper into the study, it is clear that patients live significantly longer in many of these cancers. Still, many of them are not living up to the 5-year mark. In this study, someone could live for several years with an excellent quality of life. Still, if they died at four years and 11 months, the chemotherapy would be considered ineffective. If a patient can live longer with a good quality of life, this is a success even if they don’t live for five years. The public is often left with this false impression that all chemotherapy leaves patients with a crippled quality of life. Indeed, some chemotherapies significantly decrease quality of life but not all chemotherapy is the same. When patients are well supported, they have substantially fewer side effects and can live with an excellent quality of life. It is not unusual for me to have a patient come to my office with minimal side effects even when doing an intense round of chemotherapy because they are well supported naturally during this process.
You will never have all studies agree as this is how science works. We cannot base our clinical decisions on one study; we must base them on the totality of the evidence. A quick literature search will find thousands of peer-reviewed studies demonstrating the effectiveness of chemotherapy for a wide range of cancers. I have had many patients in the past refuse conventional care against my advice and fly to exotic clinics around the world to receive alternative therapies. During these unnecessary delays, cancer spread to the point that it was no longer curable. I was confident that the patient could have been easily cured in some of these cases had they not hesitated.
Natural therapies can be used to help support patients through conventional treatments. They can help to reduce side effects and support the immune system significantly. When patients have this support, they respond better to therapy. They are more likely to embrace both treatments to answer this terrible disease. Often those who are the most polarized in their opinions against an integrative approach are people with little to no experience dealing with cancer. These two worlds can coexist, and it is beautiful when there is a true collaboration.
In the end, a well-balanced approach is the best. It is just erroneous to believe that no natural remedies work. It’s also inappropriate to take the extreme position of just using natural therapies. The best treatment plan is an integrative approach that bridges these two worlds. Many patients get scared away from conventional therapies because their oncologist presents the treatments with a polarized point of view. When you are trained as a hammer, everything looks like a nail. It becomes obvious to many patients after meeting with their oncologist with limited tools. A vast range of natural therapies can help your body fight cancer, but they have to be used in the proper clinical context. A Naturopathic doctor who works with oncology can help to give you a more balanced view and develop a treatment plan that utilizes the best of both worlds.
Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, also known as Dreamhealer, brings a scientific framework to healing with intentions. He combines subtle energy that he connects with and cutting-edge bio sciences to promote understanding of the healing process. At the age of 16 he wrote his first book ‘Dreamhealer’ and for the last 10 years has presented at conferences around the world showing audiences how to tap into their own innate healing abilities. To date he has written five best-selling books and narrated two DVDs. He has a First Class Honors degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. He then graduated from Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine as a Naturopathic Doctor. He currently practices at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology.
He is a member of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the College of Naturopathic Physicians of BC. Naturopathic medicine has a wide range of tools that are effective at treating cancer when used appropriately. His background in molecular biology has helped him to develop targeted supplementation which addresses the unique characteristics of the cancer. Integrative cancer care is not about taking a large number of expensive supplements. It is about taking the right supplements in conjunction with the appropriate targeted therapies. Dr. McLeod is dedicated to developing an effective treatment plan that is both evidence-based and addresses the unique health concerns of each patient. Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic also offers Loco-Regional Hyperthermia treatments as an adjunctive therapy to chemotherapy and radiation.
Adam encourages everyone to play an active role in their own healing. His message is for others to become self-empowered, knowing that their own thoughts influence their body’s biochemistry to assist in their healing process. Adam’s techniques can be used in conjunction with any healing modality. At every workshop he performs unique group energy treatments to activate self-awareness that can be called either ‘attunements’ or ‘healings’.
Dr. McLeod has had a number of guest speakers at his conferences including Dr. Edgar Mitchell, who in the film “The Living Matrix” credits Dreamhealer with distantly healing his kidney carcinoma. He presented at the Association of Complementary and Integrative Physicians of BC conferences with Andrew Weil and David Suzuki. Adam was the keynote presenter at the Northwest Naturopathic Physicians Convention. More recently Dr. McLeod presented in a conference with Deepak Chopra.
To learn more about Dr. McLeod, visit YaleTownNaturopathic.com
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