‘Balance is the key’. Naturopathy and Chinese medicine both believe in this principle. While naturopathy believes in the balance between mind, body and spirit and encourages self-healing in individuals, Chinese medicine believes in maintaining the balance of Qi (energy flow in the body).
The common approach for care in cancer patients through Naturopathy, Chinese medicine and a host of other holistic care modalities mainly involves a combination of lifestyle and dietary recommendations. The main objective of these approaches is to improve patients’ immune function, reduce side effects from chemotherapy and enhance the self-healing process.
Chinese medicine includes the use of herbal medicine, acupuncture, Qi gong practice, bodywork, moxibustion, cupping and dietary therapy. Methods such as acupuncture have been known to reduce nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and radiation, minimize neuropathy and cancer related pain.
Naturopathic care includes the use of western botanical herbs and dietary supplements, exercise therapy, manipulative therapies, psychotherapy and counseling and detoxification. For cancer survivors and those in remission, Naturopathic care helps reduce inflammation, manage pre-existing conditions, supports detoxification and bolsters the immune system and other organ systems.
What are some of the lifestyle and dietary recommendations for cancer patients?
Dr. Kevan Huynh, ND, L.Ac, Bay Area Naturopathic medicine, suggests some lifestyle recommendations such as intermittent fasting, mental/emotional balance, gentle/light movement and optimizing routes of elimination (using sauna, dry skin brushing, epsom salt baths, coffee enema, colonic).
Some lifestyle recommendations:
- Intermittent fasting: Involves avoiding intake of calories for 14-16 hours daily or alternating a fasting day with a normal energy intake day.
- Physical and exercise therapy: Massages may help reduce stiffness and soreness in muscles, relieve anxiety and stress and reduce pain such as back pain and headaches.
- Acupuncture: Using moxibustion (a type of heat therapy) and cupping (helps flow of blood and qi using glass cups placed upside down on acupoints).
- Chiropractic care: May help cope with discomfort and pain.
- Hydrotherapy: Alternating between hot towels and cold towels wraps with sine wave device to reduce pain, relax muscles and boosting the immune system.
From phytochemicals to healthy fats, Dr. Kevan Huynh, has some dietary recommendations for cancer patients. Dr. Huynh spoke about some of these recommendations at the Silicon Valley Oncology Nursing Society’s, Hot Topics in Oncology Care Conference 2018.
Some dietary recommendations:
- Phytochemicals: There are a wide variety of phytochemicals found in different foods such as flavonoids (apples, citrus), polyphenols (berries, grapes, green tea), isothiocyanates (cruciferous vegetables), inositol (rice, oats, nuts), etc.
- Healthy Fats: These are found in nuts/seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, fish and avocado oil and help reduce inflammation, sustain energy and help protect nerve cells.
- Protein: Including the right amount of protein in your diet is important to restore tissue damage and depletions and to support the immune system. Try to include organic and hormone free sources of protein. Some good sources of protein that are low in saturated fat are fish, low-fat dairy products, lean meat, poultry products, legumes, nuts and seeds.
- Probiotics/Fermented foods: Fermented milk, yogurt, alternative dairy-free yogurts and other fermented foods contain lactic acid producing bacteria which helps enhance the immune system, may increase bioavailability of nutrients and may reduce the risk of certain cancers.
- Water: Recommended quantity is half of the body weight in ounces. Water helps with the detoxification process.
It is best to consult with a trained cancer care specialist and licensed practitioner before incorporating some of these lifestyle and dietary changes.
- The Role of Naturopathic and Chinese Medicines in Supportive Care of Cancer Patients.Dr. Kevin Huynh. http://www.siliconvalleyons.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/The-Role-of-Naturopathic-and-Chinese-Medicines-in-Supportive-Care-of-Cancer-Patients.pdf
- Naturopathy. NIH. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/naturopathy Accessed 24 July, 2018.
- Naturopathy. Cancer Council NSW. https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/cancer-information/complementary-therapies/holistic-approach/naturopathy/ Accessed 24 July, 2018.
- Holistic Cancer Support and Care. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/cancer/features/holistic-cancer-support-and-care#3 Accessed 24 July, 2018.
- Cancer and Fasting/ Calorie Restriction. UCSF Osher Center For Integrative Medicine. https://www.osher.ucsf.edu/patient-care/self-care-resources/cancer-and-nutrition/frequently-asked-questions/cancer-and-fasting-calorie-restriction/ Accessed 24 July, 2018
- Massage Therapy. Canadian Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/diagnosis-and-treatment/complementary-therapies/massage-therapy/?region=on Accessed 24 July, 2018.
- Acupuncture. Canadian Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/diagnosis-and-treatment/complementary-therapies/acupuncture/?region=on Accessed 24 July, 2018.
- Chiropractic Therapy. Canadian Cancer Society.http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/diagnosis-and-treatment/complementary-therapies/chiropractic-therapy/?region=on Accessed 24 July, 2018.
- Melanoma Alternative Treatments. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/melanoma-alternative-treatments#alternative-treatments Accessed 24 July, 2018.
- Barrera, S., & Demark-Wahnefried, W. (2009). Nutrition During and After Cancer Therapy. Oncology (Williston Park, N.Y.), 23(2 Suppl), 15–21.
- Parvez, S., Malik, K., Kang, S., and Kim, H. (2005) Probiotics and their fermented food products are beneficial for health. Journal of Applied Microbiology. 100(1): pp. 1171-1185.