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Naturopathic Medicine and Oncology- OncANP Conference Highlights

cancer Mar 05, 2014

A couple of weekends ago I had the privilege to attend my 3rd OnCANP (Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians) Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. It was one of the most informative conferences I have had the privilege to attend. Many more oncology patients are showing up in my practice as cancer becomes more rampant, so for the past 3-4 I have taken it upon myself to learn as much as I can about working with this condition. Whether a patient is currently in the throes of the cancer fight, in remission, or wanting to prevent a recurrence, my colleagues in naturopathic oncology and I are staying current with the latest research and strategies.

Our aim is to work safely and effectively in conjunction with allopathic cancer care. We learn about drug and supplement reactions, i.e. which nutrients and herbs are safe to use with particular cancer drugs and which are not. This is crucial and nuanced information to have access to. Naturopathic medicine has a lot to offer in the realm in managing side effects to chemo, surgery and radiation as well as nutritional strategies to help suppress tumor growth. Patients in Colorado usually see naturopathic doctors with the oncology specialty for adjunctive cancer care outside of the hospital setting.

Some of the highlights of the conference were learning how fasting during chemotherapy can increase the efficacy of the chemo agents against the cancer cells while protecting the healthy cells. This helped to reduce the side effects from chemotherapy as well.  Also covered was the ketogenic diet which holds a lot of promise as a cancer therapy in advanced stages.  Fragmented sleep was also shown to increase the rate of tumor growth and aggression.  There was also a 1.5 hour lecture about medical marijuana.  I live and work in Colorado, where it is now legal, and up until now had not thought about it as an agent to reverse tumor growth, but apparently there is some evidence that it can be that as well as offering pain relief and improving appetite and well-being during the cancer fight. I do not prescribe it as naturopaths cannot yet prescribe in Colorado, but it is good to be educated.

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