What is CAM and how many people use it?
CAM or complementary alternative medicine is the use of evidence based natural medicine, or alternative cancer treatments, alongside standard treatment of cancer. Over 50% of women with breast cancer, as well as significant percentage of other cancer patients, use some form of complementary alternative medicine (CAM) along side standard oncology treatment (ref #1).
CAM can include the use of vitamins, minerals, acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, a hyperbaric chamber and much more.
When you are diagnosed with cancer it often brings with it a lack of control. You may feel you no longer have any say in your life and the treatment options you have. People will turn to complementary medicines often because they want to feel they have some control over their cancer.
Why use alternative treatments for cancer?
The main goal of using alternative medicine in the form of naturopathy is to manage the side effects of treatment and potentially enhance treatment effects.
Naturopathy is something that can be used in conjunction with your mainstream medicine protocol. It can help to improve long term health outcomes as well as prevent reoccurrences (ref #2).
For example did you know that a mushroom called Turkey tail can be used to reduce chemotherapy side effects?
It has been found to be particularly effective for those with gastric cancers (ref #3).
Most herbs used in cancer treatment are safe and effective and there is good research on drug-herb interactions. This means we can use these supplements safely and that they are backed by science.
What ‘Traditional Cancer Treatment Effects’ can naturopathy help with?
Naturopathic support can be effective for:
Anaemia, radiation burns, anxiety, joint and/or muscle pain, bone density, immune support, constipation, bloating, diarrhoea, depression, neutropenia, eating difficulties, exhaustion, headaches, hot flushes, insomnia, libido/vaginal dryness, loss of appetite, lymphedema, memory problems, weight loss, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, numbness, pain, peripheral neuropathy, taste/smell changes and more…
Often the above challenges require some very simple dietary, nutritional or lifestyle modifications or evidence based herbal medicine and the symptom is greatly reduced or resolved. The benefits of this not only mean you feel better but you are able to sustain the treatment for the required length of time without the need of a break due to nasty side effects.
‘Integrative Oncology’ is the combination of alternative cancer treatments with traditional cancer treatments and could help you have a better quality of life and support you through your cancer journey.
With so much good science endorsing the use of complementary medicines to support oncology patients.
I can’t wait for the day this becomes part of standard oncology care in Australia as it does in much of Europe, UK, Canada and USA.
ref #1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5421857/
ref #2. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0734975003000028
ref #3 Akagi J, Baba H. PSK may suppress CD57 + T cells to improve survival of advanced gastric cancer patients. 2010;145–52