My Passion for Patients with Cancer: Naturopathic Oncology

Joan Haynes, NMD

In addition to my busy family practice for the last 18 years, I’ve been studying cancer and treating patients with cancer for almost 14 years.  The world of integrative cancer care is taking off.  With so much research being done, educating my patients about new evidence-based therapies is exciting.  I just returned from a cancer conference at the National College of Natural Medicine where I graduated in 1997.  This month I am attending the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians Annual conference, of which I am a member.

Studies show that the vast majority of people with cancer choose to also include complementary and alternative medicine in their fight against cancer.  Often with little support from their oncologist, patients are trying to read the latest book, sort out reliable web sites, field recommendations from friends and family, and pick from an overwhelming variety of natural products.  Naturopathic physicians who specialize in cancer can help guide people through this maze of overwhelming choices.

Naturopathic physicians are trained in accredited naturopathic medical schools in modern scientific nature cure. We are trained in both modern science and natural medicine. We emerge from our training well versed in the use of botanical medicine, homeopathy, diet, cleansing, nutritional supplementation, orthomolecular medicine, psycho-immunology and other complementary and alternative medical techniques.  We serve as capable guides for patients interested in exploring alternative medicine.

Trying to do it on your own can be not just overwhelming but unwise.  While some natural supplements taken along with chemotherapy, surgery or radiation can make those treatments more effective, other supplements can interfere negatively and inhibit a conventional therapy from working.  My job is to understanding the standard treatments employed by medical oncologists and to help my patients understand their choices in collaborative model of cancer co-treatment.

The role of diet and exercise cannot be understated.  New research shows that people with cancer have better outcomes if they exercise and eat a whole foods diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.  At Boise Natural Health our practitioners are trained in nutrition and can meet with patients to help them transition to healthy eating see our nutritional services page for more information.

Naturopathic Medicine can be useful at every stage of cancer care: before, during and after conventional treatments.  My goals with my patients with cancer are:

  1. Education about potential drug/nutrient/botanical interactions.
  2. Limit and/or prevent side effects and long-term toxicities related to treatment.
  3. Recommend nutrients, botanicals and natural therapies that have evidence-based anti-cancer effects, without interfering with the efficacy of conventional therapies.
  4. Ensure health of physiologic systems to eliminate, minimize and/or treat factors that contributed to cancer development.

When people are considering my services, I prefer they schedule a free 10 minute phone consultation to see if we are a good fit.  If not, I can make referrals to more appropriate providers.  I look forward to working with you on your journey to healing.

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