Naturopathic Treatment for Mesothelioma
Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, is a medical practice and philosophy that developed more than 100 years ago and continues to attract followers today. The idea behind it is to treat patients through prevention, education, natural and alternative treatments, and traditional medicine. Patients living with mesothelioma or other types of cancer may choose to turn to a naturopathic practitioner for an alternative to traditional medicine.
There are many ways in which a naturopath may help someone with mesothelioma, although most medical experts would agree that naturopathy is no substitute for traditional cancer treatments. Naturopathy may provide a patient with alternative therapies that complement traditional medicine, help relieve symptoms, and provide a better quality of life.
What is Naturopathy?
According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, naturopathic medicine is a distinct and unique type of health care. It emphasizes prevention and treatment guided by the healing power of nature. It believes in the doctor as a teacher that guides patients to better learn how to care for themselves.
Naturopathy seeks to find the underlying causes of symptoms and illnesses, rather than simply treating symptoms and attempts to treat the whole person. This includes considering each patient’s physical, emotional, mental, social, and genetic health, along with many other factors. Naturopathic physicians also avoid harming patients by using treatments that minimize side effects, avoiding strategies that forcefully suppress symptoms, and rely in part on the self-healing process in each patient.
Naturopathic medicine focuses on using natural remedies and treatments whenever possible and looks to nature for healing and for solutions. Some examples of treatments that naturopathy might offer for a patient include: lifestyle changes, dietary changes, exercise as therapy, stress reduction, physical and massage therapy, counseling or psychotherapy, and dietary supplements, including herbal supplements.
Who Practices Naturopathy?
Naturopathic doctors train for four years and are licensed in most states. The four-year program is at the graduate level and should be accredited by an agency like the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education. In those states in which licensing is required, anyone calling themselves a naturopathic doctor or physician must have completed this four-year training, must pass an examination, and must continue to complete annual continuing education requirements.
There are also naturopathic professionals practicing who have not gone through this training and are not called doctors. These may be called naturopaths and they may have trained through any type of educational program or by apprenticing to another naturopath. Traditional health care providers may also offer naturopathic medicine in addition to traditional treatments. Doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and osteopathic physicians may have additional training in naturopathic medicine to combine traditional medicine with naturopathy when treating patients.
Some naturopathic doctors choose to specialize in cancer care, which makes them a good choice for someone with mesothelioma interested in adding naturopathy to their traditional medical team. A naturopathic oncologist applies the principles of naturopathic medicine to the treatment of cancer and often work together with medical doctors to give a patient a well-rounded treatment plan.
According to the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians, most patients seeking the help of a naturopathic oncologist do so in an effort to achieve a better quality of life while undergoing treatment for cancer. Practitioners seek to help these patients by using natural therapies that improve overall health, target treatment side effects and cancer symptoms, and fight the disease process in the body.
Naturopathy as a Complement to Mesothelioma Treatment
Mesothelioma causes many uncomfortable symptoms as do the treatments used to fight it, including chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. Patients may experience symptoms like difficulty breathing, a chronic cough, chest pains, abdominal pain and swelling, and digestive issues, with pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma. Side effects from treatment may include fatigue, pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, changes in appetite and weight, infections, skin irritation, and emotional distress.
A naturopathic physician can help mesothelioma patients get some relief from these difficult symptoms and side effects. A range of treatments may be recommended, from meditation and yoga to physical therapy and herbal supplements. The practitioner will focus on overall wellness for the patient, using all kinds of natural strategies to help improve well-being and reduce discomfort from symptoms and side effects.
The Dangers of a “Natural” Cure for Cancer
Naturopathic physicians are valid medical practitioners and a professional caregiver would never try to tell a patient that they can cure an incurable cancer. Because not all naturopathic practitioners are licensed, there are many that may claim to be able to cure cancer with some natural substance, despite the lack of evidence for such a cure in traditional medicine. Many of these so-called cures are harmless, but some may cause side effects or complications. They also give patients false hope of a cure, which can be psychologically damaging, but which may also delay the use of treatments that may actually help.
Certain types of naturopathic or “natural” treatments have become popular and are trending, but are not necessarily proven as ways to cure cancer. There are studies that prove some of these alternative strategies can have positive impacts on the body and even that they may target cancer, but there is no proof other than anecdotal stories, that they can cure cancer. Some may be worth trying because the risks are minimal and should not necessarily be ruled out, but these should not become substitutes for treatments that are proven to work. Beware of any claims that sound too good to be true.
If you are a mesothelioma patient interested in alternative medicine to complement your traditional cancer treatments, a licensed naturopathic doctor is a great way to get started. Just be sure that you include your naturopathic professional on your medical team so that there is communication between all medical caregivers working with you. There can be risks to not having this communication, for instance if your naturopathic doctor recommends a supplement that interacts badly with a chemotherapy drug. With the right professionals on your team, including those practicing naturopathy, you can be sure that you are getting the best treatment to fight mesothelioma and to help you feel better as you heal.
Page edited by Dave Foster
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