This treatment modality is thought to manage symptoms of cancer, side effects from conventional therapies and/or control pain. Naturopathic medicine should be used with, not in place of, standard cancer therapy.
Effective January 1, 2004, California Senate Bill (SB) 907 established the Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine within the Department of Consumer Affairs. The Bureau administers and enforces the Naturopathic Doctors Act, which specifies various standards for the licensure and regulation of naturopathic medicine.
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct and comprehensive system of primary health care practiced by a naturopathic doctor for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of human health conditions, injuries, and disease.
What does naturopathic medicine involve?
Naturopathic medicine bases its treatments on natural methods. Naturopaths diagnose illness using the same methods as allopathic doctors, including x-rays, lab tests and physical exams. However, the two differ when it comes to treatment of the illness. Naturopaths do not use drugs, major surgery or cutting edge medical technology to treat disease. Instead, they rely on alternative treatment approaches that emphasize the restorative powers of nature to help patients, such as diet and supplements, homeopathic and herbal remedies, acupuncture, homeopathy, stress reducing techniques, counseling and massage. Naturopaths are trained to treat and support the whole patient, which includes lifestyle and environmental factors that influence general well-being. Naturopathic medicine has treatment plans for almost all conditions.
How is naturopathic medicine thought to manage specific symptoms of cancer, side effects of conventional therapies and/or control pain?
The overall goal of naturopathic medicine is to increase the body's natural healing power to fight disease. While the emphasis in naturopathic medicine is to uncover and treat the cause of disease, as opposed to just merely treating symptoms, many of the individual treatment modalities are thought to help relieve some symptoms of disease and side effects of treatment cancer patients might be experiencing. Other approaches such as a change in diet and lifestyle help to promote wellness and optimize overall health.
What has been proven about the benefit of naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathy employs several treatment modalities that vary in effectiveness. For example, acupuncture has been shown to decrease pain, but homeopathic herbal remedies and detoxifying enemas may be of little value. Please see the individual treatment modalities for more information. The American Cancer Society states the naturopathic treatments can be helpful in treating minor illnesses but should not be thought of as a curative treatment for serious illnesses such as cancer.
What is the potential risk or harm of naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic medicine takes very seriously the medical motto "first, do no harm." In general, naturopathic remedies are harmless and even contribute to a healthy lifestyle. However, some remedies, such as fasting, enemas and sweating can upset the body's electrolyte balance and be harmful to weak patients. Also, some herbal therapies can be toxic. Patients should first seek approval of a registered dietician or a conventional physician before beginning any drastic naturopathic remedies.
How much does naturopathic medicine cost?
Costs will vary depending on which treatment modality is used and whether or not insurance will reimburse practitioner fees.
For additional information:
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
Web site: www.naturopathic.org
California Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine
Web site: www.naturopathic.ca.gov
California Naturopathic Doctors Association
Web Site: www.calnd.org
Note: Information about therapies is intended to help you make informed choices, not to endorse any particular therapy. The information is courtesy of "Integrating Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer Patients," a handbook written as an independent study project by Heather Morein. For more information, see the full text of the handbook (PDF), including all references and appendices.