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Heartburn Medications and Cancer May 12, 2015

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heartburn acid reflux

Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc(Hons)

Many cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy have constant disturbances in their gastrointestinal tract. Heartburn is very common in these patients and it is frequently treated with a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s). Some common PPI’s are Pariet, Losec, Nexium and Tecta. There is no question that these drugs are effective at controlling heart burn symptoms. These drugs dramatically suppress the stomach’s ability to produce acid. When patients are on these drugs long term it can be difficult to discontinue them because heart burn symptoms reappear whenever they miss a dose. In the context of cancer there are other options that can be considered before using PPI’s.

There is a class of drugs called H2-receptor antagonists and these drugs are also very effective at reducing stomach acid production. The reduction in stomach acid tends to be short term and patients do not become as dependent on these medications compared to PPI’s. The most researched drug of this class in the context of cancer is Cimetidine, also known as Tagamet. There is a substantial body of evidence which indicates that Tagamet is also an effective adjunctive cancer therapy1,2,3,4. The conclusion from one major study was, “These results clearly indicate that Cimetidine treatment dramatically improved survival in colorectal cancer patients with tumour cells expressing high levels of sLx and sLa.”1

An interesting double blind study was completed in 1988 which showed that survival was significantly enhanced in patients who took cimetidine 400mg two times per day for 2 years after gastric cancer surgery6. Many of these gastrointestinal cancers are stimulated by histamine and cimetidine blocks this effect7. The use of cimetidine as an adjunctive cancer therapy tends to be very indicated for gastric and colon cancers.

The exact mechanism of this anti-cancer effect is still not fully understood. Cimetidine is thought to target a class of molecules known as cadherins and by doing so it reduces the risk of metastasis. In Asia it is commonly used in conjunction with the chemotherapy 5-FU to treat colorectal cancers and this has resulted in significant increases in patient survival1. It appears that there are other pathways involved with this anti-cancer effect. Regardless of the mechanism it is clear that this medication has potential as an adjunctive cancer therapy in patients with colorectal cancer.

It is important to point out that this drug is not appropriate for everyone as there are a number of potential interactions. It is metabolized through the P450 pathway5 and this is the same pathway that many other drugs are metabolized through. This is not an absolute contraindication but you have to be careful about the dosing and often it is best to slowly introduce the Cimetidine. It is essential that you have a Naturopathic oncologist who is familiar with the use of Cimetidine look through all of your medications to determine if this is the right therapy for you.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. Vist Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic for more information.

References:

1) Matsumoto, S., et al. “Cimetidine increases survival of colorectal cancer patients with high levels of sialyl Lewis-X and sialyl Lewis-A epitope expression on tumour cells.” British journal of cancer 86.2 (2002): 161-167.

2) Kobayashi, Ken-ichi, et al. “Cimetidine inhibits cancer cell adhesion to endothelial cells and prevents metastasis by blocking E-selectin expression.” Cancer research 60.14 (2000): 3978-3984.

3) Kubecova, Martina, et al. “Cimetidine: An anticancer drug?.” European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 42.5 (2011): 439-444.

4) Bolton, Elaine, Julie King, and David L. Morris. “H2-antagonists in the treatment of colon and breast cancer.” Seminars in cancer biology. Vol. 10. No. 1. Academic Press, 2000.

5) Levine M, Law EY, Bandiera SM, Chang TK, Bellward GD (February 1998). “In vivo cimetidine inhibits hepatic CYP2C6 and CYP2C11 but not CYP1A1 in adult male rats”. The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 284 (2): 493–9.

6) Burtin, Claude, et al. “Clinical improvement in advanced cancer disease after treatment combining histamine and H2-antihistaminics (ranitidine or cimetidine).” European Journal of Cancer and Clinical Oncology 24.2 (1988): 161-167.

7) Adams, W. J., J. A. Lawson, and D. L. Morris. “Cimetidine inhibits in vivo growth of human colon cancer and reverses histamine stimulated in vitro and in vivo growth.” Gut 35.11 (1994): 1632-1636.

“My Doctor told me to avoid Blueberries? But Chocolate is ok!” April 28, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Integrative Medicine.
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blueberries_and_cancer-diet

Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc(Hons)

I frequently hear from patients that their Medical Doctor bluntly told them to forget changing their diet because it does not make a difference, even though this is not accurate based on a large body of scientific evidence. I was very surprised to hear a patient tell me that their doctor told them to specifically avoid blueberries. This was the only dietary recommendation that they were given.

When I asked why the doctor prescribed such a bizarre dietary change the patient replied that the antioxidants from blueberries can interfere with the chemotherapy and radiation. Although I was happy to hear that this doctor was offering dietary advice, unfortunately this advice is not accurate. There is no evidence to suggest that antioxidants from natural sources are dangerous during chemotherapy or radiation. In fact, virtually all of the literature clearly states the opposite which is that it is very beneficial to get antioxidants from natural sources. By consuming antioxidant rich foods patients have less side effects during chemotherapy and radiation. Many studies have also clearly demonstrated that these foods do not interfere with the effectiveness of these conventional therapies2,3,4,5,6,7.

It is interesting to note that of all the foods in the world this doctor only picked one item: blueberries. I am not sure of the rationale with this recommendation because there are countless foods that have antioxidant properties. Although blueberries are commonly associated with being antioxidants they are not very potent antioxidants when compared to other common foods. The antioxidant capacity of a food is measured by a lab test which determines the ability of that food to neutralize free radicals. This is commonly known as the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) and a quick google search will clearly demonstrate that blueberries do not even make the top 50 for antioxidant capacity. These values are based on biological samples in vitro and it is not clear how significant these values are in the human body. What is clear, is that these values are a measure of the antioxidant capacity of these foods.

Depending on which source you look at blueberries have a ORAC value of approximately 6,500 which is not particularly high when compared to cinnamon which has an ORAC value of 265,000. In other words cinnamon is approximately 40 times stronger of an antioxidant compared to blueberries. Of course one could argue that you do not have as much cinnamon as blueberries, which is indeed true. However there are other foods consumed in comparable amounts to blueberries which have a significantly higher antioxidant capacity. Unsweetened cocoa powder has an ORAC value of 81,000 and baking chocolate has an ORAC value of 50,000. If you are having a food rich in chocolate then chances are you are consuming more antioxidants than if you are having blueberries1,8.

I am not suggesting that chocolate should be a primary source of antioxidants. I would certainly prefer that my patients get their antioxidants from blueberries rather than chocolate. There are many bioflavonoids in blueberries that are helpful in the context of cancer and the elevations in blood sugar from excessive chocolate consumption is not desirable in cancer patients. The point is that it is silly to single out one food as a antioxidant concern. The reality is that if you really want to cut antioxidants out of your diet it would involve much more than the elimination of blueberries. The advice of avoiding blueberries is confusing and it is simply not an evidence based dietary plan.

The bottom line is that these natural sources of antioxidants are very helpful in the context of cancer and there is no debate about this in the scientific community. The debate is around synthetic supplementation with high doses of antioxidants during chemotherapy and radiation. Natural sources are well established to be beneficial in these cases as they protect healthy cells without interfering with the effects of these conventional therapies5. So make sure you eat your blueberries and give your cells the nutrients that they need!

Blueberries are a great source of nutrients and they provide a balanced antioxidant support that is synergistic with chemotherapy and radiation. What is particularly interesting is that wild blueberries are much more effective at neutralizing free radicals when compared to cultivated blueberries. Depending on which measurements you use, in some cases the wild blueberries have almost double the antioxidant capacity!

If you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation make sure that you contact a Naturopathic Doctor to develop an evidence based treatment plan that can support you through these therapies. During chemotherapy or radiation your cells are under a significant amount of stress and it is essential that you adequately supply your cells with the necessary nutrients. Diet is an important component of any integrative cancer therapy.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hons) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Authorhttp://www.dreamhealer.com

His clinical focus is Naturopathic Oncology and he currently practices as at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic in Vancouver, BC. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References:

1) Haytowitz, David B., and Seema Bhagwat. “USDA database for the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of selected foods, Release 2.” US Department of Agriculture(2010).

2) Moss, Ralph W. “Should patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy be prescribed antioxidants?.” Integrative cancer therapies 5.1 (2006): 63-82.

3) Simone, Charles B., et al. “Antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with chemotherapy or radiation therapy and can increase kill and increase survival, part 1.”Alternative therapies in health and medicine 13.1 (2007): 22.

4) Drisko, Jeanne A., Julia Chapman, and Verda J. Hunter. “The use of antioxidant therapies during chemotherapy.” Gynecologic oncology 88.3 (2003): 434-439.

5) Moss, Ralph W. “Do antioxidants interfere with radiation therapy for cancer?.” Integrative cancer therapies 6.3 (2007): 281-292.

6) Conklin, Kenneth A. “Cancer chemotherapy and antioxidants.” The Journal of nutrition134.11 (2004): 3201S-3204S.

7) Block, Keith I., et al. “Impact of antioxidant supplementation on chemotherapeutic toxicity: a systematic review of the evidence from randomized controlled trials.” International Journal of Cancer 123.6 (2008): 1227-1239.

8) Vertuani, Silvia, et al. “Evaluation of Antiradical Activity of Different Cocoa and Chocolate Products: Relation with Lipid and Protein Composition.” Journal of medicinal food 17.4 (2014): 512-516.

How does Artesunate kill cancer? April 20, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Naturopathy.
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Close up of someone holding a plant in his hand

Artesunate is a drug that was initially designed for combating malaria, however, recently it has shown great promise as a cancer therapy1,2,3. It has been used in combination with some chemotherapies to improve outcomes in advanced cancer patients5. When fighting cancer it is important to use every tool at your disposal to weaken the cancer and strengthen your own cells. Artesunate is another weapon in the arsenal of natural remedies that can make a significant difference in the fight against cancer.

The mechanism of action for artesunate in the context of cancer therapy is very well defined. Cancer cells have a tendency to absorb iron at high levels and this is thought to accelerate the mutation rate within these cells. Iron reacts with oxygen to form free radicals, which are reactive molecules that damage DNA. In normal cells this reaction is a problem; in cancer cells it allows them to mutate and develop resistance to therapies. Artesunate activates mitochondrial apoptosis by iron catalyzed lysosomal reactive oxygen species production4. In other words, this drug will use the iron within the cancer cells against them.

Preliminary data from Bastyr Integrative Oncology Research Center indicates that IV Vitamin C (IVC) in conjunction with IV Artesunate makes a substantial difference in advanced cancers. IV Artesunate is often administered right before high dose IV vitamin C and there is evidence that these therapies work synergistically together. In patients with Stage 4 Breast cancer, after 1 year the group that received no IV Vitamin C and IV Artesunate had a 74% survival rate. Compared to the IV Vitamin C and IV Artesunate group which had a 90% survival rate after 1 year. By year 2 the results were even more significant as the group that did not receive treatment had a 68% survival rate compared to 90% in the treatment group. It is also important to note that no adverse events were associated with this treatment.

These preliminary results strongly suggest that high dose IV Vitamin C and IV artesunate improves survival in stage 4 breast cancer patients. Evidence is growing that the use of this therapy is effective for a wide range of cancers. Research has shown that Artesunate can increase quality of life in addition to improving survival rates. Just like any other cancer therapy, it is important that it is used under the supervision of a experienced Naturopathic Physician who focuses in oncology. At my clinic I regularly see patients improve significantly when they use this therapy as part of a comprehensive integrative cancer therapy.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

 

References:

1) MIYACHI, HAYATO, and CHRISTOPHER R. CHITAMBAR. “The anti-malarial artesunate is also active against cancer.” International journal of oncology 18 (2001): 767-773.

2) Michaelis, Martin, et al. “Anti-cancer effects of artesunate in a panel of chemoresistant neuroblastoma cell lines.” Biochemical pharmacology 79.2 (2010): 130-136.

3) Du, Ji-Hui, et al. “Artesunate induces oncosis-like cell death in vitro and has antitumor activity against pancreatic cancer xenografts in vivo.” Cancer chemotherapy and pharmacology 65.5 (2010): 895-902.

4) Efferth, Thomas, et al. “Enhancement of cytotoxicity of artemisinins toward cancer cells by ferrous iron.” Free Radical Biology and Medicine 37.7 (2004): 998-1009.

5) Zhang, Z. Y., et al. “[Artesunate combined with vinorelbine plus cisplatin in treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer: a randomized controlled trial].” Zhong xi yi jie he xue bao= Journal of Chinese integrative medicine 6.2 (2008): 134-138.

8th Annual Cancer Prevention and Healing Event April 13, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Healing.
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Dr. Adam McLeod will be holding a special Integrative Cancer Care and Prevention Lecture on Saturday, June 6th from 12PM to 3PM. Don’t miss out! You can purchase your tickets here.

8th annual cancer prevention and healing event

Fasting Before Chemotherapy March 30, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Chemotherapy.
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chemotherapy-vancouver-clinic

Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc

There has been a major movement lately for cancer patients to fast before and after an infusion of chemotherapy. When first hearing this, it sounds dangerous to encourage a patient to fast when their body is already stressed with chemotherapy. Fasting before chemotherapy has been used safely in several clinical trials1,4. It turns out that there is a significant amount of scientific data to support this therapy when the patient is properly supervised. This is a very interesting shift in thinking because the conventional approach in the past has been encouraging patients to get as many nutrients into their body as possible.

There are a number of metabolic reasons why fasting may increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy while reducing the side effects2,3. Fasting triggers normal cells to enter into a protective mode. They rapidly become more efficient and this triggers a reduction in glucose and IGF-1 levels by more than 50%3. This rapid metabolic shift would be very difficult to achieve even with a very potent mixture of drugs. Cancer cells are unable to shift into this protective mode and this makes them more vulnerable to the chemotherapy than normal cells5. This is referred to as differential protection and it has the potential to transform conventional cancer care.

The length of fasting before chemotherapy varies significantly depending on which study that you look at. The most commonly recommended fasting period is 48 hours before chemotherapy and this continues until 24 hours after the chemotherapy infusion. During this fasting period ideally the patient should only have water. It should be as close to complete fasting as possible.

Although it is clearly uncomfortable not eating for a total of 72 hours, the research is indicating that this is a worthwhile sacrifice. The discomfort from hunger will actually decrease the severity of the side effects from the chemotherapy. It is also important to keep in mind that this starvation state is triggering a powerful metabolic shift in your cells that protects your cells while making the cancer cells more vulnerable to the chemotherapy.

As fasting before chemotherapy is further researched it is likely that other mechanisms will be discovered that explain this differential protection. Even without a fully defined biochemical mechanism for this protection, it is clear that fasting does make a substantial difference. Do not implement a fasting protocol before chemotherapy without the supervision of a qualified health professional. It is essential that you are monitored during this process because fasting is not safe for everyone.

If you are currently doing chemotherapy make sure that you contact a Naturopathic Physicianwho focuses on oncology. There are many different naturopathic therapies which not only increase the effectiveness of the chemotherapy but they can act to reduce side effects from the chemotherapy. These natural approaches are safe to use with chemotherapy when they are used under the supervision of an experienced Naturopathic doctor. A Naturopathic Doctor that works with oncology will take the time to look at your case and help you effectively integrate these approaches into your program.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

Seasonal Allergies March 16, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Allergies, Alternative medicine, Naturopathy.
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allergies-hayfever

Written by: Dr. Reuben Dinsmore, ND

Most people who suffer from seasonal allergies (aka allergic rhinitis) will tell you there is almost nothing worse – eyes itching and watering, nose dripping, sneezing – it doesn’t stop. You look sick, you feel sick, but you’re not technically “sick”. And while the rest of us are enjoying the sun and warm temperatures of the early spring, you are just dreading the onset of your yearly allergies.

How severely you react to environmental allergens can be based on various factors – total pollen count and the particular species in your area are obvious ones. But what many people don’t realize is that if your immune system is already operating at a certain level of over-activity, you may be primed to react.

With patients, I use the analogy of your body as a bucket with various small taps placed at different levels, allowing slow drainage. And as long as the inflow (the things coming in that your body has to process and excrete) isn’t more than the drainage capacity, then everything works fine. But if there are too many things filling up your bucket, eventually it’s going to overflow, in the form of allergies. These inputs can include underlying food sensitivities, chronic inflammatory conditions, and poor diet and sleep habits.

Allergy medications have come a long way in how effective they are at controlling symptoms; just one pill a day can keep everything under control. However, many of these drugs carry their own side effects including drowsiness and interaction with other treatments. I still get lots of patients telling me they don’t want to have to take drugs every day just to feel normal. So what are your options?

Keep your “drains” open and flowing. Support your body’s natural elimination pathways, including kidneys, liver, lungs and skin. The human body is made up mostly of water – so make sure you’re drinking plenty of it. A general rule of thumb is to aim for two litres a day, more if you’re drinking caffeinated beverages. As well as water, insoluble fibre in your diet keeps bowel movements happening regularly. Engage in regular deep breathing exercises – as well as getting rid of the carbon dioxide, this has the added bonus of decreasing the effects of the chronic stress that everyone is experiencing daily. And try to avoid clogging the pores of your skin with “beauty” products and harmful anti-perspirants. Acupuncture has also been shown to be an effective treatment to ameliorate symptoms.

Reduce your inputs. Avoid your allergy triggers whenever possible. Invest in a good HEPA air filtration system appropriate to the size of your living area. (At the very least, get a good one for your bedroom). At the height of pollen season, don’t bring your pollen-laden clothing any further into your house than necessary. Consider dropping it at the door if this is an option. Shaking it out outside, doing laundry more frequently, showering (or at least rinsing your hair) before bed – these are all ways to keep it out of your bedroom, where most of us spend the majority of our time while at home. Consider looking into any food sensitivities that may be contributing to underlying inflammation.

Choose a few good quality supplements. This is where visiting your naturopathic doctor comes in. In fact, what you’re already taking may be adding to the inflammatory burden. We’ll help decide which will help and which will just be a waste of your money. A few of the ones we’ll consider – omega-3 fatty acids/fish oils, probiotics, quercetin. But not all supplements are created equal, so either do your research or consult the experts.

Is this the year you’re finally going invest the time and effort into taking care of your allergies? Make your appointment to come see one of the doctors here at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic.

Medical Oncologists and Naturopathic Doctors Need To Work Together March 10, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathy.
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oncologists_and_naturopaths

Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc

This year I had the privilege of attending the 4th annual ONCANP conference where Naturopathic Oncologists from around the world gather to discuss the latest research and advances in integrative oncology. It is exciting to see how rapidly the field is advancing and the information that was presented can certainly be applied in a clinical setting to anyone battling cancer.

I was interested to learn at the conference that several cancer clinics in the United States have Naturopathic doctors working at hospitals in collaboration with medical oncologists. The results from this collaboration are nothing short of incredible. When the data is compared to the national standards it is clear that the patients are living longer with an increased quality of life in this integrative cancer setting. One stunning example was with Stage 3 Lung Adenocarcinoma patients where the overall survival was 36 months compared to the national average of around 12 months. Study after study showed that patients were responding more effectively to the chemotherapy and that they were having less side effects. I find it extremely frustrating that this integrative model is not universal given the abundance of evidence.

Major change is needed in the medical system to incorporate this integrative model because the bottom line is that it works. The problem at this point in time is that many Medical Oncologists refuse to work with Naturopathic Doctors at all. Instead, they tell their patients to avoid all natural supplements because they will interfere with the conventional treatments. This is simply not true and it is very easy to find robust evidence supporting these integrative therapies.

Patients are not stupid, when they are given a serious diagnosis they turn to the internet in search of answers even if their oncologist says that they are wasting their time. The problem is that patients do not have the medical knowledge to recognize which supplements are appropriate for them and which ones are completely contraindicated. By telling patients to avoid all supplements and avoid all Naturopathic Doctors, patients are driven to doing their own research and taking supplements without informing their oncologist. The reality is that they need professional guidance from a Naturopathic Doctor to pick the right supplements and the Naturopathic Doctor should then inform the Oncologist about the treatment plan that the patient is on. This creates a better healing environment for the patient and it ensures that everyone is on the same page about the treatment plan.

In the past I have had Oncologists scare patients about the most benign prescriptions or supplements. Patients have been told that Omega-3’s will accelerate tumour growth because it is an “antioxidant” or that EGCG “protects cancer cells” in a patient not even on chemotherapy. These statements are simply untrue and a quick literature search would reveal dozens of references regarding the safety and effectiveness of these supplements. I have also had a number of patients who were told to discontinue a prescription of Metformin or Celebrex only when the MD found out that a Naturopathic doctor prescribed it. In these cases the patients were responding very well to the chemotherapy and they were taking these medications during this entire time period. The pharmacist who filled the prescription also didn’t have a problem with it and I am sure that had a MD prescribed the exact same thing they would have never recommended that the patient discontinue it.

Patients should not be put in a position where they are being forced to make decisions based on one health care practitioner putting fear into them about another health care practitioner. If the medical oncologist has a problem with a prescription that I write, then they should contact me about it. Just as if I change a prescription from any medical doctor I will always make an effort to inform them of this change. It is not appropriate to put the patient in this position and scare them so significantly about something so minor. Having said that, I also feel that Naturopathic Doctors need to make more of an effort to reach out to medical doctors. We also need to make more of an effort to act collaboratively for the benefit of the patient.

When I say that we need to move to an integrative model I am not suggesting that patients should avoid chemotherapy. What this means is that we use evidence based treatment plans to work synergistically with conventional medicine. Very few of my patients are not doing chemotherapy or radiation because ultimately patients do best when they are adequately supported through these conventional therapies. What many medical oncologists do not realize is that very often Naturopathic Oncologists are encouraging patients to do the same plan that they recommended. Often the oncologist scared the patient away from the conventional therapy just based on how they described the treatment. As Naturopathic Oncologists, we make an effort to educate the patient and give them the support that they need through these conventional therapies. When patients feel supported they are more likely to follow through with chemotherapy and they will respond better to treatment.

I have send out many letters to medical oncologists informing them of the treatment plan and many do not even reply to my letter. A handful of oncologists have replied and I have a good relationship with these doctors. Medical Oncologists need to stop pretending like Naturopathic Doctors don’t exist or that we have nothing to offer. For the benefit of the patient every medical oncologist should make an effort to establish a good relationship with a Naturopathic doctor that they trust. Whether they like it or not, patients are seeking this integrative care and they should at least be directed to a Naturopathic doctor that can collaborate with the medical oncologist. We need to work together for the benefit of the patient.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

DCA and Cancer March 9, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Integrative Medicine.
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dca_and_cancer

By: Dr. Adam McLeod , ND, BSc

Several years ago there was a huge buzz in the media about Dichloroacetic Acid (DCA) and its use in cancer1. The public was outraged that DCA could be an effective cancer therapy and that the government showed little interest because DCA could not be patented. The drug companies ignored any evidence related to this therapy because without a patent it was simply not a profitable venture. Fortunately, some private researchers raised enough money to continue studies into this simple yet effective therapy.

DCA was initially used for lactic acidosis, a condition where the blood has high levels of lactic acid. The DCA inhibits the enzyme pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase which causes a major shift in metabolism from fermentation to oxidation in the mitochondria2. In other words, it forces the mitochondria in cells to become more active. This is relevant to cancer because the survival of cancer cells depends on the mitochondria being dormant. The mitochondria are capable of triggering cell death in abnormal or damaged cells. Cancer cells are grossly abnormal and they often depend on the mitochondria being inactive.

The ultimate goal of this therapy is to activate the mitochondria and allow them to trigger cell death in the abnormal cancerous cells. The DCA will certainly help to activate these pathways but it is essential that patients also exercise. By regularly doing aerobic exercise you are also stimulating the mitochondria. The excessive energetic demands during exercise trigger the mitochondria to be more active and burn oxygen. DCA when combined with exercise significantly increases the consumption of oxygen by the mitochondria which is an indication that the mitochondria are being further activated5.

It is essential for cancer patients (not just patients on DCA) to do aerobic exercise if they are physically able to. It does not matter what that type of exercise it is, just as long as it is a moderate aerobic exercise that you are able to do on a regular basis. There is an overwhelming body of evidence which clearly shows that cancer patients who regularly exercise simply do much better than those who do not. It is possible that this mitochondrial activation could be one of the reasons for this.

Most of the research seems to indicate that DCA is more effective for cancers that are localized in the nervous system3. Although it can be used for other types of cancer, it is less indicated for cancers that do not localize to the nervous system. A very common side effect from chemotherapy is neuropathy4 and DCA should be used with caution if there are any signs of neuropathy. There are no known drug interactions with DCA except for the drug Lasix which is a diuretic. Overall DCA is a very safe therapy and there are many studies that demonstrate the safety of this therapy.

The bottom line is that DCA is an effective therapy when used appropriately. It is not a cure on its own but DCA can be a major part of an effective and comprehensive integrative cancer treatment plan. It can be administered either orally or intravenously. The oral dose is typically 15-20mg/kg and it is cycled 2 weeks on followed by 1 week off. It is extremely important to have the appropriate neurological support during this therapy. DCA is known to cause significant neuropathy and you must be monitored by a physician who is experienced with the use of DCA. Common neurological support includes NAC, Thiamine (B1) and ALA. It is essential that you consult with a Naturopathic physician who focuses in oncology to know what neurological support is best suited for you.

A Naturopathic doctor that works with oncology will take the time to look at your case and will write you a prescription for DCA if it is truly indicated. Contact Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic to see if this is the right therapy for you.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References

1) “Cheap, ‘safe’ drug kills most cancers”. New Scientist. 2007-01-17. Retrieved 2014-08-23.

2) Stacpoole PW (1989). “The pharmacology of dichloroacetate”. Metabolism 38 (11): 1124–1144. doi:10.1016/0026-0495(89)90051-6. PMID 2554095

3) Michelakis E D, et al. Metabolic Modulation of Glioblastoma with Dichloriacetate. Sci Transl Med 12 May 2010: Vol. 2, Issue 31

4) Abramowski MC. Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathic Pain. J of the Advanced Practitioner in Oncology. 2010;1:279-283.

5) Ludvik, Bernhard, et al. “Effects of dichloroacetate on exercise performance in healthy volunteers.” Pflügers Archiv423.3-4 (1993): 251-254.

Exercise and Cancer March 2, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, exercise.
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cancer-and-exercise

Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc

Everyone has heard that exercise is good for your wellbeing. This is not debated at all in the medical community yet when it comes to cancer care patients often forget about the benefits of exercise as they focus their attention on more exotic treatment plans. Exercise is not a cure for cancer but it is certainly an important part of an integrative cancer program.

How does exercise benefit cancer patients? It turns out that there are a number of different reasons why exercise has such a positive impact on cancer patients. The immune system becomes more activated during exercise as the monocytes increase the concentration of specific receptors on their surface1. There are numerous physiological and psychological changes that occur with regular exercise that are very beneficial to cancer patients3.

Several studies clearly demonstrate that patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation do much better if they are exercising regularly2,4. Patients who regularly exercise during these therapies have better clinical outcomes and significantly improved quality of life. Although this is well established in the medical community it is rarely suggested by medical oncologists. This attitude needs to change because when the body is being exposed to toxic treatments it is essential to use every tool at our disposal to help the body adapt to this stress. Exercise is certainly one of many effective basic tools that can help patients deal with the stress of chemotherapy and radiation.

Not only is exercise important during cancer therapies, it is also effective at preventing cancer recurrence7. Although some researchers dispute the significance of recurrence prevention, no one disputes that regular exercise decreases overall mortality in cancer survivors5,6. Women with estrogen positive breast cancer after a successful surgery will be put on tamoxifen for 5 years minimum to reduce the risk of recurrence by only a few percentage points8. In a prospective observational study of almost 3000 RN’s with a history of breast cancer, it showed that women who walked 3-5 hours per week were 43% less likely to develop recurrent breast cancer and 50% less likely to die from breast cancer than women who engaged in less than 1 hour of physical activity per week9. I find it amazing that some patients will readily adhere to taking a drug for 5-10 years yet they are resistant to exercising.

The bottom line is that at every phase in cancer therapy, regular exercise is a powerful adjunct to conventional cancer therapy. It helps to prevent the development of cancer. It helps patients get through the aggressive cancer therapies necessary to kill the cancer. Regular exercise also helps to prevent the recurrence of cancer after a successfully eliminating the cancerous cells. More cancer patients need to be aware of the simple fact that regular exercise makes a big difference when fighting cancer.

A Naturopathic doctor that works with oncology will take the time to look at your case and help you effectively integrate exercise into your program. Contact Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic to see how Naturopathic medicine can help you.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References:

1) Peters, C., et al. “Exercise, cancer and the immune response of monocytes.” Anticancer research 15.1 (1994): 175-179.

2) Mock, Victoria, et al. “Effects of exercise on fatigue, physical functioning, and emotional distress during radiation therapy for breast cancer.” Oncology nursing forum. Vol. 24. No. 6. 1997.

3) Burnham, Timothy R., and Anthony Wilcox. “Effects of exercise on physiological and psychological variables in cancer survivors.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2002).

4) Courneya, KERRY S. “Exercise in cancer survivors: an overview of research.” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 35.11 (2003): 1846-1852.

5) Irwin, Melinda L., et al. “Randomized controlled trial of aerobic exercise on insulin and insulin-like growth factors in breast cancer survivors: the Yale Exercise and Survivorship study.” Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 18.1 (2009): 306-313.

6) Irwin, Melinda L., et al. “Influence of pre-and postdiagnosis physical activity on mortality in breast cancer survivors: the health, eating, activity, and lifestyle study.” Journal of clinical oncology 26.24 (2008): 3958-3964.

7) Loprinzi, Paul D., et al. “Physical activity and the risk of breast cancer recurrence: a literature review.” Oncology nursing forum. Vol. 39. No. 3. Oncology Nursing Society, 2012.

8) Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group. “Relevance of breast cancer hormone receptors and other factors to the efficacy of adjuvant tamoxifen: patient-level meta-analysis of randomised trials.” The lancet 378.9793 (2011): 771-784.

9) Holmes, Michelle D., et al. “Physical activity and survival after breast cancer diagnosis.” Jama 293.20 (2005): 2479-2486.

Low Dose Naltrexone and Cancer February 23, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathy.
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Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc

Naltrexone is typically used for patients with opioid or alcohol dependence. It is a molecule that powerfully counteracts the effects of opioids. At lower doses this drug can be used with cancer patients to help balance the immune system and inhibit the growth of cancer1. There are many well documented cases in the scientific literature of patients surviving years longer than expected after using low dose naltrexone (LDN)2,4. This therapy is rapidly becoming a mainstream therapy as more research accumulates supporting its use in cancer.

The mechanism of the anti-cancer properties of LDN are poorly defined. It is thought that the LDN targets the opioid growth factor receptor pathway to inhibit cell proliferation in cancerous cells5. There is also evidence to suggest that at these lower doses the immune system is modulated in a way that is beneficial to fighting cancer3. These positive changes in the immune system from LDN have also been shown to make a positive difference in patients with Multiple Sclerosis and HIV. The bottom line is that when used appropriately it can be an effective component of a integrative cancer therapy program.

When LDN is used in conjunction with alpha lipoic acid (ALA) it can be a very potent therapy for pancreatic cancer. There are a number of case studies where patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer have survived many years longer than expected using only this therapy2,4. It is very commonly used with lymphoma when patients are not on opioids for pain management. There are also several studies that support the use of LDN with ovarian cancer and preliminary research indicates that it works synergistically with the chemotherapy cis-platin1.

The side effects from naltrexone are minimal when taken at low doses. Often cancer patients will take 3mg before bed and sometimes this results in vivid dreams. The most common side effect is loose stools which is not surprising given the mechanism of the drug. Opioid medication often causes extreme constipation due to stimulation of the opioid receptors. Low dose naltrexone does the opposite by inhibiting the opioid receptors and loose stools can be a consequence of this. A significant number of cancer patients tend to be constipated due to the medications and as a result the “laxative effect” of the LDN is not a serious concern.

It is important to recognize that this therapy is not for everyone. Many cancer patients are treated with opioids for pain management. Given that this drug acts as a opioid antagonist, it is not indicated for patients on opioid medication such as morphine. It would directly counteract the effects of this important pain medication. When LDN is used in the appropriate cellular context it can be an effective component of an integrative cancer therapy. A Naturopathic doctor who focuses in oncology will go through your entire case history to determine if this treatment is indicated. Contact your local naturopathic doctor to see if this therapy is right for you.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Authorhttp://www.dreamhealer.com

He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, BC where he focuses on integrative oncology.http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References:

1) Donahue, Renee N., Patricia J. McLaughlin, and Ian S. Zagon. “Low-dose naltrexone suppresses ovarian cancer and exhibits enhanced inhibition in combination with cisplatin.”Experimental Biology and Medicine 236.7 (2011): 883-895.

2) Berkson, Burton M., Daniel M. Rubin, and Arthur J. Berkson. “The long-term survival of a patient with pancreatic cancer with metastases to the liver after treatment with the intravenous α-lipoic acid/low-dose naltrexone protocol.” Integrative cancer therapies 5.1 (2006): 83-89.

3) Brown, Norman, and Jaak Panksepp. “Low-dose naltrexone for disease prevention and quality of life.” Medical hypotheses 72.3 (2009): 333-337.

4) Berkson, Burton M., Daniel M. Rubin, and Arthur J. Berkson. “Revisiting the ALA/N (α-Lipoic Acid/Low-Dose Naltrexone) protocol for people with metastatic and nonmetastatic pancreatic cancer: a report of 3 new cases.” Integrative cancer therapies 8.4 (2009): 416-422.

5) Donahue, Renee N., Patricia J. McLaughlin, and Ian S. Zagon. “Low-dose naltrexone targets the opioid growth factor–opioid growth factor receptor pathway to inhibit cell proliferation: mechanistic evidence from a tissue culture model.” Experimental Biology and Medicine 236.9 (2011): 1036-1050.

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