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Intravenous Alpha Lipoic Acid July 30, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing.
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Intravenous ALA
Written by Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that has been used for decades to help with nerve related symptoms of diabetes. It can also be used to treat a long list of conditions including cancer. ALA is a unique antioxidant because due to its molecular structure, it can act as both a fat-soluble and water-soluble antioxidant. This unique property makes ALA a critical component of the antioxidant network. It seems that at high doses, it helps to prevent cell damage and it rapidly regenerates the supply of vitamin E and C.

ALA can either be taken orally or through intravenous therapy. The oral form is well absorbed if it contains the pure R form. The S form of alpha lipoic acid is poorly absorbed and it does not have the same positive effects. It is critical that the oral supplementation consists of the pure R form if you expect to get any positive benefits. When ALA is given intravenously, it is not necessary to differentiate between the R and S form because it is being infused directly into the blood stream. It is important to point out that ALA is very sensitive to light; therefore, the IV bag and the line must be protected from ultraviolet (UV) rays. There are some special bags and lines that are opague which have UV filters. Most clinics simply wrap the line and the bag in tin foil to preserve the ALA while it is being infused.

The intravenous route allows much higher doses of ALA to be administered, and it is these higher doses that are linked to an anti-cancer effect. It appears that ALA triggers mitochondrial respiration and induces apoptosis in cancerous cells29. There are a number of reported cases of long-term disease stabilization with ALA and low dose naltrexone in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer30,31. The exact mechanism for this effect is not known, but in addition to increasing mitochondrial reactive oxygen species, it has also been documented as a p53 activator in cancerous cells32. p53 is a tumour suppressor that is commonly inactivated in cancerous cells. By activating this molecule, it triggers programmed cell death in these abnormal cells. At higher doses ALA will compete with B-vitamins (particularly biotin) and this can cause a deficiency if patients are not adequately supported.

Chemotherapy can be hard on the nervous system, and it is not uncommon for patients to develop neuropathy. This can manifest as a sensation of tingling, burning or pain in the hands and feet. Once this neuropathy develops during chemotherapy, it is often irreversible. Recent research indicates that ALA can improve the function and conduction of neurons. This property makes ALA an ideal candidate for nerve support during chemotherapy28. In patients who have neuropathy prior to starting chemotherapy, it is very important to be proactive with nerve supports. IV ALA can help to support the nerves and reduce the risk of neuropathy developing or progressing during chemotherapy. Due to the fact that ALA is an antioxidant, it is not safe with all chemotherapy protocols. However, there are some chemotherapy regimens where its use is very safe and effective.

There are a couple of important details that must be considered when giving patients intravenous alpha lipoic acid. The ALA will potentiate insulin so you must be cautious when administering this to diabetic patients. Although it is not a contraindication to diabetes, you must carefully monitor their blood sugar before you start any infusion. It cannot be mixed with other compounds or it will form precipitates in the bag. It should be administered in a separate bag and the line should be flushed if another solution was given beforehand. For optimal absorption (and safety), it is critical that the ALA be put in a non-ionic solution such as D5W.

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. Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic in Vancouver, BC is one such clinic that offers this service.

Gedlicka, C., et al. “Effective treatment of oxaliplatin-induced cumulative polyneuropathy with alpha-lipoic acid.” Journal of clinical oncology 20.15 (2002): 3359-3361.
Wenzel, U., A. Nickel, and H. Daniel. “α-lipoic acid induces apoptosis in human colon cancer cells by increasing mitochondrial respiration with a concomitant O2−.-generation.” Apoptosis 10.2 (2005): 359-368.
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.

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.
Simbula, G., et al. “Increased ROS generation and p53 activation in α-lipoic acid-induced apoptosis of hepatoma cells.” Apoptosis 12.1 (2007): 113-123.

Mistletoe the Parasite July 13, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in cancer therapy, Naturopathic Medicine.
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Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc(Hon)

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that directly derives almost all of its nutrition from other flowering plants. By parasitizing other plants, they have a competitive advantage over many other forms of life because they do not have to compete in soil for their water and nutrient needs. This description of mistletoe sounds surprisingly similar to how cancer operates. When you look at mistletoe growing on a tree it looks very much like a tumour. Cancer gets all of its nutrition from other cells within the human body and it has a competitive advantage because it does not abide by the same rules as other cells in the body.

It turns out the mistletoe can be used to effectively treat cancer, even in advanced cases1,2,3. In North America this is often considered a “fringe treatment” yet if you go to Germany this is a mainstream therapy that is well established by the scientific community. The use of mistletoe dramatically reduces the side effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation. The effects are so dramatic that some countries have already made this the standard of care for cancer treatment. The use of mistletoe as the new standard of care was of huge financial benefit to these countries because of the significant decrease in complications from chemotherapy and radiation.

Although there are several different ways to administer mistletoe, the most common is regular subcutaneous injections. This involves the use of small insulin needles and injecting the mistletoe just under the skin. After injecting the mistletoe lectins the immune system immediately begins to attack the injected fluid resulting in a small red rash around the injection site. This immune activation is an excellent outcome in the context of cancer. By activating the immune system at the site of injection it consequently activates the immune system in the entire body.

Mistletoe has been shown to stimulate increases in the number and the activity of several types of white blood cells4. Immune-system-enhancing cytokines, such as interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor -alpha, are released by white blood cells after exposure to mistletoe extracts5,6. Other evidence suggests that mistletoe exerts its cytotoxic effects by interfering with protein synthesis in target cells and by inducing apoptosis7.

Just like any cancer therapy it is essential that it is used in the right context. When this therapy is used there will initially be a swelling of the tumour, this is a consequence of the immune activation. If there are any detectable masses contained within the skull, then clearly swelling is not desirable. Mistletoe therapy is contraindicated in patients that have any detectable mass in the brain. It also must be used with caution on patients that are are cachexic and malnourished. The sudden release of cytokines associated with immune activation can worsen the malnourished state.

Mistletoe therapy only costs approximately $250 dollars per month and it can be used in conjunction with other medical therapies. I regularly use mistletoe with my patients at the clinic and it is an effective cancer therapy when used appropriately. On a regular basis I see patients improve when they use this therapy as part of a comprehensive integrative cancer therapy. 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

1. Mistletoe. In: Murray MT: The Healing Power of Herbs. Roseville, Calif: Prima Publishing, 1995, pp 253-9.

2. Samtleben R, Hajto T, Hostanska K, et al.: Mistletoe lectins as immunostimulants (chemistry, pharmacology and clinic). In: Wagner H, ed.: Immunomodulatory Agents from Plants. Basel, Switzerland: Birkhauser Verlag, 1999, pp 223-41.

3. Hajto T, Lanzrein C: Natural killer and antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity activities and large granular lymphocyte frequencies in Viscum album-treated breast cancer patients. Oncology 43 (2): 93-7, 1986.

4. Büssing A, Regnery A, Schweizer K: Effects of Viscum album L. on cyclophosphamide-treated peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro: sister chromatid exchanges and activation/proliferation marker expression. Cancer Lett 94 (2): 199-205, 1995.

5. Hajto T: Immunomodulatory effects of iscador: a Viscum album preparation. Oncology 43 (Suppl 1): 51-65, 1986.

6. Hajto T, Hostanska K, Frei K, et al.: Increased secretion of tumor necrosis factors alpha, interleukin 1, and interleukin 6 by human mononuclear cells exposed to beta-galactoside-specific lectin from clinically applied mistletoe extract. Cancer Res 50 (11): 3322-6, 1990.

7. Mengs U, Schwarz T, Bulitta M, et al.: Antitumoral effects of an intravesically applied aqueous mistletoe extract on urinary bladder carcinoma MB49 in mice. Anticancer Res 20 (5B ): 3565-8, 2000 Sep- Oct.

Glycemic Levels and Cancer Recurrence July 9, 2015

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glycemic and cancer

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

I tell virtually every cancer patient that they should avoid sugar as much as possible. Some doctors insist that sugar has no effect on cancer. This is simply not what the scientific literature states. If you are trying to fight cancer or prevent the recurrence of cancer, then you should make an effort to reduce your sugar intake.

Study after study has demonstrated a direct connection between sugar intake and cancer risk1,2,3,4,5. There are a wide range of cancers which are associated with increased sugar intake. Cancer cells often have significantly more insulin receptors than normal cells. In other words, they respond very rapidly to insulin and they will always be more effective at grabbing sugar from the blood stream and utilizing it as an energy source. Cancer cells will always grab the sugar before normal cells due to this fundamental shift in their metabolism.

The sugar acts as a direct source of energy for the cancer cells. These abnormal cells are often dependent on a constant supply of sugar, which is pushed through anaerobic glycolysis to provide them with energy. Essentially the sugar acts as fuel which directly stimulates the growth of cancerous cells. The fundamental challenge is that normal cells also require sugar and it is simply not possible to eliminate sugar completely.

It turns out that although sugar acts as fuel to cancer cells, the mechanism for the enhanced tumour growth from sugar is different than you would expect. There is a big difference in the metabolism of a food rich in simple sugars compared to a food that contains complex carbohydrates. When you eat a food rich in simple sugars such as candy, the body rapidly absorbs the sugar. This causes a rapid and significant elevation of the sugar concentration in your blood. In response to this sugar spike, the pancreas secretes insulin, which circulates through the entire body in an effort to bring the sugar levels back to normal.

Insulin interacts with the receptors on the surface of both normal and cancerous cells. Upon interacting with the cells, it helps them to pull sugar in from the blood until the blood sugar level drops back to a normal level. Remember that cancer cells have more insulin receptors, so they will always take advantage of this insulin spike more effectively than normal cells. It is this spike in insulin and insulin-like growth factors that stimulate the growth of cancerous cells2. In other words, it is not the sugar content that is stimulating growth; it is the response to sudden increases in sugar levels.

Complex carbohydrates are metabolized very differently in the body. They do not cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. The sugar in complex carbohydrates is slowly released as the food passes through the gastrointestinal tract. As the sugar is being slowly released, it is also being metabolized by cells within the body at a similar rate. As a result, it is not necessary for the pancreas to secrete as much insulin because there is no spike in blood sugar that needs to be controlled.

Despite the overwhelming evidence, some skeptical health care professionals insist that avoiding sugar makes no difference because everything we consume has sugar in it. Although it is true that virtually everything we eat contains some sugar, this simple logic is completely incorrect and demonstrates a lack of understanding of the mechanism. The sugar is not directly stimulating the growth of cancer, but there is no question that our body’s response to sugar does stimulate cancer.

Sugar, Inflammation and Recurrence

There are several key metabolic changes that occur in the body when exposed to simple sugars such as in candy. High levels of sugar in the blood seem to inhibit the function of the immune system and stimulate inflammation5,6. This inflammation is not localized; it is a true systemic inflammatory response. There are countless studies which strongly suggest that chronic inflammation is a significant factor in the development and in the progression of cancer. This inflammatory response makes it easier for cancer cells to evade detection by the immune system and it enhances the rate of spread. Any effective cancer treatment plan must address systemic inflammation and make a significant effort to control it in a balanced way.

Obviously when fighting cancer, it is critical to use every tool at your disposal to keep the immune system strong so that it can focus on the task at hand. Hyperglycemia (high levels of sugar in the blood) inhibits the function of the immune system on a number of different levels. It is important to recognize that this immune suppressing effect is not something that would be readily detected from any blood work. The number of white blood cells and neutrophils in the blood will remain the same however; these cells will not be working as effectively. The immune cells will not attack cancer cells as effectively when they are exposed to high levels of sugar.

It is logical that if sugar inhibits the immune system and stimulates inflammation, then you would expect high levels of sugar to be associated with an increased cancer risk. The correlation between high glycemic diets and cancer risk is well established. It is essential that patients looking to prevent recurrence of cancer adhere to a low glycemic diet. There was a recent study conducted on women with a history of breast cancer. In this study researchers looked for a connection between fasting blood glucose levels and risk of cancer recurrence. There was a strong correlation between high fasting blood glucose levels and cancer recurrence7. In other words, the women who consistently had high levels of sugar in their blood had a higher risk of developing cancer. This is really not surprising given what we know about the relationship between sugar and cancer.

The connection between sugar and cancer is both logical and well supported by data. What can be done to decrease the levels of sugar in the blood? There are a number of different pharmaceutical options, the most common being Metformin, which is associated with a decreased cancer risk (although the mechanism for this anti-cancer effect may not be related to sugar). The safest approach is making modifications to your diet so that you are not putting large amounts of sugar into your body in the first place. Start reading labels and become familiar with the foods that you are putting into your body. If it looks sugary and tastes sugary, then it is probably sugary and it is best to avoid it. The first step is very obvious; avoid putting simple sugars into your body. Beyond dietary controls there are a number of different pharmaceutical options, the most common being Metformin, which is associated with a decreased cancer risk (although the mechanism for this anticancer effect may not be related to sugar).

Another helpful dietary change is increasing your fibre intake. When you consume fibre, it essentially slows the release of sugar into the blood stream. This results in less insulin being secreted and consequently less stimulation of any residual cancer cells. The data on fibre consumption and cancer prevention is mixed but generally positive. In one large study on fibre intake and breast cancer recurrence (known as the HEAL cohort), it was determined that fibre decreased risk of recurrence, but the improvement was not considered statistically significant7. Another study concluded that higher levels of fibre consumption provided significant benefit to overall survival, but this benefit was not necessarily related to cancer8.

Many patients immediately focus on avoiding gluten when they get the diagnosis of cancer. It is important to mention that avoiding gluten is not usually a critical component of a diet designed to fight cancer. Generally speaking you want to avoid foods that will stimulate inflammation in the body and in some people consumption of gluten certainly triggers a systemic inflammatory response. In these patients who are sensitive to gluten they should certainly make an effort to avoid it. In those who are not particularly sensitive to gluten, going gluten free is not the number one priority. We have to focus on getting the essential nutrients into the cells so that they can more effectively fight the cancer.

It is also worth pointing out that many of the gluten free foods are very high in sugar. In many of the better-tasting gluten free products, there are significant amounts of sugar added. In the context of cancer, this added sugar will cause more problems than any benefit that would be gained from the absence of gluten. If avoiding gluten makes you feel healthier and more vital, then by all means, avoid it. It is critical to recognize that just because it is gluten free does not mean that it is healthy. You need to make a conscious effort to avoid sugar and read the labels of the foods that you are putting into your body.

The sugar content of fruits is generally not a concern. In my experience, most patients could benefit from having more fruits in their diet. Any negative impact from the sugar in fruits is far outweighed by the positive effects of the nutrients and the natural antioxidants. There are some fruits which are exceptionally rich in sugar. These sugar rich fruits such as mangos, kiwis, bananas and dried fruits should be consumed in moderation. It can be helpful to look at the glycemic load (not the glycemic index) of your favourite fruits and modify your diet accordingly to reduce your intake of sugar. It is not necessary to strictly avoid these sugar rich fruits but by eating them in moderation you can substantially reduce your overall sugar consumption.

The bottom line is that it is not hard to connect the dots. When you consume high levels of sugar, it has a number of effects on the body. It promotes inflammation, weakens the immune system and stimulates the growth of cancerous cells. If patients consume a low glycemic diet, then they are less likely to develop cancer and any cancer cells that are present will not grow as quickly. Fibre helps to further enhance a low glycemic diet by reducing your body’s response to sugar. At the end of the day the goal is to develop a diet plan that you can maintain for the rest of your life. There is no benefit adhering to a strict diet for only a short period of time. When it comes to cancer prevention, it is best to develop a simple and sustainable long-term treatment plan that you can easily maintain.

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, Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic, in Vancouver, BC where he focuses on integrative oncology.

1) Augustin, L. S. A., et al. “Dietary glycemic index and glycemic load, and breast cancer risk: a case-control study.” Annals of Oncology 12.11 (2001): 1533-1538.

2) Franceschi, S., et al. “Dietary glycemic load and colorectal cancer risk.” Annals of Oncology 12.2 (2001): 173-178.

3) Michaud, Dominique S., et al. “Dietary sugar, glycemic load, and pancreatic cancer risk in a prospective study.” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 94.17 (2002): 1293-1300.

4) Gnagnarella, Patrizia, et al. “Glycemic index, glycemic load, and cancer risk: a meta-analysis.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 87.6 (2008): 1793-1801.

5) Qi, Lu, and Frank B. Hu. “Dietary glycemic load, whole grains, and systemic inflammation in diabetes: the epidemiological evidence.” Current opinion in lipidology 18.1 (2007): 3-8.

6) Turina, Matthias, Donald E. Fry, and Hiram C. Polk Jr. “Acute hyperglycemia and the innate immune system: clinical, cellular, and molecular aspects.” Critical care medicine 33.7 (2005): 1624-1633.

7) Belle, Fabiën N., et al. “Dietary fiber, carbohydrates, glycemic index, and glycemic load in relation to breast cancer prognosis in the HEAL cohort.” Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 20.5 (2011): 890-899.

8) Kroenke, Candyce H., et al. “Dietary patterns and survival after breast cancer diagnosis.” Journal of clinical oncology 23.36 (2005): 9295-9303.

9) Contiero, Paolo, et al. “Fasting blood glucose and long-term prognosis of non-metastatic breast cancer: a cohort study.” Breast cancer research and treatment 138.3 (2013): 951-959.

Is the Alkaline Diet an Effective Cancer Treatment? July 6, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alkaline Diet, Health, Naturopathy.
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Alkaline Vegetables

Every day I see cancer patients who are drinking alkaline water and focusing a significant amount of their time and energy on alkaline foods. Is this an effective cure for cancer? The short answer is no and any observed positive effects have nothing to do with the foods being alkaline. Let me explain why this is.

In the early 20th century it was observed that cancer cells could not grow in alkaline environments. There are a number of metabolic reasons why this is and this principle is very effective in a petri dish. The problem is that this theory simply does not apply to our bodies. The pH is a measure of how acid or basic a liquid is. You cannot change the pH of your blood enough to influence cancer. To understand why, you need to look at the biochemistry of the blood.

Our blood is buffered which means that it is absolutely full of molecules that make sure there are no variations in the pH of the blood. The body spends a substantial amount of energy keeping the pH of the blood with in a very narrow range. Every single protein in your entire body is designed to work at a very specific pH. If there is any deviation from this optimal pH then the protein ceases to function properly. In other words, if you were able to make your blood significantly more basic it would very quickly result in kidney failure, respiratory failure and ultimately death. Our cells have been adapting to a very narrow pH range for millions of years and there are many metabolic reasons for this. When you drink alkaline water and eat alkaline foods it does not make your blood alkaline.

Any positive studies relating to the alkaline diet have nothing to do with the foods being alkaline. When you look at the list of “alkaline foods” it consists mostly of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes with very small amounts of meat. These are all very healthy foods that are rich in nutrients. The high nutrient content is completely unrelated to the alkaline nature of these foods.

When designing an ideal diet plan for cancer patients the first goal is making sure they are getting adequate nutrients because the cells will have increased metabolic demands while fighting cancer. The second goal is making sure that they are avoiding foods that are rich in sugar. Very often this diet will consist of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. No one disputes that these foods are helpful when combating cancer but it is clear that this positive effect from these foods is not due to them being alkaline.

If you are fighting cancer it is essential that you have professional guidance with your diet. Before you make any dramatic changes contact a Naturopathic physician that works with oncology. A Naturopathic doctor that works with oncology will take the time to look at your case and will design a specific diet plan 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. Visit Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic for more information.

Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc

Pre-Sale Discount Ending June 30 June 29, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, integrative cancer care, Naturopathic Medicine.
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Integrative Cancer Careintegrative cancer care vancouver

                                                                                                                                                 Just a reminder the presale discount for Dr. Adam McLeod’s new book, Integrative Cancer Care: The Power of Being Informed, ends tomorrow on Tuesday June 30, 2015! This book describes evidence based natural therapies that are available and how they can be used in an integrative cancer setting. Become an informed patient and get involved in your own healing.

Presale discount: $20 tax included

Regular price: $24.95 plus tax

Order your copy today through the online bookstore.


Ketogenic Diet June 22, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in healthy fats, ketogenic diet, Naturopathic Medicine.
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Ketogenic Diet

By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

The ketogenic diet is commonly used to treat epilepsy and it also appears to have applications in an integrative cancer setting as well. The concept behind the diet is that by changing the composition of the foods you eat it will fundamentally change the energy metabolism in your nervous system. The diet consists of consuming high amounts of fats while avoiding carbohydrates. This diet can be a challenge to maintain but in specific cases it is certainly worth the effort.

This high fat and low carbohydrate diet forces the body to burn fats for energy rather than sugars. Normally the brain uses glucose (sugar) as its primary source of energy but if there is a shortage of sugar the liver then converts fats into ketone bodies. These ketones pass into the brain and replace glucose as the primary source of energy. High levels of ketones in the blood are very strongly correlated with a decrease in the frequency of epileptic seizures.

Healthy cells within the nervous system are able to easily shift their metabolism to become dependent on ketone bodies. Cancerous cells within the nervous system have very high energetic requirements and they struggle to shift to this new energy source. As a result cancers that are of nervous tissue origin are vulnerable to the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet slows down the rate of growth of brain tumours because the cancerous cells do not have an abundant and useable energy source under these conditions2,3,4. In my experience the ketogenic diet works synergistically with DCA in patients with brain tumours. The evidence for the use of the ketogenic diet with brain cancers is overwhelming. There is also evidence to suggest that this diet can be helpful with other forms of cancer5. The results from the Ketogenic diet on brain tumours are far more dramatic than with other forms of cancer.

This diet is very difficult to maintain for long periods of time and it takes discipline to do it properly. I always recommend the ketogenic diet to patients with brain cancers, however, I do not regularly recommend it to patients with other forms of cancer. Although there is some evidence to suggest that it can still be helpful, it is often very stressful for patients to adhere to this strict diet plan. In advanced metastatic cases it can be helpful to begin the ketogenic diet because it slows down the rate of growth by changing the energy source for the cancer. In localized cancers that do not originate from the brain, the effect of the ketogenic diet is minimal. This diet is not a cure for cancer but it can certainly help to slow the growth and it can be used safely in conjunction with other medical treatments.

The reality is that in order for this diet to have the desired effect you need to strictly adhere to the diet plan. The goal is to starve the cancer cells of their primary energy source, every time you consume sugar they immediately use this to produce energy. There are a number of good online resources that can help you transition to an effective ketogenic diet. One good website is:


Often when making such a dramatic dietary change the key to success is slowly transitioning to the new diet. In this circumstance it is best to make the transition as rapidly as possible and resources like the above website can help with that transition. It is very important to consult a Naturopathic doctor to determine if this is the right diet for you. This diet is not for everyone and it takes clinical judgement to determine if this is best option.

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, Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic, in Vancouver, BC where he focuses on integrative oncology.

1) Freeman JM, Kossoff EH, Hartman AL. The ketogenic diet: one decade later. Pediatrics. 2007 Mar;119(3):535–43.

2) Zhou, Weihua, et al. “The calorically restricted ketogenic diet, an effective alternative therapy for malignant brain cancer.” Nutr Metab (Lond) 4.5 (2007): 5.

3) Nebeling, Linda C., et al. “Effects of a ketogenic diet on tumor metabolism and nutritional status in pediatric oncology patients: two case reports.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 14.2 (1995): 202-208.

4) Seyfried, Thomas N., and Purna Mukherjee. “Targeting energy metabolism in brain cancer: review and hypothesis.” Nutrition & metabolism 2.1 (2005): 30.

5) Schmidt, Melanie, et al. “Effects of a ketogenic diet on the quality of life in 16 patients with advanced cancer: A pilot trial.” Nutr Metab (Lond) 8.1 (2011): 54.

The Dangers of DHEA June 15, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, Alternative medicine, Breast Cancer, Cancer Treatment.
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DHEA Cancer

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

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is often described as a wonder drug that is used by patients interested in its anti-aging effects. As we age the levels of DHEA in the blood start to decrease so the logic was that if patients were given this hormone then they would be able to partially reverse the aging process. There is evidence to suggest that indeed it improves many of the characteristics that we associate with aging.

Supplementation with DHEA is not safe for everyone as it is strongly associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer1,2. In response to this risk, supplement companies began to produce a molecule called 7-keto DHEA, which is a metabolite of DHEA. This was considered a safer alternative to DHEA because it does not break down into estrogen or testosterone4. It is true that when patients take 7-keto DHEA there is no statistically significant increase in hormone levels but this does not make it safe to use with breast cancer.

I have personally seen several patients with active estrogen positive breast cancer who were prescribed 7-keto DHEA by a medical doctor. This is a dangerous combination and it is reckless to prescribe this medication in this clinical situation. 7-keto DHEA is not safe for any patient with estrogen positive breast cancer. There are a number of obvious biochemical reasons for this contraindication. First of all there are absolutely no studies which indicate that this is safe with estrogen positive breast cancer. Secondly, just because the estrogen levels are not elevated does not mean that the estrogen receptor is not being stimulated.

Normally the receptors on the surface of a cell are only stimulated by a few specific molecules. The estrogen receptors are notoriously promiscuous. What this means is that they are stimulated by many different molecules as well as estrogen. One of those molecules is 7-keto DHEA. In other words, even though patients do not have elevations in estrogen levels the estrogen receptors are being directly stimulated by the 7-keto DHEA3. As far as the cancer cells are concerned, they will act as if they are being stimulated by estrogen even though the actual levels of estrogen remain unchanged.

In one study it was conclusively shown that 7-keto DHEA (aka 7-oxo DHEA) is a low affinity ligand activator of estrogen receptors. The estrogen activity in these cancer cell lines were significantly elevated compared to the controls. In this same study, the cancer cells (MCF-7 breast cancer cells) that were treated with 7-keto DHEA grew much faster than the controls. This simple study certainly raises concern about the use of this supplement in cancer patients. It is clearly misleading to state that 7-keto DHEA has all the positive effects of DHEA without any of the negative effects. This is simply not how our cells operate on the biochemical level.

Another obvious concern is that 7-keto DHEA is essentially structurally identical to DHEA. This means that its overall shape is so similar that it will stimulate estrogen receptors the same as if it was DHEA. The estrogen receptors on cancer cells cannot tell the difference between 7-keto DHEA and DHEA. As far as the cancer is concerned it is the same thing. Of course the DHEA will not stimulate these receptors as strongly as estrogen but they still increase the activity which is the complete opposite of what you want to do with estrogen positive breast cancer. Conventional cancer therapies work very hard to reduce estrogen activity as much as possible because this activity acts as a signal for these cancer cells to grow5.

It is important that more patients become aware of this serious concern because it is difficult to sift through the mountains of information on the web. Unfortunately, there are still doctors that are prescribing this medication to estrogen positive breast cancer patients. The simple explanation that estrogen levels are unaffected does not mean that it is safe. Biology is much more complex than simply monitoring the level of a few arbitrary hormones in the blood. There is significant cross talk between these different pathways in cells and this well understood biological concept also applies to the clinical setting.

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, Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic, in Vancouver, BC where he focuses on integrative oncology.

1) Tworoger, S. S.; Missmer, S. A.; Eliassen, A. H. et al. (2006). “The association of plasma DHEA and DHEA sulfate with breast cancer risk in predominantly premenopausal women”. Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev. 15 (5): 967–71.

2) Key, T.; Appleby, P.; Barnes, I.; Reeves, G. (2002). “Endogenous sex hormones and breast cancer in postmenopausal women: reanalysis of nine prospective studies”. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 94 (8): 606–16.

3) Michael Miller, Kristy K., et al. “DHEA metabolites activate estrogen receptors alpha and beta.” Steroids 78.1 (2013): 15-25.

4) Lardy, H; Kneer N, Wei Y, Partridge B, Marwah P (1998). “Ergosteroids II: Biologically Active Metabolites and Synthetic Derivatives of Dehydroepiandrosterone”. Steroids 63 (3): 158–165.

5) Janni W, Hepp P. Adjuvant aromatase inhibitor therapy: Outcomes and safety. Cancer Treat Rev. 2010; 36:249–261.

Iron and Anemia in Cancer Patients June 9, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Anemia, Cancer, iron deficiency.
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iron anemia cancer
Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

Everyone has seen someone with cancer who looks pale and depleted with energy. This is often due to anemia which means that there are less red blood cells to transport oxygen to tissues in the body. There are a number of different potential causes for this and one of the most common causes is low iron. When a doctor looks at blood work that clearly says “low iron” there is often an immediate response to supplement the patient with iron. However, we should not be so quick to prescribe iron to every cancer patient that is showing signs of anemia.

The interactions between iron and cancer are very complex and altered iron metabolism is considered a key metabolic “hallmark of cancer”1. It is clear that iron has roles in all aspects of cancer development, including the tumour microenvironment and metastasis. As evidenced by the expression pattern of ‘iron genes’ in malignant tumours, it is not simply associated with cancer, but also is indicative of a patient’s chances of survival2.

Our bodies have evolved to tightly partition and limit the amount of available iron. The iron deficiency anemia that is observed in cancer patients may actually be the bodies response to the presence of cancer. By limiting the availability of iron in circulation, there is less available for the cancer to utilize. If the patient is given iron then you are essentially fighting against the bodies effort to lower the iron levels.

There are a number of different studies that clearly show a strong connection between low iron levels and decreased cancer risk. It is well documented that people who regularly donate blood have lower rates of developing cancer3. This is likely connected to decreased iron levels following donation of blood. A popular natural cancer therapy called curcumin, acts as a potent natural chelator of iron5. It is thought that some of the observed anti-cancer properties might be due to the fact that it powerfully sequesters iron away from cancer cells6.

Recent research indicates that tumours create their own iron-rich micro-environment to evade constraints that are imposed by limited systemic iron availability. Cancer cells will sequester iron and it is possible that this allows the cancer cells to mutate more quickly. Iron reacts with oxygen to produce free radicals that damage DNA. Normally this is not desirable, however, this allows cancer cells to adapt more quickly to different conditions when the DNA is being constantly damaged on a low level. This consistent damage from excess iron is thought to increase the mutation rate of the DNA within the cancer cells. This recent evidence for regulation of iron in the tumour micro-environment represents a new paradigm in iron biology4.

Of course there are some situations where iron must be prescribed but it should not be done unnecessarily. Many effective cancer therapies work by actually decreasing the level of iron in the blood. If the red blood cells are reduced in number and smaller than normal (low MCV) then you very likely have iron deficiency anemia. It is very important to also check the level of ferritin to check on your bodies ability to transport iron.

A Naturopathic doctor that works with oncology will take the time to look at your case and will write you a prescription for iron 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, Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic, in Vancouver, BC where he focuses on integrative oncology.

1) Hanahan D, Weinberg RA. Hallmarks of cancer: the next generation. Cell. 2011;144:646–674. [PubMed]

2) Miller LD, et al. An iron regulatory gene signature predicts outcome in breast cancer. Cancer Res. 2011;71:6728–6737. [PMC free article]

3) Edgren G, et al. Donation frequency, iron loss, and risk of cancer among blood donors. J. Natl Cancer Inst. 2008;100:572–579. [PubMed]

4) Torti, Suzy V., and Frank M. Torti. “Iron and cancer: more ore to be mined.” Nature Reviews Cancer 13.5 (2013): 342-355.

5) Jiao Y, et al. Iron chelation in the biological activity of curcumin. Free Radic. Biol. Med. 2006;40:1152–1160. [PubMed]

6) Jiao Y, et al. Curcumin, a cancer chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agent, is a biologically active iron chelator. Blood. 2009;113:462–469. [PMC free article]

What Every Patient Should Know Before Surgery May 27, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing, Surgery, Vitamin C.
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surgery vancouver naturopath
By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

Surgery is sometimes necessary and depending on the procedure it can take quite some time for patients to heal. It is important for every patient to know that there are therapies available that help to promote wound healing post surgery. Every surgical procedure is stressful on the body and this stress changes the metabolic requirements in your cells. As the body puts energy into wound healing several nutrients suddenly become in high demand. For optimal wound healing it is essential that these nutrients are supplied.

Collagen is a key component of the wound healing process. Vitamin C is essential post surgery as it is required for proper collagen formation1,2. The enzymes that produce and stabilize collagen require significant amounts of Vitamin C. It is well established that patients who smoke are very slow to heal from surgery. This is because cigarette smoke is very oxidative which results in a rapid depletion of Vitamin C in the tissues3. With inadequate supplies of this essential nutrient the collagen is slow to form and the collagen that does form tends to be weak. As a consequence wounds are more likely to break open after the surgery due to their inability to heal. It has been known for decades that when patients are supplemented with Vitamin C they heal faster after surgery4.

Another nutrient that is very important with regards to wound healing in zinc. Many of the enzymes that are directly required for wound healing are dependent on a sufficient supply of zinc. Patients with a genetic predisposition to zinc deficiency have significantly impaired wound healing capabilities5. After a traumatic event such as a surgery the requirements for zinc in the body are significantly higher. When patients are supplemented with zinc they heal faster as they are able to meet this obvious metabolic requirement5.

Vitamin A is another nutrient that must be supplied in adequate amounts for proper wound healing to occur. Patients with a deficiency in Vitamin A are very poor at healing wounds6. The role of Vitamin A in wound healing is different than that of zinc and Vitamin C. It is likely that the wound healing properties of Vitamin A are due to its ability to regulate the immune system locally in a way that is conducive to tissue repair.

Not only should patients be supplemented with these basic nutrients, their diet should be altered to help promote tissue healing as well. The patient must significantly increase their protein intake while avoiding inflammatory foods. All of these simple changes make a profound difference in the healing process. These natural approaches are well supported by scientific evidence but they are not commonly encouraged by surgeons. This is very often due to their lack of training in nutrition.

If you have an upcoming surgery make sure that you contact a Naturopathic doctor to help you develop a plan that will accelerate the healing after the surgery is complete. It is very important to have professional guidance from a Naturopathic physician when you are preparing for a surgery. The dose and the quality of the supplements makes a huge difference. Some of the recommended approaches are contraindicated in certain conditions and it takes an expert to develop a plan that is both safe and effective. 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


1) MacKay, Douglas, and Alan L. Miller. “Nutritional support for wound healing.” Alternative medicine review: a journal of clinical therapeutic 8.4 (2003): 359-377.

2) Boyera, N., I. Galey, and B. A. Bernard. “Effect of vitamin C and its derivatives on collagen synthesis and cross‐linking by normal human fibroblasts.” International Journal of Cosmetic Science 20.3 (1998): 151-158.

3) Schectman, Gordon, James C. Byrd, and Harvey W. Gruchow. “The influence of smoking on vitamin C status in adults.”American Journal of Public Health 79.2 (1989): 158-162.

4) Bartlett, Marshall K., Chester M. Jones, and Anna E. Ryan. “Vitamin C and wound healing: II. Ascorbic acid content and tensile strength of healing wounds in human beings.” New England Journal of Medicine 226.12 (1942): 474-481.

5) Lansdown, Alan BG, et al. “Zinc in wound healing: theoretical, experimental, and clinical aspects.” Wound Repair and Regeneration 15.1 (2007): 2-16.

6) Hunt, Thomas K. “Vitamin A and wound healing.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 15.4 (1986): 817-821.

Heartburn Medications and Cancer May 12, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing.
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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.


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.


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