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Cancer: Know your enemy December 4, 2014

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Naturopathic Medicine.
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Cancer;know your enemy

By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc

Chemotherapy is an effective tool at killing cancer cells when it is used appropriately. The biggest challenge is knowing which drug is best suited for an individual’s cancer. Over the years we have learned that certain cancers tend to be more vulnerable to specific chemotherapies. This has resulted in specific protocols being assigned to patients in a “cookie cutter system”. For example, if you have hodgkins lymphoma you are given ABVD1. If you have non-hodgkins lymphoma you are given CHOP2. This model is currently the standard of care with cancer treatment but it is clear that this is not the most effective way to treat cancer.

It is true that certain cancers tend to be susceptible to certain chemotherapies but these generalizations are not universally correct. There is an incredible degree of variation between cancer cells in different people. Genetic variations are significant even between different cells within one tumour in an individual3. In fact, very often there is a protocol different than the standard chemotherapy regimen that would be more effective4. Unless tests are done there is no way of knowing which protocol will be the most effective. It is essential to run these tests first and have a clear rationale for the chemotherapy protocol rather than testing on the patient through trial and error.

There is no question that targeted cancer therapies are the future of oncology. It is very important for patients to realize that we already have the ability to do this. Personalized cancer therapy is available but it is rarely encouraged by oncologists due to the costs. Although these tests are often not covered, they can be done privately for approximately $4000.00.

The older chemotherapy protocols involve using extremely toxic compounds that target any cell which is growing rapidly. In recent years there have been major advances in drugs that target specific pathways in cancer cells5. Before using these targeted drugs effectively it is essential to know which targets the cancer cells are vulnerable to.

When a surgery or biopsy is performed on a cancerous mass it is essential that the sample be sent to a lab that runs these personalized genomic tests. The cancerous cells will be tested against hundreds of different types of chemotherapies and clear evidence will be obtained about which drugs the cancer is actually susceptible to. This vulnerability of the cancer is determined by an actual test on the cells rather than making generalizations based on the type of cancer. As these tests become more affordable it will inevitably become the future standard of care because it is so much more effective than the current standard model.

This is something that patients need to ask for before the surgery. You cannot ask for it to be done afterwards because the cells will not be adequately preserved. This service is rarely offered to patients and few are even aware that this is an option. You need to specifically ask for the cells to be sent to a lab that runs these tests.

Personalized cancer therapy gives patients many additional treatment options. If they do not tolerate the initial chemotherapy regiment well or if the cancer becomes resistant to the first line therapy, then there is a potential “Plan B” that is effective based on molecular evidence. By running this test it will give your oncologist data that justifies the use of a protocol, which may deviate from the current standard of care. The data will give a distinct molecular profile of the cancer that allows a customized treatment plan to be developed for you.

If this customized approach is something you are interested in doing make sure you speak to your oncologist. Any naturopathic doctor who works with cancer on a regular basis will also be familiar with these tests. Contact your local naturopathic doctor to see if this test is right for you.

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

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

References:

1) Bonadonna G, Zucali R, Monfardini S, De Lena M, Uslenghi C (1975). “Combination chemotherapy of Hodgkin’s disease with adriamycin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and imidazole carboxamide versus MOPP.”. Cancer 36 (1): 252–9

2) Fisher RI, Gaynor ER, Dahlberg S, Oken MM, Grogan TM, Mize EM, Glick JH, Coltman CA Jr, Miller TP (1993). “Comparison of a standard regimen (CHOP) with three intensive chemotherapy regimens for advanced non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”. N Engl J Med 328 (14): 1002–6.

3) Ross, Douglas T., et al. “Systematic variation in gene expression patterns in human cancer cell lines.” Nature genetics 24.3 (2000): 227-235.

4) Strickland, Stephen A., et al. “Correlation of the microculture-kinetic drug-induced apoptosis assay with patient outcomes in initial treatment of adult acute myelocytic leukemia.” Leukemia & lymphoma 54.3 (2013): 528-534.

5) McDermott, Ultan, and Jeff Settleman. “Personalized cancer therapy with selective kinase inhibitors: an emerging paradigm in medical oncology.” Journal of Clinical Oncology 27.33 (2009): 5650-5659.

DCA and Cancer August 27, 2014

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Integrative Medicine, naturopathic, Naturopathic Medicine, Research.
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DCA and it's use in integrative oncology

DCA and it’s use in integrative cancer care

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 cancer to know what neurological support is best suited for you.

A Naturopathic doctor that works with integrative cancer care 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 cancer treatments. 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)90051-6PMID 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 Archiv 423.3-4 (1993): 251-254.

You’re What Kind of Doctor? July 20, 2013

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Dreamhealer, exercise, Experiments, Healing, Integrative Medicine, naturopathic, Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathy.
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adam dreamhealer

Article written by Dr. Michael Stanclift, N.D.

“Wait, you’re what kind of doctor? A nat-uro-pathic doctor? What’s that?”

I get this question all the time. It’s not so surprising when it comes from someone I meet in a coffee shop or on an airplane, but I still hear it from other doctors, too. In fact, it’s more surprising when someone (outside of Seattle or Portland) has actually heard of what I do. To be fair, I’d never heard of an audiologist until one moved in as a housemate.

My profession is rather small, and we’re yet to be licensed in every state. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are currently licensed to practice as medical professionals in 16 states, and two U.S. territories, and five provinces in Canada.

What we do probably wouldn’t make for a popular TV show like House or Grey’s Anatomy. Preventing heart disease and cancer through diet or helping someone break the pattern of insomnia is not nearly as exciting as rare diagnoses or ethically questionable emergency transplant surgeries. In fact, when some “alternative” health approach is portrayed on one of these shows, you can be fairly certain it’s why the patient is so ill. Ironic, considering the now-famous JAMA article reporting “medical treatment” as a leading cause of death in the United States.

When I say “naturopathic doctor,” to some folks it conjures up ideas of magic wands, potions, and Kramer’s holistic healer friend on Seinfeld. These sorts of clips (though hilarious!) highlight the misconceptions around what we do. Hopefully this article will help clarify what kind of training an ND gets and what they can do.

Licensed Naturopathic Doctors Have Scientific Medical Training:

Applicants to accredited naturopathic medical colleges need a bachelor’s degree and a competitive GPA in scientific prerequisites, just like applicants to “conventional” medical schools.

After admission, the course work of the first two years of naturopathic and “conventional” medical school is comparable both in subjects and in hours of training. We learn all the basic medical sciences like anatomy, pathology, and biochemistry. Unlike Kramer’s holistic healing friend, we learn to use the same labs, physical exams, and medical imaging (X-ray, CT, MRI) that hospitals and clinics utilize to diagnose diseases and monitor health. It’s pretty rare for me to have to break out the magic wand or have someone drink a cup of tea while wearing the pyramid hat!

Our clinical training is a bit different from “conventional” medical clerkships. As ND students, we spend all our clinical time in a family practice (outpatient) setting, under the supervision of an attending (usually ND) physician. Our training includes minor surgery, like removing a mole, but we don’t go into the major surgeries that happen in hospitals. Instead of rotating through a variety of medical specialties, we learn when and how to refer to specialists to diagnose or treat conditions beyond our scope, just like any other family doctor. There are few residencies available for NDs, and since all of our clinical time is spent in family medicine, we tend to go straight into private practice with other medical providers.

Depending on the state, our naturopathic medical license covers everything from dietary advice to pharmaceuticals and suturing wounds. For instance, in California my license is nearly identical to that of a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant. In Washington and Oregon, the license covers a greater scope of practices and ND care is covered by nearly every insurance provider. Unfortunately, health insurance doesn’t cover ND services in every state we’re licensed to practice in, but our professional organization, the AANP, is working to change that.

Naturopathic Medicine Is Not the Same Thing as Homeopathy

Homeopathy means to give a medicine in a very small dose. Scientifically, we don’t know why it works, because the doses are so small. Naturopathic medicine is not how medicine is given specifically, but based on our six principles. Naturopathic medicine refers to an approach to treating people, and tends to favor natural and low-force interventions. Our treatments with patients might include dietary changes, supplementary nutrients, exercise, herbal medicine, pharmaceuticals or homeopathy. So homeopathy can be part of an ND’s treatment plan, but it’s not the only tool in the shed. That said, other medical providers may use homeopathy as well, and it doesn’t make them naturopathic doctors.

Naturopathic Doctors Work Alongside Medical Doctors

Some folks assume that NDs are against “conventional” medicine, but this isn’t true. Health care is best provided by a team, and NDs are only one part of the team. There are times when we shine, and times when specialists or other medical providers are best suited for the task at hand. We refer our patients to surgeons, cardiologists, and ERs when it’s clear their conditions are beyond of our scope of training.

Naturopathic Doctors and “Naturopaths” Are Different Things

This is probably one of the most confusing things in our field. Even in a state like California, where NDs are licensed as medical providers and the term “naturopathic doctor” is protected by law, people with questionable training can call themselves “naturopaths.” Someone operating as a “naturopath” can see clients as long as they don’t “practice medicine.” Luckily for patients, there are national and state professional associations for NDs, and departments in each state to check whether someone you’d like to see has passed their board exams and has a current license. Not every licensed ND will be a member of their professional organization (like me, since I live outside the U.S.), but they are a good place to start when looking for someone in your area.

Another thing patients need to look out for are people who advertise themselves as an ND (or NMD) without having a license. I’ve reported several people like this to California’s Naturopathic Medicine Committee in the last year. So the moral of the story is, check to see that your health care providers have current licenses issued by the state (they should also be displayed for you to see in their office).

What Makes Naturopathic Doctors Different

Our patients often tell us the face-to-face time we spend with them is a lot longer than other doctors they’ve seen. We spend that time getting to know each patient as a person. We ask about everything that’s going on with them physically, emotionally, and oftentimes spiritually. When making a specific recommendation or prescription, we spend time explaining treatment options and answering questions. We aim to teach our patients about their health, and how they can care for it.

Our treatments are advised using the therapeutic order, where we start by laying the basic foundations for healthy living, and use higher-force interventions (like specific nutrients, drugs and surgeries) as conditions become more severe. In this way, we also work with patients who haven’t developed a disease yet, and simply seek to improve their health whether it be physically, emotionally or spiritually. We consider the term “health care” from its true meaning.

We know our patients are literally atoms, molecules, cells and organs, but we appreciate that they are so much more those physical components. We each exist uniquely in the world, with different values and priorities, and as NDs we believe our health care should reflect that.

So yeah, some of us are a little “out there,” and “touchy-feely.” But that’s not all that guides our practice. Remember, naturopathic doctors go to real medical school. We take realboard exams. Our “hippie” medicine works, and what we do is becoming less “alternative” and more “conventional” everyday.

Link to original article.

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