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How can Naturopathic Medicine help with Cancer Care?

How can Naturopathic Medicine help with Cancer Care?

We offer our patients the opportunity to meet with Dr. Craig Peterson, a naturopathic doctor on-site by appointment. Naturopathy is a form of healthcare that combines alternative, natural therapies, and modern medicine. Therapeutic methods and substances work in harmony with a person’s inherent self–healing process, including nutrition, botanical medicine, psychotherapy, minor surgery, prescription medications, homeopathy, and acupuncture. Naturopathic consults focus on critical health parameters: inflammation, digestion, elimination, nutritional status, blood sugar control, stress, fitness, sleep, immune function, risk factors, mental and emotional state, and disease status.

Dr. Peterson specializes in naturopathic medicine for oncology and acupuncture and can help with many aspects of your cancer care using an integrative approach. He tells us: “In my last year of school, I was sitting in my oncology class and started to wonder how naturopathic physicians work with oncology patients. That interest led me to pursue a residency in Naturopathic Oncology at a cancer hospital in greater Chicago, where I was invited to join as staff.”

He learned that naturopathic medicine and acupuncture could support side-effect management during treatment and help support recovery post-treatment for cancer patients. Naturopathic physicians use both conventional and complementary strategies to treat patients in a holistic or integrative approach. “One of my former teachers encouraged us to practice ‘medicine,’ not our biases, and to use all different aspects of medicine to support the patient,” says Dr. Peterson. When Dr. Peterson sees a patient, he looks at their labs, imaging, surgical, radiation, and medical oncology reports, as well as prescription medications and supplements in use. “In my experience, naturopathic medicine and acupuncture can be used to alleviate the need to take certain medications and can be used to ‘step in’ if other conventional treatments are limited. Of course, I check to ensure that everything I do or prescribe is safe and doesn’t include drug- or treatment-related interactions,” says Dr. Peterson. “In addition, do not stop taking medications prescribed by your oncologist without their consent!”

Evidence-informed decisions are the cornerstone of appropriate recommendations. Dr. Peterson focuses on general wellness strategies, side effect co-management, and recovery post-treatment. He will discuss lifestyle modifications and the potential use or non-use of nutraceuticals (foods containing health-giving additives) and supplements that may provide support while undergoing or post-treatment. Dr. Peterson uses acupuncture to decrease pain or alleviate many other complaints patients have. He also discusses general nutritional concepts and assesses the need for dietary interventions. If needed, he refers patients to a nutritionist.

Dr. Peterson also understands the importance of educating patients about what may not be safe during therapy. Data suggest that almost 90 percent of cancer patients use complementary treatment (treatment used in addition to standard care but is not considered the standard, such as supplements). In the same studies, up to 40 percent of patients did not disclose to their doctor that they were doing so. “This concerns me,” says Dr. Peterson. “I feel that guiding the appropriate use of safe and effective complementary therapies is critical to patients’ care. I invite all patients and radiation and medical oncologists to engage the services of specifically-trained providers to help support care. It’s important to make sure that the patients are clear and open about complementary therapies they are using to avoid possible interactions with any natural health product and their cancer therapies.”

We were lucky to engage Dr. Peterson’s services at the Center after a student of his toured the Center. Before coming on the tour, they asked Dr. Peterson to explain how protons work compared to other forms of radiation. He was familiar with the use and basic concepts of protons from his rotations with radiation oncology during his residency and gave a lesson. “After the tour, the student encouraged me to reach out to the Center because the doctor leading the tour had expressed a great interest in naturopathic medicine. I reached out to Dr. Rengan, and we discussed the opportunity to provide both naturopathic medicine and acupuncture for patients undergoing treatment.”

If you are currently undergoing planning for or are receiving proton therapy, you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Peterson for either a naturopathic medicine or an acupuncture visit. Please contact our concierge team at concierge@seattleprotons.org.