If you’ve read much about alternative health, you’ve come across the word “naturopath” or you’ve seen the initials “ND” (instead of “MD”) following a doctor’s name. The doctors we interview in our Special Reports are often ND’s. The initials stand for doctor of naturopathy.
You’ve probably seen the word, but you may wonder what it means, and what kind of qualifications and training the person has. I know I used to wonder all the time. What the heck IS an ND? Who are these people? Keep reading, because I decided to look into it and I’m going to tell you what I found.
Let me say right off: here at Cancer Defeated we’ve been researching alternative cancer treatments for about nine years, and some of the best people we’ve come across are naturopathic doctors. In fact, some of the best cancer experts aren’t ANY kind of doctor at all. They come from other fields.
I’m mainly interested in results. I don’t care all that much about what the diploma on the wall says.
An embarrassing revelation…
But at the same time, I have a confession to make. I have to admit I feel a bit deflated when someone who calls himself a doctor turns out to be an ND instead of an MD. It’s like a little voice in my head says, “Oh, you mean he’s not a real doctor.”
I should kick myself, but the mainstream medical profession has surrounded itself with such an aura of superiority, I’m still a bit intimidated by their smug claims. The propaganda has worked. After all, we’ve been exposed to it all our lives. They’re the establishment and they’ve got all the power and most of the money.
If nothing else, I know MD’s are pretty bright and they’ve survived just about the toughest obstacle course in the education industry. But I also know something else. I went to a so-called elite school way back in the 1970s. About half the undergrads were trying to get into medical school. No kidding, that’s how many guys at my college wanted to be doctors (it was an all-male college back in those days).
And even at that tender age I had serious doubts about the motive and personality of the people who were going into that profession. Too many of them wanted to become doctors for the money and the social status. This sounds harsh, but it’s a fact. I saw it with my own 19-year-old eyes.
Oh, heavens, they studied hard and were bright, but if being an engineer or running a dry cleaning store had paid as well they would have become engineers or dry cleaners. Being a country boy, I was new to such blatant careerism and it shocked me. I thought a person chose a profession because he found it rewarding. Some of these guys told me privately they HATED the idea of becoming a doctor.
Their interest in medicine – if they even had any – was more like the interest kids these days have in computers. They were fascinated by the science and technology aspect. But most of them didn’t rise to even that level of interest. It was all about having a lucrative, high-status career. For doctors reading this who did (and do) really feel the call, forgive this, but if you’re honest with yourselves I think you’ll have to admit it’s true.
So I have no hesitation about recommending other types of medicine, including naturopathy. I’ve had great success treating myself with alternatives. Give me a “quack” any old day. My friends and relatives who stuck with conventional medicine are falling apart around me, while I’m not doing too badly for someone my age. What’s more, surveys show the same is true of most people who are into alternative medicine. We’re a healthy bunch.
So now let me help you choose your “quack.”
What’s a naturpath? I finally found out!
The truth is that many naturopathic doctors have a lot of the same skills as conventional doctors, but they receive additional training in natural therapies and a commitment to heal the body, not medicate it.
Just look at the six values that govern them – all of which are centered around a natural approach to healing.
The first commits them to treating the cause of an illness instead of just suppressing the symptoms, as in conventional medicine.
Second, they follow the mantra to “First, do no harm.” Meaning they steer clear of drugs and procedures with harmful side effects.
Patient education is the third core value. Naturopathic doctors believe being a physician means teaching, not dominating a patient.
Fourth, naturopathic doctors treat you as a whole person instead of a combination of parts. They consider physical, mental, emotional, environmental, and social factors before labeling anything. No cookie-cutter diagnoses, in other words.
Fifth, they work to prevent illness by considering your individual risk factors and making personalized interventions.
And their last core value is to place a huge emphasis on the healing power of nature and the body’s innate ability to heal itself. This means they turn to drugs only as a last course of action.
Bottom line – naturopathic medicine is designed to curb most chronic illnesses without sentencing you to a lifetime of drugs and side effects.
You hardly ever hear a medical doctor say, “Let’s figure out the cause of your problem so you can get over this without having to take drugs the rest of your life.”
Their attitude is profoundly wrong, because chronic diseases can be caused by something as simple as a wheat allergy or a sensitivity to preservatives. Those causes are more common than you think. So don’t let yourself be put on a lifetime regime of drugs because your doctor doesn’t know how to diagnose you correctly.
How do you find a qualified
The main problem with naturopathic medicine is that it’s not widely regulated. I’m not a fan of regulation, but the lack of it means you have to do your own homework and think for yourself.
The title Doctor of Naturopathy isn’t protected. So depending on which state you live in, any practitioner can use the title whether they’re qualified or not.
Right now, there are three levels of naturopathic care. The first consists of practitioners who are largely self-taught or who went through some type of apprenticeship. They call themselves “naturopaths.” Sometimes they’re good, sometimes not. I’m not putting down the good ones – I’ve met some self-taught or lightly-credentials healers who are very good indeed. But you need to check things out.
The next level up is practitioners who practice under other professional licenses but offer some naturopathic services – a chiropractor might do this, for example. Chiropractors have plunged wholesale into herbal medicines, supplements and other alternative therapies. Some of them are very good healers.
Chiropractic these days has soared far above what it was 40 years ago. I take it seriously as a clinically validated form of healing. I’ve personally been cured of “untreatable” health problems by a chiropractor and I know other people who have as well.
But the third level of naturapathic medicine – and your best bet for primary healthcare – is a licensed naturopathic doctor with a four-year medical degree. These naturopathic doctors (NDs) complete graduate-level programs that include the same basic sciences studied by conventional doctors. In fact, some naturopathic medical schools actually require more instruction in basic and clinical sciences than do a lot of the top medical schools.
Along with those basic sciences, they train in all the natural therapies: clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, massage, hydrotherapy, and more.
Naturopathic medical schools are formally accredited by a council recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. A lot of them go through internships and residencies. They have to pass board exams to be licensed as primary care doctors. Some go on to work in research. The National Institutes of Health even funds some naturopathic medical research.
Scope of Practice
The problem, and the reason a lot of people can’t get access to naturopathic care, is that the profession is still hung up in regulatory red tape. Right now, fifteen states and three U.S. jurisdictions regulate the profession – Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and D.C.
Some naturopathic doctors can write prescriptions or give vaccines, but it depends on where they live. Right now, eleven of the states that grant ND licenses give prescription rights. Eight states let NDs perform surgery.
Washington State has the most freedom on the naturopathic front. NDs there are considered comparable to primary care MDs. Washington naturopathic doctors even accept insurance. In Connecticut, the insurance situation is even better – the state law there forces all insurance companies to cover naturopathic services.
But go somewhere like Texas or Iowa and you’ll have a hard time even finding a licensed naturopathic doctor.
It’s sickening to think about, but your right to non-invasive, healing care is pretty much determined by where you live.
The ideal situation would be for all of us to use naturopathic doctors as our primary caregivers. But given the lack of ND licensing laws in most states, it’s just not possible.
If you’re in a state where you can access qualified naturopathic care, do it. And even if your state doesn’t license NDs, you may still be able to find a degreed naturopathic doctor who practices under a license issued by another state (though their scope of practice would be limited).
If your only option is to see a traditional naturopath — one who lacks all the fancy credentials — it’s essential you ask for qualifications and references. You don’t want to end up being treated by someone who got his or her degree from a three-month Internet course.
Are MD’s good for anything?
The answer is yes. Conventional, establishment MD’s are good for some things and I still go to mine from time to time. You need an established relationship with an MD if you’re to have access to the conventional medical system when you need it. And believe me, you will.
Medical doctors are great for shock-trauma treatment. If I were in a car accident or accidentally sliced a limb with a chain saw, I’d head for the emergency room like everyone else. Likewise if I thought I was suffering from a heart attack. It’s a little late at that point to think about herbs and vitamins. You need something to get you through the next 24 hours.
Another factor is that more and more MDs are becoming “integrative doctors” who practice natural and alternative medicine in addition to the NIH/FDA/AMA approved stuff. In addition to being a medical doctor, such a doctor might be licensed to practice chiropractic, homeopathy or any number of other disciplines – or perhaps has just gotten himself (or herself) up to speed on nutrition and the various branches of herbal medicine.
But to be honest, MDs like that are still rare. Things are changing, but most MDs still consider ALL alternative treatments quackery. If you’re dealing with chronic diseases like arthritis, heart disease or cancer, their brand of shock-and-awe treatment won’t do you any fundamental good. At best, it’ll just suppress your symptoms. At worst, it’ll give you awful side effects that plague you the rest of your life while your disease sticks around.
Now that I’ve studied the matter, I know conventional medicine is worthless when it comes to late-stage cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s somewhat more successful with some early-stage cancers. When it comes to diabetes, they merely buy you time. When it comes to heart disease, they’ve had remarkable success, but the same (and better) can be achieved with alternatives at a fraction of the cost of conventional treatments.
Praise God, I don’t suffer from cancer, heart disease or the other degenerative diseases, but I can tell you from personal experience that straight, unrepentant MD’s are nearly worthless in helping you with pain, digestive problems of any kind, allergies, skin diseases, or headaches. I had those problems when I was young and got no relief until I turned to alternative medicine.
Among dermatologists – skin doctors – the joke is that “it’s a great business because the patients never die and they never get well.” Is that the kind of doctor you want – the kind who thinks a comment like that is funny?
The difference between MDs and NDs is something like this: Say you have a short circuit in your house. It starts a fire. An MD would show up, put the fire out, and tell you to call if it happens again. An ND would show up, put the fire out, and figure out what caused the fire in the first place so it never happens again.
In one situation, you’re always at risk. In the other, your risk has been eliminated.
And the comparison is a little unfair to fire fighters. You can be pretty sure they’ll put out a fire, but a conventional MD often won’t help your chronic disease at all, from acne when you’re a kid to arthritis when you’re a senior. And if he does it’s probably with a prescription drug that does you untold harm while just masking the symptoms of your illness.
Naturopathic medicine is designed to support good health for the rest of your life. Incorporate a good ND’s advice into your healthy lifestyle, and you’ve got something that will last.
Conventional doctors discovered something recently – that one of their own favorite prescription cancer drugs damages your brain. If you missed this news, see it below.
Popular Breast Cancer Drug
Trashes Your Brain
But here are a couple of things
you can do about it
Doctors have been prescribing tamoxifen for more than 30 years to treat breast cancer in women and men (yes, a few men get breast cancer). Doctors may also prescribe it as a preventative strategy for women at high risk of developing breast cancer.
But new research from the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that while this drug is working to curb growth of cancer cells…
…it also seems to poison your brain cells and cause foggy thinking!
Keep reading for the full story…
Some breast cancer cells need estrogen in order to grow. These cells have receptors that become active when estrogen locks onto them.
Tamoxifen is a type of hormone therapy designed to block estrogen receptors on these cancer cells. Because the drug compounds bind to these receptors, estrogen can’t. It’s as if another car has already taken the parking space the estrogen was planning to use.
Tamoxifen essentially acts as a sort of blockade to stop the growth of estrogen sensitive tumors.
Tamoxifen is not a cytotoxic (cell-killing) type of chemotherapy, but manufacturers warn it does have some common, unpleasant side effects including:
- Blood Clots
- Hot Flashes
- Irregular mentrual periods
- Reduced counts of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets
- Weight gain
Manufacturers probably don’t want to add a warning to this lengthy list, but if they’re going to tell the full truth they need to alert users that tamoxifen may kill your brain cells.
According to lead researcher Mark Noble, Ph.D., director of the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Institute at the University of Rochester, the drug produces symptoms similar to what is known as ‘chemo brain.’
Cancer patients know about chemo brain
Cancer patients often use the term ‘chemo brain’ and ‘mental fog’ to describe thinking and memory problems that can occur after the brain is treated with radiation.
The new research seems to back up anecdotal evidence that patients taking chemotherapy drugs may experience similar troubles. Readers of this newsletter already know about reports of chemo brain (Issue #222).
According to the Mayo Clinic, cancer survivors who’ve taken tamoxifen and other chemotherapy drugs often describe symptoms as follows:
- Being unusually disorganized
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty finding the right word
- Difficulty learning new skills
- Impaired verbal memory (e.g. remembering a conversation)
- Impaired visual memory (e.g. recalling an image or list of words)
- Short attention span
- Short-term memory problems
- Taking longer than normal to complete routine tasks
The American Cancer Society said that for most people, brain effects happen quickly and only last a short time. But for others the mental changes can be long-term.
The University of Rochester research team identified the types of cells in your central nervous system that could be most impacted by the toxic cancer drug. One type called O-2A/OPCs (oligodendrocyte-type 1 astrocyte progenitor cells) are the cells that make a type of insulation called myelin that helps protect nerve cells.
According to findings published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Dr. Noble’s team found that exposing these cells to clinically relevant levels of tamoxifen for 48 hours killed a whopping 75 percent or more of the cells!
But is it possible that the research also may have uncovered…
A silver lining to this dark cloud?
After studying tamoxifen’s effect on central nervous system cells, Noble’s team next examined a group of 1,040 drugs already approved for human use or being used in clinical trials.
They identified a compound called AZD6244 that seemed to protect the O-2A/OPCs myelin cells from tamoxifen damage.
Post-doctoral fellow Hsing-Yu Chen, Ph.D., led the research examining the effects in mice who received a mix of the drug AZD6244 along with tamoxifen. The results?
According to a University of Rochester press statement, the researchers noticed that cell death came to a screeching halt in the area of the brain that has the largest amount of myelin, the corpus callosum.
What’s more, it seems that the protective effects of AZD6244 appear to only protect the myelin cells, not cancer cells. The drug actually seems to enhance chemotherapy’s ability to target and destroy cancer cells.
The Rochester lab hopes to steer future efforts toward identifying the specific dose of AZD6244 needed to protect nerve cells from the destructive force of chemotherapy drugs. This study only deals with tamoxifen, but hopefully AZD6244 will turn out to neutralize the brain-damaging effects of a wide range of drugs.
Readers of this newsletter don’t need a reminder (but here’s one anyway) that I resist turning to chemotherapy following a cancer diagnosis. Chemo brain is just one more reason to steer clear of it. But in the real world, I know people are usually frightened or pressured into using conventional treatments anyway – so the information above may be helpful.
And – although I’m a hard case – I’m the first to admit that conventional treatments can be successful for early-stage cancer, and I’m not critical of people who follow that route. So one way or another you may someday find yourself on the receiving end of a tamoxifen prescription.
Is there a natural alternative to tamoxifen?
Certain supplements including DIM (di-indolyl methane) are thought to snap up those estrogen parking spots, and might therefore be a sort of natural replacement for tamoxifen. DIM is readily available in health food stores or on the Internet. It’s often recommended by alternative health experts to treat or prevent breast and prostate cancer.
Your body creates DIM as a metabolic byproduct of digesting cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Top of my head, I don’t know what quantity of these vegetables you’d need to eat to achieve a medicinal dose of DIM. Probably a lot. So the supplements are handy (I take DIM myself).
Another thing you can do is implement lifestyle strategies that will eliminate excess estrogen that can nourish hungry cancer cells.
You can eat plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables to get the vitamins and natural antioxidants that boost your immune system. Regular exercise can help you manage stress—which can wear down your body and leave you wide open to disease-causing germs.
You can also try to avoid unnecessary exposure to hormone- influencing toxins. Unfortunately, many of the products people use in the home, garden, and as health and beauty aids contain harmful chemicals that mess with your hormones. We cover this subject frequently. See Issue #275 for a recent example.
It’s worth making an extra effort to purchase safer, chemical-free products. And get rid of any plastics that contain Bisphenol-A (BPA), a polycarbonate that’s used to harden plastics.
It’s found in everything from CDs and dental fillings to sunglasses and metal cans. BPA acts as a synthetic form of estrogen—which is the last thing you need when battling cancer or attempting to reduce cancer risk.
The optimal result would be that your healthier lifestyle choices help you avoid the need for any health-damaging chemotherapy treatments!