The Role of Naturopathic Medicine in Cancer Care

Over 1.5 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the Unites States. More than 80% of cancer patients incorporate natural medicine in their treatment. Join the AANMC and Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians President – Dr. Heather Wright to learn about naturopathic approaches to cancer care.

Here’s what will be discussed:
-Defining naturopathic medicine  and naturopathic oncology
-Patient statistics for naturopathic cancer care
-Training and goals of naturopathic oncology
-Research
-Case studies

*Webinar does not qualify for CE

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About the Presenter

Heather Wright, ND, FABNO is president of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP) and co-research director for the KNOW project – a searchable database of integrative oncology clinical trials. Dr. Wright is board certified in naturopathic oncology with 12 years of experience working in hospital-based oncology teams and 14 years in clinical practice. During her career, Dr. Wright became an expert in the co-management of pancreatic cancer and on intravenous vitamin C for people with advanced cancer. As a specialist in naturopathic oncology, Dr. Wright has worked diligently with countless families to improve quality of life and longevity.

Dr. Wright is a volunteer and clinical board member for Gilda’s club and Cancer Support Community and is a lecturer, writer, and consultant for research and publication project in integrative oncology. Dr. Wright has published articles on intravenous vitamin C as supportive care in Current Oncology, on the power of the placebo effect in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine and on tools for integrating natural approaches into conventional care for pancreatic cancer in Natural Medicine Journal. Dr. Wright also consults with organizations to incorporate integrative providers and approaches into clinical settings.

In 2017, Dr. Wright founded Good Apple Wellness, located in Philadelphia, PA which offers private consultations for integrative care and provides specialized expertise for families affected by cancer. Dr. Wright works with clients in person and by tele-consultation.

Dr. Wright is a graduate of Bastyr University.

Register Now!

*The information you submit in this registration will be used to inform you of updates to this event and will enroll you in the AANMC newsletter. The AANMC values your privacy. Please see how we protect your data in our privacy policy .

Dr. Heather Wright – Bastyr

“I chose to pursue naturopathic medicine out of a deep sense of knowing that nature is the best medicine and that food, plants and our environment are integral to human health. I saw a direct relationship between how people lived and how they experienced health.”

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

Following in her great grandmother’s footsteps, Heather Wright, ND, FABNO started her career as a midwife. While completing a pre-medical program with her head set on obstetrics and gynecology, she soon learned that her heart was elsewhere. Her medical education “seemed to leave a huge gap for working with people to build health rather than just address pathology” – that gap was filled by naturopathic medicine.

“I chose to pursue naturopathic medicine out of a deep sense of knowing that nature is the best medicine and that food, plants and our environment are integral to human health. I saw a direct relationship between how people lived and how they experienced health.”

Bastyr as a springboard

“I explored each of the school options but decided I would go to Seattle first, and truthfully, that was that! I saw the food and medicine gardens, the St. Edwards parkland that the school is set on, the lake, the trails – it was all so beautiful. I knew it was the right place for me!”

“Through the great experience of the Bastyr naturopathic and traditional Chinese medicine programs, I learned that people have their own wisdom about their bodies and tend to know more about themselves than their doctor. If they share that knowledge with a respectful provider, we can do our work.” This patient doctor relationship is “the heart of naturopathic medicine.”

Furthermore, “I learned my own strength and independence as a person and doctor, and to trust that I was strong, smart and intuitive.”

Naturopathic medicine with a focus on oncology

After graduation Dr. Wright’s friend invited her to learn more about her Seattle-based naturopathic oncology team. Her friend taught her about mindfulness meditation, relaxation practices, and oncology patient care.

Not long after, Dr. Wright began networking in her hometown hospital in upstate New York. The hospital was hoping to build an integrative program and invited her to give a presentation to the board on what naturopathic medicine could offer.

“I pulled out all the stops to put together resources for how they could hire me and what I could do for the community.”

Dr. Wright’s first cancer patient was a member of her community – a young man with stage IV lung cancer and a father of two young children. She incorporated natural therapies along with conventional treatment which provided relief from treatment side effects and improved his quality of life. Dr. Wright learned about his desire to stop treatment and live out his life during their guided breathing meditations. He was continuing treatment because he was worried about his children’s future should he pass away. Dr. Wright worked with the patient and his social worker to prepare a plan. In doing so, he reconnected with his sister and asked that she become his children’s caretaker. This experience opened Dr. Wright’s eyes to the whole-person approach to cancer care – not only did his physical health need to be addressed; it was just as important to provide support for his emotional and spiritual well-being.

After two years in the New York hospital, Dr. Wright learned about plans to develop an integrative team in the Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America hospital. She joined the team and began deepening her knowledge of oncology specific care.

“I believed our profession could integrate into health care and wanted to work in hospital setting as well as in private practice. I saw that the successful physicians in the naturopathic profession were contributing from academic and clinical posts and leading initiatives that help bring clinical integrative medicine forward. My skills in research and writing were part of what helped me navigate beyond clinical care to enrich my career. As physicians we have a responsibility to continue learning – not just for our CE’s and to maintain licensure but because there may be new therapies and approaches (or old ones) that we can apply in clinical care to benefit our patients.”

Today, Dr. Wright is a board certified in naturopathic oncologist and President of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP). She is also the co-research director for the KNOW project – a searchable database of integrative oncology clinical trials. Throughout her career, Dr. Wright has become an expert in the co-management of pancreatic cancer and on intravenous vitamin C for people with advanced cancer. As a specialist in naturopathic oncology, Dr. Wright has worked diligently with countless families to improve quality of life and longevity.

Dr. Wright is a volunteer and clinical board member for Gilda’s club and Cancer Support Community and is a lecturer, writer, and consultant for research and publication project in integrative oncology. She has published articles on intravenous vitamin C as supportive care in Current Oncology, on the power of the placebo effect in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine and on tools for integrating natural approaches into conventional care for pancreatic cancer in Natural Medicine Journal. Dr. Wright also consults with organizations to incorporate integrative providers and approaches into clinical settings.

Additionally, Dr. Wright is taking business courses and creating a business plan for an integrative oncology clinic with her pharmacist business partner. Their intention is to establish an infusion center that offers multidisciplinary integrative care.

Finding fulfillment as an ND

“I am passionate about helping folks find balance, teaching nutrition, and teaching patients about their organs of digestion. I’m also passionate about growing naturopathic medicine through residency training.”

Dr. Wright’s Philadelphia-based private practice Good Apple Wellness offers integrative care through in person and tele-consultations with specialized expertise on families affected by cancer. She has a large referral network including nutritionists, counselors, acupuncturists and has built relationships with several oncology providers. She balances her family life as the mother of two while seeing patients four days per week.

In her spare time Dr. Wright enjoys gardening vegetables and herbs. Every summer she looks forward to spending time with her family in upstate New York on the St. Lawrence River.

Advice for aspiring NDs

“Naturopathic medicine is a rewarding profession that enriches the mind, body and spirit of providers and patients. Through your education you will have the opportunity to experience healing in your own life and to build a solid foundation in the medical art. Explore the different facets of naturopathic medicine as well as traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture to determine if those meet your interest and long-term goals to use as tools as a provider. Be prepared to trust your intuition and that of the patient as well as the clinical data and traditional knowledge about conditions and therapeutics. Work hard to keep life in balance. This may need to be revisited several times throughout your career as you fine tune a good life.”

CLICK HERE to watch Dr. Wright’s naturopathic oncology webinar on-demand!

Learn more about Dr. Wright

www.goodapplewellness.com 

www.oncanp.org

www.knowoncology.com

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

Receive information from the accredited schools of your choice located across North America!

Dr. Wright’s published Articles

Klimant E, Wright H, Rubin D, Seely D, Markman M. Intravenous vitamin C in the supportive care of cancer patients: a review and rational approach. Current Oncology. 2018;25(2):139-148.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29719430

Green J, Wright H. From Bench to Bedside: Converting Placebo Research into Belief Activation. The Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2017; 23(8): 575-580. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28719223

Wright H, Samson K. Evidence based treatment of digestive symptoms in pancreatic cancer patients. Natural Medicine Journal 2016;8(8). http://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2016-08/evidence-based-treatment-digestive-symptoms-pancreatic-cancer-patients

Green J, Seely D, Wright H. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Naturopathic Oncology: Maximizing outcomes using KNOWoncology.org Part 1. NDNR.  Nov 1 2017. https://ndnr.com/oncology/non-small-cell-lung-cancer-nsclc-naturopathic-oncology/

Green J, Seely D, Wright H. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Naturopathic Oncology: Maximizing outcomes using KNOWoncology.org Part 2. NDNR.  Dec 1 2017.

https://ndnr.com/oncology/nsclc-naturopathic-oncology-maximizing-outcomes-using-knowoncology-org-part-2/

Schor J, Wright H. Review: Artificial Light at Night Increases Breast Cancer Risk. Natural Medicine Journal April 2017; (9) 41: 24-26 (suppl). http://www.pageturnpro.com/CHAT-Inc/78146-April-2017-Womens-Health-Special-Issue/default.html#page/1

Integrative Cancer Care: NDs Work With MDs to Create Better Outcomes

Cancer has long been considered devastating, largely because of how quickly it spreads to attack multiple systems and because the treatments can be so debilitating.  According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), 2018 will see over 1.7 million new cases of cancer in the United States.  Furthermore, it is estimated that cancer will claim the lives of over 600,000 Americans this year.

Integrative Cancer Care Aids in Better Results

The news is not all bleak, NCI is also estimating that by the year 2026, the number of cancer survivors in the United States will increase from 15.5 million to 20.3 million as diagnosis and treatments improve.  One of those newer treatment options offering promise is integrative cancer care.

What is Integrative Cancer Care?

Integrative cancer care involves comprehensive support through each stage of a patient’s journey (from diagnosis to treatment decisions, restoration of immune function and survivorship). An integrative approach to cancer care treats the disease with any combination of the following, including surgery, chemotherapy and other tools, while also supporting patients’ strength, stamina and quality of life with evidence-informed therapies from traditional and naturopathic medicine. In integrative oncology, patients work with an oncologist or naturopathic oncologist and team of clinicians to develop a customized integrative approach that may include nutrition and lifestyle suggestions, counseling, pain management, mind/body medicine, acupuncture, botanical medicine and nutritional support. Integrative care continues with recommendations tailored to every aspect, from remission to active treatment to compassionate end-of-life care. The goal is to improve not just the quality of life of people living with cancer, but also to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.

Why Seek Integrative Cancer Care?

Integrative cancer care is used to “help patients reduce treatment delays or interruptions and get the most out of life.”  One of the biggest problems for cancer patients undergoing traditional treatments are side effects associated with chemo and radiation therapies.  For instance, many patients cannot keep down food and, as a result, lose their appetites resulting in 80% of them being malnourished. Similarly, 33% of patients experience pain even after the treatments have ended and 70% of them experience fatigue from the treatments.  Integrative care combines these traditional treatments with evidence-based supportive therapies to help manage side effects, resulting in a better treatment outcome due to the collaboration of the medical and naturopathic clinicians.  Besides helping with symptom alleviation during treatment, integrative care can be used to help educate patients at the time of diagnosis and assist with recovery after the medical treatments are completed as a means of bringing the patient back to full health.

For Cancer Care Patients: Understanding the Benefits of Whole-Person Care

For patients, this type of collaborative approach to cancer treatment can be of great importance and help.  Behind the concept of integrative or complementary care is a philosophy that is at the core of naturopathic medicine – treating the whole person, not just the symptoms. As Sharon Gurm, ND, FABNO points out, one of the reasons she got into this profession is because “I realized I wanted to practice medicine differently—in a way that embraced whole-person healing, not just treating the disease.”

Many facing cancer feel their humanity gets lost due to such a focus on taking care of the cancer diagnosis.  The rigors of cancer treatment can cause anxiety/stress, depression, digestive issues, nutritional problems, fatigue, nausea, insomnia, numbness and pain.  But when paired with naturopathic supportive therapies, patients report much better experiences.  As Gurdev Parmar, ND, FABNO of Integrated Health Clinic in Fort Langley said, NDs are “able to provide the highest standard of integrative cancer care.”  Michael Traub, ND, DHANP, FABNO points out that “the combination of naturopathic and conventional oncology work better than either one alone.”

The use of such supportive therapies as acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, pain management and even spiritual support “truly meet patients where they are and work with them” as it “embraces science, available evidence and a rational individualized approach to care that is safe and effective.”

Dugaly Seely, MSc, ND, FABNO

Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre

Students of Naturopathic Medicine: Understanding Naturopathic Oncology

For those interested in pursuing a career in naturopathic medicine, it is important to consider a career in naturopathic oncology.

“My passion for pursuing a career in oncology was reinforced while studying medical genetics at University of British Columbia and clinical research at the cancer agency. The medical and radiation oncologists I worked with were inspirational and became my mentors. It’s a journey and process of growth—personally, academically, professionally.  If you are considering naturopathic oncology as a career, pursue long-term preceptorship opportunities with naturopathic oncologists and if you are still inspired, then consider applying for a Council on Naturopathic Medical Education accredited naturopathic oncology residency.”

Sharon Gurm, ND, FABNO

Port Moody Health

Although cancer treatment is often thought of as a very taxing specialty, both Dr. Parmar and Dr. Seely praise the collegial attitude of NDs in oncology.  Dr. Parmar mentions specifically that “I cherish our annual meeting and every opportunity I get to collaborate and work together” while Dr. Seely adds “The community of naturopathic oncologists is a super collegial, bright and dedicated group of NDs. There are also allied health care professionals with like-minded goals who can really help as well and are fun to work with. “

Ultimately, if you are interested in pursuing a career in naturopathic oncology, there are some things that you have to keep in mind.

You have to not only have respect and rapport with your colleagues, but you also need to “be prepared to embrace both the intellectual and spiritual challenges of this field. You need to achieve and maintain balance in life to sustain the energy and resilience demanded of you. Dedication to spiritual practice, to staying physically active and cultivating a spirit of joyfulness are vital.”

Michael Traub, ND, DHANP, FABNO

Lokahi Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic cancer care brings about the best of both worlds.  By integrating the traditional medical approach to treating the disease with the naturopathic approach to treating the patient and his or her individual root issues, it helps the patient deal with one of the harshest diseases they may face.

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

Receive information from the accredited schools of your choice located across North America!