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Alternative Medicine: Naturopathy


If you've been at all interested in complementary and alternative medicine, you've probably read or heard about naturopathy. This is a field that focuses on working with the body's natural healing power to recover from disease. Practitioners of naturopathy, called naturopaths, treat patients by using a combination of proper nutrition, supplements, herbal remedies, homeopathic medicine, acupuncture, stress reduction, massage and counseling.

According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, licensed naturopathic physicians attend a four-year graduate medical school and receive education in the same basic sciences as physicians who receive an M.D. degree. The difference is that the naturopathic curriculum focuses on disease prevention. In addition to the four years of medical schooling, naturopaths complete four years of training in clinical nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, psychology and counseling.

Naturopathy as an aid to cancer treatment side effects

Certain aspects of naturopathy could help you manage side effects of your cancer treatment. Acupuncture, for example, can help decrease nausea and pain. Massage can help relax you and bring a sense of well being. Sound nutrition advice can help you a great deal, especially if chemotherapy has affected your appetite. Counseling can help relieve anxiety.

Responsible naturopaths would not try to convince you to stop your conventional cancer treatment. Instead, they look at your individual situation and recommend treatment modalities that complement your cancer therapy. (If a naturopath recommends herbs or supplements, be sure to talk to your doctor before taking them, because some of these supplements could be toxic.)

If you are currently being treated for cancer, or if you're interested in exploring naturopathy, it's important to talk with your doctor, especially if you think you want to add to your treatment regimen or change it any way.

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
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