Kenmore-based Bastyr University recently announced a collaboration with the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (OICC) to study the efficacy of naturopathic care in treating late stage cancer.
“We have chosen to study the outcomes of naturopathic oncology because this area of integrative oncology is currently leading the field in the application of advanced natural medicine therapeutics,” said Dr. Leanna Standish, professor of Bastyr and lead American investigator. “We will collect survival outcomes on late stage cancer patients treated at multiple naturopathic oncology clinics in North America in order to address the fundamentally important question of whether or not [advanced integrative oncology] has a beneficial impact on survival.”
The study, called the Canadian/US Integrative Oncology Study (CUSIOS), will be one of the largest observational studies in North America looking into how the various naturopathic treatments help patients battling late stage cancer.
“I think that the topic, around what impact naturopathic medicine can have for patients with late stage cancer, in terms of both quality of life and survival, is a very important one,” said OICC Executive Director Dr. Dugald Seely. “I think the research is quite relevant and needed, so [I’m] delighted to be involved in it.”
The two leads of the international study, Standish and Seely, will be looking at observational data taken from different naturopathic clinics in Canada and the US.
Unlike conventional medicine treatments, advanced integrative oncology (AIO) therapies use a combination of naturopathic remedies. Some naturopathic therapies try to boost the immune system to fight the cancer naturally and can include intravenous vitamin C, mistletoe, and more. AIO treatments aim to seamlessly integrate naturopathic and conventional treatments.
“Where possible we look at providing support to the body to achieve its own state of health; a lot of the therapies are geared towards that end. We might look at supporting the immune system enabling the body to better fight off the disease,” Seely said. “Whereas conventional approach,…by and large, works at resection through surgery, removing the tumor, or killing off rapidly divided cells through chemo-therapy.”
The study will be only observational, instead of clinical, meaning they will collect data and statistics on survivability, quality of life, side effects from conventional treatments and recurrence of side effects.
“We are focused on the health of the whole person, often with an emphasis on mind/body approaches or things that effect the emotional health of someone, or other areas not just related to the tumor itself,” Seely said. “Not that conventional doesn’t address the whole person’s health, but I think …it’s grounded in our principals that we want to treat the whole person.”
The study was funded by an anonymous $3 million donation from a private Canadian foundation.