It’s October, which means Breast Cancer Awareness. Pink is everywhere. (Read why I’m not going pink.) But in today’s post, I don’t want to talk about awareness. We’re all aware of breast cancer. What I want to talk about is alternative and natural treatments for cancer.
This isn’t a research-based post and it isn’t medical advice. It’s my pondering the issue — are natural treatments even viable? Could they work? Are they an avenue we should pursue…or are they wasting our valuable time in beating a terrible illness?
Let’s dive in.
Do Natural Treatments for Cancer Exist?
There are doctors out there using natural treatments right now, many with good success rates. There are individuals who have embarked on various protocols that left them cancer-free. So natural treatments do exist.
The most common alternative therapies are the Gerson therapy (named for Max Gerson) and the Burzynski Clinic in Texas. There is also the Budwig diet. Essentially, the Gerson therapy involves coffee enemas, lots of freshly-made fruit and vegetable juices, a plant-based diet, and specific supplements intended to help the body completely detox and heal itself. The Burzynski clinic is an integrated clinic that uses a combination of conventional and alternative treatements. The Budwig diet combines flax seeds, flax oil, and cottage cheese, plus lots of fresh, organic, plant-based foods and is similar to the Gerson therapy.
There are many testimonials for these therapies. The Gerson therapy claims a 70% – 100% success rate (depending on the type of cancer). Burzynski claims 40% – 50% success rate (although I had a hard time finding good data on this). Budwig claims over 90% success rate. And these therapies aren’t toxic like chemo and radiation.
Obviously, there is a lure there. A non-toxic, effective cancer treatment?
But it’s controversial.
Are Natural Treatments for Cancer Dangerous?
Many people claim that natural treatments for cancer are ineffective, and that they are dangerous (because they prevent a patient from seeking “real medicine”). For this reason, they don’t even want others to talk about natural treatments. Some believe that their family member’s or friend’s life was stolen because they opted for natural treatments.
I can understand that anger and frustration. But first I have to say this: cancer is tough. Whether you opt for conventional or alternative treatments, there is a chance that you will die. Sometimes cancer is found too late; maybe it is too aggressive; sometimes the wrong therapy is used. It’s hard to lose a friend or family member, no matter how it happens. But blaming the treatment isn’t necessarily correct — sometimes people just need something to blame.
The truth is, natural treatments are out there. Not every natural therapy is going to be right for every person. In some cases, natural therapies are going to make someone worse — or at least, a particular natural therapy might. These treatments don’t work by simply killing the cancer as rapidly as possible (like chemo does); most are intended to detoxify the entire body.
Plus, honestly? You have to choose your therapy really, really carefully.
Every person’s body chemistry is different. The “right” diet and supplement combination might take awhile to figure out. With an aggressive cancer, this could be dangerous — you may not have the time it takes to figure it out. I don’t believe there is one clinic or one protocol out there that will be absolutely right for everyone, without any tweaking. We’ve seen this is true in our own lives, not dealing with cancer, but with eczema and gut health. A much more minor issue, but we found over time that no “protocol” simply worked without adjustment.
I really hesitate when people promote “this therapy” or “this diet” as the right one, or the best one for everyone. In general, I reject that idea. I have friends who were trying to heal their guts who found that fermented foods were bad because they were struggling with a histamine issue. I’ve had friends who went grain-free and said it was great, they’d never felt better; and others who said it crashed their adrenal system and they felt terrible.
There is no one answer and you will not find the perfect natural cancer therapy by searching the internet for programs and protocols. It’s not a bad place to start looking for ideas, but I suggest taking those ideas to a doctor of your choice to follow up — someone who can help you sort through all the ideas out there and create a plan that’s right for you, with your particular type of cancer and needs. Maybe it’s only alternative. Maybe it’s a combination of conventional and alternative. But find someone qualified who can help you sort through these ideas.
It’s also important to know that if you choose an alternative therapy in lieu of conventional, you have to be totally, 100% committed to the idea. “Cheating” with junk food or skipping supplement doses is not acceptable when you are that sick. Eating a semi-healthy diet but continuing other negative lifestyle issues is not going to do anything at all. I’ve heard of people who think that eating more salads and taking a few supplements without changing much of anything else will help cancer…but it won’t.
The final thing is, you have to be honest and know what’s happening with your body. You have to know which symptoms are signs of the cancer improving, and which symptoms are signs that the treatment isn’t working. You have to be willing to adjust. Just because you are using an alternative therapy to cleanse your body does not automatically mean it is going to work. It really can take awhile to find the right protocol, and you must be open to changes.
Are Natural Treatments Even Worth It?
I know I’ve been all over the map with this one. There’s some evidence that natural treatments can have high success rates. There are a lot of warnings about them, too. So are they worth it?
I think so. I think it is worth exploring natural treatments. In my opinion, some people will benefit from a combination of conventional and natural methods. I think others might choose one or the other. It depends on your circumstances and your ability to do research and complete a program of some sorts over several months to years.
I wish that we could talk about this more openly. Wish more people could share what has worked for them — with the understanding that it does not mean it will work for everyone. I wish we could explore all of these ideas, so that people would know what their options are.
It’s sad that when we’re talking about something as serious as cancer, some people don’t want us to explore every avenue available. Chemo is incredibly toxic and in some cancers, has a very low success rate (it’s just the best that conventional medicine has to offer right now). Why shouldn’t we explore other ideas? Why shouldn’t we share those possible ideas? Everyone is free to ignore them, if they want.
I believe strongly in having access to all the information. And I believe that natural treatments have a place in cancer treatment — even if you choose to combine them with conventional therapy. They can and do help some people tolerate chemo better and improve more rapidly afterwards.
If you’ve used natural treatments to treat cancer — whether alone, or in combination with conventional remedies — would you share your story? We’ll all keep in mind it is just one person’s story, but we’d like to hear from you.