Integrative Medicine for the Treatment of Cancer
For the past quarter-century, International Bio-Care Hospital and Medical Center has been facing the ever-present question of whether to embark on so-called alternative or integrative therapies or follow mainstream, conventional or "orthodox" therapies.
In conventional oncology the concept of making the body less toxic, improving diet and nutrition and regulating the immune system while treating the malignancy is still widely regarded as an unimportant aspect of medical care. The belief that medication alone can and should reverse disease and cure a patient without any consideration of the body's own defense and recovery systems still dominates the medical mentality.
In standard oncology, there is no treatment which is not deleterious to the immune system or the overall "host defense" of the patient. In our concept the foundation of any form of therapy should be the restoration of the biological capacities of the host with specific emphasis on the immune system. Supported by the recovery of the patient’s own defense mechanisms medical intervention in the form of specific therapies can then take place. Such an approach in due time hopefully will lead the patient to a better quality of life and improved longevity.This is the concept of Integrative Medicine. We emphatically believe that medical intervention should be comprehensive and successive; one part is not more important that the other and some therapies should be implemented only after certain goals have been reached. For example, to give chemotherapy to a patient who recently underwent surgery will only worsen his appetite, strength and wellbeing, reducing defense systems and the chances of successful outcome.
In standard radiotherapy programs, statistics show that the higher the dose of radiation, the higher the tumoral response. However, the same statistics prove that higher doses mean less survival. This means that we must strike a balance between how aggressively we attack the tumor and how much support we give the body —or at least how much assault our biological systems can endure.
Another important concept to understand is that a healthy body with an intact defense system does not develop cancer. So the mere fact of cancer presence denotes a failure, mutation, or biological change important enough to trigger such a diagnosis. If we continue to follow the concept that the elimination of the tumor mass brings cure, we will continue to see the recurrence of cancer — which is one of the consistent outcomes of conventional oncology. The fact is that when a breast tumor, for example, is removed we are far from solving the problem. So the lump is not the disease — and thatshould be the conclusion.
In an integrative model we follow four major principles: restoring the best possible biological conditions through nutrition, rest and exercise; detoxifying the body; regulating the immune system; and using a wide array of modalities, “alternative” and conventional alike, against the malignant process itself.
We stress the concept of "biochemical individuality" - no two patients are treated identically. Since each patient is different and each patient's response to cancer let alone its therapy is also different, we "individualize" our therapies.
The concept of biological individuality is easy to grasp since we have individual genetic pools that are not identical other than in identical twins, and we are raised under different circumstances, climates, diets, etc. We are exposed to different immunological challenges throughout our lives with unique biological experiences. We are exposed to different pollutants and toxins. Finally, our individual mental attitudes give stress a personal touch that impacts on each and every one of us.
Much attention in recent years has focused on dietary considerations in chronic disease — yet, just as there is no one-treatment-fits-all therapeutic approach to cancer, neither is there one-diet-fits-all, and we must be as attentive to individuality in diet as we are to individuality in therapy.
In critical cancer patients, intensive crisis nutrition can only be attained by intravenous feeding that will deliver to the blood all the critically necessary nutritional elements in an immediate and efficient way. It is easy to understand that patients with cancer are malnourished by lack of appetite, depression and medical interventions such as surgery, chemotherapy and poor digestion.
The mere satisfaction of nutritional needs represents a major step toward wellbeing and the recovery of biological capacities.
This is a concept well supported by research at major medical schools. Intravenous nutrition rapidly improves white blood cell (WBC) performance allowing restoration and enhanced activity of a key element in fighting cancer: cellular immune performance.
Supplementation by mouth is also a common method of managing less critical cases.
Detoxification is a major tool if the body is to be able to function properly. Each function of the body is regulated by our genetic information system through specific enzymes. A toxin is defined as a substance that impairs or blocks enzyme performance. It is imperative to rid as many foreign and toxic substances from the system as possible, a problem of enormous significance in cancer.
To detoxify the body we use, among other things, specialized diets, juice fasting, coffee enemas, chelating agents, replacement of "friendly bacteria" and any other approach or substance required. Coffee enemas, often regarded as controversial yet of comparatively ancient pedigree even in Western medicine, help render the small intestine alkaline, detoxify the liver and help restore bowel regularity. Of no less importance is the careful exploration of the body to look for sources of toxic debris, organic or inorganic. Infectious focci, dental health and removal of mercury amalgams are all of primary importance.
Toxic oxygen breakdown products —"free radicals"— have to be neutralized or blocked, a process which can largely be carried out with nutrients known to have free radical-blocking —that is, antioxidant— activity.
Our approach is to utilize a baseline special blood test to measure oxidative/ antioxidant activity in the blood. Antioxidant substances in general use are SOD (superoxide dismutase), catalase, glutathione, butyrate, selenium, NAC (N-acetylcysteine) and vitamins A, C and E, Beta Carotene, to mention only the more prominent from a growing list. The controversial compound laetrile is, among other things, an antioxidant.
Immune regulation involves a complex process (by some definitions there are several immune systems) whereby internal defense mechanisms are made aware of the presence of altered cells or tumors which are growing wildly in the body.
Malignant processes may isolate themselves by building a protein sheath around themselves or, as Nordenstrom proposed, by creating an electrical field, making them unrecognizable to the immune system, which otherwise would attack them. We must overcome this blockage by the administration of proteolytic enzymes as a first-rank weapon, or by electrical repolarization of the tumor.
Live cell or cellular therapy (being slowly accepted in orthodox circles as "fetal cell transplantation therapy" after being cold-shouldered for years) is a highly effective approach to long-term immune regulation.
It consists of intramuscular or subdermal injections of cellular suspensions of animal embryonic or other birth-related tissue. Since these kinds of suspensions are obtained from embryos or other birth-related tissues in early stages of pregnancy, they provoke no allergic responses. The varied positive effects of such injections have a startup period of several weeks and an endurance of up to six months. Live cell injections have a hormone balancing effect on the body in general, a balancing effect on immunity and some specific anticancer activity.
The direct assault on cancer is carried out not only with such time-tested substances as laetrile (amygdalin, "Vitamin B17"), but also with a growing number of nutrients and herbal-derived compounds, combinations and extracts which have solid research behind them. New alkaloids are now available in combinations that can induce the death of cancer cells while protecting immune cells, thus creating a brighter horizon for the use of herb extracts in the treatment of cancer.
These essentially nontoxic anticancer compounds, together with a total metabolic program of dietary change, detoxification and immune system regulation, provide us with effective therapies not only virtually free of unpleasant side effects but accompanied by higher energy levels, better appetite and overall improved biological performance. Of course, we can and do utilize substances from the orthodox armamentarium when feasible and practical. Ongoing research has shown that a nutritionally based metabolic program actually enhances the effects of chemotherapy and radiation should either of these modalities be called for.
Two relatively new therapies requiring individual attention and which have shown great promise at our hospital are "whole body hyperthermia" and "autologous dendritic cells." Results of these techniques have been particularly heartening in advanced cancer cases where the extension or severity of the case needs intensive, more aggressive protocols.
"Whole body hyperthermia" consists of heating the patient's body by circulating blood through a heat-exchange device. This is a modern expression of the ancient observation that cancer cells cannot stand high temperatures to which normal cells are otherwise insensitive. High heat sets off a cascade of intracellular events in cancer cells leading to "apoptosis" or "programmed cell death." During this procedure the patient is sedated in order to tolerate the increased heat and allowed a recovery period ranging from a few hours to five days.
IBC is also pioneering the use of "autologous" — meaninng "made from self" — vaccines against the cancer process, particularly those made from the recently discovered structures called "dendritic" cells (DCs). DC's are known to entrap tumor cells and expose them to a patient's immune system for destruction.
By lenghtening and enhancing tumor control through human immune/defense systems while remaining completely free of side effects over long periods of use, this is the most nature-similar way of controlling malignant growths.
It has been learned that DCs —elongated appendages in certain cells — can actually pick up normal cells and migrate with them to lymph nodes where they can be exposed to a high concentration of immune system cells. DCs can stimulate a responsein which the immune system increases the activity of T-cells which help fight cancer and viruses.
The procedure involves drawing from the patient blood containing mature and immature DCs and tumor cells. A biochemist induces the maturation and activation of DCs in the presence of proteins derived from the patient's tumor.
At this point a weapon has been created which administered to the patient, will act as a cellular vaccine — a "smart bomb" — which will actively seek out, entrap and expose to the immune system tumor cells developed at every stage of malignancy. The vaccine, being non-toxic, sterile and customized from the patient's own blood, is thus a safe and effective form of therapy.
International research and knowledge exchanges provide information and resources from around the world and access to new modalities, products and experiences that enrich and widen the expectation of good results in the hard battle against cancer.
Our anticancer program —of "slow drip" infusions, direct injections, oral and sublingual nutrients, specialized diet and detoxification— normally takes three weeks, a period we call "the crisis phase".
The three-week segment is designed to interfere with at least one full cycle of malignant-cell replication — a process which hopefully will remove the patient from the "crisis" stage.
After the initial three-week intensive-therapy phase, the patient is provided with a program of protocols and dietary changes to be followed at home. The arguments between "alternative" and "orthodox" medicine should vanish with the understanding that metabolic illnesses are part of a multifactorial and complex scenario.
Real medicine is unitarian - it addresses the health and well being of whole individuals. There are no such things as different medicines or even medical specialties; these are man-made concepts which help to understand how the body works in health and disease. In reality any attempt to treat only a part of a patient will encounter a far less than desired outcome.
Every effort to integrate the differing avenues of medicine, "alternative" or "conventional", old and new, East or West, homeopathic or allopathic, etc., with the wellbeing and respect for our patients, needs in mind can only lead to better, more substantial and longer-lasting results.
Rodrigo Rodriguez MD, Medical Director | Bio Care Hospital & Health Center 2010-08-19 Articles/Press Releases