MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Many paediatric oncology patients report use of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), and naturopathic ‘doctors’ (NDs) often provide supportive paediatric oncology care. However, little information exists to formally describe this clinical practice. This survey was aimed at filling the gap. It was conducted with members of the ‘Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians’ (OncANP.org) to describe recommendations across 4 therapeutic domains:

  1. natural health products (NHPs),
  2. nutrition,
  3. physical medicine,
  4. mental/emotional support.

The researchers received 99 responses from practitioners with a wide variance of clinical experience and aptitude to treat children with cancer. 52.5% of respondents stated that they did, in fact, not treat such children. The three primary reasons for this decision were:

  1. lack of public demand (45.1%),
  2. institutional or clinic restrictions (21.6%),
  3. personal reasons/comfort (19.6%).

The 10 most frequently considered NHPs by those NDs who did treat childhood cancer patients were:

  • fish-derived omega-3 fatty acid (83.3%),
  • vitamin D (83.3%),
  • probiotics (82.1%),
  • melatonin (73.8%),
  • vitamin C (72.6%),
  • homeopathic Arnica (69.0%),
  • turmeric/curcumin (67.9%),
  • glutamine (66.7%),
  • Astragalus membranaceus (64.3%),
  • Coriolus versicolor/PSK (polysaccharide K) extracts (61.9%).

The top 5 nutritional recommendations were:

  • anti-inflammatory diets (77.9%),
  • dairy restriction (66.2%),
  • Mediterranean diet (66.2%),
  • gluten restriction (61.8%),
  • and ketogenic diet (57.4%).

The top 5 physical interventions were

  • exercise (94.1%),
  • acupuncture (77.9%),
  • acupressure (72.1%),
  • craniosacral therapy (69.1%),
  • and yoga (69.1%).

The top 5 mental/emotional interventions were:

  • meditation (79.4%),
  • art therapy (77.9%),
  • mindfulness-based stress reduction (70.6%),
  • music therapy (70.6%),
  • and visualization therapy (67.6%).

The Canadian authors concluded that the results of our clinical practice survey highlight naturopathic interventions across four domains with a strong rationale for further inquiry in the care of children with cancer.

Personally, I don’t see a ‘strong rationale’ for anything here. I was, however, struck by the fact that about half of the naturopaths (they are NOT doctors!) dare to treat children with cancer. Equally, I was impressed by the list of treatments they use for this purpose; most are pure quackery! Finally, I was struck by the reasons given by those naturopaths who laudably abstained from treating cancer: they did not take this decision because of the lack of evidence that naturopaths and the treatments they like to employ fail to do more good than harm.

Altogether, this survey confirmed my view that naturopaths should not be allowed near children, especially those suffering from cancer.

10 Responses to Naturopathy for children with cancer?

  • “Naturopathy for children with cancer?”

    I think that the answer to that would be an emphatic NO.

    I’m frankly appalled that legislators in the US and Canada fail to see that granting those uneducated(*) Not Doctors virtually the same privileges as real doctors can (and will) have very serious consequences for the standard of care – which already isn’t as good as in many other western countries.

    *: What little real medical education these people have is usually more than cancelled out by their belief in utter quackery such as homeopathy.

  • RR

    RR said;

    “*: What little real medical education these people have is usually more than cancelled out by their belief in utter quackery such as homeopathy.”

    Evidently you prefer to live in a world where people are not allowed to make decisions for themselves, rather the state make medical decisions for them. Sovereign states today want more and more power, all the power they can get in fact. Including the power to make what should be individual decisions for the subjects of the state.

    F that, I’ll push back on that every time.

    • Nice one, RG

      You’re happy, then, for the desperately ill to be gulled by quacks and charlatans who charge them fortunes on the back of false promises of efficacy.

      Sovereign states are there to look after the people and hopefully protect them from exploitation, not see them harmed. You, though, seem to be happy to wave on the grifters and con-artists.

      And spare us your tiresome and repetitive Big Pharma straw men. This blog, in case you hadn’t noticed, is about alternative medicine and this thread is about naturopathy.

      • Lenny said;

        “You’re happy, then, for the desperately ill to be gulled by quacks and charlatans who charge them fortunes on the back of false promises of efficacy.
        Sovereign states are there to look after the people and hopefully protect them from exploitation, not see them harmed. You, though, seem to be happy to wave on the grifters and con-artists.”

        Before I became an adult, I needed a daddy. I’m a big boy now, so I don’t need a nanny state to protect me, save for a military force. I’ll make my own decisions in the life …. thanks. It sounds like you still require a daddy to direct and protect you.
        Perhaps had the government previously proved more reliable, and not part of the problem, I might hold a different position on this matter. The failures of big government, including the FDA & CDC help mold my position. In other words, they provide me with the very case of why I don’t want to rely on them.

        I have never made any such claims to any homeopathic, alternative or CAM treatments as you people continue charging me with. I’ve plainly stated that I tried some that had no real effect, and a couple others that “work for me”. I subscribe to a healthy diet, eliminating needless toxins, and some herbal treatments. Please stop making accusations that I am here promoting treatments of quacks and charlatans. I haven’t promoted any such thing here, in fact I’m skeptical of many. The fact that I am in favor of giving people the freedom to make their own treatment decisions is far from promotion. Perhaps if we had a free market system of healthcare, the quacks and charlatans would have largely been eliminated.

        On the other hand, my beef is with so called EBM, and does far too much harm. In my experience EBM is highly overrated, the evidence is not as solid as the authorities would have us think. EBM poses it’s own dangers to patients…as you know.

        • Thank you, RG, for coming clean at last, and acknowledging that you’re just a living, breathing, tiresomely comment writing tu quoque. This blog is, as I think you know, about the problems with pseudo-medicine and its recourse to pseudo-science. Which makes your contributions irrelevant.

          You may not feel you need a “nanny state” to protect you where medicine is concerned, but it’s pretty obvious to me that the kind of protections we take for granted about the auto industry, aviation, civil engineering and a lot more are seriously needed in the medical arena, but I guess since you make your own decisions in life, you oppose mandatory wearing of seatbelts in cars, you support cigarette smoking and driving on public roads while consuming drugs and alcohol.

          “I subscribe to a healthy diet, eliminating needless toxins, and some herbal treatments.” So you presumably don’t want to see regulations designed to prevent adulteration of herbal medicines with various toxins (something that was raised in the article I linked you to this morning).

          You seem to have only just discovered the unreliability of governments: FYI it has ever been so. But to impugn the folk who work for the FDA or the CDC with bad motives simply ignores the reality of the difficult job they do. They’re charged with trying to please everybody (including people suffering from diseases who’ve heard about a new treatment and press to be able to access it).

          EBM in principle is not so much overrated as recognizing it has a heck of a lot of catching up to do — something orthodox medics and associated biomedical scientists are trying to do — but their job is not helped by people like you who rely on media headlines for medical information. We know there are problems with EBM and orthodox medicine, but for someone to bang on endlessly about these (including the imaginary ones) as you do is emphatically irrelevant to the subject of this blog.

          So please find blogs dedicated to fixing the flaws in EBM and stop wasting our time with your tu quoques. As I said at the start of this comment, they are, by definition, irrelevant. Bye bye!

          • @ Frank Odds

            No, I do not oppose all forms of government regulation.

            Frank said;
            “but I guess since you make your own decisions in life, you oppose mandatory wearing of seatbelts in cars, you support cigarette smoking and driving on public roads while consuming drugs and alcohol.”

            In part, I do oppose the mandatory wearing of seat belts. I oppose laws designed to protect me from myself. If I choose not to wear a vehicle belt, that most likely will hurt me more than anybody. As will the choice of using prescription medication benefit or damage the consumer… nobody other.

            I fully support cigarette and cigar smoking, some laws regulating where smoke can be used are necessary.

            Driving on public roads while consuming drugs and alcohol ?? …. where did that come from. I lend no support to that.

            Frank said;
            ” but their job is not helped by people like you who rely on media headlines for medical information.”
            I rely first on my life long personal experience and observations, then media medical information.

            If you find my contributions irrelevant, you need not read or respond…. right ? I’ll continue posting here till I’m blocked from posting.

          • One wonders Frank, how those who partly oppose seatbelt laws do when they travel by automobile? Perhaps they strap the waist and leave the shoulderstrap behond their back?
            At least we have here seen yet another confirmation that some fools need to be protected by mandates.

    • I prefer to live in a world where people are NOT deceived and scammed – and first and foremost, people should not be deceived about their health.
      Naturopathy is deception and a scam – it is an invention of people who are too stupid and/or too lazy to become real doctors, so they resort to offering a form of placebo medicine under the guise of appealing qualifications such as ‘natural’ and ‘holistic’. And that these people are indeed stupid, is supported by their widespread belief in patent quackery such as homeopathy, orthomolecular nonsense (which, if anything, is the exact opposite of homeopathy), ‘alkaline food’ and lots of other ludicrous things.

      There is no evidence whatsoever that this kind of pretend-medicine is beneficial to patient health, and anyone consulting a naturopath with a serious condition should fear for their life. Yes, this most certainly includes cancer patients.
      And even if one can argue that grown-ups have certain rights to make bad decisions (as in: choose to believe in and pay for useless quackery), children should most definitely be protected from this kind of foolishness.

      But the best solution overall would be a legal prerequisite that anyone making health claims, either about products or about other interventions, should first produce substantial evidence that their modality of choice has indeed been researched and proven to be beneficial, and in a proper scientific manner at that. Everything else should be given an opportunity to prove itself first, and banned if no acceptable evidence is forthcoming.

      Here in the Netherlands, this approach has been implemented for homeopathic OTC products, albeit in a rather half-baked way: homeopathic products may only be advertised and sold with an indication (the condition it is supposed to treat) if and only if there is scientific evidence for said efficaciousness.
      Up until this very day, NOT A SINGLE HOMEOPATHIC MANUFACTURER has been able to produce ANY such evidence for ANY of the hundreds of homeopathic products on the market. And no, it is not a matter of money for research, with e.g. Boiron’s annual turnover of more than half a billion dollars(*).
      So up to this day, the labels for all these products bear a generic, cryptic message saying “Homeopathic medicine with no specific indication”.
      Yes, unfortunately these products are still marketed and sold(**), but sales declined by more than 50% after this law was enacted. Now let’s work on banning the other half from the market too.

      *: Of which only a few million are spent on R&D…

      **: Just imagine the scandal if it turns out that real medicines (i.e. pharmaceutical products) are sold without ANY evidence for their efficaciousness… So why should fake medicine be given more leeway?

  • Just for the record and to avoid misunderstanding:

    We have no idea who ‘RichardR’ is – he is anonymous for some reason – which detracts from his contributions IMHO.

    I am Richard Rawlins and am easily identifiable!
    But I am also ‘RR’ – so it would help if Richard R provided his surname.
    What’s to be ashamed of?

    Thank you.

    RR

    • Hello Richard,
      Since you insist despite an explanation from me some time ago: my last name is Rasker, and I’m in the electronics engineering and translation business (I’ve done Dutch translations of well over a dozen For Dummies books, among other things).
      This should be enough to guide you to my Dutch business Web site, so you can see that there is nothing for me to be ashamed of (OK, apart from the horribly outdated Web site layout – I’ve been too busy to do anything about it).

      I’m just a bit reluctant to have my full name plastered all over the Internet in conjunction with criticism on quackery, as I had to deal with some rather tiresome harassment on previous occasions. One pedlar of bleach ‘MMS’ whose business I allegedly destroyed sent out huge loads of spam for all kinds of ‘free services’ – with my business name and address as the sender. The result was not just thousands of e-mail messages daily, but also countless complaints for spamming. Another SCAMmer posted dozens of explicit messages in my name on several NSFW forums and Web sites.

      I hope that this satisfies your curiosity.

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