Medical treatment

The fusion of conventional medical treatment with integrative medicine

Many cancer patients have two doctors like her – a medical oncologist and a naturopathic oncologist. Some medical schools add other programs to their curriculum. (Deposit Pictures)

Tracy Gosson was first diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer in April 2019 after feeling tired and unloving for months. During her treatment, the founder of branding and marketing company Sagesse began researching integrated treatment options.

She watched Dr. William Li’s TED Talk “Can We Eat to Starve Cancer?” and read his book “Eat To Beat Disease”. Her work focuses on how food can play a role in helping the body heal itself against diseases like cancer and dementia.

“Based on my research and her book, I compiled a list of super-cancer foods and hired a personal chef, Laurie Searfoss, to cook weekly meals during treatment,” she said. . “I had a great response to chemotherapy and surgery with fewer side effects and faster recovery than most – which I totally attribute to nutrition and a positive attitude.”

A member of numerous social media groups discussing cancer, she noticed that many had two doctors like her – a medical oncologist and a naturopathic oncologist. “They know each other,” Gosson said. “They work together, but he focuses on the drugs that can help me and her on the behaviors that can help me.”

She and Searfoss participated in cancer patient advisory discussions at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on the development of food training for physicians and patients. “It’s really an important and emerging area of ​​medicine,” she said.

In 2019, UMD’s Center for Integrative Medicine became one of the first medical schools in the nation to include culinary medicine in its core curriculum for medical students. The center’s director of research, Chris D’Adamo, notes that many know that nutrition is a fundamental part of health. Poor diet is an important risk factor for chronic diseases. However, traditionally when medical students are trained, they don’t receive much instruction on the importance of nutrition.

“A lot of times you’ll hear, ‘Talk to your doctor about your diet,'” he said. “They mean well and I think the doctors will be able to know that you shouldn’t eat (fast food) three times a day. Some of those basic things, but the finer things like how can nutrition impact IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or how could nutrition contribute to my cardiovascular disease or diabetes? Really, they don’t get a lot of training on that.

UMD’s Culinary Medicine program focuses on a practice-oriented, experiential approach. Students examine different types of diets such as Mediterranean, paleo, keto, and plant-based to better understand the science behind them. After graduation, they cook at the Institute for Integrative Health through a partnership and eat meals. D’Adamo notes that the program will not only benefit patients, but also doctors themselves, as many incorporate what they learn into their own lives.

Dating back to 1991, UMD’s Center for Integrative Medicine was the first of its kind in the country to combine conventional therapies such as medication and surgery with elements of complementary care such as nutrition, mind-body techniques , acupuncture and yoga.

Some of the biggest influences on chronic disease include poor stress management and poor diet, lack of sleep and activity, and exposure to environmental toxicants. These factors may be even more influential than genetics, he said. Staff work to provide options for patients, including nutrition, movement, stress management, and mitigating environmental exposure.

D’Adamo said the complementary approach can help prevent efforts against chronic diseases such as obesity-related disorders and autoimmune and cardiovascular disease.

The approach may also fill treatment gaps for pain, gastrointestinal and emotional disorders, and cancer. “It’s basically used to help manage the side effects of conventional treatments and sometimes even reduce medication use,” he said.

The center offers a variety of different integrative methods to treat a wide range of conditions such as acupuncture to combat pain and reduce nausea from cancer treatments, probiotics targeting gastrointestinal issues and yoga to relieve pain lumbar.

“I think it’s important to know that integrated medicine includes both conventional therapies and these complementary therapies,” D’Adamo said. “It’s not a replacement but rather an integration with (the therapies).”