As practitioners of naturopathic oncology, we know that the vast majority of cancer diagnoses occur within 5 years of a major trauma. These include the death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, to name a few. However, even early childhood trauma can have negative health outcomes many years after the fact. ACEs, or “Adverse Childhood Experiences” are recognized by the CDC as contributing to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, depression, and cancer. When I did my residency at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, all patients had the option of seeing a Psychoneuroimmunologist (PNI). Big word, but basically their job was to ferret out the traumas that impacted the patient’s psychology that impacted the nervous system which ultimately impacted the immune system.
The underlying issue is “toxic stress.” This is a prolonged period of stress in which the body is responding physiologically without ever being given a chance to recover. This leads to immune suppression, increased blood sugar, and changes in brain chemistry that predispose people toward anxiety and depression. As many know, toxic stress can lead to stress eating and poor nutritional choices. Ironically, sugar and carbs can increase serotonin transiently which makes you feel better short term until the blood sugar drops and that is another stressor. Stress also tends to reduce our exercise and can lead many times to substance use like alcohol, marijuana, and other recreational drugs. The consequence of these stress behaviors results in increased blood sugar, insulin, obesity, insomnia. All of which increases inflammation and reduce immune function and thus increasing the probability of major disease such as cancer.
As naturopathic physicians who specialize in oncology, we take a detailed look at all aspects of every patient’s health. This includes mental and emotional health. Everyone experiences stressors in their lives. Some people have more trauma than others. What matters is how each person copes with these major stressors. Naturopathic medicine emphasizes lifestyle and nutritional medicine as a first-line approach to health and healing. For example, studies show the simple act of meditating for 15 minutes daily can make an enormous difference in brain function and levels of stress hormones in the body. Making sure to eat whole foods instead of processed “frankenfoods” gives the body what it needs to heal and remain healthy. We also have other tools to address toxic stress such as botanical medicine, targeted supplementation, and homeopathy. When appropriate we will refer our patients for additional counseling.
If you have experienced a major trauma and are struggling with your health, call our office today to make an appointment. We take a whole-person, patient-centered approach to health and healing. No stone will be left unturned.
Yours in health,
Cynthia Bye, ND, FABNO
Board certified in Naturopathic Medicine