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The Big C

I’ve gotten to the age when a significant number of people that I love have cancer. Some are sicker than others, some are dying, and some will likely recover.

Cancer is a frightening diagnosis. It carries a hard blow. Suddenly, one has to face their mortality. My mother called it “her next big adventure”.  But cancer can have its gifts as well. It provides perspective to situations that seemed serious. It can give a person time to wrap up loose ends, to face their demons and to heal relationships. Paradoxically, even if it’s terminal, cancer can bring healing.

I support patients undergoing chemo and radiation with acupuncture, nutrition, homeopathy and other means to help with the side effects of treatment and to reduce anxiety and stress.  There are also gentle, non-toxic ways to help their bodies recover after treatment has ended.

It is important to look at the underlying environment, the terrain which allowed the malignancy to develop. We want to nurture the body so it can maintain healthy cells and fight off malignancy. While we can’t change genetics that contribute to cancer, we can change how those genetics are fed. Healthy diets, regular exercise, reduced environmental toxins, adequate sleep and emotional well-being are essential to creating a healthy terrain.

It is important to reduce inflammation. Diets low in sugar and high in fresh colorful vegetables, with clean healthy fats, plenty of fiber and small amounts of clean lean protein are essential. Drink plenty of clean water to help flush the kidneys. Fasting for 12-14 hours between dinner and breakfast can lower blood sugars, increase cancer fighting cells and trigger stem cells that help the immune system. In fact, studies show that fasting the morning of chemo treatments may help reduce side effects.

Mushrooms are excellent immune modulators and helpful in most cancers. Eat shitake, maitake, lion’s mane. Drink chagas mushroom drinks. Take turkey tail tincture. Cook them in soups, stews and stir-fry.

Melatonin is a powerful anti-oxidant and can reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. It is particularly useful in hormone related cancers (breast, prostate) and brain tumors.

Finally, avoid carcinogenic activities if you can. Stop smoking, change to green cleaning products, don’t charbroil meat, protect yourself in toxic environments with masks and proper ventilation.

Cancer is scary but it is also a call to action. It calls us to address how we live, to nourish the terrain of our bodies, to let go of grudges and to heal our lives.


By Dr. Jennifer Means ND, LAc

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