Awakening The Inner Physician: Local Health Practitioners on Beating Cancer with the Immune System
Jul 31, 2013 11:45AM
By Linda Sechrist
Since President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act of 1971 declaring “war on cancer,” and the National Cancer Institute was declared the nation’s principal agency for cancer research, Congress has funded, on average, $4.9 billion per year to investigate the causes, prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Additionally, despite countless independent fundraisers and campaigns for funding research and raising awareness, cancer rates have dramatically increased year after year. According to the American Cancer Society, a staggering 50 percent of men and 33 percent of women will get some form of cancer in their lifetime.
Instead of more money, which clearly is not fixing this problem, many doctors and other health professionals that are focused on functional and lifestyle medicine favor integrative cancer treatments, which include effective natural therapies that enhance immune system function, address the root cause of the disease and are more focused on prevention and wellness.
Numerous local health practitioners such as Deborah Post, a board-certified advanced nurse practitioner and owner of Wellbridges, in Fort Myers; renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, M.D., owner of the Perlmutter Health Center, in Naples and co-author of Power Up Your Brain: The Neuroscience of Enlightenment; Kimberly Lemons, a certified clinical thermographic technician (CCT) and owner of Suncoast Thermal Imaging, in Cape Coral; Taryn Kean, a CCT Level 3 and owner of Southwest Medical Thermal Imaging, in Bonita Springs; and Ursula Kaiser, a Naples resident and author of My Journal to Wellness: How I Beat Cancer Naturally, are all in alignment with the mission of the Living Proof Institute (LPI) in West Chester, Ohio, where cancer is viewed as an environmental health hazard. Because diet, emotions, toxin exposure, activity levels, sleep and immune health determine the internal and external environment of our body’s 75 trillion cells, when cancer develops, the first question that is asked at LPI is: What was the state of the internal environment that allowed this to happen?
Deborah Post, Wellbridges
According to Post, who has 25 years experience in a variety of health settings, an internal toxic and over-acidic environment that fuels the growth of cancer is created by the consumption of too much sugar, bad fats (hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, trans-fats and rancid vegetable oils) as well as refined, processed and prepackaged chemical-laden food, in addition to a toxic external living environment. Post works with an integrative medical model and uses a variety of complementary techniques that include medical herbology, nutrition and health education.
“Cancer is a last-ditch effort by the body to say, ‘Wake up! I am too toxic to function. Clean me up so I can get back to work,’” quips Post, who recommends lifestyle changes such as proper diet, detoxing and exercising in addition to an assessment of the work and home environments for toxins. “These steps are relevant to getting the immune system back in working order, because there is no pharmaceutical that will ever trump its power,” she cautions.
Post offers an example of how detoxing and cleaning up the inner environment impacted one of her patients with basal cell carcinoma—abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions that arise in the skin’s basal cells. Over a period of time, the man had more than 40 basal- and squamous-cell cancers removed from his body, enduring six to 12 surgeries a year. But, after he detoxed and started a healthy diet and supplement regimen, his skin patches healed for six months without incidences. Post explains, “This is what Dr. Mark Hyman, an expert in the field of functional medicine who authored the article, ‘The Right Order of Things: Peeling the Onion of Chronic Disease,’ means when he says, ‘Healing depends not only on doing the right things, but doing them in the right order.’ From that story, the right place to push or pull on the web of biologic dysfunction emerges, along with the right order of pushing and pulling to restore balance."
Dr. David Perlmutter
For his patients on chemotherapy, Perlmutter prescribes a ketogenic diet much like the one he details in his forthcoming book, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar—Your Brain’s Silent Killers. Initially the nutritional foundation of Dr. Thomas Seyfried’s Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management, and Prevention of Cancer, Perlmutter notes that Seyfried expanded on The Warburg Effect, a well known theory within the medical field that all cancer is a disease of energy metabolism. “A science-based ketogenic diet provides fuel for normal cells, while significantly reducing the glucose that cancer cells require for survival. A high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet like the Atkins approach is coupled with the addition of nutritional supplements to provide extra ketones in the form of medium chain triglyceride (MCT), found in coconut oil.
“A ketogenic diet that forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates is much like the Paleo Diet, which is based on eating wholesome foods from the food groups that our hunter-gatherer ancestors thrived on in the Paleolithic period—grass-fed meats, fish, fresh fruits, nut and seeds, as well as non-starchy vegetables. I have found that this diet is a good concept for preventing and managing cancer,” says Perlmutter, who jokes that many of his patients object to eating fat until they hear about the emphasis on good fat and why it is necessary. Few things are as bad for human health as restricting the intake of good fat. “The American Journal of Medicine reported a study in which risk of breast cancer in women who ate a low-carb, higher fat diet reduced the incidence of breast cancer by 15 percent. Unfortunately, it’s not something you hear much about,” remarks Perlmutter, who adds that managing cancer with dietary changes is more humane that treating people with mustard gas derivatives and radiation. He says that it makes more sense to focus on what can be done to enhance the immune system’s ability to get rid of the cancer, which is what the ketogenic diet helps to do.
Additionally, a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates stimulates the production of insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which stimulates the replication of cancer cells.
Kaiser admits that her stressful situation ate up a great deal of her energy, but redirecting it under a plan to heal herself proved to be better than suffering the side effects of chemotherapy. She lectures locally on alternative healing modalities, such as easy cleanses, detoxing practices, nutrition, supplements and the metaphysical basics, all protocols she used to heal herself of cancer. Kaiser directs her audience and individuals she counsels to the Internet and recommends a list of movies for viewing. “After watching Forks Over Knives, Food Matters, and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, people are often motivated to transition to a whole-foods, plant-based diet, which can take a while for your taste buds to get used to,” she says.
“I eat as many organic foods as possible, particularly when it comes to thin-skinned fruits and vegetables,” remarks Kaiser, who was recently invited to lecture at Naples Community Hospital. “I find that while the majority of doctors have never heard about the things I did to heal myself and keep the cancer from returning, the awareness within the public is growing and people are paying attention, taking more advantage of complementary and alternative modalities and asking their doctors to incorporate them in their treatment regimens. I believe that how we view and treat cancer will have to change as public demand increases,” says Kaiser, who volunteers to work with cancer patients in Collier and Lee counties as well as others throughout the world.
Lee Memorial Health System
Kaiser’s prediction is very slowly coming to fruition at the Lee Memorial Health System, in Fort Myers. One of the largest healthcare systems in Florida, it began investing in the creation of a wellness culture focused on prevention in 2010. “Voluntary wellness exams for employees have detected serious undiagnosed health issues, such as early stages of cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes,” says Dr. Sal Lacagnina, vice president of health and wellness.
According to Ann Holt, director of outpatient oncology, an art therapist comes weekly to work with expressive art, which has been found to relieve anxiety and stress. A yoga and meditation class is held once a week and the Cookies gift shop offers massage therapist services Monday through Friday. An oncology nutritionist also counsels patients and teaches cooking classes. Focused largely on interdisciplinary care, rather than integrative medicine, Andrew Esch, M.D., notes that a significant number of the individuals within his palliative care practice were already using complementary therapies before they became patients. At present, the only evidence-based complementary therapies that are used include acupuncture and some infusion vitamin therapies for neuropathy pain.
According to Lemons and Kean, thermography, also known as digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI), is the only imaging technology without radiation now capable of showing physiological changes and metabolic processes. Because medical doctors trained in thermology analyze the images and report on their findings, this method is gaining in popularity as a tool for a proactive, healthy lifestyle, as well as for prevention and wellness. “Think of thermography as an adjunct diagnostic tool, an early detection bio-marker that assists in locating areas where problems are developing. Being proactive allows an individual to take corrective measures and make lifestyle changes, such as diet or nutritional changes and stress reduction. Research shows that it has the potential to spot temperature variations of potential problems earlier than other testing methods used today,” notes Kean.
In full-body DITI, Lemons advises that doctors are looking for areas of inflammation in the spine, carotid arteries, thyroid, sinus area, cardiac region, abdomen, liver, kidneys, reproductive area, arm extremities, knees and all joints. “Because it’s without radiation risk, it can be used more frequently to follow a patient from their initial health challenge to their return to health,” notes Lemons.
With risk factors that are modifiable by individuals, the future of cancer treatment puts the patient—not cancer—in the driver’s seat. Consider working with a professional to identify risk factors, as well as to develop a customized strategy and long-term solutions that can result in a significantly lower risk of developing cancer.
“The cure is in your hands,” says Sayer Ji, a Naples resident, founder of GreenMedInfo.com and co-author of Cancer Killers. “While millions race for a cure, the cause is staring plainly back at us: thousands of daily chemical exposures, poor nutrition, lack of exercise and a stress-ridden lifestyle conducive to a down-regulated immune response. The point is to remove the multiple known causes of cancer, and the cure will be obtained. I would much rather see people racing against the cause of cancer every year, than raising billions more dollars for an external pharmaceutical cure, which is by principle incapable of producing a permanent solution to this growing epidemic. The point is to awaken our inner physician, as Hippocrates himself instructed thousands of years ago,” enthuses Ji.
Deborah Post, WellBridges, Inc., 17595 Tamiami Tr. S., Ste. 108-14, Ft. Myers, 239-481-5600, [email protected]
Kimberly Lemons CCT, Suncoast Thermal Imaging, 1718 Cape Coral Pkwy., E., Cape Coral, 239-540-1002, [email protected]
Taryn Kean, Southwest Medical Thermal Imaging, 9148 Bonita Beach Rd., Ste. 202, Bonita Springs
Ursula Kaiser, 239-594-1201, UrsulaKaiser.com