The Wellness Library

Dr. Ruch’s Integrative Cancer Care AMA

by | Nov 16, 2023 | Cancer Care

MIMC answers questions about integrative cancer care in an AMA

Have you ever wondered how integrative medicine can support cancer care? We recently asked Dr. Kiana Ruch to do an AMA (ask me anything) on integrative cancer care, and here’s what she had to say!

Oh, and if you didn’t catch our introduction to integrative cancer care at MIMC—we’ve linked it here: Integrative Cancer Care: Enhancing Healing and Well-Being.

Integrative Cancer Care AMA

Q: What is the difference between integrative and palliative care?

A: Integrative cancer care supports patient health and well-being throughout their cancer journey. Some things that I’m always asking patients include: “Are they sleeping? Are they pooping? Are they eating? How is their energy, and how are they doing emotionally?” Those things are all really important throughout cancer care. But sometimes, you know, cancer care can be palliative care even with integrative medicine—you’re still supporting patients throughout their life, making sure that both the patients and their families are comfortable and well-supported.

Q: What are some good IVs for cancer care?

A: Moderate doses of vitamin C, calcium gluconate, and magnesium can be useful in most solid tumors to help improve the efficacy of chemotherapy. They can also improve fatigue that’s related to treatments in blood cancers.

The compound EGCG can be useful if labs are stable. Also, Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) can be really useful for treating some of the neuropathy associated with chemotherapy, and getting nerves back to a healthy condition.

Q: Is how you treat cancer different than chemo?

A: The only way to treat cancer is by standard of care. What that phrase means is following the advice of your medical oncologist; sometimes that’s surgery, sometimes it’s chemotherapy, radiation, or even immunotherapy. That being said, there’s lots of good options for adjunctive care in the form of integrative cancer care—IV therapy, herbs, even homeopathic medicine that can help to reduce some symptoms and make chemotherapy or other treatments work better. But again, it’s incredibly important to collaborate with the medical oncologist to make sure we’re all on the same page.

Q: What are some cancers you cannot treat?

A: Teratoma. These are usually germ cell tumors and the only way to treat them is by surgically removing them.

Q: What are some preventative measures to cancer?

A: Cleaning up the environment by identifying and eliminating toxins or endocrine disruptors that lead to cancer development is the basis for health and cancer care. Knowing your family history can also be really important in terms of prevention. Genetic testing can help patients get earlier screenings or earlier diagnosis in cases of familial history. As far as lifestyle changes you can start doing today: drink filtered water, limit your stress, avoid charred meat, make sure you’re eating a healthy diet, and commit to regular exercise.

Q: What might you recommend that my oncologist won’t?

A: Nutrient testing and evidence-based IV therapies can be really useful to enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy. I’m also a big fan of herbs that will support your energy levels throughout treatment, that aren’t going to impact hormones or hormone-sensitive cancers. Another thing we use a lot is modified citrus pectin (MCP). It helps to bind to tumor cells and limits metastasis around surgeries.

Q: My dad already takes a lot of pills/medications—would you add more?

A: Not necessarily, a lot of symptoms can be managed just through diet alone, which is another big part of integrative cancer care. There’s also more options for nutrient delivery other than capsules or tablets. There’s liquids, or even solid extracts that are contained in honey. There’s also injections available for certain treatments like viscal extract, also known as mistletoe.

RELATED: Mistletoe and Its Supporting Role in Cancer Care

Q: Will my oncologist agree with your recommendations?

A: Standard of care is extremely important. All patients should follow standard of care from their medical oncologist. If there is something we’re suggesting, I’m happy to reach out to medical oncologists and make sure we’re all in alignment with the treatment plan so that we can provide the absolute best care to the patient.

Q: When is the best time to reach out to MIMC?

A: As soon as possible—that way we can take the best care of you and make sure that your symptoms are under control during your chemotherapy or radiation. Book an appointment, or if you have more questions you can contact us!

RELATED: What to Expect During Your First Visit at MIMC

Inspirational message on a letter board

To learn more about integrative cancer care and how integrative medicine can be a beneficial part of treatment, be sure to explore our other cancer care blogs!

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