Complementary and Alternative Approaches

Since there is no cure for Oligo at the moment, it is reasonable and attractive to consider alternative approaches.  There are articles or personal stories about how cannabis or supplements or a diet made someone’s tumor disappear.

It may be that these stories are all true, but are they repeatable?  The answer is no so far, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to consider.  Below are some approaches that we have direct experience with or seem to have a reasonable basis for helping.

Ketogenic diet—Dr. Thomas Seyfried has done a lot of work showing that cancer cells rely on glucose for energy, as do normal cells.  However, when our bodies are low on carbs and glucose our livers turn fat into ketones, which healthy cells can consume and cancer cells can’t.  There is research showing the impact of this diet on seizure activity and in fact the diet is “prescribed” for children with epilepsy frequently.  There is, however, no scientific research showing the impact on cancer yet.  Like all diets, it takes dedication to stay on it and mostly eliminating carbs means you need to be creative.

CBD Oil—This comes from hemp/marijuana, but this is not the compound that gets you “high” (that is THC).  CBD oil has been shown to have some benefit for epilepsy and seizures.  There is some very early research that says it could also have an anti-cancer effect.  Due to the US classifying pot as at level 1 drug (like heroine), it is nearly impossible for researchers to work with pot here.  There is some work going on in the UK testing CBD and cannabis with chemotherapy that seems promising, so there may be more to know here in the coming years.

Cranial-sacral massage—This one comes from personal experience.  Our younger son was very irritable after his first surgery, which was the opposite of his normal disposition.  Someone recommended cranial-sacral massage and it really did the trick.  They theory is that the flow of spinal fluid (which runs through your spine and brain) is interrupted by surgery or radiation (or the tumor) and restoring the normal flow lets the brain get back to a more normal state.

Neuro-psych training/crossword puzzles, etc.—The brain is an amazing organ in that is can rewire to compensate for damage (the term is plasticity).  When you have surgery or radiation, your brain has experienced a significant trauma and needs to recover…and likely rewire for areas that were damaged.  Most of the recovery happen in the first year after the treatment and the more you use your mind, the more complete the recovery will be.  Some neuro psychologists offer specific “training” post op.  Or you can use an online tool like Lumosity or Elevate or just do something like crossword puzzles.

Meditation—It is a scientific fact that stress is bad for us and weakens our immune systems.  So doing what we can to be relaxed and happy helps us fight this disease.  Meditation is all about reducing stress and regaining some peace of mind.

Nutritional Supplements—There is little credible science backing these as a way to fight cancer, though we have seen a lot of flimsy ‘we put it in a petri dish and it killed the cells.’  We went all in for a couple of years that were followed by a recurrence, so it didn’t work for us.  Eating really well and maintaining your weight in a normal range probably has greater impact.  Is there a supplement/natural substance that might make a meaningful difference in cancer?  Probably, just not sure we know that yet.

I am sure there are other approaches that have worked for some of you, so let us know!

Note:  Don’t expect your doctors to endorse any of the above.  Their world is science and clinical trial tested medicine, and this a good thing.  The world has always been awash in unproven and even fraudulent “cures” and part of their responsibility is to give you the best treatments supported by current science.