Going Mainstream: Integrative Care for Breast (and other) Cancers

By Deb Martin, Holistic Health Educator, July 2018

You likely already know that including holistic and natural medicine in most, if not all, medical treatment plans is a wise idea.  In this article, we take a quick dive into the world of integrative treatments for breast cancer. The implications of all the research and clinical experience indicates the efficacy of integrative treatments for many, if not all, cancers.


But the big news here is that movement toward institutionalizing currently-termed “alternative” treatments is being–in essence–blessed and starting to move into mainstream medicine.  It’s called Integrative Medicine, and there are several early adopters. Some large and small institutions have been doing it for years. The Mayo Clinic is one.  We’ll see what they are doing at the end of this article.


Specifically in this article we will explore:


  1.  The process of– and making the case within– mainstream medicine to embrace integrative therapies
  2. Recent, validating research and statements by influential medical facilities who have become Integrative Medicine Centers.



Therapies which have been studied and used in integrative medical settings most frequently include acupuncture, reiki, meditation, stress management, and massage. Meditation and yoga are also recommended to improve quality of life. Acupressure and acupuncture are recommended for reducing chemotherapy‐induced nausea and vomiting.  And as you will no doubt notice, all of these modalities do more than are being advertised!




Stay with me here…the information I am about to share is VERY key to the process of incorporating holistic medicine into the mainstream medical complex.  It’s a slow and methodical process.  It involves considerable research and prestigious committees creating Guidelines in order to bring about and institutionalize this change.  But the implications of the change are huge.  OK, get your diving gear on, and let’s dive in!


In 2017, an expert panel called The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) reviewed the guidelines, contents and recommendations (for incorporating natural medicine treatments) presented by the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO).  They subsequently determined “that the recommendations in the SIO guideline … are clear, thorough, and based on the most relevant scientific evidence.”


Check out the Guidelines and the research upon which the Guidelines are based.


These guidelines discuss a broad set of medical choices that are becoming more and more mainstream as cancer patients use what these guidelines refer to as complementary or alternative medicine. From my perspective as an acupuncturist I would like to see these therapies be the part of the main choices for medical care not the alternate or complementary choice. However, the guidelines were written using the current medical model and terminology as of 2017, and therefore we will use that terminology in this article.  These guidelines only address breast cancer, but there is every reason that these “complementary” therapies will benefit a wide range of Cancers.



The clinical practice guidelines were derived from a systematic review of randomized clinical trials published between 1990 and 2013 and organized by specific clinical conditions (e.g., anxiety/stress, fatigue).  According to the clinical guideline development process outlined by the Institute of Medicine, drafts prepared by the SIO Guideline Working Group were distributed to an interdisciplinary group of SIO internal and external reviewers. Reviewer comments, suggestions, and critiques were incorporated into the final version of these guidelines.

Here are some highlighted results of the study which demonstrate that acupuncture can be considered useful for:

  • improving quality of life,
  • reducing anxiety,
  • improving mood disturbances
  • improving depressive symptoms
  • the management of pain.
  • improving hot flashes.
  • post‐treatment fatigue.
  • Controlling nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy (as an addition to antiemetics drugs)

As time passes, more of this information will become available because acupuncture and other  “complementary” therapies are becoming more mainstream each day.



This topic is in transition in the western medical model. Using food to intentionally support patients is used in some hospital settings, but not many…yet.  The ones who have awareness of the issue use mostly traditionally-trained nutritionists who are educated more about carbs & sugars, proteins, calories and fiber than they are about the medicinal compounds in foods (phytochemicals) and how they function in the human body to reverse illness and create health.


We are seriously visioning a new era of medicine coming as hospitals and clinics begin to incorporate science-based, food-as-medicine therapies. This is a form of Functional Medicine, and when used with blood tests, can help the clinician most efficiently help their clients and patients.  However, no need to wait if you are reading this article!  Lotus Blossom Clinic is already providing this level of service and has been since 2014.  We also help patients achieve best results by incorporating live blood microscopy and micronutrient testing panels which allow us to determine next steps based on what is showing in the blood.


Know someone who wants to incorporate food-as-medicine in their overall treatment plan?  We suggest they start the process with a free consultation with Dr. David Martin, following by a 90-min. consultation with one of our medicinal food consultants.  Call the clinic now to schedule.  (239) 277-1399.


Our Food as Medicine Classes and Talks around town (including at Ada’s Market) start up again in the Fall.  Check our website calendar each month for details.



In February of 2017, the Mayo Clinic published an article which outlines 10 alternative treatments they use in cancer treatments.  Acupuncture is one of them.

“Acupuncture.  Studies show acupuncture may be helpful in relieving nausea caused by chemotherapy. Acupuncture may also help relieve certain types of pain in people with cancer.”

              —- Mayo Clinic Staff

Read the full article:  “Alternative cancer treatments:  10 options to consider“.


Other cancer centers across the country, including Lee Health, are either beginning to use–or at least considering–acupuncture, reiki, and massage in their treatment plans. While they do not always overtly recommend it, they see it as another tool in the toolbox to treat cancer patients. As more and more people experience holistic healing modalities and begin to request it, these modalities will grow in use, and the patients will be the benefactors.  We are grateful to be part of this Integrative Medicine movement in Fort Myers. Stay tuned for a potential new, additional location in Fort Myers to receive acupuncture treatments from Dr. David Martin—in an Integrative Medicine setting!


Using the Whole Toolbox,


Dr. David Martin
And all the Providers at Lotus Blossom Clinic

Serving the Greater Fort Myers area with Natural and Holistic Medicine:   Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Massage, Science-backed Food as Medicine, Energy Medicine.  Our food consultants work under the direction of an Acupuncture Physician to assist patients to implement his guidelines.  They are not nutritionists nor dieticians.  

Resources and References:

“Clinical practice guidelines on the evidence –based use of integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment”, PubMed  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29889605/

“Clinical practice guidelines on the evidence –based use of integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment”, CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, April 24, 2017; Heather Greenlee ND, PhD, MPH, Melissa J. DuPont-Reyes MPH, MPhil, Lynda G. Balneaves RN, PhD, Linda E. Carlson PhD, Misha R. Cohen OMD, Lac, Gary Deng MD, PhD (and more…)