Natural Support for Cancer Patients Through Surgery

Oct 3, 2019

Dr. Jeremy Hayman, ND

Dr. Jeremy Hayman, ND


For those who require surgery for their cancer can likely appreciate that the healing process will take some time. Despite this, patients top priority is typically trumped by anxiety surrounding whether surgery will go as anticipated, the cancer will be fully removed, if it will spread during surgery, or if remission will ensue once the procedure is complete. We believe that the approach to ensuring all goes well encompasses an individualized and detailed plan for you before (and after!) surgery. So before your surgery date arrives, here is what you need to know:


Prepare For Your Surgery In Advance


Surgery is stressful on your body. Period. That being said, it’s so important to support your body in advance of your surgery date. Evidence confirms that being closer to optimal health (less sick, stronger immune system, proper nutritional support) creates better outcomes for overall surgery success. When heading into surgery, science supports the need for increased protein, as well as a boost in favour of immune support. Whey or vegan protein sources, taken daily, can help achieve this goal. Increased protein intake also helps replete depleted glutathione; a critical and necessary anti oxidant needed for recovery readily depleted during surgery. In addition, people who eat healthier, and specifically follow sodium and sugar reduction protocols, tend to have immune and recovery systems that respond better during and following surgery. 


Directly Support Your Immune System 


During surgery, it’s really the immune system that takes a hit. Excessive acute stress, brought on by a surgery, not only uses up the nutrients, minerals and vitamins required to function healthfully, but puts the immune system into a compromised state. By bulking up immune support prior to surgery, the immune system will be better able to handle and resist acute stress. This, in turn, reduces the chances of immune and infection complications during and following surgery. Research shows that simple ways to support your immune system in advance include safe  nutrients such as zinc and vitamin C. 


Support Tissue Repair 


Surgery means that some amount of tissue will be damaged. In order to get to where the surgeon needs to go, other tissue (such as skin, muscle etc) will to take a hit. Not to mention, tissue surrounding the actual surgical area will also be affected. The body usually has a very sensitive and innate ability to self heal, however following a surgery, this ability is likely to slow down. Support the healing process by using safe and effective doses of vitamin C, zinc, or vitamin A. Other healing support exists, however requires a very thorough and investigative plan for your individual needs.


Support Your Gut 


The gut houses more than 70% of the total immune system within the body. It also supports proper digestion and absorption of nutrients, and functions as a one of the most critical steps to detoxify your body. Following surgery, due to necessary medications required beforehand, gut bacteria will easily become out of whack. Gut bacteria is not only critical for proper digestion, it hugely supports a proper post surgery immune system. If your surgery involves the stomach, gut, back, or surrounding area, you can be assured that your gut bacteria will take a massive hit. And don’t forget, you likely won’t be released from the hospital until your bowels are functioning well. Probiotics easily fill this necessary gap, and can quickly help resolve gut issues after your surgery.


Following Surgery and Beyond 


Once surgery has come and gone, and recovery mode is in full tilt, it’s time to ensure recuperation takes the lead. Prior to surgery nutrients such as vitamin D and omega 3’s are crucial to begin the post surgery process, however continuing this type of support after surgery is all said and done will definitely create the best possible outcomes for your case. Did you know that enough evidence exists to show that regular pre and post doses of vitamin D can actually significantly reduce post surgical complications, to the extent that it actually reduces all cause surgery mortality? Reducing the (low) probability of surgery stimulating cancer spread, there are also clinically proven nutrients that will address this potential risk too. 



Many other pre and post surgery support options exist, to the point where it matters when surgery occurs pending time in the calendar month. A lot of professional pre planning is required in advance, something an experienced naturopathic doctor can do. One of the most important points to take away is to ensure safety with any combination of drug-nutrient therapy. If surgery is in your upcoming medical cancer plan, please take the time to consider safe, evidence based, and effective integrative surgical support, but never start without the expert medical supervision of your integrative health care practitioner. And remember, all cancers are very different, and so to is the proper approach to your integrative surgical support.  


Cornerstone Naturopathic Team

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