Cancer Care at HNNH- An Interview with Dr. Bier

One of the areas of focus within Human Nature Natural Health is helping patients who are interested in preventing or managing a cancer diagnosis. Dr Bier is an active member of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OncANP) and has brought together his background in biochemistry and research along with his Naturopathic and Oriental medicine training and experience to develop a very sophisticated method of assisting patients prevent and work with a diagnosis of cancer.


We sat down with Dr Bier to ask him about his interest in Oncology care, and what he does to work with cancer patients.

WHAT BEGAN YOUR INTEREST IN FOCUSING ON WORKING WITH CANCER PATIENTS?

Dr Bier: In my clinical training at Bastyr University, I was involved with the Immune Clinic, the first federally funded naturopathic clinic focused on HIV/AIDS patients. That gave me a profound experience working with very ill patients with severe immune system issues. During my residency and years as Dean and Research Director at the Naturopathic and Acupuncture College in Arizona, I brought together several local organizations and help found a similar clinic focusing on treating HIV/AIDS patients with immune-compromised conditions. It was extremely difficult but rewarding work.

Once I moved back to the East coast and began my regular practice, I was dismayed to find cancer patients of all types being treated very much the same way not only in conventional oncology, but also in many alternative medical practices; doctors were focusing on diet, and boosting the immune system through supplements and treatments, regardless of what type of cancer the patient had. The patients were doing well, having a longer and better quality of life than predicted by their oncologists, but it wasn't specific enough. I knew we were missing something.

A turning point for me was when a patient I was very close to, who responded very well to our standard naturopathic approach to her cancer care, passed away. She was one of my first cancer patients when I started to practice, and she survived for years beyond what her doctors originally predicted, but it was still very difficult for me emotionally and led to a lot of soul searching.

I realized my tools, although effective, were not as good as they could be and when we’re dealing with something like cancer, there’s no such thing as ‘good enough’. I needed to carefully and systematically examine all options, conventional and alternative, to help patients integrate both approaches for their cancer treatment. I knew that providing a balance of the two approaches would really help cancer patients succeed in their health goals.

WHAT PART DOES RESEARCH PLAY IN YOUR PRACTICE?
Dr Bier: I have always been fascinated by research, and I use research as one of the foundations of my practice. I constantly review research literature, and it’s helped me create a vast database of cancer research to support my integrative approach to cancer diet, supplements and treatments. Most oncologists don’t realize that there are tens of thousands of studies in the conventional medical literature that support the use of natural substances in cancer treatment, to make conventional treatments more effective, lower their side effects and even to treat cancer directly.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN RESEARCH?
Dr Bier: Biochemistry was my entry into higher education, and one of my first jobs was conducting in oil spill cleanup research for the Canadian government. When some of my own health issues led me to a Naturopath for very successful treatment, I changed my life’s direction to pursue Naturopathic medicine.

While I was at Bastyr medical school, I continued doing research as a Research Assistant, and later at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona. as Research Director. I consulted for the Arizona government, and in areas of industry research as well. I also worked with a company doing expert system technology in natural medicine, computer modeling to mimic how an expert thinks and goes through problems. It was that experience that gave me the first concepts of how to use sophisticated computer modeling to guide my use of cancer research.

WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO TREATING CANCER?
Dr Bier: I approach cancer differently with each individual patient, but I focus on five foundational concepts to offer the best approach to each oncology patient:
* Strengthen the immune system to fight cancer.
* Fight cancer cells directly using nutrients and treatments.
* Potentiate conventional treatments using nutrients and treatments.
* Decrease the negative side effects you may experience from conventional oncology treatments.
* Support the immune system and related organ systems for optimal health in general.

WHAT IS THE VISION OF YOUR PRACTICE?
Dr Bier: When I founded Human Nature Natural Health, my vision was to create a higher level of individualized care for patients. We offer a completely individualized approach to treat each specific patient in their current state of health. We really cater to the needs of all patients, and in cancer care, the type of cancer they have and to offer more success and improve quality of life and health.
Most of our cancer patients are doing some sort of conventional treatment; however, some are not, either because they have no conventional options left, or because they have chosen to go ‘all natural’. In all cases, our goal is to help patients make the most informed decision possible, which means I will often meet with them and go over the relevant literature on their recommended chemotherapy regimen so that they are aware of both the potential benefits (increased progression-free survival versus increased survival), and the likely risks (common side effects, increased risk of secondary tumors etc).
The excellent research being done in medical schools and labs all over the world makes it possible for me to regularly update my both my approach to specific cancers, and what specific compounds and combinations will fight those cancers best. I have in the range of 30 different supplements in our oncology support line and all of them are the results of my research into what combination of nutrients is most effective.

IF YOU HAD ONE MESSAGE TO GET TO PEOPLE ABOUT CANCER PREVENTION AND TREATMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Dr Bier: There are things you can do to improve your quality of life and chances at surviving cancer no matter what your diagnosis. It is a lot of work, but the rewards are well worth the efforts.

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