Photo by Zachariah Bryan
Dr. Dan Labriola is a leading naturopath. His clinic, Northwest Natural Health, recently received a grant to test the effectiveness of its method in treating a cancer drug’s side effect.

Ballard naturopathic clinic receives grant to help treat cancer

By Zachariah Bryan

A Ballard naturopathic clinic, Northwest Natural Health Specialty Care Clinic, has recently received a $560,000 research grant from a major pharmaceutical company -- Millenium: The Takeda Oncology Company.

The founder of the clinic, Dr. Dan Labriola, has been one of the leading experts on combining naturopathic methods with standard medical procedures for cancer. His clinic has been at its current location on Seaview Ave (the same building as the Anthony’s) for about seven years now, and before that it was in downtown Ballard.

“Most of the cancer drugs have some side effects, adverse effects,” Labriola said. “One of the things we do with cancer treatment, and keeping patients really strong and healthy while they’re being treated, is to make sure there are no interactions (between the naturopathic intervention and the standard medical procedure).”

The grant will fund a two-year trial which will focus on mitigating a potential side effect of Velcade, an FDA approved, targeted chemotherapy approved for the treatment of multiple myeloma and other cancers.

The side effect, peripheral neuropathy, is a numbness in the fingers and toes. Northwest Natural Clinic’s method, which has extensive anecdotal effectiveness, uses a combination of natural amino acid and a special form of Vitamin B to limit the neuropathy.

The trial could be a great boon. If the method survives the thorough testing, it will gain a great amount of credibility, and can continue to do its small in part in helping treat cancer.

“Natural medicines have been used successfully throughout history to treat and prevent disease, relieve suffering and improve quality of life. This clinical trial will provide hard scientific data for one of the many opportunities to combine the best of both worlds, naturopathic care and conventional medicine,” said Labriola.

Unfortunately, Labriola said many so-called “naturopathic treatments” aren’t always trustworthy.

“The Internet is 99.9 percent nonsense, unfortunately,” he said. “And it’s too bad. For naturopathic medicine, it’s especially tough, because there’s only a little over a dozen licensed states (where anyone can call themselves a ‘naturopathic doctor’).”

Still, Labriola said all of the “bologna” out there shouldn’t discount the great benefits natural medicine could have.

“If you really take them both (natural and conventional medicine) and you combine them intelligently, by far you get the best outcome,” he said. “Take the best of both worlds.”

In the end, Labriola said he is in the business of helping people. And, perhaps more importantly, helping people effectively.

“Most of us get into this to want to do something significant for people. … Cancer is a tough road. You wake up one morning, and you go to see the doctor for your yearly checkup, and you drive home knowing you got cancer. It’s going to affect your livelihood, it’s going to affect your work, it’s going to affect your relationships. Cancer’s tough.”

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