Complementary therapies provide options to reduce symptoms and assist in the rehabilitation process for those who prefer this approach, or in addition to treatments provided by “Western” medical practitioners. Even though many of these treatments are natural, they can still interact with other medications or rehabilitation processes, so you should always consult with a regulated health care practitioner before starting any new medication or therapy.

Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine focuses on supporting and stimulating the body’s ability to heal itself, and combines modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural therapies. Naturopathic medicine treatments may include special diets and nutritional counselling, fasting, enemas and herbal, vitamin or mineral remedies.

There is no evidence at this time that naturopathic medicine can treat the cancer itself. There isn’t enough research yet on the different therapies to say whether naturopathic medicine as a whole system works well as a complementary therapy.

However, some evidence shows that some methods used by NDs may be safe and effective as a complementary therapy to help cope with side effects of cancer treatment. These include acupuncture and massage, proper diet and nutrition during cancer treatment.

To find an ND, you can check your provincial or territorial association of naturopathic doctors or the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors. Some NDs have extra training, knowledge and experience in cancer care. These doctors have the designation Fellow to the American Board of Naturopathic Oncologists (Canadian Cancer Society, 2020).


Acupuncture is based in Traditional Chinese Medicine and uses thin, sterile needles to stimulate certain areas of the body and can be used for pain relief, nausea and may have a positive impact on lymphedema (swelling). Acupuncture treatment should only be provided by a regulated health care practitioner. You can search for a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner here or a physiotherapist who provides acupuncture/dry needling treatment here.

Indigenous Healing

Indigenous Navigators provide support and advocacy for First Nations, Inuit, Métis and urban Indigenous patients and families by:

  • facilitating and coordinating access to cancer services for palliative and supportive care
  • addressing cultural and spiritual needs
  • networking with Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners to make the cancer journey a culturally safe experience

Patients, families and healthcare providers are welcome to call navigators directly. Please click HERE for a listing of navigators by region in Ontario.