• Any suggestions for herbal or alternative medicine to reduce risk of breast cancer recurrence?

    Asked by Nana on Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Any suggestions for herbal or alternative medicine to reduce risk of breast cancer recurrence?

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer a month ago, and had bilateral mastectomy 2 weeks ago. According to my Oncotype DX score, my chance of distant recurrence is 11% in the next 10 years without chemo, and I don’t know whether I should be happy or sad about this number. Since metastatic breast cancer is non-curable, it scares me to think that I have 11% chance of receiving a death sentence in the next 10 years when I’m only 47. My oncologist says chemo won’t benefit me in my case, so he’ll treat me just with Tamoxifen for 5 years. I want to know what other things I can do to reduce the recurrence risk and increase my chance of survival. I understand that there are ongoing studies of Vitamin D benefits to breast cancer, so I’ll be taking at least 2000 mg of Vitamin D a day. I also read that red ginseng prevents breast cancer recurrence, so I’ll take them as well. Do people have any other suggestions for the herbal or alternative medicine that I should consider trying?

    9 Answers from the Community

    9 answers
    • kimjx6's Avatar

      Good morning. I have a suggestion but you have to be willing to believe in it. I've been seeing a Reiki Master for a long time with great results of overall health and wellbeing. Reiki is becoming more and more accepted as a practice in supplementing any kind of therapy. Adjunctive therapy, if you will. You may have heard/read that Dr. Oz brings a Reiki practitioner into every operating room. i have seen first hand numbers of patients who have literally watched tumors disappear as a result of reiki. My Reiki Master refuses to call herself a "healer" or a "doctor" of anything. But balancing the body's natural energy forces is what Reiki is all about. The idea is that once you're balanced, your body is more able to heal itself and/or better prepared to utilize the medication you receive. It's done amazing things for my state of well being. It was hard to wrap my head around at first but i spent some time researching the science of it all and it's amazing. It's all i can offer you..i hope it helps. Many hospitals offer Reiki treatment to patients but i suggest you look around for a Master in your area. Where are you located?

      almost 5 years ago
    • cranburymom's Avatar

      Hi Nana,
      I am following on your postings as we have a similar profile and diagno. I am a bit behind you, as my surgery is on 11/21.
      I am with you on OncoDx drama. It is not an exact science, and for a patient, a percentage discussion may lead to more questions (unless it is almost zeno!).

      There is a well-written article on exercise and reduction of 'relative risk' in breast cancer organization website. The link is here...

      I like the posting by Kim on Reiki. I am originally from Japan, so I know how powerful it can be. I do Yoga or stretch periodically - this helps me to check my mental and emotional balance. Spiritual and emotional well-beings are so difficult to monitor or measure. And I, too, need to find the way to bring my spirits up - so many things can bring us down. Keep focusing on something positive is not so easy. I notice that I become more energized when I go outside with my dog - walking and jogging. My plan to do this consistently. Hope this winter is kind to me ;-)

      Another thing you may want to do is to get the second opinion. I am planning to have this once I get the results from my surgery.
      Please keep us posted on your journey. And do not forget that we do care about you and your feelings.


      almost 5 years ago
    • hikerchick's Avatar

      Hi Nana,
      Essiac tea, also known as Flor-Essence tea, consisting of burdock root, sheep sorrel, slippery elm and Turkish rhubarb root, was highly recommended to me by an herbalist friend of mine. She had personal experience with it dissolving fibrous cysts in her uterus and her grandfather had extended his life and quality of life considerably beyond what doctors had expected because of use of the tea against his brain cancer. The formula is detox and anti-cancer, preventative and curative. You can research the originator of the formula by searching a doctor Caisse (Essiac backwards) and her work with Canadian (I think) natives and their absence of cancer in the 1920s, I think. Anyhow, I'm with you on the bilateral - mine was 11 mo. ago and I'm doing great. I found that this tea also helps my sinuses considerably. It's kind of a pain to make but I don't go a day without it (or my sinuses suffer). Tastes fine, and feels very cleansing. Cleared a friend's acne as a side effect too.
      I haven't looked into homeopathy, but if you find something that really fits the bill, will you let me know?
      Reducing acid in your diet is surely recommended but not so easy to do.
      Good luck to you!

      almost 5 years ago
    • Nana's Avatar


      Thanks for your responses.
      Kimjx6, I’ve actually had experience with Reiki; not on me personally, but when our dog Felice (she was a family member to us) became ill and her kidney was failing, we used Reiki to try to fix her. Unfortunately, she passed away, but as you said, perhaps you need to believe in it to work, so the treatment wasn’t for her. I live in San Jose California, and I know a friend who’s using Reiki treatment to heal from her colon cancer so I’ll ask her more about it and maybe I’ll try it to see if that’s something for me.

      Cranburymom, I’m Japanese born as well, so we have more in common than our diagnosis. I read the article from the link you sent me, and it’s very encouraging to know that being active helps with the breast cancer recurrence, because I’m naturally a very active person. (I’m a Zumba addict and a salsa dancer) So, I can’t wait for my surgery wounds to heal so I can go back to my physical activities. Best of luck to you on your surgery on the 21st. I’ll be thinking about you. Are you having mastectomy? Bilateral or unilateral? Let me know if you want to hear my experience with the surgery so you know what to expect.

      Nancy, thanks for your suggestion on Essiac tea. I’m definitely looking into it!

      I want to share with you all some information you might find useful. I was at a conference hosted by Breast Cancer Connection in San Francisco Bay Area last weekend and heard Dr. David Feldman, a professor of Medicine at Stanford, spoke about the benefits of Vitamin D on breast cancer. I was blown away by the evidence of Vitamin D benefits to breast cancer; it not only works to block hormone from hormone receptor positive cancer to inhibit growth, but also suppresses the cancer cell division. Dr. Feldman has done a lot of study in this field and the evidences are definitely there, but there hasn’t been enough funding to conduct large scale clinical trials, so the facts are not so well known. I figured that there is not much harm in taking Vitamin D, so I’ll probably be taking the supplement for the rest of my life, until someone tells me that it’s bad for me. You can also get Vitamin D from being under sunshine, which works for me too.

      almost 5 years ago
    • copland16's Avatar

      Hi Nana,

      This week is the 1 year anniversary of my unilateral mastectomy. I wish all of you luck in your journeys. For me being positive and being surrounded by positive people was so important.
      I had chemotherapy (4 sessions of adriomycian/cytoxin and 4 sessions of taxol) followed by 28 sessions of radiation. I am currently on tamoxifen for 5 years. My recurrence level is between 5-7%. I also started to take a multi-vitamin and 2000 mg of Vitamin D (recommended by nutritionist).
      I am currently reading a book recommended by nutritionist Anti-Cancer A New Way of Life by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber. He explores other cultures low occurence of cancers and what contributes to that. One of the points in the book is drinking 3 cups of green tea daily. It also mentions several types of foods that are anti-oxidants.
      I love your spirit to try whatever you can to lower your recurrence level. Stay positive. You can win! We all can win!

      almost 5 years ago
    • KarenG_WN's Avatar

      Hi everyone,

      I just came across this blog post about Chinese herbal medicine in cancer care and thought it would be perfect for this conversation.


      Hope this helps!

      almost 5 years ago
    • Nana's Avatar

      Cpland16 – congratulations on your 1 year anniversary of being cancer free!
      I’ve also read that in Japan, something like 1 in 30 women get breast cancer, as opposed to 1 in 8 in the US. What’s ironic is that I’m Japanese (but lived in the US for the past 30 years) and I drink green tea almost every day, even before my cancer. Unlike Japan, US is with people with mixed ethnic backgrounds, so it must have something to do with our diet, the way we live, air, water, etc… I heard broccoli is good for breast cancer, so I’ve been eating lots of those these days.

      Karen – your link is extremely helpful. I’m definitely interested in exploring herbal medicine in conjunction with the Western medicine. The success rate statistics of Dr. George Wong’s patients look so promising. I live in San Jose California and I’ll also do some research on local herbal medicine doctors who may be able to mix the herbs for me. Thank you for the information.

      almost 5 years ago
    • attypatty's Avatar

      Dear Nana:
      I am reading a great book called "Anti Cancer" by Dr. Servan Schreiber, a doctor/scientist/brain cancer survivor (he died last July after living with brain cancer for 20 years). It is a wonderful book about his own experience and how he changed his lifestyle to combat cancer - diet, exercise, environment, and stress. He teaches what foods fight cancer, which foods to avoid because they can create a "terrain" in the body where cancer can grow; how to "de-stress" to avoid cancer recurrence; how and why exercise helps fight cancer; what environmental factors are toxic and can allow cancer to grow and how to "clean up" your environment to avoid cancer causing toxins. I would encourage you to read it.

      almost 5 years ago
    • attypatty's Avatar

      Dear Nana:
      I read your post about Vitamin C and wanted to share something with you. Vitamin C in large doses is anti-inflammatory and so can be anti-cancer, but I have learned that during the treatment phase, we should avoid antioxidants because they can mask cancer cells. During our treatment phase (although I see you are not having chemo so this may not apply to you - but it may apply during hormonal therapy as well), you don't necessarily want to mask the activity of potential cancer cells. You should discuss this with your oncologist. Attypatty

      almost 5 years ago

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