• What natural supplements can help with chemo side effects and to boost its power.

    Asked by Betucanfly on Tuesday, July 15, 2014

    What natural supplements can help with chemo side effects and to boost its power.

    Medical Doctors seem to be afraid that supplements may hinder the effect of chemo. Why is there no research on this subject?

    22 Answers from the Community

    22 answers
    • lilymadeline's Avatar
      lilymadeline

      Nothing that I know of can boost it's power, but please speak to your oncologist before taking anything because some supplements can damage the chemo effects and that is the last thing that you want to do! Just go by what your doctor says but do ask to see a dietitian for help with that, because if you're at a cancer center they will have trained dietitians that can help with diet and suggest supplements that will be good for you specifically. Also it will depend on your blood work, I lost potassium and vitamin D so I needed to supplement my diet with foods strong in them and pills as well. It just depends on what is going on with you specifically! And only your doctor can tell you that!
      However usually oncologist recommend that cancer patients take L-Glutamine Powder a few days before and after chemo treatments. It helps with neuropathy and side effects. And also vitamin B's are often recommend as well. But again- very important! Speak to your oncologist before doing anything! Nearly all oncologist are well aware of how important diet and exercise are now, and cancer centers always have doctors there specifically to help patients with this, also acupuncture is commonly available now as well and that often helps with neuropathy if you have any. Good luck and God bless!

      over 5 years ago
    • Jenvivace's Avatar
      Jenvivace

      I was told that supplements that affect your immune system may interfere with chemo working properly, but a multi vitamin is fine. I would look up supplements that may be good for your cancer and then ask your oncologist if there is any reason not to take them. Some things may be better to take post treatment as you recover. I take co q 10 which is supposed to be good for inflammatory cancers (but I had read not to take it during chemo). I also take turmeric which is another GI inflammation supplement, but I had not known about that one earlier.

      As far as for chemo side effects, the only thing I used during treatments was ginger to prevent/take away nausea.

      over 5 years ago
    • barryboomer's Avatar
      barryboomer

      Lef.org....Life Extension Foundation has some info on Supplements and Chemo.....there are studies that certain supplements HELP the chemo.....BUT you'll have to dig deep here. That site has the info but not exactly sure.....check under cancer and go from there.

      BTW....The last person I'd check with is your Oncologist.....it's like going to a Auto Mechanic for a Gall Bladder Operation. MOST just don't know and they are NOT up to date on any of this.
      They just follow Big Pharma Protocol and that's all they do.
      Barry

      over 5 years ago
    • barbdee's Avatar
      barbdee

      Why go thru treatment, if you are going to ignore your doctor's plan for your individual cancer?
      Supplements can & do hinder treatment. Nothing is proven, except I know my chemo cocktail killed the cancer cells. Good luck.

      over 5 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      Turmeric is food. A doctor can't object to it.

      Same with ginger, elderberries, and so forth.

      When you get into pills and potions, however, the docs want the chemo weakening your system while certain "natural" supplements strengthen your immune system. You need to make a choice. Chemotherapy is a poisoning. nothing in Nature supports that. Where ever Mom Nature puts a poison, she also puts a remedy. I do not know that Man is quite so clever.

      For as long as you are able, why not simply try eating richly? Lots of fresh fruit and fresh greens and veggies. All very hydrating in a great variety of salads and soups. Best wishes for an easy time of it and a full recovery.

      over 5 years ago
    • AmyJo's Avatar
      AmyJo

      In the beginning, I tried everything that everyone told me and I got sicker. A lot of natural things interfere with chemo, or other meds that go along with chemo. Please be careful and trust your oncologist.
      I do agree with eating healthy, that can't hurt any.
      God Bless!

      over 5 years ago
    • cam32505's Avatar
      cam32505

      I had severe diarrhia with radiation treatments and I asked my rad onc about taking probiotics. He said he didn't know anything about them, and that was it. I didn't end up taking them because I didn't want to interfere with my treatment working, but I sure did suffer.

      over 5 years ago
    • AmyJo's Avatar
      AmyJo

      I think probiotics were the best thing I've ever taken! A woman in the room when I got my first chemo told me to stop on the way home and get some. This is 4 years later and I still take one every day. I can really notice a difference if I forget to pick them up and it goes a few days without one! So to that one, I say yes

      over 5 years ago
    • lawcreate's Avatar
      lawcreate

      First, supplements are a contentious issue. Coming from my pharmacokineticist husband, there are some things that can possibly boost the chemo; however, they will increase your side effects. Your Onc will do the proper dosage for your chemo (don't worry about that) but you'll need to find someone (not always a dietician) who is well versed in supplements IN CONJUNCTION with cancer treatment. I found someone at the Integrated Health Center and there was actually a doc I saw who was into the integrative approach to cancer, but these ppl are one in a million. I suggest you look at the Sloan Kettering website - they have created a web site for all the supplements and how they do/do not work with the chemo (most DO NOT). Pls do not assume YOU can figure out what you can or should be taking with your chemo, as you may cause more damage than help. Cancer Centers of AMERICA and other private cancer centers are more likely to recommend supplements and nutritional therapies. It all comes down to your particular cancer.
      From my experience, a multi vit (no iron), the glutamine powder [dissolved in water) throughout all your treatment and Chinese mushrooms (My Community) worked well for me. Keep your diet as clean and natural as possible. Detox as best as you can afterwards. I wish you all the best!

      over 5 years ago
    • lawcreate's Avatar
      lawcreate

      And yes, AmyJO was right - probiotics! How could I forget these.

      over 5 years ago
    • barryboomer's Avatar
      barryboomer

      I find it appalling and really SAD that Oncologists aren't required to take courses in all the Nutritional Aspects of Cancer. It's really awful. ALL they seem to do is write a Chemo Prescription and move on to the NEXT Patient. What's up with that????
      The best way to learn is the Internet.....ALL the information is there but it takes a little work to find all of it. Nobody said it was going to be easy and a LOT of Patients just go from Doctor to Doctor and Just do whatever they say without questioning anything. My generation was brought up with the Family Doctor in a Small Town. We Trusted them and we had a lifetime relationship with them. They were also well versed in ALL Aspects of Healing and Medicine. Today there are TOO MANY So Called Specialists... One to look up your yazoo. and another to look at your feet. WE are a WHOLE Human Being and every illness isn't just a problem from one part of our anatomy. It's frustrating but that's the state of Modern Medical Today. It's not a Heath Organization it's a Disease Organization. They get Patients many times when they are really SICK and by then it's too late a lot of the times. The Moral of THIS Sordid Story is that WE are responsible for our OWN Health NOT THE DOCTOR....They can help with symptoms but rarely can they cure a disease. Our Immune System can do that if it is given the correct nutrition and fuel......BUT OF course eventually we'll ALL succumb to some awful disease and kick the bucket. No Cure for the Grim Reaper....lol

      over 5 years ago
    • banditwalker's Avatar
      banditwalker

      I agree totally with lawcreate. Unless you get a degree in homeopathics, you will not be able to navigate your way around all the options that are out there in the way of supplements and what they claim to do. I also do not trust the supplement makers to make sure that what they are selling me is actually in the product.
      I believe that eating clean is the best approach. If you eat meat make sure it is hormone and antibiotic free. I had breast cancer so I am sure I went thru' a totally different chemo regimen but I did use a chlorella/spirulina powder every day to help flush the chemo out. Also manganese in the form of spinach, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, etc....to stay on top of any bone loss and free radicals. And glutamine to build my amino acids for protein production. I had relatively few side effects. Very little neuropathy in my little toes, of course I lost my hair, and I am still fatigued.
      Most will agree if you get a wide variety of clean foods you should be getting most of what you will need. If you google these supplements you will get a better idea of why we like them.
      If like most, you will be getting regular blood work. Ask the onc. to include any or all of the minerals and nutrients in your system at the same time he does the CBC's and such and it will give you some info on what you may be lacking or have too much of in your body.
      It totally is like going back to school but you will be rewarded in the end.
      Good luck in your research and upcoming treatments!

      over 5 years ago
    • KLC's Avatar
      KLC

      To answer your question it's because no one wants to fund that type of research because there is no payback, most studies are funded by pharmaceutical companies. So studies involving nutrition and supplements are limited. Turmeric, Maitake mushroom extract both help the efficacy of chemo. (there have been some studies done on those) Vitamin D is simply important because you need to maintain decent levels while undergoing chemo. Glutamine helps promote recovery in areas being damaged by chemo and can actually help prevent neuropathy.

      Agree with banditwalker above - my holistic dr has me taking chlorella and spirulina to help cleanse the body from radiation. They are natural "purifiers".

      Oncologists study medicine - not nutrition. It's important to get guidance from both aspects as they both play major roles in your outcome.

      True story - my holistic dr had me start taking brown seaweed extract right before radiation. (I'm halfway through). This is because if the thyroid is saturated with natural iodine it us unable to absorb the scatter radiation that hits other areas of the body while undergoing radiation treatments for breast cancer. When I discussed with my radiation oncologist at Sloan Kettering, she agreed and thought it was a great idea as the most common long term side effect is hypothyroidism. HMMMM, WHY DON'T YOU TELL YOU PATIENTS THAT THEN ? ? ? Conventional medicine and holistic/nutrition pathways are two completely different animals.

      over 5 years ago
    • lawcreate's Avatar
      lawcreate

      I urge CAUTION with the chlorella/spirulina with certain chemotherapy agents (part of my chemo was the platinum-based drugs Cisplatin and Carboplatin). Each agent has a specific half-life (the amt of drug that remains in your body over time) and you do not want to take a chelating type supplement while the chemo is still actively killing potential cancer cells, thus reducing the full effect of the chemo. Check the Sloan Kettering website and look up the info on your chemo agents (google - half-life of XXX drug) on reputable web sites. Pls discuss this with a TRAINED person, be it an integrative dietician or someone knowledgeable with ALL this.
      Re: Chinese Mushrooms - the 'My Community" is a combination of many types of Chinese mushrooms. You can't go wrong with this, in my opinion.
      Re: probiotics - get the best you can afford (i.e. the most active amounts). The ppl at a health store or some place like Whole Foods, should be able to help you with the probiotics.
      Barry is right on some fronts - cancer is a HUGE money-making machine. You have to arm yourself with as much as info as possible and ask, ask, ask until you get the answers you are happy with (my Rad Onc had to go dig, dig, dig to get me the answers I was looking for) Some times, I think we educate the Drs, which is good - better info for the next person.
      And one thing I know made a BIG difference - stay active! I managed my daily schedule through most of my rad (external rad daily for 5 weeks), the fatigue really hit the week after, but subsided quickly.
      And most impt - be kind to yourself and listen to your body. Eat well, really well, and rest or take naps when you need to.

      over 5 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      IMHO, probiotics are a waste of money. That isn't to say that we do not require them but there are much easier ways to get your internal flora regulated than to pop little pills. Simply eat.

      Fermented food is probiotic. Yogurt with "active" and live cultures, sour cream, pickles (barrel, not in a jar because the jars are pasteurized) sauerkraut (more highly colored the better), kimchee (Korean hot fermented veggies), natto (Japanese fermented soybean), miso (fermented soybeans), soy sauce (fermented wheat), even sake (fermented rice) all contain live cultures (probiotics) and, likely, in much higher numbers than in your little pills. There are thousands of different probiotics but sold to you are only two or three which have been patented.

      Again, seaweed is food. No one can complain about it. The same is true of spirulina and chlorella despite most docs not ever having heard of algae. Mushrooms are also food, as are yams. The same with soursop, kiwi, cherries and hosts of other food aids.

      When it comes to pulling food apart for components, however, it is no longer food but a type of medicine which nobody really knows much about. If you prefer pills to food, see a doctor but, again MHO, it is a lot simpler to just eat.

      http://www.etsy.com/shop/rawmaven

      over 5 years ago
    • AmyJo's Avatar
      AmyJo

      All of this advice is good, but some people, like me, have terrible reactions to certain supplements, medication, natural things, and even foods. I got very sick on sour sop. I also got sick on seaweed.
      Just be careful

      over 5 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      AmyJo ... I would hazard a guess that when you got sick on soursop you either 1. did not take it properly or 2. did not take it properly and had cancer. The dosage varies as part of the anti cancer protocol so if you are eating, say, one fruit a day for a month, you are hurting yourself because, to be effective against cancer, soursop cannot be taken continually. It is more like 2 weeks on, a week off, double dosage, a week off, half dosage, and so forth. Because it is a complicated protocol and because the fruit is almost always dried when used as medicine, eating it can make a sick person feel more ill. Seaweed ought to be eaten in relatively minute quantities. I know absolutely nothing about seaweed extracts. I eat a pinch of seaweed, daily.

      and there is always someone who is allergic to something .. these days mostly because we are not eating natural foods for our bodies (GMOs & pesticides). You would, likely, also feel sick if you ate 6 apples ... moderation and variety are key. Best wishes.

      over 5 years ago
    • LaurieCP's Avatar
      LaurieCP

      It's not a supplement, but acupuncture helped normalize my body during chemo/radiation. I didn't feel great, but I didn't feel anywhere near a bad as I had anticipated. I did my best to visit the acupuncturist once or twice a week during my treatment. Unlike the supplement conundrum, all my oncologists were on board with my complementive acupuncture approach.

      Love and Light,
      Laurie

      over 5 years ago
    • barryboomer's Avatar
      barryboomer

      Hey Laurie.....How Much does it cost for Acupuncture and does Insurance (Medicare) help pay?

      over 5 years ago
    • LaurieCP's Avatar
      LaurieCP

      Hi barryboomer,

      I don't have medicare, but my insurance didn't cover acupuncture. Out here in Southern California most places charge between $60-$80 a session. However, there are some "community" acupuncture clinics that do it in a group setting (maybe four people at a time) where you can get it for around $40. Shop around. Most practitioners are sensitive to their patients' needs and will do what they can to help you. If it's problematic to pay for weekly visits you'll still find relief going bi-weekly or even monthly. To be clear, it doesn't claim to cure cancer. You can expect decreased anxiety, better sleep, pain relief, anti-nausea and a general sense of well being. I usually leave feeling like I've had an amazing massage and a restful nap. I love it, and I hate needles! :)

      over 5 years ago
    • AmyJo's Avatar
      AmyJo

      Hi Geekling, :) The sour sop I had taken was in a juice form. They were little 8 oz juice boxes. Almost immediately after I drank it, I was in the bathroom vomiting. Okay, that was the first time and it could have been something else I'd eaten that day. I gave it a couple of days and drank another one. The same thing happened, right back in the bathroom. I'm so hard headed that I even tried it a third time with the same results. I am not saying it's a bad thing and people shouldn't use it, I'm just saying that some people are effected differently. When I got sick on Noni Juice, and Seaweed, it was diarrhea. My oncologist told me that a lot of those types of natural products can react to either the chemo itself or other medication that is used along with chemo. Now again, I'm not saying these things are bad, I'm not attacking you, I'm just saying to people, be careful, don't be so anxious to take something because someone told you too. A lot of it can be very good and have no effect on people, but there are different reactions for different people.

      Now, on the same subject so to speak, but a bit more comical, The other day a woman told me to put coconut water on the scar of my colon resection every day and that would prevent cancer from returning to that area.

      Be happy, Be healthy and most of all ~Never Lose Hope~

      over 5 years ago
    • geekling's Avatar
      geekling

      Thanks for telling. Soursop juice isn't ever used as a remedy. The whole or dried of the whole fruit is consumed. Juice tends to oxygenate (turns into sugar) in a relatively short time. Same with Noni .. sugar water. Same with bottled or boxed orange juice as well. Even Gerson therapy requires fresh squeezed juices.

      I don't feel attacked. :) I'm not positive that the seaweed caused diarrhea but I'd hazard a gues that you neglected to soak it and ate too much but that is neither here nor there.

      If I could get my head to wrap around belief that burying a statue would help, lol, I'd try it. Coconut water is so much like plasma that the MASH units in Korea used it as plasma and it seemed to work. It has electrolytes and is hydrating, more so than water. A man, lost at sea during the Tsunami, survived on a little spit of land for six weeks and did not even get dehydrated. There was lots of coconut on the spit of land with him. Everything else, lol, may be speculation and hope.

      over 5 years ago

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