Combat Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy drugs destroy the immune system and no physician who understands the biochemistry of the body would recommended them. However, some patients have already gone through orthodox medical treatment for cancer before going to a naturopath doctor. These natural remedies listed will assist the body's defence against the assault of lethal drugs.

Doc, I can hardly move without vomiting, I am nauseous 24 hours a day, my hair is falling out, and my energy level is zero!"

These were the words of Paul, a new patient of mine who was in the midst of a series of chemotherapy treatment for his cancer. Fortunately for Paul and thousands of other people undergoing chemotherapy, there are safe and effective natural therapies that can significantly reduce the unwanted side effects of chemotherapeutic drugs.

Chemotherapy is the treatment of choice for many types of cancers in conventional medicine. This treatment involves a combination of powerful chemotherapeutic agents which lead to strong, sometimes lethal side effects.

During treatment, "good" cells are being killed along with the cancerous cells. The body eliminates the high volume of waste products from cell death via the bowels, urine, skin and respiratory systems. The organs of elimination may become overwhelmed by the toxicity of the treatments and symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, hair loss, fatigue and depression can occur.

Vitamin Aid

Specific vitamins I recommend to my patients during and after chemotherapy include:

High-potency multi-vitamin -- Taken on a daily basis to apply essential nutrients.

Vitamin C -- Has many uses but specifically aids the body in detoxification and supporting the immune system. I recommend a minimum of 3,000mg daily in divided doses. It is best to take as high a dose of vitamin C as one can tolerate. Bowel tolerance is a good indication. When you have diarrhea, cut back on the dosage until it subsides.

Vitamin E -- A potent antioxidant that helps one recuperate from the free-radical damage of chemotherapy. I recommend 400 to 800IU daily.

Coenzyme Q(10) -- This vitamin-like compound is specific for proper heart muscle function. One of the dangers of chemotherapeutic agents is the risk of toxicity to the heart muscle. Coenzyme Q(10) protects against heart muscle damage. I recommend a daily dosage of 300mg to be taken in divided doses.

Helpful Plants

The following are specific herbal medicines to be used during and after chemotherapy treatments to minimize drug side effects:

Ginger root -- Has been used throughout history for digestive upset, including intestinal gas, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. It can be very soothing to the digestive tract although some people may be sensitive to it. I recommend two capsules or one cup of ginger tea every two hours or as needed for relief of symptoms.

Siberian ginseng -- This herb has been intensively researched for the ability to increase the body's resistance to stress. It supports the adrenal glands (stress glands!) and stimulates the repair of cells. Studies have shown that ginseng may have a protective effect under prolonged radiation exposure. I recommend 200mg of a standardized extract taken twice daily.

Milk thistle -- An excellent herb to support liver function. As mentioned, there is a great deal of cellular waste that must be detoxified by the body. The liver is the main organ in this process and is exposed to extremely high amounts of toxins and free radicals. Milk thistle has been shown to protect the liver cells with its antioxidant properties and actually stimulate regeneration of liver cells! I recommend a minimum of 200mg three times a day.

Homeopathic Help

Homeopathic medicines work quickly and powerfully to alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy. The following is a quick guide to the most common homeopathics used:

Cadmium sulph. 30C -- My patients take this medicine before and immediately after chemotherapy treatments to reduce nausea, vomiting, hair loss and fatigue.

Ipecac 30C -- A very useful medicine when there is constant nausea that is not relieved by vomiting. It quickly calms digestive upset and can be used as needed.

Nux vomica 30C -- A good medicine to counteract a symptom picture that presents stomach cramps, vomiting, constipation, irritability and chills.

Arsenicum album 30C -- Specific for chemotherapy side effects that present with burning pains, vomiting and diarrhea with burning, watery stools. The person needing this medicine is often restless and has much anxiety about his or her state of health.

Eat Right

The use of flesh or pressed fruit and vegetable juices during chemotherapy treatments, in as high an amount as can be tolerated by the individual, is very healing. This will help to supply essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes for healing.

As well, fresh soups and broths are recommended as they are easy to digest and absorb. It is important to maintain adequate levels of protein to promote tissue regeneration and lessen the degradation of muscle tissue. A high-quality protein mix or whey powder can be added as a daily supplement.

Natural medicines are a must in combating the side effects of chemotherapy. They should always be used to maximize the recuperative and healing powers of the body. When used properly they greatly improve one's quality of life and do not interfere with chemotherapy.

(By the way, Paul began natural treatment and the majority of his side effects disappeared within two days! His following chemotherapy treatments were much better tolerated while using the natural medicines.)

Recommended Reading:

Cancer Prevention and Nutritional Therapies

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by R. Passwater (sc) 238pp $25.50

Vitamins in Cancer Prevention and Treatment

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by K. N. Prasad (sc) 128pp $13.95

The Essiac Report

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by R. Thomas (sc) 236pp $27.95

Today's Herbal Health

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by L. Tenney (sc) 250pp $22.50

Healing with Herbal Juices by S. Gursche (sc) 217pp $18.95

Canadian Health Reform Products Ltd.

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By Mark Stengler

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