Experiencing Chemotherapy Side Effects? These Common Remedies Could Help

Apr 26, 2019

Dr. Jeremy Hayman, ND

Dr. Jeremy Hayman, ND


For anyone who has ever been treated with chemotherapy first hand or has known someone who has, it’s blatant that the usual experience is not at all pleasant. Although there are a multitude of chemotherapy drugs and anti cancer benefits of each, they also emerge with their own unique potential set of side effects. Generally speaking, side effects from these types of treatments can often be categorized using a prevailing set of expectations; fatigue, nausea, ‘chemo-brain’, digestive issues, anemia, and hair loss.


This list, of course, is far from exhaustive. Regardless of the type, extent, or frequency of a chemotherapy side effect, many patients often wonder ‘what common medicines or remedies can help’?


Within the scope of integrative cancer care, we strongly support the effectiveness of pharmaceutical medications for cancer treatment. We also understand, barring the ability to improve some chemo induced side effects, drugs used to treat side effects can not cure all. We also have a medical appreciation that such drugs can often come with their own set of potential side effects. So what else can integrative cancer care offer within its treatment arsenal? Common remedies (often natural) and non-pharmaceutical derived substances can boldly address many of these unwanted side effect concerns. 


Granted that although there are an infinite number of side effects one may have to deal with throughout the course of chemotherapy, there are also as many common remedies that can be used. When it comes to addressing the most commonly seen side effects, well known remedies not only have the ability to handle numerous side effects at one time, but can minimize and keep damaging side effects at bay. Some of the common remedies that are regularly used, along with their general side effect target are as follows: mistletoe or astragalus therapy to support low blood counts and damage to the immune system, reishi or ginseng to help with fatigue, vitamin B12 for nerve injury, ginger for nausea, the BRAT diet (banana, rice, apple, toast) or electrolytes for diarrhea, aloe or prunes) for constipation, and L-glutamine for mouth sores, just to name a few


With this list of common remedies there are two aspects of importance to keep in mind. Firstly, when it comes to chemotherapy, the term ‘side effect’ essentially refers to a drug causing some level of ‘stress’ or change within the body, thus setting some aspect of the body’s physiology ‘off kilter’ (for example, vomiting often occurs due to chemotherapy stimulating certain receptors in the nervous system responsible for the feeling of nausea and vomiting), so it’s hugely important that the root cause of side effects are also considered during treatment. Secondly, any natural or common remedy should never be introduced without the experienced guidance of an integrative cancer care specialist. Naturopathic cancer care doctors fit this role perfectly. 


With the above in mind, and when it comes to common integrative cancer care remedies, a reduction (and complete avoidances) of side effects are frequently and predictably seen. 


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