Cancer and chemotheraphy often go hand in hand. Natural supplements and remedies can help chemotherapy patients reduce the nasty side effects of treatment.
Cancer and chemotherapy often go hand in hand. Systemic treatments such as chemo result in “friendly fire” – healthy cells are destroyed or damaged along with the targeted cancer cells.
Natural supplements can help chemotherapy patients reduce the nasty side effects of treatment while promoting the health of noncancerous cells.
These five natural products may offer some relief.
Drinking two to three cups of green tea a day may stop the growth of cancer cells. The polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) contained in green tea has a chemical structure similar to the popular cancer drug methotrexate. The resemblance ends there, as EGCG does not target healthy cells, which results in fewer side effects.
The polyphenol resveratrol is an antioxidant compound found in the skin and seeds of grapes that has inhibited the growth of cancer cells in both animal studies and laboratory cultures. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation.
Red wine, raspberries, blueberries, peanuts, and other plants contain high levels of resveratrol. Its natural role as a plant defence from fungal infection, ultraviolet light, and various other stressors mirrors the benefits it offers for human health.
Its high polyphenol content helped grapeseed extract emerge as a potent antioxidant in recent years. Made from grapeseeds, it is available in tablet or capsule form. Grapeseed extract offers a natural defence from the oxidative stress of free radicals, and studies have shown it to be an excellent source of anticancer agents. Ironically, grapeseed extract was once simply a waste product of the wine industry.
The compound N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is available on its own as a supplement or included in formulas that positively influence levels of the powerful antioxidant glutathione. This antioxidant helps to protect cells from damage caused by toxic substances. NAC, available in tablet and capsule form, also breaks down mucus in the lungs and may reduce the symptoms of nausea and vomiting that are common side effects of chemotherapy.
Maintaining adequate levels of selenium during chemotherapy is critical. Selenium is the essential trace metal found in most nuts, a wide variety of seafood, lean meats, eggs, and dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli. Selenium activates the antioxidant enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) of cancer cells in animal studies.
Consult your health care practitioner for the natural supplements and herbs that can inhibit the spread of cancer, promote the growth of healthy cells, and support your immune system while undergoing chemotherapy.