If you decide to go the traditional route of chemotherapy and/or radiation on your healing journey with Breast Cancer, it is paramount that you know how to counter both the short and long-term side effects that are inevitably a part of these conventional treatments. In this two-part series, I will take a look at some of the most common ones. Most importantly, I will outline what evidence-based research has to say about the very best in natural modalities and substances that can help.
Boosting Immunity After Chemotherapy
You may have heard the statistics when it comes to mortality and chemotherapy. If you haven’t, they aren’t good. According to a study conducted by the Northern Sydney Cancer Centre, “The overall contribution of curative and adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adults was estimated to be 2.3% in Australia and 2.1% in the USA.”
A big reason why those who undergo chemotherapy treatment have low survival rates concerns what chemotherapy does to the immune system overall.
Chemotherapy is a strong drug therapy that is designed to work quickly to destroy fast-growing tumor cells. In turn, it winds up affecting many kinds of healthy cells, including those in your immune system.
Here are just a few modalities that can help boost immunity for both short and long-term health:
Vitamin C is vital for healthy cellular growth. C can also help with sleep, nausea, and fatigue. In addition to oral supplements, you can also utilize vitamin C IV therapy with the guidance of a trained professional.
Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant that can help to lower inflammation, allowing your body’s healing mechanisms to kick in again. In addition, a study at the University of California, Los Angeles found CoQ10 to be protective against anthracycline-induced damage to the cardiovascular system.
Raising body temp can also raise immune system function. In fact, raising body temperature between 104 – 111 degrees F, such as when you are in an infrared sauna or hot bath, can actually destroy cancer cells.
Sulforaphane is a powerful phytonutrient found in cruciferous vegetables, especially in broccoli sprouts. It has the ability to turn on “phase II detoxification enzymes” to get rid of toxins, protect against oxidation, and lower inflammation. Most importantly, sulforaphane has been shown to destroy pathways that can lead to cancer tumor growth as well as cancer tumor stem cell growth. The best way to use sulforaphane to boost immunity as well as protect against cancer metastasis is through supplementation.
Other modalities that can help the immune system after chemotherapy include vitamin D/K, iodine, melatonin, modified citrus pectin, bee propolis, curcumin/black pepper, and many others.
Countering the Short-Term Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Short-term effects like loss of hair and nausea usually take the forefront during the course of treatment, and rightly so. There are natural modalities that you can employ, however, to help you through it. The following will also boost your immunity and help you over the long term as well.
Nausea and Diarrhea
L-glutamine and probiotics can become your best friends if you are suffering from diarrhea as a result of chemotherapy. L-glutamine has been shown to help protect and repair the cells of the digestive tract.
Re-establishing a healthy balance of microflora in the gut through probiotics will provide both short-term and long-term benefits for the gut and immune system. Probiotics can also help reverse diarrhea, as noted by Sloane Memorial Kettering Cancer Center.
To counter nausea quickly (and, in turn, help with weight loss and appetite), many people turn to cannabis. One study published in the British Medical Journal found that cannabis was more effective than most common pharmaceuticals for curbing both nausea and vomiting.
Some modalities that can be of help for overall fatigue include L-Carnitine (which can also help with sleep), vitamin C, astralagus, Turkey Tail mushroom (which is also cancer protective) and the herb Rodiola Rhosea. Also make sure you are adequately hydrated and have plenty of electrolytes in your system, as chemo will deplete them.
Manuka honey, cultivated in New Zealand from the Manuka bush, is a known anti-inflammatory and also has anti-microbial properties. A clinical trial conducted at Assiut University in Egypt discovered that this kind of honey prevented mouth sores in both chemotherapy and radiation therapy patients.
Brittle Hair and Nails
Beefing up on essential vitamins and minerals may bring hair back in a shorter amount of time. It can also help with brittle nails. Some to include are B vitamins as well as ionic calcium, magnesium and zinc. Horsetail, a plant that grows wild in many regions of the United States, can assist with reforming collagen bonds in the hair, nails and skin.
Two common brain-related side effects in patients who have undergone chemotherapy are foggy-brain and forgetfulness. CoQ10, vitamin C, Omega 3 fatty acids, and medicinal mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane are substances that can help. Light exercise and meditation can also bring cognition “back on line,” according to studies.
Of course, the above is just the tip of the iceberg. You can learn more about chemotherapy and what you can do to protect yourself from its adverse effects in the second edition of my book, Heal Breast Cancer Naturally: The 7 Essential Steps to Beating Breast Cancer.
The Decision Regarding Chemotherapy Is Yours—Make An Informed One!
Your doctor may be steadfast in the course of action he recommends. You may have friends and family who offer their well-intentioned advice. Ultimately however, the path to healing is yours and yours alone. This includes which modalities—conventional or natural, or a combination of both—you choose on your cancer journey.
If you chose chemotherapy, just remember that how you nurture your immune system now can make all the difference between a quality life or pain and suffering in the future.
Survive & Thrive with Integrative Health!
The Survive & Thrive: Conquering Breast Cancer with Conventional Treatments and Natural Medicine Program – learn from world-class integrative health doctors and healers and create an actionable plan that is best for your diagnosis and life.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, where I will discuss survival tips for radiation.