Jeanne sent this in a while back and I thought it would be of help to people
who are doing alternatives or are interested in alternatives. Your friend,
> Chemotherapy, the systemic use of anti-cancer drugs, is a common
> treatment for many cancers. Unfortunately, during the process of
> eliminating cancerous cells, healthy cells are also damaged, and many
> side effects can develop. Several nutritional approaches show promise
> for alleviating side effects and/or increasing the effectiveness of
> chemotherapy treatment.
> Malabsorption and weight loss: Chemotherapy often causes nausea,
> malabsorption, and weight loss. The best way to combat these problems
> may involve working with a nutritionally oriented doctor or dietitian on
> an individual basis. A multiple-vitamin/mineral can be a first step in
> counteracting the decreased absorption of nutrients caused by
> Nausea: At least one trial suggests that N-acetyl cysteine, or NAC, at
> 1,800 mg per day may reduce nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.1
> NAC is an amino acid-like supplement that produces antioxidant activity.
> Ginger can also be helpful in alleviating nausea and vomiting caused by
> chemotherapy.2 3 A reasonable amount is 2-4 grams of the dried rhizome
> powder two to three times per day. Ginger in the form of tablets,
> capsules, and liquid herbal extracts are also available, which can be
> taken in 250 mg amounts every two or three hours, for a total of 1 gram
> per day.
> Mouth sores: Chemotherapy often causes painful mouth sores, a condition
> called mucositis. Applying 400 IU of vitamin E topically twice per day
> to the sores can reduce the problem, according to double-blind
> research.4 This can be achieved by breaking a vitamin E capsule and
> squeezing it onto the sores. It makes sense to use the d-alpha
> tocopherol form rather than tocopheryl forms of vitamin E, because the
> tocopheryls may not be active when applied to body surfaces.
> Nutritional supplements that may help chemotherapy work: In animal and
> test-tube studies, individual nutrients—usually antioxidants such
> as vitamin A,5 vitamin E,6 and vitamin C7—have increased the
> effectiveness of chemotherapy. Although more research is needed in
> cancer patients, a few human trials suggest similar effects, including
> increased survival.8 Nutritional support for chemotherapy patients
> should be discussed with an nutritionally oriented doctor.
> Nutrients and specific chemotherapy drugs: Methotrexate, a chemotherapy
> drug, interferes with the metabolism of folic acid—a B vitamin.
> Cancer patients taking methotrexate should not supplement folic acid
> beyond the 400 micrograms found in a multivitamin without first
> discussing it with their oncologist because supplementation might
> interfere with the action of the drug. Sometimes oncologists supply
> leucovorin—a special form of folic acid—after methotrexate
> has done its work in the body. The leucovorin is used to protect against
> unnecessary side effects caused by methotrexate.
> Adriamycin, also called doxorubicin, sometimes causes heart damage. A
> variety of antioxidants appears to reduce this toxicity. For example,
> coenzyme Q10 has been used successfully for this purpose.9 Nutritionally
> oriented doctors sometimes recommend 90-120 mg of coenzyme Q10.
> In animals, vitamin C protects against Adriamycin-induced heart
> damage.10 For this reason, some nutritionally oriented doctors recommend
> several grams of vitamin C per day to people taking Adriamycin.
> In test tubes, vitamin E has been found to enhance the ability of
> Adriamycin to kill cancer cells.11 Anecdotes have appeared suggesting
> that hair loss caused by adriamycin may be reduced by taking high
> amounts (1,600 IU per day ) of vitamin E.12 In animals, vitamin E
> protects against heart damage caused by Adriamycin.13 Many nutritionally
> oriented doctors recommend at least 800 IU of vitamin E to people taking
> Under certain circumstances, vitamin B2, or riboflavin, can also have
> antioxidant activity. In rats, supplementation with vitamin B2 helps
> protect against Adriamycin-induced heart damage.14
> [Back To Top]
> Cisplatin, another chemotherapy drug, often leads to depletion of
> magnesium.15 In some reports, this depletion happens in a majority of
> cases.16 People taking cisplatin should have their magnesium status
> checked by a nutritionally oriented doctor, who will prescribe magnesium
> supplements when appropriate. Glutathione significantly reduces the
> toxicity caused by cisplatin and improves quality of life for these
> patients, but it must be given intravenously by a doctor.17 18
> Fluorouracil sometimes causes problems on the skin of palms and soles.
> Reports have appeared showing that 100 mg per day of vitamin B6 can
> sometimes eliminate the pain associated with this condition.19 20
> Are there any side effects or interactions? (Refer to the individual
> supplement for complete information.) Congestive heart failure patients
> taking coenzyme Q10 should not abruptly discontinue taking supplements
> without first consulting a physician. Vitamin B2 is nontoxic, even in
> very high amounts. Taking too much magnesium can lead to diarrhea. This
> can happen at doses as low as 350-500 mg per day. People with kidney
> disease should not take magnesium supplements without consulting a
> physician. No consistent adverse effects of NAC have been reported in
> Vitamin E toxicity is very rare; supplements are widely considered to be
> safe. Women who are or could become pregnant should take less than
> 10,000 IU per day of vitamin A to avoid the risk of birth defects. For
> other adults, intake above 25,000 IU per day can—in rare
> cases—cause headaches, dry skin, hair loss, fatigue, bone
> problems, and liver damage.
> Although side effects from vitamin B6 supplements are rare, at very high
> levels this vitamin can damage sensory nerves, leading to numbness in
> the hands and feet as well as difficulty walking. Vitamin B6
> supplementation should be stopped if these symptoms develop. Pregnant
> and lactating women should not take more than 100 mg of vitamin B6. For
> other adults, vitamin B6 is safe in amounts of 200-500 mg per day,
> although occasional problems have been reported in this range.
> Some individuals develop diarrhea after as little as a few thousand
> milligrams of vitamin C per day, while others are not bothered by ten
> times this amount. However, high levels of vitamin C can deplete the
> body of copper, an essential nutrient. It is prudent to ensure adequate
> copper intake at higher intakes of vitamin C (copper is found in many
> multi-vitamin/mineral supplements).
> [Back To Top]
> Herbs that may be helpful: Using herbal adaptogens following
> chemotherapy can help the bone marrow in the production of white blood
> cells and help optimize immune function. Three herbs that have proven
> particularly useful following chemotherapy are astragalus (two to three
> 500 mg capsules three times per day), eleuthero (Siberian ginseng) (2-3
> grams per day of the dried root or 300-400 mg per day of the
> concentrated solid extract standardized on eleutherosides B and E), and
> Asian ginseng (100-200 mg per day of the standardized herbal extract).21
> 22 23 Astragalus is often used in combination with another Chinese herb,
> ligustrum (Ligustrum lucidum).
> Other herbal adaptogens that may also prove helpful include maitake,
> shiitake, reishi, and schisandra.
> Are there any side effects or interactions? (Refer to the individual
> herb for complete information.) Astragalus, eleuthero, and Asian ginseng
> are generally safe. Astragalus has no known side effects when used as
> recommended. In rare instances, Ginseng may cause overstimulation and
> possibly insomnia. Consuming caffeine with ginseng increases the risk of
> over-stimulation and gastrointestinal upset. Persons with uncontrolled
> high blood pressure should not use ginseng. Long-term use of ginseng may
> cause menstrual abnormalities and breast tenderness in some women.
> Ginseng is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women.
> There have been no reports of any side effects with the use of maitake.
> Shiitake has an excellent record of safety but has been known to induce
> temporary diarrhea and abdominal bloating when used in high dosages. Its
> safety during pregnancy has not yet been established. Side effects from
> reishi can include dizziness, dry mouth and throat, nose bleeds, and
> abdominal upset; these rare effects may develop with continuous use over
> three to six months. As it may increase bleeding time, reishi is not
> recommended for those taking anti-coagulant (blood-thinning)
> medications. Pregnant and lactating women should consult a physician
> before taking reishi.
> Side effects involving schisandra are uncommon, but they may include
> abdominal upset, decreased appetite, and skin rash. No adverse effects
> have been reported with the use of ligustrum.
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