As the term chemotherapy suggests, it involves treating cancer as well as other health conditions chemically. Chemotherapy makes use of extremely potent medications, which are of great help to several people suffering from grave conditions. This is one reason why you need to give a careful thought prior to undergoing chemotherapy - to be sure whether the possible effects of chemotherapy on the ailment overshadow the potential effects on your overall health. It is extremely important to give chemotherapy at the appropriate time during the progression of the disease with a view to get the utmost benefits from it as well as to diminish the possible side effects.
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The location on the body as well as the manner in which chemotherapy is administered differs, subject to the medications being used as well as the health condition of the individual. Chemotherapy may be given at a doctor's office, in an outpatient clinic, a hospital, or also at the patient's home. Moreover, chemotherapy medications may be administered as a solitary dose every day, uninterruptedly for several days, once every week or once monthly. The regimen may continue from a number of weeks to many years, and, if required, may possibly be repeated.
In case you require undergoing chemotherapy, taking a herbal therapy during the chemotherapy may prove to be useful in making chemotherapy further effectual or even diminishing the adverse effects of this mode of treatment using chemicals. It should not come as a surprise if you come to learn that several medications used in chemotherapy have their origin in herbs. Such medications include vinblastine (Velban), paclitaxel (Taxol), vinorelbine (Navelbine), vincristine (Vincasar, Oncovin, Vinerex), and etoposide (Toposar, Etopophos, VePesid).
A number of herbs have been suggested below that are generally used by patients during chemotherapy to diminish the effects of this treatment. Instead of substitutes for the usual chemotherapy medications, these suggestions are basically additions aimed at making chemotherapy more effectual as well as protecting the body from its effects. It must be underlined that herbal treatment can never be a substitute for chemotherapy, which is essential medically. It is essential to use the herbs following consultation with and consent of your physician. Unless you have been advised otherwise, these herbs need to be taken while undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
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The most common side effect caused by chemotherapy treatment is nausea. Generally, physicians prescribe any of the numerous anti-nausea medications like ondansetron (Zofran) and granisetron (Kytril) to treat this problem. If you drink one cup of tea prepared from the herb licorice between taking meals once or twice every day, it will help enhance the effectiveness of the above-mentioned medications.
Other herbs that assist in combating nausea brought upon by chemotherapy include ginger, astragalus and the conventional Chinese herbal preparation called Shi Qua Da Bu Tang (also known as a 'comprehensive wonderful tonifying decoction'). You may prepare astragalus tea by adding one ounce (about 30 grams) of loose tea to three cups of steaming water and drink one cup thrice every day. Ginger should be taken in as hexanol extract, following the instructions on the product label. It is important to use these conventional as well as herbal medications only after seeking the consent of your physician as well as a qualified practitioner of herbal medicine.
Iscador is a medication prepared from mistletoe and the United States has approved its sale in the country. This medication is administered in the form of an injection into the abdomen one time every day. Since the 1960s Iscador has been used in Europe, while it has been used since much before in the Asian region. According to a number of experts, the use of Iscador does not result in as many or as severe side effects as those caused by the more conventional chemotherapy medications.
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Cisplatin (brand name: Platinol) and carboplatin (brand name: Paraplatin) are used for treating various forms of cancers, including bone, bladder, endometrium, cervix and lung. While these medicines have the potential to have equal effects on cancer cells as well as the healthy cells, they are only taken up by cells that are readying to reproduce rapidly. As majority of the healthy cells once have a solitary replacement while dividing, these medications cause more harm to the cancer cells compared to the healthy cells.
When these medications are taken up by the cells, they bind themselves to the DNA strands and this disables them from making proteins that required by the cancer cells for their functioning as well as reproduction. The potential side effects of using these medications comprise vomiting and nausea, loss of appetite, damage to the kidneys, hearing impairment and repression of the white blood cells (leucocytes) and the red blood cells (erythrocytes). Nearly all people who have taken several rounds of treatments with cisplatin suffer from moderate damage to the kidneys, which results in magnesium deficiency in the body. Consequently, it is important for people taking chemotherapy treatment with cisplatin to take mineral supplements.
Specific herbs are beneficial in making chemotherapy using cisplatin and carboplatin more effective as well as reducing the side effects of using these medications. For instance, you may take a tincture prepared from the herb cat's claw according to the dosage suggested on the product label. Add the dosage of the remedy in half a cup of water and one teaspoon of lemon juice and drink it. This herbal product helps to regularize the counts of the white blood cells. However, people taking insulin for treating diabetes and pregnant women as well as nursing mothers should avoid this herbal medication. Also do not give cat's claw to children below the age of six years.
Additionally, you may also take quercetin in tablet form. Take this supplement in dosage of 125 mg to 250 mg thrice every day, between taking meals. This herbal supplement augments the ability of cisplatin to eliminate tumours and, at the same time, lessens the side effects of the chemotherapy drug. Be careful not to take quercetin if you are already taking nifedipine (Procardia, Adalat) or cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral).
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Cyclophosphamide (Neosar, Cytoxan) is a chemotherapy medication that is used for treating lymphocytic leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, sarcoma, multiple myeloma and other forms of cancer, including those of the ovary, breast and cervix. In addition, this medication is also used in the treatment of lupus. Cyclophosphamide helps to prevent the multiplication of tumour cells and works most excellently when given in conjunction with additional chemotherapy medications.
However, cyclophosphamide does not have any impact whatsoever on cancer till the liver activates this medication. In other words, this denotes that people using this medication ought to have a robust liver in order to benefit from its use. The liver converts cyclophosphamide into a chemical substance, which is safe for the healthy cells, but destroys the tumour/ cancer cells. The potential side effects of cyclophosphamide may include vomiting and nausea, repressing the reproduction of the white blood cells and the red blood cells, damage to the lung and the bladder, developing secondary cancers and even infertility.
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The herbs that are beneficial during chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide are discussed in brief below:
Alfalfa capsules taken in dosage of 1,000 to 2,000 mg every day help to reverse the suppression of the immune system, according to laboratory tests. However, alfalfa should never be used in any form provided you are taking cyclophosphamide for treating any condition like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, wherein the suppression of the immune system is wanted.
You may also take aloe vera juice in dosage of one-fourth cup twice or thrice every day to augment the resistance power of your immune system. In addition, aloe vera juice also enhances the effectuality of chemotherapy, which blends cyclophosphamide with 5-fluorouracil (also known as 5-FU). Internal use of aloe juice is, however, not recommended in case you are suffering from diarrhea.
Capsules prepared from the Indian herb ashwaganda taken in dosage of 1,000 mg to 2,000 mg two times every day enhance the counts of white blood cells and red blood cells. Similarly, astragalus fluidextract taken in dosage of one teaspoon (4 ml) to four teaspoon (16 ml) helps in reversing the suppression of the immune system. Nevertheless, use of astragalus is not advised provided you are suffering from fever or have developed any type of skin infection. People taking astragalus should start treatment with the minimum dosage and, provided they do not develop any fever, they can increase the dosage to the maximum level over four days.
Take the tincture prepared from the herb cat's claw in dosage instructed on the product label added to half a cup of water and one teaspoon of lemon juice to help regularize the count of white blood cells. However, never use cat's claw if you are taking insulin to treat diabetes. Also do not give this herbal product to pregnant women, nursing mothers and children below the age of six years. You may also use tablets of polysaccharide kureha (also known as PSK) in dosage of 6,000 mg every day. Begin treatment with PSK tablets about one to two weeks prior to undergoing treatment with cyclophosphamide. This herbal product helps to lessen the suppression of the immune system.
Take reishi tablets in dosage of three grams thrice every day to enhance the red blood cell and white blood cell counts. In addition, you may also use scutellaria fluidextract in dosage of one-fourth teaspoon (1 ml) to half teaspoon (2 ml), as it will help to diminish the damage to the immune system. However, never use this product if you are suffering from diarrhea. People undergoing treatment with cyclophosphamide may also find turmeric curcumin tablets beneficial. Take this herb in dosage of 250 mg to 500 mg two times every day, between taking your meals. This herbal product is useful in putting off any damage to the lung tissue.
In addition to taking herbs, you may do a few other things to lessen the effects of treatment with cyclophosphamide as well as protect your body from the detrimental impacts of this medication. For instance you may take vitamin E in dosage of anything between 400 and 800 international units every day to put off this medication from promoting the formation of free radicals that injure the tissues, particularly in the lining of the mouth and the lungs.
You may also take the trace mineral selenium in dosage of 150 micrograms ever day prior to as well as while undergoing chemotherapy using cyclophosphamide. Selenium helps to lessen the toxicity of cyclophosphamide, while not affecting the efficiency of this medication.
Lactobacillus, the beneficial bacteria that facilitates digestion, may also be taken in the form of one or two tablets, every day along with food. While it is yet to be ascertained whether this supplement has a positive effect on cancer on its own, when given with cyclophosphamide it enhances the survival time of the patient and also the possibilities for remission, particularly while treating leukemia.
Provided ulcerations of the mouth are a main setback while undertaking treatment with cyclophosphamide, you should think about getting rid of wheat, corn, barley and rye items from your diet. All these grains enclose proteins that have the potential to result in formation of ulcers in the mouth. Besides, these proteins also get into the body without much difficulty in case you are taking chemotherapy.
The drug doxorubicin (brand names: Doxil, Adriamycin, Rubex) is employed in the treatment of severe cases of leukemia, cancers of the breast, bone, lung, endometrium, cervix, ovary and prostate as well as Hodgkin's disease. Doxorubicin destroys the DNA strands in cells which are readying to multiply rapidly. This medication not only affects cancer cells, but also the healthy cells, which replicate very often, for instance, the bone cells which produce the blood cells. The potential side effects of using doxorubicin may include vomiting and nausea, poor count of white blood cells, toxic impact on the heart, damage to the liver and colon and even infertility.
While undergoing chemotherapy with doxorubicin you may find the use of the following herbs beneficial in lessening the side effects of the medication as well as protecting your overall health.
You may use jambul seeds in cooking every day as per your wish. This herb aids in putting off injury to the heart and liver by doxorubicin. Use gel-caps of milk thistle silymarin in dosage of 120 mg taken thrice every day to avoid any damage to your liver while undergoing chemotherapy with this medication. You should keep in mind that milk thistle can cause diarrhea. You may also take schisandra capsules in dosage of 100 mg thrice every day to protect the muscles of your heart. However, avoid using schisandra in case you have any type of bile duct obstruction or gallstones. This herbal product should also be avoided during pregnancy.
Besides using herbal remedies, you may also do a few other things to diminish the effects of chemotherapy with doxorubicin as well as to protect your body from the potential harms of using this drug. For instance, you may start taking vitamin E in dosage of 400 to 800 international units every day from a week prior to undergoing chemotherapy. It may be noted that deficiency of vitamin E in the body is related to enhanced risks of damage to the heart from using doxorubicin.
You may also take vitamin B3 (niacin) in dosage of 2,000 mg to 6,000 mg every day from one week prior to undergoing chemotherapy with doxorubicin. Niacin helps to lessen the adverse effects of doxorubicin on your heart, while maintaining the efficiency of the medication. Also take the trace mineral selenium in dosage of 150 micrograms every day prior to as well as while undergoing chemotherapy using this medication. Selenium helps to lessen the toxic effects of this medication on your heart.
L-carnitine may be taken in dosage 500 mg thrice every day during as well as after chemotherapy with doxorubicin to protect your heart. Besides L-carnitine, you should also take CoQ10 in dosage of anything between 100 milligrams and 300 milligrams to enable the cells of the heart to generate additional energy while you are undergoing chemotherapy with doxorubicin.
The chemotherapy medication S-fluorouracil is employed to treat various forms of cancers, including those of the breast, stomach, bladder, endometrium, colorectal and ovary. In addition, this medication is also used for treating psoriasis. S-Fu prevents the division and multiplication of the cancer cells by making it unfeasible for the DNA of these cells to loosen up prior to reproduction. When S-fluorouracil is used in the form of a topical cream, the potential side effects of this medication may comprise itching, ulceration, pain as well as rash. When this medication is administered in the form of an injection, it may result in vomiting and nausea, lack of appetite, poor count of white blood cells and also diarrhea.
Applying a cold compress of herb coptis twice or thrice every day enhances the absorbency of the skin to 5-FU topical cream. In addition administration of lentinan in the form of an intramuscular injection by a professional healthcare provider one to two weeks prior to chemotherapy with this medication helps to put off any damage to the immune system.
In addition to using herbal remedies, you should take vitamin E in the dosage of anything between 400 to 800 international units and vitamin K in dosage of 100 micrograms every day. When 5-FU is used in conjugation with these two vitamin supplements, it helps to greatly enhance the anti-cancer actions of this medication, while preventing the development of any additional side effect. Nevertheless, there is a downside to the use of these vitamins - they have the aptitude to decrease the ability of the blood to form clots. Therefore, when you are taking vitamin E and vitamin K supplements and you require undergoing a surgery, ensure that you tell your physician about these vitamins.
Methotrexate is a drug that is employed for treating bone cancer, a number of cases of Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and even psoriasis. This medication works by preventing the cells that divide and multiply rapidly for accessing B vitamin folic acid. While methotrexate has an effect on all cells that are dividing frequently, it causes more harm to the cancer cells in comparison to the normal cells, which divide much slower. The potential side effects of using the medication may include suppression of the immune system, anemia and even infertility.
The herbs that are useful in diminishing the side effects of methotrexate include the following.
A tincture prepared from the herb astragalus taken in dosage of one teaspoon (4 ml) to four teaspoons (16 ml) added to one-fourth to half a cup of water thrice every day may prove to be beneficial for those undergoing chemotherapy with methotrexate.
In addition, a tincture prepared from the herb Panax ginseng should be taken in dosage of one teaspoon (4 ml) to four teaspoons (16 ml) added to one-fourth to half a cup of water thrice every day. Combining Panax ginseng tincture with astragalus tincture has helped cancer patients, especially those suffering from lung cancer, who are undergoing treatment with methotrexate to survive for a longer period. It is important to start treatment with Panax ginseng as well as astragalus with the minimum dose and gradually increase the dosage to the maximum level over four days, provided the patient has not developed fever.
Besides using herbal remedies, you may do a few more additional things to diminish the side effects of chemotherapy with methotrexate and protect your body from the potential harms caused by this medication. For instance, you may take vitamin E in the dosage of anything between 400 and 800 international units every day. Taking vitamin E supplements will help to put off the bone marrow damage as well as the harm to the intestinal lining caused owing to the use of this medication.
Mitomycin (brand name: Mutamycin) is a chemotherapy medication that is employed in the treatment of various forms of cancers, including those of the breast, bladder, stomach, colon, cervix and rectum. This medication prevents the multiplication (reproduction) of the cancer cells and compels them to be very much vulnerable to radiation therapy. Mitomycin works most excellently in tissues that are deficient in oxygen supplies, for instance, tumours which are yet to establish their own blood supply lines. The potential side effects of using mitomycin may include vomiting and nausea, fever, lack of appetite, hair loss, damage to the liver and kidneys, repression of the reproduction of the white blood cells and red blood cells.
Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment with mitomycin may find taking cat's claw tincture in dosage recommended on the product label beneficial in diminishing the side effects of this medication. Take this tincture in half a cup of water added with one teaspoon of lemon juice to regularize the counts of the white blood cells and red blood cells. However, never use cat's claw if you are taking insulin to treat diabetes. This herbal product should also not be given during pregnancy, to nursing mothers and children below the age of six years.
In addition, you should also take a tincture prepared from the herb Panax ginseng, as per the directions on the product label. Using this herbal product encourages the cancer cells to take up mitomycin more quickly.
Medications belonging to the family of steroids comprise dexamethasone, cortisone, methylprednisone, hydro cortisone, prednisolone and prednisone. The steroid medications help in restraining the inflammation caused by different cancer forms, in addition to some other disorders, which may include asthma, allergies, arthritis, psoriasis, eye inflammation, and eczema as well as kidney ailments.
Steroid medications perk up the functioning of the cells by encouraging the cells to become further responsive to hormones, for instance, cortisol and adrenalin. The potential side effects of using steroid medications may comprise acne, osteoporosis, hypertension (high blood pressure), cataracts, facial hair growth in women, glaucoma, irritability, menstrual abnormality, sleeplessness, psychosis and an augmented susceptibility to developing infections.
In order to lessen the side effects of using steroid medications and protect your overall health you should start herbal treatments prior to, during as well as after treatment with steroid medications.
People undergoing chemotherapy with steroid medications may find it beneficial if they take tablets of licorice glycyrrhizin in dosage of 200 mg to 800 mg every day, subject to the acuteness of the symptoms. Use these tablets continuously for a period of six weeks and, subsequently, take a break for two weeks. However, be careful not to replace licorice glycyrrhizin tablets with deglycyrrhizinated licorice (also known as DGL).
This herbal product encloses compounds which enhances the fortitude of cortisol. In addition, you should eat foods that are rich in potassium content, such as citrus juices, bananas or even take potassium supplements every day while you are using licorice. However, it is important to note that people suffering from high blood pressure (hypertension); any disorder related to estrogen sensitivity, for instance, breast cancer, fibrocystic breasts or endometriosis; or having glaucoma should not use this herbal product.
Additionally, people undergoing treatment with steroid medications may take the herb wild angelica in the form of a tea. Prepare this herbal tea by infusing one teaspoon (2 gram) of loose tea in one cup (250 ml) of boiling water and take one cup of this tea twice to thrice every day, between taking your meals. Consumption of this tea lessens the chances of fractures while undergoing treatment with steroid medications. However, be careful not to use this herb during pregnancy.
It is essential for people undergoing treatment with any steroid medication to keep away from salt as well as salty foods, as owing to the alterations in the body's ability to breakdown cortisol, undergoing treatment using steroids results in the body to hold on to sodium as well as fluid. This, in turn, may result in swelling, bloating and hypertension (high blood pressure).
The chemotherapy medication thiotepa is employed in the treatment of ovarian cancer and bladder cancer when other forms of chemotherapy have not yielded the desired results. This medication works by means of cross linking the DNA strands in cells that are dividing rapidly. This, in turn, helps to thwart the reproduction of the cells and it has more effects on cancer cells compared to the healthy cells. People using thiotepa should know that this medication may result in acute mucous membrane inflammation, lower the count of white blood cells following approximately two weeks' use, and decrease the count of red blood cells in approximately three weeks' usage.
People undergoing chemotherapy with thiotepa would be befitted if they take tablets of cat's claw in dosage of anything between 500 mg and 1,000 mg every day, as this herbal product aids in regularizing the counts of white blood cells. However, you should not use this herb if you are taking insulin to treat diabetes. In addition, pregnant women, nursing mothers and children below the age of six years should never be given this herb.
In addition, drinking green tea is helpful. Prepare the green tea by steeping one tea bag in one cup (250 ml) of steaming water and drink at least two to three cups of it every day. Be careful not to use decaffeinated tea. In order to avoid the dilution of this tea's effects, never use it within an hour of taking any other oral medicine. Green tea encloses caffeine that helps to augment thiotepa's potency to combat cancer.
It may be noted that ukrain is an exceptional blend of a chemical obtained from greater celandine (an herb) and thiotepa which helps to promote the destruction of cancerous cells that divide themselves all over the body, particularly inside the bone marrow, the place where red blood cells and white blood cells are produced. The unique thing about ukrain is that this product does not cause any harm to the healthy cells' DNA. Taking this supplement may prove to be beneficial for people undergoing chemotherapy with thiotepa.
Vincristine is used in combination with steroid medications to form a medical option for treating childhood leukemia. In addition, this medication is employed in the treatment of Hodgkin's disease as well as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Vincristine works by preventing the loosening of DNA of the cells that is essential for cell division. As the pace of division as well as multiplication of cancer cells is much faster compared to the healthy cells, this medication affects the cancer cells the most. The potential side effects of treatment with vincristine may comprise anemia, acute constipation, lack of motor control owing to damages to the nerve and hair loss - mostly reversible on discontinuing the treatment.
People who are undergoing chemotherapy with vincristine may find taking a tincture prepared from the herb astragalus beneficial in lessening the side effects of the medication. Take this tincture in dosage of one teaspoon (4 ml) to four teaspoon (16 ml) added to one-fourth to half a cup of water thrice every day.
In addition, they may also take a tincture prepared from Panax ginseng in dosage of one teaspoon (4 ml) to four teaspoon (16 ml) added to one-fourth to half a cup of water thrice every day. Panax ginseng and astragalus tinctures can extend the lives of patients with lung cancer treated with vincristine drug. Treatment with astragalus as well as Panax ginseng should start with the minimum dosage and the dose may be increased over four days provided the patient does not develop a fever.
Besides undergoing herbal therapies, you may take vitamin E in measures of 400 to 800 international units every day. Taking this vitamin supplement lessens the toxic effect of vincristine on your nervous system.