Reducing Treatment Side Effects
This important extract is made from pineapple. It contains compounds called proteolytic enzymes, which break down certain proteins, notably after injury, surgery, or scarring. I do not know of any research on adhesions, but these are a form of scar tissue. According to some studies, Bromelain may help reduce pain, bruising, and swelling after many kinds of surgery.
Bromelain is useful as a digestive enzyme. Unlike most digestive enzymes, bromelain is active in both the acid environment of the stomach, and the alkaline environment of the small intestine. This may make it particularly effective as an oral digestive aid for those who do not digest food properly.
Warnings: avoid with warfarin or similar anticoagulants.
avoid just before or after surgery, or childbirth, due to blood thinning.
Bromelain may increase the absorption of drugs, particularly antibiotics. This could offer both risks and benefits.
Milk Thistle's active ingredients are four compounds collectively called silymarin. Sylmarin acts in the body in several ways. It is an antioxidant, which neutralises free radicals that can damage any cell. It fills specific receptor sites on liver cells to lock environmental toxins out. It also promotes the regeneration of damaged liver cells, but does not stimulate liver cancer cells.
Milk Thistle provides liver protection to cancer patients on chemotherapy, including children being treated for leukaemia. Research indicates it does not appear to interfere with the treatment, and may enable patients to maintain dosages that would otherwise be too toxic.
Milk Thistle increases our production of Glutathione, an important anti-oxidant and anti-cancer compound; Glutathione naturally occurrs in the body, but adequate minerals enhance its production.
Warnings: Milk Thistle is non-toxic and can be taken long-term. Current research indicates it appears to be safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Supplements: Milk Thistle is widely available both organic and non-organic, tablets capsules and drops.
Pro-biotics and Pre-biotics
Pro-biotics are friendly bacteria. In a healthy gut, they help boost our immune system. These friendly bacteria, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, use as their food a kind of fibre called pre-biotic fibre. Rich natural sources of pre-biotic fibre include leeks, onions, shallots, oats, Jerusalem artichokes and pulses. The commonest kinds of pre-biotic fibre are FOS (fructo-oligo-saccharides) and Inulin.
These friendly bacteria protect against diarrhoea, a common side-effect of radio-therapy and chemotherapy, where the gut lining is affected. A double blind, placebo-controlled study, of over 200 people undergoing radiation therapy, found that probiotics significantly improved diarrhoea.
Studies show that friendly bacteria help neutralize some carcinogenic chemicals from the diet, and inhibit the conversion of nitrates to carcinogenic nitrites.
Supplementation with pre- and pro-biotics is helpful in re-establishing normal digestion and bowel function after drug treatment, including anti-biotics. Pro-biotics are also themselves strong natural anti-biotics.
Supplements: those little individual yogourt drinks are a very expensive, though effective, way to get probiotics. Capsules are widely available. Some need to be stored in the fridge.
Rosa Mosqueta Oil
Rosa Mosqueta oil, or Rosa Rubiginosa oil, is a pure oil made from the seeds inside the rosehip. It was developed in 1978 in Chile. It is not perfumed, unlike essential oil of Rose, made from the petals. Rosa Mosqueta oil contains Retinoic Acid, a derivative of Vitamin A; the oil naturally contains unsaturated essential fatty acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols and vitamin C.
Some of the best research comes from Dr Harbst, at the time of the research he was Head of Radiology for the Chilean Air Force.
“I work with many patients who have undergone surgery and therefore have scars......radiation causes reactions such as inflammation, darkening and dermatitis. I have applied Rosehip Oil, on all types of skin and on scars, to reduce hyper-pigmentation, flattening hypertrophy (bulky scars), and loosening up fibrous chords. All these effects end up in a near complete attenuation of scars. The results have been very good with some patients, and spectacular with others.”
Dr. Harbst added “Another patient who showed an acute dermatitis after radiation had an excellent recovery after 24 hours treatment with the oil. The skin had actually regenerated.”
Another researcher applied Rosehip Oil to mastectomy scars, after removal of stitches. Doctors indicated that the skin had improved considerably, allowing implantation of prosthesis or plastic surgery in far better conditions than with a control group, not treated.
Rosa Mosqueta oil can be used for: scars; burns (including sun-damaged skin and radiation burns); leg ulcers; chronic ulcerations (eg. in those paralyzed or bedridden); skin grafts; brown spots or hyperpigmentation; prematurely aging skin; dry skin. Treat for a minimum 6-8 weeks.
Rutin is a bioflavonoid, a compound that occurs naturally in a few foods, notably buckwheat. It is often recommended for varicose veins and leaky capillaries. Oxyrutins are a subgroup of chemicals, derived from rutin, which have been researched for this use.
Some evidence suggests that oxerutins may help lymphoedema (chronic arm swelling caused by damage to the lymph drainage system) following surgery for breast cancer. Also oedema (swelling) in the immediate post-surgical period.
In one trial, oxerutins worked significantly better than placebo at reducing swelling, discomfort, immobility, and other measures of lymphedema over 6 months, with better results appearing each month. This suggests that the full effect of oxerutins might take months to realize. In these studies, the dosage used was 3 g daily—about 3 times the typical dosage used for vein problems.
Warnings: physician’s guidance with liver or kidney problems.
rarely can lead to upset stomach – reduce dose.
Appears to be safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Supplements: not easy to get. Try Bio-Health, or look for a vitamin C with added bioflavonoiids that include rutin.
Grape Seed Extract/Pine Bark Extract/Pycnogenol
Please see the main entry on Page 2.
Grapeseed Extract and Pycnogenol may help after surgery in a similar way to Rutin (above). They contain anti-oxidants commonly known as OPCs (or pro-antho-cyanidins). One study of women with breast cancer found that 600 mg of OPCs daily for 6 months reduced postoperative symptoms of lymphoedema. In another study of people having surgery for face-lift, swelling disappeared much faster in those using OPCs.
Warnings: physician’s guidance advised with warfarin or similar.
Supplements: Grape Seed Extract is generally less expensive than the brand name Pycnogenol, and they are very similar. These products are not the same as Resveratrol, made from grape skins.
Mouth Problems During Cancer Treatment
This is a homeopathic/herbal product made by Heel Pharmacy. It contains a range of herbs and minerals, and is available as cream, liquid. or other formulations: see traumeel.com for more detailed information on ingredients and research.
In a well-controlled study, on children receiving high-dose chemotherapy for bone marrow cancer, the liquid gave very good results. Chemotherapy often leads to inflammation and mouth ulcers (stomatitis). Traumeel liquid significantly reduced the severity and duration of stomatitis. Some children had no symptoms at all.
Radiation therapy near the mouth may cause alterations in taste sensation. In a small double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, use of zinc supplements tended to protect taste sensation.
Zinc is an antioxidant, and helps protect cells and blood vessels. In addition it benefits the immune system.
Copper is included in most zinc supplements, because Zinc alone may lower your Copper levels.
Warnings: do not exceed the recommended daily dose without qualified guidance.
best absorbed when taken separately from high fibre food.
Supplements: available as quick dissolving sublingual Zinc powder, as well as the usual tablets and capsules.
More Information and Support.
This page lists some natural remedies - there are many others.
Would you like more information?
Natural Health Answers REPORT provides you with answers matched carefully to your situation, your medical conditions, and your prescription medicines.
Ask up to 6 questions on any health subject. You can then choose in an informed way
- Save money spent on useless supplements
- Save time spent searching for information, or trying unsuitable remedies.
For more details, see Natural Health Answers REPORT.
Also check out my Online Homeopathic Consultations.
Notes on Drug Interactions
- The herb St. John’s Wort interacts with many medications, including various chemotherapy drugs.
- The citrus bioflavonoid tangeretin may interact with the breast cancer drug, tamoxifen.
- Women who have had breast cancer are at risk of recurrence. If the cancer is hormone-related, avoid the following herbs and supplements, which have estrogen-like properties: Alfalfa; Genistein (soy); Hops; Licorice; Red Clover; Resveratrol (grape skin). Black Cohosh is uncertain. Although Dong Quai and Panax Ginseng (Korean Ginseng) do not appear to act in an estrogen-like manner, they may nonetheless stimulate growth of breast cancer cells.
- Several preliminary Russian trials appear to show promising results for Eleutherococcus Senticosus (Siberian Ginseng) in reducing side effects of conventional cancer treatment.
Cancer Info and Support - Links
This is a small selection of useful cancer-related websites.
Please note, Helen Swan cannot take responsibility for their content.
This site contains a wealth of research evidence, like an encyclopaedia, for all cancers but with extra info on breast and prostate cancers. Hard to read, but worth it.
Very useful and accessible site about breast health and breast cancer.
The ‘Healthnotes’ index. Widely available on different health websites. Well-documented and easy to read. Lots of other useful info too.
Lovely animated site, with first-class nutrition information, and an animated presentation of how some cancers actually start; click on Defending against Degenerative Diseases.
Huge site with stacks of info, very well presented. Looks at many different types of cancer, recommended vitamin dosages, and ‘15 steps’ to help. Take your time reading this one.
Accessible UK site on many men’s health issues, including cancer.
The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre publish a great deal of information on their site. As it is American, some will not be useful in the UK. Put ‘herbs’ in the search box, then click on 'About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products' to access their very thorough info about herbal remedies.
Good quality info about herbal safety, supplement safety, drug interactions, and links on many health subjects including cancer.
Yes, she really is called Dr. Susan Love! Her Research Project aims to end breast cancer in 10 years. Includes loads of useful info and a breast cancer decision support page, to help you with treatment options.
Although some of these sites sell supplements, this is not a recommendation.
If you have cancer or are receiving cancer treatment, be especially careful to double-check the safety details, and consult your doctor/pharmacist.
These web links last checked 3.07, please contact me if you find any problems with them.