Herbs and supplements during chemo

Can you please advise what herbs and supplements you took during chemo to help with recovery and reducing the side effects? Thank you..


  • Editgrl
    Editgrl Member Posts: 903 Member
    With my oncologists's approval

    I took 5000 units of Vitamin D3 daily, 100mg of Vitamin B6 and 1000mg of Vitamin B12.  Starting the day before chemo continuing for 3 days after, I took 10mg of L-Glutamine powder mixed in 8 oz of water 3 times a day before meals.  This supposedly helps protect the intestines and may help prevent mouthsores.  My doc also recommended it for peripheral neuropathy, but I don't know that that is necessarily a side effect of the carbo. I also took a probiotic daily and used a powdered supplement called ProGreens which is a nutrient dense supplement with many of the good things we get from vegetables. It's especially useful if you don't feel like eating, which usually wasn't the case for me! It doesn't taste that great, but I mixed it into smoothies and also used that starting the day of chemo and continuing for a few days after.  I also got a bit of heartburn during chemo, and I took Pepcid to help with that.  With the exception of constipation and stomach pains, I had relatively minor side effects during chemo.  I don't know if the supplements helped, but they sure didn't hurt.

  • MAbound
    MAbound Member Posts: 1,166 Member

    Before taking any supplements, check with your oncologist to be certain they are the right one's for your particular treatment. There are some that are known to decrease the effectiveness of certain chemo drugs, particularly antioxidants. You also need to be aware of what other drugs are being taken before using  supplements. Some supplements interact negatively with drugs depending on what they are. You may find this website interesting: 


    There is also some controversy surrounding whether or not taking glutamine and probiotics during chemo helps or harms, too. It's something to look into so that you understand what you're thinking about doing...or you can just rely on your oncologist's opinion, although I think many of us have not found them to always be that knowledgeable about all of the supplements that are out there.

    The bottom line is to proceed with caution and do your homework because your mom's circumstances are going to be unique to her. We can point you in a direction to check out from our experiences, but you need to have some understanding of anything you consider taking.

    Aside from supplements, I would also suggest talking with the doctor about diet during chemo and what can be done to deal with constipation or diarrhea if those are side effects of the chemo drugs given. Having a plan in place to prevent those issues really helps because they have a bigger impact than many realize on how well one gets through treatment.  Avoiding acidic (think citrus and tomatoes) or spicey foods (pepper!) helps with the heartburn or mucocitis issues that she'll be vulnerable to and some kind of mild laxative regime, like Miralax, can prevent constipation from turning into a blockage. Gentle mouth care is also important....I use an electric toothbrush and 1 tsp. baking soda in 8 oz. of water for a rinse after each time I eat. NO mouthwash that has alcohol. The baking soda helps to neutralize acids in the mouth.

    One other thing I want to bring up for issues with heartburn or loss of taste...cut up seedless watermelon if you can get some. I don't know what there is about it, but it's been one of the few things I've been able to consistently eat throughout treatment. It feels good when I have heartburn and it tastes like the best I've ever had when my tastebuds can't taste anything else.

    Good luck!


  • txtrisha55
    txtrisha55 Member Posts: 693 Member


    You can also go to the top on the main page and type in the word that you want to search SUPPLEMENTS.  There are a lot of post concerning supplements and what to eat during chemo and after.  For me personally, the only thing I did start taking was Tumerric/Curcumin as a supplement not as some people on here suggested which was to mix it with black pepper and olive oil to use as a paste on toast or mix with salad greens.  I tried that once and it was bad.  I take 1500 mg in the morning and another 1500mg at night still.  Do I think it helps, maybe but I do not know.  I read on here to that to take a Clariton before the chemo and it helps.  I never did that so I can state it made a difference for me.  But after you do the research it wuld be best to run it by your dr to make sure it will not counter the effects of the chemo you are receiving.  Praying for you. trish

  • Lou Ann M
    Lou Ann M Member Posts: 996 Member
    Claritin helps with the bone

    Claritin helps with the bone pain,from the Nuelasta shot which help keep your white blood cells from tanking.  I also took vitamins D, C and B complex with a probiotic and Mega Red.  Muralax,helps with constipation and Imodium if things go the other direction. Hydration is very important sometimes popcycles and smoothies help with that.  I drink a Breakfast Essentials once a day because I still don't eat very good and it has a lot of protein in it.  I,agree that you should run everything past your oncologist.  Some cancer centers have a nutritionist that can help with diet.

    Hugs and prayers Lou Ann

  • Diya
    Diya Member Posts: 93
    Thankyou for all for sharing

    Thankyou for all for sharing your supplement lists and advice. We have cut down everything except for vit d, b complex and magnesium. Lets see how we go.



  • Soup52
    Soup52 Member Posts: 908 Member
    edited August 2016 #7
    My doctor let me use

    My doctor let me use probiotics and I did add Claritin when I had bone pain.

  • Tethys41
    Tethys41 Member Posts: 1,374 Member
    edited August 2016 #8


    I would recommend you pose this question to a naturopath or integrative oncologist.  There are actually a number of benefits from taking certain supplements during chemo that are appropriate for use with the chemo drugs you are receiving.  I took many supplements during treatment (under the guidance of an alternative oncologist and a naturopath specializing in oncology) and managed to avoid all of the long term side effects related to the chemo drugs.  And many of them have been mentioned here as things to avoid.  So, I think you would benefit from consulting someone trained in this field.

    Unfortunately, none of the four oncologists I consulted had any advice concerning supplements other than, "Don't take any."  Most oncologists are not qualified or licensed to approve the use of supplements during treatment and many will discourage you from using them.  My experience was also that none of them had any dietary advice, other than to eat anything I wanted.  Seriously, there are medical professionals who are trained in diet and the use of supplements with the various chemo drugs which will help protect your healthy cells, reduce side effects and even make the chemo drugs more effective.  They are the best resource to consult.

    Good luck

  • daylady
    daylady Member Posts: 122
    edited August 2016 #9
    supplements help alot!

    There is a wonderful book called How to Prevent and  Treat Cancer with Natural Medicine, by Dr. Michael Murray.  It is endorsed by CTCA that is very helpful.  I decided to seek out a naturopathic oncologist and she prescribes all my supplements depending on the drug I am on, and changes things every 90 days to insure that my body does not become complacent.  (She also used to work for CTCA before going into private practice).  I'm not sure that I would feel comfortable self prescribing, but I do feel that the supplements I've taken throughout have kept my immune system strong.   My labs have always come back spot on and everyone has been pretty amazed.  At the moment, in addition to the supplements she has me on, I also drink a green drink every day, dissolve a collagen enzyme powder in tea daily, and use protein powder in all my smoothies.  On top of veggies to the max...sometimes I think I will turn into a head of broccoli, but I am healthy!! 

  • Diya
    Diya Member Posts: 93
    Thankyou. We have added

    Thankyou. We have added probiotic to the list. We consulted a naturopath. She advised curcumin and astra 8 are good to take during chemo. But when i researched on the web i find mixed studies. So asked mym to stopped them for first week of chemo while the medicine is in the body and to take them for second and third week of chemo while white cells are rebuilding. Not sure if its a good approach. Anyone else used astra 8 during chemo?

  • Tethys41
    Tethys41 Member Posts: 1,374 Member
    Diya said:

    Thankyou. We have added

    Thankyou. We have added probiotic to the list. We consulted a naturopath. She advised curcumin and astra 8 are good to take during chemo. But when i researched on the web i find mixed studies. So asked mym to stopped them for first week of chemo while the medicine is in the body and to take them for second and third week of chemo while white cells are rebuilding. Not sure if its a good approach. Anyone else used astra 8 during chemo?


    Hi Diya,

    Is her naturopath experienced in treating cancer patients?  Yes, there are certain supplements that should not be taken for the days surrounding chemo, which are safe to take between treatments.  I would, however, caution against incorporating something you read online without consulting her ND.  I did a lot of my own research too and when I found information that conflicted with my ND's advice I asked her about it.  She always had good reasons for giving the advice she did.  There is a lot of conflicting research out there.  Best to discuss what you discover with her ND before making any changes.