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supplements and chemo

scared99
Posts: 74
Joined: Jun 2012

My mom starts chemotherapy tomorrow. I believe her schedule is one day every other week. She finished radiation for the sacral tumor last week and spent most of the weekend in bed. She said her stomach was burning and the doctor told her this was a side from the radiation and it will subside eventually. I am curious if any of you have any advice on supplements that will help with the sides from chemo ? I have purchased her melatonin, ginger root and milk thistle and I am open to any suggestions. She is a little nervous about chemotherapy. Her sister/my aunt just finished 8 months of chemotherapy for her colon cancer and she handled it pretty well. Her main complaint was the fatigue and some skin problems.

dmj101's picture
dmj101
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2011

I am always cautious to take anything while doing chemo..
Please check with her doctor prio to using any supplements..

steveandnat's picture
steveandnat
Posts: 887
Joined: Sep 2011

Iw don't take any supplements but I know people who do.

geotina's picture
geotina
Posts: 2123
Joined: Oct 2009

Some are ok and some are not while on chemo. Always run it by the oncologist befor
making changers. Like everything, there are different views on the subject so it is best to be on the safe side before starting anything new.

Take care - Tina

tanstaafl's picture
tanstaafl
Posts: 1303
Joined: Oct 2010

There are naturopathic doctors that specialize in cancer treatment, some perhaps have studied 5 years in ND school, and have more research and thought invested in these questions. In non-ND states you may be looking for MDs and DOs that have investigated therapeutic nutrition for some years under a variety of names. Health food stores with business cards or personal references could be a starting point to finding doctors of various natural medicine orientation. Caveat emptor, some providers might not be ones that I would choose.

Such support may overcome the lack of training, time and interest that more cosseted mainstream doctors have about supplements appropriate in different situations. Then consider to share their recommendations with us for comment.

janderson1964
Posts: 2215
Joined: Oct 2011

I have always used supplements for the past 6plus yearz of chemo but always gave my oncologist a list of what i was using to be sure.

Doc_Hawk's picture
Doc_Hawk
Posts: 685
Joined: Jan 2012

I'm very cautious about taking any supplements because I just don't know what sort of interaction they can have with the small drug store I swallow every day. My daughter sent me some info about graviola and I was going to start using that until I read that people with and nerve tissue problems should not take it. Since chemo causes neuropathy, I consulted with my onc and we agreed not to take a chance.

dmj101's picture
dmj101
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2011

exatly my neighbor was telling me about this sup gravolia and then said don't drink too much water with it at then it can lead to parkinsons.. well that was enough to stear me away..

peterz54's picture
peterz54
Posts: 345
Joined: Feb 2012

one experience with hearsay shouldn't sour you on supplements in general. it makes sense to be cautious and skeptical, but I think it is also a huge mistake to discount all supplements because of false claims about some. And even a bigger mistake to advise anyoone else to ignore them considering research to the contrary. There is just to much positive published research on a number of plant extracts to ignore, and I'm refereing to research published in professional journals and replicated at the NIH Libraray of Medicine, not claims by pill pushers.

As I have mentioned already, a number of supplements (plant extracts) have undergone trials and been the subject of research over the years and it is clear to me (and some oncologists/researcers) that they are of value, not as replacements to standard therapy but to augment therapy or to just help with one's health in general.

but supplements aside, just switch to a plant based diet if nothing else - berries, nuts, colored vegetables.."research" supports this as well

herdizziness's picture
herdizziness
Posts: 3642
Joined: Apr 2010

No reason to go "nuts" (pun intended):)and hurry up to a vegan diet of berries, nuts, colored vegetables, it certainly has not been proven (except in the minds of other vegans)that becoming vegan helps your colorectal cancer health. Now is the time when nutrition and yes even nice fattening goodies like shakes is probably more needed then any other time when going through chemo. It is not the time to make a drastic change. (although we can all improve our nutritional health) Many a vegan has Stage IV Colorectal Cancer and many other cancers, it does not make you immune.
Please ask your mother's onc (and your mother)before switching her to that style of diet, the stress might be way worse for her unless she is already vegan.
Winter Marie

steved
Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2004

I have never really taken a lot but am not averse to the idea and am sure some help some people. One difficulty I have with them is the assumption that because they are natural they are safe. The opposite may be true as almost none have gone through the testing registered medicines do and they rarely come with an accurate list of side effects like meds do. The do have side effects, they can be toxic and theyy can interact with your other meds and do harm.

So the bottom line (as is true in all this) is that knowledge is your greatest weapon. Learn about them, talk to your team about your thoughts and listen to sensible people on this group (there are many who have done teh investigating for you and are great sources of knowledge).

It is sometimes stated that this board is not receptive to people who take alternative pathways in managing their cancer or even those that use complementary techniques aliong side conventional meds. I don't think that is true and in fact there are many here who do so and swear by it. Finding the right balance of different approaches to managing this illness, built on a solid base of knowledge will really empower you to feel you are doing all you can in this battle and that is all any of us is looking for.

steve

peterz54's picture
peterz54
Posts: 345
Joined: Feb 2012

but be sure to educate yourself.

start with shifiting to a predominantly plant based diet. this will add nutrients and remove a lot of garbage that is part of the standard American diet. Studies suggest a plant based diet improves outcome as does modest physical activity and avoiding obesity.

supplements my wife's ONC recommended are a multi-vitamin and milk thistle. she was also OK with several plant extracts which have some level of research to suggest they help turn down the signal pathways which promote cancer cell growth (quercetin and resvertral for example). This is even more important for those who are K-ras mutated, which is about 40% of mCRC patients. Know your K-ras status. Curcumin is anouther worthwile supplement which is undergoing trials, but it is not very well absorbed so look for the a good brand like that sold by Life Extension...if you can use the spice tumeric even better than curcumin from which it comes.

Our Onc also favors adding lots of mushrooms (shiitake) in my wife's diet. I also provide her with mushroom supplements for time when she does not eat them.

I started my wife on RDA levels of calcium and magnesium due to research suggesting it woul help prevent or mitigate neuropathy from oxaliplatin.

One research paper indicated that chemo patients are often very deficient in vitamin D, so this is also something to consider. a vitamin D test is cheap and easy so request it and have it checked later.

these are just some things you should think about and educate yoruself on. Google scholar and Pubmed are good research tools. Oncologists vary in their opinion about different supplements and in my opinion don't have the time or maybe the inclination to stay current on all the various studies, which is why I try to look at what the original research says and then let our oncologist know. so far she has been fine with everything simply cautioning not to overdo the dosage.

good luck

peter

tanstaafl's picture
tanstaafl
Posts: 1303
Joined: Oct 2010

Alternatives and complements like TCM, supplements, protocols with off label and foreign drugs have slowly become more acceptable for discussion at CSN for various reasons over the last several years, which sometimes used to get people in hot water or banned outright.

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6730
Joined: Feb 2009

You should always contact the doctor (onc.) before taking any supplements as some can interfer with the treatment. Some won't even let you take anything extra.

Kim

Sonia32's picture
Sonia32
Posts: 1078
Joined: Mar 2009

Talk to your mums team if they are ok with it, go for it.

herdizziness's picture
herdizziness
Posts: 3642
Joined: Apr 2010

Some are ok to take with chemo, some are not. So as others have said, the wise thing to do before taking of supplements is to ask your mom's oncologist. You do not want her to be taking something that will have an adverse affect on her with the chemo.
Be careful not to go overboard as some do, in that case you could be doing the body more harm then good, but as long as you are checking with the oncologist all should be good. Everything in moderation. ;)
Winter Marie

pete43lost_at_sea's picture
pete43lost_at_sea
Posts: 3908
Joined: Nov 2010

i like your username, alot to be scared of when doing chemo for the first time.

so i started out juicing the day i was diagnosed and then a few supplements.

as time went by the list of supplements got longer.

the easiest definitive and credible summary of supplements for colorectal is the life extension website.

if you want to do it yourself, then welcome to the supplement team. I take alot of supplements each day and some would say thats an understatement. Now I have researched my doctors advice and believe in the merits of my program just for me. Its been tailor made to my biology.

so a supportive ND is an essential starting point even for someone with knowledge and experience becuase an ND offers clinical experience with supplementation as well as advice regarding cost effective suppliers. at least mine do. value for money has always been essential.

their are so many areas where appropriate supplementation and diet can help on the colorectal journey. i hope your mothers is a long one.

where do you start fish oil and vit D3, but how much, where do you get it, when do you take it.

as an example my fish oil supplementation has been increased as a result of doing a fatty acids blood profile. not alot, but it warrantted a change. I know enough about the complexity of our biology to value expert opinions from doctors, of course the discussions here are helpful as well. often as a starting point for discussions with doctors.

i don't both worrying my onc with my supplement regime, she just looks at my near perfect blood results and my rising cea marker with a perplexed smile.

so read life extension for a crash course, we did a big post here on it months ago.
tumeric and milk thistle are also great basics, but how anyone survives without broccoli powder i don't know.

Mind you this is just what i have done for me, and spent a small fortune on it the last 2 years. Some go fine without any supplements, they may have gone better with them or worse if they were inappropriate. so if you embark on extensive supplementation I would get expert care and supervision in that regard. very few oncs are skilled in supplementation and the biologicial pathways of advanced supplmentation. i would seek out an expert ND if thats where you mum wants to go.

goodluck,

hugs,
pete

tanstaafl's picture
tanstaafl
Posts: 1303
Joined: Oct 2010

It's pretty clear that the average CRC chemo patient more likely has vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, even if it is not agreed exactly what those deficiencies are, and how to best resolve them.

To me, the biggest problem with supplements is that they are underspecified, that is, not all "vitamins" are the same by a long shot. Sort of like mistaking an 85 Yugo for a BMW, and saying all cars are crap.

In vitamin B complex pills and the common multivitamin formulas, folic acid with any 5FU based chemo is simply the wrong vitamin B9, even evil. *No folic acid* is the best amount - rather L5MTHF (levo 5-methyltetrahydrofolate) in regular quantities, from natural sources (we use livers), or other natural folates from juiced plant leaves appear to be about the best we could do, as well as the necessary "megavitamin" leucovorin prescribed in my wife's chemo. There are premium multivitamins with L5MTHF, but we just formulate our own vitamin mix anyway for higher, chosen quantities.

This type of "Yugo" specification problem can be applied to common vitamin forms (industrial substitutes) for vitamins A, B6, B12, D, E and K, and even change somewhat with the chemo, and the person.

Once the molecular specification problem is solved then vitamins and nutrients may be used to enhance some kinds of chemo, help control cancer, and avoid common chemo side effects. Some vitamins we try to keep closer to RDA (vit A), others 20-200x RDA, and others we've kept below 1-4,000x RDA while on our chemo.

pete43lost_at_sea's picture
pete43lost_at_sea
Posts: 3908
Joined: Nov 2010

The issues with vitamin and nutrient deficiencies is often leaky gut, or a reduced ability to absorb the supplements that we ingest. So a gut support supplement, to help the stomach and intestines is a must in my books. So glad my ND recommended this after my 3rd round of chemo, it really helped minimise my diarrhea problems.

I am back on it now! Just for all times sake!

Most good NDs will test for leak gut. They will also probably recommend a really good probiotic. I would look at progurt if i went back onto chemo, its had the best results for me, but its very expensive, other cheaper probiotic options are available.

http://www.gutmatters.com/nutritional-and-herbal-supplements/digestive-support-lower/Gut-Relief

Now from the above link

Gut Relief Compound contains a significant dose of Glutamine which is important in maintaining normal structure and function of your gastro-intestinal tract. Aloe Vera and Slippery Elm have a healing and soothing effect on your gut mucosa. Gut Relief Compound also contains a form of highly bio-available Turmeric to aid in the fast relief of gastric inflammation and gastritis.

Gut Relief Compound may help to;
repair the gastric mucosal lining relieve gastric inflammation
reduce and repair leaky gut syndrome
relieve symptoms of gastritis
relieve symptoms of mouth ulcers
relieve gastric conditions caused by Helicobacter pylori infection
Quantity: 150g

Contains:
L Glutamine
Quercetin
Glucosamine hydrochloride
Aloe barbadensis leaf ext.
Slippery Elm bark powder
Guar Gum
Petin
Sodium phosphate dibasic
Peppermint oil
Curcumin

This type of supplement gave me considerable benefit while on chemo and is pretty cheap in the scheme of things.

hugs,
pete

abackhou
Posts: 77
Joined: Jan 2012

Why waste money on supplements? I for one will not....

peterz54's picture
peterz54
Posts: 345
Joined: Feb 2012

but I think it's s disservice be dismissive about this in the light of much contrary evidence when the people who are asking about supplements are in a life and death struggle.

I am pro-supplement but I do not advise anyone to take my word. I speak up only because there needs to be a counterbalance to the naysayers and hope to convince a few people to investigate the issue themselves using reliable sources of information.

Do your own research (it's not time consuming) at PubMed (NIH library of Medicine, and through google scholar and get familiar with the original research. And then discuss with your oncologist, as my wife and I have, while keeping in mind that they might not be aware of all the latest research and clinical trials.

Also, I would recommend firstly, before going to supplements, that anyone who is ill scrap the american diet and move to a predominantly plant based diet and if you have the energy exercise modestly and keep one's weight in the normal range - this is all supported by research and advocated by many oncologists, and retrospective research indicates that people who do these things have markedly better outcomes.

tanstaafl's picture
tanstaafl
Posts: 1303
Joined: Oct 2010

Andrew, we think our lives or wives (ahem) are worth it. Most people have to rely on others' opinions about medicine and supplements. Thanks to advances in medical science, laboratory technologies, (neo)adjuvant treatment with clinical observation and biomarkers, that is changing. We have been able to utilize some of these, to predict and directly measure the impact of treatments, including the "supplements".

With "supplements", one can manipulate the same molecular pathways as do "targeted drugs" but with less damage and side effects. And no having to beg the insurance company or doctors, or wait. This allows more molecular pathways to be treated with more active substances with less toxicity for longer time periods. And with less damage to the family and national budget.

scared99
Posts: 74
Joined: Jun 2012

Thank you guys for all the responses. My mom finished her first chemo treatment on Wed and she said she feels pretty good. She said she will ask her oncologist after her next treatment what supplements she can take. I believe after her next treatment they are redoing scans to see how things are going.

luvinlife2
Posts: 172
Joined: Jul 2012

will have the best information regarding supplements and how they interact with chemotherapy. Oncologists know chemo but most do not have much knowledge about supplements. You mentioned that you've bought Milk Thistle for your Mom, but did you know that Milk Thistle will reduce the effectiveness of Xeloda and 5fu? I'm all for supplementation but I can't stress enough how important it is to seek the advice of a naturopath who specializes in oncology (preferably one who is board certified) and your own oncologist before taking anything with the chemo.

All the best to your Mom :)

peterz54's picture
peterz54
Posts: 345
Joined: Feb 2012

Scholarly articles on Curcumin and Colon Cancer

My wife's Oncologist prefers the spice Tumeric, but if one can't prepare food with tumeric, she advocates the extract curcumin, which can be obtained in pill form. This is just one of several promissing substances derived from plants.

Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 2009

I'm on Xeloda and have gone off of all supplements to included tumeric and milk thistle. I posted a web cam last night on this site, and was surprised to find that some chemos, like Avastin do not add substantial life to one, WOW, and all that chemo in the body! I am going to talk to my ONC about my Xeloda, I have no evidence of disease just a spiking CEA. I will find out on Tuesday, how this XELODA affected my CEA, if no change, I am going off of it. The presenter also indicated that we should go by CT and not Pets, I am going to ask to stop the pets also. I don't need all that extra radiation.

tanstaafl's picture
tanstaafl
Posts: 1303
Joined: Oct 2010

Hi, Kathy, welcome back. I agree that adding a naturopathic physcian specializing in oncology should be advantageous.

Kathy, it would useful if any documentation that you or he have in mind about milk thistle/extracts - 5FU interactions, could be linked. Silymarin is known to be protective of the kidney and liver cells as well as reducing cyctochrome P450 activity that converts tegafur to 5FU. Various paper indicate that the silibinin fraction of milk thistle is active against various cancer cells singlely and in some chemo combinations, sometimes containing 5FU, but the colorectal literature is sparse.

In my wife's treatment, whether milk thistle does or does not sometimes inhibit 5FU, her silymarin containing formula does kill metastatic cancer cells for prolonged periods (based on pathology, tumor cell kill tests, CEA). Where many 5FU protocols poop out over 6-15 months, her formula appears to still be working after 25 months.

luvinlife2
Posts: 172
Joined: Jul 2012

My nat doc told me so I will ask him for the info and post. I'm there again this week. :)

John23's picture
John23
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

Although much of the "alternative remedies" are near worthless,
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been around serving
billions upon billions of humans for nearly four thousand years.

Those that doubt the value of TCM should be aware that TCM
has been used for thousands of years prior to "western medicine"
with great success, most of which has been well documented.

It is unfortunate, but the definition of ailments in TCM are quite
different than the same ailments in western medicine. The same
malady is treated totally differently for the two sciences.

Western medicine attempts to remove the symptoms of the cause of
the problem, leaving the actual cause behind,

Traditional Chinese Medicine attempts to resolve the actual cause
of the underlying problem, and when accomplished, the symptoms
disappear.

High blood pressure is a symptom.
Atrial fibrillation is a symptom.
Kidney stones are a symptom.
Blood clots (DVT) are a symptom.

I have been cured of all, thanks to TCM!

There are "alternative" things to try, and some may work!

There also is a science that is over four thousand years old,
that has served billions upon billions of humans for all that
time; that is used for livestock as well, with great results,
and is continued to be used in the finest of Asian hospitals
and many of the finest of American health facilities!

That science is TCM.

It is only an "alternative" where it is not routine.....

Best wishes for better health!

John

peterz54's picture
peterz54
Posts: 345
Joined: Feb 2012

a number of plants used in TCM and other traditions are being evaluated for their effects on various cancers.

Regardlesss of tradition, it should be evident that plants represent a potentially vast pharmacopia that should not be ignored. But I would never subscribe to any supplement or food without evidence in the form of testing using modern scientific methods.

Traditional Chinese Medicine & cancer

luvinlife2
Posts: 172
Joined: Jul 2012

LOL...you always make me smile John!

I'm glad that TCM cured you! Unfortunately, as with other types of medicines, it doesn't cure everyone and does not have all the answers despite the thousands of years behind the medicine. I wish it did.

In Vancouver, TCM is hardly considered alternative anymore. With an ever growing Chinese population the demand for TCM is huge and some of it is now covered under our public health care system. We have an international college of TCM that I understand has a waitlist of students eager to learn and practice TCM.

I tried TCM under the care of a highly respected Dr. who also teaches at the college. He has a long list of people who have been cured from various cancers, and an even longer list of people he's healed from various illnesses. He's been practicing for 32 years and knows what he's doing. I stopped all chemo, supplements and treatments in order to give TCM a decent go at my cancer without any interference. The Dr. was confident I would start to see results at about 8 weeks.

In a nutshell, after 3 months my CEA went from 16 to 102.5. A CT scan showed that my 5 small liver mets were more than double in size and there were now many new mets. My lungs mets had also doubled in size. My CT scan prior to starting the TCM showed calcification and regression of same. It appeared that my cancer quite liked the TCM teas as I've not had this kind of aggressive progression with any of my chemo breaks. To say I was devastated would be an understatement.

I am not dismissing the effectiveness of TCM. I believe that it has a lot to offer, however, I don't think it's necessarily better than other types of medicine nor do I think that the science is better because it's been around longer. There's a lot of very good newer science that we also can't dismiss. My cancer seems to respond better to these newly developed treatments.

I feel that we have to find what works for us as individuals. I personally favor integrating all types of medicine in my cancer fight just so I'm approaching it from as many angles as possible. I still do acupuncture and a couple of relaxation treatments which are very beneficial to my overall health in addition to naturopath treatments and chemo.

All the best to you :)

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