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Is there anything that can help with Appetite

Posts: 64
Joined: Apr 2011



I wanted to ask for your kind help.


My mother has cancer and she has lost almost 20 pounds.


Does anyone know of anything she can take that may help stimulate her appetite?


I’ve heard marijuana may be helpful but my mother has some heart problems, and I’m afraid that could adversely affect her heart rate.


Any suggestions and ideas would be deeply appreciated.


Thank you very much for your kind help.



paul61's picture
Posts: 1250
Joined: Apr 2010


There are a number of medications that oncologists have used for appetite stimulation but most people find that they do not really increase weight in the long term. Drugs that are commonly used include, Marinol, Decadron, Megace, and Duralone. Here is a reference for commonly used appetite stimulants:http://dpg-storage.s3.amazonaws.com/ondpg/documents/7efcf017571f4635/Medication_Guide.pdf

Unfortunately all of these drugs have side effects and have varying levels of success in different patients.

Many caregivers have found that helping cancer survivors gain weight is a matter of packing as many calories in each bite of food that is eaten. Many have found that making smoothies with protein powder included and high calorie ingredients is helpful. People have also found that using some products produced for cancer survivors by Nestles company are helpful. These products include Nestle’s Instant Breakfast, Boost High Protein, and Benecalorie. Here is a reference to their web site: http://www.nestlenutritionstore.com/departments/supplemental-nutrition/calories/calories?catpath=supplemental%20supplemental.4.2

Of course all of these should be investigated in conjunction with a consultation with your mother’s oncologist. Most cancer survivors have found eating frequent small meals contributes toward maintaining weight better than trying to follow a traditional three meals a day program.

 I would suggest following a calorie augmentation diet with some of the products above before resorting to medications and the potential side effects involved.

Best Regards,

Paul Adams

Grand Blanc, Michigan
DX 10/2009 T2N1M0  Stage IIB - Ivor Lewis Surgery  12/3/2009 - Post Surgery Chemotherapy 2/2009 – 6/2009
Cisplatin, Epirubicin, 5 FU - Three Year Survivor


Heeran's picture
Posts: 173
Joined: Aug 2011

Hi, This seems to be a common problem.  My mom hated all of the tastes of those nutritional drinks like carnation instant breakfast, ensures, boosts, ect.  But I did begg her to drink those so like Paul said, we tried to pack in as much calories as possible when she did.  So instead of the regular Ensure, we got the highest calorie per serving I think it was called Ensure Weight Gain.  Plus I made smoothies and added some protein powder in there.  She didn't like that either.  Plus I tried making the ensure chocolate and added ice cream.  She thought it was still discusting.  We tried everything under the sun it seemed and we did the best we can.


I know there are appeite stimulants w/ meds, but our oncologist didn't prescribed that.  My mom was having either difficulty swallowing or so much hurting from radiation (she was so sick from pain med side effects eventually she stopped the meds and dealt w/ the pain)  At that point, morphine pump was never mentioned.  Oh, at there was a certain point where she didn't eat for like 3 weeks (during initial radiation treatment) and they never mentioned  a TPN bag either.  Probably because her insurance didna't cover it or they thought she could ride it out.  I'm still upset.  If I knew about it, I would have paid for it out of pocket.


Anyways, like all of us here both caregivers as well as patients, it's a long road so try the best you can.  That's all any of us can do.  Oh, pureed yogurt pops I've tried too.  Blend up mangos/bananas/ w/ greek yogurt for protein with a little sugar or stevia then freeze in molds.  It actually tastes really good.  Take care


Posts: 99
Joined: Dec 2012

I have used Slim Fast High Protein Creamy Chocolate Shake for dieting purposes. As a vegetarian it is difficult to get protein. This provides 20 g of protein with 2 g or less of sugar. I prefer the taste to Boost or Ensure which taste chalky. Worth a try. If she likes the taste of chocolate milk, she'll enjoy this.

Also, Kraft Foods makes so many products that taste good and have a variety of flavors. Easy to swallow and digest. Check in the dairy case...their line of puddings and mousses includes flavors like strawberry cheesecake, tapioca, birthday cup, even Oreo dirt cups.


Posts: 64
Joined: Apr 2011

Thank you Paul, Heeran and CallerID.  I appreciate your thoughts and kind advice.  I will ask my mother to try some of the things you recommended! 

Thank you once again for all your kind assistance!


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