“How can I support my body during chemo?”
question: I’m about to start chemotherapy for breast cancer, and I’ve been told the side effects are nasty. Is there anything I can do to lessen them? answer: Chemotherapy is often used to treat cancer, alongside surgery and radiotherapy. Although it is often a lifesaver, it takes its toll on the body. Natural remedies can help, but ask your oncology team for approval first.
Most chemotherapy drugs target fast-dividing cancer cells. The problem is that other fastdividing cells are also in the line of fire, including the hair follicle cells and the lining of the digestive tract. This explains two common side effects of chemotherapy – hair loss and digestive problems.
Sadly, natural therapies cannot save hair loss, but they have much to offer an ailing gut. Slippery elm powder is a friend to the gastrointestinal tract. One teaspoon, taken twice daily with banana, yoghurt, porridge or warm water, will soothe the digestive tract lining.
Psyllium husks are often recommended for constipation, but they can also help reduce diarrhoea from any cause, including chemotherapy. Take one or two tablespoons daily. As slippery elm powder and psyllium husks are types of fibre and are not absorbed into the bloodstream, they should not interfere with intravenous chemotherapy treatment.
Mouth ulcers are another common side effect of chemotherapy. Sucking on vitamin C and zinc lozenges three to four times a day can reduce and eliminate them. Rescue Remedy will help calm anxiety before and during treatment.
After the chemotherapy course is over, give the liver and kidneys some love. Detoxifying herbs include dandelion root, cleavers, St Mary’s thistle, schizandra, burdock and echinacea. Vegetable and fruit juices are also good, such as carrot, spinach, green apple, celery, parsley, wheatgrass, ginger and lemon. + Learn about five ways to ease the side effects of cancer treatment in Mim Beim’s article at bodyandsoul.com.au