food and nutrition

Immune Support

Question: Experience with using holistic/alternative medicine to support the immune system during chemotherapy? My mom is undergoing chemo for stage IV breast cancer, and is actually going to see a naturopathic doctor in a couple of weeks - the only one in her area was booked for months so it has taken awhile for her to get in. As anyone with experience with cancer knows, it is extremely toxic to the body - and I am wondering if anyone has had success using alternative treatments to help support the body and immune system during something like this?

Answer: Overall support of her system is called for with (gentle) tonics such as nettles and red clover along with slightly bitter herbs to help with nausea and appetite, such as dandelion root tincture taken in water before meals and/or warming ginger. Healing and building foods such as mineral rich (organic if possible) bone marrow broths, root vegetables, fermented foods like real (raw & full of enzymes) sauerkraut, yogurt and miso are key helpers to nourish intestinal flora. Pretty much whatever healthy foods she loves and will eat will be medicine for her. Simple teas such as peppermint and chamomile too. Certain herbs that are called adaptogens, specifically Withania, Shatavari, and Astragalus can also help her body adapt and strengthen from the inside. here is a link to an article at the NIH on use of these herbs in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology Reishi mushroom has a particular place of prominence with cancer patients and may be worth checking out as well for its many benfits during cancer and chemotherapy. There is a lot of information out there on this valuable fungi and its use in ameliorating the harsh side effects of chemotherapy. Here is an article on possible synergistic effects of herbs during chemotherapy - herbs that can help heal the body as well as potentially increase the effectiveness of the treatment I have not worked with cancer patients yet have trained extensively in herbal and nutritional medicine. Here are some websites of well-respected practitioners who work specifically with cancer patients He has suggestions for books on this page and is the co-author of one that might be worth having: Herbal Medicine, Healing & Cancer I would also definitely suggest Breast Cancer Breast Health by Susun Weed also: I Beat Cancer: 50 People Tell You How They Did It Where you buy herbs and supplements truly does make a difference and quality varies a great deal! Organic groceries, co-ops, and whole-herb shops are generally far better than chain supplement and gimmicky shops. I hope all this does not overwhelm you! There is no need to rush out and try to get everything. Good food is an excellent start, and then perhaps trying things one at a time to see how they're working for her and what will truly be used consistently is possibly best. Emotional /spiritual support and/or checking out a breast cancer support group in your area might also be helpful. Much Luck to you! I hope this is helpful. You are excellent to be there for her. PS My Mom has also been sick which is probably why I felt compelled to compile this...

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