Natural Ways of Easing the Effects of Chemotherapy

By | August 25, 2010

(THERAPY Section of NIRMALA Magazine, April 2005 Edition)

Chemotherapy in some cancer patients could generate a number of side effects, although they may be temporary in nature. The following are various natural ways of easing the discomforts.

OPERATION, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy are treatments specifically designed to kill and destroy cancer cells. Unfortunately, in practice they also destroy the surrounding healthy cell tissues. Thus during treatments, the body will have to work extra hard to fight, repair and heal itself.

Parts of the body most vulnerable to the side effects of cancer therapy are mouth, digestive tracks and hair since the cells in those parts of the body grow faster. The destruction of healthy cells in the mouth and digestive tracts could lead to problems such as loss of appetite, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation, cankerous mouth, dry mouth, change of taste, weight loss, weight gain and fatigue.

The type of side effects appearing depend on which body parts are being treated, the type and length of therapy as well as the number of therapies. Responses vary from one person to another, and fortunately some people could go without any side effects. However, for those with side effects, the following are some tips on the natural ways of overcoming them, from Dr. Andrew Weil.

Overcoming Feelings of Fatigue
Fatigue is the most common discomforts felt by cancer patients. Fatigue is not the kind of exhaustion we feel after exertion of energy or after exercising. It is the feeling of loss of strength and very low energy level that do not disappear even with resting. The level of fatigue can vary and usually depends on the cause. Fatigue can be caused by chemotherapy, radiation, from the stress, depression or the cancel itself. It can also be caused by anemia, in which case a medical therapy is required. Here are ways to help increase the body’ level of energy.

Energy Saving With good planning, the time for working and resting can be balanced. It would be more helpful to create priority list in performing your tasks and try to delegate some of the daily tasks to others. Use your energy only for the most important activity, and ask for assistance from family members and friends.

Use Herbal Drinks The type of herbs that can help increase energy level is ginseng, for example. For clearer instruction on the use of this herb, do consult a local TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioner who is used to prescribing herbs and acupuncture for overcoming chemotherapy side effects.

Energy Therapy The type of energy therapy such as Reiki or Prana can also help overcoming feelings of fatigue. Visit Reiki or Prana practicioners for treatments. Alternatively, you could also come to Reiki or Prana training centers as you can learn to heal yourself, too. Treatment with energy therapy such as Reiki is also relatively easy to learn by anyone and can immediately by used for treatment.

Exercise It is true that exercising is something hard to start when you are sick, but lack of physical activity can worsen your condition. Researches have found that mild exercise such as walking or easy biking could reduce cancer-caused fatigue, aside from reducing stress. However, do consult your physician before you start. Then start with 2 to 3 minutes exercise, and later prolong it to up to 30 minutes per day, five days a week. Exercises such as Yoga and Tai-Chi are also good options.

Control Your Emotion Feelings of stress, anger, depression or worry during cabncer treatments are normal, but such emotions are capable of decreasing your physicial and mental cionditions. Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing techniques or meditation to overcome negative emotions. Additionally, start a journal or diary, join group meetings to support your path to being cured, or visit therapists who can assist in overcoming the emotional impacts of cancer therapy.

Overcoming Nausea
Some chemotherapy drugs, such as the ones used for radiation on the part of stomach, can cause nausea. New anti-anuseatic drugs generally can help overcoming this problem, but when that doesn’t work, try the following:

Herbs Research has found that ginger helps overcoming nausea after chemotherapy. Ginger can be consumed in the form of drinks or candy. Chew on one or two ginger candy before and after therapy can help reduce the nausea.

Acupuncture Acupuncture needles applied on certain parts of the body can help overcoming feelings of nausea. Make an appointment immediately after chemotherapy or radiation. Do this at every chemo or radiation session and continue throughout the entire cancer therapy..

Hypnosis Nausea can also be overcome by self-hypnosis. This technique can be learnt from a practitioner for our own practice at home. Alternatively, we can also ask the practitioner to help us ease the discomforts in our stomach with hypnosis.

Increasing Your Body Immunity
Chemotherapy can decrease the ability of the white blood cells (leucocytes) to fight infection. Thus cancer patients easily catch cold, for example. It is therefore advisable for cancer patients to avoid crowds or direct contact with sick people during cancer treatment. They are also recommended to wash their hands more frequently and more thoroughly. Try also to have enough rest and exercise, aside from practicing relaxation techniques. In the meantime, avoid consuming foods with high risks of bacteria contamination such as sushi and sashimi, as well as caesar salad and milkshake that include ingredients of raw eggs.

Overcoming the Effects of Radiation
The skin where radiation is applied can look red or irritated. This discomfort can be overcome by.

turmeric Turmeric According to research, turmeric is capable of protecting the skin and skin problems caused by radiation. So drinking a drink made from turmeric mixture may help you..

Aloe Vera Although scientific research has not touched it, pure gel of Aloe Vera has been widely used to to treat radiation-caused burns. The use of Aloe Vera gel after the therapy can help. Gently rubbing vitamin E cream or oil on burnt skin can also sooth it.

‘keep your intelligence’
A number of chemo patients may experience a loss of memory and a reduction of their cognitive functions after therapy. Such cases have been found in 40 patients of breast cancer patients being researched. The cause has not been certain, but it was assumed that chemotherapy causes the body to spread chemical substance that increases inflammation and decreasing cognitive functions. In many cases, the symptoms will disappear one or two years after the therapy ends. In order to reduce the risks, do a number of strategies to increase your memory and cognition as follows:

Write a Journal Take note of important information on calendars, journals, or daily organizer in order to help you remember. If necessary, ask people around you to help reminding you of important things to do.

Physical and Mental Training During treatment try to avoid foods that are salty, spicy or sour (such as Orange and Tomato) as they can stimulate the growth of cankers. Do avoid alcohol, too, which will worsen your condition.

Reading, filling in crosswords, and training your memory can help increasing your cognitive functions. Likewise with physical activities.

Overcoming Cankerous Mouth
Sometimes chemotherapy and radiation can also irritate the membranes in the mouth so it get cankerous. As a result, patients have difficulty eating, swallowing, or even just to speak. Sure, the discomforts will disappear after the therapy ends, but still there are things we can do to overcome it.

Avoid the Source of Irritation During treatment try to avoid foods that are salty, spicy or sour (such as Orange and Tomato) as they can stimulate the growth of cankers. Do avoid alcohol, too, which will worsen your condition.

Use Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) DGL Tablets helps protect the mucus membranes and accelerate cures. Chew the DGL tablets between meals. But please consult your physician before you start using it.

Glutamine Cancer patients who use glutamine amino acid for gargle usually experience less pain in the mouth. Glutamin powder can commonly be found in health food stores, and usually is mixed with water and used for gargle several times a day.

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