Chemotherapy and antioxidants. I thought I would share my experience of conversations with oncologists and oncological pharmacists on the subject of supplements and anti-oxidants in particular.
First, I would say that my medical and oncology team are amazing and anything but close-minded, mostly young, and recently trained. But even so, my questions about natural supplements and anti-oxidants were met with puzzled looks.
So I had the conversation in the context of my chemotherapy regime – here’s my list of supplements I want to keep taking during chemo, is there any reason not to?
I eventually had a really interesting conversation with an oncological pharmacist who was prescribing my anti-nausea drugs, she seemed fascinated if not particularly knowledgeable, but she went off to enquire formally of their central information repository and then gave me a copy of what she was sent. This was related to carboplatin, and also the various anti-nausea drugs I was given as I have been very sick during chemo.
I had given her the following list:
- Vitamins A, B complex, C, D3, E, K2
- Coenzyme Q10
- Mega probiotics
- Bee propolis
- Bicarbonate of Soda
- Medicinal Mushroom extract
- Omega 3
- Milk Thistle
- Cat’s Claw
- Grape Seed Extract
What was most interesting was that the main reply was that anti-oxidants are fine with carboplatin because “it does not work via oxidation.” So anti-oxidants will not interfere with the process. It also said that “some researchers theorize that antioxidants may increase the efficacy of chemotherapy by reducing oxidative stress that may interfere with cancer cell death” – some progress being made, perhaps?
The pharmacist approved all the vitamins and minerals except for A and C because they were contraindicated for one of my anti-nausea drugs. Probiotics were also approved. Omega 3 was accepted as long as I take it in conjunction with Vitamin K and/or chlorella (yes, they had information on chlorella!) because Omega 3 increases the risk of bleeding that is a side effect of carboplatin. The other two are coagulants, so they should cancel each other out.
The rest were not approved, under the general heading of “We just don’t know anything about most ‘herbal’ supplements so we can’t say and we would very much prefer you not to take them.” I have chosen to take bee propolis and medicinal mushrooms throughout, for their specific chemoprotection attributes.
What about you?
Answers ( 2 )
I have a naturopathic oncologist who told me what to take during chemo to support it and then changed it up to support healing/detox after. He explained how each one worked for or against chemotherapy. My oncologist didn't want me taking anything; however, the naturopathic oncologist was trained for both conventional and other treatments. I experienced zero side effects and thought chemo was a breeze!
Here's the protocol I followed after the chemotherapy:
4 – 6 weeks after finishing radiation, the goal now is to reduce the downside effects that chemotherapy and radiation therapy can have – namely, inflammation, oxidative stress, immune suppression, and mitochondrial damage.
I would suggest the following for mitochondrial support and to help the body detox from the effects of chemoradiation:
The above three supplements I would suggest you take for 4 – 8 weeks.
The following supplements can decrease inflammation, oxidative stress, and enhance immune function:
Above four supplements, you may want to consider taking the long term. Need for them and doses will also need to be adjusted in respect of your test results. Of course, vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids are still recommended.
Needless to say, most importantly is to also obtain many of the benefits of these supplements (anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects) through whole foods that are rich in these components.
I was fortunate that my oncologist was a proponent of complementary medicine. He was anxious to help me by working with my natural doctors. Find someplace that will do that for you. I took a seven mushroom blend that my Chinese doctor prescribed, and my oncologist put it in my record, although they could not find it in their computer system. I went to a research hospital, and they want to do ANYTHING that may help – even if, in their view, it only helped me feel better.