What is complementary therapy?
These are treatments that can be used in addition to traditional chemotherapy. Little is known about the effectiveness and risks of these therapies. There is very little scientific information available on complementary medicine.
- guided imagery
- massage (Swedish, shiatsu)
- medicine traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)
- herbal remedies
- color therapy
- therapeutic touch (reiki)
- vitamins and supplements
Natural health products or medicinal plants
Various natural products are available in pharmacies as well as in certain specialty stores. Often natural products contain several different plants! Unfortunately, advertisements for these products and the information on the label of containers are often misleading or incomplete. Always seek the advice of the oncology pharmacist before purchasing a natural product.
Reasons often mentioned by patients for taking a natural product:
– Reducing side effects
– Stimulating the immune system
– Improving survival
– Curing cancer!
Potential risks associated with taking natural products:
– Interaction with your chemotherapy treatment
– Decrease in the effectiveness of your treatment
– Increase in side effects of your chemotherapy
– Side effects of natural products
Examples of popular natural products that should not be consumed during your chemotherapy treatments:
– Echinacea: by stimulating the immune system, there is a risk of impairing the effectiveness of the treatment.
– Ginko biloba, ginseng, devil’s claw, Pau d’Arco: increased risk of bleeding
– Glucosamine: may decrease the effectiveness of certain chemotherapy by preventing it from reaching cancer cells
– Flax seed: may stimulate the growth of cancer if nourished by hormones
– Chinese Herbal Blends: may interfere with the proper functioning of the liver.
– Antioxidant vitamins and minerals (vitamin A, C, E, selenium, etc.), high-dose green tea, HMS-90, Nonni juice: contain anti-oxidants which can affect the effectiveness of certain chemotherapies
Do not confuse homeopathy and natural product. Some medicines which qualify as homeopathic contain natural products! To be on the safe side, check beforehand with the oncology pharmacist if it is really a homeopathic product. There are no recognized benefits or significant side effects to these products.