What is Chemotherapy?
When you have cancer, your cells reproduce in an uncontrolled manner. Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to stop the cancer cells from dividing and growing. The length of treatment depends on the severity of the cancer. While some may believe that removing a cancerous tumor is all you need to do to rid the body of cancer, your cancer cells may spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy will help to destroy, shrink, or control those cancer cells that have spread.
Different Types of Chemotherapy Drugs
Chemotherapy can be taken alone or doctors may want radiation therapy in addition to the chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can be given as pills or can be given through the patient’s veins. These chemotherapy drugs are used to kill cancerous cells, fight cancer cells, keep the tumors from growing, and attacks the cell’s genes so that they cannot further grow into new tumors. Alkylating Agents This type of drug damages the cell’s DNA to keep it from reproducing. This also can affect the cells of the bone marrow. Plant Alkaloids This type of chemotherapy is made from types of plants. They attack the cells during various phases of division. Antimetabolites Antimetabolites is a chemotherapy drug that interferes with normal metabolism of cells. This stops the cells from continually growing.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Not everyone gets side effects of chemotherapy and the severity of those side effects vary from person to person. Patients should discuss with their doctor which drugs come with different side effects. While most of these side effects are short term, chemotherapy drugs come with long-term side effects. Patients should understand that while these side effects may seem scary or unpleasant, the chemotherapy drugs are important in ridding your body of your cancer.
Nausea: Nausea can be triggered by smells, equipment, or sounds. This is known as anticipatory nausea. Hair Loss: When trying to attack your cancer cells, chemotherapy drugs may also attack your hair roots. Hair could gradually fall out or it will fall out in clumps. Fatigue: Not only does chemotherapy destroy cancer cells, it destroys healthy cells as well. Also, as your body works to repair the damage of healthy cells and tissue. Mucositis: Cancer treatments rapidly break down the mucosal tissue, which causes ulcers, pain, and increased risk of infection. Appetite Loss: Cancer treatment can affect the way your food tastes, along with making you not want to eat. Bowel problems: Bowel problems such as constipation and diarrhea can occur.
Naturopathic Ways to Suppress the Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Nausea Natural Remedies
Ginger can be taken raw in small amounts or added into your tea with lemon.
Lemon can be added into warm water.
Chili peppers contain capsaicin which is effective against nausea.
Honey can help decrease mucositis.
Topical Vitamin E
Vitamin E will help decrease the severity of mucositis.
Astragalus eases the side effects of nausea and vomiting, but you should check with your doctor before using this, as it may cause some medications to stop working.
Ginseng has been known to reduce the fatigue that is associated with chemotherapy.
A plant used to help with chemo-induced fatigue.
Glutamine helps patients deal with soreness, along with helping with mouth sores associated with mucositis.
Zinc helps with taste changes that come with chemotherapy.
Massage therapy can help chemotherapy patients by combating nausea, controlling pain, and reducing anxiety.
Acupuncture offers many benefits for chemotherapy patients such as alleviating fatigue, nausea, pain, depression, and improves quality of sleep.
References: Natural Help for Treatment Side Effects. WebMD. Wong, C. 2018. Natural Approaches to Chemotherapy Side Effects. Very Well Health. Oke, D. 2016. Natural Remedies for Nausea After Cancer Therapy. The Truth About Cancer. Wong, C. 2018. Natural Remedies for Radiation Side Effects. Very Well Health. Cancer Fatigue: Why It Occurs and How to Cope. Mayo Clinic. Mucositis. The Oral Cancer Foundation. Managing Side Effects. Canadian Cancer Society. How Chemotherapy Drugs Work. American Cancer Society. Fayed, L. Benefits and Safety of Undergoing a Massage During Chemotherapy. Very Well Health. Eldridge, L. 2018. Acupuncture for Cancer Patients. Very Well Health.