Natural Health Products

Chemotherapy and Radiation Interactions

During chemotherapy or radiation only a regular strength vitamin-mineral supplement is recommended. Natural health products, such as herbal remedies, may interfere with how a Chemo agent works or reduce the drug levels. Although Chemotherapy side effects may be less, the treatment may not work as well or may have to be given for longer time period. Antioxidants can rescue cancer cells preventing their death from some Chemotherapies; for example, Vitamin C or green tea blocks the active mechanism of Bortezimib (Velcade) and should be avoided.

Natural health products may slow tumor growth during treatment. Some types of Chemotherapy work best when cells are dividing (growing). If the cancer cell growth rate is slowed by an herbal remedy the Chemo agent has less opportunity to work.

Overlapping side effects (eg. bleeding, diarrhea) from natural health products make it more difficult to know the source of the problem.

Use Immune System Stimulants with Caution

Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that affects the immune system. Herbal remedies that “enhance your immune system” should be used with caution. If they increase White Blood Cell B lymphocytes, plasma cells or antibody production they may have the potential to stimulate myeloma cell growth. Read labels carefully and know how the Natural Health products work.

An oncology pharmacist recommends avoiding echinacea, astragalus, goldenseal, ginseng, melatonin. Research shows Melatonin can stimulate myeloma cell growth.

The BC Cancer Agency website provides information about Complementary and Alternative Medicine with links to other resources.