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chemotherapy

  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an herb that grows in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Spain, parts of the Middle East, Africa, and the Canary Islands. It is sometimes called "Indian ginseng," probably because it is employed as an adaptogen or tonic in Ayurvedic traditional medicine.1 It is not, however, related to "true" ginseng (P. ginseng, P. quinquifolium). The root is used medicinally, although the seeds, shoots, juice and leaves have all been used traditionally as well.2

    Phytochemical contents
    Ashwagandha has been found to contain steroidal lactones called withanolides. Much of the pharmacological activities Ashwagandha are attributed to the presence of these steroidal lactones.3,4 In addition, the roots provide alkaloids, 18 fatty acids, beta sitesterol, polyphenols and phytosterols.5

    Common uses
    Traditional use of Ashwagandha includes its use as an aphrodisiac. As a folk remedy, it has a long list of uses. It is listed in the Indian Materia Medica, and is part of Ayurvedic, Siddha, and Unani traditions. Published research on Ashwagandha reveals a variety of potentially valuable and diverse uses for improving and supporting health. Following is a discussion of each of these potential uses.

    Chemotherapy and radiation therapy Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are commonly used to treat individuals with cancer. One problem associated with both of these treatments are that they can reduce white blood cell (WBC) count; and chemotherapy can cause mylosuppression-a reduced capacity of bone marrow to produce WBC. In turn, this can lead to patient susceptibility to other infections. Animal research has shown that Ashwagandha is capable of increasing WBC count when used with either chemotherapy or radiation therapy.6,7 Similar research has shown that this herb can also reduce mylosuppression in association with chemotherapy.8

    In addition, several studies have shown Ashwagandha to be effective at inhibiting tumor growth in test animals while enhancing radiosensitivity, the ability of radiation therapy to kill tumor cells.9,10,11,12,13,14 In one study, Ashwagandha was able to inhibit tumor growth in animals even without radiation therapy.15

    Immune function
    Besides it potential for treating cancer, research has shown that Ashwagandha is capable of improving immune function. This was demonstrated in one study where mice experienced an increase phagocytosis and intracellular macrophage activity against a pathogen when given a daily dose of Ashwagandha.16 In another study on mice, Ashwagandha was shown to improve the tumor-fighting ability of macrophages in relation to a known carcinogen.17 Ashwagandha has also prevented myelosuppression in mice treated with immunosuppressive drugs, and led to a significant increase in hemoglobin concentration, red blood cell count, white blood cell count, platelet count, and body weight, in addition to providing immunostimulatory activity.18

    Finally, in a series of experiments, various techniques were used to suppress the immune response of mice, then subjected them to infectious organisms. In each experiment, mice pretreated with one of six herbs, including Ashwagandha, fared significantly better than control mice. Mice receiving the herbs demonstrated faster recovery, less disease, and lower mortality. These herbs blunted artificially-induced neutropenia (a deficit of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell) and stimulated leucocytosis (an increase of white blood cells). In treatments that employed both antibiotics and these herbs the combination produced a significantly greater healing effect than either treatment used alone. The herbs also reduced stress-induced damage.19

    Antioxidant activity
    Apparently, one of Ashwagandha's mechanisms of action is that it has significant antioxidant activity. In one study, Ashwagandha significantly reduced free radical oxidation in the livers of mice, while concurrently increasing the activity of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase.20 Other research has shown that Ashwagandha reduced free radical activity in stress induced animals.21 In another study, Ashwagandha administered once daily for 21 days, induced a dose related increase in SOD, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase in rats.22 One interesting study showed that as part of an Ayurvedic herbal formulation, Ashwagandha increased SOD activity in the pancreas of diabetic rats.23

    Brain chemistry
    Ashwagandha has also been used in the treatment of mental and emotional well-being, since it can influence brain chemistry in positive ways. For example it has been shown to be capable of improving memory and enhancing cognitive function in animal research by improving acetylcholine activity in the brain and binding to acetylcholine receptor sites.24 This herb also has GABA mimetic activity-that is it can mimic some of the activity of the relaxing neurotransmitter GABA.25 Clinical trials have shown that Ashwagandha can alleviate a reactive type of depression without sedating. Instead, it "optimizes mental and psychomotor performance by easing the mental stress bundle."26

    Aphrodisiac
    In a clinical trial of ashwagandha on the aging process in over 100 men, 71.4 percent of the men reported improvement in their capacity of sexual performance. These responses seem to support the herb's traditional use as an aphrodisiac.27

    Anti-inflammatory & anti-arthritic activity
    Ashwagandha has demonstrated some very effective anti-inflammatory activity. In fact, in one study its anti-inflammatory activity was comparable to that of a 5-mg/kg dose of hydrocortisone.28 In another study, five plants were assessed for their anti-inflammatory activity. Results showed that while each of the plants possessed varying degrees of anti inflammatory activity, Ashwagandha possessed the greatest.29

    Perhaps the anti-inflammatory activity of Ashwagandha explains its efficacy in arthritis. In a one-month study, a combination of Ashwagandha, Boswellia serrata, Tumeric, and zinc were given to 42 patients with osteoarthritis. At the end of the study, there was a significant drop in severity of pain and disability.30

    Anti-stress & anabolic activity
    Given their relative similarities in function, a comparative study was performed on Ginseng (Panax ginseng), and Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). Using aqueous suspensions of the powdered root, each herb was tested in mice: (1) for anti-stress activity (by the swimming endurance test); and (2) anabolic activity (by the weight measurement of body weight and levator ani muscle). In the swimming endurance test, Ashwagandha and Ginseng each showed anti-stress activity as compared to the control group, although the activity was higher with Ginseng. In the anabolic study, the mice treated with Ashwagandha showed a greater gain in body weight than those treated with Ginseng, although significant anabolic activity was observed for both herbs.31

    Morphine dependence
    Although only tested thus far in mice, Ashwagandha may help reduce dependence on morphine. In a 10-day study, Ashwagandha, helped prevent tolerance to morphine from developing. This is important since developing a tolerance for a drug often leads to increased doses and abuses. Also, Ashwagandha suppressed morphine withdrawal jumps, a sign of the development of dependence to morphine.32

    Glandular support
    As if all of the aforementioned benefits weren't sufficient, Ashwagandha also supports the function of the thyroid, liver and pancreas. After being administered on a daily basis for 20 days, mice experienced an increase in both T3 and T4 thyroid hormones. In the same study, Ashwagandha also decreased free radical activity in the liver.33 In another study, a combination of Ashwagandha and other herbs (Tinospora cordifolia, Eclipta alba, Ocimum sanctum, Picrorrhiza kurroa and shilajit) administered once daily for 28 days decreased blood sugar levels in diabetic rats, and decreased free radical activity in their pancreas as well. This activity in the pancreas is important since the reduction in blood sugar may be due to pancreatic free radical scavenging activity, which protects the cells that produce insulin.34

    Safety
    To determine any potential toxicity of Ashwagandha (as well as Panax Ginseng), a study was conducted in rats with 90 days oral administration using three doses. Food consumption, body weight, haematological, biochemical and histopathological parameters were studied. The results were that brain, heart, lung, liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach, testis and ovaries were normal on gross examination and histopathologically. Sub-acute toxicity studies in rats did not reveal any toxicity.35 Apparently, Ashwagandha is a safe herb. Even so, one research has suggested that Ashwagandha is contraindicated during pregnancy.36

    References

    1. Choudhary M, et al, Phytochemistry (1995) 40(4):1243-6.
    2. Lindner S, Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism (1996) 8(3):78-82.
    3. Choudhary M, et al, Phytochemistry (1995) 40(4):1243-6.
    4. Elsakka M, et al, Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi (1990) 94(2):385 7.
    5. Ibid.
    6. Davis L, Kuttan G, J Ethnopharmacol (1998) 62(3):209 14.
    7. Kuttan G, Indian J Exp Biol (1996) 34(9):854 6.
    8. Praveenkumar V, et al, Tumori (1994) 80(4):306 8.
    9. Ganasoundari A, Zare SM, Devi PU, Br J Radiol (1997) 70(834):599 602.
    10. Devi PU, Indian J Exp Biol (1996) 34(10):927 32
    11. Sharad AC, et al, Acta Oncol (1996) 35(1):95 100.
    12. Devi PU, Int J Radiat Biol (1996) 69(2):193 7.
    13. Devi PU, Sharada AC, Solomon FE, Cancer Lett (1995) 95(1 2):189 93.
    14. Devi PU, Sharada AC, Solomon FE, Indian J Exp Biol (1993) 31(7):607 11.
    15. Devi PU, et al, Indian J Exp Biol (1992) 30(3):169 72.
    16. Dhuley JN, Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol (1998) 20(1):191 8.
    17. Dhuley JN, J Ethnopharmacol (1997) 58(1):15 20
    18. Ziauddin M, J Ethnopharmacol (1996) 50(2):69 76.
    19. Dahanukar S, Thatte U, Phytomedicine (1997) 4(4):359-368.
    20. Panda S, Kar A, J Pharm Pharmacol (1998) 50(9):1065 8.
    21. Dhuley JN, J Ethnopharmacol (1998) 60(2):173 8.
    22. Bhattacharya SK, Satyan KS, Ghosal S, Indian J Exp Biol (1997) 35(3):236 9.
    23. Bhattacharya SK, Satyan KS, Chakrabarti A, Indian J Exp Biol (1997) 35(3):297 9.
    24. Schliebs R, et al, Neurochem Int (1997) 30(2):181 90.
    25. Mehta AK, et al, Indian J Med Res (1991) 94:312 5.
    26. Katiyar CK, et al, Immunomodulator Products from Ayurveda: Current status and future perspectives. In: Immunomodulation, S.N. Upadhyay (Ed), (1997) Narosa Publishing House, New Delhi, India, pp. 163-187.
    27. Linder, op cit
    28. al Hindawi MK, al Khafaji SH, Abdul Nabi MH, J Ethnopharmacol (1992) 37(2):113 6.
    29. Al Hindawi MK, et al, J Ethnopharmacol (1989) 26(2):163 8.
    30. Kulkarni RR, et al, J Ethnopharmacol (1991) 33(1 2):91 5.
    31. Grandhi, et al, Journal of Ethnopharmacology (1994) 44:131-135.
    32. Kulkarni SK, Ninan I, J Ethnopharmacol (1997) 57(3):213 7.
    33. Panda S, Kar A, J Pharm Pharmacol (1998) 50(9):1065 8.
    34. Bhattacharya SK, Satyan KS, Chakrabarti A, Indian J Exp Biol (1997) 35(3):297 9.
    35. Aphale AA, et al, Indian J Physiol Pharmacol (1998) 42(2):299 302.
    36. Linder, op cit
  • Modern medicine often can perform marvels in treatment at the hospital, no doubt about it. Likewise, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals frequently can save us from conditions that in a previous century would have been fatal. Missing, however, as most of us can attest either from personal experience or from having witnessed the post-hospital recovery of relatives and friends, are good options for supporting healing and recovery once medical treatments are over. “Taking it easy” in terms of exertion and food choices (“regular diet” or “special diet” as required) too often is the limit of available advice. Those interested in a catalog of standard medical advice might consult, “Managing the Adverse Effects of Radiation Therapy” at http://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/0815/p381.html. Conspicuously absent are solutions for the fatigue that is characteristic of recovery from chemotherapy and radiation.

    Traditional medical systems around the world are much more focused on convalescence from illness and injury. Broths and soups are at home in European traditions, of course. In Indian and Chinese culture these variously are enriched with special herbs and spices. For instance, the Ayurvedic tradition makes use of a rice and dahl (yellow lentil) dish called kicharee that is prepared fresh daily for convalescence. This meal can be quite varied, yet typically contains a little ghee, onions, garlic, ginger and a variety of mild warming and digestive herbs and spices, with vegetables added to taste and as the patient grows stronger. Chinese tradition suggests chicken and meat/bone broths, soups and stews along with certain herbs, such as wolfberry, angelica, ginger, jujube (a special date), and so forth. Indeed, in Chinese medicine tonification to match various conditions is a sophisticated science. (See, for instance, http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/lifestyles/tcmrole_bufa.html) A section below discusses a really quite remarkable representative of this tradition: tai li wang mulberry and sea-buckthorn beverage concentrate. This ancient formula addresses some of the key weaknesses experienced by individuals who have undergone chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

    Chemotherapy and Radiation: Why Is Recovery So Hard?

    Chemotherapy and radiation are based in large part on the greater susceptibility of cancer cells to damage than is true of normal cells. Cancerous tissues have certain metabolic advantages over healthy tissues that allow them to grow faster and to cannibalize surrounding tissues to feed themselves. This sometimes is called the “Warburg effect” after the Nobel Prize winner who first described it. Cancer’s growth advantage comes with certain downsides, such as greater susceptibility to damage by free radicals and many toxins. Chemotherapy works in part by being more toxic to cancer cells than to normal cells. Radiation treatments work similarly and also can act essentially as “surgery by another means.” In either case, there is lasting damage to basic health. Normal, yet faster growing tissues, which include the tissues that make up the digestive tract, can be affected with implications for digestion. More than just taste and smell change under such circumstances. The fundamental nutritional needs of the body may not be met in important ways with implications for the nervous and immune systems. Today, gut-brain and gut-immune interactions are rapidly expanding areas of research as scientists try to unravel the links of the digestive system to other aspects of health.

    There are yet other pieces to the puzzle. Researchers have had difficulty in pinpointing just why chemotherapy and radiation treatments are so lasting in their negative effects despite what seemingly should be adequate rest and nutrition. A paper published in 2014 may have solved at least some of this riddle. Interestingly, the answer goes back to a part of the body always considered to be a fundamental source of basic life energy and the ability of the body to renew itself: the marrow of the bones.

    A key element is hematopoietic stem cells, which are cells created and stored initially in the bone marrow and which give rise to not only new red blood cells, but also to many types of immune cells. In fact, in their normal state hematopoietic stem cells from the blood and marrow appear to be ordinary white blood cells. Nevertheless, when called upon, these self-renewing cells also renew countless blood and immune cells. The U.S. National Institutes of Health on the Internet provide extensive and useful information regarding stem cells and interested readers should make use of such tools for further knowledge.

    Ionizing radiation, such as that used in oncology treatments, can cause extensive fatalities among hematopoietic stem cells. In some cancer treatments, the damage to the hematopoietic stem cell population can be so extensive that cells and marrow must be transplanted from healthy donors. Unfortunately, to paraphrase an observation from industry, generally “original equipment” works best. This observation goes beyond radiation treatment because it is not just radiation that damages these cells. Chemotherapy and aging also damage hematopoietic stem cells.

    Back to that 2014 paper: One challenge to the renewal of hematopoietic stem cells that is particularly linked to exposure to chemotherapy and radiation appears to be a reduction in the level of a particular protein that is necessary for hematopoietic stem cell renewal and activation. University of San Diego researchers, using an animal model, discovered that mice deficient in the protein beta-catenin lacked the ability to activate a pathway known as Wnt signaling. This failure led to impaired hematopoietic stem cell regeneration and poor bone marrow recovery after radiation. The result was a much-reduced rate of overall recovery inasmuch as there was reduced production of red blood cells and immune cells.

    Damaged hematopoietic stem cells thus are a major aspect of reduced immune function and join other factors that have been identified in depressed immune function, such as damaged and non-responsive immune memory cells, cells whose very presence depresses the body’s ability to renew itself and to respond to immune challenges. This issue was discussed briefly in the February 2015 issue of Total Health under the heading, “Caloric Restriction, Fasting and Nicotinamide Riboside.” Since the publication of that essay, new modified fasts have become available for those who cannot tolerate going three to four days with only water for sustenance. The research team that did much of the pioneering work on this topic has published instructions on how to perform a series of five-day fasts that can achieve most of the results of the original program with less strain and inconvenience.

    Tai Li Wang: An Ancient TCM Herbal Solution
    Fasting helps renew the immune system and hematopoietic stem cells by causing damaged and badly programed cells to be removed from the system. This approach resembles the employment of fasting in the Ayurvedic tradition to “activate the fundamental digestive fire (agni) of the body” to cleanse impurities/toxins that otherwise cannot be destroyed. However, fasting is not itself a solution to many aspects of poor digestive health, reduced adrenal function and the need for nutrition that supports the production of new blood and immune cells. These basic challenges characterize the typical impact of chemotherapy and radiation on health and contribute to the chronic nature of the fatigue and reduced immune function that are aftermaths of these treatments. For these purposes, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a number of sophisticated tonification therapies. One of the very best is the fermented herb mixture known as Tai Li Wang.

    Tai Li Wang is a traditional Chinese herbal formula that some argue was created during the Warring States Period (475– 221 B.C.). As is true of many such “secret” formulas throughout Chinese history, it is difficult to trace back the actual history of the formula, which was first made “public” only in 1857 and has been officially approved by the Chinese Department of Health since 1992. Today, Tai Li Wang is registered in Hong Kong as a Tradition Chinese Herbal Medicine and is available in a number of hospitals in South China. Sea buckthorn and wolfberry are two of the primary ingredients, which provides a hint at the age and origin of the formula. It was during the Warring States Period that the Great Wall was begun and that Chinese civilization entered into extensive interchange with Central Asia. Sea buckthorn and wolfberry both are native to what today is the mountainous area of Tibet and Sinkiang in far Western China, but for much of the last 3,000 years was part of various Central Asian states. Moreover, this is a fermented formula and fermentation was practiced mostly in Western and Northern China due to the harsh winters. Hence, the formula most likely originated in Central Asia and entered China during this early period of contact.

    Also referred to as a mulberry and sea-buckthorn beverage concentrate to reflect its two most prominent ingredients, Tai Li Wang is suggested for individuals under stress, including mental and physical stress, those recovering from surgery or illness, requiring a large nutritional boost, individuals suffering gastrointestinal problems, and those looking for an anti-aging tonic. Other ingredients include black sesame, black plum, goji, Buddha’s hand, Chinese white olive, fu ling, chrysanthemum and jujube.

    Fermentation is an important aspect of the preparation of the herbs. Not only does fermentation protect and concentrate actives from the herbs, but it also leads to the formation of new beneficial compounds not initially present. The flavor of the drink is acidic or vinegar-like.

    Employing classic TCM terminology, it is said that the Tai Li Wang formula Tonifies and rights the qi, enriches and nourishes the liver and kidneys, nourishes the blood and boosts the essence, moistens the lungs and relieves coughing, fortifies the spleen and harmonizes the stomach, disperses food and transforms stagnation, astringes the intestines and relieves diarrhea, quiets the heart and calms the nerves, engenders the liquids and quenches thirst, soothes the throat and relieves coughing.

    Westerners usually are not familiar with TCM terminology and phrasing, yet the meaning of the above is not as obscure as at first it might seem. Briefly, the herbal tradition maintains that Tai Li Wang improves energy, supports the liver and kidney functions, increases blood components and supports their roles, is detoxifying, improves digestion and digestive functions (including being useful in both constipation and diarrhea), and is calming, including aiding sleep. In short, the formula is strengthening and balancing to the metabolism. Those who have tried Tai Li Wang (the flavor is challenging) can attest that some of its effects are realized within two or three days. For instance, the detoxifying and normalizing benefits for the gastrointestinal tract appear quickly. The stool becomes darkened, even tarry, indicating bile release (the body disposes of most toxins via the bile), yet at the same time there is a normalizing effect on stool consistency. Hence, there is a physical indication of a rapid impact on gut function, water balance and almost certainly a profound impact on the gut microbiome.

    With regard to recovery after chemotherapy and radiation, supporting digestion, bowel function and detoxification provides a necessary and significant foundation. These medical treatments create various toxins as a result of free radical production and overt tissue damage while at the same time inhibiting the normal clearance mechanisms. Likewise, one reason for the weight loss that is characteristic of chemotherapy and radiation, apart from the loss of appetite, taste and smell, is that the body goes into overdrive in its attempts to repair the damage to normal tissues and quite literally cannot keep pace with the rate of destruction or the demands for removing damaged materials from the system.

    Next in importance after the support of the gastrointestinal foundation of detoxification and health is Tai Li Wang’s impact on blood components. As noted above, chemotherapy and radiation destroy large numbers of hematopoietic stem cells, thus leaving the body lacking in precisely those cells necessary to renew both red blood cells and many types of immune cells. Supporting a return to health in these areas is exactly the benefit described by TCM with the phrase, “nourishes the blood and boosts the essence.” Not just many medical treatments, but, similarly, chronic excessive physical exertion and aging reduce the ability to renew the blood and immune cells. Experience from animal experiments and human clinical practice demonstrates that the TCM characterization is correct, that there is an increase in red blood cells and immune function without any danger of a rise in inflammatory responses. For instance:

    … LACA mice of different ages given 12.5 g/kg of a mulberry decoction … by gavage daily for ten days in succession experienced marked increases in T-lymphocytes. The mulberry decoction acted as a moderate trigger for lymphocyte transformation. Rosette test results on mice showed that black plum increased immunity in domestic rabbits. Immunity testing (SOI) of super optimal doses of sheep red blood cells (SRBC) showed that suitable doses of goji polysaccharides significantly regulated suppressor T cells (Ts) in geriatric mice while increasing Ts activity. Pachyman strengthened immunity in regular and tumor-bearing mice and strengthened the macrophage phagocytic function in mice, resulting in significantly higher counts of antibody secretory cells in the spleen and increased ANAE positive lymphocyte counts in tumor-bearing mice. This served to antagonize the thymic atrophy….

    In short, Tai Li Wang is an interesting fermented nutritional beverage that supports many physiological functions according to Traditional Chinese Medical categories, modern experiments and clinical usage in South China.

    Conclusion
    Despite tremendous medical advances, allopathic medicine has not done a good job in addressing the needs of recovery after chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Chemotherapy and radiation cause lasting damage to the body, including to the ability of the gastrointestinal system and supporting organs to eliminate toxins and derive nutrients from food. Likewise, these treatments are detrimental to hematopoietic stem cells, the cells that are necessary for the renewal of red blood cells and many types of immune cells. The fermented Chinese herbal beverage known as Tai Li Wang, according to both animal work and clinical practice, offers an approach to nutritionally supporting healing and recovery that brings an ancient discovery to the modern world.

    References:

    1. Lento W, Ito T, Zhao C, Harris JR, Huang W, Jiang C, Owzar K, Piryani S, Racioppi L, Chao N, Reya T. Loss of â-catenin triggers oxidative stress and impairs hematopoietic regeneration. Genes Dev. 2014 May 1;28(9):995–1004.
    2. “‘Fasting-mimicking diet’ may promote health and longevity,” June 21, 2015 found at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/295647.php
    3. “Researchers Discover Fasting Can Significantly Prolong Life,” June 25, 2015 at http://readynutrition.com/resources/researchers-discover-fasting-can-significantly-prolong-life_25062015/
    4. Hong Kong] Application For Registration Of Proprietary Traditional Chinese Medicine, Pharmacological Effects Report: Pharmacological Effects Report for “Tai Li Wang” Mulberry and Sea-buckthorn Beverage Concentrate.
    5. http://www.angliatech.com/showcase/tailiwang/product_feature.php?lang=1
  • In addition to all the other problems they face, over 70 percent of people receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy for their cancer suffer from severe fatigue. This fatigue is most often ignored.

    But it is not enough to simply prolong life. It is important that life also be enjoyable. The good news? You don't have to choose. Those things that improve quality of life may also improve survival.

    So got cancer fatigue? Here are four steps to optimize your energy. Let me state that these treatments are not for treating your cancer, but rather for optimizing your health if you have cancer.

    1—Optimized Nutritional Support. Some doctors advise people with cancer not to take nutritional support. The rationalization? That the antioxidants might decrease the effectiveness of the chemotherapy and radiation, (which are oxidative).

    Although this concern is not unreasonable, the overall research data suggests that giving nutritional support improves outcomes, while decreasing chemotherapy toxicity. In addition, the nausea caused by the chemo and increased metabolic needs from the cancer can leave people dramatically malnourished, with the RDAs being woefully inadequate.

    What I recommend for the people I treat is to take the following:
    A. It should include optimal amounts of B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. I use the Energy Revitalization System vitamin powder. This one drink daily supplies virtually all of the vitamins, minerals and energy cofactors that the diet should be supplying (except the calories) at optimal levels, with the exception of iron and essential oils. To be on the safe side, I have them leave it, and other antioxidants, off for two days before and three to seven days after radiation or chemotherapy.

    B. If using chemotherapy that can cause nerve damage, I also will add acetyl l-carnitine 1000 mg twice a day until three months after the chemo is done to help protect the nerves. This has been shown to be helpful in supporting nerve health (with the exception of people taking vinorelbine). The powerful antioxidant Lipoic acid 300 mg twice daily can also support nerve health and healing.

    C. Other nutrients can also be helpful in supporting health while being treated for selected types of cancer. For example, Glutathione has been demonstrated in the research to decrease cisplatin toxicity and coenzyme Q10 helps keep the heart healthy when taking doxorubicin. Powerful antioxidants, including alpha lipoic acid (300 mg) that work to recharge your system at the cellular level.

    D. A cup of coffee or two each day also supplies helpful nutrients, and at this level the caffeine can be a healthy stimulant. E. Meanwhile, don't forget to go for walks in the sunshine. Walking has been shown to help cancer related fatigue, and sunshine (the source of vitamin D) has been shown to strengthen your immune system!

    2—Get pain relief. Chronic pain drains energy, and virtually all pain can be effectively treated. The problems is that physicians are simply not trained in pain management, and oncologists are often no exception. Ask your oncologist to refer you to a physician who specializes in pain management (called a physiatrist or PM& R specialist). In addition, there are herbals that can help support overall health. A special highly absorbed curcumin (I recommend one called CuraMed in my practice) is being tested in numerous cancer studies, and is showing dramatic benefits in protecting health. Meanwhile, it can dramatically augment the effectiveness of pain medications.

    To help tip the scales in their favor and support their body staying healthy, I recommend that all of my patients being treated for cancer also take CuraMed 750 mg 2 caps twice a day to support optimal heath and immune function. If pain is an issue, I use Curamin ES 1 cap 3 times a day along with the CuraMed one twice a day.

    In addition, a technique called Frequency Specific Microcurrent (see www.frequencyspecific.com) can also be very helpful for pain—with no side effects.

    3—Sleep. I can't over emphasize the importance of getting your eight to nine hours of sleep a night. Sleep is critical not only for energy, but also for decreasing pain and optimizing immune function. There are two herbal mixes that are excellent for sleep, and which can be taken together or combined with any sleep medications. These are the Revitalizing Sleep Formula and Terrific ZZZZ.

    4—Hope. One of the big energy drainers is a sense of hopelessness and powerlessness. However, when I review the medical literature for the people I treat with cancer, I routinely find a good number of studies showing that low-cost natural therapies can be very effective for their specific cancer type. But because of a quirk in our regulatory system, the research on these low-cost remedies cannot even be talked about without paying $400 million per treatment in regulatory costs. Because these treatments cost pennies, it is unlikely that the cancer specialist will hear about the research, and therefore presumes it doesn't exist.

    But your holistic health practitioner can look into these and guide you. By combining the best of natural and standard medical care, the "average" statistics become meaningless, with your odds for improvement and recovery being much higher. So that the statistics no longer apply to you.

    Meanwhile, don't forget to harvest the silver lining of your condition. Your diagnoses may have taught you to stop and notice what's important to you, and to get a clearer view of your priorities. And to learn to, as the world-renowned anthropologist Joseph Campbell said, "Follow your bliss!"

    By following the steps above, not only can you support your health, but you can also feel great and have a life worth living!

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