Natural Ways to Ease the Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Going through Chemotherapy requires the close attention of a qualified doctor. Please consult your doctor if you are experiencing severe side effects to your treatment.
Chemotherapy is used to kill cancer cells, to stop them from reproducing, and spreading in the body. It is normally used if the cancer has already spread, or there is a risk that it will. The aim of chemotherapy is to ultimately try and cure the cancer completely, to make other treatments more effective, such as radiotherapy, reduce the risk of the cancer coming back, or if a cure is not possible, to help relieve symptoms.
Chemotherapy can be given in different ways, and your consultant will discuss the best course of treatment for you, however the most common types are intravenous chemotherapy, and oral chemotherapy. This is normally carried out in different sessions, which are spread over the course of a few months.
Unfortunately, because the aim of chemotherapy is to kill cancer cells, in doing so, it can also damage some healthy cells too. These include; feeling extremely tired most of the time, feeling sick and vomiting, hair loss, a weakened immune system, which leaves you with an increased risk of picking up infections, a sore mouth, dry, sore or itchy skin, diarrhoea or constipation, anaemia, bruising and bleeding, loss of appetite, changes to your skin and nails, memory and concentration problems, sleep problems, sex and fertility issues, and emotional problems. We will look into natural ways that you can help to ease these problems and make your time on chemotherapy more comfortable.
Although your doctor will be able to discuss you treatment in more detail, you should seek urgent medical care if you have any of the following symptoms; a high temperature, shivering, breathing difficulties, chest pain, flu like symptoms, bleeding gums or nose, bleeding from another part of the body that does not stop after pressure is applied for ten minutes, mouth ulcers that prevent you from eating or drinking, vomiting that continues, and diarrhoea.
Some home remedies can be used to help ease some side effects, however you should always consult your doctor first, especially if your side effects are severe.
Ginger is really commonly used to help alleviate the nausea that a lot of people experience when going through chemotherapy.
Although the research on whether it can help is mixed, it is well known as a great nausea cure. You can inhale ginger aromatherapy oil, eat ginger biscuits or drink some ginger tea throughout the day to keep nausea at bay.
Whilst acupressure might not help to prevent the physical vomiting side effects, it can be really effective at helping to prevent the nausea once again.
Although more research is required on this subject, studies have suggested that it can help to prevent nausea, especially when a pressure wrist band was worn continuously on each day of chemotherapy and for seven days afterwards.
Like we mentioned, one common side effect of chemotherapy is mouth sores, and is though that oral cryotherapy, which is the topical application of ice could actually go a long way to prevent these from developing.
You can try cooling the mouth down with ice, ice cold water, ice creams, or ice lollies.
Studies have shown that this is effective when applied for five to ten minutes before administering the chemotherapy drug, for ten to fifteen minutes during the administration, and up to thirty minutes after the administration. It should be noted though that although this is a really simple solution, it is not right for everyone, particularly when certain types of chemotherapy is used, so it is always best to consult with your specialist before trying this remedy.
Research has suggested that honey, once again is great at preventing mouth sores that often come with chemotherapy treatment. Research has shown that honey actually delayed the onset of oral mucositis.
Do remember though that honey has a high natural sugar content, and can cause cavities in the teeth, so it is important that you ensure you are using fluoride mouth wash and toothpaste after each application, and to ensure that you are keeping up a good oral hygiene routine.
Please note as well that research has also suggested that manuka honey was not always tolerated in clinical trials, and can lead to nausea and vomiting.
Topical vitamin E treatments:
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, which when applied inside the mouth is effective at reducing the severity of mouth sores during chemotherapy treatment.
Research has shown that when people who were undergoing treatment for oral cancer were using topical vitamin E treatment for the prevention of oral mucositis, found that there was a significant reduction in oral mucositis, showing just how effective this remedy can be.
A lot of chemotherapy drugs can also affect the nerves, which can cause pain, numbness, tingling and weakness, and acupuncture is a really great remedy for these unpleasant side effects.
Although there is no way to prevent these things from happening during treatment, research has suggested that acupuncture helped with the symptoms when receiving weekly treatment. It was shown to be well tolerated during this time, and proved to be quite effective, making it a very viable treatment to help these nasty side effects.
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