Can you recommend traditional chinese medicine, dietary supplements, or other complementary treatments to help ameliorate or reduce toxicities from radiation?

The nonprofit I founded Annie Appleseed Project provides information on a variety of possible methods to help reduce the toxicities of radiation treatment. Of course there are NO level 1 but that is due to the incredible costs of randomized clinical trials and the unpatentablity of natural therapies.

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Expert Answers

MattKatzMD (Physician - Oncology - Radiation (Verified) ) - 02 / 28 / 2012

This is an excellent question! We don't have enough good information to say yet, but it's important we get answers because many cancer patients do take vitamin supplements or other complementary therapies.

While some of the potential benefits are there theoretically, the question is whether it works in practice. One concern I have in radiation oncology is antioxidants, because a clinical trial in head and neck cancer showed no lessening of toxicity and higher recurrence rates in patients using Vitamin E with radiation. . For dietary, the data are mixed and limited on the benefits of honey

Different research is available for different diseases. And while some naturopathic therapies may have potency, the issue is also one of quality control. If you can't consistently get the same amount in one lot vs. another, then it's very difficult to be sure taking these supplements will make a difference.

Final take home: discuss with your doctor all nonprescription drugs, supplements you take and any other complementary therapies. Discuss it. Maybe it's fine to continue, but check first with your doctor before starting radiation treatments.
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