As you, or someone you know navigates a cancer diagnosis, you might be wondering whether you will be prescribed herbal remedies. We’ve put together a list of reasons why herbal or alternative remedies may be appropriate.
A cancer diagnosis is stunning, and the treatment process is not always straight forward. To make matters more complex, if you’ve received a delayed cancer diagnosis or a misdiagnosis of cancer, the added stress of the potential consequences – as well as the possibility of seeking compensation, might be too much to comprehend.
Everyone’s cancer journey and treatment will be different, even if you are suffering from the same type of cancer as someone else. Therefore, you might be surprised to learn that herbal remedies are sometimes prescribed by doctors and oncologists.
Herbal medicines use plants and plant extracts to treat illness and promote health. Although there is no scientific evidence that any of these methods are an effective treatment for cancer, some doctors choose these methods.
Here are some of those ways…
To reduce pain
Cannabis is a drug that comes from the cannabis plant and, in Australia, is now an approved treatment for managing cancer related symptoms and side effects. It may be prescribed to reduce pain, stimulate appetite to improve weight gain, while controlling nausea and vomiting. However, there is no scientific proof medicinal cannabis is effective in the treatment or management of cancer itself.
The first thing you need to do if you are interested in using medicinal cannabis, is to talk to your GP or oncologist to see if it would be right for you. It can only be accessed legally through a doctor or specialist.
Herbal medicine is also a treatment used to reduce pain and manage some side effects of conventional cancer treatments, such as decreasing fatigue and improving wellbeing.
To relieve nausea
Ginger may be used to relieve feelings of nausea and vomiting, which improves the cancer treatment journey by making it more manageable. However, it is important to remember that some herbs can make cancer treatments less effective or increase their side effects. Therefore, always consult a medical specialist first.
To improve quality of life
Flower remedies are often used to improve emotional imbalance which many practitioners believe is the cause of illness. They are recommended to reduce anxiety and improve the quality of life for people with cancer. However, there is no medical evidence to show that it is an effective treatment for cancer itself.
Mistletoe is combined with conventional medicine to help improve the quality of life of people with cancer. It can be given by mouth or given as an injection and is used to reduce the side effects of cancer treatment.
Chinese herbs are also a form of herbal remedies that are believed to help improve the quality of life of some cancer patients. They are formed from the different parts of plants, including their leaves, flowers, seeds, and stems, and are usually taken as a tea.
However, there are some things to be aware of when using herbal remedies or alternative therapies. Be sure to read up on this before jumping into any new treatment plan.
To help with relaxation and sleep
Aromatherapy is sometimes used by people who have been diagnosed with cancer. It is concentrated natural oils extracted from plants which can benefit your body and mind when inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
The oils may be given through a massage, in baths, as a cream or in diffusers. There is no medical evidence that aromatherapy reduces cancer symptoms or improves side effects. That said, there are oils that relieve different symptoms of cancer, so many people find them relaxing and enjoyable.
Take care when thinking about using essential oils as they should only be used by qualified aromatherapists and can be very dangerous if used incorrectly. They are never to be ingested. It is also very important that you disclose your whole medical history as different oils have different actions. For example, essential oils for people with cancer are very low in strength.
If you are having other cancer treatment, always check with your oncologist before you use aromatherapy.
To reduce symptoms
Homeopathy means a substance that can cause symptoms of cancer is given in small amounts to help stop that symptom. They are usually made of plant and mineral extracts that can come as tablets, liquids, or creams.
There has been a lot of research into the effectiveness of homeopathy, but there is no reliable evidence that it is an effective treatment. Therefore it is not funded by the NHS in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
That said, it’s important to remember that no dietary or other supplemental product can cure or treat cancer. Instead, there are other treatment routes you can follow along with standard treatment to treat cancer symptoms.
Are You Considering Herbal Remedies for Your Cancer Treatment?
In this article, we’ve discussed some reasons why herbal remedies might be considered for your cancer treatment. Of course, herbal remedies will never be prescribed by a doctor to cure your cancer but may be tried to manage the symptoms that cancer and its treatment induce.
If you are considering herbal remedies for your cancer, speak to your oncologist, GP or an herbalist to understand whether these treatments are right for you. Remember, herbal remedies should not be used instead of doctor approved treatments.
For more support on dealing with your cancer diagnosis or treatment, head to MacMillan Cancer Support.
If you have experience with herbal remedies, let us know how you found them in the comments below.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained medical professional. Be sure to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.