Last Modified: January 28, 2011
Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
Are there any herbals or other nutritional supplements that should be avoided during chemo/radiation? Do any help?
Karen Wagner MS, RD, LDN, Clinical dietitian specialist for the Abramson Cancer Center, responds:
The area of herbal medicine use during cancer treatment is exciting, but still very understudied. Sometimes herbs and chemotherapy interact in unexpected ways. For instance we now recommend that people taking Bortezomib for multiple myeloma not take green tea supplements, based on interactions between the compounds in green tea and the chemotherapy. Please speak with your doctor, dietitian or pharmacist about any possible interactions with the therapies that you are receiving and herbal supplements. Whether or not there are herbals that will make your treatments work better will need to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
At the moment, many practitioners are being conservative in their recommendations of unstudied herbs. Please see ods.od.nih.gov for more information on specific herbs. On the other hand, dietary source of herbs, such as parsley, thyme, oregano and many others are great sources of vitamins, minerals and plant compounds which are very healthy. Cooking with more herbs and adding them to your meals is a great idea for most people.
This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. See the entire transcript of Integrating Complementary Therapies into Your Cancer Care.