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Complementary strategies for the management of radiation therapy side effects



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The dismissal of liquorice may be somewhat unwise, given its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activity - treating the cause and not the effects of the cancer.

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J Adv Pract Oncol. 2013 Jul;4(4):219-31.

Complementary strategies for the management of radiation therapy side effects.

Stubbe CE1, Valero M1.

  • 1Dr. Stubbe recently completed a 3-year residency at the Yellowstone Naturopathic Clinic and Frontier Cancer Center, Billings, Montana. Dr. Valero is a naturopathic doctor and researcher currently practicing in Windsor, Ontario.


Patients with cancer utilize complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for a variety of purposes, one of which is the reduction of side effects of conventional treatment.

With a large number of their patients using CAM, it is important for advanced practitioners in oncology to have an understanding of these therapies to better guide their patients. Side effects of radiation therapy that may have dose-limiting potential include diarrhea, mucositis, skin toxicity, and xerostomia. A com-on side effect that is not necessarily dose-limiting but considerably troublesome to patients is cancer- and treatment-related fatigue.

The CAM therapies that may alleviate some of the side effects of radiation therapy include probiotics, psyllium, exercise, melatonin, honey, acupuncture, and calendula.

Therapies that require more research or have been shown to be ineffective include aloe vera, glutamine, and licorice. This article provides an overview of these therapies as well as related research and analysis.



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