How Do I Choose the Best Alternative to Chemotherapy?

Nicole Etolen
Nicole Etolen
A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia, which is sometimes treated with chemotherapy.
A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia, which is sometimes treated with chemotherapy.

While chemotherapy is typically considered the most reliable form of cancer treatment, many patients do not wish to deal with the side effects involved in the treatment. Chemotherapy does help destroy cancer cells, but since it is unable to target specific cells in the body, it can also destroy healthy cells. It is extremely important that you talk to your oncologist before deciding to try an alternative to chemotherapy. There are several popular holistic approaches to cancer treatment, including vitamin C injections, herbal remedies, and dietary changes.

Some patients eschew chemotherapy and instead choose a macrobiotic diet as a treatment plan.
Some patients eschew chemotherapy and instead choose a macrobiotic diet as a treatment plan.

Researchers from around the world have been studying the effects of vitamin C on cancer cells for several decades. Some evidence suggests that injections containing high doses of the vitamin can effectively treat cancer, while other evidence disputes these findings. The trials have been surrounded by controversy, with each side contending that the other’s studies were flawed. Taking high doses of any vitamin can be dangerous, so if you choose to try this alternative to chemotherapy, do it only under the guidance of a qualified medical professional.

For most patients, the risk of chemotherapy is much less severe than the risk of leaving cancer untreated, but there are some potentially serious side effects to consider.
For most patients, the risk of chemotherapy is much less severe than the risk of leaving cancer untreated, but there are some potentially serious side effects to consider.

Mistletoe extract is a popular alternative to chemotherapy in European countries, where studies have found that it may be effective at killing cancer cells. The extract is typically given as a subcutaneous injection, meaning that it is delivered directly beneath the skin. Although mild discomfort and redness can appear around the site of the injection, mistletoe extract is not known to cause serious side effects. The Food and Drug Administration does not allow the extract to be imported for medicinal uses in the United States.

It is crucial that cancer patients consult their oncologist before trying any holistic treatments or making dietary changes.
It is crucial that cancer patients consult their oncologist before trying any holistic treatments or making dietary changes.

Following a macrobiotic diet based on the principles of Buddhism is another popular alternative to chemotherapy. The spiritual theory behind the practice is that eating a proper diet that respects nature and animals can help balance the positive and negative life forces within you. While eating more whole, organic foods and less meat can keep you healthier overall, there is no clinical evidence to back up the theory that such a diet can help cure cancer. If you choose to try a macrobiotic diet, be sure to talk to a nutritionist to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients your body needs.

Aromatherapy is not an alternative to chemotherapy, but it is a popular complementary treatment. Inhaling certain aromas from essential oils, including peppermint, lavender, and chamomile, can help combat the fatigue, stress, and nausea associated with chemotherapy treatments. The oils can also be applied to the skin as long as they are mixed into a skin-friendly carrier oil, such as grapeseed oil, or into a lotion base.

Deciding on the best way to treat your cancer is a very personal choice, but keep in mind that there are no medically approved alternatives to chemotherapy that have been clinically proven effective. If you decide to try holistic or alternative treatments, keep your doctor up to date on the different methods you are using, as some herbs can interfere with other medications. Be very wary of giving your money and time to anyone who claims they can cure your cancer, as there is no sure cure for the disease.

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    • A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia, which is sometimes treated with chemotherapy.
      A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia, which is sometimes treated with chemotherapy.
    • Some patients eschew chemotherapy and instead choose a macrobiotic diet as a treatment plan.
      Some patients eschew chemotherapy and instead choose a macrobiotic diet as a treatment plan.
    • For most patients, the risk of chemotherapy is much less severe than the risk of leaving cancer untreated, but there are some potentially serious side effects to consider.
      For most patients, the risk of chemotherapy is much less severe than the risk of leaving cancer untreated, but there are some potentially serious side effects to consider.
    • It is crucial that cancer patients consult their oncologist before trying any holistic treatments or making dietary changes.
      It is crucial that cancer patients consult their oncologist before trying any holistic treatments or making dietary changes.