Naturopathic medicine may help reduce some of the side effects that can occur when radiation for breast cancer. Some of the natural recommendations are easily found in your kitchen cupboard, while others are available at the health food store.
Fatigue during breast radiation can be a common side effect. There are several possible reasons for you to feel tired during your breast cancer journey including sleep changes, pain, and depression. These and other causes of fatigue may be helped with natural therapies. For more information, see the blog on cancer related fatigue.
There are several ways to use natural products to reduce the radiation “sun burn” that can happen during treatment. If you apply topical therapies to your skin, you want to make sure they are water-based applications so they don’t interfere with your radiation treatments. One natural therapy that has been studied to help reduce skin changes is calendula gel.
Heart and Lung Protection
Although it is very rare, radiation to the breast may cause irritation to the heart and lungs. Several nutrients have been studied for protecting the heart and lungs without decreasing the effectiveness of radiation therapy including acetyl-l-carnitine and exercise. A naturopathic physician can help guide you to the proper treatments if necessary.
During radiation treatment, your throat may become sore, irritated, and tender. If you have a sore throat, you can try Thayer’s Lozenges. These throat lozenges were originally formulated in the 1800’s. The main ingredient is bark of the Slippery Elm tree. This bark can be a soothing, healing coating to the throat encouraging the repair and growth of healthy throat cells. Sucking on a lozenge may increase saliva production, which can also help reduce throat pain. If you continue to have a sore throat, make an appointment with a naturopathic physician for further recommendations and support.
If at any time during your treatment you have questions about your health, nutrition, supplements, or side effects from treatment, you can make an appointment with a Dr. Heather Paulson.