Advertisement

Can Natural Remedies Help Ease Symptoms Caused by Breast Cancer Treatment?

How can natural remedies help?

Treatment for breast cancer often comes with unpleasant side effects. These vary from person to person. You may only experience side effects during treatment, or you may find some side effects continue after your treatment ends.

Common side effects include:

  • fatigue
  • headache
  • pain
  • menopausal symptoms
  • memory loss

Some people find that natural remedies can help relieve their side effects and improve their quality of life during and after treatment. You can use natural remedies along with your prescribed treatment plan. They can help you feel your best.

These remedies are only suggested to help treat the side effects of your doctor-approved treatment. They aren’t intended to treat the cancer.

Some treatments may interact with certain medications. So, it’s important to check with your doctor before trying any of these remedies.

If you start a new treatment, pay attention to how your body reacts. If you begin experiencing any unusual symptoms, stop use and consult your doctor.

Keep reading to learn how natural remedies can provide relief.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Fatigue

Natural remedies for fatigue

remedy for fatigue

Dandelion may have many benefits, including relief from fatigue.

Researchers in one 2011 animal study found significant evidence supporting this. After ingesting dandelion extract, the mice studied were able to swim longer without tiring. The extract also helped to maintain blood glucose levels.

Dandelion may also help boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and cleanse the liver.

You may take dandelion in tea, liquid tincture, or pill form. Take only one form at a time, and follow the dosage instructions carefully.

If you’re allergic to ragweed or similar plants, don’t use this remedy. You should talk to your doctor before use if you have gallbladder problems or are taking any of the following medications:

  • lithium (Lithane)
  • certain antibiotics
  • diuretics, such as spironolactone (Aldactone)
  • diabetes medication, such as metformin (Riomet)

You may also be able to treat fatigue and boost energy levels by taking:

  • magnesium
  • bee pollen
  • ginseng
  • licorice

Learn more: 7 ways dandelion tea could be good for you »

Insomnia

Natural remedies for insomnia

remedy for insomnia

Getting plenty of quality sleep is vital to your daily routine. Adequate sleep will leave you feeling well-rested and able to face the day.

You may find it helpful to take a mixture of valerian and lemon balm. Researchers in a 2013 study found that women in menopause experienced a significant improvement in sleep quality when taking this supplement.

Valerian and lemon balm may also help to boost brain function, calm your mind, and improve your mood.

You may take the herbal combination as a capsule, tea, or tincture. Be sure to follow the recommended dosages provided with each product.

Talk with your doctor before use if you’re taking alprazolam (Xanax) or other sedatives. Valerian and lemon balm can also interact with alcohol.

You may also find the following supplements beneficial:

  • magnesium and calcium combined
  • melatonin
  • lavender

Learn more: 8 natural sleep aids »

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Hot flashes

Natural remedies for hot flashes

remedy for hot flashes

According to a 2013 study, women in menopause may reduce the amount and severity of hot flashes by taking valerian capsules. Study participants took 255 milligrams (mg) of valerian three times a day for eight weeks.

You may take valerian as a capsule, tea, or tincture. Always follow recommended dosages.

Talk with your doctor before use if you’re taking alprazolam (Xanax) or other sedatives. Valerian may also interact with alcohol.

The following supplements may also lessen the frequency and severity of hot flashes:

  • omega-3
  • soy
  • black cohosh
  • evening primrose oil
  • vitamin E
  • red clover
  • sage tea
  • St. John’s wort

Learn more: What are the benefits of valerian root? »

Breast pain

Natural remedies for breast pain

remedy for breast pain

The results of a 2010 study suggest taking vitamin E, evening primrose oil, or a combination of the two may reduce breast pain. In the study, women with PMS-related breast pain took 1,200 IU of vitamin E and 3,000 mg of evening primrose oil per day for six months.

You may take vitamin E and evening primrose oil in capsule form. Always follow recommended dosages. Or you could also massage diluted evening primrose oil onto your breasts when experiencing pain.

You shouldn’t take vitamin E if you have:

  • angioplasty
  • diabetes
  • history of heart attack
  • vitamin K deficiency
  • retinitis pigmentosa
  • bleeding disorders
  • head and neck cancer
  • history of stroke
  • scheduled surgery

Vitamin E can cause adverse interactions, so check with your doctor if you’re taking:

  • immunosuppressant medications, such as cyclosporine (Neoral)
  • medications used for lowering cholesterol, such as niacin (Niacor)
  • medications that slow blood clotting, such as warfarin (Coumadin)

Don’t use evening primrose oil if you have:

  • bleeding disorders
  • epilepsy or another seizure disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • a scheduled surgery

Evening primrose oil interacts with phenothiazines, medications that slow blood clotting, and medications used during surgery.

You may also find relief from breast pain by taking one of the following supplements:

  • ginger
  • turmeric
  • magnesium
  • black cohosh
  • castor oil
  • dandelion
  • omega-3

Learn more: The truth about vitamin E oil »

Advertisement
Advertisement

Muscle pain

Natural remedies for muscle pain

remedy for muscle pain

Researchers in a 2015 study found ginger extract was capable of reducing muscle pain after exercise. Participants in the study took 2 grams of dried powder either one hour before exercise or immediately after.

Ginger may also help to boost immunity and brain function and relieve nausea.

You make take ginger in capsule, tincture, or tea form. Follow recommended dosages.

Don’t take ginger if you have diabetes, a bleeding disorder, or a heart condition.

Ginger interacts with:

  • medications used for lowering cholesterol, such as niacin (Niacor)
  • medications that slow blood clotting, such as warfarin (Coumadin)
  • medications that treat heart disease, including nifedipine (Adalat)

If you’re experiencing vaginal pain, you may also find relief by taking cayenne, fish oil, or turmeric supplements.

Learn more: What are the benefits of ginger tea? »

Advertisement

Stress and anxiety

Natural remedies for stress and anxiety

remedy for stress and anxiety

You may use lavender or chamomile teas or essential oils to bring about feelings of calm and serenity.

Taking a food supplement with probiotics, magnesium, vitamins, and minerals may also help with stress relief. According to a 2016 study, people who took such a supplement experienced reduced levels of psychological stress and fatigue. These benefits lasted up to one month after they stopped taking the supplement.

Before adding a vitamin or probiotic supplement to your regimen, talk with your doctor.

Vitamins and minerals have some possible side effects and interactions.

If you do add a supplement to your routine, follow the instructed dosage.

Learn more: What lavender can do for you »

Advertisement
Advertisement

Cognitive function

Natural remedies for cognitive function

remedy for cognitive function

The results of a 2013 study showed positive results in the relationship between the consumption of Panax ginseng and cognitive functioning. Ginseng may enhance intellectual work capacity. It’s also a natural source of actoprotectors, which boost mental and physical performance.

Ginseng may also help to relieve inflammation, boost your immune system, and reduce fatigue.

You may take ginseng in tincture, tea, or capsule form. Always follow recommended dosages and do not use for more than six months at a time.

Don’t use Panax ginseng if you have:

  • insomnia
  • an autoimmune disease
  • a bleeding disorder
  • a heart condition
  • diabetes
  • had an organ transplant
  • any hormone-sensitive condition
  • schizophrenia

Panax ginseng can interact with:

  • medication for depression, such as sertraline (Zoloft)
  • medications that slow blood clotting, such as warfarin (Coumadin)
  • immunosuppressant medications, such as cyclosporine (Neoral)
  • diabetes medication, such as metformin (Riomet)
  • diuretics, such as furosemide (Lasix)

You should also avoid drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages while taking Panax ginseng.

You may also consider taking one of the following supplements to help improve concentration and memory:

  • vitamin B
  • vitamin E
  • sage
  • basil
  • rosemary
  • ginkgo biloba
  • omega-3

Immunity

Natural remedies for immunity

remedy for immunity

Garlic extract may help detoxify the body. One 2016 study suggests that aged garlic extract has a positive effect on the immune system and can boost immune cell function. During the study, healthy people who took aged garlic supplements daily for three months experienced fewer symptoms of illness.

Garlic extract may also reduce inflammation in the body and combat fatigue.

You may take garlic extract in capsule form. Be sure to follow the dosage instructions on the product.

Garlic may cause:

  • stomach or digestion problems
  • allergic reactions
  • increased bleeding
  • low blood pressure

Garlic can interact with:

  • certain antibiotics, such as isoniazid
  • some HIV or AIDS medications, such as saquinavir (Invirase)
  • immunosuppressant medications, such as cyclosporine (Neoral)
  • medications that slow blood clotting, such as warfarin (Coumadin)

You may also take one of the following supplements to strengthen your immune system and improve your overall health:

  • echinacea
  • elderberry
  • zinc
  • probiotics
  • olive leaf extract
  • turmeric
  • green tea

Learn more: Foods with healing power: The benefits of garlic »

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Takeaway

The bottom line

If you want to add a natural remedy to your regimen, talk with your doctor. They can walk you through the potential benefits and risks of each remedy you’re interested in.

Remember, these remedies aren’t a replacement for your doctor-prescribed treatment plan. These treatments are only intended to help relieve your side effects, not treat the cancer. If you do add supplements to your routine, there are a few things you should remember:

  • Always buy high-quality supplements from reputable manufacturers to make sure of safety and effectiveness.
  • Most supplements are better absorbed when taken with food.
  • Don’t take supplements for more than three months at a time. Take a break of about one month between ending one regimen and starting another.

It may be some trial and error involved until you find a holistic treatment plan. Be sure to stay in contact with your doctor throughout this process so that they can support you and help in any way they can.

Article resources
  • Allaert, F. A., Courau, S., & Forestier, A. (2016, December). Effect of magnesium, probiotic, and vitamin food supplementation in healthy subjects with psychological stress and evaluation of a persistent effect after discontinuing intake [Abstract]. Panminerva Medica, 58(4), 263-270. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27309258
  • Hoseinzadeh, K., Daryanoosh, F., Baghdasar, P. J., & Alizadeh, H. (2015, September 12). Acute effects of ginger extract on biochemical and functional symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness. Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 29, 261. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4715415/
  • Jinchun, Z., & Jie, C. (2011). The effects of taraxacum officinale extracts (TOE) supplementation on physical fatigue in mice. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 8(2), 128-133. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252690/
  • Mirabi, P., & Mojab, F. (2013). The effects of valerian root on hot flashes in menopausal women [Abstract]. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 12(1), 217-222. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24250592
  • Oliynyk, S., & Oh, S. (2013, April). Actoprotective effect of ginseng: Improving mental and physical performance. Journal of Ginseng Research, 37(2), 144-166. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659633/
  • Percival, S. S. (2016, February). Aged garlic extract modifies human immunity [Abstract]. The Journal of Nutrition, 146(2), 433-436. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26764332
  • Pruthi, S., Wahner-Roedler, D. L., Torkelson, C. J., Cha, S. S., Thicke, L. S., Hazelton, J. H., & Bauer, B. A. (2010, April). Vitamin E and evening primrose oil for management of cyclical mastalgia: a randomized pilot study [Abstract]. Alternative Medicine Review: A Journal of Clinical Therapeutic, 15(1), 59-67. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20359269
  • Side effects from breast cancer treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/breast_center/treatments_services/survivor_care/side_effects.html
  • Taavoni, S., Nazem Ekbatani, N., & Haghani, H. (2013, November). Valerian/lemon balm use for sleep disorders during menopause [Abstract]. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 19(4), 193-196. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24199972
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement