By: Lindsey Josephson, Naturopathic Physician, Tri-Cities Cancer Center
The use of natural therapies in cancer is an ever growing field and for good reason. Research from the Bastyr Integrative Oncology Research Center (BIORC) has recently shown that adding well-chosen natural therapies to your cancer treatment can may improve your outcomes for many types and stages of cancer! Caution is needed however since using natural therapies alone can cut your chances of survival in half (Yikes!). Fortunately, new research is coming out every day helping natural medicine practitioners to better understand how these medicines interact with conventional therapies. This will allow me and other natural practitioners to continue improving your cancer care experience.
In honor of upcoming prostate cancer awareness month, I will discuss a couple natural therapies that are popular among patients with prostate cancer. Please remember that all natural therapies can potentially interact either harmfully or beneficially with medications so never start any natural therapy without talking to myself or someone who is familiar with the activities of these substances.
1. Green Tea
Green tea is a popular beverage that is purported to have a wide variety of health benefits ranging from reducing cancer risk to weight loss. In the case of prostate cancer it’s true: green tea really does reduce the risk of getting prostate cancer. Not only can it reduce the risk of developing cancer but it can enhance the effectiveness of certain chemotherapeutics and block at least one mechanism by which prostate cancer can become resistant to certain treatments. There are however, other treatments that may be used for prostate or other cancers that can be made less effective or even completely inactive by green tea.
Quercitin is another natural extract that comes from various fruits and vegetables like apples, broccoli and onions. Quercitin works very well along with green tea to enhance the effectiveness of certain chemotherapeutic agents as well as to reduce the growth of prostate cancer cells. As a nice side effect quercetin can even reduce the severity of seasonal allergies. It can also change the way certain medications are metabolized in your body so again, talk to someone before you use it.
Resveratrol is a compound that is found in many different plants in varying concentrations. It is most famously found in red wine but many other sources exist such as blueberries, peanuts, grapes and Japanese knotweed. Resveratrol is a substance of high interest for prevention of many cancers including prostate. However, the really interesting thing is that when resveratrol is consumed in food the amount needed to reduce cancer risk are much smaller than the amount that would need to be taken as a single agent in a supplement. Resveratrol is one of substances that clearly show the superiority of healthy diet and lifestyle over supplements for long term maintenance of health.
Turmeric is an exotic spice that is used commonly in Indian and middle-eastern cuisine. It is most known as the yellow colored spice in curries. The interest in turmeric as a cancer preventive agent originally began because of population research that showed those counties where turmeric was commonly eaten had lower rates of cancer than others. Further research into turmeric has shown a story very similar to that of green tea. Yes, turmeric can reduce your risk for cancers, including prostate. It can be used effectively with some cancer treatments to enhance potency and reduce side effects. It can also reduce the effectiveness of other treatments, so once your treatment is done, eat away on that curry but during treatment talk to me first.
For more information about our Naturopathic Clinic, please visit us at tccancer.org/naturopathic