Herbs can interfere with Chemotherapy

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Mike Bartolatz
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Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2004 9:58 pm

Herbs can interfere with Chemotherapy

Postby Mike Bartolatz » Sun Mar 13, 2005 11:31 am

Avoid mixing supplements, cancer treatment
Herbs can interfere with chemotherapy, doctors cautionBy Karen Collins, R.D.
Registered Dietitian
Special to MSNBC.com
Updated: 9:40 a.m. ET March 11, 2005Surveys show that many cancer patients turn to herbal supplements hoping to decrease the side effects of treatment or boost the body's ability to defeat cancer. For many years, there was no sound research on which to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of these supplements - patients just took their chances.


Although there are still a lot of questions about herbal supplements, experts now say there is some basis for evaluating them. If you are a cancer patient considering one or more of these products, it is critical that you tell your doctor.

Herbs have the reputation of being natural and gentle, but they contain compounds that can profoundly affect the body. Research continues on how to harness their bioactivity to make more effective or more tolerable cancer treatments. The strength that herbals may have for positive effects could significantly interfere with treatments if the wrong products are used at the wrong times.

There is another misconception about herbal products, and all supplements for that matter, which everyone should be aware of. Consumers may not always attain the same benefits observed in research studies, because supplements may differ from what was used in research.

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Independent tests on a variety of herbal products have shown that some are missing significant levels of important compounds, or are contaminated with unlisted ingredients. One safeguard against this problem is to check the label for a mark by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) that says “dietary supplement verified” in a circle. For a partial list of supplements verified by USP for quality you can visit www.uspverified.org. Another organization that independently tests the quality of supplements is ConsumerLab.com.Its website is www.consumerlab.com.

Unsupported claims
Several reports highlight the problems that a use of herbs can cause during cancer treatment. For instance, depression and anxiety are common after a diagnosis of cancer. But when people take St. John's Wort as a remedy, this product can interfere with the actions of certain chemotherapy drugs, decreasing their effectiveness. Furthermore, this herb stays in the body for several weeks.

Another common reason for using herbs is to deal with side effects of treatment. Ginger is widely used for nausea. But both ginger and garlic, when used in large amounts as supplements rather than the small amounts used in flavoring food, can slow blood-clotting times. Especially for someone using one of the chemotherapy drugs that also slows blood clotting, serious bleeding problems can arise.

A third reason people use herbs or supplements is to boost their immune systems. Echinacea is widely used for this purpose. But studies suggest that after eight weeks, echinacea may actually suppress the immune system and damage the liver. Another herbal remedy, essiac tea, combines several herbs and is said to strengthen the immune system and relieve pain. So far no human clinical trials have been completed to support these claims. Past animal studies did not verify them either.

A fourth use of herbs or vitamins as antioxidants may seem innocent, but it is potentially damaging. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy work by creating free radicals that destroy cancer cells. Researchers warn that taking high levels of antioxidant supplements during these therapies could actually counteract their effectiveness.

Products without proven benefits may be safe for patients who want to try them. But you should always consult with your doctor in case there are particular risks for you.

Nutrition Notes is provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.© 2005 MSNBC Interactive


How whole grains can fight disease
Mike Bartolatz


Herbs versus Chemo

Postby Roy » Sun Mar 20, 2005 10:51 pm


Are you trying to suggest that Herbs are more toxic to the body than chemo? Give me a break! Chemotherapy suppresses the immune system. So, a lot of cancer patients die, not from the cancer, but from oportunistic infections like pneumionia. Maybe the patients in question would be better off skipping the Chemo and just taking the herbs.

Mike Bartolatz
Posts: 6595
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2004 9:58 pm

your opinion

Postby Mike Bartolatz » Mon Mar 21, 2005 11:13 am

Dear Sir,
although you are entitled to your opinion, the medical literature is quite explicit on the appropriateness of Chemotherapeutic drugs in the control of autoimmune disease processes. these drugs retrain the immune system to stop attacking our eyes with Uveitis and other autoimmune disease processes. herbal medicines can interfere with the mechanisms of action of these drugs and can cause harm to our members using immunomodulation. These drugs do not cause cancer when properly monitored and are often less problematic than corticosteroids used to stop inflammation.

your cancer commment is OLD DOGMA Sir.

wish you the best,
Mike Bartolatz


Herbs Vs chemo

Postby Roy » Mon Mar 21, 2005 11:47 pm

Far more people have died from chemo treatments than from taking Herbs. In fact, I doubt if anyone has ever died from using herbs properly. I just read Mary Shomon's book "Living well with Autoimmune Disease". On page 227, she says "I hear from thousands of patients each week, and it's interesting that many who have gone into long term remission have all had one thing in common - they have combined conventional treatments with comprehensive herbalism".

A year ago, this web site along with other pro prescription medicine websites were pushing Vioxx as the THE treatment of choice. Now, with Celebrex also under scrutiny, I wonder what your'e now pushing!

I suffered for years with Iritis and, using the standard medical treatment (predforte, etc)., I never felt like I was making any headway. I then incorporated a comprehensive herbal treatment and haven't had a flare up in in over 8 years. If I should have a flare up, I would use cortisone, but only for a few days, not continuously as some doctors recommend. For the long term, I use nutritional and herbal supplements on a daily basis.

I see your'e now mentioning treatments that claim to retrain the immune system. But, I haven't heard anything about the side effects. I will remain skeptical of these treatments until I see a long history of safety.

If this web site is really about discussing the various treatments for Iritis, I think you are being derelict if you don't discuss treatments from alternative and holistic medicine.

Mike Bartolatz
Posts: 6595
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2004 9:58 pm

I have to ask you to refrain from attacking me

Postby Mike Bartolatz » Wed Mar 23, 2005 10:59 am

I am being very patient with you and I now must ask you to refrain from statements that are NOT appropriately documented by peer reviewed literature. we are here to help people not to cause them to purchase things that might cause them harm.

Mike Bartolatz


herbal remedies

Postby Anita » Wed Mar 23, 2005 2:33 pm


If you read the original post carefully, you will see that it is not promoting any particular remedy. If you are knowledgeable about herbal remedies, you know that they are not required to nor do they go through rigorous testing to show their effectiveness or to determine side effects. And those that market them do not often meet any particular standard so you don't always know what you are getting. Go to any herbalist and they will verify that fact for you if you do not trust published data. That is often why they are marketed as herbal rather than medicinal so that they do not have to jump that hurdle. Much cheaper.

The message is to proceed with caution. And to let your physician know what you are doing so that your routine does not counteract any effects that you may have received from traditional medical approaches. And so that if you are having any symptoms, the physician will have the complete story so that you can be helped.

The research with autoimmune desease is ongoing. The processes are not completely discovered. Therefore explanations of the mechanisms and the therapeutic recommendations do change.

What is supported on this website is based upon what is known:
1. Longterm use of steroids is damaging to the system although necessary to address the symptoms of an acute flare-up.
2. For those with recurrent or chronic conditions, Long term remission can be acheived in most cases with immunomodulatory approaches that avoid the use of steroids.
3. Because iritis as an autoimmune disease is complex, you need a uveitis specialist on your team who knows the current research and can support you in making the best decisions to prevent recurrences of flare-ups.


Final Comment

Postby Roy » Wed Mar 23, 2005 10:04 pm

This will be my last post on this web site. I'm sure the moderator will breathe a sigh of relief at this. I post this for the viewers who, like me, have had Iritis or other Autoimmune Diseases. First of all, I'm not anti medicine. I believe conventional medicine is important for short term treatment of flare ups. But, I don't believe conventional medicine is the whole answer. I don't base this on Mary Shomon's book but on 30 years experience of trial and error with conventional drugs and alternative treatments.

I was first diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). I almost died from the treatment of Butylzoladine. The treatment messed up my blood. The doctor said I would have to have my blood checked weekly. I eventionally stopped the treatment on my own.

I next came down with Iritis. I summarized my experience above.

As for those who say that herbs aren't tested for toxicity, this is true for most Chemo drugs. How do you come up with a placebo that mimics chemo , i.e. causes fatigue and anemia and makes the hair fall out? I have had several loved ones who died from pneumonia after taking chemo. One Doctor said " We shrunk the tumor but the chemo destroyed the immune system and the patien't died from the pneumonia".

As for the statement that this web site doesn't advocate a particulat treatment, I don 't buy it. I went back and looked through the past posts, and I couldn't find any discusion of any treatments other than conventional medicine. There were some posts where the question came up but no discussion. My concern with chemo to "retrain the immune system" is that what is probably happening is the immune system is being suppressed. This will reduce inflammation for a while. But, what about the long term.

I wish everyone well. Please folks, look at other options. Conventional medicine is not the only way to go. Do your own research. Most alternative medicine treatments can be used in conjunction with conventional medicine.