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Herbal Support for Radiotherapy
Radiation cooks cells in much the same way that Microwaves do. Radiation cooks healthy cells as well as cancerous cells. It just cooks cancer cells a little faster than healthy cells. Massive destruction and damage to healthy tissue therefore results from all radiation treatments.
Radiotherapy is most effective where a tumour or cancer is contained and is easily accessible and located away from major organs of the body. Testicular Cancer for example has to be one of the best to treat using Radiotherapy. The rest of the body can be protected from the rays and radiation can be directed from all angles (although some would argue that the cancer was too close to a major organ).
Radiotherapy causes least damage to healthy tissue if the cancer is discrete and can be irradiated from several different angles using highly focused beams for short periods producing an accumulative effect on the cancer and much less damage to surrounding tissue as each beam passes through a different track.
There are current fashions in Radiotherapy, which involve different permutations all the way from the ideal above, to the irradiation of large areas or even the full body at low doses over long periods of times even up to 30 minutes and longer. Our logic tells us that the further along the scale toward this sort of protocol our treatment is the more danger we are in.
Radiotherapy carries the most immediate risk in the treatment of brain cancers with long, broad field exposure where the major risk is Stroke through the damage to blood vessel walls within the brain.
Herbal Medicine is well suited to the alleviation of side effect symptoms of radiotherapy treatment and to the protection of the metabolism and tissue from damage. Of more importance also we can support the immune system which was the problem in the first place as cancer is always a breakdown in the housekeeping work which the immune system does every day of our lives. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy damage the immune system as do Surgery, Anaesthetic, Antibiotics, Injections, Blood Transfusions and all Drug and Chemical exposure which may form part of our cancer treatment.
Specifically then, the following outline contains the herbs amongst which I would choose to support Radiotherapy treatment;
To minimise radiation sickness and nausea:
To Control Nausea:
Soothes and lines the mucosa of the Gastro Intestinal Tract protecting and healing while allowing all normal digestive system chemistry and transfer through the walls of the gut to take place without interference.
Dandelion, Fennel, Uva Ursi, Ginger and Alfalfa along with Ipecac 6X: These are all useful herbal substances and will make you much more comfortable as the radiation accumulates during the progress of treatment. These herbs work to support and balance the organs of metabolism involved in nausea including the liver, pancreas, bile duct and, in conjunction with Kelp, the thyroid and general nausea trigger centres.
Treatment of Burning Sensations Internally and Externally:
Sage Extract and Belladonna 6X are specific treatments to help to cool the blood and reduce internal heat, which continues long after "cooking" has finished. Aloe Vera Jelly along with Comfrey and Maritime Pine Ointment: Are recommended topically for the earlier and later stage of external burn treatment respectively.
To Support Liver Function:
Milk Thistle will re-establish normal liver function damaged by both chemo and radiotherapy. Dandelion will maintain and support normal functioning and can be conveniently taken as a herb tea.
Protection from Stroke:
Sage, Mistletoe, Ginkgo Biloba, Periwinkle, Gelsemium and Mugwort in physical doses. and Cali Phos 6X and Arnica 6X in homoeopathic doses are all specific for stroke protection. A qualified herbalist should prescribe the doses and combinations of these herbs to suit each individual patient.
Immune System Support and Cancer Prevention:
Maritime Pine, Rosehips, Ginseng, Panax Ginseng, and Golden Seal are my most important general herbs while Aloes, Oats and Echinacea are specific to the bowel, the small intestines and the lymph respectively for example. Liquorice is also often in a mix in support of the adrenal glands. There are a large number of other single herbs and combinations, which are often prescribed containing these and other herbs and again, each herbalist will have experience with various specific groupings.
Seeking and Judging Advice:
As a general rule seek second opinions. If you find yourself with a very large number of expensive formulations you are either self prescribing in ignorance and fear on the basis of "If a little (or a few) are good then more (and many) must be better" - this is not so. Or you are receiving poor advice. In each case seek out a qualified practitioner and have them put together a personal program to suit your particular case.
- Robert McDowell
What is Maritime Pine Bark? (Pycnogenol) (Click here to read about it).
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