Managing side effects

Approaching Cancer’s Side Effects

Side effects can result from treatment of cancer or the cancer itself.  While there are no guaranteed ways to alleviate all the side-effects that come along with cancer, integrative medicine offers a wide range of approaches to reducing side effects of conventional cancer treatment.

Fatigue: many people experience fatigue as a result of cancer treatment.  This can be a side effect of chemotherapy, radiation, and sometimes surgery. Benefit can be found from many integrative treatments including exercise (paradoxical yet true), acupuncture, adaptogenic herbs, and an anti-inflammatory diet.

Nausea: this side effect is usually well managed with medications. For those who wish to avoid pharmaceuticals acupuncture, crystallized ginger, medical marijuana, and even guided Imagery can be of value.

Osteoporosis: can be a side effect of chemotherapeutic medications or of a premature menopause induced by cancer treatment. Be sure that your vitamin D level is normal (this is not standardly tested.)  The BEST exercises can help maintain bone density. For more information about osteoporosis prevention

Sexual side effects: Changes in hormone levels and altered body image are two reasons for reduced libido.  Use of antidepressants that make it harder to reach orgasm is another. Also, vaginal dryness in women is a common, yet treatable, problem. For more information on sexuality and cancer, see

Hair Loss: while not a serious side effect, hair loss from chemotherapy can be one of the most distressing.  Research suggests that a cooling cap may prevent hair loss about 80% of the time.