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Strengthening the Body to Cope With Radiotherapy Treatment

posted on 3 November 2008 | posted in Health Tips


Radiation may be thought of as an energy in motion. Low energy radiation such as light, sound, microwaves, and radio waves is referred to as non-ionizing radiation and is relatively benign (see article on charged card). Radiation that has sufficient energy to knock electrons out of atoms or molecules to create ions is referred to as ionizing radiation, and is highly inimical biologically, causing premature aging, cancer and many other illnesses. Even minor exposure is presumed to cause some damage; a single damaged molecule within a cell can result in the death of that cell. Man is continually irradiated from "background radiation", which consists of cosmic rays, naturally occurrng radioactive materials in the earth`s crust, nuclear power plants, atomic weapon fallout, and other man-made radioactive sources. Medical science deliberatley employs ionizing radiation in techniques such as radiotherapy and x-ray diagnosis.

When an atom or molecule loses an electron through whatever reason it becomes an unbalanced and highly reactive free radical that indiscrimanately damages cellular components, leading to cellular malfunction or cellular death. Cells are at their most vunlerable when dividing, and since bone marrow cells are the most rapidly dividing cells in the body, the formation of blood components such as red and white cells is commonly impaired by radiotherapy, leading to anaemia and weakened immunity . Other side effects that may be encountered include malaise, fatigue, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, sweating, fever, headache and complications affecting the digestive system, nervous system, heart and lungs.

In order to combat these negative effects of radiotherapy, supplements with the following activities are required: antioxidant, antitumour, adaptogenic, immune enhancing, detoxifying and nutritional.

Siberian ginseng is probably the best researched herb in the context of protection against ionizing radiation. Siberian ginseng is an adaptogen par excellence that boosts the body`s natural defencemechanisms, helping the body to resist many types of noxious influence including radiation and has been shown to double the life-span of animals exposed to up to 7000 rads. It enables patients to tolerate higher doses of radiation, and has been shown to help prevent the fatigue that can follow radiotherapy. It helps protect the immune system and works well with astragalus, a potent immune stimulating herb, in this regard.

Other herbs included in Alfalfa Plus are:
Reishi
Una de Gato
Alfalfa
Barleygrass
Kelp
Green Tea

We recently gave this formula to a client who had received 5 weeks of radiotherapy on a sarcoma. He did not begin taking the remedy until after the radiotherapy was completed, and yet the radiation burns still cleared up remarkably quickly. Even his district nurse was amazed by his skin`s recovery.

Other herbs that may be useful but which would need to be taken seperately if deemed necessary are ginger and fennel if nausea is a problem, chlorella (given in advance of radiotherapy has been shown to help prevent radiotherapy-induced leukopenia), milk thistle for detoxification purposes, and Biostrath Elixir, a tonic that has been shown to be radioprotective.

Alkoxyglycerols (shark liver oil) given before, during, and after radiotherapy have been shown to markedly decrease the incidence of radiation injury, including severe injury such as fistula formation, and may prevent radiation-induced leukopenia (low white blood cells) and thrombocytopenia (low red blood cells).

Some amino acids help the body resist the effects of radiation: cysteine, methionine, taurine, glutathione, glycine and dimethylglycine. The most researched of these are perhaps cysteine and glutathione, which of course are both powerful antioxidants: fo a maximal protective effect, they should be given prior to the radiotherapy or X-ray. N-acetyl cysteine, which is more soluble than cysteine, can be prepared as an ointment or added to a cream and has been shown to reduce skin reactions to radiotherapy. Glutamine has been shown to assist the healing of radiation enteritis.

Supplementation with Vitamin A or carotene is believed to offer some protection to the intestinal mucosa during radiation therapy. Vitamin E is thought to help recovery from post-irradiation anaemia and immune suppression. Supplementation with superoxide dismutase (SOD) may reverse the leukopenia induced by radiotherapy (and chemotherapy) and may ameliorate radiation cystitis and colitis. Lactobacillus acidophilus supplementation has been shown to prevent radiotherapy induced diarrhoea.

After Chernobyl when the nuclear reactor failed, many people were affected by radiation poisoning. The Russians were well aware that Siberian Ginseng significantly reduced symptoms and used it extensively.

(For more information on a formula specifically designed to help during radiotherapy click here )

Anyone taking radiotherapy treatment may also benefit for taking this herb before (if possible), during and for at least 4 weeks after the last radiotherapy treatment. Take 2 Siberian Ginseng capsules 4 times daily.
Spirulina, an algae rich in chlorophyll is also good for 'mopping up' the after-effects of radiation. Spirulina can be taken in conjunction with either Siberian Ginseng or Burdock and Slippery Elm Combination..

Taking a good high potency antioxidant such as Grapine With Protectors or Antiox Supreme is really important to help with any resulting oxidative damage.

Liquid Chlorophyll has excellent healing properties and is particularly good for burns of any kind. Take this to help heal internal or external burns caused by radium treatment. See article Chlorophyll - The Amazing Green Nutrient!
To apply directly to the skin, try Aloe Vera Gel, which is fantastically soothing and healing for radiation burns, just as it is for sunburn.