Chemotherapy is currently the most common treatment for cancer. While there are many well-researched and less-risky natural treatments available to cancer patients (The Gerson therapy, the Budwig protocol, and many others), the majority ends up choosing chemotherapy. Common reasons for this choice are fear, lack of funds, or lack of information about viable alternative treatments. (If you are newly diagnosed and still have time, I urge you to complete your research in order to make an informed decision).
Those who survive chemotherapy are sent home with little information. They are told the percentage of people who live for five years after remission. They are given a list of other chronic or even life-threatening illnesses they can expect to battle down the road. They are not given information on how to detoxify from the chemicals they were given or how to repair the damage caused by mainstream cancer treatment. They are not even given directions for lifestyle changes to address the original cause of their cancer.
Fortunately, there is a wealth of information out there from natural cancer research clinics and doctors of naturopathic and functional medicine. These practitioners look at the body as a whole. They can help you detox and bring your body to an optimal state of health to prevent a recurrence of cancer or the onset of other diseases.
Detox All of the Organs from the Effects of Chemo
Chemotherapy may easily be the most toxic treatment in modern conventional medicine. During the treatment, patients experience chemo brain (a special type of brain fog), extreme fatigue, nausea and vomiting, weakness, complete loss of appetite, hair loss, and mood swings. The side effects do not end with the end of treatment. The American Cancer Institute warns that long-term effects from the variety of drugs used include: memory issues, poor vision, poor thyroid function, weak bones, inflamed lung tissue, infertility, gum disease, heart disease at a younger age, emotional issues, and the development of other cancers. In children, the lifelong problems may also include behavioral problems and lower IQs. Most of these (and in some cases all of these) side effects can be prevented by eliminating the toxins left behind by chemotherapy.
The main organs to detox, restore and repair are the gut, liver, adrenal glands, and thyroid, plus any organ directly affected by cancer.
Detoxifying and Repairing the Gut
Many doctors say that health starts and ends with the health of the digestive tract or gut. If the gut is not functioning correctly, the body does not get enough nutrients and it is unable to perform normal detoxification on a daily basis. In addition, the immune system is severely compromised. Most of the people who have any type of dysfunction in the body or any chronic condition suffer from poor gut health. Gut health is adversely affected by many medications; it is greatly affected by chemotherapy.
First of all, clean up the diet. Remove all the junk: sugars; gluten; refined flours; GMOs; non-organic meats and dairy; foods that contain preservatives, artificial flavors, artificial colors, MSG or trans fats; commercial oils (such as canola oil); alcohol; tobacco; and coffee.
Replace these foods with fresh, raw organic produce, more vegetables than fruits, and foods that help heal the whole digestive tract: fermented vegetables, organic kefirs, raw dairy, turmeric and ginger, coconut oil, and aloe vera.
A good colon cleanse is a must. Every case and every body is different, and if you have the time and resources, consulting a certified doctor of natural medicine is the best way to find the best option for you. However, you can make your own cleanse at home as well, with no known risks (if you are not allergic to the ingredients).
Josh Axe, a doctor of natural medicine, recommends the following simple cleanse (everything should be organic):
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp ginger juice
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup warm water
Mix all the ingredients together in warm water, and drink it in the morning on an empty stomach.
Bringing the Liver Back Up to Health
If the gut is not functioning properly, our bodies cannot absorb enough nutrition, even from the best quality foods, green juices, and supplements. Healing the gut must come first. Once it is functioning well, other problems can be fixed.
The liver is arguably the hardest hit by chemotherapy. Chemo drugs are so toxic, they may even cause sudden liver failure. To avoid further damage to the liver, the following should be avoided:
- High-sodium junk foods
- Red meat (and limit all meat products)
Instead, pack your diet with garlic, green tea, dark green leafy vegetables, cabbage, cauliflower, turmeric (with black pepper), and avocados. All of these contain lever-cleansing and liver-building compounds.
As far as detoxing goes, milk thistle is the number one herb for cleansing the liver (as well as the kidneys and gallbladder). It is also recommended for people who have gone through radiation. This herb not only supports the liver with its active ingredient silymarin, it helps prevent cancer and other diseases by increasing glutathione levels. Milk thistle is a master antioxidant. It will help improve skin health, kidney health, brain function, and cholesterol levels. Dr. Axe recommends taking 150 mg 1 to 3 times daily when using it to treat liver dysfunction, 50 to 150 mg daily when using it as a preventative.
Rebuilding Adrenal Glands: No More Fatigue
It is common for cancer survivors to experience lifelong adrenal fatigue, which comes in cycles of complete burnout, followed by “feeling better” and increased energy only to have a stronger burnout later on. That is symptomatic of adrenal glands that are exhausted and are working in complete overdrive.
The symptoms of adrenal fatigue are:
- Always feeling tired and overwhelmed
- Hormonal imbalance
- Racing and troubling thoughts
- Body aches
- Trouble focusing
- Hair loss
- Trouble getting up in the morning
The adrenal glands are responsible for our stress response. Besides the toxic chemo drugs, most cancer patients can burn out the adrenal glands from the overwhelming stress brought on by their diagnosis.
Do everything you can to decrease your stress levels. Get plenty of sleep, eat well, and exercise. Avoid getting stuck on negative thinking and find a way to deal with emotions in a healthy way (meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga are just a few options).
When it comes to a healthy diet for optimal adrenal health, follow the guidelines above and enjoy plenty of cruciferous vegetables, avocados, nuts and seeds, kelp, olives, coconut, and sea salt. Add adrenal-boosting herbs and vitamins to the diet, especially vitamins C, D, and B-complex; magnesium; zinc; fish oil; holy basil; and ashwagandha.
Most importantly, be patient. It can take up to 2 years for adrenals to fully recover.
Restoring Healthy Thyroid Function
Thyroid and adrenal glands are most often linked when it comes to health. If one is not functioning properly, the other is likely struggling as well. The thyroid is also easily damaged by stress and toxins, and adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) often go hand in hand.
When the thyroid is not functioning properly, you can develop hypothyroidism, when the thyroid is not producing enough hormones (often leading to fatigue and weight gain), or hyperthyroidism, when the thyroid is producing too much of the thyroid hormones (often leading to insomnia, weight loss, and muscle weakness).
Whether it is hypo or hyperthyroidism, thyroid-nourishing supplements can be used to help heal the thyroid and help regulate its function. B vitamins are the main vitamin for thyroid health. Selenium improves general thyroid function, and ashwagandha helps with stress.
Foods that Help Prevent Cancer
Many foods from the above categories that need to be avoided and need to be added are the same for every organ. Fortunately, the lists are also similar for general cancer prevention, so you can adapt one diet that helps your whole body rebuilt itself while preventing cancer at the same time. The basic rule is to stop eating all processed foods. Your diet should consist of 80% raw, fresh, whole, organic produce. Foods that are beneficial for almost everyone (apart from people who have specific allergies or rare conditions) are:
- Leafy dark green vegetables: kale, spinach, etc.
- Cruciferous vegetables: cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc.
- Berries: blueberries, goji berries, camu camu
- Fresh herbs: turmeric, garlic, oregano, cilantro, basil
- Raw and cultured milk products: raw milk, kefirs
- Nuts and seeds: chia, flaxseeds, hemp, sesame seeds (soaked before eating to release enzyme inhibitors)
- Healthy oils: coconut, flax, and extra virgin olive oil
- Herbal teas: green matcha, dandelion, chamomile
Besides eating well, it is also crucial to take care of your physical and emotional health.
Other Lifestyle Changes: Physical and Emotional Health
When it comes to physical health, it is not the strength of the muscles that is the concern but preventing stagnation in the body tissues. Going to the gym and lifting weights every day does not do much for overall health. A healthy body needs good circulation, flexibility, and a type of physical exercises that addresses every part of it. Yoga has repeatedly been proven to be one of the best options. Yoga poses address the whole body and are gentle enough for anyone, regardless of age or health. There is even chair yoga for people with movement restrictions. Tai Chi and Qigong are other gentle exercises that address whole body health and proper breathing.
In addition to exercising, add the following to your regular routine:
- Dry skin brushing (aids the lymphatic system)
- Hot/cold hydrotherapy (aids the circulatory system)
- Epsom salts baths (cleanses and detoxifies and the body absorbs magnesium)
While taking care of physical health, it is important to remember to address emotional health as well. If the mind focuses on fear of cancer or feeling traumatized by the cancer experience, stress will prevent healing and the body’s return to its optimal state. If you decide to seek professional help, be selective in your choice of a therapist. Look for someone who will help you let go of the trauma you have endured, not dwell on it. You are not your cancer. You are not a victim. Find a therapist who can help you feel empowered and help you let go to make cancer a thing of the past. Emotional Freedom Technique is one example of a therapeutic modality that may help.
Speaking of making it your past, Dr. Richard Schulze adds a curious protocol to his healing – get rid of 1/3 of what you own. While the number is not important, here is what is: people “collect” bad memories and tokens of the past as if they were valuable. For example, many people keep mementos such as old wigs used during hair loss, photos of the hospital, clothes worn on the day of the surgery, etc. Get rid of any item that reminds you of what you just went through. Both the body and the mind react each time you look at something that reminds you of a traumatic time.
While chemotherapy is extremely toxic, there is no need to focus on fears of the lifelong health effects it may have. Instead, focus on healing. It is possible to bring the body back to health – or at the very least, significantly reduce the aftereffects. Find a doctor of natural medicine who is knowledgeable and has a positive outlook to help guide you, and listen to your body’s needs. Our bodies have an enormous capacity to heal. Let the mainstream doctors call it “spontaneous recovery” or “a miracle.” A body is a miraculous creation, but staying healthy is not. Follow the healthy diet, detox from toxins, and keep your mind positive. You will be surprised what positive effects this will have on your heath and your life.
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