Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are the most common cancer treatments. In most cases, they are among the first treatments prescribed for most cancer patients. This includes stomach cancers.
These treatments work by targeting a wide area, attacking both healthy and cancer cells. That’s why, whether you’ve received these treatments or not, you probably know they can leave you feeling weak and experiencing a range of side effects. Sometimes, chemotherapy fails patients. Chemotherapy-resistant cancer, which means a cancer returns even after it’s been treated, is not uncommon. This situation can leave some feeling hopeless and confused.
Stomach cancer isn’t a very common cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, stomach cancers account for only about 1.8% of all cancer-related cancers.
But that doesn’t mean treatment options are needed. In fact, given the limitations of existing treatments, particularly when it comes to their numerous side effects, it’s important to find treatments that can support current treatments or be used as alternatives that can give people choices. Fortunately, various alternative and supportive cancer treatments exist to help
Below are a few alternatives/complements to standard treatment for colon cancer. These alternative treatments can be grouped into one of two categories: herbs, supplements, diet, or mental/mindfulness practices.
Herbs and supplements
Many herbs and supplements have been used and studied for various types of cancer. In many ways, looking to herbs and supplements represents a shift from conventional medicine; instead of using cytotoxic medications, the goal is to use natural ways to treat and manage cancer.
Supplements that could support treatment for stomach cancer include:
- American or Asian Ginseng
- Grape seed
- Green tea
- Vitamin B9 (folic acid)
But why these specific ones? While they have many unique qualities, one thing that connects these herbs and supplements together is their antioxidative properties.
Antioxidants play a vital role in maintaining a healthy balance of free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are compounds that play an important role in our body’s health (they are produced by our immune system to fight infection, for example).
However, when free radical levels are too high for too long, it can cause chronic inflammation (or the immune system operating in overdrive) and damage healthy tissue. This is called oxidative stress.
Among the many health problems they can cause, free radicals can lead to cancer. That’s why antioxidants are used to treat and often prevent cancer.
Some research has suggested that there is a link between the kinds of fats we eat and the risk of developing stomach cancer.
For example, some research shows that eating a diet high in saturated fat can increase the risk of stomach cancer every day while eating a diet high in unsaturated fats can reduce the risk of developing stomach cancer.
Saturated fats are often found in foods like butter, red meats, and more. Unsaturated fats are considered “healthy” fats. Poly and mono-unsaturated fats are the most common types of unsaturated fats. They are found in foods like nuts, avocados, olive oil, and salmon. They can reduce bad LDL cholesterol.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also uses certain herbal medicines. These have been explored as potential treatments for stomach cancer. In fact, TCM has been used to treat other types of cancers of the digestive system for many years.
Example herbs used in TCM include:
- Astragalus membranaceus
- Sophora flavescens
Among the many listed benefits of TCM research has suggested it could have the following benefits for people with cancers of the digestive system:
- Improving the side effects people experience after chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
- Working with chemotherapy to improve survival and reduce the risk of tumors coming back
This treatment might be considered more of complementary cancer treatment, which means it’s used in addition to other standard treatments. Research has shown that activities like yoga or meditation can help alleviate some of the effects of standard cancer treatment, such as fatigue, anxiety, and more.
Other types of complementary mindfulness therapies could include massage or acupuncture, which have all been shown to help patients receiving standard treatment with the anxiety, exhaustion, and stress of receiving these treatments.
With any type of cancer treatment, it’s important to make sure you fully understand the available treatment options and choose options that work for you. This should include talking to your doctor before starting any cancer treatment. They can help you decide which treatment options are right for you.