I Recommend Supplements and Natural Medicine Interventions to my patients every day, but I also take people off of natural products that may be harmful every day.

My last Blog post was the start of a list of products that cancer patients and cancer survivors need to watch out for.  I hope this list will keep people safe if they are not already under my care or the care of another licensed Naturopathic Doctor and Fellow of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncologists. I recommend that no one try to choose their own supplements and I discourage use of natural medicine as first-line of cancer treatment.

Last time we mentioned that:

1)     If you have Leukemia or Lymphoma it is not safe to take high dose Melatonin, Echinacea, Astragalus or Mushroom extracts.

2)     If you have an Estrogen Receptor Positive (ER+) cancer you should not use Essiac or Flora-essence.

3)     If you are receiving one of the Taxanes, including Taxol (paclitaxel) or Taxotere (docetaxel) you should not use Curcumin.

Let’s add to that list:

4)     There is a pathway in the liver called cytochrome P450 (here we are talking specifically about the pathway called CYP3A4). Many drugs and natural products travel down this pathway and can get in the way of each other, like traffic competing for space on the same road. Some herbs and natural products speed up this pathway and therefore can cause a chemotherapy drug to also be rushed down the pathway. When this happens the chemotherapy leaves the body before it finishes working, this means it won’t kill the cancer cells as effectively and will compromise your care. Other natural products slow down the pathway and therefore causes some chemotherapy to remain in the body too long. When the chemo is in the body too long the side effects from it are worse. Do not use natural products that travel along the CYP3A4 pathway while you are on chemotherapy unless you are consulting with me or another Naturopathic Oncologist.

The list of chemotherapy agents that travel down the cytochrome P450 (specifically the CYP3A4) pathway is very long, this list does not cover all types of chemotherapy in this category:

1.     Taxanes (paclitaxel, docetaxel)

2.     Vinblastine (Velbane) and Vincristine (VCR)

3.     Navelbine (vinorelbine)

4.     Topoisomerase I and II Inhibitors

  1. Irinotecan (camptosar, CPT-II)
  2. Topotecan (Hycamtin)
  3. Etoposide (VP-16)

5.     Tamoxifen (Nolvadex the Antiestrogen Hormonal Agent)

6.     Tarceva (erlotinib)

7.     Aromasin (exemestane the steroidal aromatase inactivator, hormonal agent)

8.     Femara (letrozole another aromatase inhibitor, hormonal agent)

9.     Iressa (gefitinib, a EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor)

                                          10.     And Many Others

The list of natural products that travel down this same pathway is also very long, this list does not cover all natural agents in this category:

  1. Hypericum (St. John’s Wort)
  2. Piper methysticum (Kava)
  3. Hydrastis (Goldenseal)
  4. Uncaria (Cat’s Claw)
  5. Trifolium  pretense (Red Clover)
  6. Matricaria Chamomilla (Chamomile)
  7. Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice)
  8. Echinacea
  9. Ginseng
  10. Gingko
  11. Silymarin (Milk Thistle)
  12. Quercetin
  13. Garlic
  14. 14.  And Many Others

Because these lists are so long I recommend that no one facing cancer use any of these herbs or products while receiving any chemotherapy without first consulting with me or another Licensed Naturopathic Doctor who is a Fellow of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncologists.

Please contact my office, www.IntegrativeCareConsutling.com , toll free 855-389-1734 or 802-458-7645, if you have any questions about the chemotherapy agents or natural products listed above. You can also contact my office to request a consultation with me.

Because there is so much potential for interactions between natural products and chemotherapy and radiation, I have formulated a product that is safe with all radiation regimens and with all chemotherapy agents (except for Velcade). To learn about the benefits and safety of using my product visit www.IntegrativeCareFormulas.com.

-Dr. Matthew Perchemlides FABNO, ND, MSN, BSN

Leave No Stone Unturned