How to Take Care of Yourself During Chemotherapy

Continue all of the recommendations for what to do in preparation for chemotherapy, and talk to your health care team about increasing protein powder supplementation to twice a day. If you are still experiencing some nausea, try these strategies:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Five or 6 snack-type meals a day can reduce some of the stress on your digestive tract. Smoothies make a perfect meal.
  • Do not lie down after eating. Allow yourself an hour or more to digest. Try a short walk after meals or, if you need to rest, sit with your legs stretched out and your head propped up with pillows.
  • Do not drink liquids with your meals. This keeps your digestive juices at full strength, promoting complete digestion and reducing indigestion.
  • Drink plenty of liquids between meals (at least 1 hour before or after meals). Ginger tea and peppermint time have anti-nausea/stomach settling properties. Drink them warm or iced, as you prefer. Also include vegetable and fruit juices (fresh squeezed for the highest nutrient content, if possible) and clear broths. Avoid sugar as it can increase your risk for intestinal candida infection that is very common at this vulnerable time. If you must use a sweetener, use a grain-derived sweetener like rice syrup or barley malt.
  • Avoid all fatty foods. Focus your diet on fresh fruits, steamed or boiled vegetables, light grains and proteins.
  • If you are experiencing vomiting and severe diarrhea, include sea salted vegetable broths or miso broth. These salty additions will help to keep your electrolytes balanced and can revive you when you are feeling faint. (Miso is a salty paste made from soybeans and can be found in health food stores, Asian food markets and some supermarkets).

Recommended Supplements to Take with Specific Chemotherapy Drugs

The side effects of chemotherapy can be reduced by decreasing the toxicity of the chemotherapy medication. Contrary to what one might expect, this does not make the chemotherapy any less effective at doing its job —killing cancer cells. More often than not, decreasing its toxicity increases a drug's effectiveness. Supplements known to decrease various chemotherapy drugs' toxicity are listed below. Also listed are substances known to increase the effectiveness of certain drugs.

Drug Substances That Decrease Toxicity Substances That Increase Effectiveness
Adriamycin CoQ10, Vitamin E, Riboflavin, NAC (N-Acetylcysteine), Vitamin C, Antioxidants Vitamin E, Green Tea, Vitamin A
CIS Platinum Recancostat*, Glutathione IV*, Ginkgo biloba, Milk Thistle, Selenium, Magnesium Recancostat* Vitamin C, Vitamin A
Neosar Ashwaganda herb* Aloe Vera Extract, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan*, Vitamin A
5 FU Vitamin B6, CoQ10, Chamomile mouthwash, Glutamine mouthwash Vitamin A, L-cysteine, Vitamin E, Aloe Vera, Calcium Butyrate
Methotrexate Glutamine Vitamin A, Glutamine, Proteolytic enzymes/Wobenzyme
Taxol Vitamin C
Tamoxifen Soy isoflavones, natural progesterone, Remifemin Melatonin
Vincristine Vitamin C Vitamin A

** Available only through licensed naturopathic physician or medical doctor

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Aug 1999

Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015