Discussion Board Forums Chemotherapy & More herbal drugs with Chemo ?

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    Hi Arlene,

    Just to what Mary and Hannah have already said to you re herbal products, supplements and everything like that. I would certainly speak with your dads medical team before your dad tried anything like that, even if the reputable evidence shows no harmful side effects and all of that. Best that they know what you and your dad are thinking as they will be able to give the best advice on all of these sorts of products.

    I did a quick google for corn silk tea and came up with this piece which may be of interest to you –


    The MSKCC Herbal Database Mary mentions is very good and can be found here –


    And of course we here at CCF have a complementary and alternative treatments board here too –

    Complementary & Alternative Treatments – CAM

    You speak of Essica herbal liquid. Do you mean Essiac herbal? And if you did, here is a link for that from CRUK in the UK which is a very reputable source of info indeed.


    My best to you and your Dad,



    Hi Arlene,

    This question comes up a lot for cancer patients.  There are good herbal products and supplements and there are others that are ineffective or, worse yet, are harmful.  It can be hard to find reliable information.  This is particularly true for cancer patients, as we want to be sure that a supplement doesn’t interact badly with treatment.  An herbal product or supplement might either decrease the effectiveness of a treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation, or it may enhance certain impacts to make a treatment more toxic.  I remember when I had radiation treatments, I was cautioned to avoid certain vitamins that had potential to interfere.

    The other impact to look out for is whether an herbal product or supplement affects blood test results.  FDA published a notice a few years ago warning that biotin supplements, especially the high dose options people take for hair and nails, have potential to affect tumor marker blood tests, including our personal favorite, the CA 19-9, which it can falsely decrease.

    The NIH has a webpage where you can look up specific herbs and supplements and see if there are any cautions.  Here is the link: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all/

    The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website also has a searchable “About Herbs” database that is more cancer-focused.  You can look for the database at mskcc.org.

    Both sites have information about Essaic and milk thistle.  I did not see any information on corn silk tea.  Doctors would have access to better information on specific herbal treatments and supplements so it is worthwhile to ask up front if a supplement is okay.

    Regards, Mary

    P.S.: Here is the latest FDA notice about biotin and lab tests: https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/safety-communications/fda-warns-biotin-may-interfere-lab-tests-fda-safety-communication



    Hi there- I’m not sure about their anti-cancer effects, but my mom drank corn silk tea and took milk thistle supplements while on Gem-Cis. The corn silk is apparently beneficial for the kidneys, which will be doing a lot of work during the chemotherapy, and the milkthistle supplements are supposed to support healthy liver function. Corn silk is  shown in some studies to induce cancer cell death under laboratory conditions, although I wouldn’t vouch for their effectiveness outside the lab, and certainly not at the levels one consumes it in tea. Although these things don’t (likely) do much work against the cancer itself, they are I think useful in supporting one’s physical health in going through chemotherapy. My mom credits these things with having made the chemotherapy bearable during her 10 cycles.

    I’m afraid we don’t have any experience with Essica, however.





    I’m just wondering has anyone been taking herbal drugs while taking chemo. My dad is having his meeting with the oncology unit tomorrow to discuss his treatment plan for his pancreatic cancer. He’s taking Essica herbal liquid and other anti-tumour herbal drugs. I’ve been told these drugs are ok for chemo but just wanting anyone thoughts.

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