10 ways to improve your chemotherapy and drug success and reduce side-effects

10 ways to improve your chemotherapy and drug success and reduce side-effects
Here are ten ways to improve the results of your chemotherapy or cancer drugs, whilst reducing the risks and severity of potential side-effects; including using hyperbaric oxygen therapy, hyperthermia, fasting and some core supplements, and reducing fatigue, neuropathy and even brain fog. All from research.

Yes, you really can make your chemotherapy work better AND also reduce the potential side-effects.  It’s true, although most oncologists won’t want to admit it, and may even incorrectly worry that your self-help regime will be interfering with their wonder drugs. As treatments, we may use oxygen therapy, supplements, off-label drugs and more.
Cancer Patient comment: "I did the programme around my Docetaxel. Six rounds, because I had prostate cancer in my lymph and bones. No one could believe the results. It works. All traces of cancer gone. And I sailed through the Chemo". Ian, Essex, UK.

1. Hyperbaric Oxygen:  Cancer tumours exist in a low oxygen state - it is called Hypoxia. They protect themselves from oxygen by building a 'Hypoxic pocket' in the blood supply, which prevents oxygen normally going to the cancer and crashing the systems in the tumour. Two researchers produced a major peer-reviewed meta-study on Hyperbaric Oxygen backed by some 90 references and concluded that sensitising cancer cells by using HBOT, resulted in the tumour's resistance declining and more cancer cells are then killed during chemo- and radiotherapy.  The oxygen also reduced side-effects, increased the pH of the blood, reduced fatigue, boosted the immune system, cut fat levels and helps you heal.  

NB: You must not use Hyperbaric Oxygen if you have lung issues.

Go to: The benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen.

2. Take moderate exercise. Exercise can increase oxygen and increase cancer-fighting, stress-reducing hormones called endorphins. As long ago as 2015 exercise was shown to make drug Doxorubicin work better. In fact, exercise improves the action of chemotherapy, radiotherapy while also improving your immune system. Ideally, you should exercise for 45-60 minutes and for 20 of those you should be out of breath. Research shows that exercise can anyway reduce tumour growth, make cancers less aggressive in its own right and increase survival times. In Arizona, researchers had people riding bicycles before chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. The result was that effectiveness increased and side-effects reduced, rather like the benefits of HBOT.

Go to: Article on Exercise and cancer

3. Calorie Restriction or, better, Fasting.  Calorie Restriction is where you eat 15% less calories than you need. In 2012, we covered research from Chicago Medical School where they cut patient carbohydrates, so that they consumed 15 per cent less calories than they needed during chemo and radiotherapy.  The results of the chemotherapy were greatly improved and the research was seen as a 'breakthrough' by the prestigious journal, the Lancet.  Calorie Restriction ‘sensitises’ cancer cells and more are then killed by chemo- and radiotherapy. Of course, your UK dietician and nurses will be struck dumb by this finding, as they want you to eat cheeseburgers and chocolate cake during chemo to avoid cachexia. But only 7-10% of patients develop this body-wasting condition and there are at least 3 studies saying fish oils actually help prevent cachexia.  

Fasting can give you even stronger benefits. (Time restricted fasting, where you stop eating at 6 pm and restart at 10 am is more of a weight loss programme, and is not as beneficial with cancer drugs as genuine Intermittent fasting). With Intermittent fasting, you start at 6 pm 2 days before the IV chemo and continue for the day of chemo, and for half a day after. Drink water, green tea (and green vegetable juices with low carbs if you are really hungry). 

After 24 hours of fasting, the brain produces Sirtuin 1. It's a really health-promoting hormone known to increase longevity. In this case, the Sirtuin 1 shuts down the healthy cells but has no effect on cancer cells. Result? The healthy cells take on hardly any of the drugs, avoiding side-effects, while more drugs are then available to fight the starved cancer cells. Win-Win. 

Think about

 *  Intermittent fasting, if all the chemo is given on one day by IV; or

 *  Calorie Restriction (especially 'time restricted' fasting) where cancer drugs are spread out across several days.

Go to: Fasting, calorie restriction and cancer

4. Look into Whole-body Hyperthermia.  A 'normal' body temperature is between 97F and 99F, (that's approximately 36C to 37.2C) with a temperature of 104F being fever level.  It doesn't stay the same all day.  Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York have done a lot of research on whole-body hyperthermia (where you heat the body up near to infection temperature: approaching 104 degrees, because cancer cells die at 107/108 degrees).  To quote the National Cancer Institute – “The effectiveness of hyperthermia treatment is related to the temperature achieved. Numerous Clinical Trials have studied Hyperthermia with chemo- and radiotherapy. It can also be used for metastatic cancer.  Many of these trials have shown significant reduction in tumour size. Side-effects are limited if the temperature is kept below 108 degrees”. Some people use in home Infra-red saunas.

5. Supplements for chemotherapy

       5.1 Supplement with Turmeric/Curcumin.  Turmeric is a chemo-sensiser and a paper on its benefits when used with cancer drugs was presented at ASCO by Professor Robert Thomas. Our own Chris Woollams did a similar meta-analysis 15 years ago on the benefits of Turmeric with cancer drugs.. There is a good number of clinical trials where curcumin enhances the effects of chemotherapy – for example, with drugs like 5FU, or cyclophosphamide.  Turmeric attacks cancer cells in its own right while protecting healthy cells. Beware the person at your Hospital making statements like "you can't take turmeric with cancer drugs" ... or. ... "There's no research on turmeric". It has more research on it than any drug! Turmeric also reduces inflammation.

Cancer cells are not like healthy cells, they have a completely different biochemistry. So, turmeric (or Curcumin) kills microbes, is anti-inflammatory and make drugs work better. Just what you want. We often use 2 gm, with olive oil and black pepper.

Go to: Curcumin improves drug treatment.

     5.2  Supplement with Melatonin.  The medicinal dose is 20 mg, before bed, although some people take slow release 50 mg supplements.  It has 5 actions against cancer cells, is a chemo- and radio-sensitiser and thus can enhance the action of anti-cancer drugs and radiotherapy.  Sloan Kettering in New York have been involved in research. Professor Dr. Russel Reiter, an expert at UCLA on melatonin, says it has 5 actions against cancer cells and enhances the action of cancer drugs by presensitising cancer cells. It is also a natural anti-inflammatory and Reiter says everybody having cancer drugs or radiotherapy should use it.

Go to: Meta-analysis: Melatonin improves chemo and radiotherapy success

     5.3 Supplement with Berberine. Berberine is another proven ’chemosensitiser’ and has shown to be capable of reducing the build up of drug resistance in cancers such as breast cancer. Similar results have been shown with ovarian cancer. High dose berberine (3 x 500 mg) can increase apoptosis through raising AMPK in the energy pathways of cancer cells, and inhibit mTOR and Akt. Doses up to 2000 mg of berberine promote p53 gene activity. Berberine is also know to reduce inflammation through the Cox-2 pathway. Research studies in 2017 and 2018 consistently showed berberine to be an important adjuvant to chemotherapy. It also attacks microbes and reduces blood sugar. Particularly useful to combat the blood sugar-increasing side-effects of Dexamethasone.

Go to: Berberine and cancer

     5.4 Supplement with Honokiol.  A good number of quality research studies from top Medical Centres have shown that this Traditional Chinese Medicine from the Magnolia plant, sensitises cancer cells, reduces metastases, and makes chemotherapy work better. So far, the research has been in animals but there are several centres calling for human clinical trials. We use 400 mg of Honokiol (containing Magnol) with 1500 mg of Dandelion root, which is also known to attack cancer cells.

Go to: Honokiol reduces metastases and improves chemotherapy effectiveness

     5.5 Take at least 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3/K2.  Taking chemotherapy drugs doesn’t just destroy the immune system - it has been shown that chemo drugs can cause severe vitamin D deficiency. Some drugs can halve plasma vitamin D levels. And without correct vitamin D plasma levels, your immune system cannot be properly effective. Vitamin D is actually a hormone and 'arms' your T-cells, B-cells and Dendritic cells, amongst others. In fact, people with cancer and low vitamin D levels survive least according to Boston Medical School. Normally, they recommend cancer patients take 5,000 IUs a day (125 microgram). Logic says you might increase this dose when having cancer drugs, especially if you have not been taking it, or you have not been in the sun for more than 9 months. Your blood level target is 125 nmol/L.

Many vitamin D3 supplements contain K2. K2 is synergistic with D3, improving the immune system, and it protects the liver and bones and has been shown to make drugs more effective and reduce drug resistance.

Go to: Vitamin D? Shout 12...5

(Another compound that reduces damage to the immune system is IP-6. WebMD suggests it  may also reduce cancer cell division and improve cancer drug performance.) 


6. Protect your microbiome!

It's not easy when having anti-cancer drugs but you must try. One research study in the USA showed that having just two drugs for four rounds, plus one month of antibiotics, resulted in patients only having 27% of a full microbiome, a full year later! We also know that if you maintain an unhealthy microbiome you will reduce your odds of survival.

    6.i) Kill your yeasts - We all know chemotherapy, like antibiotics, kills off your good gut bacteria. When you are healthy, at night time your good (commensal) bacteria eat the yeasts that you took in with your food and drink all day long. Commensal bacteria are your first line of defense against yeast infestations. So, for the whole time you are on cancer drugs and until 5-6 weeks after your last dose, take a daily yeast killer like oregano oil, caprylic acid, artemisinin or pau d’arco.

Most often we might use 180 mg of Oregano oil pills first thing, and repeated last thing, for 7 days; then artemisinin at 400 mg before bed for 7 days and keep this 14 day cycle going for at least 12 weeks before using other pathogen killers. Yeasts debilitate you in a number of ways and you need to control them while having cancer drugs, radiotherapy and/or antibiotics. They are one of the major reasons you will have side-effects of fatigue and a lack of energy. They also colonise areas of your body and can reduce oxygen in those areas causing low localised oxygen and creating conditions favourable to cancer metastases. They must be addressed!

And, about 5-6 weeks after you have finished all your drugs, make sure you also start to rebuild your gut microbiome. It is essential.

Go to: Heal you Gut - Heal your Body

     6.ii) Take multi-strain Probiotics.  There is an increasing number of studies that show cancer drugs (and especially immunotherapy drugs) give better results if you are simultaneously taking multi-strain probiotics. One study is from our Medical Board member, Professor Robert Thomas.

Conversely antibiotics have been shown to inhibit chemotherapy drug actions. See also how antibiotics have been shown to scar the gut.

You might also take a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar every day.

Go to: Probiotics improve immunotherapy outcomes

UK and Europe 

Go here to : Buy the book in the UK and Europe


Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong

Go here to : Buy the book in Australia


USA, Canada

Go here to: Buy the book in the USA


7. Take magnesium, and zinc

Having chemotherapy can dramatically reduce your magnesium levels (as can stress and a poor diet). Magnesium is essential for your immune system, your overall health, for your liver, and particularly, for bone strength - take at least 300-500 mg a day as a supplement while having cancer drugs and for up to 2 months after.

Zinc is also an important mineral for your immune system. You only need enough, not too much. 25 mg, 4 times a week will do.

Go to: Chemotherapy reduces magnesium levels

8. Control nausea better.  Two simple tips are to chew slices of raw ginger, and to drink peppermint tea. Probiotics can also help. You don’t have to resort to steroids, unless on 4 drugs or so. If you have nausea, think about fasting for 3 days with the next dose of IV. Constipation or diarrhoea are common side-effects in cancer patients taking drugs - a really simple solution is to take 'Pancreatic and Digestive enzymes' throughout the period you are on drugs, and for up to 6 weeks afterwards. 

9. Reduce your risk of Cachexia - this is where the drugs themselves CAUSE weight loss. It can be severe and even fatal. An increasing number of Hospitals in the USA simply recommend a healthy Diet - yes, you've guessed it - the Rainbow Diet. However, there are at least three research studies showing you can greatly reduce this cachexia risk by taking FISH OILS (research advocates 1500 mg a day).

10. Reduce your risk of Neuropathy, Fatigue and Brain fog - Take Acetyl-L-Carnitine.- there are several studies that Acetyl-L-Carnitine can reduce fatigue when having cancer drugs. It can also restrict early onset neuropathy and even brain fog. Some people use Alpha-lipoic acid with the drugs to reduce the risk of neuropathy, but we have less research evidence on this.

Chemo Brain Fog: While Acetyl-L-carnitine reduces brain fog risk, some people suffer quite badly from Brain Fog, which can persist for months after the end of their drugs. There is now research that the antihistamine Clemastine can reduce Brain Fog and even re-myelinate the white matter in your brain in more severe cases. Often the long-term chemo effects are due to severe microbiome damage. Rebuild your Gut!

Go ToClemastine reverses Brain Fog and white matter damage

i) Citrus Fruit - With many anti-cancer drugs and statins you must not consume grapefruit or its juice or the juice of large Seville oranges. See - https://www.canceractive.com/article/grapefruit-interferes-with-chemo-drugs-and-even-statins
ii) Dried meats and eggs - With a few cancer drugs and antidepressants you should not consume eggs, dried meats (bacon, hame, salami). See - https://www.canceractive.com/article/warning-certain-chemo-drugs-interact-negatively-with-some-foods
iii) Dexamethasone - There are many claims that this steroid is an anti-cancer agent. It is not. Worse, a side-effect is that it significantly increases blood sugar. See - https://www.canceractive.com/article/dexamethasone-%20your%20questions%20answered%20from%20research
iv) Proton Pump Inhibitors (e.g. Omeprazole, Pantoprazole, Lanzoprazole)   are given to many patients when having cancer drugs to control 'Acid Reflux". The American Gastroenterological Association advises that these drugs are potentially harmful and minimal doses should be used for only short periods of time. See - https://www.canceractive.com/article/why-ppis%20should%20be%20used%20at%20lower%20doses%20and%20for%20shorter%20periods


Orthodox, or mainstream, cancer treatments
CancerAcitve Logo
Subscribe (Free e-Newsletter)

Join Chris'

Join Chris' NewsletterSignup today for free and be the first to get notified on new updates.