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Dangers and Risks of Alternative Therapies circles.gif (1504 bytes)

There clearly are toxic herbs and other herbs that should be avoided during chemotherapy.

Before considering alternative therapies read the advice from the NIH. There are considerable risks associated with these therapies. Many of the herbal agents have life-threatening tonicities, physical manipulation (e.g. acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation) have caused serious neurological complications; and many patients have expired from potentially curative cancers while choosing to 'go natural.' Some useful sites:

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There is a danger from taking even safe herbs along with prescription medication or anesthesia (as noted in the links above) and these agents should be stopped prior to surgery and during radiation and chemotherapy. It was shown that taking anti-oxidants like beta-carotene actually increases the risk of cancer in smokers, see study.) There is good evidence that anti-oxidants should not be taken during chemotherapy or radiation (see report.) and here.

Recent reports in the New England Journal document the risk from contamination among Chinese herbs and the dangers of other herbal agents and emphasize the importance of better research into the safety of nutritional supplements.

Another risk associated with alternative therapies has to do with the credentials, competency and ethics of the practitioners. A recent study in Florida of physicians performing chelating therapy found that they were 15 times more likely to have been sanctioned by the state regulatory board as compared to conventional physicians (29% vs. < 2%, St. Pete Times;12/12/99;p 4a.)