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Complementary and Alternative Therapies

A comprehensive treatment plan for lung cancer may include a range of complementary and alternative therapies. Ask your team of health care providers about the best ways to incorporate these therapies into your overall treatment plan.



Include in your diet dark green, yellow, and orange vegetables, as well as dark berries, green tea, onions, garlic, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, and cabbage. Increase whole grains and anti-inflammatory oils (nuts, seeds, and cold-water fish). Eliminate refined foods, sugar, alcohol, and saturated fats (animal products, especially dairy).

Potentially beneficial nutrient supplements include the following.

Vitamin C (250 to 500 mg twice per day), vitamin E (400 IU twice per day), selenium (200 mcg twice a day), zinc (30 mg per day), and coenzyme Q10 (100 mg three times per day)

Avoid vitamin A (and beta carotene) supplements if you have a history of alcohol or nicotine abuse.

Coenzyme Q10 and L-carnitine (600 mg three times per day) can reduce toxicity from certain chemotherapies.

Anti-inflammatory omega-3 and omega-6 oils (1,500 mg three times per day)

Glutathione (500 mg twice a day)

N-acetylcysteine (200 mg three times per day)

Melatonin (10 mg per day) may improve survival rate in non-small cell lung cancer patients who do not respond to a type of medication called cisplatin

Bromelain (250 to 500 mg between meals)



Herbal remedies may help cleanse the body, inhibit tumor growth, and support the immune system. Herbs are generally available as dried extracts (pills, capsules, or tablets), teas, or tinctures (alcohol extraction, unless otherwise noted). Dose for teas is 1 heaping tsp. per cup of water steeped for 10 minutes (roots need 20 minutes).

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) 500 mg four times a day

Quercetin (250 to 500 mg three to four times a day)

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) 120 mg standardized extract twice a day to reduce toxicity of certain chemotherapies

To help your body's immune system and support healthy lung tissue, combine equal parts of red clover (Trifolium pratense), gotu kola (Centella asiatica), mullein (Verbascum densiflorum), elecampane (Inula helenium), Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata), and blood root (Sanguinaria canadensis). Take 30 to 60 drops tincture three to four times a day, or drink one cup of tea three times a day

Herbal mixes containing burdock root (Arctium lappa), sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella), slippery elm (Ulmus fulva), turkey rhubarb (Rheum palmatum), and other herbs: for brand name products, follow dosing instructions on the product labeling



Homeopathy may help reduce symptoms, relieve side effects from treatments, and reduce the effects of stress.


Physical Medicine

Castor oil pack over lungs may decrease side effects of chemotherapy and aid the lungs in detoxification. Saturate a cloth with castor oil and apply directly to the skin, placing a heat source (heating pad or water bottle) on top. Leave in place for 30 minutes or more. For best results, use castor oil packs for three to four consecutive days per week. Packs may be used daily.



While acupuncture is not used as a treatment for cancer itself, evidence suggests it can be a valuable therapy for cancer-related symptoms (particularly nausea and vomiting that often accompanies chemotherapy treatment). There have also been studies indicating that acupuncture may help reduce pain and shortness of breath. Acupressure (pressing on rather than needling acupuncture points) has also proved useful in controlling breathlessness; this is a technique that patients can learn and then use to treat themselves.

Some acupuncturists prefer to work with a patient only after the completion of conventional medical cancer therapy. Others will provide acupuncture and/or herbal therapy during active chemotherapy or radiation. Acupuncturists treat cancer patients based on an individualized assessment of the excesses and deficiencies of qi located in various meridians. In many cases of cancer-related symptoms, a qi deficiency is usually detected in the spleen or kidney meridians.


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I have found accupressure to be very helpful for pain and other symptoms. I used to do accupunture but it didn't work so well with the Iressa.

A healthy diet is always recommended but oncologists are split on whether antioxidants taken in high doses by way of oral supplement during chemo is a good idea so it is a good idea. Mine doesn't mind ingestion by eating whole foods but the only oral supplement allowed is a multivitamin during treatment.

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