20 Things You Need to Know About Radiotherapy.

RadiotherapyWhat is radiotherapy? 

Radiotherapy uses high-speed ionising radiation, similar to X-rays, to attack the DNA in abnormal (cancerous) cells. If it hits the DNA when it is dividing, a nonsensical code sequence will be produced and the body´s natural defence system will throw the rogue cells out. At least, that´s the theory.

Techniques are being developed all the time to try to kill more of the cancerous cells and less of the surrounding healthy ones.

The total dosage is very carefully calculated to do the most efficient and effective job. So patients must go to every planned session.

Radiotherapy´s effectiveness has to be balanced against the risks; for example, there are recent reports of new cancers appearing later in life after radiotherapy treatments, studies on heart and lung damage amongst breast cancer patients show the problems may not be minor, and radiation in areas such as the womb or pelvis can cause bone damage. Indeed the Lancet cautioned that ´patients should be made aware of possible side effects as ´these are not insignificant´.

Finally, remember, radiotherapy can go on working for up to four to six weeks after the treatment has stopped.

The issue is clearly that patients undertaking radiotherapy need to manage their body, and not simply allow themselves to be passive targets. By this I mean patients can take action to protect the healthy organs, the blood vessels and bones; protect the immune system; keep the blood and liver detoxified; and help the immune cells kick out the cancer.

20 Things you need to know about radiotherapy to improve success whilst minimising the side-effects:

1: Ask your consultant whether they consider there to be active cancer cells in the area, or is the radiotherapy a precautionary measure? Is this the optimum time for this treatment, or would it be better to hold it in reserve? If you have radiotherapy now, can you have further treatment in the future? Is it to be used as a cure or symptom relief? (A lot less radiation is needed for symptom relief).

2: What would the doctor consider to be a successful outcome at the end of the treatment? For example
a) no tumour remaining?
b) a reduction in tumour size? Or,
c) another outcome?
How long will the treatment be? Is it a one-off, or might there be more? Will you be an Outpatient? How often has the doctor personally treated your type of tumour, and what is their success rate? Define success rate and how does it compare to the national average?

Hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy3: What other organs and tissues will receive radiaton as well as the target area? Will the beam be modulated in any way to minimise damage? What are the chances of it causing long-term damage to surrounding organs and/or bones? You should also investigate the use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: it can help minimise side effects and promote healing. Whilst it seems advantageous to use it during radiation therapy, research also shows its benefits at a later stage too.

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4: Diet is important in radiotherapy. For example, in 2011, the University of Pennsylvania showed a diet rich in flaxseed could reduce harm and even repair tissues after damage. Human Clinical trials come next. Then Washington State Medical School showed that taking probiotics could reduce damage to the intestines and the intestinal lining.

What other organs and tissues will receive radiation? 

5: What happens if there is no response? How common is that and what is the fallback plan?

6: What exactly are the side effects likely to be, and what really are the chances of each side effect?

7: Which supplements would they recommend to:
· improve the success of the radiotherapy?
· reduce side effects?
· speed up recovery?


Astragalus Glycyphyllos

8: Selenium, isoflavones (citrus or soy)and astragalus have all been shown in research studies to make radiotherapy more effective. Indeed there is research stating that astragalus ´doubles survival times´ if taken with radiotherapy. Vitamin D  is increasingly recommended by US and some UK hospitals and also seems to improve the success of the treatment programme.


9: Go to a cranial osteopath or an acupuncturist, as soon as you find out you have cancer. They will balance and strengthen your body energy systems. Start taking daily exercise if possible; try a yoga course and meditation.

10: Cut salt, animal fats, dairy and glucose as much as possible. Eat whole foods. Replace all chocolate, coffee and tea drinks with green, dandelion, or circumin tea.

11: 3,000mgs of astragalus, and Essiac in tea form will both boost your immune system. Other supplements such as curcumin, lycopene, natural vitamin C with bioflavenoids, natural vitamin E (with all 4 tocopherols and all 4 tocotrienols – 400 IU daily), natural beta-carotene (chlorella would be a good natural source),  plus the herbs Cat´s Claw and Echinacea also help boost the immune system too according to research.

12: To counter the damage to your body, try 1,000mgs of cod liver oil and two garlic tablets a day (or eat lots of oily fish and raw garlic).  You might try a good multivitamin and mineral supplement – ideally one including some iron and B complex, with at least 400mcgs of folic acid. The latter helps protect healthy cells.

13: Next, you could try the amino acid supplement N-Acetyl Cysteine containing glutamine (which stimulates the liver to produce glutathione, which repairs damaged healthy cells), and L-Cysteine, which is particularly important in DNA repair.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous Vegetables

14: Instead of taking supplements, you could, of course, improve your diet when having radiotherapy – eat lots of raw carrots, asparagus, avocado and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage etc) which are especially strong in glutathione; plus kelp, free-range eggs and garlic for L-cysteine and folate to keep healthy cells safer. And go out in the sunshine for vitamin D.

15: Drink up to three litres of glass bottled or reverse-osmosis filtered water a day to reduce toxins and clean the liver and thus reduce side effects. Both mistletoe and milk thistle have been shown in research (see Cancer Watch) to reduce side effects particularly in the blood and liver. We have an important article on the benefits of medicinal mushrooms, which you would be well advised to read. Magnesium will help strengthen the liver and 3gms of organic, non GMO soya lecithin a day will help the liver break down the excess fats lying there. Boldo tea and dandelion help eliminate toxins from the liver, as would coffee enemas.

During the radiotherapy and for 6 weeks afterwards

16: Keep on going to your chosen energy therapist (the cranial osteopath and/or acupuncturist) and practising regular yoga and meditation, though you will probably be too tired to exercise fully. Stay out of bright sunshine, as radiotherapy can “burn” the skin. Wash the area only in cold water and apply cooling aloe vera  gel. In clinical trials the herb calendula beat the recommended drug used for such burns.

17: The very latest research from both MD Anderson and UCLA confirms that it is advantageous to keep taking all the supplements.  Cancer cells lose their ability to regulate uptake of antioxidants and the antioxidants and the radiotherapy work together to kill more cancer cells, whilst simultaneously the supplements protect the healthy cells.

Consider taking carnitine if fatigue is a problem. Italian doctors have identified the cause of fatigue during radiotherapy as low levels of carnitine circulating in the blood stream.

 Detox after three, six and nine weeks 

Peppermint TeaDrinking peppermint or ginger tea or slippery elm powder dissolved with organic, non GMO fresh soya milk and hot water may calm the stomach and help with any nausea.
NB – Most doctors can be expected to advise that it is not a good thing to take antioxidants with radiotherapy. However, there is actually no hard evidence to say they shouldn’t be taken. In fact quite the reverse.

18: Detox the liver, as above, after three, six and nine weeks, if you feel up to it, and continue drinking pure water and avoiding fats, oils and sugar/glucose.

Post Radiotherapy

19: Take an organic iron supplement for the first week to raise your blood count. To help regenerate a healthy immune system quickly also try 1,500mgs of echinacea  and 1,000mgs of cat´s claw (uno de gato) – the latter on an empty stomach – along with the 3,000mgs of astragalus.

20: MGN-3  is another supplement worth looking into. Like medicinal mushroom products it is supported in clinical trials to significantly reduce side effects and improve effectiveness of radiotherapy and long-term survival rates.

Even if you are not undergoing Radiotherapy, following many of the immune boosting suggestions above will be very helpful in restoring your bodies balance and energy.


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