If you have cancer and you’re undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment, you need to keep yourself as strong as possible—as these treatments have debilitating effects, as you may well know. But should you try to build up your immune system with vitamins and herbs?

Some researchers believe that mega-doses of vitamins A, C and E—which again, some researchers believe help your immune system stay strong—may actually protect not only normal cells but cancer cells as well. In short, huge doses of these anti-oxidants may prevent chemotherapy and/or radiation from destroying tumors (www.scienceagogo.com). That should give everyone pause.

When I went through my four bouts of bone cancer in the early nineties, I didn’t use mega-doses of vitamins. I did take a multi-vitamin every day. I focused on my diet—lean protein, such as chicken and fish, and lots of green cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli. It’s always better to get your vitamins from your food—that’s the way your body is designed to process them.

Out of curiosity, one day while in the state park where I practiced my internal energy exercises, I approached a man who was starting to clean out the outhouses. I wondered about whether vitamin pills were ever fully digested by the body. He told me that the sewage he removed was littered with undigested pills. Again, that made me more determined to get most of my vitamins from my food.

Herbs—Do They Help the Immune System?

But what about herbs, which have been used since ancient times by every society on earth for healing? Because I practiced Chinese mind/body exercises, I naturally gravitated towards the Chinese healing tradition. I talked to a doctor of Chinese medicine and she recommended the herbs astragalus and ginseng, used in the Far East for thousands of years to bolster the immune system. She told me that these herbs, sometimes in combination with other more exotic ones, were used in hospitals in China to boost the immune systems of patients undergoing Western chemotherapy and/or radiation. This more extensive combination of herbs is known as Fu Shen therapy. (Chinese Medicine and Cancer, Richard Walters, www.healthy.net/scr/article).

So I used astragalus and ginseng throughout my cancer battles. Did they help? I don’t know. But I’ve been cancer free for 13 years, after having an initial diagnosis of Stage Four lymphoma with six months to live. And I stayed very strong throughout my ordeal.

As always, check with a doctor of Chinese medicine for proper dosages. In addition, talk to your oncologist to find out if there are any contraindications for using these herbs in combination with your particular chemotherapy regimen.

Author's Bio: 

Bob Ellal is a four-time cancer survivor--lymphoma of the bone. He underwent traditonal chemotherapy and two bone marrow transplants in the early nineties. He trained with a kung fu master in the art of qigong--mind/body exercises. He has been clear of cancer for 13 years.