Post Chemotherapy Home Remedies: Minimize Side Effects of Chemotherapy
A decrease in red blood count leads to fatigue, lack of energy, shortness of breath and irregular heartbeat. To combat such a drop one should:
Increase the intake of fluids, spinach and beetroot soup, wheatgrass tincture, protein intake in the form of red kidney beans, nuts, apricots, prunes, raisins etc.
Moderate the intake of tea, coffee and milk products. These make it harder for the body to absorb iron.
As Ayurvedic support, one can start taking Amalaki (a super antioxidant fruit) capsules on a regular basis throughout the chemotherapy cycle. Amalaki facilitates the absorption of iron and improves the hemoglobin levels. I would also strongly suggest the use of wheatgrass tincture on a regular basis. Taking wheatgrass in tincture form is the best way to consume wheatgrass.
Fatigue and Pain
Common side effects of chemotherapy are fatigue, pains and aches in the body, and general drop in energy levels.
Use of Mudras: A beautiful way to support the body in this case is the regular practice of Prana and Vyana mudras. Prana mudra helps in charging the body with energy and aids the absorption of essential proteins, vitamins and minerals in the body. This mudra is also known as Kapha Karak- Pitta Naashak mudra, one that increases the earth element and reduces fire; activates and triggers nourishment. Vyana mudra helps in dealing with energy circulation and takes care of the pains and aches in the body. It is also known as Vata Kaarak mudra. Vata means air and Kaarak mean to cause movement or circulation.
Meditation, Chanting and Yoga Nidra: The regular practice of relaxation therapies like meditation, mantra chanting and Yoga Nidra can be of immense help to relax and rejuvenate the body. The audible chanting of “OM” has a deep therapeutic effect on increasing the absorption of oxygen, regulation of breath, calming down the nervous system, and increasing blood circulation. Chant OM 21 to 51 times audibly every day.
Yoga Nidra: Practice Yoga Nidra twice a day, on waking up and before going to bed. These are the optimum times to soak in the benefits of this practice.
Ayurveda: Due to a fall in the number of red blood cells and white blood cells, the body is prone to infections. Simple supplements like Turmeric capsules (two capsules daily), Chyawanprash (an Ayurvedic herbal formulation in a jam-like consistency, one to two teaspoons daily with warm milk or warm water), wheatgrass tincture (5ml three times a day), Echinacea tincture (2ml to 5ml daily), and Amalaki capsules (two to four capsules daily) may help a great deal.
Yogic Help: Garuda Hasta mudra (Hasta means hand) helps in combating pain, decreases fatigue, and improves lymphatic drainage. This mudra activates blood flow and circulation, invigorates the organs, and balances energy on both sides of the body. It relaxes and relieves pain related to stomach upsets and respiratory difficulties. Practice postures like Garudasana (Eagle pose), Tadasana (Stick pose) and Poorvattanasana (East facing Stretch).
Nausea and Vomiting
A common side effect of chemotherapy is nausea. Doctors prescribe the intake of anti emetics to control this. On one hand, these medications help in preventing nausea symptoms in intensity as well as frequency, and on the other hand, they have many side effects like constipation, flushing of the skin, problems sleeping (insomnia), indigestion and headaches.
An alternate suggestion would be the application of Clarified butter with asafetida. Mix one tablespoon of Clarified butter heated with two pinches of asafetida and keep this mixture. Apply in the belly button after every meal.
Massaging the little finger with the thumb in long strokes from root of the finger to the fingertip by resting the finger on the index finger of the opposite hand is an excellent method of acupressure to bring down nausea.
Prana mudra helps in filtering the pranic energy in the body.
Another side effect of chemotherapy is cancer-related mouth sores forming on the inside lining of the mouth or lips. Sores can appear on any of the soft tissues of the lips or mouth, including the gums, tongue, roof and floor of the mouth, thus making it difficult to eat, talk, swallow and breathe.
Swish and spit the mixture of a half teaspoon of salt and two tablespoons of baking soda in four cups of water two to three times a day.
Alternately, use a mixture of a half teaspoon of Turmeric powder and one-fourth teaspoon of table salt in one cup of warm water, and rinse the mouth thoroughly with it on a regular basis.
Avoid alcohol-based products, caffeine, tea, citrus fruits, crunchy and spicy foods, garlic, onion, vinegar and smoking.
Herbal teas like decaffeinated chamomile, rose, and lavender can create a healing and soothing lining in the mouth.
Practice Prithvi Mudra: Join the tip of the thumb with the tip of the ring finger and keep the remaining three fingers reasonably straight. Practice it three times a day for two to four minutes in each practice session.
The practice of Sheetkari Pranayama can also be beneficial in this case. Inhale through clenched teeth making a hissing sound, and feel the coolness of the breath penetrate the entire system, and exhale from the nostrils. This is one round. Practice five to seven rounds, two times a day.
Weak Digestive System
Chemotherapy can affect all the three processes of food intake – appetite, digestion and excretion, thus making it difficult to get nourishment into the body when it needs it the most. To keep up the appetite, strengthen digestion, and regularize excretion, the following tips can be helpful:
A cup of warm ginger tea (in case of mucositis, one can take ginger capsules) is very appetizing before a meal and helps in digestion post meals.
Aloe Vera juice (one to two tablespoons) is very soothing for the stomach lining.
Application of asafetida-treated Clarified butter in the belly button, three times a day, is helpful in cases of indigestion, nausea, constipation, abdominal cramps, gas and loss of appetite.
Massage the center of the foot sole and the center of the palm with sesame oil every day as these two areas are the reflexology regions of the abdominal organs as well as two of the most important and healing marma points. Do this massage before going to bed.
A regular practice of Yoga Nidra is extremely beneficial in case of stomach related issues. This practice is suggested before going to bed and upon waking up.
Disclaimer: If you are experiencing any or several of the symptoms, you should talk to your doctor. You must verify with your physician before applying this article’s suggestions to your individual situation.