Supplements, Herbs & Botanicals

A note on supplements

While eating a wholesome, varied diet is crucial to fighting cancer, you still may find it hard to get all the nutrients your body needs through diet alone, especially during cancer treatment.

While some nutritional supplements may enhance the effects of specific treatments, others can interfere with treatment or even be dangerous if taken incorrectly or in certain combinations. Because dietary supplements are not regulated as strictly as prescription drugs, their side effects and interactions may be more difficult to predict.

It is very important to talk with your doctor and to work with a nutrition specialist before deciding whether you can and should take supplements. Always let your doctor know what supplements you are taking.

Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional supplements can provide additional calories and nutrients. We prefer supplements that are organic and all natural, but recognize supplements that aren’t organic and all natural still provide the additional calories and nutrients in a safe and effective manner.

If you are concerned about getting the right nutrients, talk to one of our oncology dietitians or consult the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Always let your doctor know what supplements you are taking.

Herbs and Botanicals

Herbs and botanicals are also often referred to as “supplements,” although they’re really a separate category.

Herbs and botanicals are believed by some to offer benefits such as:

  • easing of side effects,
  • helping make treatment more effective, and
  • slowing the growth and spread of cancer.

Many people assume that because herbs and botanicals are natural, they are safe. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Always let your doctor know what herbs and botanicals you’re taking.

For evidence-based information on specific herbs, visit the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Integrative Medicine Center or download their About Herbs App.

About Herbs App