Radiation, Side-Effects

Radiotherapy is commonly used to e treat patients with cancers. Information about how patients might protect themselves from the side effects associated with these procedures is not readily available. This section will provide some information on this topic so that patients and their doctors can make better-informed decisions, and so patients can avoid practices that might potentially interfere with treatments. Discussion of the use of supplements with your physicians is particularly important when undergoing radiation treatment.


Risk factors for Radiation, Side-Effects

Symptoms - Cancer  

Considering/considering chemo/ radiation


Recent/past radiation treatments

Recommendations for Radiation, Side-Effects

Amino Acid / Protein  


In high doses, glutamine helps prevent the devastating damage to the gastrointestinal tract that results from radiation therapy.


Ginseng, Korean - Chinese / Asian (Panax ginseng)

People who are getting cancer treatment, including radiation, can greatly benefit from taking ginseng. Ginseng is an effective agent that can protect the body from the stress of drug and radiation therapies.



Astragalus Root (Astragalus membrinaceus)

Astragalus reduces bone marrow supression and gastrointestinal toxicity caused by chemotherapy and radiation.


Silymarin/Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

Administration of silymarin as oral or IV doses caused significant protection against liver damage. Intravenous treatment showed the most pronounced protection. The protective effect of silymarin was attributed to its antioxidant and free radicals scavenging properties. [Radioprotective effect of silymarin against radiation induced hepatotoxicity. Pharmacol Res. 2002 Jun;45(6):447.]

There is a product called Defience PhytoTherapy, formulated by oncologist Mitch Gaynor, M.D., of the Strang Cancer Prevention Center in New York City, specifically for patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. It contains milk thistle, grapefruit seed extract, N-acetyl-cysteine and other agents that aid in detoxification, as well as soy isoflavones, other immune enhancers, and plant extracts. Patients state that it gives them more energy. It is available from Healthy Directions at (800) 722-8008.



A review concluded that selenium enhances the benefits of physical therapy in patients with radiation-induced lymphedema. [J Support Oncol 2003;1(2): pp.121­38]

Oxygen / Oxidative Therapies  

Ozone / Oxidative Therapy

Clinical findings for damaged skin depend upon the the type, amount, and duration of radiation exposure. Several clinical syndromes have been delineated, including radiation erythema, acute radiodermatitis, and chronic radiodermatitis.

While DNA damage cannot be easily repaired, secondary infections made more likely by decreased tissue resistance may be countered by topical ozone therapy. This ensures protection against a wide range of pathogens.



A study involving 20 individuals suffering from chronic radiation proctitis showed that a daily regimen of vitamins E and C substantially reduced or eliminated the symptoms of the illness. [NewsRx.com April 02, 2001]


Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended

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