One of the important reasons people choose to use integrative cancer therapies along with conventional treatments is to avoid any unpleasant treatment side effects. There are unfortunately many potential adverse treatment related side effects to conventional cancer care. Often these side effects include gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea or nausea, hair loss, hot flashes, or painful peripheral neuropathy. Most of the time these side effects can be effectively controlled using naturopathic medicine. Sometimes people fighting cancer will experience side effects that can prevent them from completing their course of therapy.
Hematological problems are a common drug-related adverse effect that cancer patients often experience when being treated with chemotherapy. The term hematological refers to the blood, and therefore drug-induced hematological toxicities are those that affect the blood. This includes conditions such as anemia (a lowered red cell count), leukopenia (lowered white blood cell count, ie. the immune system), or thrombocytopenia (a low platelet levels). Sometimes the levels of these cells in the blood become so low that treatment needs to be delayed or stopped altogether, which is not always in the patient’s best interest. In some patients these hematological toxicities persist for months or even years after stopping chemotherapy.
There are currently several treatments, from both conventional and naturopathic medicine, for correcting drug-induced anemia and leukopenia. However, if a patient experiences thrombocytopenia from chemotherapy, which is considered a “common” side effect, there have not been any reliable options to help increase their platelet levels. Recently, it has been discovered that the use of a papaya leaf extract can increase platelet levels in those with thrombocytopenia caused by chemotherapy.
In a study published in 2017, researchers in India described their experience using a papaya leaf extract in patients with chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia. The researchers reported that 82% of patients who took the papaya leaf extract had a statistically significant increase in their platelet levels in a mere 3-5 days. Furthermore, the papaya leaf extract was found to be very safe and easy for the patients to take, with no adverse effects reported by any of the study participants.
At Longevity Medical Health Center we have been a leader in proving excellent integrative cancer care for decades. Visit our website or call us today to find out more about the integrative cancer therapies we offer.
Contributed by Dr. Jonathan Psenka