Herbs for Chemo
Ally Sanchez Herbalist and Nutritionist

Written by Ally Sanchez

Hi, I'm Ally Sanchez. I'm a herbalist and nutritionist based in the Blue Mountains helping individuals and families get the health and wellbeing they deserve.

Why Natural Therapies?

Using natural therapies and protocols while on a chemotherapy regime will reduce side effects and improve outcomes. Herbal medicine is one of these protocols which will be discussed today.

Chemotherapy does save lives but can also take lives. These are very strong, powerful drugs. Best taken after much research into your own particular cancer and within a health supporting regime.

Advice in the modern hospital

A vague, ‘Oh you dont need to worry about changing your diet or anything, just eat healthy’ by an unhealthy looking oncology nurse was the advice given.

“You can drink alcohol but only 1 or 2 glasses at a time” (alcohol is a known risk factor in the development of breast cancer).

Overheard while in the cancer ward “Eat what ever you feel like, if you feel like chips, eat chips”

Interestingly much research and anecdotal evidence shows that supporting the body nutritionally, herbally, emotionally and spiritually, while on chemotherapy, gives better outcomes and reduces the side effects.

The choice is yours

This is your body, the only one you have, you are in control. If you choose to take it. Take responsibility for your health, hang on tight, its a wild, yet rewarding ride.

Basics of Cancer cells vs Normal cells

All cells are naturally driven to divide, replicate and die off within a preprogrammed life span.

Cancer cells divide and replicate but unlike ‘normal’ cells they do not die off. Therefore we see an accumulation of these cells, presenting primarily as a tumour or a lump.

It is these clumps of cells that keep on replicating and not dying that impinge on the bodies natural processes. Leading to malfunctioning of effected organs or body systems.

If not stopped, cancer cells will continuing to spread (or metastasize) to other organs and body systems making them malfunction too. Until, in the end, our body becomes overridden, stuggles to function, and ultimately we die.

Basics of Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy drugs target cells which grow and divide quickly, taking out cancer cells in this process. Chemo affects not only cancer cells but fast-growing healthy cells, like those of the skin, hair, intestines, and bone marrow.

This is where we see the majority of side effects, along with the over burdened detoxification pathways.

Herbal Medicine can Help

The healing gifts of herbal medicines can be utilised to support the body while on any pharmaceutical medication, including chemotherapy.

Particular herbs will support the organs and body system most effected.

When using blends it is most beneficial to seek a professional herbalist for advice on your individual needs as they will be able to tailor a formula specifically for you.

There are many herbs we can use and, as most herbalist will tell you, we all have our favourites. Some of my herbal friends will be found below.

Liver, Kidney and Gallbladder Loving Dandelion


The liver is involved in all physiological processes and the metabolism and detoxification of chemotherapy drugs from the system. The liver is possibly the most vital organ to support as its working super hard!

For the liver we are after herbs that are bitter, cooling and stimulating to help this precious organ along.

Some friends are –

Dandelion, Dandelion, Artichoke, Burdock, Yellow Dock, Barberry

Digestive System

Here we want to nurture the disturbed microbiome and inflamed digestive tract. Mucilage rich herbs soothe and nuture any inflamed tissue, creating a slimy protective coating.

Reduce inflammation with Shatavari, Meadowsweet, Aloe vera.

Demulcents (soothing herbs) marshamallow, slippery elm, comfrey root, Oats, Hops

Immune system

2 weeks after chemo a blood test will be done to see what your white blood cell count it. This is because the WBC are effected by chemo so it gives your oncologist and insight into the effectiveness of your dose of chemo.

If the count is too low they will pull back, if its too high they may increase. I dont suggest using immune supporting herbs while blood tests are happening. But once they are finished (as you wont get them every cycle) then I suggest supporting your body

Eg Echineace, Astragalus, Shitaki or reshi mushroom extract


Kidneys flush out waste products and toxic byproducts of chemotherapy. Supporting thes organs we use “Kidney tonics”

Dandelion leaf, Nettle, Parsley, Celery.


Fatigue is a big issue for chemotherapy. Having a clean, high raw diet, drinking fresh vegetable based juices and using herbs will make the world of difference. Ill cover more nutrition and juicing in other blog posts

Herbs to support fatigue include – Withania, (ashwangada) Rhadiola, Shatavari, Parsley, Siberian or Panax gingseng.

Blends may look something like these

  • Kidney and Liver blend – Dandelion, St Marys Thistle, Nettle
  • Gut building – Shatavari, Marshamllow, Parsley
  • Fatigue and immunity – Astragaulus, Echineace, Withania, Siberian gingseng

Below is a video for you to enjoy


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