Natural Ways to Treat Radiation Side Effects
Radiation therapy is a regularly used conventional treatment for cancer. The high-energy radiation is used to destroy your cell’s ability to grow and divide and it does this by damaging your cell’s DNA.
Basically, the idea behind radiation is that by damaging the cancer cells’ DNA, it will cause enough damage that it can’t be repaired, which causes the cells to die.
While this may be a good idea, the radiation unfortunately also damages the healthy cells surrounding the cancer cells causing serious short- and long-term damage, including the risk of a secondary cancer.
And while radiation therapy itself isn’t painful, the side-effects and damage that the radiation causes to your body certainly can be.
General radiation side effects include: fatigue, dry and blistering skin, itchiness, and swelling. However, there are short-term and long-term side-effects and damage that is caused to the certain area that the radiation is being directed to. For example, radiation to the head/neck region can cause:
– Dry Mouth
– Mouth and Throat Sores
– Tooth Decay
– Trouble Swallowing
– And Jaw Stiffness
For more information on radiation and the side effects it causes, I recommend reading:
But, if you’ve chosen to use radiation therapy as part of your cancer treatment, there are natural ways to treat these radiation side effects.
Several years ago, a study was done to determine if acupuncture helped more with xerostomia (extremely dry mouth caused by radiation) than standard care. This study involved 86 patients – 40 received acupuncture treatment while the other 46 used standard care.
The study states, “Xerostomia (dry mouth) after head/neck radiation is a common problem among cancer patients, and available treatments are of little benefit. The objective of this trial was to determine whether acupuncture can prevent xerostomia among head/neck patients undergoing radiotherapy.”
And they came to the conclusion that, “Acupuncture given concurrently with radiotherapy significantly reduced xerostomia and improved quality of life.” 
Plus, other research has found that acupuncture may help with the reduction of other radiation side effects like insomnia and fatigue.
2) Essential Oils:
Peppermint: Peppermint can help with pain caused by radiation, including headaches. It creates a cooling sensation to the skin that reduces feelings of discomfort/pain.
Ginger: There is conflicting research as to if inhaling ginger essential oil significantly reduces nausea or not, but it’s worth trying as it may help some people more than others.
Lemon: Lemon oil can help you feel more energized. To reduce feelings of fatigue, diffuse into the air, inhale directly from the bottle, or dilute 1-2 drops in 1 Tablespoon of carrier oil and massage your temples. Also, you can apply it to the back of your neck, the liver area, or your feet. (However, don’t use lemon or orange before or during direct exposure to sunlight or UV rays as it can cause a rash to form or burning to the skin.)
Orange: Orange essential oil helps reduce nervousness/anxiety. Inhale from the bottle, diffuse in the room, or dilute 1 drop in ½ Tablespoon of carrier oil and apply to your temples. (Lavender and Ylang Ylang are also oils that help induce relaxation.)
Lavender or Vetiver: Using either of these oils can help induce sleep. They are great options if you suffer from insomnia. Diffuse into the air, or apply to the back of your neck, legs, feet, or arms. Alternatively, you can place 1-2 drops on the bottom of your pillow.
*And Please Note: Radiation therapy can create tremendous toxicity in the liver. So it’s important to cut down (or eliminate) using essential oils with high phenol content to prevent increasing the amount of toxicity in your liver. Oils with high phenol content include: basil, birch, cinnamon, clove, fennel, melaleuca, oregano, thyme, and wintergreen.
3) Certain Foods/Herbs:
Curcumin (an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound found in turmeric) has been found to help protect the skin from radiation-induced damage. This study stated, “In conclusion, oral curcumin, 6.0 g daily during radiotherapy, reduced the severity of radiation dermatitis in breast cancer patients.” 
Ginger can be used to reduce nausea/vomiting. To prevent nausea, keep a slice of fresh ginger in your mouth while undergoing radiation therapy. And if you begin feeling nauseous, chew on it.
Ganoderma contains the anti-cancer agents: polysaccharides and germanium. “The polyshaccharide fraction of Ganoderma is largely responsible for its anti-tumor efficacy. Indications for Ganoderma use in cancer include supplementation a) to reduce side-effects during chemotherapy or radiotherapy, b) to prolonging survival and minimize metastasis, c) to improve quality of life, and d) to prevent occurrence or recurrence. Ganoderma can be used as a supplement during chemotherapy or radiotherapy to reduce side-effects such as fatigue, loss of appetite, hair loss, bone marrow suppression and risk of infection. It can also reduce the toxic and side effects and mitigate the pains during chemotherapy and radiotherapy, in particular to cancer patients at terminal stages for prolonging their lives and improving their living quality.” 
Caraway seeds can be used to make a tea to be consumed after radiation treatment. In addition to reducing nausea, caraway seeds have several health benefiting nutrients, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. “Caraway seeds are rich source of dietary fiber. 100 g seeds provide 38 g of fiber, 100% of daily recommended intake of fiber. Soluble as well as insoluble dietary fiber increase bulk of the food and help prevent constipation by speeding up its movement through the gut. In fact, gastro-intestinal transit time of food is greatly decreased. Fiber also binds to toxins in the food and helps protect the colon mucusa from cancers.” 
Exercising when you are using conventional cancer treatments can provide many benefits including:
– Strengthening muscle
– Boosting energy
– Relieving stress
– Lowering risk of blood clots
– Minimizing side effects from chemotherapy and radiation
– Reducing the chance of cancer returning
– Boosting mood
– And improving outlook on life 
Additional information on exercising when you have cancer can be found here:
It’s important to treat the discomfort you feel when going through radiation therapy. And if you can do so naturally, that’s generally the best way as there are little-to-no side-effects.
Another reason to try these natural methods is because if you take medications to reduce pain/fatigue/dry mouth, etc. instead, not only can those drugs cause more stress on your body, but they may also cause additional side-effects which will have to be managed as well.
However, with that being said, don’t avoid medication if you feel like you need it. There’s no reason to be in pain or discomfort if you don’t need to be!
Have you found other natural ways to help with the side-effects from radiation? If so, please leave a comment below!
*Disclaimer: Material on this website is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s or nutritionist’s medical care or advice. Consult your doctor before starting anything new such as: a new diet, exercise regimen, or the use of a natural product like essential oils, vitamins, supplements, etc. To read the full disclaimer, click here.
Sources & References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22072272  Modern Essentials: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils. 7th ed. Pleasant Grove, UT: AromaTools, 2015. Print.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23745991  http://www.cancure.org/12-links-page/58-ganoderma  http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/caraway-seed.html  http://www.healthfaithstrength.com/safety-tips-for-exercising-when-you-have-cancer/