Although we’re not aware of any clinical studies to scientifically demonstrate how supplements can improve the outcome of chemotherapy treatments, some vets, including Dr. Freeman and Dr. Ulbrich, believe that they can be helpful both to help minimize the side effects related to the chemotherapy treatments themselves, and to hopefully have some benefit in extending the period of remission and life expectancy of the patient.
The goal of supplements – both in holistic Canine Lymphoma care, and when using supplements in conjunction with conventional chemotherapy treatments – is to boost the patient’s general health and immune system, so the patient’s own body can fight back against the cancer.
Our bodies do, in fact, have the ability to fight cancer. There are actually specific cells in our body whose primary job is to seek out cells that have gone wrong, kill those malignant cells, and remove them from the body. The trouble is that first, cancer cells are actually particularly good at hiding and tricking the body into not realizing they are malignant, so the defense mechanisms fail to notice them until they’ve had a chance to grow and multiply to the point where the body’s natural immune system can no longer keep up. And then once there are too many rapidly multiplying cancer cells for the body to fight on its own, the cancer overtakes the system and grows.
Supplements can have the effect of boosting the natural immune system so the patient’s body is better able to recognize and fight the cancer cells, to give the patient a better chance to fight back and either reverse or at a minimum slow down the growth and spread of the disease.
While some conventional vets are opposed to the use of holistic cancer fighting supplements in conjunction with conventional Canine Lymphoma care, Dr. Freeman and many others take the opinion that, even if they may not be aware of the beneficial potential of certain supplements for Canine Lymphoma patients – if there’s something out there that’s going to make it better, heck yeah, bring it on.
Many of the patients treated by Dr. Freeman take fish oil, for example, as a supplement for their care, and there are several supplements that she uses for patients that she sees.
In particular, Dr. Freeman recommends a liver supplement comprised of Milk Thistle, B Vitamin, Diomethianine, etc. to help improve the patients liver function and minimize the risk of liver toxicity. The supplements used by Dr. Freeman come from a company called rX Vitamins and is called Lipato Support. She also uses another supplement called Onco Support, which is a Green Tea extract, and Japanese mushroom extracts and argentine and glutamine, etc.
These supplements, such as Japanese mushroom extracts, help boost patient immune system function, which by definition is a good thing, and since many of the chemotherapy drugs can be liver toxic it seems like having something that can be protective of the liver and help minimize toxicity is helpful and just plain smart. So it makes sense to do supporting things that are looking to maintain overall good health and help ease the process.
There are some cautions, however, to be aware of when considering using supplements in addition to conventional chemotherapy treatments. In particular, certain types of supplements (for example, anti-oxidants) may actually counteract the effects of the chemotherapy treatments themselves. The reason is that anti-oxidants tend to fight off biological reactions that try to kill off cells, but of course killing cells is the primary purpose of the chemotherapy drugs being given to your dog. So using certain anti-oxidants at the same time as giving your dog chemotherapy treatments may cause the two treatments to essentially fight against each other, severely limiting the effectiveness of each. For that reason, we ALWAYS recommend that you work closely with your vet when combining conventional and holistic treatments to make sure that the treatments you choose are appropriate for the conventional treatments being used.
However, most other supplements that have beneficial effects of strengthen the patient, build the immune system in general, or help the body detoxify, are generally believed to work quite well with, and possibly even easy side effects and enhance the effectiveness of, the contventional treatment itself.
This would make sense, since chemotherapy and other conventional dog cancer treatments can be on your dog’s body and immune system, so adding some support can help your dog stay strong can have a beneficial effect on life expectancy during these Canine Lymphoma treatments.