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The Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program of BC

For Patients & Families
Treatment

Alternative Medicine

Patients faced with the diagnosis of leukemia or other forms of cancer often ask about the use of vitamins, minerals, herbal/natural remedies, health food supplements or special diets. They hope these might boost their immune system or improve their chances of being cured.

Complementary Therapy vs. Supplements

There is a difference between the use of complementary therapies, such as relaxation, massage and acupuncture, which may be helpful in some situations, and the use of special diets and supplements.

The use of supplements (vitamins, herbal remedies) and dietary modification is of unknown benefit to patients with leukemia and other cancers. The physicians at the Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program can only recommend treatments that have scientific evidence to support their value.

However, we encourage patients to let their doctor and clinical pharmacist know exactly what they are taking, so that we can be sure no harm will result. Many herbal or natural remedies have been shown to be harmful and even vitamin supplements can have side effects when taken in excess.

We strongly recommend that patients DISCONTINUE vitamins and supplements while they are receiving chemotherapy, especially high-dose therapy conditioning prior to a blood and marrow transplant.

Further Information

  • A comprehensive database for natural therapies is available at www.naturaldatabase.com. Patients are encouraged to consult this site for more information.
  • Visit Inspire Health's web site for information about integrating research-informed natural approaches into cancer treatment and recovery.
  • Another good resource is the BC Cancer Agency's Unconventional Therapies web page.
  • Patients can also talk to one of our Clinical Pharmacists.

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