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Photo courtesy of  freedigitalphotos.net and zirconicusso

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and zirconicusso

Why It’s Important To Detox Your Body After Chemotherapy & Radiation

Although your body does a great job of detoxing all on its own – at least when you’re healthy – when you’ve been through chemotherapy and/or radiation, your body is overloaded with chemical residues.  It is important to detox after chemotherapy and/or radiation and you’re going to feel so much better if you do.

An overload of toxins are known to cause bloating, fatigue, headaches, poor memory, aching muscles, a suppressed immune system (the very thing you’re relying on to keep you well), even halitosis (bad breath)!. Toxic buildup within the body is also a problem if you have had lymph nodes removed (our lymphatic system acts as another method of waste removal) and can worsen lymphedema.

Once chemotherapy and radiation are finished and these strong treatments have done their work, the body is filled with toxins.  Radiation can damage healthy cells and create toxic buildup and if you think about it, even cancer cells themselves become toxins as they wither up and die from the treatments.

Make sure you’re strong enough to undergo cleansing, however.  Consult with your physician or naturopath before embarking on a cleansing path!  You might find it necessary to wait a number of weeks or even months if you are too weak but the sooner you get started detoxing, the better you will feel.  Even if you are too weak, you can still increase your water intake, do gentle exercise and begin juicing.

How To Detox Your Body After Chemotherapy & Radiation

Colonics - colonic hydrotherapy can be of assistance not only after chemotherapy but during to help alleviate the terrible constipation that often results from chemotherapy.  Your medical staff may argue the efficacy of chemotherapy (I had one nurse tell me that we are designed for wastes to move ONE way and we shouldn’t go against that!) but it really helps tremendously.  I went through a course of colonic hydrotherapy post-chemo and found it to be a gentle and effective method for toxin and waste cleansing.  There’s nothing new about colonics – Egyptians were using it for constipation centuries ago.  If you’d like to read one person’s experience with it, click here.

Drinking Plenty of Water, Herbal Tea – this is the most natural way to detox your body after chemotherapy.  Make sure your water is filtered (here’s a great, affordable water filter) to help keep you safe from herbicides, pesticides, and other assorted nasties that our water now has in it.  We used to hear that drinking 8 glasses of water per day was essential, however, newer studies have shown that as long as you are sipping away on water all day you are probably getting what you need.  Put in a slice of lemon for some additional flavor, cleansing qualities and antioxidant protection.  Herbal teas are also wonderful to help the cleansing process, particularly dandelion tea which is a liver tonic.

Juicing, Juicing, Juicing - seems like I am always touting the benefits of juicing organic fruits and vegetables but their importance for health cannot be stressed sufficiently.  Make sure you have a great juicer though, as not all juicers are designed to keep the living enzymes within your expensive organic produce alive!  Here’s a great one, this is the one I use.  Live juices can help to heal, rejuvenate, and flush away toxins. Fresh vegetable and fruit juices are the cleansers, energizers, regenerators, and blood builders of the human body.  Try any combination of beet (great blood cleanser), kale, spinach, carrot, cucumber, apple, ginger and pineapple (both great anti-inflammatories).  Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are full of antioxidants and help to cleanse the blood of impurities.

Circulate that Blood – it might seem ultra simple but something as simple as bouncing on a rebounder (one of those mini trampolines) for 10 minutes a couple of times per day help so much to get the heart pumping, blood circulating and toxins flushing out of your body.  Best done BEFORE a meal or juicing, however!  Walking, cycling, hiking, dancing, yoga – all are great to get the body moving and detoxing.  Make sure you drink plenty of filtered water after exercising.

Fiber – helps to grab on to toxins in your digestive tract.  Fiber soaks up toxins rather like a sponge, speeds up elimination, helps with cleansing.  Natural fiber is available from fruits, vegetables and whole grains, however there are also plenty of fiber products on the market which you could add to your regimen.  Get a recommendation from your health food shop or naturopath.

Herbal Medicine – there are many herbs which will assist you in detoxing after chemotherapy and radiation.  Milk thistle is a particularly good herb for liver cleansing.  I would definitely recommend seeking the advice of a qualified naturopath before using herbal medicine, however, because they are specifically trained in herbal medicine and since herbs can sometimes have drug interactions you would want the best guidance possible.

Eating Organic Food- because at this stage you are working towards detoxing and keeping well and healthy your best bet is to avoid processed and sugar-laden foods as these will not assist the detox process.  Eating plenty of organic fruits, vegetables and lean meats is much more conducive to keeping your system clear of any further toxins.

Epsom Salt Baths – there is something just so restorative about a hot epsom salt bath!  Hot water opens the pores and assists perspiration to take toxins away.  Epsom salts are full of nutrients such as magnesium and sulfate, which help generate enzymes that clean up the body.  To make it a totally revitalizing experience, add lavender essential oil for calming effects, or ginger which also helps to open the pores and is a good natural anti-inflammatory.  If you don’t have epsom salts, baking soda is also useful and it helps to neutralize the effects of radiation.  This is another place where water filtration is important because if you live in an area where the water is highly chlorinated you are soaking all that chlorine up into your body through the skin.  Chlorine and breast cancer are linked, see this article from globalhealingcenter.com.

Toxin Free Body Products - you might not think about this, but if your body and skin care products are laden with toxins you are taking all of those into your body via the skin as well.  I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t also mention the importance of using organic body products and cosmetics when you are detoxing your body.  Here’s a healthy, safe brand, the one I use myself.

Don’t Forget To Rebuild Your Immune System – since your immune system is your first line of defense against cancer and all other diseases, you must rebuild it because the chemotherapy and radiation treatments will have blasted the hell out of your immune cells.  Yes, your body will do this on its own, but generally quite slowly.  Here’s my page on how to build it more quickly so that it’s very strong:  8 Ways To Build A Super Strong Immune System.

I know that’s a lot of things to think about, but if you are determined to get well and stay well, incorporating even just two or three of these suggestions into your life will be very helpful.  Finally, I found a really useful article on ehow.com titled Full Body Detox After Cancer with some great suggestions and a very specific detox plan.  I hope these suggestions help you!

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor to help you through this.

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13 Responses to How To Detox Your Body After Chemotherapy & Radiation

  • Kaye McCauley says:

    Hi I am a 5 year survivor of breast cancer had chemo and radiation for 3 months followed by 5 years Femara. I eat a healthy diet but seem to come down with every virus going. I have been juicing and drink lemon water daily but wen I start an exercise program I come down with viral illnesses that leavw me with muscle aches joint pain headaches and gut problems. Any help wld be appreciated.

    • Marnie says:

      Hi Kaye,

      Thanks for your message, it was really good to hear from you. I assume from your email address that you are somewhere in Australia? I would HIGHLY recommend getting yourself off to a naturopath. It sounds very much like your immune system has taken a big hit with the therapies you went through for breast cancer and is having trouble rebounding. A good naturopath will be able to recommend some herbs and supplements that will help you strengthen your immune system. Do you need a recommendation? If so, what city are you in?
      xox Marnie

  • Ruth Smith says:

    I have just finished chemo and radiation for endometrial cancer. During my treatment, I worked out on the treadmill, crosstrainer, and when I wasn’t doing chemotherapy when I wasn’t allowed to swim, continued on the cross trainer. I found that even on low days, this kept the chemicals moving through my system and I reduced any numbness in my fingers and toes. I maintained my strength, even though my energy hasn’t returned and it was recommended that it will take up to a year to regain some of most of it. I saw a naturopath who has put me on a program that is of a cleansing nature but does not involve drastic changes, as I am already a vegetarian and have a fairly balanced diet that includes organics most of the time. I did not go through too much “chemobrain” and kept doing puzzles, both Sudoku and crosswords as well as cryptic. This kept my mind functioning through the treatment. I have, however, developed Macular Degeneration and will have to deal with this side effect. I did not get sick during the process either. I hope this helps a bit – it worked for me. I look forward to my continued recovery and have remained positive for the most part. My physician says she is amazed that I have maintained this disposition and she credits it to my recovery. I believe it kept me going.

    • Marnie says:

      Ruth,

      Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing this part of your journey with us. It just illustrates how important it is to be proactive with your self-care during treatments for breast cancer and what a positive difference that can make. Well done, Ruth! Thanks again -
      Marnie

  • Tina says:

    Dear Marnie,

    As of yesterday I just finished a 6 week treatment of both chemo and radiation for tongue cancer. I have to use a G-Tube for nutrition until the swelling goes away and the burns/mouth irritation. Can’t wait to feel better and eat normal again. I know sugar is bad and I believe it promoted the tongue cancer. I have never smoked and never was a heavy drinker.
    Some people tell me not to detox too soon because the radiation is still doing its job in the treatment of it all…Thank you for your knowledge and insight.

    Tina

    • Marnie says:

      Hi Tina,
      Oh, my dear – I can just imagine how badly you want to feel better and I am hoping that happens for you soon. Yes, sugar is a problem for your immune system – have you seen my page “8 Ways To Build a Super Strong Immune System”? Just hover your mouse over my “Diet & Cancer” page, you will see it listed under that. I would recommend starting there and begin building a bullet-proof immune system so that cancer can’t get a toehold in your body anymore! If I can help you with any of my suggestions on that page, I am glad to assist!
      Sending warm thoughts your way,
      Marnie

  • Barry Cohen says:

    Many health professionals feel that the mineral Clinoptilolite zeolite is the best and most efficient way to detox and remove radiation from the human body after chemotherapy! This is because the zeolite with its cage like structure grabs and holds onto the radiation all the way out of the body without re-releasing any radiation back into the body to recontaminate it and make you feel sick as many other detox products do. For more information on zeolite including on the only ingest able detox zeolite for human consumption see the website at http://www.zeolite.com.

  • Denis Oswin says:

    Hey Marnie, Noted your comments on detox & the 8 steps. I have throat cancer and begin treatment next month.Never smoked & social drinker.Liked your advice.Thankyou, Denis (Australia)

    • Marnie says:

      Denis,
      Thanks for your comment, much appreciated. If I can help you in any way, please let me know. I wish you well in your healing journey.
      Warmest regards,
      Marnie

  • marian says:

    hi Marnie. Thanks for your information.I am currently on chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. Have been doing chemo on and off for 2 years. I’m also seeing a naturopath. I was wondering if it’s best to wait until all chemo treatment is done to detox or to be doing some detox thing while I’m getting the chemo. My naturopath thinks I should be doing the detox all along the way as I have gotten very sick from the chemo in the past.will this keep the chemotherapy from being as effective in fighting against the cancer or will it make it more effective?

    • Marnie says:

      Hi Marian,
      I agree with your naturopath, it’s best to do some detoxing along the way – I have sent you a private email with a bit more information. Basically, however, for the sake of others reading this reply, some gentle detoxing along the way is very helpful. I found a combination of juicing, acupuncture, Chinese herbs (always under the care of a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor) to be very effective while I was going through chemotherapy. I’m not aware of any specific research about detoxing while undergoing chemotherapy but I have heard that certain herbs make the chemo more effective. And certainly, if you are reducing the toxic burden on your body and feeling better, that’s a very good thing. I always felt it was better not to be a toxic waste dump!
      Hope that helps -
      Warmest regards,
      Marnie

  • Lee says:

    Hello! I had Hodgkin lymphoma during my pregnancy 9 years ago. I recieved 6 chemo during my pregnancy and 6 after I delivered followed by 30 days of radiation. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism a few years later and have suffered a lot from it. I have seen a few naturpaths and have had no luck with a good vitamin, herb, and mineral regimen. Any advice…PLEASE help me! I want to complete detox my body. THANK YOU!

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