In part two of the series on supplements fighting cancer, I’m honing in on fatigue. It is a big problem for cancer patients on a number of fronts. Two herbal remedies, L-carnitine and mistletoe, may be of some help.
Up to 60% of cancer patients complain of fatigue, often accompanied by insomnia, depression or pain. Fatigue could be the result of cancer or due to side effect of cancer treatment including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and/or surgery. However, it may be due to factors unrelated to these factors, such as pain, depression, anemia or medical diseases (kidney, lung, heart, and liver), malnutrition, and inactivity.
L-carnitine is a micronutrient vitally important for energy production in cells. There are three open-label studies with 12 to 50 cancer patients who were treated with 600 milligrams a day of L-carnitine for one to four weeks. All three studies showed that L-carnitine significantly improved the symptom of fatigue as well as the quality of life. However, future double-blind, randomized studies are needed to confirm these promising results.
Mistletoe is widely used in Europe to treat cancer. In animal studies, it kills cancer cells and booster the immune system. A meta-analysis of all the clinical studies was published in 2003.
These studies covered people suffering from a variety of cancer types, including breast, lung, stomach, colon, rectum, head and neck, kidney, bladder, melanoma, glioma, and urogenital. Among the 23 studies evaluated, 12 showed one or more positive results, of which one showed at least one positive trend, three showed no effect, and one showed a negative trend. Two recent studies from Germany in ovarian and breast cancer patients further confirmed the positive finding.
If you feel that either supplement could be useful for you, speak to your doctor or oncologist.