CancerCancer TreatmentComplementary & Alternative Care for Cancer

Let's Talk About Complementary & Alternative Care for Cancer

Want to know what natural treatments could help you cope with the disease? Read this.

    Our Pro PanelComplementary & Alternative Care for Cancer

    We went to some of the nation’s top experts in cancer and CAM to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Lynda Balneaves, R.N., Ph.D.

    Lynda Balneaves, R.N., Ph.D.Associate Professor, College of Nursing

    Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba
    Winnipeg, Canada
    Nina Sanford, M.D.

    Nina Sanford, M.D.Radiation Oncologist, Assistant Professor

    Dedman Family Scholar in Clinical Care, UT Southwestern Medical Center
    Dallas, TX
    Heather Greenlee, N.D., Ph.D.

    Heather Greenlee, N.D., Ph.D.Naturopathic Physician, Associate Member

    Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
    Seattle, WA

    Frequently Asked QuestionsComplementary & Alternative Care for Cancer

    Is there a cancer-fighting diet?

    Researchers have found that a healthy diet is associated with a reduced risk of cancer. Even if you have cancer, it can help lessen the impact of side effects and improve your quality of life. Studies link nutrition to cancer prevention based on specific physiologic pathways, including reducing inflammation, regulating hormones, and preventing oxidative stress. All to say that food matters.

    Are there any natural cures for cancer?

    Here’s the thing: there are therapies that can help you go into remission (the period when your signs and symptoms of cancer are reduced). And some healthcare professionals consider cancer “cured” if it hasn’t returned after five years (also called complete remission). Treatments that achieve a complete remission/cure can include therapies that come from a “natural” source, like some forms of chemo, which are derived from plant alkaloids. But anyone promising a “natural cure” for cancer that doesn’t have evidence to back up that claim is likely pedaling bunk.

    What are some herbs that help cure cancer?

    As we’ve discussed, herbs can be excellent complementary treatment in oncology for things like nausea, but any claim of “curing” cancer should be tempered by evidence-based medicine results (meaning, proof to back up those claims).

    Does black salve help treat melanoma?

    The American Academy of Dermatology warns that black salve isn’t as safe as you might think, stating that it has “never been proven to work.” An article on the AAD’s website cites reports of bad outcomes for people who tried to treat their cancer (including melanoma) using black salve. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against products that are touted as cures for cancer without evidence: “The FDA urges consumers to steer clear of these potentially unsafe and unproven products and to always discuss cancer treatment options with their licensed health care provider.”

    Erin L. Boyle

    Erin L. Boyle


    Erin L. Boyle, the senior editor at HealthCentral from 2016-2018, is a freelance medical writer and editor.