Herbal remedies use plants or mixtures of plant extracts to treat illness and promote health. Practitioners of Chinese medicine also use herbs as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Herbs may be boiled in water and drunk as a tea, mixed in an alcohol solution, or be made into tablets, creams or ointments.
Some herb and plant extracts have been researched in clinical trials, and have been shown to help with certain symptoms or side effects. Others have been shown to have no effect.
Commonly used herbs include:
- ginger – used to relieve feelings of sickness (nausea)
- St John’s Wort – used to treat a low mood and mild to moderate depression.
Although plants and herbs are natural, this doesn’t automatically mean they are safe. Natural substances can have powerful effects and cause side effects. Some conventional treatments are made from plant extracts. So, if you choose to take herbal remedies, it’s important to use them safely. You need to be aware of any side effects they may cause.
If you take or are interested in trying herbal remedies, talk to your cancer doctor. They need to know all the medicines you’re taking, whether they’re prescribed or not, to help them give you the best possible care.