Combating Cancer Related Fatigue

A variety of studies show that approximately 80 to 90 percent of people who receive chemotherapy and radiation experience fatigue. This can make it difficult to carry out normal activities and can severely impact one’s quality of life. The fatigue can extend months or even years after their treatment has ended. For example, a recent conventional study found that 60 percent of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivors reported a high level of fatigue up until 10 years after diagnosis.[1] As one study in a cancer journal reported, “Cancer related fatigue (CRF) is a problem that is highly under reported, under recognized and thus, under treated.”

At the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine we support a lot of patients with holistic therapies who are undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments for their cancer. It is quite rewarding to see people regain their energy and quality of life from the often devastating effects of cancer treatments, including fatigue.

Supporting detoxification during and after these treatments is critical to one’s recovery. This can be accomplished by greatly increasing the amounts of organic plant foods in the diet. As well, fresh juicing or blending of dominantly vegetables provides chlorophyll and phytonutrients that support detoxification. Examples include spinach, kale, beet leaves and beet roots, garlic, ginger, and carrots. For those of you who do not want to juice then organic green super food powders are available from health food stores. Adequate protein and essential fatty acids are also necessary.

There are a number of supplements we use with patients. For example, a double-blind and randomized study conducted by Mayo Clinic involved 364 fatigue cancer survivors at 40 different institutions. A dose of 2000 mg of American ginseng was given for 8 weeks which resulted in statistically significant improvement in fatigue scores compared to placebo.[2]

Often the best results for our patients are achieved with intravenous nutrient therapy. This is where one receives infusions of energy producing nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium and other minerals, and glutathione. Even for those undergoing these treatments the use of high dose intravenous vitamin C has been shown to help support better energy levels and reduce pain and inflammation.


[1] Oerlemans S, Mols F, Issa DE, et al. A high level of fatigue among long-term survivors of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: results from the longitudinal population-based PROFILES registry in the south of the Netherlands. Haematologica. 2013;98(3):479-486.


[2] Barton DL, Liu H, Dakhil SR, et al. Wisconsin ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) to improve cancer-related fatigue: a randomized, double-blind trial, N07C2. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013;105(16):1230-1238.