What Home Remedies Can Be Used for Prostate Cancer?
Home remedies for prostate cancer are treatments, lifestyle changes, or supplements that an individual can do at home and in addition or instead of their standard medical care. When a home remedy is utilized in addition to standard medical care, it is considered a complementary therapy. When home remedies are used instead of standard medical care, they are considered alternative therapies.1-3
It is very important to consult your healthcare provider before trying a home remedy in addition to your current treatment, as some can decrease the effectiveness of certain cancer medications or treatments.1 It’s also important to consult your doctor or healthcare team before stopping standard medical care and using home remedies instead. Many home remedies may be able to help alleviate treatment side effects, but as of now, none have been clinically proven to cure cancer. If you forego standard medical care in favor of a home remedy, you could be putting yourself at risk of your prostate cancer advancing to the point of being incurable.
Changes in diet
Common home remedies for any kind of cancer often involve switching to a different diet or adding nutritional foods to your daily routine. These diets typically include becoming a vegetarian (adopting a plant-based diet), following a low-fat diet, juicing, or adding more nutritious foods to the diet, including foods or drinks with antioxidants like tomatoes, pomegranates, or green tea.
Overall, research has found there is no direct link between prostate cancer and the exact amount of fruits or vegetables you consume, however, it has been reported that adopting a healthier diet can decrease your risk of developing primary or recurrent cancer. Some outlets have reported that this may be due to healthier foods positively impacting cell cycle progression (the cycle that becomes faulty when cancer develops), while others think this could be due to a variety of positive factors that come along with a healthy diet, including maintaining a healthy weight and hormone regulation.3-6
Dietary supplements are in a similar category as changing the diet. While there may be some benefit to adding crucial vitamins and minerals to your diet while your body is fighting a cancer battle, there is no definitive evidence that this will stop the growth of cancer. Most, if not all, studies evaluating the effect of dietary supplements on individuals with cancer have been small. Even one of the largest trials investigating dietary supplements for prostate cancer (the SELECT trial evaluating the use of vitamin E and selenium) was stopped early after no benefit was found.3,7,8
Herbal supplements or plant extracts
Herbal supplements, like St. John’s wort, can interact with many medications and can actually decrease the effectiveness of some cancer drugs. Although herbal supplements may have side-effect relieving properties, it is important to tell your provider before you start. They will be able to tell you if its safe to use.
Other plant extracts, like saw palmetto, may help treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is the non-cancerous growth of the prostate gland during the aging process, however, no strong evidence has shown that saw palmetto decreases the risk of prostate cancer or helps prevent prostate cancer.1,9
Turmeric and milk thistle have shown some potential anti-cancer properties, but neither have definitive correlation to decreasing prostate cancer risk or slowing down cancer’s growth.10,11 More research is needed to determine the relationship between dietary supplements and prostate cancer risk or progression.
Essential oils are extracted from aromatic plants. These oils can be inhaled via a diffuser or directly by an inhaler, as well as applied topically. There is currently no published evidence of essential oils having the ability to cure cancer, however, there is evidence that essential oils can be effective in reducing stress, anxiety, some side effects of cancer treatment, and cancer-related symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting.
These oils can impact the brain’s sensory or emotional system and may have anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving properties. Essential oils can also be used during massages, which are considered another form of complementary medicine that is also used for stress relief and pain reduction.12
Cannabis, also known as marijuana, contains cannabinoids. Some of these cannabinoids can be psychoactive, producing the stereotypical mind-altering effects of using marijuana. Some cannabinoids could have anticancer properties; however, cannabis is typically used for cancer symptom and treatment side-effect relief. For example, there are currently two FDA approved cannabinoid-containing drugs (dronabinol and nabilone) indicated for the treatment of chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. Cannabis can also help alleviate pain. An alternative is the use of cannabidiol, or CBD oil, to manage symptoms or side effects.13
This is not an exhaustive list of all home remedies for prostate cancer. As mentioned before, it is very important to talk with your doctor or healthcare team before trying any of these home remedies alongside your cancer treatment, or before stopping cancer treatment in favor of a home remedy. Patients should take their medication as prescribed by their doctor. Patients should talk to their doctor if they have any questions, or if they have questions regarding their overall treatment plan.