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Prostate Cancer: Herbal Supplements

Herbal supplements are pills, powders, liquids, tea leaves, and other products that use herbs as the main ingredient to promote health. They are a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). And can also be called integrative medicine.

What is CAM?

CAM uses methods of healing that are not part of standard healthcare. Standard healthcare is treatment that has been tested, and found to be safe and effective, and approved by the FDA. Complementary medicine is any form of nonmainstream therapy used along with standard healthcare. It's used to help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. Alternative medicine is a nonmainstream approach used in place of standard healthcare.

Do herbal supplements work?

Most herbal supplements that claim to treat prostate cancer have not gone through a clinical trial. A clinical trial is a research study to test a treatment in humans. Other herbal supplements have been shown to slow or stop prostate cancer cell growth in lab studies. But lab studies are done on cancer cells, not people. An herbal supplement tested in a lab may not have the same effect on a person with prostate cancer. Clinical trials are needed to determine if there are safe and effective herbal supplements that can be used for prostate cancer.

Risks of herbal supplements

Herbal supplements may have risks, serious side effects, and interactions with prescribed and over-the-counter medicines you're taking. Some are unsafe for people with conditions such as blood-clotting problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Some herbal supplements have been taken off the market after serious warnings by the FDA.

Talking with your healthcare provider

Talk with your healthcare provider before taking any type of herbal supplement. They can help you learn what may help, and what may not be safe to use. Your healthcare provider will also make sure the supplement does not interact with a medicine you are already taking. An oncology pharmacist can also provide information about supplements and possible interactions with your medicines.

Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals RN BSN MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Sabrina Felson MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Susan K. Dempsey-Walls RN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2023
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