Review Article

Understanding CAM Natural Health Products: Implications of Use Among Cancer Patients and Survivors

Judith M. Fouladbakhsh, RN, PhD, PHCNS, AHN-BC, Lynda Balneaves, RN, PhD, and Elizabeth Jenuwine, PhD

From College of Nursing, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan; School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence to: Judith M. Fouladbakhsh, RN, PhD, PHCNS, AHN-BC, Wayne State University, College of Nursing, 5557 Cass Avenue, Room 238, Detroit, MI 48202. E-mail: dr.j@wayne.edu


J Adv Pract Oncol 2013;4:289–306 | DOI: 10.6004/jadpro.2013.4.5.2 | © 2013 Harborside Press®


  

ABSTRACT

Herbs, vitamins, and other natural health products are being used by cancer patients and survivors with increasing prevalence in the United States. These complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) products, which are also referred to as natural health products in Canada and abroad, are used during cancer treatment and the survivorship period to ease the burden of symptoms such as pain, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and depression and hence improve overall quality of life. Data indicate that while patients choose these products for self-treatment, they often do not inform their health-care providers, thereby presenting the potential for negative interactions. This article gives an overview of CAM natural health products, including discussion of herbs, vitamins, and other supplements such as minerals, enzymes, and more. Related research is presented, and implications for advanced practitioners are discussed. Insights into guiding safe and effective use among patients as well as appropriate decision-making strategies are explored.

 




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