Gastrointestinal symptoms at a glance

Gastrointestinal symptoms involve any upset to your gastrointestinal system—your esophagus, stomach, intestines, rectum, or anus, plus your liver, gallbladder and pancreas. These symptoms include nausea, heartburn, mucositisinflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract, usually as an adverse effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for cancer, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, and pain. These symptoms can be caused or triggered by cancer, by cancer treatments, by some medications and other medical conditions, and by other symptoms such as anxiety, depression, stress, or pain. 

Managing gastrointestinal symptoms can greatly improve your quality of life and also your overall health by affecting your body weight and your ability to complete cancer treatment.

Top practices and therapies for managing gastrointestinal symptoms

The effects of these practices and therapies are described on What approaches can help you manage gastrointestinal symptoms? ›

Therapies and practices we have reviewed

Constipation
Complementary therapies

Low-dose naltrexone ›

Yoga ›

Diarrhea
Heartburn/reflux or esophagitis
Self-care practices

Eating Well ›

Body position ›

Complementary therapies

Astragalus ›

Liver effects

Astragalus ›

Nausea and vomiting

Further therapies

Therapies recommended in clinical practice guidelines; see guidelines ›

Chinese herbal blends

Ginger

Hypnosis

Mind-body modalities (without mentioning specific therapies)

Music therapy

Authors

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher and writer for CancerChoices and also served as the first program manager. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher

Last update: January 8, 2024

Last full literature review: April 2022

CancerChoices provides information about integrativein cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care, and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocialtherapy, and acupuncture therapies and self carelifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

Our staff have no financial conflicts of interest to declare. We receive no funds from any manufacturers or retailers gaining financial profit by promoting or discouraging therapies mentioned on this site.