How do integrative experts manage gastrointestinal symptoms?

Both medical groups and integrative experts provide recommendations for managing fatigue. Learn more about the approaches and meanings of recommendations.

Clinical practice guidelines

Recommendations to treat nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy or radiotherapy:

  • Mind-body modalities as part of multidisciplinary approach
  • Acupuncture or related techniques, as adjunct treatment
Chinese medicine clinical service

Development of evidence-based Chinese medicine clinical service recommendations for cancer palliative care using Delphi Approach based on the evidence to decision framework ›

A survey of experts published in 2020 found consensus to recommend moxibustion for reducing nausea and vomiting among patients receiving chemotherapy.

Recommendations: 

  • Specific herbal blends for each pattern of constipation
  • Acupuncture at specific points for three of the four patterns of constipation

Recommend rikkunshito in addition to standard conventional therapy

Complementary therapies used to treat nausea and vomiting:

  • Acupressure
  • Acupuncture
  • Guided imagery
  • Hypnosis
  • Music therapy
  • Relaxation techniques

Shown to be helpful for anticipatory nausea and vomiting:

  • Guided imagery
  • Hypnosis

Things you can try that may help with nausea and vomiting:

  • Hydration
Shanghai Association of Chinese Integrative Medicine multidisciplinary working group

Clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of primary liver cancer with integrative traditional Chinese and Western medicine ›

Weak recommendation for acupuncture and moxibustion to relieve gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting

Society for Integrative Oncology

Two guidelines discuss managing nausea and vomiting among people with cancer.

Clinical practice guidelines on the evidence-based use of integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment › This set of guidelines has been endorsed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).1Lyman GH, Greenlee H et al. Integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment: ASCO endorsement of the SIO clinical practice guideline. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2018 Sep 1;36(25):2647-2655.

Recommendations to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

These therapies can be considered as an addition to anti-emetics drugs to control nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy:

  • Acupressure
  • Acupuncture
  • Electroacupuncture
  • Ginger
  • Relaxation techniques

Insufficient evidence for treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting:

  • Agaricus silvaticus
  • Aromatherapy
  • Yoga

Should not be recommended:

Glutamine should not be recommended for improving nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy

Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology: complementary therapies and botanicals ›

Recommendation: acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy or surgical anesthesia (strong recommendation)

Integrative programs and protocols

Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO, and Karolyn Gazella

Approaches are described for certain cancer types, or along with certain conventional therapy treatments, or for particular conditions including gastrointestinal symptoms.

Keith Block, MD

Block KI. Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Care. New York: Bantam Dell. 2009.

The integrative Block Program has recommendations to people who are at different places along the cancer continuum:

  • Those who’ve been recently diagnosed
  • Those in treatment
  • Those who’ve concluded treatment and need to remain vigilant to prevent recurrence

Raymond Chang, MD, FACP

Chang R. Beyond the Magic Bullet: The Anti-Cancer Cocktail. New York: Square One Publishers. 2012.

This book describes a “new therapy based on the knowledge that certain off-label drugs, nutrients, and therapies are each somewhat effective against cancer.” Dr. Chang combines approaches for added benefit.

Neil McKinney, BSc, ND

McKinney N. Naturopathic Oncology, Fourth Edition. Victoria, BC, Canada: Liaison Press. 2020.

This book includes descriptions and uses of many natural and complementary protocols for cancer in general and for specific cancers. It also includes information on integrative support during conventional cancer treatment.

Gurdev Parmar, ND, FABNO, and Tina Kaczor, ND, FABNO

Parmar G, Kaczor T. Textbook of Naturopathic Oncology: A Desktop Guide of Integrative Cancer Care. 1st edition. Medicatrix Holdings Ltd. 2020.

This book provides information on the treatment of 24 cancers, plus the most effective treatments of the most common symptoms affecting cancer patients while they undergo chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery.

Traditional medicine

Practitioners of traditional medical systems offer therapies and approaches to manage gastrointestinal symptoms. Several traditional Chinese therapies are described above in clinical practice guidelines.

Learn more about traditional medicine and how to find practitioners.

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.

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