What Is "Chemobrain" And Is There A Natural Treatment For It?

Linda A. Lee, M.D, Hopkins

Question: What is "chemobrain" and is there a natural treatment for it?

Answer:"Chemobrain" refers to cognitive changes that occur during chemotherapy and afterwards. What I mean by that is that patients who undergo therapy will complain of sort of having a fuzzy brain, having difficulty concentrating. They'll also complain that they can't perform multiple tasks at the same time and often their family members wonder what has happened to them. We don't really understand what causes "chemobrain" -- it is only seen with certain types of chemotherapy. However, there is a lot of research going on in this area, and it's possible that it had something to do with changes in blood flow in the brain as a result of chemotherapy or radiation. Or it may be related to the production of inflammatory chemicals in the brain or in the body also as a result of chemotherapy or radiation. There is also a lot of interest also looking at ginkgo, which supposedly has some ability to promote cognition. However, there are very limited studies available and none that I'm really aware of in the patients who've undergone chemotherapy. One of the problems with using ginkgo is that it can predispose to bleeding, so it probably should not be used by someone who has low platelets or is on a blood thinner or has other blood clotting problems.

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