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I was treated for breast cancer with chemotherapy and surgery.

Q. Dear Terry, “I was treated for breast cancer with chemotherapy and surgery. I just started taking tamoxifen and was told I will probably experience hot flashes and leg cramps. What can I supplement with to try and prevent these side effects?” – Mary M., Oshkosh, WI

A. Dear Mary, I highly encourage you to discuss any supplementation with your healthcare team. With that being said, I have some recommendations that may be helpful.

Many of the side effects of tamoxifen are similar to menopause symptoms: hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and mood changes. When it comes to hot flashes, black cohosh is a safe and effective choice. Black cohosh appears to have estrogen effects and is called a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM). However, black cohosh does not have phytoestrogen content, which makes it safe to use for women with a history of breast cancer. In one clinical trial, 46 percent of the women taking black cohosh were free of hot flashes, while none in the placebo group were. For additional support, you could also consider adding in the adaptogenic herb Rhodiola rosea. Rhodiola is known to help with improving mood, energy, and the ability to cope with stress. Look for a rhodiola that is clinically studied and standardized for rosavins and salidrosides.

In a recently published study, a combination of black cohosh and rhodiola relieved menopause symptoms better than black cohosh by itself in just twelve weeks. The combination group was found to reduce menopause symptoms by 71%, including hot flashes, fatigue, stress, and restless sleep. I would take 413 mg of a combination of black cohosh and rhodiola twice per day.

To help with leg cramps, I think the following nutrients could be very beneficial: magnesium, vitamin B6, and zinc. Magnesium helps with muscle relaxation and resistance to nerve excitability. I strongly recommend vitamin B6 in the form of pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P) in combination with magnesium bisglycinate and zinc bisglycinate. I would take 10 mg of vitamin B6 (as P-5-P), 100 mg of magnesium (as magnesium bisglycinate chelate), and 5 mg of zinc (as zinc bisglycinate chelate) three to four times daily.

Healthy Regards!

Terry . . . Naturally

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Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.

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