Fighting Cancer Without Chemotherapy: 8 Alternatives to Chemo and Radiation

Chemotherapy and radiation might be the most common way to target and treat cancer, but it’s not the only option. With many patients and physicians taking a closer look at the negative effects of both treatments — some of which are believed to be worse than cancer itself — alternatives to chemo and radiation are becoming more and more mainstream, making fighting cancer without chemotherapy possible for some.

We share eight alternatives that are considered effective in treating cancer without the help of chemotherapy and radiation.


Perhaps one of the most common alternatives to chemo and radiation, immunotherapy helps train the body’s immune system to fight certain diseases, including cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the alternative treatment works by “stimulating your own immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells” through immune system proteins.

There are a few different types of immunotherapy treatments — and others currently being studied — that work to treat cancer in a few different ways. Some of the treatments focus on boosting the immune system overall while others train it to recognize and attack cancer cells.

A freshly squeezed orange juice in a glass

Plant-based diets and raw juice are key to Gerson Therapy. | Canovass/iStock/Getty Images

Gerson Therapy and juicing

Some experts believe you can get rid of cancer naturally through diet — and, in some cases, they are correct. For over 90 years, Dr. Max Gerson’s “Gerson Therapy” has remained one of the most effective alternatives to chemo and radiation and has helped hundreds of patients heal naturally.

Gerson Therapy calls for a massive diet change where patients can only consume organic vegetables, fruits, and sprouted ancient grains. Also, it asks patients to take certain supplements, perform coffee enemas, drink raw juice, and eat beef liver, as it is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet and contains high traces of vitamin B-12.

According to the Gerson Institute, the overall goal of the therapy and diet is to activate “the body’s extraordinary ability to heal itself through an organic, plant-based diet, raw juices, coffee enemas, and natural supplements.”

Proteolytic Enzyme Therapy

Dr. Max Gerson wasn’t the only doctor to take a deep dive into the power of plant-based. In 1906, a man by the name of John Beard came up with the idea that pancreatic enzymes can serve as the body’s biggest protector against cancer. Nicholas J. Gonzalez, MD later studied this proclamation and found to have some success.

As it turns out, one of the suspected causes of cancer is the body’s autonomic nervous system, which consists of two separate nervous systems called sympathetic (fight or flight) and autonomic (rest and digest). The goal in Gonzalez’s work is to balance both systems through a vegetarian diet, as it can suppress the sympathetic system.

In addition to a diet change, the therapy focuses its efforts on reducing inflammation through proteolytic enzymes. Physicians that use this treatment recommend five grams of enzymes three times daily.


Many of the natural alternatives to chemo and radiation take a closer look at diet — and for a good reason. While it is best to change your diet under a physician’s watch, it doesn’t hurt to add cancer-fighting ingredients and cut out things like processed foods and an abundance of meat.

Some foods to consider are:

  • Fruits and vegetables: These are the stars of many cancer diets and therapies as they contain an abundance of healthy vitamins and minerals that can help combat cancer. Some of the most beneficial fruits and vegetables include garlic, onions, tomato, and grapes.
  • Turmeric: According to the Mayo Clinic, the curcumin found in turmeric “may help prevent or treat cancer.” That’s because curcumin has antioxidant properties that help to subside inflammation and swelling.
  • Green tea: Like turmeric, green tea is high in antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and swelling. Also, some studies show that the epigallocatechin-3 gallate — a non-toxic chemical abundant in green tea — can put up a defense against the urokinase enzyme that causes cancer growth.

High-dose vitamin C

It’s no secret that vitamin C does the body good — but can it cure cancer? According to some reports, maybe. Researchers have found that high-dose vitamin C treatments can prolong the life of cancer patients and even help reduce certain symptoms. This type of treatment is often used by holistic cancer doctors — and proven successful — but has not gone through proper clinical trials to back that up on a conventional level.

Small bottle of essential yarrow oil

Some experts believe frankincense essential oil can reduce cancer. | kazmulka/iStock/Getty Images

Frankincense Essential Oil Therapy

Essential oils might also be beneficial for fighting cancer without chemotherapy. German biochemist, Dr. Johanna Budwig believed frankincense essential oil was a powerful tool in fighting off cancer, specifically brain cancer. As it turns out, he might have been right.

Modern research trials show that Indian Frankincense might work as a natural alternative to chemo and radiation for brain, colon, breast, pancreatic, stomach, and prostate cancer. Researchers at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas believe the reason is that frankincense can promote healing by influencing the genes.

Frankincense essential oil therapy requires an application of the oil on the neck three times a day. Also, it asks patients to consume a mixture of frankincense essential oil and water (three drops oil to eight ounces of water) three times a day.

Oxygen Therapy and Hyperbaric Chambers

Another common alternative to chemo and radiation is oxygen therapy and hyperbaric chambers. According to the Mayo Clinic, this type of treatment is linked to many different ailments and diseases, including AIDS/HIV, Alzheimer’s disease, Bell’s palsy, and Fibromyalgia. But, perhaps one of its most impressive abilities is the way it targets cancer.

According to Dr. Otto Warburg, the cause of cancer is oxygen deficiency, as it creates an acidic environment in the body, which causes cancer to thrive. Also, he believed that cancer cells can’t breathe oxygen and therefore don’t survive in a more alkaline state. Through that idea, oxygen therapy and hyperbaric chambers might be able to cure cancer without harsher treatments.

Since hyperbaric oxygen chambers have an air pressure level 2.5 times higher than average atmospheric pressure, the chamber forces the body to hold more oxygens. As a result, the blood delivers higher levels of oxygen to organs and tissues, which can have a damaging effect on cancer cells.

While this type of treatment is believed to have promising effects on cancer patients, it’s not considered conventional yet. However, some hospitals are looking further into its ability to fight cancer and even purchased some chambers.

Integrative Medicine

Some cancer patients — and physicians — believe chemotherapy and radiation are worse than cancer itself. And while that might be true, it doesn’t take away from the success rate of both cancer treatments. However, with alternative and holistic treatments becoming more mainstream, doctors and holistic healers have worked together to create a balanced treatment plan known as Integrative Medicine.

According to Oasis of Hope Hospital, Integrative Medicine “combines conventional medicine with alternative interventions that help overcome and compensate for the deficiencies of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.” Traditional medicine — aka chemo and radiation — might still be used to treat aggressive tumors, but the alternative approach works in tandem to make tumors more vulnerable to the mainstream treatments, helping to preserve the immune system and create a better tolerance to chemotherapy.

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