Nutritional supplements like Damiana have many health benefits and are being widely used by cancer patients and those at-genetic-risk of cancer. But, is it safe to take Damiana supplements for all types of cancer and without considering any ongoing treatments and other lifestyle conditions? A common belief but only a myth is that anything natural can only benefit me or do no harm. As one example, the use of grapefruit with certain medications is not recommended. Another example, the use of spinach with some blood thinning medications can cause adverse interactions and should be avoided. For cancer, nutrition which includes the food and natural supplements has been shown to influence outcomes. Hence a frequently asked question by cancer patients to dieticians and doctors is “What Should I eat and What Should I Avoid?”.
Taking nutritional Damiana supplements can benefit Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia patients on Trametinib cancer treatment. But avoid Damiana supplements if on Venetoclax treatment for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Similarly, taking nutritional supplement Damiana can benefit healthy individuals who are at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene CEBPA. But avoid taking nutritional supplement Damiana when at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene PALB2.
The takeaway being – your individual context will influence your decision if nutritional supplement Damiana is safe or not. And also that this decision needs to be constantly revisited as conditions change. Conditions like cancer type, current ongoing treatments and supplements, age, gender, weight, height, lifestyle and any genetic mutations identified matter. So a legitimate question for you to ask for any recommendation of food and natural supplement is how it is related to your individual context.
Nutritional supplements – vitamins, herbs, minerals, probiotics, and other specialty categories are increasing. Supplements are high concentrations of active ingredients which are also found in different foods. The difference being foods contain more than one active ingredient at lower diffused concentrations. Remember that each of these ingredients has its own science and biological mechanism at molecular level – hence choose the right combination of supplements like Damiana based on individual context and conditions.
So the question is should you take the supplement Damiana? Should you take it when at genetic risk of cancer for mutation of gene PALB2? Should you take it when at genetic risk of cancer for mutation of gene CEBPA? Should you take it when diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma? Should you take Damiana supplements when diagnosed with Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia? Should you take it when on Venetoclax treatment? Should you continue taking Damiana supplements if you change your treatment from Venetoclax to Trametinib? So a general explanation like – it is natural or it increases immunity may not be acceptable and sufficient for choosing Damiana.
Cancer remains an unsolved problem statement. The improved availability of personalized treatments and monitoring of cancer via blood and saliva have been significant factors to improve outcomes. The earlier the intervention – the better the influence on outcome. Genetic testing has the potential to assess cancer risk and susceptibility early. But besides regular monitoring in most cases there are no therapeutic intervention options available. After diagnosis with cancer such as Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma or Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia, the treatments get personalized to tumor genomics and factors like staging of disease, age and gender. During cancer remission (after treatment cycle is complete) – monitoring is used for assessment of any relapse and accordingly decide next steps. A large majority of cancer patients and those at-risk do take nutritional supplements like Damiana.
So the question is that are all genetic mutation risks and types of cancers to be considered as one when deciding the use of Damiana? Are the biochemical pathway implications of genetic risk for cancer due to mutation of gene PALB2 the same as due to mutation of gene CEBPA? Are the implications of taking Damiana supplement in Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma the same as Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia? Is it one and the same if you are on treatment Venetoclax or on Trametinib?
Damiana – A Nutritional Supplement
Damiana, also known as Turnera diffusa, is a small shrub with aromatic flowers, native to southern Texas in the United States, Central America, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean. The leaves and stem of Damiana are considered to have medicinal properties. Damiana has been traditionally used as an aphrodisiac and also for stomach problems.
Damiana supplements contain many active ingredients including Acacetin, Apigenin, Arbutin beta-Carotene and Caffeine at different concentration levels. The molecular pathways which are regulated by Damiana include Vitamin D Signaling, PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling, Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress, Stem Cell Signaling and Cell Cycle Checkpoints. These cellular pathways directly or indirectly regulate specific cancer molecular endpoints like growth, spread and death. Because of this biological regulation – for cancer nutrition, the right choice of supplements like Damiana individually or in combination is an important decision to be made. When making decisions on the use of supplement Damiana for cancer – do consider all these factors and explanations. Because just as true for cancer treatments – Damiana use cannot be a one-size-fits-all decision for all types of cancers.
Choosing Damiana Supplements for Your Cancer
The reason there is no easy way to answer the question “When should I avoid Damiana for Cancer” is because “It Depends!”. Just like the same treatment does not work for every cancer patient, based on your individual context the Damiana may be harmful or safe. Along with which cancer and associated genetics – the ongoing treatments, supplements, lifestyle habits, BMI and allergies are all factors deciding if Damiana should be avoided or not and why.
1. Will Damiana Supplements benefit Cancer Patients with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma undergoing Venetoclax treatment?
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like KMT2D and CREBBP leading to biochemical pathway changes in Vitamin D Signaling, Cell Cycle Checkpoints, PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling, P53 Signaling and Cancer Epigenetics. A cancer treatment like Venetoclax works through a specific pathway mechanism of action. The goal is to have a good overlap between the treatment and cancer driving pathways for a personalized approach which is effective. In such a condition any food or nutritional supplement which has a contrary effect to the treatment or reduces the overlap should be avoided. As an example, Damiana should be avoided for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma along with treatment Venetoclax. Damiana impacts pathways/processes like Vitamin D Signaling and Cell Cycle Checkpoints which either promote drivers of the disease and/or nullify the treatment effect. Additionally, Damiana supplements contain active ingredients like Acacetin, Apigenin, beta-Carotene and Caffeine which have CYP3A4/CYP3A5 interactions with Venetoclax treatment and hence should be avoided by patients undergoing this treatment. (Kevin J Freise et al, J Clin Pharmacol., 2017; Yunfang Zhou et al, Chem Biol Interact., 2020; Darija Šarić Mustapić et al, Molecules., 2018; Kun Wang et al, Toxicol Sci., 2006; Thomas R. Larsonand and Larry R. Masterson, Biophysical Journal, 2016) Some of the factors which should be considered when choosing nutrition are type of cancer, treatments and supplements being taken currently (if any), age, gender, BMI, lifestyle and any genetic mutation information (if available).
2. Will Damiana Supplements benefit Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia Patients undergoing Trametinib Cancer Treatment?
Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like PTPN11 and NRAS leading to biochemical pathway changes in PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling, RAS-RAF Signaling, JAK-STAT Signaling, MAPK Signaling and MYC Signaling. A cancer treatment like Trametinib works through specific pathway mechanisms. The goal is to have a good overlap between the treatment and cancer driving pathways for a personalized approach. In such a condition any food or nutritional supplement which has a compatible effect to the treatment or reduces the overlap should be considered. As an example, Damiana supplement should be considered for Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia along with treatment Trametinib. Damiana supplement impacts pathways/processes like PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling and RAS-RAF Signaling which either obstruct drivers of Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia and/or improve Trametinib treatment effect.
Foods to Eat After Cancer Diagnosis!
No two cancers are the same. Go beyond the common nutrition guidelines for everyone and make personalized decisions about food and supplements with confidence.
3. Are Damiana Supplements Safe for Healthy Individuals with PALB2 Mutation Associated Genetic Risk?
Different companies offer panels of genes to be tested for assessing genetic risk to different cancers. These panels cover genes associated with cancers of the breast, ovary, uterus, prostate, and gastrointestinal system and others. Genetic testing of these genes may confirm a diagnosis and help guide treatment and management decisions. Identification of a disease-causing variant may also guide testing and diagnosis of at-risk relatives. PALB2 is one of the genes generally available in panels for cancer risk testing.
PALB2 mutation causes biochemical pathways/processes like Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress, Stem Cell Signaling, Estrogen Signaling, Growth Factor Signaling and Angiogenesis to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Damiana should be avoided when the genetic panel identifies mutation of PALB2 for Breast Cancer and Kidney Cancer. Damiana impacts pathways/processes like Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Stem Cell Signaling and creates adverse effects with PALB2 and related conditions.
4. Are Damiana Supplements Safe for Healthy Individuals with CEBPA Mutation Associated Genetic Risk?
CEBPA is one of the genes available in panels for cancer risk testing. CEBPA mutation causes biochemical pathways/processes like Stem Cell Signaling, JAK-STAT Signaling, RUNX Signaling, Hypoxia and Nucleotide metabolism to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Consider taking Damiana supplements when the genetic panel identifies mutation in CEBPA for Hematological Cancer. Damiana impacts pathways/processes like Stem Cell Signaling and JAK-STAT Signaling and creates a supportive effect in those with CEBPA mutation and related conditions.
* Other Factors are also included like BMI, Treatments, Lifestyle Habits
The two most important things to remember are that cancer treatments and nutrition are never the same for everyone. Nutrition which includes food and nutritional supplements like Damiana, is an effective tool which can be controlled by you, while facing cancer.
What food you eat and which supplements you take is a decision you make. Your decision should include consideration of the cancer gene mutations, which cancer, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, lifestyle information, weight, height and habits.
The nutrition planning for cancer from addon is not based on internet searches. It automates the decision making for you based on molecular science implemented by our scientists and software engineers. Irrespective of whether you care to understand the underlying biochemical molecular pathways or not - for nutrition planning for cancer that understanding is needed.
Get started NOW with your nutrition planning by answering questions on the name of cancer, genetic mutations, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, habits, lifestyle, age group and gender.
Personalized Nutrition for Cancer!
Cancer changes with time. Customize and modify your nutrition based on cancer indication, treatments, lifestyle, food preferences, allergies and other factors.
Cancer patients often have to deal with different chemotherapy side effects which affect their quality of life and look out for alternative therapies for cancer. Taking the right nutrition and supplements based on scientific considerations (avoiding guesswork and random selection) is the best natural remedy for cancer and treatment related side-effects.