About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products

The majority of cancer patients use complementary therapies such as herbs and dietary supplements. Although figures differ, surveys indicate that as many as 60 percent of people with cancer take two or more dietary supplements daily.


Pictured: About Herbs App
About Herbs App
The About Herbs mobile app provides you with comprehensive, objective information about herbs, botanicals, supplements, complementary therapies, and more.
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Determining whether herbs, vitamins, and other over-the-counter dietary supplements would be helpful or harmful to you can be challenging. Will a substance work as the label states it will? Is it likely to interact with your cancer medicines? Is it worth the cost?  

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s About Herbs database, a tool for the public as well as healthcare professionals, can help you figure out the value of using common herbs and other dietary supplements.

A pharmacist and botanicals expert manages and continually updates the database with assistance from other MSK Integrative Medicine Service experts, providing you with objective and evidence-based information that can be helpful in judging a product’s:

  • traditional and proven uses
  • potential benefits
  • possible adverse effects
  • interactions with other herbs or medicines

Communicate with Us about Using Herbs and Dietary Supplements

Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products: FAQs
Many people have questions about using herbs, vitamins, and other dietary supplements during cancer treatment, or as a preventive measure. Find our experts’ answers to common questions.
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It’s important to tell your doctor or another qualified professional that you are using a dietary supplement. The reason for this is that an active ingredient in the product could interact with — increase or lessen — the effect of other medicines you’re taking.

People undergoing treatment for cancer should not receive any dietary supplements unless they’re prescribed by a doctor or given as part of a clinical trial that’s received Institutional Review Board approval.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not oversee labeling of any herbal, homeopathic, Ayurvedic or dietary supplement products, nor does it verify the ingredients of these products before they are sold directly to consumers. Because unknown or altered ingredients may be present, we encourage you to discuss this policy or any safety concerns you may have with your doctor.