Naturally Manage Chemotherapy Induced Leukopenia / Neutropenia

Managing Leukopenia / Neutropenia

One of the most serious potential side effects of chemotherapy is neutropenia (a low white blood cell count).

As the chemotherapy destroys cancer cells, it may also destroy white blood cells. These cells are the body’s main defense against infection.

Because severe neutropenia often shortens and/or delays treatment and requires hospitalization, reducing myelosuppression would allow for better outcomes from chemotherapy. (1)

Supplements That May Help Manage Leukopenia / Neutropenia

Metatrol Pro, Avemar

Supplementation of fermented wheat germ extract (Metatrol Pro, Avemar)(2) in pediatric cancer patients reduced incidence of febrile neutropenic episodes (24.8%) versus (43.4%) in the control group.

Other things to consider include selenium, astragalus (3, 4), shark liver alkylglycerols, Protectival (5, 6), melatonin, medicinal mushrooms (see below) and/or probiotics.


Protectival™ (clinical trial name: LCS101) by LifeBiotic is an extract from 14 different bioactive botanicals.

LCS101 was developed based on the principles of Chinese herbal medicine.

LCS101 consists of a mixture of varying quantities of dry powdered extracts of the following Chinese medicinal herbs: Astragalus membranaceus; Atractylodes macrocephala; Citrus reticulate; Glehnia littoralis; Ligustrum lucidum; Lycium chinense; Milletia reticulate; Oldenlandia diffusa; Ophiopogon japonicus; Paeonia lactiflora; Paeonia obovata; Poriae cocos; Prunella vulgaris; and Scutellaria barbata.

In addition to the vast body of scientific evidence regarding these ingredients and their therapeutic effects, Protectival was subjected to rigorous testing, including a randomized, controlled, double blind clinical study in breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. (7)

The study concluded that adding LCS101 to anthracycline- and taxane-based chemotherapy is safe and well tolerated, and may significantly prevent chemotherapy-induced hematological toxicities.


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Mushrooms have been used for at least 5000 years for nutritional and medicinal purposes.

Six components of these mushrooms have been investigated for their activity in human cancers: the lentinan component of shiitake, schizophyllan, active hexose correlated compound (AHCC), maitake D-fraction and two components of Coriolus (Trametes) versicolor (Turkey Tail) (8, 9, 10, 11).

Mushrooms are reported to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular-protective, antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, and anticancer properties.

It is well-established that mushrooms are adept at immune modulation and affect hematopoietic stem cells, lymphocytes, macrophages, T cells, dendritic cells (DCs), and natural killer (NK) cells. (12)

Extensive research over the last 40 years has demonstrated that mushrooms have potent antineoplastic properties that slow growth of tumors, regulate tumor genes, decrease tumoral angioneogenesis, and increase malignant-cell phagocytosis.

Additionally, evidence suggests that medicinal mushrooms may safely boost chemotherapeutic efficacy and simultaneously protect against bone marrow suppression.

A phase 1 clinical trial of Trametes versicolor in women with breast cancer reported increased lymphocyte counts, increased natural killer cell functional activity and dose-related increases in CD8(+) T cells and CD19(+) B cells. The study concluded that the Turkey Tail preparation may improve immune status in immunocompromised breast cancer patients following standard primary oncologic treatment. (13)

Turkey Tail mushroom is so widely used, it accounts for 25% of cancer care cost in Japan!

MD Anderson has a very comprehensive review of Coriolus versicolor that is worth reading in its entirety. (14)

Another study examined the effect of the MD-fraction from the maitake mushroom on cisplatin-induced myelosuppression in a mouse model. Mice given 8 mg/kg/d while treated with cisplatin did not experience a decrease in NK cells, DCs, and macrophages. (15)

Another study demonstrated that mice that had been immunosuppressed with cyclophosphamide and then subsequently treated with a water-soluble extract from reishi had an increase in red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), NK T cells, splenic NK cells, and a number of bone marrow cells. (16)


Melatonin supplements (10 mg a day) improve immune function in patients suffering from a variety of cancers, including gastric, renal, prostate, and bladder cancers, without any apparent adverse effects. (17)

Clinical studies support melatonin’s value, demonstrating that supplements of 20 mg a day can improve immune function in cancer patients, predominantly by enhancing the immunity driven by the two chief anti-tumor messengers, interleukin-2 and interleukin-12 (18)


Bacterial translocation via intestinal mucosa is a significant mechanism of febrile neutropenia development. Competitive inhibition of bowel colonization by pathogenic microorganisms by lactic acid bacteria (probiotics) could be a useful prophylaxis for neutropenia.

Your doctor may also prescribe a granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) such as NEUPOGEN (filgrastim). NEUPOGEN® (filgrastim) is indicated to decrease the incidence of infection‚ as manifested by febrile neutropenia‚ in patients with nonmyeloid malignancies receiving myelosuppressive anti-cancer drugs associated with a significant incidence of severe neutropenia with fever.

Parents of children with neuroblastoma may be advised to exercise caution here as there is some evidence to suggest that G-CSF could actually stimulate existing cancer.

You may also be interested in:

Naturally Manage Chemotherapy Induced Mucositis

Naturally Manage Chemotherapy Induced Cachexia (Weight Loss) and Hair Loss

Naturally Mitigate Neuropathy and Other Vincristine Side Effects

Applying Integrative Childhood Cancer Therapies

Evidence Based Integrative Approaches for Childhood Cancer: Audra & Justin Wilford of MaxLove Project

  1. Risk of mortality in patients with cancer who experience febrile neutropenia.
  2. Fermented Wheat Germ Extract Reduces Chemotherapy-Induced Febrile Neutropenia in Pediatric Cancer Patients.
  3. Effects of Astragalus Combined with Angelica on Bone Marrow Hematopoiesis Suppression Induced by Cyclophosphamide in Mice.
  4. Myelo-enhancement by astragalus membranaceus in male albino rats with chemotherapy myelo-suppression. Histological and immunohistochemical study.
  5. Yair Maimon “Research of botanical formula and its implication in cancer care”
  6. Protectival Presentation
  7. A prospective, controlled study of the botanical compound mixture LCS101 for chemotherapy-induced hematological complications in breast cancer.
  8. Polysaccharide K and Coriolus versicolor extracts for lung cancer: a systematic review.
  9. Preclinical and clinical studies of Coriolus versicolor polysaccharopeptide as an immunotherapeutic in China.
  10. Immunomodulatory effects of yun zhi and danshen capsules in health subjects–a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study.
  11. Efficacy of Yun Zhi (Coriolus versicolor) on survival in cancer patients: systematic review and meta-analysis.
  12. Immunomodulating and anticancer agents in the realm of macromycetes fungi (macrofungi).
  13. Phase 1 Clinical Trial of Trametes versicolor in Women with Breast Cancer.
  15. Maitake beta-glucan enhances therapeutic effect and reduces myelosupression and nephrotoxicity of cisplatin in mice.
  16. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides enhance the function of immunological effector cells in immunosuppressed mice.
  17. Melatonin as biological response modifier in cancer patients.
  18. A phase II study of neuroimmunotherapy with subcutaneous low-dose IL-2 plus the pineal hormone melatonin in untreatable advanced hematologic malignancies.