'Chemo brain' confirmed! Here's how to prevent the damage

Your oncologist has given you the good news you've been waiting for: There's no trace of the tumor left, and you're officially cancer free.

You should feel like celebrating. But instead, you feel downright awful -- and it's not just because you're worn out from a battle with this deadly disease.

Something feels wrong upstairs; your brain doesn't seem like it's firing on all cylinders. You can't think straight... can't concentrate... and can't even remember what you had for breakfast some days, much less anything important.

Complain to your doctor and he'll likely leave you feeling like an ingrate. After all, he did his job and got rid of the cancer.

He might even suggest the problem is all in your head.

It IS in your head all right, but not in the way he means it.

New research confirms that chemotherapy causes real and lasting damage in the brain, leading to so-called "chemo brain" that can make it almost impossible to focus.

A normal brain has the ability to concentrate and focus at certain times, especially when you're working on a task, and wander off at other times. But brain scans on women who had chemotherapy for breast cancer reveal they can't focus on tasks no matter how hard they try.

The brains were stuck in "wander" mode and unable to shift out of it, according to the study in the journal Clinical Neurophysiology. Even when the women thought they were concentrating, brain activity showed their brains were actually "chronically wandering."

And even when they thought they were relaxing, their minds were still wandering, showing more activity than the brains of healthy women.

So the problem is very real. And what makes the condition so frustrating is that it doesn't end with the last chemo treatment.

For some women, chemo brain can last months or years, and some women say they never feel quite right again.

Fortunately, there are some natural strategies that can help limit the toxic side effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, including the terrible threesome of nausea, fatigue and "chemo brain."

You won't hear about them from your typical oncologist, which is why it's important to work closely with a holistic medical doctor even if you choose mainstream cancer treatments.

And for complete natural cancer care in Southern California, make an appointment to see me at my clinic in the San Diego area.

Not in the area? I can also offer advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.