My favourite natural anti-cancer remedies

  • 20 Oct 2015
  • Reading time 11 mins
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Many people diagnosed with cancer struggle with marrying the two camps of orthodox chemotherapy with natural approaches. Yet many of the best natural remedies improve the effect, and reduce the side-effects of the best chemotherapy drugs, so it does not need to be an ‘either or’ decision.

While the avoidance of developing cancer cells requires creating a chemical (and emotional) environment that stops healthy cells converting to cancer cells, it appears that this can also contain cancer cells and stop them from spreading and even help them revert to healthy cells. A paper published by Onodera and Bissell just this past year in the Journal of Clinical Investigation showed that breast cancer cells could be “reverted to a quiescent and normal phenotype if glucose (sugar) was removed from the medium in which these were cultivated.” I advocate a total avoidance of sugar, plus a low GL diet for all cancers, and a ketogenic diet, for those with brain cancer where it has proven most effective. High protein diets may not be the right approach for cancers that affect epithelial tissue eg in the gut, mouth and lung, since glutamine, an abundant amino acid in meat and dairy products, feeds epithelial cells.

Different cancers respond to different chemotherapy agents, be they natural or drug. However, knowing which ones will be most effective for a specific patient’s type of cancer is the key, and the research focus of a laboratory in Greece called the Research Genetic Cancer Centre. They have developed the ability to test a comprehensive panel of natural remedies, as well as chemotherapy drugs, against a person’s specific kind of cancer, from a blood sample containing their cancer cells. It is therefore possible to compare the likely efficacy of recommended drugs versus natural remedies, and also weigh up the long-term pros and cons given that heavy duty drugs often deplete immunity while many natural chemotherapy agents actually enhance it, so the patient feels better, not worse, at the end of treatment. Other labs are now offering similar chemosensitivity testing such as Biofocus in Germany. However, it is important to test the primary tumour cells not just circulating cancer cells. Also, cancer cells do mutate and all cancer experts I have interviewed recommend a multi-faceted approach, using combinations of many anti-cancer substances making it harder for the cancer cells to survive, grow and adapt.

These are my favourites bearing in mind that every cancer is different:

Megadose vitamin C

By far the best evidence exists for high dose vitamin C. There are over 20,000 published studies on vitamin C and cancer and several new ones every month exploring not whether vitamin C kills cancer cells but how exactly it does this. Last month the US National Institutes of Health, much like the UK’s NICE, published a ‘High Dose Vitamin C’ online guide for doctors and patients.1 While vitamin C, at low doses, acts as an anti-oxidant, at very high doses it acts as a pro-oxidant, selectively killing off cancer cells. There is some debate about whether it is possible to achieve high enough blood levels with mega-dosing vitamin C (at least 20 to 80 grams a day) enhanced by using liposomal vitamin C which means you can go higher before hitting ‘bowel tolerance’ or whether only intravenous vitamin C achieves high enough levels to kill cancer cells. Oral vitamin C is also of value in that it prevents the formation of gut carcinogens such as nitrosamines, which is really important for preventing colo-rectal cancer – the biggest killer of under 50 years olds.

High dose vitamin C has not only proven highly effective in killing off many different kinds of cancer cells, it has also been proven to be very safe with minimal side-effects.2 Other studies have shown that, in combination with certain chemotherapy drugs, it enhances their effectiveness and reduces their toxicity3 , allowing for lower drug doses and lesser adverse-effects4 . Intravenous vitamin C is usually given three times a week over a month. Dr Linus Pauling, who first showed the chemotherapeutic effect of vitamin C in 1976 by prolonging and saving the lives of terminal cancer patients, and was ridiculed at the time, deserves a big apology – especially from the Mayo Clinic who claimed to replicate his study but changed the design such that it would fail. IV vitamin C is not like conventional chemotherapy where you have a certain number of treatments then that’s it. It is important to keep going with high dose vitamin C, either having IV vitamin C over a number of months or, at least, maintaining high dose oral intake.

Curcumin from turmeric

My next favourite is curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric. It inhibits cancer cell growth in numerous ways and, like vitamin C, is non-toxic to healthy cells and generally health enhancing. Small human trials look promising but it’s early days yet. The stumbling block is that curcumin is very hard to absorb. However, the relatively recent developments of formulations of curcumin, in the form of nanoparticles, liposomes, micelles, or phospholipid complexes, is resolving this issue and clinical trials are underway.5 So far, the most bioavailable form seems to be Theracurmin6 , in which curcumin is bound to micelles to enhance absorption but there will be lots of competitive formulations. The more bioavailable the lower the dose needed.

Indole-3-carbinol (broccoli extract)

Given that breast and prostate cancer are the most prevalent cancers, both linked to excess circulating oestrogens and insulin (think sugar, dairy products and meat, as well as body fat which makes oestrogens) cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage and cauliflower contain natural oestrogen detoxifiers. These are called indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which converts to di-indolyl-methane (DIM), and sulforanes. While there’s an absence of clinical studies these compounds have clear anti-cancer effects including switching off cancer promoting genes.7 The inclusion of these foods in large quantities in vegetable juices ......

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