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Artemisinin and Cancer

Extract of Chinese Herb Fights Cancer
This Malaria Drug Also Kills Cancer Cells

By Robert Jay Rowen M.D.

Related article: Artemisinin-Angiogenesis

These days, it is not uncommon to hear about a therapy or nutrient that cures cancer. The problem is that few of them really work. I remember when shark cartilage was the new cure for cancer because, after all, sharks don’t get cancer. I work with a group of about 20 different doctors who try treatments like this, and we compare our results to find out what works and what doesn’t. Shark cartilage failed our tests miserably!

While I never recommend that my patients treat their cancer by themselves, there is now an herb I can recommend wholeheartedly that’s safe and can be used at home and in conjunction with doctor-administered therapies. This isn’t just a supplement to help build your immune system. This herb aggressively fights cancer. Just how effective is it? Let me introduce you to Donald, a 47-year-old mechanic who is in great shape. He had a newly diagnosed lymphoma and came to see me just after his oncologist had biopsied the tumor. There was an ugly egg-sized mass on the left side of his head with a gaping hole from the biopsy and an angry redness from inflammation.

I immediately put him on a derivative of this Chinese herb, and he took it for two weeks. At the end of that time, the lump developed a little depression in the center, but the perimeter had grown just slightly. Dejected that it didn’t significantly regress, he elected to stop further use of the product and take a “wait and see” approach. Four weeks later, I received a call from Donald. The tumor was gone! Returning with his wife and a big smile a few days later, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The skin was smooth, no mass was present, and the angry redness was fading fast.

Artemesia is a simple plant that grows in Southeast Asia. I’ve used it for years to treat intestinal parasites. The World Health Organization lauds it as a safe malaria treatment. I discovered the cancer connection when Drs. Henry Lai and Narenda Singh, bio-engineering professors at the University of Washington, reported on the active agent of this Asian herb (artemisinin). Their report said the herb “might provide a safe, non-toxic, and inexpensive alternative for cancer patients.” What I didn’t realize was that artemesia is a close cousin to oxygen therapy. Chinese researchers said the key to its effects was a peroxide linkage (two oxygen atoms hooked together) within the herb’s active molecule.

Remember our old friend hydrogen peroxide? All peroxides share a common feature. In the presence of free iron, they break down to form highly reactive oxygen-based free radicals. Malaria is a parasite (Plasmodium) that infects the iron-rich red blood cell and accumulates iron. While the body avidly shields iron in a bound-up state (hemoglobin, enzymes, etc.), excess iron accumulates in the parasite, and the accumulation allows some iron to spill out of the bound state and become free. When the artemisinin products contact the iron – boom! A huge burst of free radicals is unleashed, virtually blowing up the cell harboring the free iron and destroying the parasite.

Some seven years ago, Dr. Lai, aware of the high accumulation of iron in cancer cells, wondered if this same mechanism might work in cancer cells, wondered if this same mechanism might work in cancer treatment. He and his colleague, Dr. Singh, conducted experiments in laboratory cancer cells documenting a 100% kill rate of breast-cancer cells in just hours. More importantly, it left normal breast cells and white blood cells unscathed.

Then, one year ago, an article appeared in a major cancer journal demonstrating significant artemisinin anticancer activity in a wide variety of laboratory cultured cancer cells. But astonishingly, cancer’s resistance to common chemotherapy drugs shows no such resistance to artemisinin. It does not have the chemical structure a cancer cell requires to develop resistance! (This was reported recently in the International Journal of Oncology 18; 767-773, 2001 by Efferth, et al.)

I started using the herb’s derivatives in my cancer treatment program. Donald, mentioned earlier, was on of my first cases.

At about the same time, I continued to follow a long-term patient, a delightful 47-year-old female with stage-4 breast cancer. Diane was diagnosed only two years before with the promise of “we got it all” at her mastectomy. When shed came to me, she had developed metastases in her spine, which caused her to limp. A cancer-induced fracture in her vertebrae gave her significant pain and prevented her from performing the duties of her job. All the conventional doctors could offer was full-dose chemotherapy at a horrific toll on the quality of her life, but they also confided honestly that there was no hope it would lead to a cure.

She chose alternatives instead, receiving insulin potentiation therapy (IPT), high-dose nutritional therapy, dietary changes, dendritic cell vaccine, multi-step oxygen therapy, and more. All of her symptoms regressed, but the CT showed no change. After a short course of artemisinin derivatives, she reported back to me that physically she couldn’t tell she had ever had cancer. She felt totally well. The CT scan showed regression, but there was no way to tell if the remaining lesion was a tumor or healing scar tissue. Results like this with absolutely no toxicity are simply amazing by any standards, convention or unconventional.

Carol came to see me with an unsightly, massive open, and oozing cancer engulfing what had been her whole left breast. She had been fighting the cancer for two years and, convinced on her own that doing conventional therapy was a death sentence, she explored nearly every option she could. She started an artemesia derivative and sent me photos one month later showing exceptional healing.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Hoang of Hanoi, Vietnam, whose family of physicians has been using artemisinin for about 10 years to treat cancer. He reports that 50 to 60 percent of 400 cancer patients have achieved long-term remission utilizing artemisinin together with a comprehensive integrative cancer strategy.

Dr. Singh is currently following many cancer patients. While not reporting remissions or apparent cures, he says all patients are responding and have at least stabilized. He has found no type of cancer unresponsive to Artemisia derivatives in his studies.

Dr. Hoang recommends treatment for two years. Cancer could be like the malaria parasite. If just one cell remains, it can find its way back. Thus, as in malaria, although the parasite is cleared in a few days, prolonged treatment best prevents relapse. And the beauty of this treatment is that it is non-toxic, so you can continue taking it indefinitely with no expected sided effects.

There are three common artemesia derivatives, and one must know the properties of each for best treatment. Artesunate is water soluble and may be the most active and the least toxic, but it has the shortest life within the body. Aremether is oil or lipid soluble and has the longest half-life. It also has the most toxicity (but this is related to rather high dosages, which are unnecessary). Its big advantage is that it can cross the blood-brain barrier to reach cancers in the nervous system. Artemisinin is the active parent compound of the plant. It has an intermediate half-life, is very safe, and also can cross the blood-brain barrier.

The first two are slightly altered semi-synthetic derivatives of artemisinin, the concentrated and purified active agent. Dr. Singh reports that a combination of the forms may be the very best treatment due to these different properties (based on a lab experiment). Thus, he feels the best preparation will contain artemisinin and artemether to provide a dose of 0.5 – 2 mg/Kg of each form once daily before bed (away from an residual iron left in the stomach after the evening meal). Dr. Hoang reports that 500 mg twice daily of oral artemisinin by itself is the dosage he has been using with great success.

The product is best taken on an empty stomach with some natural fat to enhance absorption. Any iron present from residual food may neutralize the peroxides. Mile is one of the few foods with minimal iron. Whole milk, cottage cheese or yogurt have ample fat to enhance absorption. Additionally, I believe simultaneous administration of cod liver oil (for its omega-3 and vitamin D) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) will assist absorption, while providing therapeutic benefits. To date, with the exception of patients very near death, taking artemisinin or derivatives have stabilized, improved, or remitted every cancer patient I have followed.

Please note that artemesia herb products are not the same as the concentrated forms of the derivatives I’ve described here. The highest concentration of artemisinin (the active agent) in the raw herb under the best conditions does not even get beyond one half percent. Furthermore, there’s concern by Dr. Singh that unscrupulous dealers will label artemisinin content without performing a proper analysis. Thus, he has tested some products, finding perhaps only 10 to 20% of anticancer activity against cultured cancer cells compared to pure artemisinin. Allergy Research Group distributes a high-grade artemisinin confirmed by independent lab analysis, which I recommend.

But, remember, it is not a singular therapy. It should be used in conjunction with a comprehensive cancer management strategy, together with the help of an integrative medicine physician or an open-minded oncologist. The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration

This is the experience of some physicians and should not be considered a treatment or cure for cancer. If it is used it should be under the care of a physician, and in conjunction with a comprehensive cancer management strategy.

Reprinted with permission from Dr. Rowen’s newsletter, Second Opinion, Atlanta Georgia

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