Liver Cancer
Answered by: Richters Staff
Question from: Joe Winn
Posted: Before April 1998

A good friend of mine has liver cancer. Do you have any suggestions?

Not being qualified as medical practitioners we cannot dispense medical advice. Your friend should consult a qualified health care provider before following any new course of treatment for his or her condition. The information provided here is for study and research purposes only.

John Boik, in his review of natural therapies, "Cancer & Natural Medicine" (Oregon Medical Press, Lawrence, Mass. 1995), mentions one Chinese study using a herbal formula called "Si Jun Zi Tang" which, in combination with radiotherapy, resulted in a five year survival rate of 43% for a group of 124 liver cancer patients. The five-year survival rate for liver cancer patients in the United States is about 6%. Asiatic ginseng (Panax ginseng) is one of the ingredients but Boik does not list the complete formula.

Hong-Yen Hsu, in his "Treating Cancer with Chinese Herbs" (Oriental Healing Arts Institute, Long Beach, Calif. 1982) lists several other Chinese formulae used traditionally to treat liver cancer. Herbs common in these formulae are dong quai (Angelica sinensis), milkvetch (Astragalus membranaceous), sage (Salvia miltiorrhiza) and scullcap (Scutelleria spp.) among others.

In Western herbal medicine there are many folkloric and traditional approaches to treating cancer. There is a wealth of anecdotal evidence to suggest that these may work for some cancers, but we are not aware of any clinical studies that prove their efficacy. Part of the problem may be historical bias against traditional methods of cancer treatment. Many of the traditional remedies have not been adequately tested in clinical studies even though at least some have rational bases for their use.

Some of the more popular are:

1. Essiac(R). Combination of burdock, sheep sorrel, slippery elm, and Chinese rhubarb. Burdock and Chinese rhubarb have been shown to have anti-cancer properties in animal studies. Shiela Snow’s book, "Essence of Essiac" (available from Richters) is a good review. It gives directions for making Essiac.

2. Taheebo or Pau d’Arco. A tropical tree whose bark is reported to have anti-cancer properties. In the 1960s the U.S. National Cancer Institute recorded some ethnobotanical evidence of its use in Brazil for a variety of cancers. Josip Gabre published an account of his personal experience using pau d’arco to treat cancer in his book "How I Beat Cancer" (published by the author, Josip Gabre, Thornhill, Canada, 1991). Kenneth Jones also has a book titled simply, "Pau D’Arco" (available from Richters) which has accounts of the folklore and scientific findings.

3. Wheatgrass. Juice of wheatgrass and strict dietary change. Eydie Mae Hunsberger and Chris Loeffler describe the former’s success in treating cancer in "How I Conquered Cancer Naturally" (Harvest House Publishers, Irvine, Calif., no date).

4. Detoxification approaches. Daniel Mowrey gives two formulae for detoxification and blood purification that may be useful adjuncts to cancer treatment in his book "Proven Herbal Formulas" (available from Richters). One formula includes red clover and chaparral and the other uses dandelion and yellow dock. Jethro Kloss uses similar formulae plus radical dietary change to achieve control. He gives a detailed account of his experiences in his book "Back to Eden" (available from Richters).

[Essiac is a registered trademark of the Resperin Corporation, Ottawa.]

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