Natural Cancer Treatments: An Extensive Guide

 

Everybody has a neat trick up their sleeve when it comes to treating something wrong with the body in a natural way. Drinking 10 limes freshly juiced and massaging the abdomen with the knuckles for an upset stomach. Drinking a raw egg or two when you lose your voice. Or mixing boiled honey and fresh lemon juice and drinking it for a sore throat. Chinese medicine and natural healing techniques have been used for centuries before modern medicine came up with cures and over-the-counter medication for everything. What are the natural cancer treatments?  How do natural cancer treatments affect the brain? What is Gerson Therapy, the Budwig Protocol, Proteolytic Enzyme Therapy, and Oxygen Therapy? Do these treatments actually work and cure cancer?

Natural cancer treatments
Natural cancer treatments

What is a natural cancer treatment?

Cancer is a hard condition and the effects of both cancer and effects cancer treatments can be even harder on a person. Some people decide to opt for alternative and natural cancer treatments rather than use remedies such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and radiation therapy. Some doctors refer to these therapies as CAM, which stands for complementary and alternative medicine.

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It’s very important to keep in mind that alternative treatment methods that are labeled as “natural” don’t mean that they are good or that “natural” translates to “healing”. These treatments may even have the opposite adverse effects than intended. Some natural cancer treatments claim to heal but lack scientific evidence to support this claim. Others even contradict the claims. Using natural remedies should always be discussed with your doctor.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a condition that develops when healthy, normal cells begin to divide, multiply, and grow out of control. There are many different types of cancer but each type of cancerous cells grow and re-divide rather than dying and form more and more abnormal cells.

A bit of history of cancer treatments

Although there is no sure-fire way, one-size-fits-all, cancer treatment many people are able to extend their lives via cancer treatments. The history of cancer treatments is incredibly interesting, too! While the earliest case of cancer ever recorded was breast cancer in ancient Egypt in 1500 BC, there were no recorded cancer treatments. The only thing we know is that ancient Egyptians used palliative care (the act of treating the symptoms, not the cause of a condition). Natural cancer treatments have been used, aside from surgery, until the anticancer drugs came about in the 1940s.

Natural Cancer Treatments

Natural Cancer Treatments: Acupuncture

Acupuncture is used to treat both cancer and cancer treatment symptoms alike. A number of hospitals are now integrating it into their cancer care programs such as Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) in Boston, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. According to one scientific review, acupuncture can relieve the symptoms of depression, anxiety, hot flashes, fatigue, neuropathy, leukopenia, insomnia, and dyspnea.  

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Natural Cancer Treatments: Hypnosis

Hypnosis itself isn’t enough to cure cancer. However, studies have proven that it can be used as an adjunctive therapy to help reduce the stress left on the already-tired cancer-fighting body as well as fight off pain and nausea during cancer treatments such as chemotherapy. In short, while hypnosis by itself isn’t enough to completely cure cancer, hypnosis and cognitive behavioral training can be used to reduce nausea and pain during other cancer treatments.

Natural cancer treatments
Natural cancer treatments- exercising can help reduce and manage cancer symptoms during and after treatment

Natural Cancer Treatments: Exercise

While sadly you can’t “run off” cancer like you can a bad mood, exercising is a  great natural cancer treatments that can help reduce and manage cancer symptoms. There are numerous studies that have shown that people who exercise with cancer live longer and improve their overall life quality than those who don’t. However, it’s used as an adjunctive therapy, not a complete treatment.  

Natural Cancer Treatments: Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation Techniques such as meditation, music therapy, Tai Chi, yoga, massage, and aromatherapy aren’t cures in themselves, but they are often used to lessen the symptoms of cancer and help the treatment process by being adjunctive treatments. According to one study, relaxation training and techniques should be used routinely for acute medical cancer treatment. The study showed that implementing relaxation techniques can reduce treatment-related symptoms and improve emotional adjustment. Another clinical study showed that cognitive behavioral training paired with relaxation techniques actually reduce pain during cancer treatments such as radiotherapy, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy.

Natural Cancer Treatments: Drinks

Rooibos tea, a supplement found only in the Cederberg region of Western Cape, South Africa, is a type of tea that is known for its flavor and healing benefits. The plant that reaps the tea has been found to contain anti-cancer properties in both in vivo and in in vitro animals. Furthermore, other research has shown that the tea, which is herbal, not caffeinated, has some ingredients that can reduce liver and esophageal cancers as well as skin tumors. The Cancer Association of South Africa has actually endorsed Rooibos tea as a form of natural chemoprevention– meaning that the tea can help in preventing and possibly reducing the growth of cancer cells within the body. South Africa is now funding research projects whose goal is to find and identify the active ingredients in the tea that can theoretically help fight cancer.

Natural cancer treatments
Natural cancer treatments- Rooibos tea is a highly used natural cancer treatment in South Africa

Natural Cancer Treatments: Food

Annona Muricata, better known as soursop, guyabano, or graviola, is a fruit eaten by many indigenous communities in parts of North Africa and South America. When scientifically tested, this fruit showed that several parts of it contained high levels of anti-cancer properties. This anti-cancer effect was even stronger when the fruit was eaten as an adjunct treatment to cancer. Other research has shown that the leaves from the fruit have active anti-cancer properties that help kill the cancer cells in breast, colon, prostate, pancreatic, and lung cancers. The seeds from the fruit have the same effect that chemotherapy would in lung, oral, and breast cancers. The fruit itself has lots of anti-cancer potential for prostate cancers. Traditionally, the fruit is eaten while the leaves and roots are crushed or brewed for consumption. However, nowadays there are extracts of the active ingredients that are anti-cancer which are made into tablets and sold commercially.

Like the annona muricata, Sutherlandia Frutescens is a plant that is indigenous to Southern Africa and is commonly used as a traditional medicine. It’s a bitter tasting bushy plant. Studies have shown that it contains some anti-cancer properties that help to fight against lung, prostate, breast, liver, and esophageal cancers. Nicknamed cancer bush, other studies have thought that it might be a promising adjunctive therapy to fight cancer. Ongoing clinical studies have so far proven that there are no negative side effects to using the plant medically and that it may act as an immune system stimulant which is helpful when going through cancer treatments such as chemotherapy. Like the annona muricata, it’s been made into tablet form and sold commercially.

Coix seed is part of traditional Chinese medicine. Kanglaite, an anti-tumor drug that was developed by modern technology, contains coix seed extracts. Furthermore, research has shown that Kanglaite has an anti-cancer effect on liver, lung, and gastric cancers. It’s passed three clinical trials and is now marketed to be a conventional therapy. Other people try using a coffee enema which is the process of injecting coffee via the anus to help cleanse the large intestine and rectum.

Recently, turmeric has been the hype as a “fix-it-all” food. Clinical studies have shown that curcumin, a component found in turmeric root, has the ability and power to help treat cancer symptoms- including fighting inflammation! Turmeric has been found to have the same anti-inflammation control as drugs such as Tylenol. Curcumin helps to promote the production of many antioxidants in the body such as glutathione which can help prevent stress and damage done to the organs during cancer and in general.

Natural Cancer Treatments: Supplements and Vitamins

There are loads and loads of supplements recommended to take to fight off cancer with the most prominent being Vitamin D. Vitamin D is an important player in the central nervous system and the overall health of everybody. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Studies associated with vitamin D have found that has the ability to limit the release of bad cells as well as reduce autoimmune complications. One of the key components to vitamin D is that it can balance inflammatory pathways that are linked to cancer and it can also promote the production on proteins, such as GcMAF, which help to regulate cancer cells and keep them from multiplying too quickly.

Black cumin seed oil, scientifically known as Nigella sativa and often shortened to just black seed oil, is also a well-known natural cancer treatment. Research has shown that black seed oil and its extract, thymoquinone, both have powerful anti-inflammatory effects of several cancers such as bone, breast, colon, brain, lymphoma, stomach, prostate, melanoma (skin), liver, cervical, and pancreatic cancers. More research has shown that the use of the oil before radiation treatment and for the 10 days following protects the body from some of the dangerous and harmful side effects of radiation. Check out more black seed oil for cancer studies here!

Natural Cancer Treatments- Gerson Therapy

Dr. Max Gerson, a German-born American medical doctor, is the man who developed one of the most effective yet natural cancer treatments over 90 years ago. Known as Gerson Therapy, it’s goal is to help activate the body’s ability to heal itself by using coffee enemas, raw juices, plant-based foods, everything organic, natural supplements, and beef liver.

Gerson Therapy works by targeting the most important metabolic requirements in the body. How? By allowing the body to receive the nutritional benefits of having between 15-20 pounds of organic vegetables and fruits daily. Sounds like a lot, right? Well, here’s the breakdown:

The Gerson Diet consists of eating only organic veggies, fruits, and sprouted grains. It’s a diet that is incredibly rich in vitamins, enzymes, and minerals as well as low in sodium, fats, and proteins. The meal plan that goes along with Gerson Therapy advises cancer patients to have 13 glasses of fresh juice daily, eat three plant-based meals a day, and snack strictly on fresh fruits every day. The more traditional diet plan also recommends having raw beef liver for the nutrient-dense benefits such as a high concentration of vitamin B12.

Juicing is incredibly important in the Gerson Diet and Gerson Therapy in general. According to the Gerson Institute, the freshly pressed juice from raw foods is the easiest and the most effective way to get high-quality nutrition constantly. The Gerson Juicing protocol requires that a cancer patient drinks fresh veggies and fruits every day that include green-leafy foods, raw carrots, and apples. In order not to lose the nutritional value in the juice, it should be prepared fresh hourly by using a two-step juicer.  

Natural cancer treatments
Natural cancer treatments- juicing is the base for the Gerson Diet and Gerson Therapy.

The diet also uses detoxification by way of coffee enemas. The coffee enemas detoxify the body by increasing the parasympathetic nervous system. Some patients use the coffee enema process up to five times a day to help keep the body free of toxins. Although it may sound uncomfortable and non-scientific, the theory behind using coffee enemas goes like this, “the combined effect of the food, the juices, and the medication causes the immune system to attack and kill tumor tissue, as well as work to flush out the accumulated toxins from the body tissues.”

The therapy also recommends using supplements such as:

  • Thyroid hormones 
  • Vitamin B12
  • Pancreatic enzymes
  • Lugol’s Solution
  • Potassium compound

The Gerson Institute claims that “With its whole-body approach to healing, the Gerson Therapy naturally reactivates your body’s magnificent ability to heal itself — without damaging side effects. This a powerful, natural treatment boosts the body’s own immune system to heal cancer, arthritis, heart disease, allergies, and many other degenerative diseases.”

Natural Cancer Treatments- Budwig Protocol

The Budwig Protocol was created in 1952 by the German Government’s Senior Expert of pharmacology and lipids, Dr. Johanna Budwig. In her research, Dr. Budwig discovered that the conventional and everyday hydrogenated oils and processed fats that we consume destroy the membranes in our cells which cause toxicity and damaged, diseased cells. Her goal, developing a specific diet, was to counteract this damaged-cell, cancer-causing process. Budwig has claimed that she had over a 90% success rate with her diet/protocol over a 50-year period. However, there is no scientific evidence to back up her claim.

So, how does the Budwig protocol work? When the deadly, processed fats and oils in our diet are replaced with healthy unsaturated/saturated fatty acids, our cells begin to rebuild themselves and are rejuvenated. Dr. Budwig created a new diet and found that using a mixture of flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, and cottage cheese had the best results. When the flax, a food that is rich in electron-rich unsaturated fatty acids, is mixed with the cottage cheese, which is high in saturated fats and sulfur protein, the body is able to absorb the nutrients quicker and easier.

The Budwig recipe that Dr. Axe, a well-known nutritionist blogger, uses is up-to-date for the 21st century with the changes in agriculture in mind. Dr. Axe mixes the following ingredients together in a blender or bowl and says to eat it once daily.

  • 4 tablespoons sprouted and ground flax or chia
  • 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil
  • 6 ounces of cultured daily such as amasai, goat milk or cottage cheese
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1.4 teaspoon black pepper

Natural Cancer Treatments- Proteolytic Enzyme Therapy

John Beard in 1906 was the first ever to propose that pancreatic proteolytic enzymes are what represent the body’s main defense against cancer. Beard’s research focused mainly on high-dose porcine-based pancreatic enzyme therapy and eating a holistic and strict diet in order to create an internal environment within the body in which the body could better heal itself. However, most of this wasn’t researched well for the majority of the 20th century. That said, in 1981, Nicholas J. Gonzalez started to research the concept more at Cornell University Medical College.

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How does the proteolytic enzyme therapy work? Well, the theory is based on the autonomic nervous system, which is the “mothership” of our “fight or flight” and “rest or digest” bodily modes, and how it centers on balancing these two systems. An imbalance of the two systems is one of the suspected major causes of cancer. Gonzalez discovered a special vegetarian diet that suppresses the sympathetic function (fight or flight) which is opposite with a meat-rich diet. Gonzalez took a series of patients and divided them into different categories based on their genetic and physical make-up as well as their metabolic differences. This is what he found and recommends:

  • People who have epithelial tumors such as prostate, uterine, lung, pancreas, and colon cancers need to be on a largely plant-based diet with little to no-animal proteins.
  • People who have immune-based or blood tumors such as lymphoma, myeloma, or leukemia should have a high-animal based diet with high-fat contents and minimal to moderate plant foods.

Furthermore, it is recommended to take five grams of proteolytic enzymes three times daily on an empty stomach and between meals to help reduce inflammation.

The research behind this type of natural cancer treat myeloma actually scientifically sound, too! Many of the studies show that systemic enzyme therapy significantly reduced the therapy-induced and tumor-induced side effects such as weight loss, restlessness, nausea, fatigue, and gastrointestinal complaints.

Natural cancer treatments
Natural cancer treatments- a completely vegetarian diet is the basis for the proteolytic enzyme therapy. 

Natural Cancer Treatments- Oxygen Therapy & Hyperbaric Chambers

Another theory for cancer is that it’s due to an oxygen deficiency. Dr. Otto Heinrich Warburg, a Nobel Peace prize winner in medicine in 1931, tried to make it crystal clear that the base of cancer is caused by an oxygen deficiency that creates an acidic state in the body. Dr. Warburg also found that cancer cells don’t use oxygen to survive and cannot survive in the presence of high levels of oxygen- which is found in an alkaline state.

Using oxygen therapy and using a hyperbaric chamber can be beneficial to someone seeking natural cancer treatments because the air pressure inside a hyperbaric oxygen chamber can is roughly 2.5 times greater than the level of oxygen in a normally pressured atmosphere. This high amount of oxygen pressure causes the blood to carry more oxygen to organs and the tissues in the body. This extra oxygen is then able to, in theory, help kill the cancer cells. While there is very little concrete research done on the subject, more and more hospitals are purchasing hyperbaric chambers to use on their patients.

How do natural cancer treatments affect the brain?

One large issue with using natural cancer treatments is that it’s likely that cancer-induced brain fog, better known as chemo brain, is possible. This brain fog can last a short amount of time or stay after the cancer has gone. While it’s called chemo brain, it actually has little to do with chemotherapy and other treatments and more to do with how the brain is affected by the cancer itself and stress from the cancer. It’s believed that inflammation plays a role in this cancer-induced brain fog. Eating anti-inflammatory foods is thought to be helpful with reducing the brain fog.

Furthermore, many of the alternative, natural, and complementary methods have been proven to alleviate stress and anxiety such as meditation and relaxation techniques. Also, hypnotherapy and acupuncture are proven to reduce nausea and overall physical pain. This means that while any alternative, “natural”, or “mainstream” treatment method may or may not cure cancer completely, the alternative and natural methods can at least help alleviate certain symptoms, especially cognitive symptoms, which can contribute to a more difficult and longer healing process.

Do natural cancer treatments work?

Considering that there is no one tried-and-true way to cure cancer, it would be incorrect to say that natural cancer treatments completely work or never work. There are a number of studies that claim that alternative and natural therapies are linked to reduced survival such as this study, and that many natural-method users die sooner of cancer than people who try the conventional methods according to this study. All of that said, there is a declining number of people using conventional treatments and instead opting for natural cancer treatments, according to this study.

To keep up to date on everything cancer treatment and research, keep an eye out on the National Cancer Institute’s page on cancer treatment research.

Have you tried alternative and natural cancer treatments? Let us know what you think in the comments below!   

Anna is a freelance writer who is passionate about translation, psychology, and how the world works.