Now that cancer has been diagnosed or suspected as the most likely diagnosis, you are trying to make some difficult and important decisions in regards to your companion’s future health and well-being. If you are considering surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation, or a combination of several western medical modalities, you are probably looking for other supportive therapies to maximize quality of life. If you are pursuing a completely natural approach, you are looking for as many effective therapies as possible to prolong your companion’s life and preserve their quality.
The information out there is confusing and complicated. Every practitioner or expert seems to have a different opinion or suggestion. Some supplements and medications seem to conflict with one another and philosophies of therapy vary widely. In general, veterinary oncologists or cancer specialists have very little knowledge about alternative approaches to cancer. Many times their information is not only lacking but just incorrect. Most people end up searching the internet and finding the wealth of information that presents itself. The difficulty is wading through articles and articles about different supplements that all seem to cure cancer. Many are difficult to find or very expensive, but the real issue becomes, does this have any merit in the treatment of my animal companion?
For most animals, especially with cats, we must be somewhat selective about what medicines or supplements we can expect to give them. One must be careful not to cause side-effects that will create quality of life issues and also, most companions will have a breaking point, where only so many supplements can be given before they begin refusing our efforts to medicate them or hide things in their food. Our relationship and bond with them can also suffer because of the constant harassment medicating causes. This is especially true with feline companions as they will begin to hide every time they see you coming!
So it becomes important to choose not only the therapy for dealing with this cancer but choosing which supplements and diets we are going to entice, or force, our companions to eat. We want to be selective and make choices that are beneficial and that either fight the cancer effectively or improve the quality of life for our animal friends.
Whether your treatment decisions involve surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation, I feel homeopathic treatment will benefit in some way the prognosis of your companion. Call the office for an appointment. There will also be selective supplements from the list below that would be supportive or helpful also. With cases where a homeopathic approach is the main treatment modality, it will be important to give some of the supplements listed below. Each patient should have an individualized treatment plan that best fits that individual and the type of cancer being treated. Some supplements seem to be more effective with certain types of cancer.
With all approaches to cancer, nothing works or helps ALL patients. Choosing the treatment plan that has best track record and the most likelihood of helping your companion is what the following list may help to provide.I have attempted to select from my practice experience, those supplements that I have found to be helpful as a part of an overall treatment plan in dealing with cancer.
I do not suggest all of these supplements in any one case, nor would I expect any animal to be able to endure taking all of these on a daily basis. This list is to help you decide what will be best for your companion. You should always consult with me or my office staff about the specifics of your companion’s case before choosing to give anything new.
The supplements and medications I have listed below are compatible, in general, with homeopathic cancer treatment unless otherwise noted. The following list is in no way meant to be complete and will be modified and enhanced as new information becomes available to me.
Amygdalin (Laetrile) – also known as Vitamin B17, amygdalin is found in the seeds of apricots, peaches, cherries and plums. I have very little experience in using this in animals. It may help with quality of life issues, pain control, and palliation of cancer. No evidence of curative responses. Dosage 100 – 1500 mgs. two to three times daily depending on weight. Dosage range is variable as not much data available for dogs and cats. Available online.
Arginine (L–Arginine) – an amino acid shown to have some cancer fighting properties when extra supplementation is added to diet. I recommend 500mg. to 1500mg. daily added to food. Available online and in health food stores.
Artemisinin or Artemether – an extract of sweet wormwood from China used mainly as an anti-malarial drug but may have cancer fighting properties. There have been several recent articles about using this with osteosarcoma. I have no direct experience using this in a cancer protocol, but I have several cases now using this along with homeopathy. Artemether seems to be the more potent form. Dosages are unclear. Anti-oxidants may interfere with effectiveness. Toxicity is very low. Dosages in the range of 80mg. to 100mg. twice daily for a large dog have been proposed. Available online at Holley Pharmaceuticals or Allergy Research.
Astragalus – see Chinese Herbs
Bee Pollen – may be more useful as a cancer preventative. May boost the immune system and help prevent side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Dosages as for humans or less depending on weight. No toxicity. Available online and health stores.
Beta Carotene – a vitamin A precursor. Converted to Vitamin A in the body as required. Can be given in large amounts. Little toxicity as compared to Vitamin A. Seems to work as an anti-oxidant. Available online and in health food stores.
Bioflavonoids – found in foods containing Vitamin C. Compounds such as citrin, hesperidin, rutin, and quercetin. Seem to support the anti-oxidant properties of Vitamin C.
Carnivora – extract of the Venus Flytrap, an insect eating plant. Seems to have cancer fighting properties but probably works by stimulation of T-helper cells. I have not seen any dramatic or significant results in cases where this was used. Dosage extrapolated from human dosages. Expensive. I have concern for environmental impact to the plant. It is a rare species. Available online.
Cat’s Claw (Una de gato) – from the vine of a Peruvian plant. Has anti-oxidant and immune enhancing properties. May be useful. Use extrapolated human dosages. May be more useful in high doses. Widely available.
Chinese Herbs - There are many Chinese herbal combinations for cancer therapy. The two I most often use in my practice are Astragalus 10+, a combination of Astragalus and ten other herbs to boost the immune system, and Chih-ko and Circuma, a tumor fighting combination of herbs. Both are available from our office. Dosages vary.
Chlorella – a fresh-water, single celled algae taken for high chlorophyll content, anti-oxidant effect, and high vitamin content. Seems to have cancer fighting properties. Larger doses may be more effective. Widely available.
CoEnzyme Q10- naturally occurring substance found in sardines, soybean and grapeseed oils, sesame seeds, pistachios, and spinach. Seems to have cancer fighting properties when given at the 300mg. per day level or greater. Expensive at high doses. Widely available.
Colostrum – first milk from cow’s after parturition. Has immune factors that help boost T-helper Cells along with other immune boosting properties. Mainly from New Zealand cows where organically raised. Most beneficial in high doses. Can be expensive. Widely available, online and health food stores.
Curcumin (Tumeric) – yellow pigment that is the main component of Tumeric, an Indian herb in the ginger family. Seems to have anti-carcinogenic properties at many levels of cancer as a prevention and treatment. Has been used effectively for tumor shrinkage topically as a paste also. Exact dosages unknown. Available in grocery stores and specialty stores.
Echinacea – an herbal stimulant for the immune system. Doesn’t seem to be of use in cancer. Better used as an herbal for acute infections. Astragalus is better for cancer use.
Essiac – a combination of herbals taken as a tea, tincture or capsule. Formulas vary somewhat but all contain burdock, Indian rhubarb, sheep sorrel, and slippery elm. Historically has been of great benefit in treating cancer both for pain relief and tumor shrinkage. Some cures have been reported, but mainly the effects seem palliative; recent use for treating cancer seems less effective. My experience over the last twelve years would agree with the latter. I have seen very little in positive responses. Essiac is Caisse spelled backwards, the last name of the Canadian woman who formulated the herbal combination. The recipe was originally from a Native American Tribe based in Ontario, Canada. Widely available in many forms. Dosages extrapolated from human dose.
Fish Oil – a rich source of Omega 3’s which have been shown to have cancer fighting and preventative effects. Salmon Oil is probably the best source. Dosages range from 1000mg. to 5000mg. daily. Found in many combination products with Flaxseed Oil and Borage Oil. Straight Fish Oil seems better utilized for dogs and cats, whereas the combination products work well for people. Widely available.
Flaxseed Oil – used the same way as fish oil, but fish oil may be better for carnivores. Often used in combination with cottage cheese to fight cancer, but this combination seems to have little basis for being effective.
Goldenseal – used as herbal immune stimulant. Astragalus seems more appropriate.
Grapeseed Extract (Pycnogenol) – a potent anti-oxidant. Useful as a part of any cancer protocol. Dosages are 1-2 mg. per lb. body weight per day. Doesn’t seem useful in higher dosages. Widely available. Some think Pycnogenol, a similar substance extracted from Pine Bark, is more potent. It is also more expensive.
Green Tea – seems to have several anti-carcinogenic properties both for prevention and treatment. May be impractical, as large amounts are probably required to have much effect therapeutically. Widely available.
Hoxsey Formula – a combination of herbals containing red clover, buckthorn bark, barberry bark, chaparral, licorice root, Cascara amarga, and prickly ash bark. Bloodroot is sometimes added to make an external formula for topical application. There are many formulations available. There are good studies supporting its effectiveness. I have used this in combination with homeopathy in some cases and may have seen more results than with homeopathy alone. Dosages vary with formulation.
Hydrazine sulphate – a synthetic compound, non-toxic, which seems to stimulate appetite, help prevent cachexia, the wasting from cancer, and offer some pain relief. I have used this in the past and have had mixed results. Not readily available.
Inositol – an unofficial B-vitamin. Found in many high fiber foods. Converted to lecithin in the body. May have some cancer fighting properties such as angiogenesis or the reduction of blood supply to tumors. Dosages extrapolated from human dosages. Widely available.
Iscador (Mistletoe) – fermented extracts from European mistletoe. Often injected, rather than taken orally. Used widely in Europe. Has had mixed results in my practice, although varieties of extracts available to me have been limited. Could be useful approach with certain cancers. Dosages vary with route of administration.
Maitake Mushrooms (Shitake) – stimulates T-helper cells and generally boosts the immune system. Potent immune boosters. Found in many combination products. Dosages extrapolated from human dosages. Widely available.
MaxGXL - a natural supplement that stimulates the production of glutathione in the cells. Glutathione is the ultimate antioxidant, because it is the one that works at the mitochondrial level within the cell. Glutathione is classified as an “orphan drug” by the FDA for promoting weight gain and preventing weight loss with cancer patients. MaxGXL also has a strong anti-inflammatory effect with the addition of Cordyceps, plus the glutathione produced destroys free-radicals and restores normal cellular function.
Mistletoe – see Iscador
Nosodes (Isodes) – remedies made from cancer cells or tumors and taken orally or injected. These can be made specifically from the patient’s tumor (Isode) or a generic tumor can be used (Nosode). These are diluted and succussed and work homeopathically. I have had some results with this approach depending on the type of cancer and the patient.
Omega 3’s – active ingredient in Fish Oils, Flaxseed Oils and Borage Oil. Helpful in prevention and treatment of cancer.
Pau D’arco – extract of the inner bark of a genus of trees from the South American rainforest. Has been shown to reduce the size of tumors. May interfere with homeopathic remedies according to some homeopaths. Lapachol is the active ingredient. Dosage extrapolated from human dosages. Widely available.
Poly MVA – supposedly a DNA nutrient that repairs abnormal genes that have set the cancer cascade in motion. A natural substance generally well-tolerated, I have seen some cats react adversely to it. Considered a mineralo-vitamin. I have seen little difference in cases where this was used. Very expensive. Dosages extrapolated from human dosages.
Pycnogenol – see Grapeseed Extract
Quercetin – a bioflavonoid. Seems most helpful with stomach cancers. Dosages extrapolated from human dosage. Available online and in health food stores.
Selenium – trace mineral complimentary and synergistically with Vitamin E. Helpful in prevention of cancer and may be useful in treatment in conjunction with Vitamin E. Mega doses not recommended. Dosages range from 50 to 200mcg. Daily. Readily available.
Shark Cartilage – usage is based on the premise that sharks don’t get cancer. There are some small studies that showed tumor regression using fairly large doses of this. I have not seen any results with shark cartilage use and I object to the harvesting of sharks for this purpose. Amounts required are completely impractical for cats.
Soy Products – anti-carcinogenic effects from fermented soy products have been shown in people. Carnivores don’t metabolize soy protein very effectively and this doesn’t seem to be an effective part of therapy for dogs and cats.
Spirulina – another “green” supplement. See Chorella.
Superoxide dismutase (SOD) – neutralizes free radicals that cause cancer and that cancer cells release. An anti-oxidant enzyme. Widely available. Dosages extrapolated for human doses.
Tamoxifen – blocks estrogen activity that stimulates certain cancers such as mammary tumors. Dosages extrapolated. Prescription medication.
Vitamins A and D are fat soluble and can be overdosed. There are some protocols for pushing the limits on Vitamin A with cancer fighting results, but consult with me before using more than a standard Vitamin A and D supplement.
B vitamins are water soluble and excess will be excreted, so overdosing is not a problem. In general, giving a B-complex is best so as to keep ratios in line between different B’s. Giving a 10mg. complex to cats and up to a 100mg. complex for larger dogs is appropriate.
Vitamin C can be dosed high or low. In general, I recommend about 500mg. for a cat daily and up to 2000mg. for a large dog. At these levels any type of Vitamin C can be used for most animals. If you choose to give higher doses, then amounts should be increased gradually at weekly increments and ester C’s should be used to avoid stomach difficulties.
Vitamin E should be given dosing from 100 IU’s daily for cats to 400 IU’s daily for large dogs. There is no evidence to show higher doses are beneficial especially when other anti-oxidants are being given.
Willard’s Water – a blend of minerals with water in a concentrate. Adding one ounce per gallon of drinking water seems to facilitate the removal of heavy metals from the system. May be useful in helping to detoxify while undergoing cancer therapy.
Wobenzyme – a German formulation of digestive enzymes that may be helpful in an overall cancer protocol. Formulations contain lipase, amylase, rutin, pancreatin, papain, bromelain, trypsin, and chymotrypsin. Dosages extrapolated from human dosages.
Zinc – deficiencies can reduce effectiveness of other cancer therapies. Should not be used long term as a supplement but given for one week at a time in the 20 mg. to 40mg. range daily, depending on weight.