Surviving Breast Cancer with Herbs
Alternative Treatment are Natural Choices
Who cares if it's proven - as long as it works...
That's the attitude of many breast cancer survivors. They are on the lookout for herbs, vitamins and other nontraditional treatments that will help fight this disease.
Most Survivors Are Self Medicating
A study reported that eight in ten patients at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center used complementary or alternative medicine (CAM), although most did not inform their oncologist.
Besides spiritual practices and exercise, many breast cancer survivors said that they were using products that included:
- shark or bovine cartilage;
- homeopathic remedies;
- essiac tea;
- and other folk remedies.
Not Only In America
This trend toward the use of CAM is not isolated to the United States. A survey of 411 breast cancer patients randomly selected from the Ontario Cancer Registry found that 67% of the women reported using CAM.
Cleansing diets, macrobiotic foods and other natural ways to combat cancer are high on the list of discussion topics on most Internet breast cancer sites.
What Are They Thinking?
Why are educated women spending money and risking their health with unproven medication and folk remedies?
The survey results show that they are being used because, in the opinion of the breast cancer patients, they work.
Whether the results are due to a patient's beliefs or a real clinical action is not important.
In the absence of any real movement toward a scientific cure, breast cancer survivors are writing their own experimental protocols.
As soon as someone reports a positive result with anything - there will be others willing to experiment with it to find out if they can get the same results.
Do Doctors Agree?
These anecdotal results do not carry much weight with the medical establishment. There are too many other factors that may have created the results attributed to a non-tested remedy.
Due to this, the scientific community has traditionally ignored any alternative treatments, but that is changing.
Attitudes Are Changing
There is enough anecdotal evidence to make some researchers curious.
The University of California at San Francisco and other prestigious institutions are beginning to study these treatments in a scientific manner.
Drugs Were Once Herbal Cures
Many drugs on the market today are the product of analyzing herbal remedies.
- Digitalis - a potent heart medication - was discovered by experiments with compounds found in foxglove.
- Penicillin was originally found in mold.
Some studies are finding that the herbal remedies actually have chemical compounds that work to inhibit tumor functions.
Herbal Remedies Carry Risks
There are two dangers in using unproven folk therapies.
One is that they may not have any real effects, in which case you spend a lot of money on useless pills or remedies.
The other is that they may have effects that are harmful or that interfere with the traditional treatments necessary to cause tumor remission.
The medicines of tomorrow may well be a marriage of biochemistry and herbal medications, but for today it's still a good idea to check with your doctor before taking any drugs - natural or otherwise.
July 24, 2000
Last updated April 15, 2006
Elsewhere on the Web:
Alternative & Natural Cancer Remedies
A Cure for Cancer?
Herbal remedies 'do work'