Importance of Herbs for Cancer

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Interviewer: We get asked a lot about cancer. Are there herbal remedies that people can try, either as a preventative measure or is there going to a sort of treatments that they might want to look into? 

Roy Upton, RH, DAyu: Absolutely. And that's unequivocally an absolutely. Anybody who has cancer and, either, chooses natural or chooses an integrated approach, using the best of what Western medicine has to offer and the natural world has to offer they'd be very mistaken not to use them. How you use them that's a different story. I'll just give you an anecdotal story.

Interviewer: Sure.

Roy Upton, RH, DAyu: A good friend of mine, his name is Dwight McKey (ph). He's a clinical oncologist. First, he was a family practice M.D., but then he practiced natural medicine, integrative medicine, up in Marin (ph), I believe. And for years they were working with cancer patients who wondered, "Hey, what should I take while I'm doing my conventional therapies?" And after a bunch of years of doing that he says, "If I really gonna do this, I'd better go and learn more about oncology." So he got board-certified in oncology, practiced as a conventional oncologist for about seven, eight years in Minnesota, I believe, maybe even longer. And originally he thought, "Wow. We're not really doing good on the natural medicine side of cancer treatment." Then when he went into clinical, conventional oncology, he said, "Geez. I thought were doing bad over there, we're doing horrendous over here."  

So that's when he started the integrative approach, and he now is part of teaching physicians and healthcare providers how to appropriately integrate therapies. Other researchers in the UK and in UC Berkeley, Paris Kidd, for example, have done reviews on the literature on, for example, using the medicinal, immune-modulating mushrooms in association with conventional cancer therapies. And all of these independent reviews, every single one, said there is absolutely no reason why this should not be part of standard care. In China it is standard care. You are always given whatever the conventional therapies going to be to kill the cancer, and then there's the supportive therapy to support immune functions so that you don't crash and burn and then die of pneumonia.  

Because a lot of times if you've ever seen anybody go through conventional therapy, it's a race between killing the cancer and killing the patient. You keep going, the patient's eventually going to die. And the herbal minute medicine, if you look at every bit of clinical work on integrating herbs and even antioxidants, in most cases, with conventional care, the outcomes are better. Survivability is better, quality of life is better. Symptom profiles are incredibly improved over conventional therapy by itself.

They had got a woman with inflammatory breast cancer - worst prognosis for any breast cancer that you could have. And at the time there were two other women that her oncologist was able to find that also had inflammatory breast cancer. She did everything, pulled out all the stops: radical mastectomy, radiation chemo, and high-dose antioxidants, high-dose reishi mushrooms, (inaudible[03:33]), which is a typical type of formula that I would recommend the cancer patients. Guided imagery, you know, all the mind-body stuff. Her radiologist first said, "Amazing response to conventional therapy." Her GP said, "Miraculous response to chemo." And then in a follow-up on on her records, her GP said, "Incredible restoration of immuno-competency," which all the studies say.  

There were a bunch of studies done on Stragulus, and MD Anderson in the 1980s and 1990s by a guy named Mavlegate (ph). And the drug company had been actually interested in Astragalus as a cancer compound, but then they pulled the plug on it, because they said, "Well, the crude extract is equally as effective as this isolated compound they we're trying to get. So were going to let it go." The next seven or eight years, Mavlegate was pulling out his hair saying, "Why did these guys stop? Who can pick this up?" In 19 years of doing cancer research at M.D. Anderson he had never seen anything work as broadly beneficially as an immunal restorative compound than Astragalus, but the funding was gone to take it any further. So I think it's a shame that this is not standard of care.

Oh, and to get back to the woman with inflammatory breast cancer. In one year, one of the other women was dead; in two years the other woman was dead. And 12 years later this woman got cancer again, and she eventually died. But she had 13 more years of life than these other two that had had the exact same diagnosis at the exact same time, but did only conventional. She did everything. Now, could it be luck of the draw? Yes, it could be. But you don't see amazing, miraculous, incredible on most records, with regards to response to conventional therapies.

For 30 years I've been providing counseling to people going through conventional cancer care - giving them herbs, giving them supplements, lifestyle stuff - and I've literally never seen a negative from it. I've seen sometimes when it's seemingly didn't do any better. And most of the time, like with this woman, I've only seen positive benefits: like nausea eliminated, not losing their hair, not losing their vitality, their immune system being stabilized and not going into the trash and getting a secondary infection, and then recover really fast. So I've never seen a negative. I've seen some neutrals, never negative, and mostly positive for 30 years.
Roy Upton is the executive director of the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. He discusses the importance of herbal medicine as a part of any cancer treatment. He stresses the importance of an integrative approach to treating cancer.

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