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Alternative Medicines for Cancer

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 3 Jul 2013 | comments*Discuss
Alternative Medicines Cancer Cancer

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is an herb that has been used for centuries to treat liver and gallbladder disorders. The active substance in milk thistle, silymarin, is a mixture of flavonoids. Studies have shown that silymarin is a potent antioxidant. It also stabilizes cell membranes, kills certain types of cancer cells and may increase the efficacy of chemotherapy agents.


Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant that has been used for many years to treat a variety of ailments. Mistletoe is used mainly in Europe, where a variety of different extracts are manufactured and marketed as injectable prescription drugs. Studies have shown that mistletoe extracts enhance the activity of the immune system cells, stimulating them to release more of the chemicals that damage cancer cells.

Pau D'arco

Pau d'arco is a tree found in the rainforests of Central and South America. The medicinal value of pau d'arco is thought to reside in certain compounds, called naphthaquinones, in the inner bark. Pau D'arco has become a standard form of treatment for some types of cancer throughout Brazil. It had been successfully used in Paraguay to treat leukaemia. It is a proven antiviral substance.


Essiac was discovered in the 1920s, by a Canadian nurse named Rene Caisse. Essiac is an herbal tea that is composed of 4 or more herbs, two of which (Sheep Sorrel and Burdock Root) are known to kill cancer cells. The other two herbs (Indian rhubarb and Slippery Elm), build the immunity system and deal with the dead cancer cells. Many alternative practitioners use Essiac to help cleanse the blood, especially if a patient has been on chemotherapy.


Chaparral (Larrea divericata Coville) is an herb that comes from the leaves of a desert shrub, the creosote bush. For cancer treatment, chaparral leaves and stems are steeped in hot water to make a tea. The therapy involves drinking one to three cups per day or taking the herb in tablet form. A compound in Chaparral named nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA) acts as a strong antioxidant. It's thought that NDGA prevents tumours by stoppping cancer cells from breaking down glucose (needed to produce energy for cellular growth).


Ginseng is an effective adaptogen and can protect the body from the stress of drug and radiation therapy. Ginseng has been shown to have cancer-preventive properties and could help to reduce the risk of certain cancer types. People taking ginseng are almost 70% less certain to develop cancer compared to others according to studies.

Green Tea

The catechins in green tea act through a number of different pathways throughout the body, as yet, not all of these have been isolated. Several studies have revealed that chemicals in green tea shut down one of the main molecules that tobacco uses to cause cancer. It has also been shown to be beneficial for preventing breast and colon cancer.

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