There are many well researched herbs that can be highly beneficial in the treatment of cancer in humans and animals, and seeking a prescription from a herbalist is the best way to choose herbs for an individual patient. I treat animals with western and Chinese herbs, together with diet and homeopathy, for the best outcome, which may be a longer and more active life than without natural treatment, and occasionally total recovery.
I will, however, write here about one well-tried and tested combination, because its use is not individualised to the patient (like a lot of natural medicine) so it is possible for owners to get their vets to use these easily instead of, or together with, chemotherapy and other drugs.
Sheep sorrel complex is a combination traditional herbal product originally available from Canada but there are now several brands available on the market from several reputable herbal supply companies, however it can be made up by any herbalist. It was originally introduced to the western world by Rene Caisse, a Canadian nurse who, in the 1920’s saw the Native American Indian people curing cases of cancer with it.
She then had amazing results on cases she was treating in the hospitals she worked in, and later opened a centre purely for treating cancer patients with these herbs. Since then more research has been carried out in Europe and the herbs have been used for several decades in several countries for human cancer patients resulting in a large number of case histories of remarkable results, ranging from palliation of pain and symptoms for a remission time, to no trace of disease for the patient’s lifespan.
As a vet, I have treated hundreds of animals with end-stage cancer, for which chemotherapy was not possible or not chosen by the owner, and just over 50% of these cases going into remission for several months. Most of the animals showed some improvement with reduction of pain or symptoms within 7 to 10 days.
The advantages of this herbal combination over chemotherapy are no side-effects, a drug free reduction in pain, an increased well-being and activity, and in many cases an increase in lifespan, with costs being very favourable to those of chemotherapy. If the cancer is visible or can be palpated (eg tumours of the bladder, bowel or liver in the abdomen) then in a few days the Essiac will shrink the lump down to be smaller, less dense and less inflamed, thus reducing the patient’s symptoms.
However research with human cancer patients, and experience with pet animals, shows that chemo and Essiac and most other herbs and natural therapies are likely to improve the outcome if used together, and there are very few adverse effects of combining these treatments.
The Essiac herb combination contains the following four herbs, originally of American-Indian origin but in use by traditional herbalists in many countries.
Various practitioners have used slightly different recipes, and most herbalists can make them up for you.
Sheep Sorrel (Rumex Acetosella)
This herb is a more delicate plant and contains less oxalic acid than the commonly seen roadside and paddock sourgrass. Two known ingredients from the leaf are aloe emodin, shown to have significant anti-leukaemia activity in mice, and a polysaccharide shown to display significant anti-tumour activity.
Sheep sorrel is easy to grow and lasts for a few years in your vege garden. Just harvest as many leaves as you need as a salad green or to make tea. It does contain a moderate amount of oxalate (as does silver beet and spinach) so in rare cases of oxalate kidney or bladder stone a large amount may be unadvised.
Burdock Root (Actium Lappa)
The common name of this herb is cockle-burr, which is a biennial plant found in North America, Europe and other areas. It is found growing along roads, fences and walls. It has long fleshy roots and is classically a blood purifying and anti-pain herb. Hungarian and Japanese researchers have long known this herb to contain inulin and benzaldehyde which have significant anti-cancer and anti-human immunodeficiency virus activities.
Turkey or Indian Rhubarb root (Rheum Palmatum)
This herb is an ornamental form of the common garden rhubarb. Indian rhubarb contains aloe emodin (one of the antic-tumour component of Sheep Sorrel), also catechin and rhein, which have displayed anti-tumour and anti-viral activity in animal tests.
Slippery Elm (Ulmus Fulva)
Slippery Elm is a commonly used herb made from the inner bark of the Canadian Red elm tree, for soothing the digestive system. It contains a polysaccharide and beta-sitosterol which have both shown anti-tumour activity.
(Research with human patients has been conducted by oncologists in Austria, and the University of Cologne in three centres in Europe: The Leornadis Clinic in Germany, The Dobling Sanatorium in Vienna, Germany. Also see research for individual herbs at www.greenmedinfo.com).
One form of this herbal combination, which is the most readily absorbed by the gut, can be bought as a bottle of dry powder or ‘tea leaves’. The powder/’leaves’ need to be boiled up twice, for ten minutes, and left to sit for a few hours in between, then stored in a two litre container in the fridge. Direct oral dosage of 5 ml for a cat and up to 60 ml for a large dog are required. Essiac can also be bought as tablets and seems to work just as well but works out a bit more expensive than making up the tea.
Ease of dosing can be a problem with a few animals with volume and frequency required, although most animals take the liquid by syringe or lapped up with a bit of soup or vegemite or honey. For optimal absorption, it is advisable to give an hour away from eating, particularly fat-containing food, but it does work if given with any food, and reducing stress of dosing is a priority here when our aim is to improve quality of life .
Most cases I treat receive some other natural therapy eg other herbs, flower essences for behavioural manifestations (eg fear of pain on urination), and/or homoeopathics to aid physical symptoms (eg diarrhoea, difficulty breathing etc) and because it can be a useful treatment itself. Most medicinal mushrooms now have evidence based anti-cancer effects, especially for abdominal haemangiosarcoma in dogs, or where lymphatic involvement is suspected.
Diet (and maybe also nutritional support with supplements) is highly recommended - see my article “Natural Diet for Dogs and Cats” and my books on pet nutrition available from this website.
Usually a combination of many natural therapies contribute to the improvements shown in many patients, but if you can only give one treatment, Essiac is likely to help, is a “one size fits all” treatment for any cancer patient, is safe and does not need a prescription.
During the course of these cases, it has been very noticeable how these extra few weeks or months of quality time can be very much appreciated by the owner. A healing or resolving of the original shock diagnosis occurs before the animal’s death, allowing the passing of the animal to then be a lot more peaceful.
This swift and peaceful death can sometimes be a feature of natural therapies treatment, and is always seen as a great benefit by those involved.
© Clare Middle 2019