Is Homeopathy an Effective Cancer Treatment?
By Manfred Mueller MA DHM RSHom(NA) CCH | The American Homeopath Volume 18, 2012
“Homeopathic drugs have proven biological action in cancer; in vitro and in vivo; in animals and humans; in the lower, as well as in the higher potencies. Cancer patients are faced with a life-and-death decision when choosing their treatment. Since most conventional treatments continue to be associated with severe adverse and some- times fatal effects, while homeopathy has been found to be free from such effects, it would seem plausible and worthwhile, even urgent, to step up the research on, and even the provision of, homeopathic treatment of cancer and other diseases.”
For the present paper we have reviewed articles on homeopathic cancer treatment published during the last five years in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Homeopathic cancer treatment has great promise, given the exceptional safety of the treatment and the relatively frequent observation of beneficial clinical effects.2 However, in our last review we had noted a remarkable confusion among researchers on key concepts in homeopathy and we attributed this to editorial control. We also commented on the fact that virtually all studies of homeopathic cancer treatment are in reality investigating the effects of high potency drugs, not the efficacy of homeopathic treatment. This should be kept in mind when reading the present review.
In a 2007 research review1 entitled The Evidence: Scientific Studies on Homeopathic Cancer Treatment published in The American Homeopath we concluded:
“homeopathic drugs have proven biological action in cancer; in vitro and in vivo; in animals and humans; in the lower, as well as in the higher potencies. Cancer patients are faced with a life-and-death decision when choosing their treatment. Since most conventional treatments continue to be associated with severe adverse and sometimes fatal effects, while homeopathy has been found to be free from such effects, it would seem plausible and worthwhile, even urgent, to step up the research on, and even the provision of, homeopathic treatment of cancer and other diseases.”
For the present paper we have reviewed articles on homeopathic cancer treatment published during the last five years in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Homeopathic cancer treatment has great promise, given the exceptional safety of the treatment and the relatively frequent observation of beneficial clinical effects.2 However, in our last review we had noted a remarkable confusion among researchers on key concepts in homeopathy and we attributed this to editorial control. We also commented on the fact that virtually all studies of homeopathic cancer treatment are in reality investigating the effects of high potency drugs, not the efficacy of homeopathic treatment. This should be kept in mind when reading the present review.
Difficulties with Homeopathic Cancer Research
Within a month of the publication of our previous review, professor Edzard Ernst published an article3 that lamented the serious lack of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on homeopathic cancer treatment, noting that “all of the existing RCTs are in the realm of cancer palliation and supportive care.” The paucity of RCTs in homeopathic cancer research is indeed troublesome. However it has a perfectly reasonable explanation that does not warrant homeopathy-bashing. In our last review we already commented on Ernst’s and other researchers’ peculiar attitude, downplaying homeopathic research published in peer-reviewed scientific journals that support the position cited above.
Ernst began his article with defamatory remarks on homeopathy and homeopathic practitioners. He went on to describe homeopathic “potencies” as dilutions above the Avogadro limit. (We discussed in detail the distinction between potentization and ordinary dilution in our review). Ernst failed to mention the fact that worldwide only about 25% of homeopathic potencies prescribed exceed the Avogadro limit.4 Yet he extended his criticisms of homeopathy automatically to the other 75%. He also failed to report on mounting scientific data showing the positive effects these potencies have in biological systems, including in humans. His predictable conclusion in the article was the “implausibility” of homeopathy and of homeopathic cancer treatment.
Aside from the biased views espoused by the hired guns against CAM5 there are substantial reasons why human trials in homeopathic cancer research are rare. Clinical studies of cancer treatment with “unproven” therapies such as homeopathy are expensive and are fraught with legal obstacles. In the United States, more than 30 states have enacted laws that severely restrict the use of unproven therapies in cancer.6 Institutional review boards face great pressure to assure the safety of their subjects and rarely approve clinical experimentation on cancer patients administering “unproven therapies” such as only homeopathic treatment.
Meanwhile, government and professional organizations continue to endorse chemotherapy drugs, radiation and surgery as the sole “approved treatment” of cancer. This is surprising considering the significant potential harm and relative low efficacy of these treatments.7 Because of legal concerns, the majority of trials on homeopathic cancer treatment are conducted in the laboratory examining the effect of homeopathic drugs in vitro on cell lines, or in vivo by administering them to laboratory animals with induced cancers.8 This — not “implausibility” — explains the relative paucity of randomized controlled clinical trials in homeopathic cancer treatment.
Best Case Series Program
Homeopathic treatment of cancer is so effective that this fact can no longer be hidden from the public. More and more patients around the world are choosing homeopathic treatment,8-27 either complementary, or as an alternative, to conventional therapy. Studies have shown that when homeopathic cancer treatment is unavailable, patients obtain homeopathic remedies and attempt to treat themselves, or their families, even without proper training.28 In India, where homeopathy is a medical therapy sanctioned by the government, clinics report2 thousands of cancer patients are regularly being treated with homeopathy, and around one fifth are reported to have complete recession of tumors and other improvements under homeopathic treatment.
One of these clinics2 has been conducting case studies that led to the publication of their treatment results. In 2008 researchers2 at the PBH Research Foundation (PBHRF) in Kolkata, West Bengal, India, published their findings from several case reports on treatment of lung and esophageal carcinoma patients they had submitted more than a decade earlier to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Best Case Series (BCS) Program for review. The reports contained records including pathology and radiology reports for 14 patients with malignant tumors treated according to Banerji’s protocol until there was complete regression of the tumors.
The Banerji protocol deviates from the strictly homeopathic method in giving preference to homeopathic drugs that have shown efficacy in significant numbers of clinical cases and in state of the art evidence-based research for a given condition diagnosed by current medical technology28 rather than on strict individualization of symptom similarity as is the case in classical homeopathic prescribing. However, this approach could be justified in the case of cancer because of the relative lack of symptoms and the severity of the disorder, according to standard homeopathic theory.29 Conditions like cancer and tumors that are characterized by a paucity of symptoms were classified among the “one-sided disorders” by Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy. A previous study Pathak et al.30 had found efficacy for the Banerji protocol in the treatment of patients suffering from glioma.
Since 1991, the NCI has had a process for evaluating data from complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners that involves the same rigorous methods used in evaluating treatment responses with conventional medicine. This process, called the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Best Case Series (BCS) Program, provides an independent review of medical records, medical imaging and pathology materials from patients treated with unconventional cancer therapies.31 The Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM) was established in October 1998 in order to coordinate and enhance the activities of the NCI in the arena of CAM. The Practice Assessment Program within OCCAM currently manages the NCI BCS Program.32,33 Through this program, staff from OCCAM work with CAM practitioners to identify appropriate, well-documented cases. The primary goal of this program is to obtain and review sufficient information to determine if NCI-initiated research on a specific intervention is warranted.
According to the article by Banerji et al.2 the protocol for conducting this study was approved by the NCI Special Studies institutional review board and an application for approval of the project has been submitted to the Indian Council for Medical Research. Four of the cases submitted had independent confirmation of the diagnosis and radiographic response and were accepted as sufficient information for the NCI to initiate further investigation.
Research on Homeopathic Potencies
One recent unusual method to demonstrate effects of potentized drugs was demonstrated in a 2010 study.34 Professor Dr Wilfried Dimpfel from the Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany, showed that the impact of low-dosed (potentized) drugs can be observed on an EEG. Using one of the homeopathic drugs produced by the pharmaceutical company Heel as an example, he measured brain waves with the help of an electroencephalogram (EEG) to characterize the impact of the homeopathic drug. He examined its effects, compared it to other medications and created a differentiated profile. While this is the first time that an EEG has been used to demonstrate the effect from homeopathic drugs, Bell et al. had already used an EEG35 to identify homeopathic patients she called “excellent responders” to homeopathic treatment.
Habitual attacks on homeopathy because of the use of some homeopathic drugs in dilutions so high that “nothing remained of the starting materials” may soon be a thing of the past. Chikramane et al.36 of the Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, Adi Shankaracharya Marg, Powai, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India studied extreme homeopathic dilutions from a nanoparticulate perspective. Homeopathic drugs in high potencies such as 30c and 200c involve huge dilution factors (10⁶⁰ and 10⁴⁰⁰ respectively), which are many orders of magnitude greater than Avogadro’s number, so that theoretically there should be no measurable remnants of the starting materials.
The researchers claimed that no hypothesis which predicts the retention of properties of starting materials had so far been proposed nor had any physical entity been shown to exist in these high potency medicines. Using market samples of metal-derived medicines from reputable manufacturers, they demonstrated for the first time by Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction and chemical analysis by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES), the presence of physical entities retained in the form of nanoparticles of the starting metals and their aggregates in these extreme dilutions.
Low Dose Therapy for Advanced Cancers
The use of low doses of drugs is not such a far-fetched concept as it might appear. In fact, according to Jahangir Satti37 at the Department of Radiation Oncology, Albany Medical Center, in Albany, New York, it is on the rise around the world in the fight against serious diseases such as advanced cancers. In an article, Satti talked about a global trend towards an emerging low-dose therapy for advanced cancers — a clear departure from the conventional use of maximum dose protocol. In analyzing the various approaches Satti found the small dose of the prescribed drug is frequently administered in a continuous fashion, at regular intervals (metronomic therapy), either as a standard treatment or as a maintenance therapy for a long time. He cautioned, however, that the new treatment method lacks any clear standard for drug doses, dose fractionation, repetition, frequency and duration of a treatment course for an individual patient.
In his paper Satti reviewed literature about metronomic therapy and discussed hormesis; both phenomena occur in low dose ranges. Hormesis is the observation that toxins in low doses can protect against harmful doses of the same toxin. Satti called for better mathematical models, computer simulations, process optimization and clinical trials to fully exploit the potential of low dose metronomic therapy to cure chronic and complicated diseases, and for the development of protocols to standardize metronomic dosimetry in order to answer age old questions related to the dose, hormesis and homeopathy. He concluded that this new low-dose metronomic therapy will have far reaching effects in curing chronic diseases throughout the world.
Anti-cancer Effects of Homeopathic Drugs in Laboratory Animals and Cell Cultures
At the Amala Research Center, Kerala, India, Kumar et al.38 examined the anti-cancer and inhibitory effects of several potentized homeopathic remedies. The researchers used N-nitrosodiet41hylamine (NDEA) in rats to induce hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a difficult form of cancer to treat, along with elevated liver marker enzymes. Additionally, they induced sarcomas in mice with 3-methylcholanthrene. They then administered concomitantly four remedies commonly used in the homeopathic treatment of cancer; Ruta graveolens, Hydrastis canadensis, Lycopodium clavatum and Thuja occidentalis in 200c potency. Homeopathic literature shows that homeopathic physicians had observed clinical effects in cancer of the liver from some of these remedies (with the exception of Ruta graveolens). The researchers also tested Ruta graveolens 200c and Phosphorus 1M — a homeopathic drug that can be used for sarcoma — in the 3-methylcholanthrene treated mice. Placebo was given to control groups.
Preethi et al39 of the same group had previously tested Ruta graveolens 200c and the methanolic extract of Ruta graveolens. Preethi found it possessed antitumor activity against tumor cell induced ascites as well as solid tumors in mice, including Dalton’s Lymphoma ascites and Ehrlich carcinoma ascites. Pathak et al.30 showed in 2005 that Ruta graveolens 6c selectively induced cancer cell death in brain cancer cells and produced instability of telomeres. Sur et al.40 had previously found Lycopodium clavatum in potency to be hepatoprotective against CCl4 induced liver damage. Biswas et al.41 in 2004 and Pathak et al.42 in 2006 found that administration of Chelidonium majus and Lycopodium clavatum inhibited carcinogenesis induced by azo dye in rat liver.
The investigators in Kumar et al. (2007) found that the potentized homeopathic drugs retarded tumor growth and significantly reduced the elevated marker enzyme levels as revealed by morphological, biochemical and histopathological evaluation. Out of the four drugs studied, Ruta graveolens 200c showed maximum inhibition of liver tumor development. Ruta graveolens 200c and Phosphorus 1M reduced the incidence of 3-methylcholanthrene-induced sarcomas and also increased the life span of mice harboring the tumors. The authors concluded that homeopathic drugs, at “ultra low doses, may be able to decrease tumor induction by carcinogen administration.”
One might further conclude that treatment with these homeopathic remedies could potentially be useful in preventing the development of liver carcinoma and sarcoma in humans exposed to carcinogens such as those used in this study.
In another trial, Amala researchers Sunila et al.43 reported on their investigations of the antitumor and antimetastatic activity of selected homeopathic medicines against transplanted tumors in mice. They found that Ruta graveolens 200c and Hydrastis canadensis 200c significantly increased the lifespan of Ehrlich Ascites Carcinoma and Dalton’s Lymphoma Ascites induced tumor-bearing animals. Moreover they found 95.6% and 95.8% reduction of solid tumor volume in Ruta graveolens 200c and Hydrastis canadensis 200c treated animals on the 31st day after tumor inoculation. Hydrastis canadensis 1M given orally significantly inhibited the growth of developed solid tumors produced by DLA cells and increased the lifespan of tumor-bearing animals. Some 9 out of 15 animals with developed tumors were tumor free after treatment with Hydrastis canadensis 1M.
The investigators also found significant anti-metastatic activity in B16-F10 melanoma-bearing animals treated with Thuja occidentalis 1M, Hydrastis canadensis 1M and Lycopodium clavatum 1M. This was evident from the inhibition of lung tumor nodule formation, morphological and histopathological analysis of the lung and decreased levels of gamma-GT in serum, a cellular marker of proliferation. These findings support other observations that homeopathic preparations of Ruta graveolens and Hydrastis canadensis have significant antitumor activity. According to the authors, “this gives biochemical evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathic medicines in inhibiting metastasis.”
A further trial44 by that group (Sunila et al. 2009) evaluated the cytotoxic activity of 30c and 200c potencies of ten dynamized medicines against Dalton’s Lymphoma Ascites, Ehrlich’s Ascites Carcinoma, lung fibroblast (L929) and Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cell lines and compared activity with their mother tinctures during short-term and long-term cell culture. They also evaluated the effect of dynamized medicines to induce apoptosis (apoptosis is cell-death, a natural event in all cancer cells) and studied how dynamized medicines affected genes expressed during apoptosis. Mother tinctures as well as some dynamized medicines showed significant cytotoxicity to cells during short and long-term incubation. A potentiated alcohol control did not produce any cytotoxicity at the concentrations studied.
The researchers concluded that “dynamized medicines inhibit CHO cell colony formation and thymidine uptake in L929 cells” and Thuja occidentalis, Hydrastis canadensis and Carcinosinum in high potency “induce apoptosis in DLA cells.” They showed that Carcinosinum induced the expression of p53 (a tumor-suppressor protein) while Thuja occidentalis produced characteristic laddering pattern in agarose gel electrophoresis of DNA. According to the authors, these results indicate that dynamized medicines possess cytotoxic as well as apoptosis-inducing properties.
Preethi et al.45 (2008) presented evidence on the genotoxic and clastogenic potential of an extract of Ruta graveolens and Ruta graveolens 200c. The scientists noted various types of chromosomal aberrations were in bone marrow cells after treatment. The percentage of abnormal cells in the extract-administered group was between 21% and 31% depending on body weight. The value for the Ruta graveolens 200c treated group was also elevated to 23% as compared to 3% for untreated animals. In addition, bone marrow cells had a higher incidence of micronuclei induction when treated with the extract and with Ruta graveolens 200c for 30 days. Administration of the extract over a period of 30 days also resulted in damage to cellular DNA as evidenced by significant comet formation of the bone marrow cells. The comet tail moment of the bone marrow cells increased from 4.5 to 50.2 after treatment with the extract. Administration of Ruta graveolens 200c for 5 consecutive days increased the tail moment to 11.7. The researchers concluded that Ruta graveolens extract and Ruta graveolens 200c may induce genotoxicity in animals.
Preethi et al.46 studied the action of Ruta graveolens 200c, Carcinosinum 200c, Hydrastis canadensis 200c, Thuja occidentalis 200c, and Thuja occidentalis 1M for their ability to induce apoptosis as seen by morphology, DNA laddering, expression of genes related to apoptosis, and TUNEL assay. They also measured the effect of homeopathic medicines on apoptosis by microarray analysis and compared the activity of Ruta graveolens 200c with that of the mother tincture.
Ruta graveolens 200c produced morphological changes in the Dalton’s lymphoma ascites tumor cells and induced DNA laddering. Carcinosinum 200c increased apoptotic gene p53 and Ruta graveolens 200c decreased anti-apoptotic gene Bcl2. Administration of potentiated homeopathic drugs to tumor-bearing mice induced TUNEL-positive cells in the tumor, showing increased apoptosis of tumor cells. Microarray analysis of cells treated with homeopathic drugs indicated that many enzymes related to apoptosis were increased by homeopathic drugs. The researchers concluded that apoptosis is one of the mechanisms of tumor reduction of homeopathic drugs. According to the scientists a comparison of potentized drugs with their mother tincture indicated that the potentized drugs have biological activity similar to that of their mother tincture in spite of ultra-dilution.
Banerjee et al.,47 of the Kalyani group at the Cytogenetics and Molecular Biology Laboratory, University of Kalyani, India, examined the efficacy of the homeopathic drug Chelidonium majus 30c and 200c in ameliorating experimentally induced hepatic tumors and hepatotoxicity in rats. They randomized rats into six sub-groups: negative control; negative control+EtOH; positive control; positive control+EtOH group; Chelidonium majus 30c; Chelidonium majus 200c. They sacrificed the rats at day 30, 60, 90 and 120; and evaluated various toxicity biomarkers and pathological parameters, as well as employing gelatin zymography for determination of metalloproteinase activity and Western blot of p53 and Bcl-2 proteins. All analyses were observer blind.
The researchers found that chronic feeding of p-dimethylaminoazobenzene (p-DAB) and phenobarbital (PB) elevated the levels of aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), triglyceride, cholesterol, creatinine and bilirubin and lowered the levels of glutathione (GSH), glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6-PD), catalase and HDL-cholesterol. There were statistically significant modulations of these parameters in the treated animals, compared to positive controls. In both treated groups, there was down-regulation of metalloproteinases, p53 and Bcl-2 proteins compared to over-expression in the positive control groups. The researchers found that both potencies of Chelidonium majus exhibited anti-tumor and anti-oxidative stress potential against artificially induced hepatic tumors and hepato-toxicity in rats. They concluded that more studies are warranted.
Bhattacharyya et al.48 of the Kalyani group investigated an encapsulated plant extract of Gelsemium sempervirens poly (lactide-co-glycolide) nanoparticles’ capability to enhance cellular uptake and increase bioactivity. The group had previously demonstrated anticancer activity of crude EEGS (ethanolic extract of Gelsemium sempervirens) by in vitro studies on human HeLa cells. The analysis revealed that encapsulated EEGS was more potent than its un-encapsulated counterpart in inducing apoptosis of A375 cells (human malignant melanoma). The authors concluded that the non-toxic nano-extract had greater potential as an anticancer agent than the crude extract.
Bhattacharjee et al.49 examined whether the homeopathic (potentized) drugs Natrum sulphuricum and Carcinosinum prevent azo dye-induced hepatocarcinogenesis in mice. They asked whether Carcinosinum 200c (Car-200) could provide additional ameliorative effect, if used intermittently with Natrum sulphuricum 30c (Nat Sulph-30) against hepatocarcinogenesis induced by chronic feeding of p-dimethylaminoazobenzene (p-DAB) and phenobarbital (PB) in mice. They divided the mice randomly into seven sub-groups: (i) normal untreated; (ii) normal + succussed alcohol; (iii) p-DAB (0.06%) + PB (0.05%); (iv) p-DAB + PB + succussed alcohol, (v) p-DAB + PB + Nat Sulph-30, (vi) p-DAB + PB + Car-200, and (vii) p-DAB + PB + Nat Sulph-30 + Car-200.
The researchers sacrificed the animals at 30, 60, 90 and 120 days for assessment of genotoxicity through cytogenetic end-points like chromosome aberrations, micronuclei, mitotic index and sperm head anomaly and cytotoxicity through an assay of widely accepted biomarkers and pathophysiological parameters. Additionally, they conducted electron microscopic studies and gelatin zymography for matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in the livers at 90 and 120 days.
The results showed that administration of Natrum sulphuricum 30c alone and in combination with Carcinosinum 200c reduced the liver tumors with positive ultrastructural changes and in MMP expression, genotoxic parameters, lipid peroxidation, gamma-glutamyl transferase, lactate dehydrogenase, blood glucose, bilirubin, creatinine, urea and increased GSH, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenasc, superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione reductase activities and hemoglobin, cholesterol, and albumin levels. They concluded that intermittent use of Carcinosinum 200c along with Natrum sulphuricum 30c yielded additional benefit against genotoxicity, cytotoxicity, hepatotoxicity and oxidative stress induced by the carcinogens during hepatocarcinogenesis, confirming observations by homeopathic clinicians.
Another trial by this group, Pathak et al.50 found supportive evidence for the anti-cancer potential of homeopathic medicine against hepatocarcinogenesis in mice. They examined if Lycopodium clavatum 200c (Lyco-200), a homeopathic drug commonly used for the treatment of liver cancer, has demonstrable anti-cancer activities in mice while they are chronically fed carcinogens, p-dimethylaminoazobenzene (p-DAB) and phenobarbital (PB) to induce liver cancer.
The investigators chronically fed mice in five different groups for varying periods of time: group I: normal diet; group II: normal diet + alcohol 200; group III: p-DAB + PB; group IV: p-DAB + PB + alcohol 200 (vehicle of Lyco-200 being ethyl alcohol); group V: p-DAB + PB + Lyco-200. They sacrificed the mice at day 7, 15, 30, 60, 90 or 120, and assessed the following parameters: cytogenetic endpoints like chromosome aberrations, micronuclei, mitotic index and sperm-head anomaly; toxicity biomarkers like acid and alkaline phosphatases, alanine and aspartate amino transferase, glutathione reductase, succinate dehydrogenase and catalase activities, lipid peroxidation and reduced glutathione content.
Additionally, the scientists made scans and transmission electron microscopic analyses of liver tissues at day 90 and 120, and immune-detection of p53 protein and performed gelatin zymography for matrix metalloproteinases in liver tissue. Furthermore, they conducted studies on blood glucose, hemoglobin and cholesterol, estradiol, testosterone and cortisol, and lymphocyte and hepatic cell viabilities. They analyzed physical properties of Lyco-200 and potentized alcohol 200 by using methods such as UV, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), Fluorescence Spectroscopy, 1H-NMR and 13C-NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy).
The scientists found that Lycopodium clavatum 200c reduced cytogenetic damages yielding positive modulations of all biochemical, pathological and other risk factors, cell viability and expression of p53 protein and matrix metalloproteinases as compared to controls. The recommended that studies be conducted on other mammals to further investigate the potential of Lycopodium clavatum 200c in liver cancer.
Crude ethanolic extract of Thuja occidentalis (Cupressaceae) is used as homeopathic mother tincture to treat various ailments, particularly moles and certain cancerous tumors. It is also used in various other systems of traditional medicine for the treatment of cancer.
A trial by Biswas et al.51 of the Kalyani group tested the anti-proliferative and apoptosis-inducing properties of Thuja occidentalis and a thujone-rich fraction (TRF) separated from it. They evaluated the drugs for their possible anti-cancer potentials in the malignant melanoma cell line A375. On initial trial by S-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay, both Thuja occidentalis mother tincture and TRF showed maximum cytotoxic effect on the A375 cell line while the other three principal fractions separated by chromatography had negligible or no such effect. They characterized and subjected TRF further assays to determine its anti-proliferative and apoptotic properties. TRF had a molecular formula of C10H16O and a molecular weight of 152.
Exposure of TRF of Thuja occidentalis to A375 cells in vitro showed more cytotoxic, anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects as compared with the mother tincture, but had minimal growth inhibitory responses when exposed to normal cells (peripheral blood mononuclear cell). Furthermore, both Thuja occidentalis and TRF caused a significant decrease in cell viability, induced inter-nucleosomal DNA fragmentation, mitochondrial transmembrane potential collapse, increase in ROS generation, and release of cytochrome c and caspase-3 activation, all of which are closely related to the induction of apoptosis in A375 cells. TRF showed and matched all the anti-cancer responses of the mother tincture of Thuja occidentalis and could be the main bio-active fraction. The authors concluded that the use of Thuja occidentalis extract against tumors in traditional medicines as well as in homeopathy has, therefore, a scientific basis.
Khuda-Bukhsh et al.52 of the Kalyani group in collaboration with Dr Bellon of Boiron Laboratories, tested the hypothesis that suitable modulations of signal proteins could be one of the possible pathways of action of a highly diluted homeopathic drug, Secale cornutum 30c (Sec cor 30). It could successfully combat DMBA + croton oil induced skin papilloma in mice as evidenced by histological, cytogenetical, immunofluorescence, ELISA and immunoblot findings. The analysis of several signal proteins and pro-apoptotic proteins revealed that Secale cornutum 30c suitably modulated their expression levels along with amelioration of skin papilloma. There was reduction in genotoxic and DNA damage in bone marrow cells of Secale cornutum 30c-fed mice, as revealed from cytogenetic and Comet assays, and changes in histological features of skin papilloma. The study showed anti-cancer potential of Secale cornutum 30c against skin papilloma. According to the authors, this study also supports the hypothesis that potentized homeopathic drugs act at gene regulatory level.
Polygala senega is extensively used in traditional systems of medicine against various lung diseases including cancer. In homeopathic clinical practice it has been used primarily for the treatment of pleurisy, hemoptysis, and occasionally for lung cancer.
Paul et al.53 from the Kalyani group tested the anticancer potentials of ethanolic extract of roots of Polygala senega (Senega) in a mammalian model, treating mice, in vivo, chronically with benzo[a] pyrene and in vitro using lung adenocarcinoma cell line (A549). They deployed various parameters like cell viability assay, chromatin condensation studies with Hoechst 333258 staining, and maintained suitable controls. To gain an understanding of the possible signal transduction pathways, they studied expression of various signal proteins such as aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), cytochrome P450 (CYP1A1), Bcl-2, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), Bax and caspase-3. Additionally, they made reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis of AhR, p53, PCNA and b-actin (housekeeping) genes. They conducted immunohistochemical localization of PCNA proteins in vivo. Feeding the root extract of Polygala senega to mice (at the rate of 50 mg/kg and 100 mg/kg by weight) chronically treated with the carcinogen (50 mg/kg bw dissolved in olive oil) showed positive modulation in expression of signal proteins.
The scientists observed up-regulation of apoptotic signals such as p53, caspase-3 and Bax, and down-regulation of AhR, cytochrome P450 (CYP1A1), Bcl-2 and PCNA. The addition of the root extract of Polygala senega (at doses of 50 μg and 100 μg) into culture medium containing A549 cells induced recovery of decreased cell viability and increased chromatin fragmentation (apoptosis). Therefore, according to the authors, the results of both in vivo and in vitro studies scientifically validate the potential use of Polygala senega as an anticancer agent, particularly against lung cancer, and provide important information potentially helpful in drug design.
In addition to proving efficacy for certain cancer drugs, homeopathic cancer research can additionally help answer controversial questions remaining in clinical debate. The question whether two remedies administered in alternation can show additional benefits over only one remedy has been hotly debated among homeopathic clinicians. The following study found additional benefit when both remedies were used.
Bhattacharjee et al.54 evaluated whether potentized Cholesterinum (Chol) intermittently used with another homeopathic remedy, Natrum sulphuricum (Nat-sulph) can provide additional benefits in combating hepatotoxicity generated by chronic feeding of carcinogens, p-dimethylaminoazobenzene (p-DAB) and phenobarbital (PB). They categorized mice into sub-groups: Group 1: normal untreated; Group 2: normal + alcohol “vehicle” (Alc); Group 3: 0.06% p-DAB + 0.05% PB; Group 4: p-DAB + PB + Alc; Group 5: p-DAB + PB + Nat Sulph-30; Group 6: p-DAB + PB + Chol-200; Group 7: p-DAB + PB + Nat Sulph-30 + Chol-200; Group 8: p-DAB + PB + Nat Sulph-200; Group 9: p-DAB + PB + Nat Sulph-200 + Chol-200. They assessed hepatotoxicity through biomarkers like aspartate and alanine aminotransferases (AST and ALT), acid and alkaline phosphatases (AcP and AlkP), reduced glutathione content (GSH), glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and analysis of lipid peroxidation (LPO) at 30, 60, 90 and 120 days and assayed anti-oxidant biomarkers like superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione reductase (GR). They conducted electron microscopic studies (scanning and transmission) and gelatin zymography for matrix metalloproteinases were conducted in liver. Increased activities of AST, ALT, AcP, AlkP, GGT, LDH and LPO and decreased activities of G6PD, SOD, CAT, GR and GSH were positively modulated in intoxicated drug fed mice of Groups 5 through 9, but changes were more appreciable in Groups 7 and 9. Thus, combined homeopathic therapy provided additional benefits in combating hepatotoxicity.
Chatterjee et al. 55 studied the clinical efficacy of an alternative cancer treatment “Psorinum Therapy” in treating stomach, gall bladder, pancreatic and liver cancers. The study was observational, open level and single arm. The participants’ eligibility criteria included histopathology/cytopathology confirmation of malignancy, inoperable tumor, and no prior chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The primary outcome measures of the study were (i) to assess the radiological tumor response and (ii) to find out how many participants survived at least 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years and finally 5 years after the beginning of the study considering each type of cancer. The researchers administered Psorinum 6x orally to all participants up to 0.02 ml/Kg body weight as a single dose in empty stomach per day for 2 years along with allopathic and homeopathic supportive care. 158 participants (42 of stomach, 40 of gall bladder, 44 of pancreatic, 32 of liver) were included in the final analysis of the study. Complete tumor response occurred in 28 (17.72%) cases and partial tumor response occurred in 56 (35.44%) cases. The researchers concluded that double-blind randomized controlled clinical trials should be conducted for further scientific exploration of this alternative cancer treatment.
Frenkel et al.,56 in a collaboration of researchers at the Integrative Medicine Program, Department of Molecular Pathology, and the Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology, at The University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, Texas, studied four high potencies of homeopathic drugs commonly used in homeopathic practice for cancers (Carcinosinum, Phytolacca decandra, Conium maculatum and Thuja occidentalis) for cytotoxic effects against two human breast adenocarcinoma cell lines (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) and a cell line derived from immortalized normal human mammary epithelial cells (HMLE). Also collaborating were researchers from the PBH Research Foundation whose clinical protocol incorporates these four homeopathic drugs in breast cancer treatment.
The Houston group found the drugs exerted preferential cytotoxic effects against the two breast cancer cell lines, causing cell cycle delay/arrest and apoptosis. These effects were accompanied by altered expression of the cell cycle regulatory proteins, including down-regulation of phosphorylated Rb and up-regulation of the CDK inhibitor p27, which according to the authors were likely responsible for the cell cycle delay/arrest as well as induction of the apoptotic cascade that manifested in the activation of caspase 7 and cleavage of PARP in the treated cells. The authors concluded that their “findings demonstrate biological activity of homeopathic products when presented at ultra-diluted doses.”
The authors note that the patients who come to M D Anderson’s Integrative Medicine Clinic already use homeopathy or have a marked interest in integrating this treatment with their conventional therapies because the agents have no toxicity and are easy to use. They also report a growing interest in the Banerji protocol among patients at their clinic, even citing this fact as the impetus for the present study. This collaboration between researchers and clinicians shows that increasing treatment success in homeopathy can lead to additional research activity. Should the research yield significant positive results, it in turn can attract more patients to homeopathic therapy as well as stimulate further research.
The researchers concluded that their findings should encourage further preclinical and animal investigation of these remedies as preventive and/or therapeutic treatments for breast cancer. In a review of homeopathic cancer research57 Dr Frenkel notes that “the positive reports from the few laboratory experiments in cancer models that are mentioned in this review are indeed noteworthy. Appropriate clinical trials are still needed to investigate the use of homeopathy in cancer care.”
This conclusion implies that research is expected to show what the author has already admitted to be the case, that patients choose homeopathy, sometimes in addition and sometimes instead of conventional cancer treatment. This confirms our conclusion during this review, that the interest in homeopathy for cancer care is driven by patients, not by researchers.
Melanoma is a particularly deadly form of cancer and the most rapidly expanding cancer in terms of worldwide incidence. Chemotherapeutic approaches to treat melanoma have shown relatively low efficacy. Among the numerous agents tested on melanoma, cytokines have attracted much attention over recent decades, in particular interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha). However, previous studies58 have found homeopathic drugs to be effective in the treatment of melanoma.
Pascual-Carpe et al.59 of the Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Murcia University, in Murcia, Spain, analyzed the effects of INF-alpha and Lymphomyosot, a combination homeopathic remedy, administered individually or in combination, on the growth of B16F10 melanoma transplanted in C57BL/6J mice. The scientists performed two experiments using 72 young male mice treated with 1 x 10(6) B16F10 cells and with phosphate-buffered saline (I), INF-alpha (II), Lymphomyosot (III), and both INF-alpha and Lymphomyosot (IV). The researchers performed subsequent morphological and immunohistochemical studies. All treatments produced a reduction in tumor weight with significant differences in those treated with INF-alpha and Lymphomyosot. INF-alpha reduced the cell proliferation index and the spread of inflammatory infiltrates and produced an increase in the extent of intratumoral necrosis. An antitumor effect was demonstrated by both agents as was the cytotoxicity of INF-alpha and the immune response-stimulating effect of Lymphomyosot.
Guimarães et al.59 of the Laboratório de Pesquisa em Células Inflamatórias e Neoplásicas, tested a Brazilian complex homeopathic medication (CHM), used as an immune modulator, that has been recommended for patients with depressed immune systems. They studied the interaction of mouse lymph node lymphocytes, co-cultured in vitro with macrophages in the presence or absence of the CHM, with B16F10 melanoma cells.
They found that lymphocytes co-cultured with macrophages in the presence of the CHM had greater anti-melanoma activity, reducing melanoma cell density and increasing the number of lysed tumor cells. There was also a higher proportion of activated (CD25+) lymphocytes with increased viability. Overall, lymphocytes activated by treatment destroyed growing cancer cells more effectively than control lymphocytes.
They concluded that a co-culture of macrophages with lymphocytes in the presence of the CHM enhanced the anti-cancer performance of lymphocytes against a very aggressive lineage of melanoma cells. These results suggest that non-toxic therapies using CHMs are a promising alternative approach to the treatment of melanomas. In addition, according to the authors of the study, they are attractive combination-therapy candidates, which may enhance the efficacy of conventional medicines by improving the immune response against tumor cells.
Guimarães et al., researchers from the same Laboratório de Pesquisa em Células Inflamatórias e Neoplásicas Depto de Biologia Celular, Setor de Ciências Biológicas, and from the Federal University of Paraná, in Curitiba, Brazil and from the Cell Biology Unit (CBU), Institut Pasteur de Montevideo (IPMon), Uruguay, described the in vitro inhibition of B16F10 cells invasion and the in vivo anti metastatic potential after treatment with a homeopathic drug by inhalation in the B16F10 lung metastasis model. Previous studies 60 in mice had demonstrated that a high diluted complex of the homeopathic drug Calcarea carbonica (M8) stimulated the tumoricidal response of activated lymphocytes against B16F10 melanoma cells in vitro. In the present trial they found that M8 had at least two functions, as inhibitor of cancer cell adhesion and invasion and as perlecan expression antagonist, which have a strong correlation with several metastatic, angiogenic and invasive factors in melanoma tumors. The authors concluded that this medication is a promising complementary non-toxic therapy candidate, which may enhance the efficacy of conventional medicines by improving the immune response against tumor cells or even inducing direct dormancy in malignances.
Benkendorff et al.61 at the School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, in Adelaide, Australia evaluated the in vitro bioactivity of egg mass extracts of the Australian muricid Dicathais orbita, in comparison to the homeopathic remedy Murex pupurea, against human carcinoma and lymphoma cells. The Murex remedy showed little biological activity against the majority of cell lines tested. In contrast, the Dicathais orbita egg extracts significantly decreased cell viability in the majority of carcinoma cell lines. Flow cytometry revealed these extracts induce necrosis in HT29 colorectal cancer cells, whereas apoptosis was induced in Jurkat cells. According to the authors these findings highlight the biomedical potential of Muricidae extracts in the development of a natural therapy for the treatment of neoplastic tumors and lymphomas.
Smit et al.62 researchers at the Department of Anatomy, University of Pretoria, South Africa, reviewed immunomodulators with reference to the homeopathic product Canova. Immunomodulators are substances which modify the immunity of an individual to favor a particular immunological response. The researchers described immune response and the function of the immune response regulation process with special reference to cancer and autoimmune disease. Canova is a homeopathic product produced, “according to the Hahnemannian homeopathic method,” in Brazil. The article reviewed its role in cancer, bone marrow and hematopoiesis as well as macrophage and monocyte activation. Canova seemed to stabilize platelet morphology in human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS). The data suggested that the future of immunomodulators and homeopathic products, which appear to have an effect on the immune response, requires a better understanding of the relative need for immune activation versus immune modulation. The authors concluded that homeopathic products specifically need more attention by researchers.
Mikhvetadze et al.63 investigated if different agents had any effect on ion transport of Ca2+ in tumor cells (Erlich’s carcinomas). The researchers used various agents — ionizing radiation, the antitumor preparation vinkristin and a homeopathic drug — to stimulate phosphoric acid diluted at 10-14. They found that small doses of radiation always had a stimulating effect on ion transport even in combination with vinkristin, which separately always depressed it. Both, separately and in any combination, stimulated phosphoric acid, and always reinforced trans-membrane ion transport. They suggest a hypothesis on the participation of Ca2+ in the process of repairing tumor cells. At increasing Ca2+ concentrations in the environment a trans-membrane transport of this ion induces strengthening of adhesive properties of the cell. However, it is known that in tumors these properties are normally decreased. Apparently, in this case two contrary processes — strengthening and decrease of adhesive properties take place pointing to the fact that reparative forces in tumor process had developed.
Riede64 reported about a novel approach to tumor therapy with Amanita phalloides (death cap mushroom) for the treatment of leukemia, i.e. the stabilization of B-cell chronic lymphatic leukemia. The article explained the rationale for this treatment as follows: molecular events that cause tumor formation up-regulate a number of HOX genes, called switch genes, coding for RNA polymerase II transcription factors. Thus, in tumor cells, RNA polymerase II is more active than in other somatic cells. Amanita phalloides contains amanitin, capable of inhibiting RNA polymerase II. Partial inhibition with amanitin influences tumor cell — but not normal cell — activity.
The scientists gave various homeopathic dilutions beginning with the second decimal potency of Amanita phalloides, to a patient with leukemia while monitoring the leukemic cell count. They found that while the former duplication time of leukemic cells was 21 months, within a period of 21 months the cell count was stabilized to around 10(5)/μL. No leukemia-associated symptoms, liver damage, or continuous erythrocyte deprivation occurred. The report concluded that this novel approach to tumor therapy shows high potential to provide a gentle medical treatment.
Research Methodologies and Mechanism of Action
According to a review65 by Professor A R Khuda-Bukhsh, his group of researchers has used mice as a model for homeopathic research in relation to cytotoxicity, genotoxicity and carcinogenesis in their laboratory for the last three decades. Initially, they tested anti-radiation activities of several potentized homeopathic drugs against suitable controls by taking into consideration several cytogenetic endpoints. Subsequently, they tested anti-cytotoxic, anti-genotoxic and anti-oxidative stress effects of some homeopathic drugs against several chemical toxic metalloids and metal compounds. They then deployed modern techniques including Western blot, immunofluorescence, electron microscopy, UV-spectroscopy, HPLC, FTIR, NMR, RT-PCR, etc. to understand the possible mechanisms and pathways of action of potentized homeopathic drugs. Khuda-Bukhsh has proposed that one way by which potentized homeopathic drugs act is through regulatory action on gene expression.
Bonamin et al.66 of the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, University Paulista, Brazil, conducted a systematic review of the animal models used in studies of high dilutions to analyze the methodological quality of papers and reported results, and to highlight key conceptual aspects of high dilution to suggest clues concerning putative mechanisms of action.
The researchers identified papers for inclusion systematically from the Pubmed-Medline database, using “homeopathy” and “animal” as keywords. They included only original full papers in English published between January 1999 and June 2009, reviews, scientific reports, theses, older papers, papers extracted from Medline using similar keywords, and they also considered, for discussion only, papers about mixed commercial formulas and books. They identified 31 papers describing 33 experiments for the main analysis from a total of 89 items cited.
Systematic analysis of the selected papers yielded evidence of some important intrinsic features of high dilution studies performed in animal models: a) methodological quality was generally adequate, some aspects could be improved; b) convergence between results and materia medica is seen in some studies, pointing to the possibility of a systematic study of the Similia principle, c) both isopathic and Similia models seem useful to understand some complex biological phenomena, such as parasite-host interactions, d) the effects of high dilutions seem to stimulate restoration of a “stable state,” as seen in several experimental models from both descriptive and mathematical points of view.
Homeopathic Treatment For Adverse Effects From Conventional Cancer Therapy
Kassab et al.67 of the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital examined the effectiveness and safety of homeopathic drugs to prevent or treat adverse effects of cancer treatments. They report that homeopathic medicines are used by patients with cancer, often alongside conventional treatment. Conventional cancer treatments can cause considerable morbidity, and one of the reasons patients use homeopathic medicines is to help counter the adverse effects.
The study’s selection criteria were randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of homeopathic drugs in participants with a clinical or histological diagnosis of cancer where the intervention was aimed at preventing or treating symptoms associated with cancer treatments. All age groups, and all stages of disease were included. Two review authors independently assessed studies for inclusion and two review authors extracted data. Three review authors independently assessed trial quality using the Delphi List and the Cochrane Collaboration’s tool for assessing risk of bias. Disagreements were resolved by consensus. Where available, data were extracted for analysis.
Eight controlled trials (seven placebo-controlled and one trial against an active treatment) with a total of 664 participants met the inclusion criteria. Three studied adverse effects of radiotherapy, three studied adverse effects of chemotherapy and two studied menopausal symptoms associated with breast cancer treatment. Two studies with low risk of bias demonstrated benefit: one with 254 participants demonstrated superiority of topical calendula over trolamine (a topical agent not containing corticosteroids) for prevention of radiotherapy-induced dermatitis, and another with 32 participants demonstrated superiority of Traumeel S (a proprietary complex homeopathic medicine) over placebo as a mouthwash for chemotherapy-induced stomatitis. Two other studies reported positive results, although the risk of bias was unclear, and four further studies reported negative results. No serious adverse effects or interactions were reported attributable to the homeopathic medicines used.
The authors concluded that their review had found preliminary data in support of the efficacy of topical Calendula officinalis tincture for prophylaxis of acute dermatitis during radiotherapy and Traumeel S mouthwash in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced stomatitis, however they stated that the trials needed replicating. In addition, they deduced from the data that there is no convincing evidence for the efficacy of homeopathic drugs for other adverse effects of cancer treatments and that further research is required.
Amala scientists, Sunila et al.68 examined the effects of Thuja occidentalis against damage induced by gamma radiation. Ionizing radiation is toxic to organisms since it induces deleterious structural changes in essential macromolecules. Agents that protect normal tissues against radiation damage can increase patient tolerance to radiotherapy. Several synthetic compounds have been found to provide good radiation protection in experimental animals, but their clinical utility is limited by their expensive cost and their toxicity on repeated administration. Drugs such as amifostine produce side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and hypotension. Therefore, there is a need to find nontoxic and less expensive drugs for clinical radioprotection.
The trial showed a protective effect from an alcoholic extract of Thuja occidentalis in animals exposed to radiation. Whole-body exposure of Swiss albino mice to g-rays (6 Gy) reduced the total white blood cell count to 1900 cells/mm3 on the third day, which was elevated to 2050 cells/mm3 by the administration of alcoholic extract of Thuja occidentalis (5 mg/dose/animal, intraperitoneally). Six animals from each group were killed after 2, 7, and 11 days of irradiation to detect the bone marrow cellularity and radiation-induced toxicity. The number of bone marrow cells and a-esterase positive cells in control animals after 11 days was reduced to 12.2 × 106 cells/femur and 693.5/4000 cells, respectively. In Thuja occidentalis-treated animals, bone marrow cellularity was increased to 16.9 × 106 cells/femur and a-esterase positive cells were 940/4000 cells, a nearly normal level. Thuja occidentalis reduced the elevated levels of GPT and alkaline phosphatase in liver and serum after irradiation. Lipid peroxidation levels were also lowered in the irradiated animals treated with Thuja occidentalis.
Hot flushes are common in women with a history of breast cancer. Hormonal therapies are known to reduce these symptoms but are not recommended in women with a history of breast cancer due to their potential adverse effects. The efficacy of non-hormonal therapies is still considered uncertain.
To assess the efficacy of non-hormonal therapies in reducing hot flushes in women with a history of breast cancer, Rada et al.69 searched the Cochrane Breast Cancer Group Specialised Register, CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library), MEDLINE, EMBASE, LILACS, CINAHL, PsycINFO (August 2008) and WHO ICTRP Search Portal. They hand searched reference lists of reviews and included articles, reviewed conference proceedings and contacted experts. They included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing non-hormonal therapies with placebo or no therapy for reducing hot flushes in women with a history of breast cancer. Two authors independently selected potentially relevant studies, decided upon their inclusion and extracted data on participant characteristics, interventions, outcomes and the risk of bias of included studies.
Sixteen RCTs met inclusion criteria. The researchers included six studies on selective serotonin (SSRI) and serotonin-norepinephrine (SNRI) reuptake inhibitors, two on clonidine, one on gabapentin, two each on relaxation therapy and homeopathy, and one each on vitamin E, magnetic devices and acupuncture. The risk of bias of most studies was rated as low or moderate. Data on continuous outcomes were presented inconsistently among studies, which precluded the possibility of pooling the results. Three pharmacological treatments (SSRIs and SNRIs, clonidine and gabapentin) reduced the number and severity of hot flushes. One study assessing vitamin E did not show any beneficial effect. One of two studies on relaxation therapy showed a significant benefit. None of the other non-pharmacological therapies showed a significant benefit. Side-effects were inconsistently reported. Clonidine, SSRIs and SNRIs, gabapentin and relaxation therapy showed a mild to moderate effect on reducing hot flushes in women with a history of breast cancer.
Orellana Alvarellos et al.70 of the Center of Obstetrics and Gynecology, at Ginesia, Providencia, in Santiago de Chile, Chile, published a series of case reports to conduct a clinical evaluation of a complex homeopathic injection therapy in the management of pain in patients after breast cancer treatment. According to the authors, in breast cancer patients, post-treatment pain often appears after several months and strongly impairs health-related quality of life. Conventional methods of pain reduction (including procaine injections) are often ineffective. Injection therapy with Traumeel (Heel GmbH, Baden-Baden, Germany), a combination drug with analgesic properties used in homotoxicology — a method deriving from homeopathy — for treatment of pain and inflammation associated with trauma, was proposed for pain relief after breast cancer treatment.
Nine patients still suffering from a high level of pain after breast cancer therapy despite use of postoperative treatment with conventional analgesics were invited to participate. A Traumeel and procaine injection was administered once a week for three to ten sessions. The level of pain was assessed by a pain score and physical and psychological status by a questionnaire before and directly after injection and again at follow-up visits after three and six months.
After the last injection, all patients experienced a marked reduction of their level of pain on average from 7.6 ± 1.5 to 2.4 ± 1.4 points on a scale from 1 to 10 points. After a follow-up observational phase of three and 6 months, pain score ratings increased slightly again in some patients but remained consistently low in others. In any case, the ratings of pain levels did not reach the values assessed before the start of Traumeel injections. Similarly, health-related quality of life improved with this injection therapy. The perception of pain relief with Traumeel injection was high in eight of nine patients, reflecting an overall perceived positive outcome and tolerability of this treatment. The authors concluded that the case series represents a first encouraging approach to using this complex homeopathic injection for pain relief in breast cancer patients.
Rostock M, et al.71 at the Tumor Biology Center at Albert Ludwig’s University Freiburg, Germany, conducted a prospective observational study with cancer patients to find out whether homeopathic care was of benefit for cancer patients as a complementary treatment. They studied two differently treated cohorts: one cohort with patients under complementary homeopathic treatment (HG; n = 259), and one cohort with conventionally treated cancer patients (CG; n = 380). For a direct comparison, matched pairs of patients with the same tumor entity and comparable prognosis were to be formed. The main outcome parameter was: change of quality of life (FACT-G, FACIT-Sp) after 3 months. Secondary outcome parameters were — change of quality of life (FACT-G, FACIT-Sp) after a year, as well as impairment by fatigue (MFI) and by anxiety and depression (HADS). The investigators observed an improvement of quality of life as well as a tendency of fatigue symptoms to decrease in cancer patients under complementary homeopathic treatment. They concluded it would take considerably larger samples to find matched pairs suitable for comparison in order to establish a definite causal relationship between these effects and homeopathic treatment.
Following surgery for carcinoma of the breast, patients receive local radiotherapy. This can cause itching, which may be severe, in the area irradiated. The affected skin usually is dry, rough and red.
Schlappack et al.72 at the Department of Radiotherapy and Radiobiology, at the University of Vienna, Austria, studied homeopathic treatment of radiation-induced itching in breast cancer patients. Twenty-five patients were treated homeopathically for radiation-induced itching. Fourteen patients developed itching during their course of post-operative radiation at 27 days median (range: 14-40 days). Eleven patients experienced itching in the radiation field after completion of treatment (median 21 days) after the end of their radiation treatment. The patients received a single dose of an individually selected homeopathic medicine in 30c potency in the clinic, on the basis of repertorization. Patients were asked to record a visual analogue scale (VAS) before prescription of the homeopathic medicine and at follow-up. Patients were evaluated at median 3 days (range: 1-27 days) after administration of the homeopathic drug.
In total, 14 of 25 patients (56%) responded to the first medicine. Nine patients had a second medicine: seven responded. Altogether 21 of 25 (84%) patients were successfully treated. The following remedies were employed successfully: Fluoricum acidum 9/13, Rhus toxicodendron 3/5, Causticum 2/3, Ignatia amara 2/2, Psorinum 2/2, Gamma-ray 2/2 and Kali bichromicum 1/1. The VAS measurements before and after homeopathic treatment showed a reduction of the median value of 64mm (range: 20-100mm) to 34mm (median; range: 0-84mm). According to the authors, homeopathic treatment of radiation-induced itching appears quite successful. The most frequently indicated and most frequently effective medicine was Fluoricum acidum. They call for a new approach that allows greater understanding of the patient as a whole in the short time available in a busy clinic.
Laboratory studies in vitro and in vivo show that homeopathic drugs, in addition to having the capacity to reduce the size of tumors and to induce apoptosis, can induce protective and restorative effects. Additionally homeopathic treatment has shown effects when used as a complementary therapy for the effects of conventional cancer treatment. This confirms observations from our own clinical experience as well as that of others that when suitable remedies are selected according to individual indications as well as according to pathology and to cell-line indications and administered in the appropriate doses according to the standard principles of homeopathic posology, homeopathic treatment of cancer can be a highly effective therapy for all kinds of cancers and leukemia as well as for the harmful side effects of conventional treatment. More research is needed to corroborate these clinical observations.
Homeopathy over almost two decades of its existence has developed more than four hundred remedies for cancer treatment. Only a small fraction have been subjected to scientific study so far. More homeopathic remedies need to be studied to establish if they have any significant action in cancer. Undoubtedly the next big step in homeopathic cancer research must be multiple comprehensive double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trials. To assess the effect of homeopathic treatment in clinical settings, volunteer adult patients who prefer to try homeopathic treatment instead of conventional therapy could be recruited, especially in cases for which no conventional therapy has been shown to be effective.
Many of the researchers conducting studies — cited here but not discussed — on the growing interest in homeopathic cancer treatment have observed that patients are driving the demand for access to homeopathic and other alternative modes of cancer treatment. So long as existing cancer treatment is fraught with danger and low efficacy, it is urgent that the research on and the provision of quality homeopathic cancer treatment be made available for those who wish to try it.
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Khuda-Bukhsh AR, Bhattacharyya SS, Paul S, Dutta S, Boujedaini N, Belon P. Modulation of Signal Proteins: A Plausible Mechanism to Explain How a Potentized Drug Secale Cor 30C Diluted beyond Avogadro’s Limit Combats Skin Papilloma in Mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009 Jul 16. [Epub ahead of print]
Paul S, Mandal SK, Bhattacharyya SS, Boujedaini N, Khuda-Bukhsh AR. In vitro and in vivo studies demonstrate anticancer property of root extract of Polygala senega. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2010 Sep;3(3):188-96.
Bhattacharjee N, Khuda-Bukhsh AR. Can homeopathic Cholesterinum 200c used intermittently with Natrum sulphuricum 30c or 200c provide additional protective effects against hepatotoxicity induced by carcinogens in mice? An experimental probe. Prepublication manuscript sent by authors.
Chatterjee A, Biswas J, Chatterjee A, Bhattacharya S, Mukhopadhyay B, Mandal S. Psorinum therapy in treating stomach, gall bladder, pancreatic, and liver cancers: a prospective clinical study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:724743. Epub 2010 Dec 8.
Frenkel M, Mishra BM, Sen S, Yang P, Pawlus A, Vence L, Leblanc A, Cohen L, Banerji P, Banerji P. Cytotoxic effects of ultra-diluted remedies on breast cancer cells. Int J Oncol. 2010 Feb;36(2):395-403.
Frenkel M, Homeopathy in cancer care. Altern Ther Health Med. 2010 May-Jun;16(3):12-6.
Pascual-Carpe F, Vicente-Ortega V, Campos-Aranda M, Yañez-Gascón J. In vivo treatment of melanoma (B16F10) with a homeopathic agent and with a cytokine (IFN-alpha). Oncol Res. 2006;16(5):211-6.
Guimarães FS, Abud AP, Oliveira SM, Oliveira CC, César B, Andrade LF, Donatti L, Gabardo J, Trindade ES, Buchi DF. Stimulation of lymphocyte anti-melanoma activity by co-cultured macrophages activated by complex homeopathic medication. BMC Cancer. 2009 Aug 22;9:293.
Guimarães FS, Andrade LF, Martins ST, Abud AP, Sene RV, Wanderer C, Tiscornia I, Bollati-Fogolín M, Buchi DF, Trindade ES. In vitro and in vivo anticancer properties of a Calcarea carbonica derivative complex (M8) treatment in a murine melanoma model. BMC Cancer. 2010 Mar 25;10:113.
Benkendorff K, McIver CM, Abbott CA. Bioactivity of the Murex Homeopathic Remedy and of Extracts from an Australian Muricid Mollusc Against Human Cancer Cells. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009 Jun 2. [Epub ahead of print]
Smit E, Oberholzer HM, Pretorius E. A review of immunomodulators with reference to Canova. Homeopathy. 2009 Jul;98(3):169-76.
Mikhvetadze AV, Nadate˘ıshvili GG. Georgian Med News. 2006 Nov;(140):98-100. [Peculiarities of ion transport of calcium in tumor cells under conditions of irradiation by ionizing radiation, chemopreparations and homeopathic means].[Article in Russian]
Riede I, Tumor therapy with Amanita phalloides (death cap): stabilization of B-cell chronic lymphatic leukemia. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Oct;16(10):1129-32.
Khuda-Bukhsh AR, Mice as a model for homeopathy research. Homeopathy. 2009 Oct;98(4):267-79.
Bonamin LV, Endler PC. Animal models for studying homeopathy and high dilutions: conceptual critical review. Homeopathy. 2010 Jan;99(1):37-50.
Kassab S, Cummings M, Berkovitz S, van Haselen R, Fisher P. Homeopathic medicines for adverse effects of cancer treatments. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Apr 15;(2):CD004845.
Sunila ES, Kuttan G. Protective Effect of Thuja occidentalis Against Radiation-Induced Toxicity in Mice Integr Cancer Ther 2005; 4; 322
Rada G, Capurro D, Pantoja T, Corbalán J, Moreno G, Letelier LM, Vera C. Non-hormonal interventions for hot flushes in women with a history of breast cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Sep 8;(9):CD004923.
Orellana Alvarellos G, Ruiz de Viñaspre Alvear P, Kaszkin-Bettag M. A series of case reports: clinical evaluation of a complex homeopathic injection therapy in the management of pain in patients after breast cancer treatment. Altern Ther Health Med 2010 Jan-Feb;16(1):54-9.
Rostock M, Naumann J, Guethlin C, Guenther L, Bartsch HH, Walach H. Classical homeopathy in the treatment of cancer patients–a prospective observational study of two independent cohorts. BMC Cancer. 2011 Jan 17;11:19.
Schlappack O, Homeopathic treatment of radiation-induced itching in breast cancer patients. A prospective observational study. Homeopathy. 2004 Oct;93(4):210-5.
Manfred Mueller, MA, DHM, RSHom(NA), CCH has been a homeopath in private practice since 1986. He has developed a comprehensive approach to homeopathic treatment for the adverse effects of past infections, vaccinations, drugs, toxins and occupational exposures. Mueller has published numerous articles in homeopathic journals and has written many that you will find either in this blog, or by clicking above in the "Resources" section and going to the Library.