Holistic Breast Cancer Therapies:
Coordinating Holistic Science with Conventional Medicine

Information and advice given by Tami Dickerson, M.H., Herbal Outpost,1 or this book is not intended to replace the professional advice given by your licensed physician. You are strongly advised to discuss all changes in your health care plan with your licensed physician and seek professional guidance before making any changes.

All therapies and recommendations discussed in this book are based on current medical science available at the time of this writing.

If you are already seeking the advice of holistic health practitioners you must be sure all of your practitioners, as well as your physicians, are informed of all the treatments, supplements, and therapies that you are currently using. This greatly reduces the risk of side effects and other adverse reactions that may occur with combined treatments. Remember: Your conventional health professionals and your holistic health practitioners are all a part of your health care team working to help you fight and survive cancer's assault.

1 Herbal Outpost is an independent, privately owned company.




Chapter 01

Overview on Cancer


Chapter 02

Breast Cancer Explained


Chapter 03

Finding a Good Holistic Practitioner


Chapter 04



Chapter 05

Aromatherapy/Bach Flower Essences


Chapter 06



Chapter 07

Guided Imagery


Chapter 08

Herbal Support


Chapter 09

Hydrazine Sulfate


Chapter 10

Hyperthermia Therapy


Chapter 11

Lymphedema Treatments


Chapter 12

Marijuana/Cannabis Therapy


Chapter 13

Music Therapy


Chapter 14

Nutritional Support


Chapter 15

Phantom Pains and Sensations


Cancer Glossary


Cancer Information



Because breast cancer can become so intrusive in a woman's life receiving a diagnosis of cancer is an alarming thing for anyone. You will feel frightened. You will feel a sense of loss of control. You will already dread the aggressive treatment you know you'll need before you've even begun treatment. Even the strongest minded woman may feel overwhelmed by such a diagnosis. These feelings are normal, and they are valid, but they can also become crippling. Therefore, the first thing you need to do once you have been diagnosed is set up a support system to help you through this emotional upheaval. Do not be afraid to rely on family members and close friends to help you through this. Those who love you will not see you as a burden, and they want to help you in any way they can – remember, your cancer diagnosis is also devastating to them too. If you do not have a close friend or nearby family member that you can lean on do not give up hope as there are support options still available to you. Do not be afraid to seek support from your local house of worship, community cancer support groups, online cancer support groups, social-media based support groups, support groups associated with local charities, and support groups associated with your local hospital or cancer center. You can either perform a Google search to find these groups or ask your physician if she knows locations and times of some of the groups. You are not alone in your diagnosis, and a sisterhood of other women who are going through the same things you are will invigorate your spirit and lighten your load. This alone is a tremendous step towards restoring your health and battling the disease.1
The second thing you need to do is start educating yourself regarding your particular type of cancer. Breast cancer and its various treatments can quickly become confusing and easily misunderstood. Education, however, empowers you; for the more you know what you're dealing with and how to deal with it, the bigger the advantage you have over the disease. Keep in mind, education puts you in control of the disease, not the other way around. Start by directing all of your concerns and questions to your oncologist (the doctor specializing in your cancer treatment). She is there to help you understand, so do not feel you are wasting her time – answering your questions is an expected part of her job. You should also think about getting involved with your local hospital or cancer center and inquire whether they have a library of informational materials you can borrow from. If you are seeking information on the Internet, use caution and don't blindly believe everything you read online. Make sure you are using reputable websites run by credible organizations such as:
If you decide to also look at other websites be sure that the information contained in them is scientifically accurate; do not rely on testimonials alone and do not subscribe to those who try to convince you that conventional treatments are the devil. Although I agree that conventional treatments can be very hard on your body you need to be mindful that your fight against cancer is a war, and war is difficult even when you are on the winning side – you don't beat the enemy by being gentle. Although holistic treatments will help your fight against cancer you will still need the more aggressive methods used in conventional medicine in order to survive cancer's assault.
The third thing you need to do is make sure you are comfortable with your choice of oncologist. There is no offense in checking a physician's professional record and background. This is not a matter of mistrust, it's a matter of your health, and you deserve to have a qualified professional treating you. Even if a physician has been recommended by another physician, check anyway. Oftentimes one physician may not be aware that a colleague has malpractice lawsuits pending – it's not exactly something a shoddy doctor would tell other colleagues about. When you check into a physician do more than look at his or her professional profile; you should also search the physician's name on your state's medical board website. Don't be afraid to ask questions of the board if you do not feel sufficient information is listed. For a small fee you can also order a full report on your doctor from the Federation of State Medical Boards. There is one thing to keep in mind through your investigation though: Sometimes doctors do everything right, are not at fault, and yet a patient still does poorly – it just happens. As a result the patient or a family member may still sue for malpractice even though there is no actual blame on the doctor. It has been said that, on the average, doctors are sued for malpractice every seven years or so; therefore I caution you to refrain from jumping to conclusions prematurely if you see something that may be questionable. Be reasonable.

In the most basic definition, cancer is a disease process in which an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells occurs. Unlike normal healthy cells, cancer cells do not die naturally and continue to multiply uncontrolled, creating more abnormal cells. As this number of cancer cells continues to increase a clump of cancerous tissue, known as a tumor, is formed.
In healthy cells, all the cells of the same tissue bind together and remain in their designated locations. If they become separated from their assigned locations they die through a process of self-destruction called apoptosis (pronounced ă-POP-toe-sis). Cancer cells are different: Their self-destruct mechanisms no longer function, therefore when a cancer cell forms, it remains alive and multiplies whether it stays put or becomes separated from its group (more on that later).
Just how does a normal, healthy cell become a cancer cell in the first place? First, it is important to realize that all of your body cells are very active, even though you don't feel it. They are constantly receiving signals from their own inner parts as well as from the other cells which surround them, and this can make all the difference. Let's start with a healthy, normal cell and follow it through the changes:
The cell starts off normal and usual, performing all the tasks and functions that it is supposed to do. It responds to the signals it receives, and when it receives enough “grow” signals it responds by getting ready to multiply by way of mitosis (pronounced my-TOE-sis). Mitosis is a non-sexual method of reproduction in which the cell replicates its own DNA to create a clone of itself. Once cloned, the original cell and the clone are both referred to as “daughter cells.” Once a cell has multiplied itself a certain number of times it will normally die by apoptosis and is replaced by other, newer and healthier, replicating daughter cells. This particular cell that we're following, though, happened to make a mistake when it replicated its DNA. Since both the resulting daughter cells are clones of each other, each will feature the same mistake. And, because the daughter cells are both carrying the new, abnormal traits caused by the mistake (known as mutations), all of their daughter cells will be replicated with these same mutations. But your body has a way to prevent mutations from spreading: A special gene is contained within your cells, known as p53. Its job is to look for genetic damage (the mutations) and activate other genes to repair the damage. If the damage is too severe to repair then p53 orders the mutant cells to self destruct, thus eliminating the problem. At least, that what usually happens. In the case of our mutant daughter cells here the mutation is actually located within the p53 gene itself. This means when a daughter cell creates her own daughter cells, those cells will also have the same mutation in their p53 genes. In fact, with a now-crippled p53 gene other new mutations may also arise from one generation of the mutant daughter cells to the next in that cell line. When a mutation finally occurs which eliminates the self-destruct signals in a cell, that cell becomes immortal,2 and begins to multiply abnormally, becoming cancer. If left alone, this cancer begins to grow and spread through the process of angiogenesis (pronounced AN-jee-oh-JEN-ih-sis) described under the next subheading.
So now the question is: What happened to cause these mutations in the first place? There is no single answer as there are many causes of genetic mutations: Heredity, chemical exposure, radiation exposure, pollution, artificial food additives and preservatives, environmental poisons, high fat diets, retention of toxins in the body, tobacco use, excessive exposure to UV light,3 over-consumption of alcohol, pollution, and chronic inflammation are many of the known factors for the development of different cancers. Substances known to cause cancer are called carcinogenic (“carcino” = cancer, “genic” = forming).
Angiogenesis is the creation of new blood vessels (“angio” = blood vessel, “genesis” = formation). Usually, angiogenesis is a good thing because without it babies couldn't form in the womb, surgery patients couldn't heal from their procedures, and accident victims couldn't heal from their wounds. Normal body cells have checks and balances to know when to “turn on” and “turn off” the angiogenic process. However, when it comes to abnormal cancerous cells angiogenesis is the beginnings of something very very wrong. Let me explain:
Cancer cells need oxygen just like any other cell in your body. When a tumor is very small it can get by on the oxygen available from the nearby blood vessels immediately surrounding it. However, as it grows, its need for oxygen likewise grows. Without its own blood supply the tumor will not be able to grow very large, will weaken, and die. For its own survival the tiny tumor must prompt surrounding blood vessels to begin creating new vessel pathways directly into the tumor itself. The tumor usually does this through the use of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor, a.k.a. VEGF, a protein formed by cancers which promotes angiogenesis. Once these already-existing blood vessels hook up their “piping” into the tumor, the tumor is able to continue its growth. AND, because the tumor is now directly hooked up to the circulatory system, if some of the cancer cells happen to break off from the now-enlarging tumor they can wash into the connected blood vessel system, land somewhere else in the body, and begin a new tumor at the new landing site. In other words, if a breast cancer cell breaks off your breast tumor and washes downstream, landing on your liver, you will begin to grow a breast cancer tumor on your liver. Although it is on your liver the cells are still mutated breast cells; therefore this is not liver cancer, it is still breast cancer, just no longer in the breast. As this new breast cancer tumor grows on your liver and produces a new blood vessel system for itself another breast cancer cell may break off from this tumor and be carried to your stomach. Now you have a breast cancer tumor in your breast, on your liver and on your stomach. This process of spreading is known as metastasis.
Your circulatory system isn't the only way for metastasis to occur, as sometimes cancer cells will, instead, wash into your lymph (pronounced “limf”) system. Since your lymph system also circulates other fluids throughout your body,4 this can also be a pathway for cancer cells to circulate. If a cancer cell rides the lymph system it can land in a lymph node – a filtration station of sorts – and start growing a tumor there. This is a common situation in breast cancers which is often why breast cancer patients must have lymph nodes removed from their armpits during a mastectomy.
When a person is discovered to have cancer the oncologist will “stage” the disease to see how far it has progressed. The stage of progression dictates the treatment regimen that will be chosen for the patient. Here is a list of the stages and what they mean (survival rate figures are for breast cancer patients, given by the American Cancer Society website, revised Feb. 22, 2016):


What It Means5

Stage 0
At this stage the tumor is tiny and non-invasive. It is oftentimes referred to as a “carcinoma in situ” and is sometimes interpreted as a “pre-cancerous condition.” With prompt treatment the patient has a 100% survival rate.
Stage 1
The tumor has grown and is just beginning to invade surrounding tissues. At this point your cancer is considered to be “localized.” Though it takes a little more effort, it is still one of the easier stages to treat. Prompt treatment gives patients up to a 100% survival rate. (Some sources cite 98%).
Stage 2
Now the tumor is growing more deeply into neighboring tissues and some nearby lymph nodes. The patient may start experiencing mild or vague symptoms depending on where the tumor is. Prompt treatment gives patients up to a 93% survival rate.
Stage 3
At this point the tumor is growing large enough to spread to other lymph nodes and muscles. At this stage it is tougher to treat, but not impossible to win. With prompt treatment patients have up to a 72% survival rate – which is still very good.
Stage 4
This is the last stage. The various tumors growing in the nearby lymph nodes and muscles grow large enough so that pieces of the tumors break off and circulate in the body via the lymph or circulatory systems. These pieces attach to distant organs and lymph nodes and begin making new tumors at these locations, such as your liver, intestines, brain, or elsewhere. This is the most difficult stage to treat, but still not impossible to survive. With aggressive treatment patients have up to a 22% survival rate – although this may seem daunting, it is still not an impossible fight.

Clearly, the earlier you catch the cancer the better your chances. This is why it is so important to schedule your mammograms on a regular basis. If you have already been diagnosed with a cancer it is equally important to keep up with all of your treatments and continue scheduling your post-cancer check-ups on a regular basis after your treatments have been completed. And, if you happen to be diagnosed with a late-stage cancer don't let that diagnosis scare you: There are innumerable cancer patients “living with mets” (living with metastasis) who have managed to live with it as a chronic condition for ten years or more, continuing to live nearly-normal lives day by day while maintaining treatment.
The function of your immune system is an extremely important element in your fight against cancer. Let me explain: In normal circumstances your immune system is an army of specialized cells which hunt down and destroy foreign invaders in your body. In your immune system's point of view, any organism in the body that is not “self” is a foreign invader and must be destroyed:6 The immune response is triggered by the presence of certain proteins that are given off by the invaders; proteins which scream “Not Self!” to the immune system. When the immune system receives this signal it immediately activates, sending out its army of fighters to seek and destroy. This is what happens when your immune system detects dangerous bacteria, fungi, viruses, molds, and parasites. Even patients receiving organ transplants are at lifetime risk of a major immune response against the organ (because it is of someone else's “self” and not your own) requiring them to remain on immune suppressing medications for the rest of their lives.
Even though cancer cells have a changed DNA from your healthy cells (due to the mutations), you need to keep in mind that they originated from your own normal body cells. As such, in the beginning of their mutations they don't look very different from normal body cells to your immune system, and so they continue undetected at first. Over time, though, as the cancer cells continue their mutations they begin to emit certain proteins which are no longer the normal “self”, triggering the immune response. The immune system then sends specialized cells known as Natural Killer cells (NK) to eradicate the cancerous offenders. Oftentimes your NK cells will respond fast enough to destroy the mutant cells before a cancer can fully develop and you are none the wiser.
In some cases though, the cancer cells are able to slip past the immune system by either (a) developing mutations that allow them to avoid detection by the immune system, or (b) taking a while to emit the mutant proteins which trigger the immune response. And, if you happen to develop an especially fast growing type of cancer, the cancer cells may multiply too quickly for your immune system to keep up once it is finally triggered. It is these circumstances which allows cancer to take a foothold.
Cachexia (pronounced: Ka-KEX-ee-uh) is a condition in which a chronically ill patient starts to lose body fat and muscle; it is a complication commonly seen in advanced stages of HIV, tuberculosis, cancers, and other chronic diseases. It is not caused by lack of calories, but instead is caused by a changed metabolism resulting from the illness itself; in this case, cancer. A normal metabolism is primarily anabolic, meaning it allows for cell growth and regular maintenance. Cachexia, however, is the result of a metabolism which has turned catabolic – one that promotes cell destruction. This is why cachexia is very debilitating, decreases quality of life and severely limits the continuation of cancer treatments. If the cachexia is not reversed a cancer patient's survival rate is significantly reduced. Yes, this does sound scary, but medical science gives a lot of hope. Let me briefly explain how cachexia starts and what can be done about it:
Although it is not yet fully understood how the mechanisms behind the onset of cachexia work, scientists believe it may be initiated by inflammation induced by specialized proteins made by the immune system known as cytokines.7 These proteins are a vital part of a healthy immune system which act as messengers that deliver important messages between cells in the body, especially during times of infection or other illness, such as cancer. When a tumor is detected by the immune system your body begins attacking it through the release of cytokines., which causes an inflammatory response. When an excessive amount of inflammatory cytokines are released over a long period of time it causes negative effects in the body.8 For example, some cytokines activate substances which reduce muscle protein synthesis, while other cytokines initiate catabolysis – the breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue.9 Other cytokines seem to change a patient's fatty tissue from white fat (which stores calories) to brown fat (which burns calories), thus tapping out your body's energy stores.
Another element which may contribute to the development of cachexia is thought to be a protein released by the cancer tumor itself, a protein known as Parathyroid Hormone-related Protein (PTHrP). Research has shown that this substance may cause metabolic changes in your fatty tissues in ways that promote energy burning instead of energy storage.10 Recently, one researcher, Vickie E. Baracos, was collaborating on a study of PTHrP in cachexic patients with lung and colon cancer when she found that, out of the 47 patients being studied, 17 of them (36%) were found to have elevated levels of PTHrP in their blood samples; these same 17 patients were also shown to be producing more heat energy during rest than the remaining ones in the group of patients. 11 Currently there are clinical trials being performed to better understand the role of PTHrP in the onset of cachexia.
Yet another contributor to cachexia is the process in which cancer cells create the energy they live on. Normal cells manufacture their own energy by processing oxygen through their specialized “power-station” organs, known as mitochondria (MY-toe-KONN-dree-uh). Cancer cells, on the other hand, do not use their mitochondria to supply their power and instead manufacture their own energy by burning glucose – a type of sugar that is needed for many bodily functions. This is how it works: Cancer cells excrete a waste product known as lactic acid, which is toxic to the body. The body rids itself of the lactic acid by breaking it down in the liver, resulting in by-products such as glucose. This glucose is then circulated and used by the cancer cells to create more energy for themselves. This burning of glucose by the cancer cells results in the creation of more lactic acid which, again, results in more glucose after the liver breaks it down. This cycle of glucose and lactic acid is known in oncology as “The Warburg Effect”, named for Dr. Otto Warburg, a Nobel prize winning researcher who discovered this cycle. Because a cancer cell's ability to manufacture energy from glucose is much less efficient than a normal cell's mitochondrial process, the cancer requires a large amount of glucose to thrive. As a result, the body's supply of glucose quickly becomes depleted, requiring the body to manufacture more glucose, known as gluconeogenesis (gluco = sugar, neo = new, genesis = formation) in order to take care of its other functions. The only way the body can build up more glucose is by breaking down fatty acids and muscle tissues in order to create the necessary amounts of glucose needed. This results in the characteristic weight loss and gaunt appearance common to people with cachexia. In order to reverse cachexia this cycle of catabolic metabolism must be broken.
Even though a cachexia patient will look under-nourished, the mechanisms of cachexia are complex and cannot be reversed simply by feeding the patient more food. Because cachexia is brought on by a number of metabolic changes scientists are challenged to find a cure that works across the board. In spite of this, researchers continue to tirelessly work, and this has resulted in some encouraging finds. Although the following are not all natural remedies keep in mind that cachexia can become a real problem and needs to be dealt with in whatever way works best for the individual patient. That being said, here are some of the findings discovered through medical science:
If you are looking for natural alternatives instead there are some plant-based items that may help control cachexia via inhibition of the cytokine response. Be sure you discuss these with your physicians and holistic practitioners before using the following:



Boswellia Serrata
Also known as Indian Frankincense. This is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb due to the presence of boswellic acids. Do not confuse this with frankincense made from Norwegian fir trees or myrrh. Precautions: Do not take while pregnant or breastfeeding. May cause digestive issues, rash, or allergic reactions. Do not take for longer than six months. As of this writing there are no known adverse interactions with other medications or herbs.
Dosage: Typically 800mg extract, standardized to 65% boswellic acids, three times daily. Can take up to 1,200 mg three times daily if needed. May also take in tablet or capsule form.
Cat's Claw
Uncaria Tomentosa
Uncaria guianensis
Studies have shown that cat's claw inhibits production of Tumor Necrosis Factor, (TNF),17 a cytokine which, when produced over a length of time, may contribute to cachexia.18 Precautions: May interact with immunosuppressive drugs, avoid use if you've had an organ transplant or suffer from an autoimmune disease. Rare side effects include dizziness, headaches, and vomiting. May interfere with controlling blood pressure after surgery, therefore discontinue use for two weeks before surgery. May thin the blood, lower blood pressure, or worsen leukemia. May interact with medications that are processed by the liver.
Dosage: Typically 350mg daily, standardized to 8% carboxy alkyl esters.
Eugenia Caryophyllata
Syzygium aromaticum
Do not confuse with garlic cloves. Studies have shown that eugenol, a substance in cloves, can inhibit the production of interleukins, a family of cytokines known to contribute to cachexia.19 Precautions: Use only whole cloves or ground cloves, do not substitute for clove oil; clove oil is highly concentrated and quickly becomes toxic when used internally. Cloves thin the blood so be sure to check with your licensed practitioner if you are currently using blood thinners.
Dosage: 1 cup of clove tea three times daily. Recipe: Bring 4 cups of hot water to a boil, then turn down the heat to a low simmer. Put 9 whole cloves or ¾ tsp ground cloves into the hot water. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and drink.
Devil's Claw
Harpagophyperthermia therapyum procumbens
This south African plant contains iridoid glycosides, especially one called harpagoside, which reduces inflammation. In vivo studies show that devil's claw can inhibit the production of interleukins20 and TNF,21 cytokines known to contribute to cachexia. Precautions: Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. May affect blood pressure and heart rate. May lower blood sugar. Do not use if you have gallstones. Do not use if you have stomach or intestinal ulcers. May cause diarrhea. May interact with medications changed by the liver. May interact with prescription antacids. May interact with blood thinners.
Dosage: Look for extract that is standardized to at least 2% harpagosides, take 600 – 1,200 mg, three times daily. Alternatively, make devil's claw tea: Pour 12 ounces of boiling water over 1 teaspoon (5g) of devil's claw root and steep it for eight hours. Divide into three portions, drink one portion three times daily.
Zingiber officinale
Ginger contains gingerols and zerumbone. In vivo studies have shown these to inhibit the production of cytokines that are known to contribute to cachexia.22 Precautions: Ginger is a blood thinner. Overuse may cause uterine contractions, do not use therapeutically when pregnant. Ginger can prolong the effect of barbituates. Do not use if you have gallstones, ulcers, inflammatory bowel or irritable bowel diseases.
Dosages: Ginger comes in several forms. A single dose of ginger is:
  • 1 cup of ginger tea
  • one medium piece of crystallized ginger
  • 2 droppers of ginger extract
  • 2 teaspoons of ginger syrup
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated root
  • ½ teaspoon of ground ginger.
    Take a single dose up to three times daily.
Also known as HMB, this substance is created by your own body when metabolizing an amino acid known as leucine, therefore intake of leucine in your diet can be important. In vivo studies have shown that HMB “may exert a positive role in counter-acting cancer related wasting.”23 Normal, therapeutic dosage is 3g per day which is attainable using supplements. Do not confuse HMB with GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate). Food sources of leucine include: Parmesan cheese, tofu, soybeans, red meats, chicken, fish, nuts, seeds, and white beans. Precautions: Full safety studies have not yet been performed therefore use extreme caution if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have liver or kidney disease, or are under 18 years of age. Safety for long-term usage has not been established as of this writing.
Dosage: When using supplements aim for about 16mg of HMB per pound of body weight per day. Therefore a 150 pound woman should be taking a total of about 2,500mg (2.5g) per day.
Omega 3's24
Clinical trials were performed using omega 3 fatty acids from fish oils which showed that intake of these Omega 3's may reduce cachexia if patients begin taking it during the very early stages of condition.25 There is also some evidence that omega 3's can preserve muscle mass even when taken during a course of chemotherapy treatment.26 Fatty fish such as wild caught salmon, mackerel, and sardines are your best sources. If you follow a vegetarian diet you may also get your Omega 3's from walnuts, flaxseed,27 and certain vegetable oils. Just be aware that vegetarian sources of Omega 3's may not be as easily absorbed in the body. Also, be aware that many vegetable products also contain Omega 6 fatty acids, which may induce inflammation and increase your risk of cachexia. Omega 6's are found in vegetable oils, wheat germ, nuts, and seeds. If you are concerned about this you may want to consider using an Omega 3 supplement which does not have Omega 6's in it. Precautions: May thin blood. Do not exceed recommended dosage. Many supplements are sourced from fish, therefore use caution if you are vegetarian or have seafood allergies. Supplements sometimes also contain other allergens such as soy or peanut – read your labels. Do not take if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Dosage: When using supplements take 1,200mg of Omega 3's daily. For dietary intake eat at least three servings of fatty fish per week. Vegetarians and vegans need to be sure their diet sources are not heavy on the omega 6 fatty acids. Good choices include flaxseed, chia seed, winter squash, hemp seeds, Urad Dal beans, leafy greens, and brassica vegetables.28
Rosmarinus officinalis
In a review of studies it was shown that Rosemary contains many substances which can inhibit inflammatory cytokines as well as induce apoptosis in cancer cells.29 Precautions: Use only fresh or dried rosemary because rosemary oil is too strong for internal use. Do not use in large doses if pregnant because it may cause miscarriage. Do not use if breastfeeding. Do not use if you are allergic to aspirin. Do not use if you have a seizure disorder. May thin the blood. May interfere with ACE inhibitors. May interfere with diuretics. May cause buildup of lithium medications.
Dosage: Drink 3 cups of rosemary tea daily. Tea recipe: Bring one cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat and steep 1 ¼ teaspoons of dried rosemary30 or 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary leaves31 in the water for 15 minutes. Strain and drink. Adjust according to the amount of rosemary used in your everyday cooking. Do not exceed more than a total intake of 6g rosemary per day (3.5 tablespoons fresh leaves).

Although cachexia can be induced by a prolonged cytokine response in a patient, keep aware that you do need some cytokines to help destroy your cancer. If you have not developed cachexia then do not be afraid to discuss immune-stimulating agents such as elderberry or shiitake mushrooms with your oncologist or holistic practitioner. If you choose to use immune-stimulating products be sure that you do not exceed dosages recommended by your physician or holistic practitioners because over-stimulation of your immune system may induce cachexia. Do not use more than one immune-stimulant at a time unless your physician or practitioner advises otherwise. Moderation is key. If during your course of cancer treatment you do develop cachexia, I strongly recommend you discontinue using any herbal products which stimulate the immune system.
There is a lot of conflicting information as to whether a cancer patient should take antioxidant supplements during the course of chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Before getting into the discussion about this let me first explain what antioxidants are and what they do for your body:
Simply put, an antioxidant is a substance which prevents damage to body cells caused by oxidation. Oxidation is a process in which atoms lose some of their electrons, and it has everything to do with oxygen and how it's used: Within your body cells oxygen is a key element necessary for generating energy from the various nutrients that we consume such as sugar, fatty acids and amino acids. This is done by removing electrons from the molecules of the nutrients and adding those removed electrons to other molecules and atoms, including oxygen. When this happens, the molecules that are missing their electrons become unstable “free radicals” which take the needed electrons from stable molecules located nearby in order to re-stabilize. When these stable molecules are “robbed” of their electrons, they in turn become free radicals which then steal from the stable molecules located near them, thus perpetuating the cycle. Although these free radicals are a normal part of metabolism, sometimes these can be created in excess in response to pollution, tobacco exposure, radiation, and chemical exposure (including food preservatives and additives). This excess can be very disruptive to the affected cells, causing problems that may eventually lead to the mutations which start cancer. This is where antioxidants come in to play: Antioxidants come around and donate their own electrons to the de-stabilized atoms; this stabilizes the atoms so they don't continue a cycle of electron “robbery” with other atoms, thereby resolving the situation. Because antioxidants remain stable even after donating their atoms, the oxidation process is brought to a grinding halt and cell damage is averted. This protective action is why consuming antioxidants is such an important part of a healthy diet.32
Now, this is where it can become confusing to patients: Because conventional cancer treatments tend to kill cancer by generating free radicals it seems contrary to use antioxidants in the treatment of cancer. In some circles it is thought that although antioxidants protect healthy cells from becoming damaged, the antioxidants may also help protect cancerous cells from the damaging effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. In other circles it is believed that, since you don't want more of your healthy cells becoming damaged and risking further cancer, you should continue taking antioxidants as a protective measure against the chemotherapy and radiation – especially since cancer patients tend to have low levels of antioxidants in their systems to begin with. With such opposing views it's easy to see why a cancer patient would become confused about her intake of antioxidants. This becomes even more confusing if you start looking into the scientific studies because some have found evidence to support the use of antioxidants while other studies remain inconclusive. There are even some which suggest that only particular antioxidants should be avoided.
The biggest problem here is that there are so many variables within the cancer patients that it is difficult to make a direct conclusion. Variables such as: The types of cancers, the stages of the cancers, the treatments and holistic therapies being used by the patients, ages of the patients, risk factors the patients were exposed to, the general health of the patients, etc. all make a difference in the outcome of each individual. The metabolism of a young patient with a stage 3 bone cancer undergoing radiation therapy is going to assimilate antioxidants differently than a middle-aged stage 1 liver cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy. Specialized studies need to be narrowly focused in order to make solid determinations but such studies are currently lacking. So then, how can you decide what you should do in regard to antioxidant supplementation?
Only you can make that decision, but you should do so only after you've done your homework: Discuss this topic thoroughly with your oncologist, nutritionist, and your holistic health care providers. Keep researching current studies, learn what you can and decide what you are most comfortable with. Educate yourself on possible interactions between antioxidant supplements and any medications you are currently taking. And be sure to keep this one thing in mind: Do all things in moderation. If your health care team decides a supplement is good for your situation then take only the recommended amount, as some antioxidants can actually become toxic if taken too much. For example, excessive amounts of vitamin A will cause liver damage and excessive use of vitamin D will cause kidney damage. Since many chemotherapy treatments may also put kidneys and livers at risk you certainly don't want to add to it. If, instead, you choose to forgo the supplements due to information found in scientific studies let it be known that normal, dietary amounts of antioxidants found in your everyday foods are not a risk factor. It is okay to eat your usual salad for lunch or have your usual fruit for a snack.
Although we still have a long way to go before finding an actual cure for cancer, medical science has come a long way in finding treatments for destroying tumors, prolonging survival rates and reducing recurrences; this is true of both conventional treatments and holistic methods. However, because it can take so long for a single medication to become accepted many cynics believe the pharmaceutical companies are aggressively blocking an actual cure in the interest of money and greed. The reality is that, just as with any other new medication, in order to provide safe, effective outcomes the researchers are obligated to study the proposed medication through a specific sequence of tests and studies before bringing it to the public – this takes many years. Let me give you a brief rundown of what this looks like:
  1. In vitro testing: This is the first step. It involves taking a cultured sample of human breast cancer cells and testing the proposed medication or substance directly on them without the use of a living organism. This usually takes place in the sterile laboratory confines of a petri dish, test tube, or other equipment. If results show a positive outcome the researchers can progress to in vivo testing.
  2. In vivo testing: This is the point when researchers test the proposed medication or substance on the cancer in a living organism. Usually this will involve laboratory mice or rats which are grafted with the human breast cancer cells and then treated with the proposed medication or substance being researched. Because the law requires medical researchers to perform animal studies as a part of the testing this step cannot be skipped if they hope to bring a medication to market.
This combination of in vitro and in vivo research may take between 3-4 years to complete. If results show positive outcomes in both methods of research then the scientists can progress to human clinical trials. Before starting human trials, though, the researchers must file an “Investigational New Drug” application with the FDA. If the FDA does not disapprove of the application within 30 days then the first of the human clinical trials can begin.
  1. Phase 1 Clinical Trial: Researchers test the new drug in a small group of healthy people (usually up to 80 participants) to evaluate the following: Safe dosage range, method of absorption of the medication in the body, how it is metabolized, how it is distributed through the body, duration of its effect, and how the body excretes it. A Phase 1 trial usually takes 1 year to complete. If results show a positive outcome the research can progress to phase 2.
  2. Phase 2 Clinical Trial: The new medication is given to a group of patients who have the disease targeted by the medication. Phase 2 studies usually involve a larger number than phase 1 studies and can average up to 300 participants. During this phase the maximum and minimum dosage for effectiveness are evaluated as well as the strength of the medication's effect. A phase 2 trial usually takes about two years to complete. If results show a positive outcome the researchers can progress to phase 3.
  3. Phase 3 Clinical Trial: This is when the medication is run through the “gold standard” of testing: Randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study on a large group of targeted patients; this can involve up to 3,000 participants. During this study the appearance of side effects is noted. A Phase 3 trial usually takes about 3 years to complete.
If results show that Phase 3 has a positive outcome the researchers compile all of the data from these studies and file a “New Drug Application” with the FDA. Because this application will contain all of the research data the document is usually 90 - 100 thousand pages long. The FDA has 60 days to decide whether to review it. Due to the length of the document, if the New Drug Application is approved for review it can then take between 2-3 years for the FDA to review it. If the FDA approves of the medication then the researchers can go on to Phase 4.
  1. Phase 4 Clinical Trial: This is also known as “post-marketing studies.” In essence the medication is approved for widespread use and the researchers follow to see if other risks, side-effects, or other unexpected outcomes crop up. Studies are done after the drug or treatment has been marketed to gather information on the drug's effect in various populations and any side effects associated with long-term use.
Following these steps, this means it can take at least 12 years for a medication to come to approval – and that is if the drug even makes it through the entire process! On average only 1 in 1,000 investigated medications actually make it to human trials, and of these only a scant few actually make it to market.
Because pharmaceutical companies are required to spend so much money and time on a single medication, and with such a high failure rate, they prefer to spend their resources on medications they can patent in order to generate profit, making the enormous efforts worthwhile. This is why they usually do not bother with testing herbs no matter how strong the evidence shows they work – they cannot patent a natural substance, therefore it is not worth their efforts. Because these herbs remain untested according to the FDA's standards, they cannot be legally sold as “medication” here in the United States even when legitimate science shows they are as good – or even better than – the pharmaceuticals that are tested and approved.


1Actress Jaclyn Smith, a breast cancer survivor, once commented “One of the most important things you can do is remember the power of girlfriends... Girlfriends saved my day.”
2Immortality of cancer cells is no exaggeration. Biomedical researchers today are still performing studies and tests using a breast cancer cell line, known as BT-20, derived from a 74 year old female breast cancer patient in 1958.
3UV = Ultraviolet, a form of radiation which induces tanning in your skin. Overexposure usually happens due to excessive time spent tanning in the sunlight or in tanning beds.
4 This fluid is known as lymph fluid. The lymph system collects the normal fluids between all of your body cells in order to clear away wastes and disease. There are special “stations” in the lymph system called lymph nodes which filter out and destroy the harmful substances collected by the lymph vessels.
5Survival rates are based on a five year period after finishing breast cancer treatment.
6In abnormal circumstances a person's immune system may become confused as to which substances are “self” and which are not, resulting in autoimmune diseases such lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis. For the sake of simplicity in this book I will only be referring to a normally functioning immune system.
7Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism, Jan. 2006, Vol. 24, No.1, pp. 16-19, “Effects of anti-parathyroid hormone-related protein monoclonal antibody and osteoprotegerin on PTHrP-producing tumor-induced cachexia in nude mice” Haruo Iguchi, et al [“nude mice” are laboratory mice with a genetic mutation which inhibits their immune systems. These mice also tend to be hairless, ergo the name “nude mice”] Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, May 2005, Vol. 8, No.3, pp.265-269 “Systemic inflammation, cachexia and prognosis in patients with cancer” C. Deans, et al; Nutrition, Sept. 1997, Vol. 13, No. 9, pp.763-770, “Cytokines and cachexia” P. Matthys, et al
8Cytokines commonly associated with cachexia include Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), interleukin-6, gamma interferon, myokines, and a substance secreted from cancer tumors known as proteolysis-inducing factor.
9Skeletal muscles are the ones directly attached to your bones. This is in contrast to other muscles located within your organs.
10Nature, Sept. 4, 2014, Vol. 513, No. 7516, pp.100-104 “Tumour-derived PTH-related protein triggers adipose tissue browning and cancer cachexia” Serkan Kir, et al
11Harvard Gazette, July 13, 2014, “Antibody Halts Cancer-Related Wasting Condition” Richard Saltus, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Communications
12Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism, Jan. 2006, Vol. 24, No.1, pp.16-19 “Effects of anti-parathyroid hormone-related protein monoclonal antibody and osteoprotegerin on PTHrP-producing tumor-induced cachexia in nude mice” Haruo Iguchi, et al
13Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, June 2014, Vol. 39, No.6, pp.643-653 “Cancer cachexia and diabetes: similarities in metabolic alterations and possible treatment” S. Chevalier, et al
14Cell, Aug. 20, 2010, Vol. 142, pp. 531-543, “Reversal of Cancer Cachexia and Muscle Wasting by ActRIIB Antagonism Leads to Prolonged Survival” Xiaolan Zhou, et al
15Palliative Medicine, April 2013, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp.295-303, “Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of cancer cachexia: a systematic review” J Reid, et al
16Cancer Research, Nov. 1, 1994, Vol. 54, No.21, pp.5602-5606 “Anti-inflammatory treatment may prolong survival in undernourished patients with metastatic solid tumors” K. Lundholm, et al
17Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 2000, Vol. 29, No.1, pp.71-78 “Cat's claw inhibits TNFα production and scavenges free radicals: role in cytoprotection” Manuel Sandoval, et al
18Respiratory Research, 2001, Vol. 2, No. 5, pp.269-272 “Tumor necrosis factor-α and Muscle Wasting: A Cellular Perspective” Michael B. Reid, et al
19Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, April 2012, Vol. 64, No.4, pp.610 – 616, “Clove and eugenol in noncytotoxic concentrations exert immunomodulatory/anti-inflammatory action on cytokine production by murine macrophages” Tatiana Fernanda Bachiega, et al
20Journal of Natural Medicines, April 2010, Vol. 64, No. 2, pp.219-222, “Inhibitory effects of devil's claw (secondary root of Harpagophyperthermia therapyum procumbens) extract and harpagoside on cytokine production in mouse macrophages” K. Inaba, et al
21Phyperthermia therapyotherapy Research, June 2012, Vol.26, No.6, pp. 806-811, “Molecular Targets of the Antiinflammatory Harpagophyperthermia therapyum Procumbens (Devil's Claw): Inhibition of TNFα and COX-2 Gene Expression by Preventing Activation of AP-1” Bernd L. Fiebich, et al
22Clinics, Dec. 2008, Vol. 63, No.6, pp.807-813 “Ginger Extract (Zingiber Officinale) has Anti-Cancer and Anti-Inflammatory Effects on Ethionine-Induced Hepatoma Rats” Shafina Hanim Mohd Habib, et al
23International Journal of Oncology, March 2011, Vol. 38, No.3, pp. 713- 720, “β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB) attenuates muscle and body weight loss in experimental cancer cachexia” Zaira Aversa, et al
24Fish oils have the omega 3 fatty acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Plant oils have the omega 3's known as alpha-linolenic acids (ALA).
25British Journal of Cancer, 2011, Vol. 105, pp.1469-1473, “Influence of Eicosapentaenoic Acid Supplementation on Lean Body Mass in Cancer Cachexia” R. A. Murphy, et al
26Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, March 2013, Vol. 16, No.2, pp.156-161 “Omega-3 fatty acids in cancer” A. Laviano, et al
27Whole flaxseeds pass through your digestive system unchanged. You get more benefit from using ground flaxseed instead.
28Brassicas are the cabbage family: Cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, chards, and collard greens.
29Journal of Dietary Supplements, Dec. 2010, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 351 - 413, “An Evidence-Based Systematic Review of Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officanlis) By the Natural Standard Research Collaboration” Cathrine Ulbricht, et al
301 ¼ tsp dried rosemary = 1.5 g . Three times per day gives a total of 4.5 g
311 Tbsp fresh rosemary = 1.70 g Three times per day gives a total of 5.1 g
32Nutrients which are known to be antioxidant include: Vitamins C and E, carotenoids, lycopene, glutathione, flavonoids, polyphenols, alpha-lipoic acids (ALA), and ubiquinol.