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By Lee Euler
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The Most Fascinating Story in Alternative Cancer
"When you really get right down to the whole scope of medicine, the only stable drugs we have today are a product of the herbs… being a nurse at heart, I have found that it is more important to have results than scientific proof."
"I do not believe that the pain endured with these hard-core semi-synthetic chemotherapeutic drugs is worth the extra month or two they might add to your life. In many cases, [the herb] is as efficacious and in some cases probably more so. In almost all cases, it’s cheaper. In almost all cases, it’s gentler… My genes already know the natural chemicals. My genes do not know tomorrow’s synthetic chemicals."
"There is an empirical tradition in all cultures involving plants and their formulas, which have been utilized through the ages because they are effective."
What do the following have in common?
Plenty — if you believe the story. And just for the record, I think there’s something in it, although I can’t be totally sure.
Settle back in your easy chair and pour yourself a drink if you’re so inclined. This is one of the most intriguing tales in the annals of alternative cancer treatment (and that’s saying something, because this field abounds in stories and it’s hard to know what to believe).
According to this story, legend, or whatever you want to call it, in 1840 a horse breeder owned a stallion that was expected to die from a cancerous lesion on its leg. He put it out to pasture, kept an eye on it, and observed it grazing on one particular clump of shrubs and flowering plants.
Then the most amazing thing happened...
Within three months, the horse’s cancer dried up, separated from the healthy tissue, and fell away.
Curious about his horse’s stunning return to health, John Hoxsey picked samples from the plants the horse was so intent on eating. He experimented until he had developed an herbal tonic, salve, and powder from them.
He added other popular ingredients from home remedies of the day and created three formulas – an internal tonic and two external salves.
That’s how he began using these remedies to treat horses suffering from external cancers and other types of lesions. His potions proved to be successful, word spread, and soon horse breeders were bringing horses to him from as far away as Indiana and Kentucky.
John Hoxsey’s mixtures were passed down to a son, who was a veterinarian — who used them for animals with cancer and other conditions.
In addition, the son quietly started using them for people with cancer.
Enter his 8-year-old son, Harry, who began assisting him in administering these treatments to local people — who generally had no other hope for recovery.
Just before his father’s death, Harry was entrusted with the secrets of how to prepare the remedies and given the responsibility to carry on the family’s healing tradition. Further, he promised his father he’d never deny anyone treatment due to their inability to pay.
After his father’s death, he founded the first Hoxsey Cancer Clinic in 1924, starting a 35-year cancer war between organized medicine and folk healing. Allopathic medicine branded him the worst cancer quack of the century. In the end, he was arrested more times than any other person in medical history.
Nevertheless, by the 1950s his Dallas clinic grew to be the world’s largest privately owned cancer center, with branches in 17 states.i
During these ‘cancer wars’, two federal courts upheld the therapeutic value of the treatmentii, and even his arch-enemies (the AMA and FDA) admitted the therapy cured some forms of cancer.
Still, medical authorities denied Hoxsey’s insistent plea for a fair scientific test. Instead they connived to ban the treatment, finally outlawing it in the US in 1960.
His chief nurse, Mildred Nelson, moved the treatment center to Tijuana in 1963 (now known as the Bio Medical Center).
She had initially gone to work for Hoxsey, in 1946, to disprove the treatment and discourage her mother from trying it after being diagnosed with incurable cancer. Her mother was healed, moving Mildred from hostility to belief. As the expression goes, "She came to scoff and stayed to pray," like an atheist who’d seen the light.
When the Hoxsey treatment was banned by the FDA in 1960, Mildred went underground with it for three years in California, Nevada, and Utah, before Harry Hoxsey arranged for her to take it to Tijuana. It was the first alternative cancer clinic to open south of the border.
Over the years, “Bio-Med” has treated an estimated 30,000 cancer patients — mostly terminal late-stage cases that conventional medicine has written off. "Bio-Med" relies exclusively on word-of-mouth patient referrals, doing no advertising.
Like Hoxsey, Mildred claimed an 80% success rate for previously untreated cancer cases. People who resorted first to chemo, radiation and surgery had a lower success rate.
Today Mildred’s younger sister, Liz Jonas, administers the Bio-Medical Center, since Mildred’s death in 1999.
Now the Hoxsey Therapy stands as the oldest alternative cancer treatment in continuous use, dating back to its mid-1800s roots.
But the real question is… How well does the treatment work?
People Who Got Well When They Weren’t Supposed To...
Despite Harry Hoxsey’s many requests for clinical trials of his treatment, powerful political medical forces saw that it was never permitted to happen.
Nevertheless, anecdotal accounts of miraculous healing abound. Many are detailed in both the book and movie, When Healing Becomes a Crime, by Kenny Ausebel.
Conventional medicine has a very contemptuous view of botanical medicine. Dr. Fishbein, of the AMA, mocked herbs as "veritable vegetable soups".iii Fishbein is an infamous figure who was the point man in suppressing many alternative cancer treatments in the previous century.
But James Duke, a renowned botanist who actually knows something about the subject (unlike Fishbein), observed that all the Hoxsey herbs have a long-standing empirical tradition of usage for cancer, going back as far as 3,000 years.
Only one herb, poke root, might be considered dangerous. Common throughout the Southeast, poke is a well-known herb. Locals like to parboil the leaves and add them to salads. (Back around 1970 there was a soul song called "Poke Salad Annie.") Its root, berry, and leaf are toxic in larger quantities.
The amount in Hoxsey’s formula is well below any threshold of danger. [Warning: Do NOT self-medicate with poke! Eating the leaves can be toxic without the proper preparation!]
Three of the formula’s herbs — barberry, cascara sagrada, and buckthorn — contain compounds being studied by the National Cancer Institute for effectiveness in tumors, although not on human subjects.
Duke sorted these plants into several categories of anti-cancer properties:
Eight of the nine herbs of the internal tonic showed antitumor activity in controlled lab animal tests… 5 showed antioxidant properties protective against cancer… all showed antimicrobial properties.
The internal tonic ingredients showed strong chemical and biological anticancer activity on an individual basis. In my view, they’re certainly worth a serious investigation.
It should be noted that the formula’s real purpose was not to kill cancer cells directly — but to create a terrain unfavorable to the growth of cancer cells. Its role was to enhance your body’s immune system and its ability to eliminate toxins.
Naturopathic physician and herbal expert Francis Brinker believes there is also evidence that the tonic has direct cancer-killing activity. "All of the plants of the Hoxsey tonic or certain of their active constituents have shown some degree of antitumor activity in human cancer cell-culture lab studies or in living animal systems."
What were the ‘miraculous’ components in Hoxsey’s formulaiv?
It’s pretty secretive, but records suggest some combination of these…
Hoxsey always urged officials to test his formula, but they never did. So today, the Hoxsey tonic has not been tested as a whole entity, and we don’t have hard data about the complex synergy of its components.
However, its component parts have several types of activity that could contribute toward cancer cure or prevention.
And the stories of those who have lived years longer than their doctors expected offer a promising ray of light in a cancer world where there has been no major improvement or cure during the past fifty years.
I don’t regard the evidence as conclusive. It’s mostly anecdotal and confined to people who have been treated at the one clinic. But the Hoxsey treatment has a long history of happy patients — surely worth consideration on your part. I’d like to see it given a fair test.
i Ausubel, Kenny. When Healing Becomes a Crime: The Amazing Story of the Hoxsey Cancer Clinics and the Return of Alternative Therapies, 2000.
ii US vs. Hoxsey Cancer Clinic, Civil No. 4144, District Court of the US, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division, 12/21/50; US Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, No. 13645, US vs. Hoxsey Cancer Clinic, Appeal from the US District Court for Northern District of Texas, 7.31.52.
iii Ausubel, Kenny. When Healing Becomes a Crime: The Amazing Story of the Hoxsey Cancer Clinics and the Return of Alternative Therapies, 2000.
iv From the Father Nature’s Farmacy database and the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985).
Ausubel, Kenny. When Healing Becomes a Crime: The Amazing Story of the Hoxsey Cancer Clinics and the Return of Alternative Therapies, 2000.
Chowka, Peter Barry. "Herbal Healing: A Cancer Alternative with a Record," New Age, Vol. 6, No. 6, 12.80, pp. 46-50.
Hoxsey, Harry. You Don’t Have to Die, 1984.
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