If you were being treated with chemotherapy for cancer by a conventional doctor and ran into a problem that couldn’t be fixed with Western medicine’s prescription medications, what would you do?
In my opinion your best option would be pretty clear – see if there’s a solution in natural, alternative medicine.
You don’t have to take my word for it.
Consider the case of Hari Nath, a chemical engineer in New Plymouth, New Zealand, who had non-Hodgkins lymphoma. After he endured chemotherapy treatment for his cancer, he found that he was stuck with a common, very painful problem. A side effect of chemotherapy.
The chemo for this type cancer (as well as for others) frequently leads to stubborn, painful lesions in the mouth and throat that can keep coming back and make it hard to eat or even swallow. Here’s what he did. . .
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Mr. Nath said he tried every pharmaceutical that conventional medicine had to offer for this torturous dilemma. The only prescription medication that seemed to check the ulcers was the steroid prednisone.
But prolonged use of steroids comes with dangerous side effects. In Mr. Rath’s case, the prednisone complicated his diabetes, reduced his resistance to infections and sent his moods into an emotional tailspin.
So he knew the drug could only be a temporary fix.
His throat got so bad that just to be able to nibble on some food, he had to use an anesthetic to numb his throat.
He finds a solution on the internet
“After a year of unsuccessful struggle and a life with pain killers and antidepressants, the feeling of hopelessness crept in,” he says. “(But then) I googled to search for a naturally occurring steroid equivalent and stumbled across an herb called ashwagandha (Witheria somnifera) used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine over thousands of years for improving the immune system.”1
His oncologist gave him the okay to try ashwagandha because he had nothing else to offer Mr. Rath. And an Ayurvedic physician offered advice on how to use the herb.
And you know what happened? Very soon after beginning to take the herb, Mr. Nath began to greatly improve.
In less than a week, he could cut his steroid dose in half and the ulcers stayed away. His blood tests also showed wonderful changes.
“A blood test showed a sharp jump in total white cell counts, with my lymphocytes increased from previous level of 600-700 to a whopping 2500-2800 (showing immune system improvement). Interestingly my ESR (a measure of harmful inflammation) also had a sharp dip from 80 to below 20,” he reported.
Within three months, he was off the steroids, still ulcer-free and had regained lost weight along with an optimistic mood.
He attributes his continued freedom from ulcers and his cancer remission to ashwagandha.
And medical researchers who have studied ashwagandha would probably agree he’s right.
A well-known cancer fighter
Some of the research into the anti-cancer power of ashwagandha has centered on how it interacts with a cellular protein carrying the tongue-twisting name retinoblastoma protein (RB). This is one of the so-called “pocket” proteins characterized by a microscopic pocket that lets certain other proteins link up with it.
When it functions correctly, RB, which is a tumor suppressor, acts like a security guard that makes sure cells divide correctly. It keeps cells from making mistakes that can lead them into becoming cancer cells that replicate uncontrollably and create tumors.
Unfortunately, cancerous cells possess proteins that can link up to RB and take it out of service – allowing the rapid, dangerous, invasive growth that makes tumors so destructive.
That’s where ashwagandha comes in. A lab study in Japan shows ashwagandha can stimulate RB and “activate its tumor suppressor activity.”2
What’s more, in other research the Japanese scientists found that when animals are fed ashwagandha supplements, they’re able to significantly stunt the growth of lung cancer.
Numerous studies have highlighted impressive anti-cancer powers in ashwagandha:
- A study in India found that ashwagandha could fight skin cancer by boosting the body’s production of its own antioxidants.3
- Research on stomach cancer showed that ashwagandha could inhibit cancer growth possibly by stimulating the production of detoxifying enzymes in the liver.4
- Investigations at the University of Kansas demonstrate that ashwagandha can slow the growth of ovarian cancer cells and increase their rate of apoptosis (programmed self-destruction).5
Gets cancer cells ready to die
Oncology research shows that ashwagandha can be used to “prime” cancer cells so they are more effectively killed by chemotherapeutic agents.
According to the researchers, chemotherapy is deadly to cancer cells when it can damage their mitochondria (the small structures that generate cellular energy) in a way that leads the cancer cells to engage in apoptosis – cellular suicide.
The researchers point out, though, that there are a variety of proteins in each cancer cell that influence this process. Some of the proteins help the cells resist apoptosis. Others make apoptosis more likely. When the anti-apoptosis proteins predominate, cancer can resist chemotherapy drugs.
But the natural compounds in ashwagandha “prime” the cells – allowing the proteins that favor apoptosis to rule the day. That makes the cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy’s effects. Scientists also report that they are testing other compounds like quercetin, curcumin and even aspirin to see how well they prime cancer cells.6
At the same time, scientists are looking at how ashwagandha can inhibit the action of kinases, enzymes in cells that, when left unchecked in certain circumstances, can spur cancer growth.7
Along with obstructing the actions of kinases, University of Pittsburgh scientists have found that ashwagandha can fight breast cancer by unleashing free radicals that attack the mitochondria of cancer cells.8
Adapting to circumstances
In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha is well-known as an adaptogen – an herb that helps the body make a healthy adjustment to its circumstances, increasing stamina and fighting stress.9
According to Ayurvedic practitioners, the herb can be used as an aphrodisiac, a diuretic, a stimulant or a tonic (as well as other uses). They say it has a horsy smell – the name ashwagandha comes from the Sanskrit word for horse. It’s reputed to give you extra “horsepower” when you take it.
Aside from all these benefits, a recent study in Japan shows the herb contains a natural compound that can help you sleep.10
It’s no wonder this plant has been used for its medicinal benefits for more than 6,000 years. And there’s no reason to think it won’t continue to be used for thousands more.
In our last issue, I wrote about the deadly dangers of colonoscopy. Important news, considering doctors push the test like crazy. If you missed it, you can read it now below this.