The Oldest Known Alternative Cancer Treatment is Still Healing Thousands...

The Oldest Known Alternative Cancer Treatment is Still Healing Thousands... about undefined

What do the following have in common?

  • An Illinois horse breeder
  • His prize stallion
  • A clump of shrubs and flowering plants
  • Cancer

Plenty — if you know about the story of the discovery of an herbal cancer-fighting treatment. It’s the oldest alternative cancer treatment that’s been in continuous use since the 1840s... and is still being used today to heal cancer.

The story begins in 1840 when a horse breeder’s prized stallion was expected to die from a cancerous lesion on its leg. The breeder put the horse 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 eventually created three formulas – an internal tonic and two external salves.

He began using these remedies to treat horses suffering from external cancers and other types of lesions. His potions proved successful, word spread, and soon horse breeders were bringing horses to him from Indiana and Kentucky.

Healing cancer in animals and people

John Hoxsey’s mixtures were passed down to his son, who was a veterinarian — who used them to treat animals with cancer and other conditions.

Soon, the younger Dr. Hoxsey quietly started using his father’s treatments for people with cancer. Enter his 8-year-old son, Harry, who assisted him in administering these treatments to local people, people who generally had no other hope for recovery.

Just before Dr. Hoxsey’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, Harry Hoxsey founded the first Hoxsey Cancer Clinic in 1924, starting a 35-year cancer war between organized medicine and folk healing. Conventional medicine branded him the worst cancer quack of the century. In the end, his admirers say he was arrested more times than any other known 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. During these ‘cancer wars’, two federal courts upheld the therapeutic value of the treatment, and even his arch-enemies — the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — admitted that Hoxsey therapy cured some forms of cancer.

Still, medical authorities denied Harry Hoxsey’s insistent plea for a fair scientific test. Instead they worked to ban the treatment, finally outlawing it in the U.S. in 1960.

Moving south of the border  

Harry Hoxsey’s chief nurse, Mildred Nelson, moved the treatment center to Tijuana in 1963 and, to this day, her clinic, called the Bio Medical Center, continues to heal patients long after her and Harry Hoxsey’s deaths. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ms. Nelson had initially gone to work for Harry 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 Ms. Nelson 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, Ms. Nelson went underground with it for three years in California, Nevada, and Utah, before Harry Hoxsey arranged for her to take it to Tijuana. Hers 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 almost exclusively on word-of-mouth patient referrals, doing no advertising.

Like Harry Hoxsey, Ms. Nelson claimed an 80 percent success rate for previously untreated cancer cases. People who resorted first to chemotherapy, radiation and surgery had a lower success rate.

After Ms. Nelson’s death in 1999, her younger sister, Liz Jonas, took charge of Bio-Med.

But the real question is... how well does the Hoxsey treatment work?

People Who Got Well When They Weren’t
Supposed to...  

Despite Harry Hoxsey’s many requests for clinical trials of his treatment, politically powerful medical forces saw that it was never permitted to happen.

Nevertheless, anecdotal accounts of miraculous healing abound. Many of these first-hand accounts are detailed in both the book and movie, When Healing Becomes a Crime, by Kenny Ausubel.

For example...

"Look, I’m walking around carrying my cancer in the jar instead of inside of me, which is much better."

Mrs. Martha Bond noticed a mark on her cheek in 1974 but paid no attention to it, as it was flat and painless. But in 1979 she got a dark mark on her leg, which grew fast. Her husband said, "That’s cancer. We’d better go down to Tijuana to the Bio Medical Center."

They went down to get tonic and vitamins in April. In August, a friend suggested a second opinion. So they went to a skin specialist who diagnosed melanoma. He suggested Mrs. Bond see a conventional doctor to have it surgically removed.

Indeed, when she saw this doctor he was adamant about her need for surgery. She asked the doctor if there was any way they could take it off locally with a salve or tonic. He said, "No way. There’s no way but surgery. If you don’t go into surgery, you’re not going to live long."

She told him she was taking a tonic, and it was getting flatter. He said, "No, it just can’t." He wanted to operate the next week.

Melanoma is a particularly deadly form of cancer, which spreads internally with frightening speed. Advanced melanoma is almost always fatal, with an expected survival time of just seven months.

Mrs. Bond talked with Ms. Nelson, who urged her not to let anyone cut it at all. So, she refused the surgery, and returned to Bio-Med. This time, Ms. Nelson and her team applied the external salves. Mrs. Bond reported that she could feel the salve penetrating to the root of the cancerous spots. Within three weeks, the cancers fell out by themselves, with just a pin-dot of evidence.

Seven years later — not seven months — she was interviewed for the book and movie, When Healing Becomes a Crime.

Mrs. Bond provided the filmmakers with the biopsy from her original doctor, along with the early alarming letter from the surgeon, which read, “Mrs. Bond, the skin tumors that you have are a very serious problem and I would urge you to reconsider this decision. I would strongly urge you to have these lesions surgically removed. Local therapy is not effective in treating a malignant melanoma, and these tumors will spread and ultimately result in your death, if not surgically removed.”

We know who got the last word in that argument! And she’s not alone...

Margaret Griffin’s story began in November 1966, when she kept blacking out, and repeated x-rays showed two tumors around her aorta leading to her heart.

The diagnosis was lymphosarcoma (cancer of the lymph system). She went to two other doctors for their opinion. Same diagnosis.

Though Mrs. Griffin was afraid to fly, she was determined to go get the Hoxsey treatment. She remembered looking up at ‘that beautiful bird’, thinking, "You’re taking me to life." And it did.

She was in very bad shape when she made the trip, but after ten months on the tonic, she started to notice a definite improvement in how she felt. Then, all of a sudden, everything got better. X-rays showed that the tumors were no longer there. She went back to work, and worked many years after that.

Eager to share her good fortune with her physician, she called to make an appointment. But she was shocked at the response. His nurse said, "I’m sorry, Mrs. Griffin, but Dr. So-and-So doesn’t want you as his patient anymore because you didn’t believe in him."

Mrs. Griffin later paid to receive a lifetime supply of tonic — which she used continuously for eight years, then intermittently. She states, "It’s very simple. It doesn’t make you ill. Your hair doesn’t fall out like chemotherapy, and it’s almost too good to be true, you might think. But it does work."

When author Kenny Ausubel called to see how she was doing, she answered the phone and happily reported that she’s cancer-free at the age of 79 — thirty-four years after starting Hoxsey therapy.

To put her recovery in perspective, even today Mrs. Griffin’s diagnosis would be a death sentence. She would be treated aggressively with chemotherapy and radiation, and her odds of surviving five years would be just 50 percent.

What’s in Hoxsey’s herbs...  

What are the ‘miraculous’ components in Hoxsey’s formula? It’s pretty secretive, but records suggest some combination of these...

  • Red Clover — Documented to produce anticancer effects. Anti-angiogenic (meaning it prevents formation of new blood vessels, cutting off cancer’s ability to grow). A phytoestrogen, which regulates the immune system and appears to prevent the spread of breast cancer. Long-time folk tradition against cancer.
  • Burdock Root — Excellent blood purifier with strong immune building properties. Lab tests show anti-cancer activity. Long-time folk cancer remedy in Chile, China, India, Canada, Russia, and the U.S.
  • Poke Root — Used by the Indians for cancer and by early settlers for skin cancer. Had a common name of "cancer root". Triggers the immune system. [Note: Do NOT even consider self-medicating with poke. It can be toxic in larger quantities, and eating the leaves without proper preparation can also be toxic.] 
  • Barberry — Barberry contains a wealth of anti-cancer, anti-tumor, antioxidant, and mutation-preventing compounds, plus cancer-preventive properties. Indians used it to cleanse the blood.
  • Prickly Ash Bark — Contains alkaloid compounds similar to those in barberry.
  • Buckthorn Bark — Long-standing remedy for cleansing the blood, liver disorders, and constipation. Contains aloe-emodin, a laxative compound with demonstrated antitumor qualities.
  • Cascara Sagrada — Contains same aloe-emodin as buckthorn, but in double the amount. It’s traditionally used as a purgative, laxative, tonic, and liver medicine. Inhibited breast cancer tumor growth in mice in just ten days.
  • Stillingia Root — Sometimes called Queen’s root. This root is reputed to have unsurpassed influence on lymphatic and secretory functions. A known anti-tumor agent.
  • Licorice Root — Enhances immune function. Assists elimination. Long-standing tonic and blood purifier. Soothes internal inflammations. Potent against certain bacteria. Animal tests show anti-tumor activity.
  • Potassium Iodide — Regarded as the most overlooked factor in the tonic. It’s the only non-herbal ingredient and is the base that contains all the herbs. Compound of potassium and iodine, known by the symbol KI, and has a long history of use in alternative and veterinary medicine.

Immune booster, cancer killer or both?  

It should be noted that the formula’s real purpose is not to kill cancer cells directly — but to create a terrain unfavorable to the growth of cancer cells.

Hoxsey treatment’s role is to enhance your body’s immune system and its ability to eliminate toxins. However, naturopathic physician and herbal expert, Francis Brinker, believes there’s 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," Dr. Brinker reported.

Renowned botanist investigates the formula  

The late James Duke, a renowned botanist, observed that all the Hoxsey herbs have a long-standing empirical tradition of use against cancer, going back as far as 3,000 years.

Mr. Duke sorted these plants into four categories of what he called their most powerful anti-cancer properties:

  • Antioxidant — protect cells against precancerous damage
  • Anti-mutagenic — shield from cellular mutations that lead directly to cancer
  • Cytotoxic — toxic action that can kill any cell, but is especially effective against cancer cells by virtue of their high-speed dividing.
  • Antimicrobial (antiseptic) — antiviral activity with some antitumor benefits because some cancers are believed to be caused by viruses

Three of the formula’s herbs — barberry, cascara sagrada, and buckthorn — contain compounds that have been studied by The National Cancer Institute for effectiveness in tumors.

In fact, The National Cancer Institute performed laboratory tests on all the Hoxsey herbs using cancer cell lines in petri dishes. Almost all the results were negative. However, most of these testing methodologies have since been abandoned because they are now considered unreliable, and many scientists find that the outcomes do not match actual results with human subjects.

There have been several other laboratory studies with promising results. Eight of the nine herbs of the internal tonic showed antitumor activity in controlled lab animal tests, while five showed antioxidant properties protective against cancer, and all showed antimicrobial properties.

The internal tonic ingredients showed strong chemical and biological anticancer activity on an individual basis.

My takeaway  

I certainly don’t regard the evidence on Hoxsey therapy as conclusive. It’s mostly anecdotal and confined to people who have been treated at a Hoxsey clinic. We can’t be sure of the treatment’s overall success rate based on isolated successes, even if those are spectacular. But the Hoxsey treatment has a long history of happy patients so it’s surely worth consideration. I for one would like to see it given the fair scientific test it deserves.

For more information on the Hoxsey treatment or the Bio Medical Center, visit their website at

Best regards,

Lee Euler,


  1. Ausubel, Kenny. When Healing Becomes a Crime: The Amazing Story of the Hoxsey Cancer Clinics and the Return of Alternative Therapies, 2000.
  2. 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.
  3. From the Father Nature’s Farmacy database and the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985).
  4. Bio Medical Center, Tijuana, Mexico. 
  5. Tempest in a Tonic Bottle: A Bunch of Weeds? - American Botanical Council 

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