Catch 22?

Posted to Subscribers on 18 February 2011


Dear Subscribers,

This week, Dr. Mercola posted material on the link between the polio vaccine and cancer. I didn't read it because I have known about this for decades. Dr. Len Horowitz covered this material in his research and The Lancet has material on its web site about SV40. However, for some people, this news has set off tremors so I am taking this occasion to address some of the issues facing people with cancer.

There is practically nothing upon which experts agree except the importance of "getting it all" by one means or another. As I have tirelessly stated, medicine goes through cycles in which what is believed and practiced changes. Obviously, this is not true of traditional systems of medicine such as Ayurvedic, Chinese, Tibetan, and indigenous understanding of health and healing.

The reason is that traditional systems are both philosophical and medical so there is structure for integrating concepts and a vitality that is inherent in the systems themselves. In fact, many of these systems claim to have been revealed by sages or divine beings and they are regarded as complete. In the west, we had such systems but they were forced more or less into obscurity by pressures that might have been more financial and political than medical. This reached its hellish nadir during the Inquisition when herbalists and midwives were burned at the stake. If one cannot imagine the horror, one can still ask just how many births in the developed world are attended by midwives.

The cancer world is no different so let's explore a bit. My own involvement with cancer goes back nearly 40 years and even in this relatively short span of time — from an historical perspective — there has been some change. As you know, at this time, the conventional treatments are surgery, chemotherapy, and irradiation: cut, poison, and burn. Of these, surgery is the oldest and probably most trusted strategy but it is not without risks, including, unfortunately, the risk of dissemination.

There are two diametrically opposed views relating to surgery. In one, cutting is compared to pruning a tree and it is believed to stimulate the growth of the tumor. At the other end of the spectrum, there is the theory that the more cells there are in the neoplasm, the more (exponential) growth there will be. Each argument has supporters and detractors. If there is a generally unhealthy condition and the tumor is viewed as a reservoir for the morbidity, then removing the reservoir merely pressures the body to find a new storage depot. If you think this theory is absurd, I will simply comment that I know very serious medical doctors who hold such a view, including ones who have themselves refused surgery because they didn't want another organ to become a similar toxic dump. In the case of the opposing argument, the numbers obviously make sense but there is a rate of growth that operates somewhat outside the issue of cell count. Let me make this clear. At the time I first got into this study, tumors were staged according to their degree of abnormality and the prevailing view was that more deformed cells multiplied faster whereas those that were closer to normal grew very slowly. The corollary to that theory was that disturbances at the time of cellular division affected the way the cell divided and whether or not it would be normal. There were lots of books written that took this position from which to view the cancer process, ranging from serious investigations of waywardness to psychoanalytical material of a Jungian genre.

To make this contention clear, since it is vehemently denied by some who are today in the limelight, the theory was that an emotional, chemical, or electromagnetic event at the time of mitosis could cause a cell to replicate in an abnormal manner. If we were to take this belief at face value, we could never inhale or ingest any toxic chemicals much less expose ourselves to the electromagnetic pollution of cell phones and microwave towers and full body scanners at airports and so on and so forth. In short, keeping this theory alive would have damaging consequences for industry so another theory was needed. If you have trouble believing this, then we have to ask just how hard was it to make the risks of smoking known? Now we see the same dilemma with cell phones and countless other parts of modern life.

One argument supporting this theory was that if, for instance, the tendency towards cancer were in the genes or placenta at birth or perhaps written in the stars, we would see more cancer in the nervous system, but the reality is that we see more in systems of the body where the rate of replacement of cells is very high.

In any event, at this time, I don't know any younger doctors who are even aware of this older method of staging. Since I don't work in a pathology lab, I can't be 100% certain but it appears that chromosomes are not being counted and staging is based on the extent of invasiveness. This seems somewhat feeble compared to the earlier view, but it may simply reflect the power of education because when one learns something a certain way, it can take a lot to shift the opinion. This is, however, but one major change in how cancer is viewed that has occurred relatively recently.

The Book

Cancer Salves: A Botanical Approach to TreatmentAs most of you know, a point came in which I wrote a book on cancer and what is relevant about that today is that one of the researchers cited in the book, the late Frederic Mohs from the University of Wisconsin, called his method of microsurgery "chemosurgery." However, escharotics burn so to some extent we are talking about a method that combines surgery, chemistry, and heat. The treatment went underground around the time that radioactive implants were the rage. To understand what I mean, you have to look at the way the medical industry uses new technology and research to hype a treatment or protocol. Whenever this happens, the new treatment is, at minimum, touted as promising; usually there is more propaganda than this. What is galling to those with faith in traditional treatments or holistic treatments is that a tried and true treatment may go out of favor because the promising new one appears so more modern.

Like everyone else of my vintage, I had to be weaned from the impressions made by the constant clamor of Madison Avenue, and once I got deeply involved in my own studies, I realized that treatments were often given FDA approval on the basis that they represented something new that might be useful. In short, approval did not require proof. Worse, even with the approvals that were ostensibly based on trials, the trials may not have been clinically significant. To give this lightning and thunder, let's say I put some cancer cells in a petri dish and hold a blow torch over them. Surely this will kill the cancer cells, but is the treatment really practical? Many substances used in the studies are actually too toxic to be taken seriously, but they are legal because clinical outcome of the patient was not the subject addressed in the study. Hypotheses are carefully worded to refer to exactly what can be controlled in the experiments and those results may not be relevant to the person (or animal) who has cancer (or any other disease). This is not the time for another rant, but suffice it to say that surviving one day longer than the 90 or 180 used as a measure of success hardly suggests any real success.

What I actually want to do today is take a completely different look at options and at the treatments provided in various hospitals and clinics.


Normally, we interpret cancer surgery to mean cutting away of the tumor. For instance, with breast cancer, the options are lumpectomy, mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy, etc., etc., etc. As already noted, the goal is to get it all and patient is advised that time is of the essence. In some cases, the margins of the removed tissue are studied very thoroughly, but sometimes this doesn't actually happen the way we suppose it should. Surgery is the most irrevocable of all treatments because even if the part removed turns out to be benign, it is not put back. I have mopped up a lot of tears from patients who have been through this grief.

Let's go back to Mohs and his "microsurgery". This method is used on a lot of skin cancers but the research supports its efficacy with other types of cancer. The problem is that the method isn't efficient since the treatment requires daily procedures, sometimes dragging out for weeks and months. Mohs called his substance a fixative paste but it's an escharotic with a mixture of stibnite, zinc chloride, and bloodroot, i.e., a composite with a toxic metal, a chemical, and a plant. It's very similar to Harry Hoxsey's red paste and to countless other preparations. The method of treatment is very old but the 20th century version of it shows the potential for combining the best of several worlds, something natural with something allopathic. The success rate of this treatment is high, but only the Mohs Method has the distinction of any academic recognition.

Chemical Treatments

Modern medicine recognizes all the many kinds of chemotherapeutic drugs as accepted protocols, but what are these drugs? Most are cytotoxic. They are very toxic but deemed to be more toxic to morbid tissue than to healthy tissue. They have been completely debunked in many, many studies, the most thorough of which was that done by Ulrich Abel at the University of Heidelberg. However, let's just assume that the principle behind the acceptance is correct and that the end justifies the means.

If we study how these drugs are developed, they lose some of their mystery.

Vincristine and Vinblastine are based on the chemicals found in Madagascar periwinkle. Some, and this is straight fact, are based on waste from wars, like mustard gas and its derivative Roundup, rights for which were in fact sold to develop a chemotherapeutic drug.  
Photograph by: Forest & Kim Starr
Makawao, Maui

To an herbalist, these methods are all high nonsense since the main reason for using the chemicals is that someone has extra inventory or a highly proprietary method of preparation.

Again, let's give this a context. Native American medicine men used bloodroot to treat cancer. They had quite a lot of different methods of preparation. For example, one could put the dried root in one's medicine pouch and rehydrate it if needed. One could take the fresh root and roast it with red onions. One could also cook the dried root in animal fat and extend its shelf life enormously. Mixing it with zinc chloride is however highly proprietary so Samuel Thomson had a corner on the market about two centuries ago. Patents however run out so we need something new in order to charge more?

What is interesting about certain of the herbs used in cancer treatment is that they are highly discriminatory and absolutely harmless on healthy tissue. At the end of the treatment, there is no organ damage from toxic drugs. Hildegard of Bingen said it best, "When the vermes lick the violet salve, they die." The fact is that lots of herbs have the capacity to destroy — selectively — malignant cells. Since researchers know this, a whole new form of biopiracy has emerged in which traditional cultures and jungles are being mined for pharmacologically potent plants. However, these plants are seldom used in the traditional manner because that would not be patentable.

The concept of "chemistry" should not be limited to chemotherapy and herbs. We should at least include diet in this category. As we know, this subject is not taken seriously in medical school, but there are absolutely countless cancer diets "out there". In the early 90s, I hired someone with an interest in this subject to scour all the books and see what the common denominators were and where one might place one's faith. If there is a single point on which there is some agreement, it might be that refined foods are regarded as inferior and hence unsuitable for people in general and patients in particular. After that, truly there is very little consensus.For instance, there is no agreement about whether to avoid protein in all forms (Rudolf Breuss) or just in animal forms or just after the digestive power has waned (variously cited as noon to 2 pm). However to assume that diet makes no difference at all is a bit preposterous.


The oldest heat therapy might be cautery and it was sometimes used brutally. However, refinements are not just possible but practical. Today, the main heat treatment involves radiation.

Irradiation should be a controversial therapy. Marie Curie developed cancer on her thumb and concealing the side effects has been an ongoing drama for over a century. I am not even going to say that it has its usefulness because the risks can be much greater than the alleged benefits, but people are in fact exposed to radiation in the form of diagnostic procedures and sometimes testing or use of weapons, chemtrails, and gadgets around the home and office. Radiation is frequency that burns organic matter. The fastest vibrating substance that is used by the body is phosphorus (well, this could be outdated information but go with the gist here and not the details.) Most hostile writers refer to radiation as a form of burning, but what I have seen in the blood is that it is also fragmenting and this concerns me more than the burning. It is the instability which feels dangerous, not the heat itself. Obviously, those who have been irradiated also have the dryness and lack of elasticity and other kinds of discomfort associated with excess heat.

Again, to use an analogy, the escharotic pastes used by Mohs and others produce a heat reaction in morbid tissue, but not in healthy tissue. This necrotizes the reactive tissue and it separates like a scab and detaches without harming healthy tissue. There is nothing in the formulations that causes a nuclear reaction inside the body so the safety is higher and risk of causing secondary and unrelated cancers is nil. However, we should not stop here because there are countless variations of this heat therapy, everything from Coley's toxins (that cause fevers) to saunas and hot tubs.

The Catch 22

When a traditional therapy is displaced by a modern one, the usual course of events is to promote the new treatment as cutting edge and the former one as archaic. There is nothing in this language that clarifies which actually works better but when the competition for hearts and minds, not to mention market share, revs up, we know who wins. The traditional therapies go underground or abroad. At the moment, taking oneself to Mexico for laetrile or Ukrain or other treatments is legal for adults but not for children. However, Christopher Reeve was under the impression that if he went abroad for stem cell treatment, he would have been subject to arrest upon his return. This, however, is cutting edge but not approved and therefore unwelcome competition for the hugely profitable cancer industry.

What happens when profits are placed above efficacy and safety is that the pioneers of the modalities go abroad and establish clinics based on their findings. This means that if, for instance, someone has spent a lifetime studying laetrile, he or she might be oblivious to the merits of other therapies that could be used adjunctively. Again, context is important. The medical industry has an enormous monopoly on surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation but it has very little opposition to prayer, meditation, guided visualization, music therapy, yoga, and so on and so forth providing these are used mainly for relaxation and not as a substitute for more profitable therapies. If someone were to go into remission because he or she merged with some golden light or harmonized with the music of the spheres, you can be absolutely sure the method would no longer be welcome in hospitals and it might even become the target of some disinformation campaign.

When someone has spent a lifetime studying a particular treatment, that person may be the world's foremost expert on that particular protocol and yet unaware of merits of other protocols. This is the fundamental problem with modern medicine: the doctors are trained to do what they do and may be oblivious to the importance of diet, of processing of emotional baggage, of herbal support, etc., etc., etc. However, it is not only allopathic doctors who suffer from this lack of wholeness, it is also most everyone else. So, when going to a cancer clinic, one can only expect expertise in the areas staffed. If music therapy, for instance, is beneficial but has never been tried, then do not expect to find it or any support for it. It's not necessary to dot every "i" here but IF someone knows that chemotherapy causes loss of capacity for the heart to function normally and severe damage to the liver, wouldn't it be reasonable to combine the treatment with herbs that are known to protect these organs from damage when exposed to chemicals? Or, at what point in the prostate cancer treatment should someone mention saw palmetto or lycopene?

Integrative Medicine

In true integrative medicine, the lycopene would be mentioned in the sentence after the conventional procedures. However, in wholistic medicine, all the parts would be spelled out with the pros and cons of each and the patient would choose the strategy that combined the best possible treatments with his/her own beliefs, biases, and persuasions. In holistic medicine, we would expect the softer treatments and the ones with the most spiritual inspiration behind them to be emphasized, and in natural medicine, we could anticipate that everything that is not natural is rejected. This is quite a panorama and leaves the patient with about 150 options instead of the usual three. A dentist once said to me that he liked fewer options because there was less to explain. Basically, in his language, this boiled down to amalgams, composites, and porcelain, but the fact is there are hundreds of choices even in dentistry and at least that many for cancer treatment also. The argument is always that the alternatives are not well understood or not sufficiently documented or, or, or, but in reality, chemotherapy has a success rate of less than one percent so just how bad are the alternatives?

Most are not quick fixes but rather systemic approaches that take more time and more effort. Otherwise, they are reasonable options for those who prefer them. That's all I want to say at this time. This is already long, but this definitely sets the stage for further elaboration.

Many blessings,



Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2011







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Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2010

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