Finding out that your dog has a tumour is a nightmare for any pet owner. And if surgery is out of the question then the only treatment usually available for a Soft Tissue Sarcoma is chemotherapy or radiation therapy. But as Paul Boland explains, there are some natural remedies that can slow down the growth of the tumour.
Soft tissue sarcomas (STS) are malignant tumours of connective tissues, muscles and fat that usually invades neighbouring tissues i.e. they are locally invasive. They tend to recur after surgery and high grade STS tend to metastasize (spread) through the bloodstream to the lungs and liver. In cats, STS can develop at injection sites.
In the limbs of dogs STS can be what we call non-resectable i.e. they are impossible to remove surgically because they are locally invasive making it impossible to remove the entire tumour. Also, because they tend to recur you need to have a three-centimetre margin around the tumour of normal tissue; this can be impossible on the leg as there is not enough normal skin on the leg and/or there would be no normal skin after surgery to close the wound.
You can remove as much of the tumour as possible which is called ‘debulking’ but it tends to regrow and there is a chance this procedure can ‘seed’ the microscopic cancer cells throughout the body; these secondary tumours are called metastatic tumours. If the entire tumour is not removed during surgery then the recurrence rate within 1 year is 30%. All tumours should be biopsied so that we know what type of cancer that we are dealing with.
I am one of an extremely low number of vets who tends to manage cancer naturally in the UK, though I will still remove resectable tumours surgically. The vast majority of vets in the Western World will not agree with my views on cancer but as Terence McKenna said ‘The cost of sanity, in this society, is a certain level of alienation’
I believe it is important for clients to be aware that there is an alternative management of cancer in dogs as I have seen some good results. In-fact because cancer in dogs and people is very similar, dogs are used in many initial medical trials for cancer treatments. It follows from this that natural alternatives for people and dogs are also very similar. It is estimated that as many as 3 out 4 people will develop cancer. So, by educating yourself on the natural management of cancer in your dog you will learn how to potentially manage cancer naturally in your own family.
My Cancer Journey
Although I have been practising natural medicine in animals for many years it was only 6 years ago I began undertaking research into the natural management of cancer in people and pets. I didn’t initially think I would be convinced that this was possible however as I progressed I found I slowly changed my perspective on cancer as a disease and I now view cancer as a chronic systemic disease of the body.
I actually had a case of a dog with tumour two years ago. I employed a natural approach to this and found that the tumour disappeared. It did come back again several months later, but I have subsequently altered the approach slightly and found that the tumour is now slightly smaller.
Cells live for a set number of days or years. The cells that line the intestinal tract live for 5 days, pancreas cells live for 4-5 years, liver cells live for 3-5 years and lung cells live for 4-5 years. Each cell has programmed into its DNA natural cell death via a process known as apoptosis. Also, damaged, infected, cancerous and old cells are killed via apoptosis. The hallmark of cancer cells is that apoptosis has stopped working and they carry on living and dividing, therefore growing and spreading throughout the body. 60-80 million cells die each day in the human body by apoptosis.
Apoptogens are molecules that induce apoptosis in cells and ‘green’ apoptogens are naturally occurring apoptogens. They also arrest abnormal cell cycles, metastasis and reduce inflammation. Unlike chemotherapy and radiation therapy they are selective for cancer thus leaving healthy cells alone.
The normal cells of the body live in an alkaline aerobic environment where each cell produces 36 atoms of the energy molecule ATP from the aerobic respiration of one glucose molecule. Cancer cells live in an acidic anaerobic environment where they produce only 4 molecules of ATP from the fermentation of one glucose molecule. Cancer cells are weaker than normal cells and need massive amounts of glucose to survive which is the reason high glycaemic foods are not a good idea.
Natural management of canine cancer
My plan of action is a multifaceted approach including killing the cancer cells, boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, alkaline and oxygenate the body, improving the mind-body connection, relieving any pain and nutritional support.
The two main products that I use are Apocaps and stem cell enhancers because they do most of the above. Apocaps was developed by veterinary surgeon Dr Demian Dressler DVM and contains natural apoptogens. These are luteolin, a bioflavonoid from peanut hull, apigenin, a bioflavonoid from parsley, curcumin, a bioflavonoid from the Indian spice turmeric and silymarin from milk thistle. These natural apoptogens are thought to induce apoptosis in cancer cells in animals and people. They may decrease the side effects and increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Dr Dressler initially advised using the natural herbs individually in cancer patients but he found that the bioavailability of the active molecules from the herbs was too low to cause apoptosis in cancer cells in the body. He was able correct this with his formulation in Apocaps. Clinical trials in people, funded by the USA Government are due to start shortly.
These herbs not only selectively induce apoptosis in cancer cells but they also cut off the blood supply to tumours and decrease inflammation in the body. Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels and cancers cells stimulate the body to form new blood vessels to tumours so that the tumours are supplied with nutrients. Cancer cells need massive amounts of sugar (glucose) to survive because, as I said above, they only produce a small amount of energy from the fermamentation of glucose. This is the reason why carbohydrates (because they are broken down to glucose) should be limited in a cancer patient, thus starving the glucose loving cancer cells of energy. So, by cutting off the blood supply to tumours these herbs help to starve the cancer cells.
Inflammation is paramount to the survival of the body when it comes under attack via illness or trauma. The four signs of inflammation are warmth, redness, heat and pain. For example, when you have a cut on your skin the body’s inflammatory response floods the area with white blood cells to fight infection, oxygen and glucose for energy for the cells and platelets that start the coagulation process. However, when the inflammation does not stop and there is chronic inflammation in the body then the body is prone to chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, immune mediated diseases, and cancer. Luteolin and curcumin and apigenin (like NSAID’s such as Rimadyl and Metacam) decrease the activity of the enzyme COX-2 which is associated with inflammation. They are therefore, natural anti-inflammatories and so they decrease the pain that is associated with some cancers.
The second part of our multi-pronged attack on cancer is in boosting the immune system. Cancer cells are routinely killed and mopped up by the white cells of the immune system. However, cancer cells are allowed to flourish when the immune system is depressed- i.e. when the body is under chronic stress the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis is stimulated to release cortisol and adrenaline from the adrenal glands. Cortisol depresses the immune system. Cancer then further depresses the immune system allowing cancer cells to flourish. By depressing the immune system the body is prone to infections that can kill the patient. Immunity and cancer are intimately connected. In an ideal world, the immune system is able to identify cancer cells and destroy them. Unfortunately, cancer cells are able to avoid detection by mimicking normal body cells. Cancer secretes chemical signals that suppress the immune system. On top of this, cancer increases stress hormones, and stress hormones suppress immunity as well.
Apocaps contain beta glucans. Beta glucans are found in the cell walls of mushrooms, yeast and certain grains like oats and brown rice. They are general immune activators which have significant evidence to stimulate immunity and improved quality of life in cancer patients.
Nausea is common in cancer patients, both due to cancer itself, as well as side effects of radiation and chemotherapy. The ability of ginger to combat nausea is documented in clinical studies. The active ingredients in ginger are called gingerols. Gingerols help Apocaps improve life quality of cancer patients.
Stem Cell Enhancers
I also use natural stem cell enhancers in my cancer patients and I have found them to be very beneficial in cancer cases. They are helpful for a number of reasons. They are a concentrate of the blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) which is an alkaline super food that helps to alkaline the body. Some foods are classed as acidic because they lower the pH of the body, while some foods are classed as alkaline because they increase the pH of the body. Remember, we need to alkaline the body. AFA contains phycocyanin which stimulates the Natural Killer Cells that actively kill cancer cells. Patients usually die of wasting away, cachexia, because the cancer robs the body of glucose. The body then uses fat and then protein (muscle) for energy. The cancer literally starves you to death. AFA contains 120 vital nutrients and minerals. It contains chlorophyll that is very similar to haemaglobin, thus it helps to oxygenate the body.
Mind & Body Connection
The study of the mind-body connection is the two fairly new sciences called Psychoneuroimmology and Epigenetics. Put simply psychoneuroimmology is the study of how the mind or consciousnesses can affect the nervous system which then affects the immune system and the physiology of the body. Thoughts, beliefs and character types affect how the body develops disease and how it does or does not recover from disease. In essence, a happy positive approach to life will stimulate the immune system while an unhappy negative approach to life will depress the immune. There have been many studies that show that cancer patients have a better chance of recovering if the patient is positive and happy. So with dogs we must make them as happy as possible by playing with them, telling them how much we love them, massaging them, giving them positive energy via Reiki and taking them for walks. I never answer the question ‘How long does my dog have to live?’ because this is different for each dog and two because the owner will keep to this set time, worry like hell about it and therefore pass on their negative energy to their dog. Once the owner gives up then shortly afterwards the dog will follow, so the owner must stay positive. Don’t forget studies have shown that dogs know when their owners are coming home even before then are in sight of the house.
Epigenetics is the study on how the environment affects our genetics, cells, DNA and disease. ‘Epi’ is Greek for above and so this new branch of biology studies how the environment of the body affects the 80 trillion cells of the body. It is now thought that the cellular environment is more important in causing disease than mutant DNA and infections. This is study on how outside influences affect cells, whether outside influences make cells more or less resistant to infections and diseases such as cancer. Again, research points to the fact a happy positive patient is less likely to develop illnesses and if they do they tend to recover more quickly.