Health Notes

Breast cancer cells killed in 16 hours with a simple herb!

Cancer treatments seem to be popping up in the most unusual places these days. In this issue, we’ll also discuss a possible spice cure for cancer (myrrh–see page 3). Now it looks as though a traditional anti-malaria herb might also provide new hope against malignancies.

The herb Artemisinin (“arty-MISS-in-in”) is extracted from wormwood and has been used by Chinese doctors for centuries to treat various diseases. However, this practice remained largely unknown until 1970 when archeologists rediscovered it. The herb is primarily used today in the treatment of malaria.

However, a recent study on herbal treatments for breast cancer done at the University of Washington in Seattle tested Artemisinin’s effects against breast cancer. Results showed that the herb killed all breast cancer cells within 16 hours.

As if this observation wasn’t dramatic enough on its own, researchers also noted that although the cancer cells were killed, Artemisinin largely spared healthy cells.

Artemisinin apparently works the same way that lactoferrin works in breast milk-by binding with iron in cancer cells and bacteria. This kills the foreign cells by giving them an iron-deficiency anemia. The malaria parasite requires a lot of iron for good health as do cancer cells, which is why Artemisinin appears to be so effective for both conditions.

Remember, these studies are preliminary, and more research needs to be done. And since the research is still in early stages, it might be difficult to find Artemisinin.

Action to take:

For a referral to a physician who might be able to assist you with obtaining this herb, as well as treatment with it, contact the American Academy of Naturopathic Physicians at (703)610-9037 or, the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists at (281)933-8400 or, or the American Academy of Environmental Medicine at (316)684-5500 or


“Selective toxicity of dihydroartemisinin and holotransferrin toward human breast cancer cells.” Life Sciences 2001 Nov 21; 70(1): 49-56

Gold, frankincense, and a cure for cancer?

Everyone has heard the story of the Three Wise Men giving the baby Jesus gifts of gold frankincense, and myrrh. Myrrh actually has a long history-dating back thousands of years-of use as an embalming agent for burial of the dead. But new research suggests that myrrh’s abilities may go beyond preserving a body-it may preserve your life. Researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey have discovered myrrh has anti-cancer properties.

The study explains that there is a protein called Bcl-2 that is overproduced in cancer cells and is thought to promote their growth. Myrrh contains a previously undiscovered compound, called sesquiterpenoids (say that five times fast), which neutralizes Bcl-2.

According to this study, published in the Journal of Natural Products, myrrh might be particularly helpful in the treatment of breast and prostate cancer. Researchers noted that when myrrh extract was applied to human breast cancer cells in laboratory dishes, it killed all the cancer cells. While myrrh is less effective than current conventional chemotherapy drugs, it is a natural extract and will most likely be much less toxic to healthy cells, and cause fewer side effects than those products.

Researcher Dr. Mohammed Rafi of Rutgers University said myrrh might prove to have fewer side effects than most cancer drugs. He added: “I’m optimistic that this compound can be developed into an anticancer drug.” However, since the research is in the early cancer cell experimental stages, that claim seems premature.

Action to take:

Myrrh is available in many health food stores as an ingredient in various herbal supplements and natural toothpastes and mouthwashes. It can also be purchased as a tea and an extract. Follow the instructions on the label of the specific product you choose.

“Furanosesquiterpenoids of Commiphora myrrha,” Journal of Natural Products 2001; 64(11): 1,460-1,462
“‘Gift of the Magi’ bears anti-cancer agents, resea-rchers suggest,” EurekAlert! (, 12/4/01

Heart attack-treating yourself in an emergency situation

You’re driving down the freeway and suddenly it feels like an elephant is sitting on your chest. The pain is severe, oppressive, radiating down your left arm, and you’re feeling starved for air. You quickly realize that you’re having a heart attack.

When the alarm bells go off, the most important thing you can do is to remain calm. Call 911 immediately and pull over to the side of the road to wait for help. Or, if you are in familiar territory, drive to the hospital, but call 911 anyway and give them your position.

 If, amongst the symptoms listed above, you have a faint or lightheaded feeling, you might be on the verge of experiencing something called ventricular fibrillation. This can be fatal if not treated within minutes. Fortunately, there is something else you can do, which may prevent ventricular fibrillation. For lack of a better term, it is called “self CPR.”

To perform this maneuver, take a deep breath and cough as hard as you can. This mimics CPR’s characteristic quick breath of air and chest compression that would generally be administered by another person. This procedure must be repeated every few seconds until you can feel a pulse at your neck (Practice it now-it’s easy.) Keep in mind that because you are essentially hyperventilating, your dizziness will not go away and might even get worse.

Please note that I cannot guarantee that this method will work, but I can safely say that it will not harm you, and it may save your life. If you ask me, those odds make it worth a shot.

The sobering truth about alcohol and diabetes

If you wait around long enough it seems everything that has been classified as “bad for you” comes full circle and eventually becomes “good for you.” Alcohol is one of these born-again “nutritents.” A study of nearly 1,000 diabetic people revealed that those who indulged in one or more alcoholic beverages a day significantly cut their risk of developing coronary heart disease and having a fatal heart attack, compared with non-drinkers. (Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of diabetics.)

While this might sound like great news and written permission from one of the most prominent medical journals around to catch up with your old friend Jack Daniels, it’s important to note that there are some significant risks involved with alcohol and diabetes. Even small amounts of alcohol can result in dramatic swings in blood sugar levels.

Peripheral neuropathy, an unpleasant inflammation of the nerve endings common in diabetics, can be exacerbated by alcohol. Even worse, alcohol may increase “insulin resistance,” meaning it takes larger and larger doses to be effective.

Since insulin itself is atherogenic (i.e., causes hardening of the arteries) you could be setting off on a vicious cycle that just isn’t worth the short-lived satisfaction those couple of drinks might bring.

Action to take:

If you are a diabetic, you’d better stick to tea and coffee.


“Alcohol Intake and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease Mortality in Persons with Older-Onset Diabetes Mellitus.” Journal of the American Medical Association 1999; 282(3): 239-246.