“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” That’s the full quote from Oscar Wilde — we usually remember just the first portion of it. In modern medicine, even those who do not believe that God exists frequently flatter the exquisite design built into the creation that we call Nature by imitating it. In the ongoing, long war against cancer, we see this imitation over and over again, as we do in all disease research. Pure science, in fact, is the process of understanding how the mechanisms of this “Nature” works and capitalizing upon them.
Phytochemicals: natural “drugs” in plants
In an article published in the National Institutes of Health’s frontiers in Pharmacology about phytochemicals and cancer therapy is this statement:
“…the use of chemically synthesized drugs has not significantly improved the overall survival rate over the past few decades.”
They lay out the case for phytochemicals being the basis for new chemotherapy drugs. Various phytochemicals are already known to inhibit cancer in various ways:
- Antioxidants: these chemicals bind damaging free radicals which harm healthy tissue.
- Immune system enhancement: some boost specific types of immune cells that attack cancer, while others provide overall health to the immune system.
- Binding toxins: some phytochemicals can grab toxic chemicals and remove them from the body.
- Cancer pathway interference: some of these plant chemicals hinder the excessive growth mechanisms of cancer.
Why not just use the phytochemicals, rather than making synthesized drugs based upon them? The above article just stated that the track record of synthesized drugs is poor.
Which is more toxic?
The European Commission estimates that adverse reactions from prescription drugs cause 200,000 deaths; so together, about 328,000 patients in the U.S. and Europe die from prescription drugs each year. The FDA does not acknowledge these facts and instead gathers a small fraction of the cases.
Frequently, prescription drugs cause what are called “adverse drug reactions”, or ADR’s. An article published in Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics cites 1.9 million hospitalizations occur each year due to ADR’s. If that weren’t enough, already hospitalized patients experience ADR’s at the rate of 840,000 per year. Here are some statistics from the Centers for Education & Research on Theraputics:
- ADR’s cause 1 out of 5 injuries or deaths annually to hospitalized patients.
- Annual cost of ADR’s is $136 Billion, which is greater than the total costs of cardiovascular or diabetic care.
- ADR patients have a length of stay, mortality, and cost double that of other patients.
- Two-thirds of patient visits result in a prescription
Research in another National Institutes of Health publication, Journal of Nephropharmacology (NPJ), shows that about 100,000 people die annually due to adverse effects of synthetic drugs, which are also the source of about 8% of hospital admissions.
The National Poison Control Center does not bother recording deaths and hospitalizations from herbs, because they are extremely rare. There is no comparison: synthetic/prescription drugs are massively more toxic than herbs/phytochemicals.
Many plants are edible, and many contain a large number of phytochemicals and phytonutrients which promote health and fight cancer. The NPJ article also states that whole plant extracts “cannot be mimicked” by purified/isolated herb extracts. The mechanisms by which phytochemicals act are so vast that isolated extracts, which cut out a number of natural co-factors, are less effective. The variety of phytochemicals work together in concert to provide effects beyond those of isolated chemicals. But synthesized drugs focus on one isolated phytochemical to manufacture artificially: you lose the synergistic value of the other chemicals in the plant, plus you gain the toxicity of a manufactured drug.
To really understand why laboratory drugs are not exact copies of phytochemicals you would have to have a degree in biochemistry. The basic explanation is that these highly complex molecules cannot be stitched together with the same components in the exact same shape readily. They may achieve the same formula, but without the same shape or pattern of connecting the amino acid building blocks, you have a subtly different result. They may bind the same way in the body, but be structurally “weaker”, have a different molecular shape, or have a tail that hooks left instead of right. We can’t just take the parts of a carbon chain and attach them with pliers just the way we want. Instead we have to coax them into forming with a lot of tricks, which may involve other undesirable chemicals to cause the formation. Sometimes these chemicals themselves are unavoidably embedded in the drug, directly making the whole drug toxic. This is part of the debate over vaccines: small amounts of toxic chemicals necessary to make the vaccine can cause allergic reactions or bind in the body to cause damage later. Nature is not so easily imitated!
Even the common chemotherapy drugs come from plant sources. Chemicals extracted from clippings of Taxus brevifolia (Pacific yew) have been used as the basis for two chemotherapy drugs, docetaxel and paclitaxel.
For all these reasons, plant-derived phytochemicals are much safer than synthesized drugs, and most effective in whole plant extracts.
Immunotherapy — the old is now new in cancer research
Natural medicine has long focused upon building up the immune system to fight all disease, including cancer. With the plateauing of the effectiveness of highly toxic chemotherapy — meant to make all cells sick, just make the cancer cells sicker — attention has turned to enhancing the immune system to fight cancer. But the immune system is a “system” because it has many aspects, and cancer research is attempting to steer certain aspects of the immune system to target cancer.
In a research article published in Cell, from the University of Pennsylvania, researchers took ?-glucan, a compound derived from fungus, and promoted the production of myeloid cells, particularly neutrophils, to attack cancer. The immune system gets “trained” by its environment, and stimulating the body’s own myeloid cells produces trained killers to attack the cancer. This training is why we gain immunity to various diseases over our lifetimes, and why patients who have destroyed bone marrow due to certain chemotherapies have no immunity — the training has been erased at the bone marrow source. As the environment changes, the precursor cells to neutrophils “rewire” their genetics through a process called epigenetics. Enhancing immune system production of neutrophils not only provides new warriors to the battle, but trained warriors!
Mainstream science is once again turning back to the design already built in to our bodies and attempting to work with it. Natural medicine has been doing this all along, and is itself a scientific approach to medicine. Natural medicine takes the “what works” approach and places the innate design of the body at the top of its study. Mainstream science sometimes lowers its respect for the inherent design, but reality keeps forcing it back to a renewed appreciation. Immunotherapy is gaining traction because it enhances existing design.
?-glucan is a naturally occurring compound. Researchers discovered its benefits through experimentation. How many treatments of the future will be discoveries of what is already in nature? How many benefits are we already deriving from eating good plant-based food that have yet to be discovered?
The best of both worlds?
No one argues that building health retards cancer development. No matter what therapy you use for any disease, building health is a no-brainer. Then consider specific therapies in light of health: are they highly toxic, do they work with the body, do they enhance or deplete the immune system? The last item is highly important because the immune system is the key to wiping out cancer — without it you can only hope to hold cancer at bay for a little while.
The best of both worlds would be therapies that build a strong body, deal with imbalances in the body, enhance mechanisms that fight cancer, remove the environment that cancer prefers, and minimize toxicity.
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
Most medications that have been discovered including cancer medication were found because of studying plants and herbs in Nature. Scientists began systematically examining natural organisms as a source of useful anti-cancer substances. Most are in agreement that the use of natural products has been the single most successful strategy in the discovery new medicines of all types. Plants protect themselves from the attack of pathogens, especially fungi, by producing anti-fungal chemicals. Now, isn’t this interesting, because cancer cells are very similar to fungi cells: both eat sugar for energy, both thrive in an anaerobic (low oxygen) and acidic environment. So it makes perfect sense that a phytochemical that kills fungus would also kill or inhibit cancer cell growth. An Italian oncologist even states that “cancer is a fungus” and the way to kill it is to make an environment where fungi cannot grow.
We have been helping patients make this environment for over 35 years. This includes a customized anti-inflammatory diet made for the individual including the most powerful phytochemical foods to promote immune health and death of rogue cells. Treatments are given to change the inflammatory and toxic environment that opened the door to cancer stem cell formation. The cancer stem cell is the source of all cancer growth and spread, and cannot be killed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Classes are held to teach you how to make a health promoting environment it body, mind and emotions so disease does not want to live there anymore.
If you need help on your journey here are the options at Total Health Institute:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.