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Is There a Role for Homeopathy in Cancer Care? Questions and Challenges

Authors:

Abstract

Patients with cancer commonly use complementary and integrative medicine, including homeopathy. Homeopathy has grown in popularity with the public but is viewed with skepticism by medical academia and is still excluded from conventionally prescribed treatments. In recent years, homeopathy has been used in cancer care in Europe and other countries worldwide. This use raised the question if there is any benefit in utilizing this type of care with cancer patients. The purpose of this manuscript is to explore the evidence related to the benefit of homeopathy in cancer care. Limited research has suggested that homeopathic remedies appear to cause cellular changes in some cancer cells. In animal models, several homeopathic remedies have had an inhibitory effect on certain tumor development. Some clinical studies of homeopathic remedies combined with conventional care have shown that homeopathic remedies improve quality of life, reduce symptom burden, and possibly improve survival in patients with cancer. The findings from several lab and clinical studies suggest that homeopathy might have some beneficial effect in cancer care; however, further large, comprehensive clinical studies are needed to determine these beneficial effects. Although additional studies are needed to confirm these findings, given the low cost, minimal risks, and the potential magnitude of homeopathy's effects, this use might be considered in certain situations as an additional tool to integrate into cancer care.
INTEGRATIVE CARE (C LAMMERSFELD, SECTION EDITOR)
Is There a Role for Homeopathy in Cancer Care? Questions
and Challenges
Moshe Frenkel
1,2,3
#Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015
Abstract Patients with cancer commonly use complementary
and integrative medicine, including homeopathy. Homeopa-
thy has grown in popularity with the public but is viewed with
skepticism by medical academia and is still excluded from
conventionally prescribed treatments. In recent years, home-
opathy has been used in cancer care in Europe and other coun-
tries worldwide. This use raised the question if there is any
benefit in utilizing this type of care with cancer patients. The
purpose of this manuscriptis to explore the evidence related to
the benefit of homeopathy in cancer care. Limited research has
suggested that homeopathic remedies appear to cause cellular
changes in some cancer cells. In animal models, several ho-
meopathic remedies have had an inhibitory effect on certain
tumor development. Some clinical studies of homeopathic
remedies combined with conventional care have shown that
homeopathic remedies improve quality of life, reduce symp-
tom burden, and possibly improve survival in patients with
cancer. The findings from several lab and clinical studies sug-
gest that homeopathy might have some beneficial effect in
cancer care; however, further large, comprehensive clinical
studies are needed to determine these beneficial effects. Al-
though additional studies are needed to confirm these find-
ings, given the low cost, minimal risks, and the potential
magnitude of homeopathyseffects,thisusemightbeconsid-
ered in certain situations as an additional tool to integrate into
cancer care.
Keywords Homeopathy .Cancer care .Ultra-diluted
remedies .Complementary medicine .Integrative medicine .
Quality of life in cancer care
Introduction
Patients with cancer commonly use complementary and inte-
grative medicine (CIM) to improve their quality of life, to gain
a sense of control, and to participate actively in their care.
Patients often search for additional options to manage the
chronic side effects of treatments, for ways to reduce the risk
of recurrence or secondary cancers, and sometimes for addi-
tional treatments for comorbid conditions exacerbated by their
illness. In order to achieve these goals, some patients choose
to incorporate CIM therapies such as meditation, acupuncture,
homeopathy, yoga, and diet into their care [13].
Homeopathy has grown in popularity with the public but is
viewed with skepticism by medical academia and is still ex-
cluded from current conventional recommendations. Home-
opathy is practiced extensively in Europe, Asia, Middle East,
and South America to treat functional disorders and minor
ailments. Homeopathy is based on the theory that highly di-
luted natural substances affect illness and improve symptoms.
At times, the dilution level is far beyond the Avogadro number
which reflects that there are no original molecules in those
dilutions. In the USA, the homeopathic remedies that are pre-
pared in this unique process are supervised by the Federal
Drug Administration [4].
Unfortunately, not much research has been published on
the use of homeopathy among cancer patients in the USA. A
This article is part of the Topical Collection on Integrative Care
*Moshe Frenkel
frenkelm@netvision.net.il
1
Department of Family Medicine, The University of Texas Medical
Branch at Galveston, Galveston, TX, USA
2
Integrative Medicine Unit, Institute of Oncology Meir Medical
Center, Kfar Saba, Israel
3
Hashoftim 1 B, Zichron Yaacov 30900, Israel
Curr Oncol Rep (2015) 17:43
DOI 10.1007/s11912-015-0467-8
2015 search of the term Bhomeopathy^in PubMed produced
over 5000 citations; approximately 250 of these citations
relate to homeopathy and cancer [5]. With this increased
interest in homeopathy among the general public in
many countries, as well as among cancer patients world-
wide, the need to explore the evidence about the benefit
of this method of care arose. In this paper, we will first
establish the popular use of homeopathy throughout the
world, and then we will address the frequent questions
and challenges that arise with this use, such as the clin-
ical effectiveness of homeopathy in cancer care, the safe-
ty of homeopathy, and the effect of combining homeo-
pathy with conventional cancer care as well as findings
from the laboratory such as in vitro studies and animal
studies.
Popular Use of Homeopathy
A recent survey, published in 2015 in the USA, revealed a
trend of increased use of homeopathy in the general popula-
tion. The study estimated that over five million adults and over
one million children use homeopathy. Homeopathy is used
more than well-known CIM therapies such as guided imagery,
acupuncture, energy healing therapy, naturopathy, hypnosis,
biofeedback, and Ayurvedic medicine [4].
In Europe, homeopathy is used during and after cancer
treatments. A survey of close to 1000 cancer patients in 14
European countries revealed that 36 % of cancer patients were
using some form of complementary medicine. In the surveyed
countries, cancer patients often used homeopathy with herbal
remedies as the main CIM therapy [6].
In the UK, a questionnaire-based study revealed that ho-
meopathy was one of the mainly used CIM therapies by can-
cer patients [7].
Approximately 34 % of patients treated in a French cancer
department reported using CIM; of these patients, the majority
(42 %) used homeopathy [8].
In Germany, cancer patients (both adults and children)
tend to use homeopathy in addition to conventional treat-
ments. Homeopathy, as a matter of fact, is the most fre-
quently used CIM treatment among German adults and
children with cancer [9,10].
In Italy, homeopathy is also commonly used and is one of
the three leading complementary therapies used by cancer
patients [11]. One survey at two oncology day hospitals in
Italy revealed that 17 % of patients on chemotherapy used
CIM. Homeopathy and herbal medicine were the most com-
monly used forms of CIM in those hospitals [12].
Another large European survey published in 2015 involved
236 centers that provide integrative oncology services in the
public health system. In this recent study, homeopathy was
one of the leading CIM therapies (40.4 %) [13••].
Effectiveness of Homeopathy in Clinical Care
Clinicians often question the effectiveness of homeopathic
remedies in cancer care. Are there any scientific studies that
support the claim that homeopathy has clinical effects? Con-
ventionally trained healthcare providers often are skeptical of
the idea that a medication that is diluted to the extent that there
is no original material still has clinical effects. But even when
phenomena appear to have no explanation, one needs to ap-
proach these questions scientifically as with any clinical
question.
A recent report from an Australian team assessed the
general effectiveness of homeopathy. This study was
based on three sources: Ban overview of published sys-
tematic reviews done by an independent contractor dat-
ing 19972012, an independent evaluation of informa-
tion provided by homeopathy interest groups in Austra-
lia, and consideration of clinical practice guidelines and
government reports on homeopathy published in other
countries^[14]. However, the study did not include
any in vitro studies, animal studies, or studies that were
not included in the systematic reviews published before
1997 or after 2012. The study did not cover cancer as a
possible health condition other than hot flashes that was a
result of breast cancer treatment. The study concluded that
no reliable evidence shows that homeopathy effectively
treats any illnesses [14].
However, in 2011, the Swiss government published a
report in English concerning the use of homeopathic
medicine [15]. This report comprehensively evaluated
homeopathy as a medical system integrated into
healthcare. This government initiative resulted from the
high demand for and widespread use of CIM therapies
in Switzerland, not only among consumers but also
among physicians.
The Swiss report carefully reviewed the evidence
from randomized double-blind and placebo controlled
clinical trials testing homeopathic medicines, they also
evaluated the Breal world effectiveness^as well as safe-
ty and cost-effectiveness [15]. The report also conducted
a comprehensive review of preclinical research such as
botanical studies, animal studies, and in vitro studies
with human cells. After assessing the evidence from
basic science research and high-quality clinical studies,
the Swiss concluded that homeopathic remedies seem to
induce cellular effects as well as changes in living or-
ganisms. The report also mentioned that 20 of the 22
systematic reviews of clinical research, testing homeo-
pathic medicines, detected a trend in favor of homeop-
athy. The authors concluded that homeopathic treatments
should be reimbursed by Switzerlands national health
insurance program, and the Swiss government followed
this recommendation [15].
43 Page 2 of 6 Curr Oncol Rep (2015) 17:43
Clinical Experience
Because of the scarcity of knowledge about the efficacy of
many CIM therapies used in cancer care, the National Cancer
Institute (NCI) has developed a program that encourages CIM
practitioners to present their data to evaluate if specific CIM
therapies can trigger further innovative research. Over the past
20 years, the Best Case Series Program has invited CIM prac-
titioners to submit clinical data on patients that had significant
tumor reduction in response to an alternative modality for
cancer treatment. Each case is reviewed against the same rig-
orous standards of evidence ofnovel conventional cancer ther-
apies. The NCI Best Case Series Program offers practitioners
who treat patients with cancer, expert assistance in identifying
and compiling persuasive case studies, as well as the oppor-
tunity to have their data evaluated at the National Institute of
Health [16,17].
In 1999, researchers from the Prasanta Banerji Homeopath-
ic Research Foundation (PBHRF) in Kolkata, India, submitted
data to this NCI program. These researchers developed a
method of using homeopathic medicines through prescribing
specific remedies for specific malignancies. They followed
17,324 patients with malignant tumors who were treated at
PBHRF between 1990 and 2005. In 19 % of the patients,
the malignant tumors completely regressed after homeopathic
treatment, and 21 % of the patients were the same or improved
after homeopathic treatment [18].
Drs. Prasanta and Pratip Banerji, the founders and leaders
of this clinic, presented to NCI the data from patients with
cancer treated with the Banerji protocol that had experienced
documented improvement. The patients treated in this clinic
received only homeopathic remedies and did not receive any
additional conventional treatment such as surgery, radiation,
or chemotherapy. After rigorous evaluation of the findings,
NCI concluded that there was sufficient evidence of possible
efficacy to warrant further research [19].
Another study by PBHRF researchers and researchers at
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center de-
scribed 15 patients diagnosed with documented intracranial
tumors who were treated exclusively with the homeopathic
remedies Ruta graveolens 6c and Calcarea phosphorica 3X,
without additional chemotherapy or radiation. Of these 15
patients, 6 of the 7 who had glioma showed complete regres-
sion of the tumors [20].
Safety of Homeopathy
A large prospective multicenter cohort study evaluated the
long-term health of patients 8 years after the use of homeo-
pathic treatments. In this study, researchers evaluated 103 ho-
meopathic primary care practices in Germany and Switzerland
involving 3709 patients. Patients had chronic ailments
including allergies, headaches, chronic skin problems such
as atopic dermatitis, and multiple recurrent infections in chil-
dren. The authors found that patients who seek homeopathic
treatment are likely to improve with treatment. This effect was
maintained for as long as 8 years. Because the study was not
intended to prove cause and effect, the authors were unable to
conclude if this effect was related to the homeopathic reme-
dies themselves or to the unique patient-doctor communica-
tion involved in this process [21].
In 2009, a review of clinical trials in homeopathy and can-
cer was performed by The Cochrane Collaboration. This re-
view evaluated the safety and effectiveness of homeopathic
medicines that were used to prevent or treat adverse effects of
cancer treatments. The reviewers found eight controlled trials
with a total of 664 participants. The researchers concluded that
there were no serious adverse effects related to the homeo-
pathic remedies that were used. The review also found some
preliminary data that suggest beneficial effect of homeopathy
in dermatitis during radiotherapy and chemotherapy-induced
stomatitis. There was no convincing evidence for the efficacy
of homeopathic remedies for other adverse effects of cancer
treatments [22].
Homeopathy Combined With Conventional Cancer
Care
To evaluate the added value of homeopathy to conventional
care, a prospective observational study in Switzerland and
Germany evaluated two cohorts of patients with cancer, one
cohort was treated with homeopathic complementary therapy
in addition to conventional care (surgery, chemotherapy, radi-
ation, hormone therapy, and others) and one cohort was treat-
ed with only conventional care. In this study of 639 patients,
researchers observed that quality of life and fatigue symptoms
improved in cancer patients who received the homeopathic
complementary treatment [23••].
A more recent randomized controlled trial evaluated classic
homeopathy as a supplement to conventional cancer care. All
patients received standard anti-neoplastic therapy and were
randomized to receive classic homeopathic adjunctive therapy
in addition to standard therapy. This study of 285 patients
revealed that patients who received the homeopathic treatment
had significantly better global health status and subjective
well-being than those who received only conventional cancer
care [24••].
A triple-blinded study with a meticulous research method-
ology (Jadad score 5) investigated the effectiveness of single
and combination homeopathic remedies used to treat hot
flushes in women with a history of breast cancer. In this study,
patients were randomized into three groups: a placebo combi-
nation and a verum single remedy, a verum combination med-
icine and a verum single remedy, and two placebo
Curr Oncol Rep (2015) 17:43 Page 3 of 6 43
combinations. The selected remedies were individualized for
each patient and included Sepia,Calcarea carbonica,Sulfur,
Llachesis, and Kali carbonicum. The combination remedy
was Hylands Menopause tablets, which contain amyl nitrate,
Sanguinaria canadensis,andLachesis. Even though the re-
sults were not positive for improving hot flushes, one cannot
ignore a significant improvement in general health score that
was observed in both homeopathy groups as compared with
the placebo group. Researchers concluded that breast cancer
survivors did have some positive benefit from the use of ho-
meopathic remedies [25].
Homeopathy and Survival
Other than encouraging case reports, there is little research on
long-term survival of patients who used homeopathic care
during cancer treatment. There are a few clues coming from
clinical practice and limited research. As mentioned above,
Dr. Banerji reported that in 40 % of his patients, the malignant
tumors were either completely regressed, improved, or static
after homeopathic treatment [18]. Unfortunately, this claim
was not substantiated with rigorous scientific research.
At the Medical University of Vienna in Austria, researchers
collected survival data on 538 patients with fatal disease and
poor prognosis who used homeopathy in addition to conven-
tional cancer care. The study included patients with glioblas-
toma, lung cancer, cholangiocellular carcinoma, pancreatic
adenocarcinoma, metastatic sarcoma, and metastatic renal cell
carcinoma [26••]. Median overall survival was compared with
expertspredictions of survival outcomes by specific cancer
type. The researchers found that these patients survived longer
than the expected prognosis, across all observed cancer types.
Although the results were promising, the authors were cau-
tious about the findings owing to the small sample size and
limited data about specific treatment characteristics. The au-
thors emphasized the need for further study of homeopathic
care in cancer patients.
Preclinical Findings: In Vitro and Animal Studies
The clinical response to homeopathic remedies could suggest
that the homeopathic treatment could relate to placebo effect
or effects related to a unique patient doctor communication.
So researchers have also investigated the effect of homeopath-
ic remedies on cancer cell survival in the laboratory where
those indirect factors cannot influence this response.
In 2004 at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Pathak et al.
showed that Ruta graveolens, a homeopathic remedy com-
monly used by Dr. Banerji for brain cancer, Bselectively in-
duces cell death in brain cancer cells (Glioblastoma
multiforme) while promoting proliferation in normal periph-
eral blood lymphocytes^[20].
Because of this study, many patients with brain cancer that
attended the integrative medicine clinic of MD Anderson
raised questions about this homeopathic remedy or had
marked interest in integrating this treatment into their conven-
tional care [27]. Most of the information on this treatment is
available to patients on the internet, health food stores, and
through support groups.
Out of this interest, a study conducted in the lab at MD
Anderson revealed that four ultradiluted remedies
(Carcinosin,Phytolacca,Conium,andThuja) exerted prefer-
ential cytotoxic effects against breast cancer cells, causing cell
cycle delay and apoptosis without affecting the normal mam-
mary epithelial cells. These effects were accompanied by al-
tered expression of the cell cycle regulatory proteins, includ-
ing downregulation of phosphorylated rb and upregulation of
the CDK inhibitor p27, which were likely responsible for the
cell cycle delay/arrest as well as induction of the apoptotic
cascade that manifested in the activation of caspase 7 and
cleavage of PArP in the treated cells.
Another observation that caused increased interest in-
volved a comparison of the cytotoxic effect of the homeopath-
ic remedies to Paclitaxel, a commonly used chemotherapeutic
drug for breast cancer. In this study, the cytotoxic effect of two
of the remedies, Carcinosin and Phytolacca, appeared to have
similar cytotoxic effect to the activity of Paclitaxel on the
breast cancer cells. On the other hand, the homeopathic rem-
edies did not affect the normal mammary epithelial cells while
the Paclitaxel had similar cytotoxic effect as it had on the
breast cancer cells [28].
Another interesting report by Amri et al. from George-
town University revealed reduced tumor volume in mice
that were inoculated with human prostate cancer cells and
were treated with the homeopathic remedy of Sabal
serullata.Inthisstudy,theexamination of the ultrastruc-
tural cytomorphology revealed cellular disintegration
which cannot be explained with the well-defined apopto-
sis or necrosis cell death. The analysis indicated a novel
caspase-independent cell death, which might explain the
significant tumor size reduction in the treated animals.
The authors concluded that their data suggest that these
ultra low concentrations triggered a pathway not yet char-
acterized as cell death and not related to classical apopto-
sisornecrosis[29].
MacLaughlin and his group from the same university
found that prostate tumor xenograft size was significantly re-
duced in Sabal serrulata-treated mice compared to untreated
controls. The response in the human prostate cancer was spe-
cifically induced by S. serrulata; other homeopathic remedies
had no effect. The researchers concluded that S. serrulata
should be further investigated as a specific homeopathic rem-
edy for prostate cancer [30].
43 Page 4 of 6 Curr Oncol Rep (2015) 17:43
A few additional studies from India indicate that homeo-
pathic remedies at ultra low doses may be able to decrease
tumor progression.
Kumar et al. [31] evaluated the inhibitory effects of homeo-
pathic preparations Ruta 200C and Phosphorus 1M (1000C)
against N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA)-induced hepatocellu-
lar carcinoma in rats as well as 3-methylcholanthrene-induced
sarcomas in mice. Administration of the homeopathic reme-
dies slowed the tumor growth and significantly reduced the
elevated marker enzyme levels as revealed by morphological,
biochemical, and histopathological evaluations, as well as in-
creased the life span of mice harboring the tumors [31].
Arora et al. evaluated the effect of homeopathic remedies
on human kidney, colon, and breast cancer cells [32]. Re-
searchers found that the Bhomeopathic medicines had highly
significant effects in those cancer lines, producing cytotoxicity
and a decrease in cell proliferation. In the homeopathic treated
cultures apoptosis was evident. There was cell shrinkage,
chromatin condensation, and DNA fragmentation. The au-
thors concluded that the study provides preliminary laboratory
evidence indicating the ability of homeopathic medicines to
function as anticancer agents^[32].
Sunila and Kuttan evaluated the effect of the homeopathic
remedy Thuja occidentalis extract on the inhibition of lung
metastasis induced by melanoma cells in C57BL/6 mice [33].
A marked reduction in tumor-nodule formation was shown.
The level of collagen hydroxyproline (21.13 μg/mg protein)
was higher in the lungs of control animals with lung metasta-
ses than in the lungs of normal animals (0.98 μg/mg protein);
however, the level was significantly reduced in animals treat-
ed with the homeopathic remedy. The lifespan of the Thuja--
treated animals also was reported to be significantly increased
[33].
Conclusion
Despite advances in cancer care, patients continue to experi-
ence distress and disability during cancer treatment and after-
ward. As a result, patients use complementary modalities such
as homeopathy to address these needs. Data from several
sources suggest that cancer patients throughout the world in-
creasingly use homeopathy. With the current trend in oncolo-
gy to look at personalized medicine, nanotechnology, and uti-
lization of substances that affect the immune system, there is a
need to keep an open mind to new possibilities of care that in
the past were considered implausible.
Limited research has suggested that homeopathic remedies
appear to cause cellular changes in some cancerous cells. In
animal models, specific homeopathic remedies have had an
inhibitory effect on tumor development. Studies of homeo-
pathic remedies combined with conventional cancer care
show that these remedies improve quality of life, reduce
symptom burden, and possibly improve survival in patients
with fatal disease. In vitro studies, animal studies, and clinical
interventions that combine homeopathy with conventional
cancer care suggest that homeopathy might improve the
well-being of patients and might affect the progression of
cancer and patient survival. These findings warrant compre-
hensive clinical studies to determine the effects of homeopa-
thy on cancer and patient survival. Although additional studies
are needed to confirm these findings, given the low cost and
minimal risks and the potential magnitude of homeopathys
effects, in certain situations, one might consider the use of
homeopathic remedies as an additional tool to integrate into
cancer care.
Compliance with Ethics Guidelines
Conflict of Interest The author declares that he has no competing
interests.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent This article does
not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any
of the authors.
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... Some cancer patients choose to incorporate complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) or therapies such as Ayurveda, homeopathy, meditation, acupuncture, yoga, energy healing, naturopathy, hypnosis etc. into their care to improve survival with quality of life. Among these CAM therapies Homoeopathy has gained much importance [20] . The scope of Homeopathy for cancer care varies depending on the type of cancer, stage of cancer and the general health condition of the patient. ...
... Homoeopathic medicines also help in cases of neurological problems, where the patient experiences pain in the nerves. There is nothing in allopathy, except vitamins and painkillers [20] To study the palliative approach of homeopathy; an observational study in Switzerland and Germany evaluated two cohorts (groups) of patients with cancer, one cohort was treated with homeopathic complementary therapy in addition to conventional care and one cohort was treated with only conventional care. In this study of 639 patients, researchers observed that quality of life and fatigue symptoms improved in cancer patients who received the homeopathic complementary treatment [42] . ...
... Although the results were promising, the authors were cautious about the findings owing to the small sample size and limited data about specific treatment characteristics. The authors emphasized the need for further study of homeopathic care in cancer patients [20] . ...
... However, the exact mechanisms of this phenomenon are not fully understood. Homeopathic remedies have been subject to numerous preclinical studies and randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials, which have been inconsistent [30]. In cancer patients, homeopathy combined with conventional treatment is claimed to increase their quality of life and overall survival [102][103][104]. ...
... Eberhard et al. (2009), Yuan et al. (2004)High-cell-permeability ICs such as CPX (ciclopirox olamine) and Dp44mT have been identified and designed.HomeopathyFrenkel et al. (2015)[30] ...
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Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, after cardiovascular diseases. Increasing patients’ awareness and providing easier access to public information result in greater interest in alternative anticancer or unproven supportive therapies. Fear of cancer and limited trust in the treating physician are also important reasons leading patients to seek these methods. Trust and good communication are essential to achieving truthful collaboration between physicians and patients. Given the popularity of CAM, better knowledge about these alternative practices may help oncologists discuss this issue with their patients. This article objectively reviews the most common unconventional therapies used by cancer patients.
... The use of supportive therapy with supplements for cancer patients is common, although these therapeutic options are not recommended by oncologists, who do not consider them useful for the improvement of tumor symptoms. 18 A study investigating the benefits of the silibinin-based nutraceutical Legasil ® resulted in significant improvement in patients with nonsmall cell lung cancer after WBRT and chemotherapy and who had presented poor performance status. 19 The use of this therapeutic option for the treatment of BM is also corroborated by evidence of a documented antiedema activity of silibinin. ...
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Raffaele Addeo U.O.C. Oncologia, “S. Giovanni di Dio” Hospital, ASLNA2NORD, Naples, 80027, ItalyCorrespondence: Raffaele AddeoU.O.C. Oncologia, “S. Giovanni di Dio” Hospital, ASLNA2NORD, Via Pirozzi Frattamaggiore, Naples, 80027, ItalyTel +39 081 8891233Fax +39 081 8891353Email raffaeleaddeo19@gmail.com; raffaele.addeo@aslnapoli2nord.itAbstract: Despite multimodal treatment, the prognosis of brain metastases (BM) remains limited, with a survival of only a few months. In this report, silibinin (or silybin), a natural polyphenolic flavonoid isolated from seed extracts of the herb milk thistle, is discussed as a potential therapeutic option for the treatment of BM. This molecule has an anticancer effect, blocking the migratory and invasive properties of neoplastic cells. This mechanism is focused on controlling the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3)-mediated pathway. STAT3 plays a major role in the growth of tumors and leads to metastasis, including BM. The promising but preliminary clinical results achieved by silibinin on lung cancer BM suggest new opportunities for combined treatment with radiotherapy and/or temozolomide, not just to limit severe neurological symptoms but also to control clinical progression of the disease.Keywords: brain metastasis, lung cancer, silibinin, chemotherapy, target therapy, radiotherapy
... Homeopathy is one of the complementary and alternative therapies which are very popular worldwide [12]. Importantly, homeopathic medicines are affordable, can relieve pain, and has no or negligible side effects with the administration [13]. Researchers are in search of different types of anticancer drugs from the venom, which will be a new line of treatment, hoping that these substances could increase the efficiency of chemotherapeutic drugs. ...
Article
Cancer is one of the most critical health burdens with leading causes of death worldwide. Homeopathy is one of the complementary and alternative therapies, which utilizes venoms and toxins in ultra-high dilutions for therapeutics. In the present investigation, we used the homeopathy Lachesis 200C drug to study anticancer activity on the mouse fibroblast cells [L929], human prostate cancer cells [PC3], and in chick embryo model. Treating with Lachesis 200C showed 91.10% and 37.47% reduction in cell viability in L929 and PC3 respectively as compared to control by MTT assay. In the chick embryo model Lachesis 200C (dose of 50% and 100%) treatment resulted in antiangiogenic activity as compared to the control group. There was an antiproliferative and cytotoxic activity of Lachesis 200C in PC3 and L929 cell lines. Lachesis 200C inhibited the growth of PC3 cells. In the in vivo studies, Lachesis 200C treated chicks showed a significant decrease in or complete disappearance of blood vessels from chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) areas compared to control. The findings indicate that the level of angiogenesis was dramatically decreased by Lachesis 200C. Lachesis 200C showed the potential to act as an anticancer agent. Further studies with Lachesis200 could lead to a potential anticancer agent.
... Some homeopathic medicines have been proven clinically and experimentally; however, there is a wide range of medicine on which data has not found [10] . Ernst [11] and later Frenkel [12,13] and Unlu [14] described some data of homeopathy for cancer but not covered the whole topic. The present narrative review of homeopathic approach in cancer care was carried out to find researches reported in this field. ...
... Patients with cancer frequently use complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) to improve their quality of life, to gain a sense of control, and to actively participate in their care. 1 Various prevalence studies on the use of CIM by cancer patients show a regular and significant progression in the use of homeopathic treatment in oncology. In 2005, Laurent Simon performed the first survey on the subject in cancer centers in Strasbourg. 2 The prevalence of the use of homeopathy was then 17% for all cancers combined. ...
Article
Context The use of homeopathy in oncological supportive care seems to be progressing. The first French prevalence study, performed in 2005 in Strasbourg, showed that only 17% of the subjects were using it. What is the situation 12 years later? Materials and Methods This is a descriptive study, using a questionnaire identical to that used in 2005, on 633 patients undergoing treatment in three anti-cancer centers in Strasbourg. The results of the “homeopathy” sub-group were extracted and studied. Results Of the 535 patients included, 164 used homeopathy: that is 30.7%. The main purpose of its use was to reduce the side effects of cancer treatments (75%). Among the users, 82.6% were “somewhat” or “very” satisfied, against “quite” satisfied for 15.5%, and “not at all” satisfied for 1.9%. The homeopathic treatment was prescribed by a doctor in 75.6% of the cases; the general practitioner was kept informed in 87% of the cases and the oncologist in 82%. Fatigue, pain, nausea, anxiety, sadness and diarrhea were improved in 80% of the cases. However, alopecia, weight disorders and loss of libido were the least improved symptoms. The use of homeopathy was significantly associated with the female sex. Conclusion With a prevalence of 30.7%, homeopathy is the most used complementary medicine in integrative oncology in Strasbourg. Over 12 years, we have witnessed an increase of 83% in its use in the same city. Almost all respondents declare themselves satisfied and tell their doctors more readily than in 2005.
... As for example, research showed that acupuncture [2,3], yoga [4-7], massage therapy [8-10], music therapy [11][12][13], meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction [14][15][16][17], ginger [18], and biofeedback [19,20] may help as supportive therapies in ameliorating some symptoms of cancer and side effects of conventional treatment. The same is true for homeopathy [21][22][23][24], Ayurveda [25,26], Siddha [27] and Unani [28], too. For integration of any of these CAM practices, proper clinical practice guidelines have also been formulated by the Society for Integrative Oncology in 2009 [29] for the use of some complementary therapies and botanicals in integrative oncology. ...
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The current scenario of incidence and major treatment modalities adopted by the conventional or modern medical stream in the control and management of cancer has been briefly narrated. The role played by various evidence-based complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) and traditional medicines in combating cancer and ameliorating conventional therapy-generated side-effects has been elucidated. The possible scope for integration of some of these traditional and CAM modalities along with the conventional treatment in rendering better control and management of cancer, and to give the patients a better quality and a longer life by reducing toxicity and side-effects generated by the conventional treatment have been discussed.
Article
Homeopathy is a widely practiced alternate system of medicine around the world that employs small doses of various medicines to promote auto-regulation and self-healing. It is among the most commonly used alternative approaches in cancer as well as other diseases, among other alternate therapeutic systems. It is widely used as palliative and as supportive therapy in cancer patients. Few cases have been reported on patients using homeopathy after surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, generally for overcoming side effects. The dose of Homoeopathic medicines and their mechanism of action in cancer has also been documented while the clinical trials on the effects of Homoeopathy in the treatment of cancer are rare. It is found that the anticancer potential of homeopathic medicines are reported for different cancer types which show their efficacy through apoptosis and immune system modulation. Homeopathic treatment is an add-on to conventional therapy, with almost no interaction with the conventional drugs due to the small dose, and is largely attributed towards improving life by providing symptomatic relief, increasing survival time and boosting patient's immunity. This review explores the accountability of homeopathic system of medicine by highlighting some of the most commonly used homeopathic drugs for different types of cancers.
Article
Background Worldwide, cancer patients are facing problem with life-and-death decision due to the associated severe adverse and sometimes fatal effects of existing conventional treatments. Due to the severe adverse effects of existing therapies, effective cures are progressively explored for anticancer treatment.Mostly the conventional therapies are based upon nonspecific cellular destruction properties; therefore, a treatment approach is desired to reduce the toxic burden upon normal tissues. Among all alternative medicine systems, homeopathy is one of the most popular treatment for cancer patients globally due to its minimal side effects. Methods In this present review, we have attempted to comprehend the literature reports of homeopathic medicine in cancer treatment. Results Homeopathy has also proved their adjuvant approach to minimize the symptomatic consequences of cancer. However, the insufficiency of evidence and lack of recurrence of the trials cause difficulty to draw any conclusive evidence about homeopathy as an adjuvant therapy. Based upon the etiology, genoprotective potential of homeopathic drugs was reviewed and found inconsequential evaluation and scanty literature. Conclusion Hence, the present review gives a comprehensive summary of retrospective studies and suggests an integration of rational drug selection, standard protocols, and quantitative analysis for revealing the differential role and plausible application of homeopathy in better cancer management.
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Objective-This report presents national estimates of the use of complementary health approaches among adults in the United States across three time points. Trends in the use of selected complementary health approaches are compared for 2002, 2007, and 2012, and differences by selected demographic characteristics are also examined. Methods-Combined data from 88,962 adults aged 18 and over collected as part of the 2002, 2007, and 2012 National Health Interview Survey were analyzed for this report. Sample data were weighted to produce national estimates that are representative of the civilian noninstitutionalized U.S. adult population. Differences between percentages were evaluated using two-sided significance tests at the 0.05 level. Results-Although the use of individual approaches varied across the three time points, nonvitamin, nonmineral dietary supplements remained the most popular complementary health approach used. The use of yoga, tai chi, and qi gong increased linearly across the three time points; among these three approaches, yoga accounted for approximately 80% of the prevalence. The use of any complementary health approach also differed by selected sociodemographic characteristics. The most notable observed differences in use were by age and Hispanic or Latino origin and race. All material appearing in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission; citation as to source, however, is appreciated.
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The Region of Tuscany Health Department was included as an associated member in WP7 "Healthcare" of the European Partnership for Action Against Cancer (EPAAC), initiated by the EU Commission in 2009. The principal aim was to map centres across Europe prioritizing those that provide public health services and operating within the national health system in integrative oncology (IO). A cross-sectional descriptive survey design was used to collect data. A questionnaire was elaborated concerning integrative oncology therapies to be administered to all the national health system oncology centres or hospitals in each European country. These institutes were identified by convenience sampling, searching on oncology websites and forums. The official websites of these structures were analysed to obtain more information about their activities and contacts. Information was received from 123 (52.1 %) out of the 236 centres contacted until 31 December 2013. Forty-seven out of 99 responding centres meeting inclusion criteria (47.5 %) provided integrative oncology treatments, 24 from Italy and 23 from other European countries. The number of patients seen per year was on average 301.2 ± 337. Among the centres providing these kinds of therapies, 33 (70.2 %) use fixed protocols and 35 (74.5 %) use systems for the evaluation of results. Thirty-two centres (68.1 %) had research in progress or carried out until the deadline of the survey. The complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) more frequently provided to cancer patients were acupuncture 26 (55.3 %), homeopathy 19 (40.4 %), herbal medicine 18 (38.3 %) and traditional Chinese medicine 17 (36.2 %); anthroposophic medicine 10 (21.3 %); homotoxicology 6 (12.8 %); and other therapies 30 (63.8 %). Treatments are mainly directed to reduce adverse reactions to chemo-radiotherapy (23.9 %), in particular nausea and vomiting (13.4 %) and leucopenia (5 %). The CAMs were also used to reduce pain and fatigue (10.9 %), to reduce side effects of iatrogenic menopause (8.8 %) and to improve anxiety and depression (5.9 %), gastrointestinal disorders (5 %), sleep disturbances and neuropathy (3.8 %). Mapping of the centres across Europe is an essential step in the process of creating a European network of centres, experts and professionals constantly engaged in the field of integrative oncology, in order to increase, share and disseminate the knowledge in this field and provide evidence-based practice.
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Current literature suggests a positive influence of additive classical homeopathy on global health and well-being in cancer patients. Besides encouraging case reports, there is little if any research on long-term survival of patients who obtain homeopathic care during cancer treatment. Data from cancer patients who had undergone homeopathic treatment complementary to conventional anti-cancer treatment at the Outpatient Unit for Homeopathy in Malignant Diseases, Medical University Vienna, Department of Medicine I, Vienna, Austria, were collected, described and a retrospective subgroup-analysis with regard to survival time was performed. Patient inclusion criteria were at least three homeopathic consultations, fatal prognosis of disease, quantitative and qualitative description of patient characteristics, and survival time. In four years, a total of 538 patients were recorded to have visited the Outpatient Unit Homeopathy in Malignant Diseases, Medical University Vienna, Department of Medicine I, Vienna, Austria. 62.8% of them were women, and nearly 20% had breast cancer. From the 53.7% (n=287) who had undergone at least three homeopathic consultations within four years, 18.7% (n=54) fulfilled inclusion criteria for survival analysis. The surveyed neoplasms were glioblastoma, lung, cholangiocellular and pancreatic carcinomas, metastasized sarcoma, and renal cell carcinoma. Median overall survival was compared to expert expectations of survival outcomes by specific cancer type and was prolonged across observed cancer entities (p<0.001). Extended survival time in this sample of cancer patients with fatal prognosis but additive homeopathic treatment is interesting. However, findings are based on a small sample, and with only limited data available about patient and treatment characteristics. The relationship between homeopathic treatment and survival time requires prospective investigation in larger samples possibly using matched-pair control analysis or randomized trials.
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Homeopathy is controversial, due to the claims made for very high dilutions. Although several theories are proposed to understand the mechanisms of action, none are scientifically verified. This study aimed to investigate the efficacy of the selected homeopathic medicines in specific in vitro cancer models. We assessed the cytotoxic activity of selected homeopathic medicines in mother tincture (MT), and ultramolecular dilution (30C, 200C, 1M and 10M) against cell lines deriving from tumors of particular organs, Sarsaparilla (Sars) on ACHN cells (human renal adenocarcinoma), Ruta graveolens (Ruta) on COLO-205 (human colorectal carcinoma), and Phytolacca decandra (Phyto) on MCF-7 (human breast carcinoma). Sars was also tested against Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells (a non-malignant cell line). Cytotoxicity was measured using the 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazolyl-2)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) method, anti-proliferative activity by trypan blue exclusion assay, apoptosis determined by dual staining the cells with ethidium bromide (EB) and acridine orange (AO) dyes. MTs and ultra-diluted preparations of the three homeopathic medicines had highly significant effects in the respective cancer cell lines, producing cytotoxicity and a decrease in cell proliferation. The effects were greatest with the MTs, but in all cases and persisted, although to a lesser degree in the ultra-diluted molecular preparations. Sars showed no effect on MDCK cells. In the homeopathic medicine treated cultures, hallmarks of apoptosis were evident including, cell shrinkage, chromatin condensation and DNA fragmentation. This study provides preliminary laboratory evidence indicating the ability of homeopathic medicines as anticancer agents. Further studies of the action of these homeopathic remedies are warranted.
Article
Background: In total, 40-70% of cancer patients use complementary or alternative medicine (CAM). Many of them ask for advice from non-medical practitioners (NMPs). Our aim was to investigate the attitude of NMPs regarding their treatments for cancer patients. Methods: A survey was performed on members of NMP associations, using an online questionnaire on diagnosis and treatment, goals for using CAM, communication with the oncologist, and sources of information. Results: Of the 1,500 members of the NMP associations, 299 took part. The treatments were found to be heterogeneous. Homeopathy is used by 45% of the NMPs; 10% believe it to be a treatment directly against cancer. Herbal therapy, vitamins, orthomolecular medicine, ordinal therapy, mistletoe preparations, acupuncture, and cancer diets are used by more than 10% of the NMPs. None of the treatments is discussed with the respective physician on a regular basis. Conclusions: Many therapies provided by NMPs are biologically based and therefore may interfere with conventional cancer therapy. Thus, patients are at risk of interactions, especially as most NMPs do not adjust their therapies to those of the oncologist. Moreover, risks may arise from these CAM methods as NMPs partly believe them to be useful anticancer treatments. This may lead to the delay or even omission of effective therapies.
Article
In Italy, data regarding the use of complementary therapies (CTs) among patients with cancer are sparse and discordant. The present study aimed to investigate the demographic and psychological characteristics of Italian cancer patients who use CTs and the perceived benefit of users. Eight hundred three patients from six Italian oncology departments were interviewed about CT use and completed two questionnaires to explore psychological distress and the resilience trait called sense of coherence (SOC). Patients included in the study had different primary tumor sites and were in different phases of the disease and care process. At the time of measurement, 37.9% of patients were using one or more types of CTs. The most commonly used CTs were diets and dietary supplements (27.5%), herbs (10.8%), homeopathy (6.4%), and mind-body therapies (5.5%). The Italian context is characterized by a high percentage of patients who informed their physicians about CT use (66.3%) and who experienced benefits (89.6%); 75.2% of the patients had used CTs in the past. Multivariate analysis revealed that young, female patients, who previously used complementary and alternative medicine in the past, appear more likely to use at least one type of CT in the present. Predictors of the use of CTs varied according to the type of CT. Among psychological factors, SOC was positively associated with both past and present CT use. Overall prevalence of CTs among Italian cancer patients is high and is in accordance with the European average. In addition to clinical and sociodemographic factors, the resilience trait SOC also was associated with CT use.