Can Homeopathy Treat Cancer?
Medical researchers from around the world have been investigating the ability of homeopathy to treat cancer. Yes, it is true that Western medicine has for the most part argued against homeopathy as a valid treatment option. This is despite a number of studies showing otherwise. Though to be fair, some research has shown mixed results.
But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.
Frankly, the question of homeopathy’s usefulness as a medical treatment is tied up with issues relating to dosage and dilution. Classical Homeopathy utilizes a variety of dilution factors, which start from minimal dilutions to incredibly large dilutions. Many argue that those larger dilutions that leave no discernible trace of the original substance will have little or no physiological effect. We discuss the science and mechanics of these incredible dilutions in my book on Homeopathy.
But those large dilutions that contain small, yet powerful traces of the substance have been shown to effect the immune system in large ways. Immunological research has shown that the immune system can indeed respond to very trace amounts of a substance, and develop antibody responses in kind.
But can homeopathy killÂ cancer?
Condurango kills cancer cells
With this in mind, let’s discuss some scientific research showing that some Classical Homeopathy treatments can indeed kill cancer cells.
Researchers from India’s University of Kalyani studied a Classical Homeopathy treatment called Condurango against a broad spectrum of cancer cells in the laboratory. Condurango is an extract of the Gonolobus condurango vine, found in the mountain jungles of South America. Indigenous people used the Condurango plant for digestive ailments and inflammatory conditions.
The researchers tested an extract of Condurango against cervical cancer cells and prostate cancer cells. They found the extract was able to kill the cancer cells, with the cervical cancer cells being the most susceptible cells to the extract.
But what aboutÂ greater homeopathic dilutions?
In the Cytogenetics and Molecular Biology Laboratory of Kalyani University, researchers tested two different homeopathy dilutions of Condurango – 6C and 30C – on lung cancer cells. A 6C solution is diluted to 1/100th of its original dilution multiplied (reduced) by 6 times. And 30C represents that the substance has been diluted to 1/100th of its original dilution multiplied by 30 times.
These two dilutions represent one above and one below the dilution level called Avogadro’s limit. This means the substance lacks a theoretical molecule of the original substance.
The researchers found that both the 6C and the 30C effectively killed the cancer cells. The researchers found that body induced oxidative stress within the cancer cells, and depolarized MMP levels. This initiated what is called a pathway called caspase-3-mediated signalling – which has been shown in many other cancer studies (including chemo studies) to be involved in killing tumors.
Furthermore, the 30C dilution factor had a greater cancer cell killing effect than the 6C level did. This result confirms not only the ability of homeopathic Condurango to be anti-cancer. It also confirms the classical homeopathic method that teaches that larger dilutions can have greater effects for many conditions compared to smaller dilutions – those that exceed Avogadro’s limit and thus theoretically have little or no remaining molecules of the original substance in the solution.
The researchers stated:
“Present findings would demonstrate that exposure of NSCLC- H460 cells to IC50 doses of both Condurango 6C and 30C for 48 hours resulted in apoptotic cell-death. Further, the effects of Condurango 30C, which actually was highly- diluted, caused relatively more palpable alterations in all parameters of this study than did Condurango 6C. This phenomenon did not apparently follow the general pharmacological rule that the effect of a drug increases linearly with its concentration, but was in line with the claim of â€œthe higher the dilution, the stronger the effectâ€ as per homeopathic doctrine.”
Other studies showÂ homeopathy can fight cancer
Researchers from Indiaâ€™s Jaypee University of Information Technology conducted an experiment to test the ability of homeopathic medicines to alter cancer growth while controlling any apparent placebo effect.
The researchers utilized human cancer cell lines to test the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies that have been utilized by homeopathic practitioners for cancers. The researchers conducted a series of laboratory tests using four dilutions of three different homeopathic remedies on three different types of cancers.
The dilution rates used in the tests were 30C, 200C, 1M and 10M. Each of these dilution rates represents an ultra dilution. A 200C dilution is a 1/100 dilution multiplied by 200 times. A 1M dilution would represent 1,000 times the dilution of 1/100th, and 10M would represent that dilution multiplied by 10 times that dilution.
In other words, we are talking about very large dilutions, again exceeding Avogadro’s limit – representing an ending solution having few if any physical molecules of the substance left in the dilution.
The researchers tested these dilutions of the homeopathic remedy Sarsaparilla (Smilax regelii) using the human cancer cell line for renal adenocarcinoma â€“ kidney cancer.
Homeopathic dilutions of Sarsaparilla were also applied to canine kidney cancer cells â€“ these were non-malignant cancer cells (MDCK).
The researchers then applied homeopathic dilutions of Ruta graveolens to human colon cancer cells (COLO-205).
And finally, thee researchers applied homeopathic dilutions of Phytolacca decandra to a human breast cancer cell line (MCF-7).
The tests conducted by the researchers utilized the conventional methods of gauging cancer cell cytotoxicity (cell death), using the MTT method (3-(4,5-dimethylthiazolyl-2)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide), as well as a blue staining method using trypan, and a double-staining method using dyes ethidium bromide and acridine orange.
These procedures are typical among cancer drug research.
The researchers found that all three homeopathic remedies produced cancer cell death and significant reductions of proliferation among the human cancer cells. They found these effects were greatest among the higher dilution rates â€“ the 1M and 10M dilutions.
The researchers noted that:
â€œhallmarks of apoptosis were evident including cell shrinkage, chromatin condensation and DNA fragmentation.â€
This said, the Sarsaparilla homeopathic remedy did not have any effect upon the canine non-malignant cancer cell line.
The researchers concluded their findings by saying:
â€œThis 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.â€
Once again, this study also illustrated something that many in conventional medicine cannot accept: That decreasingly minute dilutions to the point where there is little if any physical molecule of the original substance left produce greater physical effects upon the body.
The fact that the greater dilutions (less original substance) had greater effects upon the cancer cells potentially illustrates what homeopathic provings and over two centuries of clinical use have possibly been indicating: That there is a potential residual energetic effect â€“ an electromagnetic effect â€“ produced as the homeopathic remedy is diluted according to the methods of homeopathic medicine.
Homeopathy in cancer care – and in general – has been controversial to say the least. Some studies have been inconclusive. But there are ameliorating conditions because preparing a homeopathic medicine must be performed under strict rules according to Classical Homeopathy.
Reviews show success with some disappointments
Reviews of homeopathic cancer studies have shown some studies with homeopathy had positive results. For example, researchers from Franceâ€™s University Claude Bernard reviewed 16 clinical studies that tested 2,617 patients. The researchers concluded:
â€œThere is some evidence that homeopathic treatments are more effective than placebo; however, the strength of this evidence is low because of the low methodological quality of the trials.â€
Other reviews, when lower quality studies were eliminated, showed a lack of effectiveness Â – such as one from the UKâ€™s University of Exeter and the University of Plymouth. Their review analyzed six clinical studies, and they concluded:
â€œOur analysis of published literature on homeopathy found insufficient evidence to support clinical efficacy of homeopathic therapy in cancer care.â€
But a more recent review analyzed 167 studies and came up with 84 studies that could be statistically analyzed. From these they found 29 studies that had the appropriate controls, and utilized dilution potencies that exceeded dilution levels of Avogadro’s number.
The researchers found many studies showed effective for homeopathic medicines, though replication studies were recommended.
One of the problems here is what was also mentioned above. Classical Homeopathy requires strict dilution methods that some researchers do not believe are essential. This means that some of the techniques utilized in many studies can eliminate the potential of success due to inadequate homeopathic potency preparation: For example, the swirling, shaking and tapping required in Classical Homeopathy. These methods have been a contention of many researchers that do not believe a dilution that exceeds the Avogadro number could ever be effective.
Thus we arrive at need for more clinical evidence, yet clear evidence indeed does exist that homeopathic medicines – depending upon the type and dilution – can indeed kill cancer cells.
The current situation is summarized nicely by Moshe Frenkel, M.D. from the University of Texas in Galveston and the founder of the integrative oncology clinic at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Frenkel conducted an extensive review of the evidence, and concluded:
“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.”
Bishayee K, Mondal J, Sikdar S, Khuda-Bukhsh AR. Condurango (Gonolobus condurango) Extract Activates Fas Receptor and Depolarizes Mitochondrial Membrane Potential to Induce ROS-dependent Apoptosis in Cancer Cells in vitro: CE-treatment on HeLa: a ROS-dependent mechanism. J Pharmacopuncture. 2015 Sep;18(3):32-41. doi: 10.3831/KPI.2015.18.022.
Sikdar S, Kumar Saha S, Rahman Khuda-Bukhsh A. Relative Apoptosis-inducing Potential of Homeopa-thic Condurango 6C and 30C in H460 Lung Cancer Cells In vitro: -Apoptosis-induction by homeopathic Condurango in H460 cells. J Pharmacopuncture. 2014 Mar;17(1):59-69. doi: 10.3831/KPI.2014.17.008.
JÃ¤ger T, Scherr C, Shah D, Majewsky V, Wolf U, Betti L, Baumgartner S. The use of plant-based bioassays in homeopathic basic research. Homeopathy. 2015 Oct;104(4):277-82. doi: 10.1016/j.homp.2015.06.009.
Arora S, Aggarwal A, Singla P, Jyoti S, Tandon S. Anti-proliferative effects of homeopathic medicines on human kidney, colon and breast cancer cells. Homeopathy. 2013 Oct;102(4):274-82. doi: 10.1016/j.homp.2013.06.001.
Cucherat M, Haugh MC, Gooch M, Boissel JP. Evidence of clinical efficacy of homeopathy. A meta-analysis of clinical trials. HMRAG. Homeopathic Medicines Research Advisory Group. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2000 Apr;56(1):27-33.
Milazzo S, Russell N, Ernst E. Efficacy of homeopathic therapy in cancer treatment. Eur J Cancer. 2006 Feb;42(3):282-9. Epub 2006 Jan 11.
Frenkel M. Is There a Role for Homeopathy in Cancer Care? Questions and Challenges. Curr Oncol Rep. 2015 Sep;17(9):43. doi: 10.1007/s11912-015-0467-8.