If you are looking for natural skin cancer treatments then first and foremost you must think holistically. Skin cancer is more than skin deep. Natural remedies, natural treatments and natural practitioners always support the body as a whole.
This article outlines natural treatments for skin cancer, specifically medicinal herbs and their vast range of anti-cancer actions. This includes is a compilation of herbs that are beneficial for many types of cancer including, but not limited to, skin cancer.
Skin cancer, or indeed, any kind of cancer needs a holistic approach to support the body no matter what method of treatment is used.
Herbs can play a huge role in not only nourishing and supporting the body and affected tissues but for the treatment of the actual cancer itself, for example topical applications for skin cancer.
Herbs used in the treatment of cancer may be chosen for their nutritive, alterative, tonic, anti-inflammatory, alkalizing, adaptogenic, stress/nervine support, pain relief and tissue protection.
There are herbs with specific actions that protect cells from DNA and chemical damage.
STOP CANCER CELLS GROWING AND KILL EXISTING CANCER CELLS
Anti-neoplastic herbs help reduce abnormal cellular growth. They stop cancer cells from growing.
Tumour apoptotic herbs disable cancer cells and bring about apoptosis (cell death) without doing serious harm to healthy body cells and without destroying the body’s overall health:
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis), is a prime example of a herb that promotes apoptosis. Bloodroot, used internally and externally acts in the mitochondria of the cancer cell, disabling it so it can no longer produce energy, triggering apoptosis. It does not have this effect on healthy body cells.
Bloodroot is highly effective in the treatment of skin cancer such as BCC, SCC and Melanoma.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is anti-neoplastic. It enables the immune system to help in the prevention of cancerous growth. Astragalus also helps the immune cells to actually recognize cancer cells. It is very effective used concurrently with chemotherapy or radiotherapy to minimize the detrimental side effects without interfering with the treatment.
Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is alterative, meaning it encourages the body’s natural channels of elimination. Red clover is used in cancer prevention for its phytoestrogenic effect, particularly with breast or prostate cancers. Phytoestrogens are natural plant estrogens that do not stimulate excessive cell growth like other harmful estrogens do.
Garlic (Allium sativum) has been shown to increase and stimulate the natural killer cells of the immune system, helping to protect the body from cell damage caused by inflammation or infecting organisms.
Green Tea (Camellia sinensis ) is another herb with antioxidant properties that inhibits tissue damage by free radicals. The catechins (polyphenols) in green tea have proven anticancer properties and inhibit angiogenesis (blood vessel growth to a cancer tumor).
Beetroot (Beta vulgaris cicla) increases the respiration rate of cancer cells by up to 350%. Increased respiration leads to decreased malignancy and shorter life of the cancer cell. Beetroot contains the antioxidant anthocyan in the pigment. This may be included in the diet or taken as herbal medicine in specified doses of dried powdered root. Scientific research shows beetroot prevents lung, liver and skin cancers. Breetroot has been proven to induce Phase II detoxification in the liver.
Chapparal (Larrea tridentata) discourages DNA mutation. The active principle nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA), a polyphenolic compound, is particularly useful in inhibiting promotion of skin cancer. It inhibits an enzyme and other signalling pathways involved in inducing genetic changes (DNA transcription) in the skin cells.
Apricot kernel extract (amygdalin) – contains toxic organic cyanide which destroys cancer cells. An enzyme that is present in normal body cells breaks down the cyanide leaving the non-cancerous cells undamaged. This protective enzyme is not present in cancer cells.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)- gives liver support for ridding toxins and metabolic wastes. Turmeric inhibits angiogenesis (growth of blood vessels that feed cancer cells) and reduces inflammation which may lead to tissue irritation and cell changes.
Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa) – Immunostimulant and anti-tumour for many types of cancer.
Violet (Viola odorata) The leaves are antineoplastic for breast cancer and used for any breast lumps. Very useful for skin cancer treatment also.
In combination with dietary and lifestyle changes, herbal treatment is likely to begin by aiding the body’s channels of elimination with alterative herbs. At the same time, there will be focus on nourishing and supporting with nutritive herbs and digestive tonics to encourage healthy tissue, immune function and cancer prevention.
Nutritive herbs: Oats (Avena sativa), nettle (Urtica dioica), red clover (Trifolium pratense), chickweed (Stellaria media), Raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus),Barley grass (Hordeum vulgare), wheat grass (Triticum sp) and kelp (Fucus vesiculosus or Macrocystis pyrifera) provide bioavailable minerals and vitamins. They can be taken as well as carefully chosen dietary supplements because cancer can partly be seen as a ‘deficiency disease’. The body may require the substances sufficient for rebuilding healthy cells or for supporting an immune system capable of recognizing and destroying cancerous cells. Some supplements will be needed to supply nutrients such as selenium, iodine and many other minerals that are deficient in soils globally.
Anti-scorbutic herbs (for vitamin C): Rose hips, chickweed, nettle, parsley, dandelion, yellow dock, raspberry leaf and violet. These herbs provide vitamin C or aid in its absorption. In relation to cancer vitamin C aids the absorption of other nutrients including iron; assists the immune system; assists the elimination of toxic metals and poisons; is antioxidant, protecting cells from free radical damage; assists the formation of body and blood cells; helps in the healing of damaged tissue, bones and wounds; inhibits metastasis and inhibits tumor growth. In addition, therapeutic doses of supplemental vitamin C are advisable.
DIGESTIVE TONICS and BITTER DIGESTIVE STIMULANTS aid digestion and improve the absorption and assimilation of nutrients.
Digestive tonics: Aloe vera juice, slippery elm bark (Ulmus rubra), comfrey (Symphytum officinale), marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis), licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra). These are soothing, healing demulcent herbs particularly useful in any cancer of the digestive tract.
Bitter digestive stimulants are also tonic to the digestive tract tissue by stimulating digestive secretions from the stomach, liver and gall bladder: Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus), schisandra (Schisandra chinensis), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata), picrorrhiza (Picrorrhiza kurroa), hops (Humulus lupulus), bupleurum (Bupleurum falcatum), gentian (Gentiana lutea), barberry (Berberis vulgaris), wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), yellow dock (Rumex crispus), angelica (Angelica archangelica), peppermint (Mentha piperita), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), wood betony (Stachys betonica), greater celandine (Chelidonium majus). These herbs greatly assist the digestion of food, enabling better uptake of nutrients by the body.
Circulatory stimulants aid the absorption and assimilation of nutrients and other beneficial substances. They also aid the processes of elimination by improving blood flow from the tissues to the organs of elimination: Prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum), ginger (Zingiber officinale), chilli (Capsicum annuum), turmeric (Curcuma longa), ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba),rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), yarrow (Achillea millefolium).
Alterative herbs specifically aid the channels and organs of elimination. They are important for helping the body to rid itself of harmful or useless substances and allow other energy to be spent on supportive processes improving vitality – red clover (Trifolium pratense), burdock (Arctium lappa), Poke root (Phytolacca Americana), Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea), cleavers (Gallium aparine), garlic (Allium sativum), yellow dock (Rumex cripus), violet (Viola odorata), gotu kola (Centella asiatica), nettle (Urtica dioica), figwort (Scrophularia nodosa), sarsaparilla (Smilax spp.)
Herbs for the liver enhance the elimination of toxins in radiation treatment and especially in chemo, particularly schisandra, Schisandra chinensis and milk thistle, Silybum marianum. They protect the liver. Other herbs to help the liver and cancer are Bupleurum falcatum, Andrographis paniculata and Astragalus.
Antioxidant herbs reduce damage caused by free radicals that can lead to tissue damage and cancer. (Antioxidants are anti-mutagenic). Interestingly, most herbs have antioxidant properties. Here are a just a few: turmeric (Curcuma longa), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), self heal (Prunella vulgaris), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), sage (Salvia officinalis), ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), chilli (Capsicum annuum), Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), milk thistle (Silybum marianum), nettle, ginger and parsley.
Allium sativum and Allium cepa contain selenium and sulphur compounds that stimulate enzymes that prevent the conversion of free-radicals to carcinogens. They must be grown in soil containing selenium.
Other cancer preventing substances found in herbal medicine:
– Carotenoids found in barley grass, spirulina, kelp, seaweeds, (most herbs, but high in the yellow/orange vegetables such as pumpkin and carrot).
–Dithiolthiones, diindoles and glucosinolates found in the Brassica, or cabbage family of vegetables. That’s cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale.
1. Phytosterols and steroidal saponins found in wild yam (Dioscorea villosa), Panax ginseng, black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), false unicorn root (ChamHelonias, Tribulus terrestris, licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
2. Lignans that reduce hormone sensitive cancers, found in flaxseed, seaweeds.
3.Polyphenols – isoflavonoids and flavones in Soy, red clover (Trifolium pratense) green beans, legumes and peas.
These above three categories are plant estrogens that act weakly on cell receptor sites, inhibiting the excessive action of more aggressively acting natural and environmental estrogens.
– Polysaccharides – Mushrooms – Shitake, Reishi; Astragalus, Siberian ginseng, Korean ginseng, Echinacea and Aloe vera. Polysaccharides are complex sugars that improve the immune response against tumor cells.
Immunostimulant – The immune system needs support in order to combat cancerous growth as well as to keep the body strong if the person is undergoing surgery, chemo or radiation in the treatment of cancer. Tumour cells can produce cytokines that suppress the immune system.
In addition to the polysaccharide-containing herbs above, use Andrographis paniculata, Picrorrhiza kurroa, Phytolacca americana, Allium sativa (garlic), Echinacea, Olive leaf, Shitake and Reishi mushrooms.
Alkalizing– The modern diet and lifestyle tends towards acidifying the system. Too much easily available meat and refined grains, coupled with stressful lifestyles help create a pH imbalance within the body. With increased acidity there is increased inflammation which may lead to tissue damage and possible cancer development. Some alkalizing herbs are Aloe vera juice, wheat grass, barley grass, alfalfa (Medicago sativa), cleavers(Gallium aparine), nettle (Urtica dioica).
Antiparasitic – Parasites excrete toxins that set up carcinogenic processes. Antiparasitic herbs are black walnut (Juglans nigra), cloves (Sysygium aromaticum), wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), chillies (Capsicum annuum) and goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis).
Cancer is both an emotional and a physical stress on the body. The nervous system can be supported with nervines and adaptogens to help the person to cope.
Nervine tonic – St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), wood betony (Stachys betonica), oats and oatstraw (Avena sativa), vervain (Verbena officinalis), skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Withania somnifera, Lavender(Lavandula), damiana (Turnera diffusa), passionflower (Passiflora incarnate), gotu kola (Centella asiatica), Ginkgo biloba, Brahmi (Bacopa monniera).
Adaptogenic – These herbs work at the cellular level. They increase the capacity of the cells to manufacture and use cell fuel more efficiently. They aid in the assimilation, circulation and integration of other beneficial herbs and substances. This helps normalize the body’s various functions and stimulate recovery processes. Cumulative stress and the body’s subsequent inability to perform its key functions efficiently have been linked with most illnesses. Adaptogenic herbs help the body to adapt to stressors. Schisandra chinensis, Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng), Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), Astragalus, Withania, Rehmannia and Maca (Lepidium peruvianum). Bacopa and Andrographis are also possibly adaptogenic.
Specific herbs that minimize the harmful effects of radiation and chemo treatment are the ginsengs (Panax, Eleutherococcus, Lepidium) which are also adaptogenic and immune stimulant. Along with an organic, juicing diet these herbs lessen the detrimental side effects of allopathic treatments. Lepidium peruvianum or meyenii from the Brassica family contains glucosinolates found in other members of the same plant family such as broccoli and cabbage. Glucosinolates help clear toxins, protect DNA and block the initiation of tumors.
Kelp and seaweeds also protect against radiation and provide high amounts of bioavailable minerals, particularly iodine. Withania is helpful in chemotherapy.
I have met people who have decided to take chemo alongside an anticancer diet and herbal regimen. They have not lost their hair or energy and have no nausea. The doctors tell them, “you should have been sick and bald by now!”
Nausea: Other herbs to aid digestion and reduce nausea may be needed especially when the specialist’s treatment causes loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Herbs form the Apiaceae family are indicated – angelica (Angelica archangelica), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Dill (Anethum graveolens) and aniseed (Pimpinella anisum). Also very effective are peppermint, ginger and chamomile.
1. Circulatory stimulants may be used for pain associated with cancer where blocked blood vessels cause poor circulation and ischaemia.
2. Nervine tonics – when a tumour is exerting pressure on nerves. This is the cause of most of the severe cancer pain.
3. Anti-inflammatory herbs can be used as in any condition where inflammation is a factor in pain including cancer.
Reducing inflammation is also important in maintaining health and reducing the risk and/or growth of cancer. Increased levels of pro-inflammatory markers are associated with the growth and survival of malignant cells. Moderating inflammatory mediators such as Cox 2 and leukotrienes can help decrease cancer spread. Turmeric and Bupleurum will contribute well here. Turmeric is one of nature’s best anti-inflammatory agents. It reduces mast cell release of histamine.
Anticoagulant herbs are valid in the herbal treatment of cancer because abnormal blood coagulation is associated with cancer: Ginkgo, turmeric, garlic as well as quercetin, omega 3 essential fatty acids and vitamin E.
Cell proliferant, but in a healthy way, not uncontrolled and progressive as with cancer…Aloe vera, comfrEy (Symphytum officinale) and gotu kola (Centella asiatica) stimulate the healthy formation and growth of normal body cells.
Vulnerary (healing) – needed after surgery. Vulnerary herbs are also used to minimise scarring after herbal removal of skin cancers such as melanoma, basal and squamous cell carcinomas. Again, Aloe gel, comfrey and gotu kola are very successful in creating flat new tissue growth and reducing raised kelloid scars.
Herbs that inhibit angiogenesis (blood vessel formation) – because the development of a blood supply is important to the survival and growth of a tumor:
curcuminoids in turmeric catechins in Green Tea (bovine and shark cartilage, although not herbal treatment, also inhibit angiogenesis)
Thus, there is a huge number of herbs that may be used in the treatment of cancer. Commonsense can tell us to nourish the body with essential nutrients. It tells us to nurture the spirit and emotions and to utilize herbs that have been proven over the millennia, or through modern science, to provide healing properties and fight against cancer.
You can support your body to a natural solution to fighting skin cancer and other cancers with the immense natural chemicals found in plants. They act upon and within the tissues of your body, providing amazing tools for healing that your body needs.
by Moira Elliott, Medical Herbalist
I am a qualified medical herbalist and have studied the use of herbs for the treatment of skin cancer in depth.
My e-book “How to Treat Skin Cancer Naturally” gives you the specific herbs to use for skin cancer.