Herbs for Cancer

Posted on Monday, September 19th, 2011

Herbs & Cancer Treatment

Intro excerpted from Herbal Medicine, Healing & Cancer by Donald R. Yance Jr.

There are many ways natural forms of healing can prevent or treat cancer

  • Herbs
  • Vitamins
  • Micronutrients
  • Proper Diet
  • Other health enhancing modalities

All can be used with or without conventional therapies in the healing process

These non-toxic therapies can also inhibit cancer recurrence as well as second line cancers caused by chemotherapy.


See Body, Spirit, Humanity and Nature as being one entity, not separate. When they are brought together and nurtured they enable healing to happen. Healing with herbs brings us into a realm where physical explanations are not always clear and scientific as we would like.

The synergy that takes place between the body’s own innate tendency to heal and the herbs that aid in that process is in some ways a mystery even though the healing itself is indisputably real. The human body has an amazing ability to maintain homeostasis if we provide the proper environment for it to do so.


Overwhelming amounts of stress underlies most chronic illness, and that patients need to address the issues of stress in their lives for the healing to take place.

Conventional Medicine

Conventional medicine preaches that only medicinal interventions and modern drugs will lead to healing.  It also holds that the body’s healing response to illness must be treated and suppressed.

The fever is the classic example: Tylenol relives aches and pains often caused by interferon production when one its ill.  Does this help or make things worse?

Traditional healers have know for thousands of years that a fever is the body’s healing reaction to an infectious organism and instead of being suppressed, it should be worked with to allow the body to disperse the heat by sweating.

  • When a patient is taking interferon for example, Yance recommends drinking diaphoretic tea and taking an Epsom salt bath before bed at least 3 nights a week.
  • Diaphoretic tea would be made with herbs like boneset, yarrow, elder, peppermint and ginger.
  • These herbs not only relieve achiness and flu-like symptoms that interferon brings with ti, it actually helps the interferon be more effective.

When a person is first diagnosed with cancer, and decides to follow a standard form of therapy in hopes of a cure, they can be successful at putting the cancer into remission, but what about the future?

If a doctor says the patient is just wasting time and money with an organic diet and medicinal herbs, should the patient abandon responsibility for their long-term health and well-being?

For many, serious problems and conflicts arise when a conventional MD disapproves of their interest in natural therapies.

In Yance’s experience, having worked with thousands of people who have cancer and has learned that those who include herbs, good nutrition and other non-toxic approaches in their treatment are able to reduce the likelihood of recurrences, enhance any conventional therapies and lessen their side effects.

We weren’t meant to live as removed from nature as we do today, and we do so at our own peril.

God (whatever one you choose) did not create us to lead lives spent in front of computer screens and TV’s while eating processed foods and then try to correct our mistakes by ingesting high-tech medicines.  We need to consider why we are here and to honor our connections with each other with God and with Nature.

We are naturally healed by these connections and it is vital to include them in our lives.

Yance’s favorite RX:  Have patients go home and grow a garden- as the garden grows, so does the gardener.

Today’s Talk

  • Today only proven, safe remedies are presented for the prevention and treatment of this dread disease.
  • Each of you is a unique individual, and any herbal program needs to be tweeked to match your individual needs.
  • Of note, nutritional factors may account for up to 70% of avoidable cancer mortality in this country, according to an eye-opening report in a 1992 issue of Oncology.


New studies show that eating the “Typical American Diet”  is the biggest genetic mutating factor in our lives.

With a statistic like this one, it is time to look at herbs, diet, nutrition, natural healing modalities and NORMAL and life-affirming, not as “Alternative” choices.

  • Herbal medicine is getting a great deal of long-overdue attention from clinicians and researchers.
  • Studies have shown that herbs can strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation, inhibit mutations, and battle cancer by supporting the function of the immune system including the enhancement of T-cells, Natural Killer Cells and interferon as well as activating macrophages.
  • Herbs contain many more powerful cell-protective factors than vitamins or minerals.
  • They can lessen the side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation as well as inhibit infections.
  • Amazingly, they can enhance the cytotoxic effects of many conventional therapies.
  • Each person is different; each cancer is different – different therapies.

It is important to work with a qualified herbalist or natural health care professional who is knowledgeable about herbs.  Each person is different.  Just because I am talking about herbs for cancer, not all of these herbs are right for you.  Also, many “safe herbs” have contraindications – like don’t use Reishi Mushroom if on anti-coagulants.


I was going to speak more about Nutrition, Phytochemicals and lifestyle but have chosen to focus on herbs today.  There is plenty of information in the handout for you to review.

Herbs for cancer:

There are many ways to strengthen the body to deal with the side-effects of therapies, and, make the body stronger.

  • Immune Tonics and Adaptogens
  • Anti-inflammatory herbs
  • Digestive Health
  • Liver Detoxification
  • Alterative Herbs & Lymphatic Herbs
  • Analgesic Herbs
  • Nervines

Many of these herbs have multiple uses, i.e. alterative, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor.

Immune Tonics and Adaptogens

These are herbs which inhibit the growth of, and destroy, viruses and bacteria, and strengthen the body’s immune system.  Adaptogens tone the fight or flight stress response, gradually building up your body’s ability to deal with stress over a number of months.

Many of the Adaptogens that are commonly used today have a history of use that goes back hundreds and thousands of years.

Medicinal Mushrooms Can’t stress enough the importance of this plant medicine for cancer.

Medicinal Mushrooms are one of nature’s best immune boosters.  Best to use a good mixture of many mushrooms together.   Remember, cancer is tricky so we want to be complex herbally, and keep changing our therapy so that the cancer stays confused.

I brought a book called the Fungal Pharmacy by Robert Rogers that you can look at after the talk. I have marked the pages that have the mushrooms that I am talking about today.

Reishi Mushroom – ganoderma lucidum

Because of its reputation to fortify the mind and body, and to promote longevity, wisdom, and happiness. it has been called “Herb of Immortality”, “Marvelous Herb” and “Ten Thousand Year Mushroom.” Some consider Reishi or Ling Zhi the cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where it is placed into the highest class of overall tonics.

  • Immune enhancing
  • Adaptogen
  • Anti-Tumor
  • Analgesic activity
  • Strong anti-carcinogenic properties
  • Effective for all cancers and immune system deficiencies
  • Muscle and Central Nervous System relaxant
  • Cardiotonic activity
  • Reduces high cholesterol and blood pressure levels
  • Antiviral
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-histamine
  • Liver protective
  • Radiation protection
  • Specific for people recovering from chemotherapy
  • Avoid if on anti-coagulants

Shitake Mushroom

  • Of all the medicinal mushrooms, Shiitake is perhaps the best studied.
  • Shown to pull heavy metals from the body, as was learned from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasake.
  • It is an excellent source of protein, potassium, zinc, B-vitamins, complex carbohydrates, as well as all the important essential amino acids.
  • Immuno-modulating (increases natural killer cell action), immuno-activator and potentizer, anti-tumor, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, liver-protective,
  • Reduces high cholesterol levels,
  • Has been used to treat cancer, HIV, chronic fatigue syndrome, and herpes simplex virus


Maitake Mushroom

  • Best known in easing the side-effects of chemotherapy treatment, while at the same time enhancing the treatments effectiveness.
  • Commonly used for improving stomach conditions
  • Calms the mind and nervous system
  • Neuralgia (sharp pain), palsy and various forms of arthritis
  • Aids in reduction of blood glucose, insulin and triglyceride levels
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Anti-Cancer effect in lung, stomach, breast, colorectal, prostate, liver cancers as well as leukemia

Oyster Mushroom

  • Nerve tonic
  • Reduces cholesterol levels
  • Anti-Tumor
  • Myco-remediation – degrades environmental pollutants including PCP – a widely used wood preservative.

Turkey Tails

Derived from this mushroom is one of the most widely used cancer therapies in Japan, known as PSK (polysaccharide Kureha). It has been shown to prolong life by suppressing the proliferation of cancer and tumor cells, and by bolstering the immune system’s natural response.

  • Anti-tumor
  • Immune enhancing
  • Lowers cholesterol levels
  • Hepa-protective
  • Anti-viral especially in the treatment of infections of the upper respiratory tract.

Rotate Echinacea and alternate with Astralagus in three-week cycles with extracts of medicinal mushrooms and other immune-boosting herbs may help to strengthen overall immunity during cancer treatments. (Vitamin C also bolsters the immune system, aiding it in fighting off any cancer cells remaining in the body after treatment.)

Non-mushroom Immune boosters/Adaptogens:

Ginseng – Panax

  • Most noted for anti fatigue and anti aging effects.
  • Enhances overall activity of the immune system.

o   Antibody response

o   Natural killer cell activity

o   Interferon production

  • Reduces scar tissue damage
  • Animal studies show that it inhibits metastases to the lung and liver when used with chemotherapy. It produced greater anti tumor effect and also reduced the immune suppressing effects of chemotherapy.
  • Always recommend Ginseng for those undergoing radiation therapy – it is thought to hasten the recovery and reduce the chance of scar tissue damage.

Wild American Ginseng is an endangered species, therefore, please buy woods-grown rather than wild.

Also, buy only organic ginseng.  Many heavy metals in herbs, especially root herbs from other countries.


  • Strengthens the body’s natural defenses that involve the immune system.  It is one of the main herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine during chemo and radiation therapy
  • Increases interferon levels
  • Increases Natural Killer cells
  • Increases T-cell activity
  • Liver protective
  • Blood Builder
  • Anti tumor activity

There are many, many more Immune –enhancers and Adaptogens we could talk about.

Main point – if you do nothing else herbally,  take your multiple mushroom formula 3x a day and keep changing with Echinacea and astralagus which potentiate the mushrooms every 3 weeks.


Anti-inflammatoy herbs  inhibit free-radical damage while protecting, repairing and detoxifying the liver.

Turmeric Curcuma longa

Turmeric has been extensively researched.  This is the main spice in curry blends.  Has a long history of use in the treatment of cancer.  Freshness of this herbs and all herbs matter.  Is it aromatic or stale?

  • Works against environmental mutagens and inhibits the mutagenicity of cigarette smoke.
  • Much stronger cell protective agent than vitamin C – Huge anti-oxidant
  • Protects against DNA damage much better than beta carotene or vitamin E.
  • Anti-tumor
  • Enhances production of several important cancer –fighting cells
  • Gently activates the liver function
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Promotes digestion and assimilation
  • Promotes blood circulation
  • Anti-inflammatory

When I was working at the Charlotte Maxwell Cancer clinic, Turmeric and mushrooms were at the base of every formula.



Echinacea is perhaps the most best known herb for the enhancement of immune function.  Many of the studies that say you can’t take it for a long time  – that was a German translation error.  It can be used for long periods of time for chronic conditions, with no side effects or contraindications. Most of the other studies the trials were seriously under-dosing.   When using with mushrooms for chronic condition, the dose should be about 20 drops 2-3x a day.

  • While it may have very little direct activity against cancer, its ability to stimulate the immune system makes it a useful addition to formulas.  Use with rotating mushrooms.
  • Echinacea has shown anticarcinogenic properties.
  • Promotes T-cell activation, interferon production, natural killer cell activity
  • Lymphatic
  • Enhances effectiveness of antibiotics

Gotu Kola  – Centella asiatica

  • Native to India – Part of traditional Ayurvedic medicine.
  • Great ability to relax the brain, especially when it is in overdrive and can’t focus efficiently.
  • Promotes post-operative or post-radiation healing
  • Increases healing, decreases inflammation, inhibits scar tissue formation and inhibits the recurrence of cancer
  • Assists the nervous system with the stress and fears associated with having cancer.
  • Increases the formation of connective tissue components
  • Tumor inhibitor

Digestive Health

Cancer causes great stress on all the metabolic processes, including assimilation, digestion, and absorption of nutrients and the elimination of waste products.

Simply eating more food will not halt a wasting person with advanced cancer no will it extend or enhance the life of a person in the early stages of cancer.  If you try to eat high calorie foods to gain weight, it’s the cancer that gets fed, so any existing tumors grow faster

  • The old saying “ you are what you eat” should be “you are what you absorb”
  • Poor assimilation leads to nutrient deficiencies.
  • Proper assimilation is essential.
  • Take probiotics – Literally means for life.  Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium bifidum.  .

o   Demonstrated immune-enhancing, anti-tumor effects and plays a critical role in the detoxification of many cancer causing substances:  Hormones, meat carcinogens, environmental toxins.

o   Brands Recommended:  JarroDophilus and PrimaDophilus  Need 4-10 billion viable cells per dose  Prefer enteric coated so the bacteria doesn’t get killed in the gut and can get to your small intestine.

Aloe Vera

  • Antiviral
  • Immune Boosting
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Cancer it hot by nature, Aloe soothes and cools entire system

Marshmallow tea is good too as it also “slimes, soothes and cools the gut”.  Has immuno-modulating properties due to its high polysaccharide content.

Liver Detoxification

The ideal anti-cancer formula should help clean out the liver. This is crucial, since the blood stream sends the toxins from the broken-down tumor to the liver to be ejected. Do not over do these herbs.  You want a slow detox, not a quick one.

Milk Thistle – Silybum marium

  • Strengthens liver cell membrane, and protects against damage
  • Free radical scavenger
  • Protects liver against drugs and heavy metals including chemotherapy

Dandelion  Root Taraxacum

  • Clears heat
  • Nutirent

Oregon Grape berberis acquifolia

  • high in berberine which has antineoplastic properties
  • Tends to block oxygen uptake specifically to cancer cells.

Yellow Dock Root – Rumex Crispus

  • Yellow Dock root is effective for cancer and has been used in TCM for acute leukemia

Alteratives & Lymphatics

These are herbs that increase the body’s elimination of waste material and improve nutrition. As a rule, these herbs are best used for a lengthy period of time, so that the detoxification will not occur too rapidly and overwhelm the body’s abilities to discharge those toxins.

Nettle Tea

  • Equal if not superior to all the green foods on the market today
  • High in Chlorophyll, protein and minerals
  • Good for anemia
  • Allergies
  • Poor lymphatic function

Burdock Seed & Root – Articum lappa

  • Anti-tumor
  • Stimulates digestion
  • Buy at the grocery store and add to your stir-fry

Red Root – Ceanothus

  • Native herb.  Growing all around us
  • Excellent for lymph and helps remove waste from the body
  • improves digestion.
  • Increases platelet counts
  • Works best with Echinacea
  • Raises activity of T-cells

Red Clover blossoms Trifolium pretense

  • Alterative
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Diuretic
  • High beta carotene content
  • They contain isoflavones which possesses estrogen-like actions
  • This plants anticancer properties are enhanced by the presence of beta carotene and vitamin E
  • Good for hormonally driven cancers – seems to be most active against prostate, breast, colon cancers and melanoma

Licorice Glychyrizza glabra

  • Anti-viral, anti-tumor, antiulcer, anti-inflammatory
  • Increases production  of interferon, natural killer cell activity
  • Liver protective
  • Increases cortisol, DHEA and aldosterone.  Low DHEA are found in many women with breast cancer.  Licorice, by increasing cortisol, produces anti-inflammatory actions
  • Contraindicated for those with high blood pressure.  Need proper dosing.  Low dose herb

Pau d’arco bark – Tabebuia heptaphylla

  • Cooling, bitter alterative, antibiotic, antifungal, antitumor, antiviral, digestive, diuretic, fungicidal, analgesic, astringent, and hypotensive
  • This plant has recognized antitumor agent
  • The basis for this plants reputation is its immuno-stimulating properties
  • It has been shown in several studies to be effective at treating cancer
  • This is a first rate alterative and blood purifier

Pokeroot – Phytolacca


  • Alterative, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, toxic.
  • Considered specific  for all glandular derangements, including breast and other cancers
  • Because of its strong cathartic and emetic effects, it can be a Gastrointestinal irritant.
  • With that said, Pokeroot is one of the two or three most important native herbs for treating cancer.

Thuja  Thuja occidentalis

  • Particularly indicated for cancers of viral origin, including colorectal cancer, uterine cancer, breast cancer, and lung cancer
  • Enhances the immune system
  • Particularly useful for increasing tolerance of chemo and radiation therapy.  Take no more than 10 drops 3x a day
  • Lymphatic


Corydalis is one of the best plants to use for pain associated with cancer, particularly abdominal pain.

Kava-kava – used for anxiety, stress and insomnia is also a very effective pain reliever and muscle relaxant.

Meadowsweet and white willow contain natural aspirin-like compounds that will relieve pain and inflammation without side-effects.  Particularly useful for gastric pain.

Herbs to strengthen Nervous System

St. Johnswort – Hypericum perforatum

Action:  Nervine (calming).

Promotes circulation, assists in repairing nerve injury – internal and external for nerve trauma.  A specific for post-operative brain tumor surgery.

  • Promotes healing from trauma and inflammation
  • Helps with post-operative depression
  • Inhibitor of abnormal tissue growth

Main constituent is hypericin – pronounced anti-viral and anti-tumor activity.  One of nature’s richest sources of flavonoids.

California Poppy




Siberian Gingseng

American Gingseng


Your body needs essential vitamins and minerals in the right amount for your tissues to do their jobs and protect you from cancer. Antioxidants help to protect cells from free radical damage and may inhibit the growth of cancerous cells.  Different antioxidants do different free radical clean-up.  Combinations are best when using antioxidants, like the mushrooms.  Synergy.

These supplements may be particularly beneficial for people who have undergone chemotherapy or radiation therapy procedures that damage healthy cells as they attack cancer cells.

Take herbal extracts rich in flavonoids:

Green tea – Essential.  Have found that caffeine is useful for antioxidants to do their work.

Ginkgo bilboa if over 50

Grape seed extract if under 50 – NOT grapefruit seed extract.


I have no commercial or personal interest regarding the resources listed below.

For herbs:

Incredible Nutritional Diagnostic Test; your doctor has to order for you:

  • Genova Diagnostics NutraEval Test:  http://www.gdx.net


For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.