Friday, January 18, 2008

My Naturopath

I saw a naturopathic doctor today, for my first time, Doctor HH. I already knew Dr. HH from other circumstances, and had recently discovered that she is has a specialty in cancer and is a member of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians. So it was high time that I spent the effort and money to hear what she might have to say about staving off myeloma. The expense is actually quite modest.

We talked about a LOT of things, including some issues other than myeloma, and I'm still digesting it. Dr. HH isn't like my conventional doctors, who tend to listen to the problem and then prescribe a specific treatment and walk out the door. Dr. HH apparently believes that I already know a little about the potential treatments (the jury's still out on that), so she more or less considered this a teaching session. She frequently checked in ("do you know about so and so?"), then explained if I didn't and amplified if I did. She also took notes for me, and did write down several specific suggestions, but I probably should have been the one taking notes. Actually, both would be best. We discussed several health issues, and then I did a bit more internet research; here are a few items specific to myeloma:
  • EGCG, from green tea, inhibits cancer growth and induces apotopsis (normal programmed cell death) in cancer cells. Dr. HH suggested 1,650 to 1,800 mg per day. That's a lot. Here is one of several sources of EGCG. These contain 350 mg of EGCG per capsule.
  • Genistein is a soy isoflavone which can act as an antioxidant, and more importantly, can inhibit the uncontrolled cell growth of cancer. It may also reduce bone loss, which of course is beneficial to myeloma patients in particular. Here is a NLM resource page. Dr. HH suggested 40 to 300 mg per day. I have not yet found a good source for genistein alone, without an assortment of other soy isoflavones. I may ask the doctor about that.
  • Quercetin is a highly active flavonoid which is also a good anti-inflammatory agent and a powerful antioxidant. More importantly, it has significant anti-tumor properties. I have been taking 1000 mg of quercetin, but Dr. HH suggested up to 4000 mg. I'll do 3000 first, and if no reaction I will increase it to 4000 mg. This is a good source.
  • Resveratrol is another powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agent, with other purported health benefits such as anti-aging. Dr. HH suggested 100 to 400 mg per day. I am already taking 400 mg per day, in two capsules from this source.
  • Vitamin K has a reputation for helping with blood clotting and improving bone strength, which I definitely need, but it also can promote normal cell death in cancer cells. Dr. HH suggested 5 to 10 mg (not mcg) per day, with the highest possible fraction of K2 and the remainder K1. Here is the best brand I've found so far.
  • Vitamin D inhibits replication and induces normal cell death of cancer cells. For a normal person a recommended daily dosage might be 2000 IU, but for someone fighting cancer it might be 6000. Here is one source of many.
Here are a few items that were discussed in another venue:
  • Medicinal Mushrooms are a very ancient remedy which can reduce cancer cell proliferation, activate natural-killer cells, and actually protect against the toxicity of chemotherapy. Shitake mushrooms were mentioned, at a dosage of 1500 mg twice daily between meals. I have been taking Reishi mushrooms, but at a much lower dosage. I think I will continue with the Reishi, from this source, but take at least four capsules per day.
  • Selenium stimulates the activity of natural-killer (NK) cells and has been associated with a 50% reduction in risk of mortality from cancer. It has been shown to help fight cancers of lung, colon, prostate, stomach, esophagus, liver, and therefore is likely to help fight others. Suggested dosage: 200 to 400 mcg per day. Here is one inexpensive brand, and here is another
  • Coenzyme Q-10 is an antioxidant and has protective properties. It has been shown to protect the heart from the effects of adriamycin. Dr. HH suggested at least 200 mg per day for me, for treating headache. I have been taking 100 mg per day, but may increase it to 200 mg. Bioavailability is an issue with CoQ-10; I use this brand. Life Extension claims that theirs is even better.
  • Melatonin is an interesting hormone that can have a lot of different effects on the body. According to a web page of the Mayo Clinic: "It has been proposed that melatonin may benefit cancer patients through antioxidant, immune-enhancing, hormonal, anti-inflammatory, anti-angiogenic, apoptotic, or direct cytotoxic (cancer cell-killing) effects". That same web page also states: "Results have been mixed, with some patients stabilizing and others progressing." One of the sources of melatonin capsules is Life Extension, with this disclaimer: "Patients with leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, or lymphoma should avoid melatonin until more is known about its effects on these forms of cancer." Since myeloma is a variety of non-hodgkins lymphoma, I wonder whether to try this or not. Some sources speculate that it might not be the best idea to stimuate the immune system, as melatonin does, when the cancer is IN the immune system, as it might thereby stimulate the cancer. Further, it seems to me that the means by which melatonin benefits cancer may be similar to the action of low-dose naltrexone, which I am already taking in any case. More research needed here before I start it.
Some other hints:
  • Stop taking extra Vitamin C two days before blood tests, because it can artificially raise the creatinine count and suggest kidney problems where there may be none;
  • Do the same with calcium supplements, to avoid artificially-high calcium readings;
  • Take your weight in pounds, divide that number by two, and that is the number of ounces of water to drink every day;
  • Curcumin: Eight grams per day is an appropriate dosage;
  • For bones: do resistance training of the muscles that connect to those bones which especially need to be strengthened. In my case, since I'm a runner, that probably means upper-body muscles surrounding the spine, ribs, and arms; and
  • Read up on this study in which pomegranite extracts were used to cause cancer cells to revert to their normal states. What a cool concept! The extracts may eventually become available as prescription medicines, and possibly as supplements.
Next: I'll re-read these notes and decide on additional supplements to take for at least the next six weeks before going to Mayo Clinic. When I've decided, I will post the entire new regimen, for what it's worth. I have more questions for Dr. HH too, and will probably go back to see her again soon.

Organic salad greens, Maytag blue cheese, pecans, avodado, hibiscus blossoms, kiwi, raspberry vinegar.


  1. Dear Don,
    thank you from the deep of my heart for this wonderful post full of useful information! Lots of substances to think on. The very good thing is that you also report the suggested dosage. Very difficolt to find this kind of doctor in Italy.
    I was wondering what did dr.HH tell you about curcumin.

    Have a nice week end!

  2. Hello Anna,

    Good to hear from you. Dr. HH may not have been as familiar with curcumin as I was, actually. But she examined some notes she had taken at a lecture and said that eight grams was the therapeutic dose for cancer.

    Take care, Don

  3. Very interesting post, Don. I wish Anna and I knew of a reliable naturopathic doctor here. You are very lucky! I was wondering what Dr. HH would tell you about quercetin. I read that we probably shouldn't take high amounts of it, and in fact Dr. Benelli (a urologist I know here) told me that two grams a day is what I should be taking, and so my question to Dr. HH would be: what's the highest daily amount that she recommends?
    As for specifics substances she mentioned, I know about EGCG (I wrote a post about its anti-MM effects in vitro, and know folks with MGUS etc. that take it), but the problem is to get a reliable source. But you reminded me that I have to look into this matter more closely.
    Melatonin: I have to do some more research, but the little I read convinced me (thus far) that we shouldn't take it, certainly not in high doses. In vitro tests have shown that it increases the proliferation of MM cells. Not what we want! Ok, this is getting to be too long. I will stop here. Thanks for this report, Don. I will print it out and reread it.
    Florence, Italy

  4. Dear Margaret,

    In her notes, Dr. HH wrote 500 - 4000 mg for quercetin. I don't recall that we had any additional discussion about dosage.