Cancer is one of the common diagnosis veterinarians deliver to the family members of our dogs and cats. This bad news is often followed by discussion of prognosis or how long the patient is likely to live; with no treatment, with surgery, with chemotherapy and then about what quality of life with no treatment or surgery and/or chemotherapy. Full Circle Veterinary Alternatives and other integrative practices all over the world have been using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to treat cancer patients for years in all these situations often with astounding results.
Common questions from owners and other veterinarians include are the formulas safe to use with chemotherapy, will they interfere with my pets chemotherapy and are they useful as stand alone therapies. As more and more evidence-based research is done on both the action of herbs and the multiple biochemical pathways engaged by developing cancers, specialists like Dr. Erin Bannink, an oncologist with a Michigan Veterinary Referral hospital, are able to document and explain why general practitioners using TCM have great success in giving longevity and improved quality of life to many cancer sufferers.
Many Chinese herbal formulas can be used at the same time as chemotherapy. This is because most chemotherapeutic agents try to kill the cancer cells or stimulate them to undergo the normal cell death process that happens as cells age or become too injured to repair. Chinese Herbal formulas act on different areas of tumour growth and spread, for instance, most are very potent inhibitors of new blood vessel formation. They are also often potent inhibitors of inflammation which can drive tumour formation.
Herbs like Curcumin, Ginger, Ginseng and Artemesia can inhibit a molecule called Nuclear Factor-Kappa Beta. Inhibition of this factor can increase the desired cancer cytotoxicity of a chemotherapy drug called Adriamycin meaning much less drug is needed and thus many fewer side-ffects. Angelica is Chinese herb that protects against the digestive and blood cell toxicity of a common chemotherapeutic Cyclophosphamide. Some herbs including Ligusticum ,Salvia, Chrysanthemum and Curcuma have been shown to overcome multidrug resistance which is a common cause for failure of chemotherapeutic agents.
At Full Circle Veterinary Alternatives, we have been using formulas directed at specific cancers like hemangiosarcomas, mast cell tumours, bladder tumours and lymphomas for many years and just as Dr. Bannick sees in her practice, many of our patients live good quality lives for many months or years longer than expected by conventional medicine. For example; hemangiosarcoma is an aggressive cancer with median survival times of 3 months with surgery alone, and somewhere between 3-8 months with surgery and chemotherapy. Dr. Bannick has documented cases of dogs using surgery and herbal medicine living as long as 32 months.
Over the next months, we will examine some specific types of cancer and the integrated therapies that give you many more happy moments with your well loved furry family. Watch our Facebook posts for interesting tidbits on cancer in general as well as herbs and supplements for cancer support and share this Blog… EVERY cancer patient should see an integrated veterinary practitioner!
Dr. Jennifer Bishop, IVAS Certified inVeterinary Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine
Bannick, Erin Antiangiogenic Therapy with Herbs. College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies 2016
Bannick, Erin Canine Splenic Hemangiosarcoma: Overview of Current Conventional Treatments and Integrative Therapy. College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies 2016