Information

Does homeopathic or herbal treatment of cancer have any scientific recognition?


Even though we have a very high tech society, cancer is still a serious issue. We humans still are not entirely capable of fighting cancer.

Radiation and chemotherapy are still considered the best methods for treating it and frequently, even these don't work. And, as for this disease, it is a phenomenon of uncontrolled cell growth that has lead to the death of many people. Within these main two treatments, there is plenty of controversy surrounding applying radiation and chemo in a proper sequence.

However, there are also some different methods known and available on the market to treat cancer. Among them, homeopathic and herbal treatments are the most common. So, my question is, do they really work and is there any scientific evidence of that? If yes then what is it?


The methodology behind homeopathy is scientific nonsense. If you dilute anything a billion times, it will have no chemical effect, not even if you shake it all the while. So no, homeopathy does nothing for cancer, or any medical condition at all.

Of course plants can have active compounds in them, once scientists have identified those compounds, they can be tweaked to make them act better in the human body, and then manufactured under strict guidelines to ensure purity, and tested to determine the optimum dosage; then it's just medicine. Taxol comes from yew trees, it doesn't mean that native herbalists were successfully treating cancer with it for hundreds of years. Native herbalists were using willow bark, which contains salicylic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties, but chemists improved on it, reducing some of its negative side effects, by modifying it to acetylsalicylic acid.

Millions of people get cancer. Doctors get cancer. Herbalists get cancer. If curing cancer was as easy as mixing some leaves in a poultice, people would do that.


The short answer: no.

The for-profit pharma companies that so many people love to slam for profiteering? On the other side are insurance companies who want to pay the absolute minimum they can. If there was a cheap plant or mixture of plants that scientifically showed significant success in stopping cancer, the insurance companies would demand its widespread use and stop paying for pharmaceuticals.

Homeopathy is (with few exceptions) ineffective at best and downright dangerous at worst. Most "homeopathic medications" are unregulated (at least in the USA) and unscreened - you have no idea what's going in them, and you have no guarantee that the content is what the bottle says.

A few years ago there was a study done on herbal alternative medicine and the findings were that plenty of these supplements didn't even contain what was advertised. The worst offenders actually substituted known toxic plants for the claimed product.

Even if the product is genuinely what's advertised, there can be processing and purity problems. Recently there was a news article about some people who were severely sickened after drinking improperly processed aconite (wolfsbane) herbal tea bought in a traditional Chinese herbal medicine shop.

The final (rhetorical) question to ask the quacks pushing their homeopathic crap: If ancient medicinal practices are so good, then why was life expectancy back then (and even now the areas where such practices remain in wide use) so low? And if Western medicine's so toxic with all of its side effects, why does the countries that practice Western medicine standards almost always have the best life expectancies?

You can't argue with results - and for all its shortcomings, Western medicine delivers far more than any other known medical practice on the planet.


Does homeopathic or herbal treatment of cancer have any scientific recognition? - Biology

Doctors and scientists conduct research studies to find better ways to prevent and treat cancer. Depending on the questions they want to answer, researchers can design these studies in different ways. No study design is perfect. Each has strengths and drawbacks. It is important to understand a study's design. By doing this, you can understand the results to know if they apply to your situation.

In cancer research, there are 2 main types of research studies:

Experimental studies. This type of study provides an intervention, such as a new treatment. The intervention is given to a group of people. Then, researchers compare their results to those of another group that does not receive the intervention. This other group is known as the control group. The researchers choose who does and does not receive the intervention either randomly or through a selection process. Experimental studies help researchers learn more about how cancer starts or spreads. These studies can also test new imaging techniques and explore quality of life issues.

Observational studies. This type of study involves observing groups of people in a natural setting and looking at a specific result. A result may include whether 1 group of people has more cancer diagnoses than another group. In these studies, the researchers cannot control the intervention, such as a person’s weight or whether they took vitamin supplements. These studies are often described as epidemiologic. Epidemiology involves studying how different risks cause or spread a disease in a community.

Types of experimental studies

Experimental studies are more reliable than observational studies. This is because the volunteers are placed in the intervention or control group by chance. This reduces the likelihood that the assumptions or preferences of the researchers or volunteers will change the study results. Such assumptions or preferences are called bias.

This type of study also helps researchers to better find and control other factors, such as age, sex, and weight. These factors can affect the results of the study.

Researchers may also consider certain factors when choosing people to enroll in an experimental study. They could be based on type of cancer, stage of the disease, or whether the cancer has spread.

One of the most common types of experimental studies is the clinical trial. This is a research study that tests a medical intervention in people. Clinical trials test:

The effectiveness or safety of a new drug or combination of drugs

A new approach to radiation therapy or surgery

A new treatment or way to prevent cancer

Ways to lower the risk of cancer coming back

Doctors and researchers conduct clinical research in segments called phases. Each phase of a clinical trial provides different answers about the new treatment. For instance, it can show the dose, safety, and efficacy of the treatment. The efficacy is how well the treatment works. There are 4 phases of clinical trials.

In a clinical trial, volunteers are usually selected by chance to either be in the treatment or control group. Researchers can prevent bias in a clinical trial by keeping volunteers and/or themselves from knowing how the volunteers are grouped. This is a process known as “blinding.”

Types of experimental studies include:

Double-blind randomized trial. Most scientists believe this type of clinical trial will produce the best evidence in a study. Neither the volunteers nor the researchers know who belongs to a treatment or control group until the study ends.

Single-blind randomized trial. In this type of trial, the volunteers do not know whether they belong to a treatment or control group. But the researchers know.

Open/unblinded trial. Both volunteers and researchers know who belongs to each test group in this type of study. This occurs when it is not possible to use blinding. For instance, the study could compare a surgical treatment to a drug.

Types of observational studies

In observational studies, researchers have less control over the study volunteers. This means that certain factors could affect the results. These studies, however, are useful in providing initial evidence that can help guide future research.

Types of observational studies include:

Case-control studies. These types of studies compare 2 groups of people. For instance, they could compare those who have cancer (the case) and those who do not (the control). Researchers may look for lifestyle or genetic differences between the 2 groups. By doing this, they hope to find out why 1 group has a disease and the other group does not. These studies are conducted retrospectively. That is, they are researching what has already happened.

Cohort studies. These studies are prospective, which means that researchers study the event as it occurs. They monitor a group of people for a long time and track something. For example, they could track any new cancer diagnoses. This type of study can assess whether certain nutrients or actions can prevent cancer. This approach can also find cancer risk factors. For instance, cohort studies have looked at whether postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy increases the risk of breast cancer.

Case reports and case series. These studies are detailed descriptions of a patient's medical history. The individual patient descriptions are called case reports. If many patients receive a similar treatment, the case reports may be combined into a case series. The results of case series studies are descriptions of patients' histories within a specific group. As such, they should not be used to determine treatment options.

Cross-sectional studies. These studies examine how diseases interact with other factors within a specific group at a point in time. But because these studies only measure interactions at a single point in time, they cannot prove that something causes cancer.

Types of review articles

A large number of cancer research studies are published every year. Given this, it is challenging for doctors, as well as interested patients and caregivers, to keep up with the latest advances. Research studies published in journals are constantly shaping and reshaping the scientific understanding of that subject. No single study provides the final word on a topic, type of cancer, or treatment. As a result, review articles, which evaluate and summarize the findings of all published research on a certain topic, are extremely helpful.

Types of review articles include:

Systematic reviews. These articles summarize the best available research on a specific topic. Researchers use an organized method to locate, gather, and evaluate a number of research studies on a particular topic. By combining the findings of a number of studies, researchers are able to draw more reliable conclusions.

Meta-analyses. These studies combine data from several research studies on the same topic. By combining these data, a meta-analysis can find trends that are hard to see in smaller studies. But if the single studies were poorly designed, the results of the meta-analysis may not be useful.

Evaluating research studies

Here are some tips for finding out the quality of a research study:

Find out if the journal uses a peer-review process. Results from a study are more reliable if they are peer-reviewed. This means that researchers who are not a part of the study have looked over and approved the design and methods.

Look at the length of the study and the number of people involved. A study is more useful and credible if the same results occur in many people across a long time. Studies of rare types of cancer or cancers with a poor chance of getting better are an exception to this rule. This is because there are a small number of patients to study. Also, when looking at the length of the study, it may be suitable for some clinical trials to be shorter. For instance, cancer prevention trials are often much longer than treatment clinical trials. This is because it usually takes longer to figure out if a prevention strategy is working compared to a treatment.

Consider the phase of the study when learning about new treatments. Phase I and II clinical trials usually tell you more about the safety of a treatment and less about how well it works. These studies tend to have a smaller number of patients compared to phase III clinical trials. Phase III clinical trials compare a new treatment with the standard of care. “Standard of care” means the best treatments known. Doctors consider phase III clinical trials to be the most reliable.

Find out if the study supports or contradicts current research. New results are exciting, but other researchers must validate the results before the medical field accepts them as fact. Review articles like systematic reviews are of special interest. They review and draw conclusions across all of the published research on a specific topic.

Watch out for conclusions that overstate or oversimplify the results. Each study is a small piece of the research puzzle. Medical practice rarely changes because of the results of a single study.

Questions to ask your health care team

Always talk to your health care team about what you find in an abstract or study. If you have reviewed a study that suggests a different approach to cancer treatment, do not stop or change your treatment. First talk with your health care team about how the study relates to your treatment plan.

Consider asking your health care team the following questions:

I recently heard about a study that used a new treatment. Is this treatment related to my type and stage of cancer?

What type of journals should I read to learn more about my type of cancer?


Background

Natural killer (NK) cells are an essential part of tumor immunosurveillance, evidenced by higher cancer susceptibility and metastasis in association with diminished NK activity in mouse models and clinical studies [1,2,3]. Using an array of germline-encoded surface receptors, NK cells are able to recognize and rapidly act against malignant cells without prior sensitization. Upon activation, NK cells release cytotoxic granules containing perforin and granzymes to directly lyse tumor cells, in a similar fashion to activated cytotoxic T cells. NK cells are also potent producers of chemokines and cytokines such as interferon gamma (IFN-γ) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and thereby are essential in modulating adaptive immune responses. Due to their innate ability to eliminate tumor cells, NK cell-based immunotherapies against cancer have been investigated for decades. Early clinical trials have demonstrated the overall safety of NK cell infusion, even in the allogeneic setting [4,5,6,7]. The feasibility of utilizing allogeneic NK cells, the established safety profiles, and the fast-acting nature of NK cells largely have led to the emerging effort to develop “off-the-shelf” NK cell-based cancer immunotherapy. However, there are many challenges to overcome, such as difficulty to meet clinical-grade ex vivo expansion, limited in vivo persistence, limited infiltration to solid tumors, and tumor editing to evade NK cell activity. Various strategies are being employed to overcome these challenges to improve the efficacy of NK cell-based therapy, such as ex vivo pre-conditioning with cytokines and/or small molecular drugs, engineering an “off-the-shelf” or iPSC-differentiated chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-NK. There has been an explosion of NK-based immunotherapies in pre-clinical development and clinical development. Herein, we will provide an updated overview of the emerging endeavors for developing NK cell-based cancer immunotherapy from pre-clinical conceptual development, clinical grade expansion, and ongoing clinical development.


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1.4. RESEARCH NEEDS

Research needs in the field of herbal medicines are huge, but are balanced by the potential health benefits and the enormous size of the market. Research into the quality, safety, molecular effects, and clinical efficacy of the numerous herbs in common usage is needed. Newly emerging scientific techniques and approaches, many of which are mentioned in this book, provide the required testing platform for this. Genomic testing and chemical fingerprinting techniques using hyphenated testing platforms are now available for definitive authentication and quality control of herbal products. They should be regulated to be used to safeguard consumers, but questions of efficacy will remain unless and until adequate amounts of scientific evidence accumulate from experimental and controlled human trials (Giordano, Engebretson, and Garcia 2005 Evans 2008 Tilburt and Kaptchuk 2008). Evidence for the potential protective effects of selected herbs is generally based on experiments demonstrating a biological activity in a relevant in vitro bioassay or experiments using animal models. In some cases, this is supported by both epidemiological studies and a limited number of intervention experiments in humans (WHO 2001). In general, international research on traditional herbal medicines should be subject to the same ethical requirements as all research related to human subjects, with the information shared between different countries. This should include collaborative partnership, social value, scientific validity, fair subject selection, favorable risk-benefit ratio, independent review, informed consent, and respect for the subjects (Giordano, Engebretson, and Garcia 2005 Tilburt and Kaptchuk 2008). However, the logistics, time, and cost of performing large, controlled human studies on the clinical effectiveness of an herb are prohibitive, especially if the focus is on health promotion. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop new biomarkers that more clearly relate to health (and disease) outcomes. Predictor biomarkers and subtle but detectable signs of early cellular change that are mapped to the onset of specific diseases are needed.

Research is needed also to meet the challenges of identifying the active compounds in the plants, and there should be research-based evidence on whether whole herbs or extracted compounds are better. The issue of herb–herb and herb𠄽rug interactions is also an important one that requires increased awareness and study, as polypharmacy and polyherbacy are common (Canter and Ernst 2004 Qato et al. 2008 Loya, Gonzalez-Stuart, and Rivera 2009 Cohen and Ernst 2010). The use of new technologies, such as nanotechnology and novel emulsification methods, in the formulation of herbal products, will likely affect bioavailability and the efficacy of herbal components, and this also needs study. Smart screening methods and metabolic engineering offer exciting technologies for new natural product drug discovery. Advances in rapid genetic sequencing, coupled with manipulation of biosynthetic pathways, may provide a vast resource for the future discovery of pharmaceutical agents (Li and Vederas 2009). This can lead to reinvestigation of some agents that failed earlier trials and can be restudied and redesigned using new technologies to determine whether they can be modified for better efficacy and fewer side effects. For example, maytansine isolated in the early 1970s from the Ethiopian plant Maytenus serrata, looked promising in preclinical testing but was dropped in the early 1980s from further study when it did not translate into efficacy in clinical trials later, scientists isolated related compounds, ansamitocins, from a microbial source. A derivative of maytansine, DM1, has been conjugated with a monoclonal antibody and is now in trials for prostate cancer (Brower 2008).


Complementary and Alternative Healthcare: Is it Evidence-based?

Complementary and alternative healthcare and medical practices (CAM) is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. The list of practices that are considered as CAM changes continually as CAM practices and therapies that are proven safe and effective become accepted as the “mainstream” healthcare practices. Today, CAM practices may be grouped within five major domains: alternative medical systems, mind-body interventions, biologically-based treatments, manipulative and body-based methods and energy therapies.

TCM is a system of healing that dates back to 200 B.C. in written form. China, Korea, Japan, India and Vietnam have all developed their own unique versions of traditional medicine. Alternative medicine is commonly categorized together with complementary medicine under the umbrella term 𠇌omplementary and alternative medicine”. Complementary medicine refers to therapies that complement traditional western (or allopathic) medicine and is used together with conventional medicine, and alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. Alternative medicine refers to therapeutic approaches taken in place of traditional medicine and used to treat or ameliorate disease. Integrative medicine refers to combining complementary treatments with conventional care. The basic philosophy of complementary and alternative medicine include holistic care, which focuses on treating a human being as a whole person.

Examples of complementary and alternative medicine healing systems include Ayurveda, which originated in India more than 5,000 years ago, emphasizes a unique cure per individual circumstances. It incorporates treatments including yoga, meditation, massage, diet and herbs Homeopathy uses minute doses of a substance that causes symptoms to stimulate the body’s self-healing response. Naturopathy focuses on non-invasive treatments to help your body do its own healing. Ancient medicines (complementary and alternative medicine treatments) include Chinese, Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian and Tibetan practices.

Conventional medicine relies on methods proved to be safe and effective with carefully designed trials and research. But, many complementary and alternative treatments lack solid research on which to base sound decisions. The dangers and possible benefits of many complementary and alternative treatments remain unproved.

While the whole medical systems differ in their philosophical approaches to the prevention and treatment of disease, they share a number of common elements. These systems are based on the belief that one’s body has the power to heal itself. Healing often involves marshalling multiple techniques that involve the mind, body and spirit. Treatment is often individualized and dependent on the presenting symptoms.

Basic principles of integrative medicine include a partnership between the patient and the practitioner in the healing process, the appropriate use of conventional and alternative methods to facilitate the body’s innate healing response, the consideration of all factors that influence health, wellness and disease, including mind, spirit and community as well as body, a philosophy that neither rejects conventional medicine nor accepts alternative medicine uncritically, recognition that good medicine should be based in good science, inquiry driven and open to new paradigms, the use of natural, less invasive interventions whenever possible, the broader concepts of promotion of health and the prevention of illness as well as the treatment of disease. Studies are underway to determine the safety and usefulness of many CAM practices. As research continues, many of the answers about whether these treatments are safe or effective will become clearer.

The use of alternative medicine appears to be increasing. A 1998 study showed that the use of alternative medicine in the USA had risen from 33.8% in 1990 to 42.1% in 1997 [1] . The most common CAM therapies used in the USA in 2002 were prayer (45.2%), herbalism (18.9%), breathing meditation (11.6%), meditation (7.6%), chiropractic medicine (7.5%), yoga (5.1%), body work (5.0%), diet-based therapy (3.5%), progressive relaxation (3.0%), mega-vitamin therapy (2.8%) and visualization (2.1%) [2, 3] . In the United Kingdom, limited data seem to support the idea that CAM use in the United Kingdom is high and is increasing.

Increasing numbers of medical colleges have started offering courses in alternative medicine. Accredited Naturopathic colleges and universities are increasing in number and popularity in the USA. They offer the most complete medical training in complimentary medicines that is available today [4, 5] . In Britain, no conventional medical schools offer courses that teach the clinical practice of alternative medicine. However, alternative medicine is taught in several unconventional schools as part of their curriculum. Teaching is based mostly on theory and understanding of alternative medicine, with emphasis on being able to communicate with alternative medicine specialists.

Naturopathy (naturopathic medicine) is a whole medical system that has its roots in Germany. It was developed further in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States, where today it is part of CAM. Naturopathy aims to support the body’s ability to heal itself through the use of dietary and lifestyle changes together with CAM therapies such as herbs, massage and joint manipulation. Naturopathy is a whole medical system. It views disease as a manifestation of alterations in the processes by which the body naturally heals itself and emphasizes health restoration rather than disease treatment. Naturopathic physicians employ an array of healing practices, including diet and clinical nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine, hydrotherapy, spinal and soft-tissue manipulation, physical therapies involving electric currents, ultrasound and light therapy, therapeutic counseling and pharmacology. Today, naturopathy is practiced in a number of countries, including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

The acupuncture is being practiced for relief or the prevention of pain and for various other health conditions. Preclinical studies have documented acupuncture’s effects, but they have not been able to fully explain how acupuncture works within the framework of the western system of medicine.

Ayurveda, which literally means “the science of life”, is a natural healing system developed in India. It is a comprehensive system of medicine that places equal emphasis on the body, mind and spirit, and strives to restore the innate harmony of the individual. Some of the primary Ayurvedic treatments include diet, exercise, meditation, herbs, massage, exposure to sunlight, and controlled breathing, Ayurvedic medications have the potential to be toxic. Most Ayurvedic medications consist of combinations of herbs and other medicines, so it can be challenging to know which ones are having an effect and why.

Other traditional medical systems have been developed by Native American, Aboriginal, African, Middle-Eastern, Tibetan, Central and South American cultures.

Homeopathy is a system of medical theory and practice. Its founder, German physician Samuel Christian Hahnemann (1755�), hypothesized that one can select therapies on the basis of how closely symptoms produced by a remedy match the symptoms of the patient’s disease. He called this the “principle of similars”. Since homeopathy is administered in minute or potentially non-existent material dosages, there is an a priori skepticism in the scientific community about its efficacy [6𠄹] .

Traditional oriental medicine emphasizes the proper balance or disturbances of qi (pronounced chi), or vital energy, in health and disease, respectively. Traditional oriental medicine consists of a group of techniques and methods, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, oriental massage and qi gong (a form of energy therapy described more fully below).

Naturopathy (naturopathic medicine) is a whole medical system that has its roots in Germany. It was affect bodily function and symptoms. Only a subset of mind-body interventions is considered CAM. Many that have a well-documented theoretical basis, for example, patient education and cognitive-behavioral approaches are now considered “mainstream”. On the other hand, meditation, certain uses of hypnosis, dance, music and art therapy and prayer and mental healing are categorized as complementary and alternative.

Biofeedback is a type of mind-body therapy. Using feedback from a variety of monitoring procedures and equipment, a biofeedback specialist will try to teach you to control certain involuntary body responses, such as: brain activity, blood pressure, muscle tension and heart rate. Biofeedback has been shown to be helpful in treating several medical conditions, including asthma, Raynaud’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, incontinence, headaches, cardiac arrhythmias, high blood pressure, epilepsy, etc.

The term meditation refers to a variety of techniques or practices intended to focus or control attention. Most of them are rooted in Eastern religious or spiritual traditions. These techniques have been used by many different cultures throughout the world for thousands of years.

People have used prayer and other spiritual practices for their own and others’ health concerns for thousands of years. Scientific investigation of these practices has begun quite recently, however, to better understand whether they work if so, how and for what diseases/conditions and populations. Many Americans are using prayer and other spiritual practices. Prayer is the therapy most commonly used among all the CAM therapies.

Manipulative and body-based practices include methods that are based on manipulation and/or the movement of the body. For example, chiropractors focus on the relationship between structure (primarily the spine) and function, and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health, using manipulative therapy as an integral treatment tool. Massage therapists manipulate the soft tissues of the body to normalize those tissues.

Energy therapies focus either on energy fields originating within the body (biofields) or those from other sources (electromagnetic fields). Biofield therapies are intended to affect the energy fields, whose existence is not yet experimentally proven, that surround and penetrate the human body. Some forms of energy therapy manipulate biofields by applying pressure and/or manipulating the body by placing the hands in, or through, these fields. Examples include Qi gong, Reiki, Prana and Therapeutic Touch. Bioelectromagnetic-based therapies involve the unconventional use of electromagnetic fields, such as pulsed fields, magnetic fields or alternating current or direct current fields, to, for example, treat asthma or cancer, or manage pain and migraine headaches.

Hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness. Hypnotherapy has the potential to help relieve the symptoms of a wide variety of diseases and conditions. It can be used independently or along with other treatments.

Natural and biologically-based practices, interventions and products refer to the use of dietary supplements and include herbal, special dietary, orthomolecular and individual biological therapies. Examples include botanicals, animal-derived extracts, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids, proteins and prebiotics, Thousands of studies of various dietary supplements have been performed. However, no single supplement has been proven effective in a compelling way.

In India, which is the home of several alternative systems of medicines, Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathy are licenced by the government, despite the lack of reputable scientific evidence. Naturopathy will also be licensed soon because several universities now offer bachelors degrees in it. Other activities such as Panchakarma and massage therapy related to Ayurveda are also licensed by the government now [10] .

About half the general population in developed countries uses CAM [10] . A survey released in May 2004 by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health in the United States, found that in 2002, 36% of Americans used some form of alternative therapy in the past 12 months, 50% in a lifetime𠅊 category that included yoga, meditation, herbal treatments and the Atkins diet. The majority of individuals (54.9%) used CAM in conjunction with conventional medicine. Most people use CAM to treat and/or prevent musculoskeletal conditions or other conditions associated with chronic or recurring pain. Women were more likely than men to use CAM. The largest sex differential is seen in the use of mind-body therapies including prayer specifically for health reasons [2, 3] . If prayer was counted as an alternative therapy, the figure rose to 62.1%. 25% of people who use CAM do so because a medical professional suggested it [11] . A British telephone survey by the BBC of 1,209 adults in 1998 shows that around 20% of adults in Britain had used alternative medicine in the past 12 months.

Advocates of alternative medicine hold that the various alternative treatment methods are effective in treating a wide range of major and minor medical conditions, and contend that recently published research (Michalsen, 2003 Gonsalkorale, 2003 Berga, 2003) proves the effectiveness of specific alternative treatments [6𠄹] .

Evidence-based medicine (EBM) applies the scientific method to medical practice, and aims for the ideal that healthcare professionals should make 𠇌onscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence” in their everyday practice. Although advocates of alternative medicine acknowledge that the placebo effect may play a role in the benefits that some receive from alternative therapies, they point out that this does not diminish their validity. They believe that alternative medicine may provide health benefits through patient empowerment, by offering more choices to the public. Researchers who judge treatments using the scientific method are concerned by this viewpoint, since it fails to address the possible inefficacy of alternative treatments.

As long as alternative treatments are used alongside conventional treatments, the majority of medical doctors find most forms of complementary medicine acceptable. Consistent with previous studies, the CDC recently reported that the majority of individuals in the United States (i.e., 54.9%) used CAM in conjunction with conventional medicine.

The issue of alternative medicine interfering with conventional medical practices is minimized when it is turned to only after conventional treatments have been exhausted. Many patients feel that alternative medicine may help in coping with chronic illnesses for which conventional medicine offers no cure, only management. Classifying treatments need to be based on the objectively verifiable criteria of the scientific method evidence-based medicine, i.e. scientifically proven evidence of efficacy (or lack thereof), and not on the changing curricula of various medical schools or social sphere of usage [12] .

Since many alternative remedies have recently found their way into the medical mainstream, there cannot be two kinds of medicine - conventional and alternative. There is only medicine that has been adequately tested and medicine that has not, medicine that works and medicine that may or may not work. Once a treatment has been tested rigorously, it no longer matters whether it was considered alternative at the outset. If it is found to be reasonably safe and effective, it will be accepted [13] .

It is argued that there is no alternative medicine. There is only scientifically proven, evidence-based medicine supported by solid data or unproven medicine, for which scientific evidence is lacking. Whether a therapeutic practice is �stern” or “Western”, is unconventional or mainstream, or involves mind-body techniques or molecular genetics is largely irrelevant except for historical purposes and cultural interest. As believers in science and evidence, we must focus on fundamental issues—namely, the patient, the target disease or condition, the proposed or practiced treatment, and the need for convincing data on safety and therapeutic efficacy [14] . The Cochrane Collaboration [15] and Edzard Ernst [16] agree that all treatments, whether “mainstream” or 𠇊lternative”, ought to be held to standards of the scientific method.

Many forms of alternative medicine are rejected by conventional medicine because the efficacy of the treatments has not been demonstrated through double-blind randomized controlled trials in contrast, conventional drugs reach the market only after such trials have proved their efficacy. A person may attribute symptomatic relief to an otherwise ineffective therapy due to the placebo effect, the natural recovery from or the cyclical nature of an illness (the regression fallacy), or the possibility that the person never originally had a true illness [17] . CAM proponents point out this may also apply in cases where conventional treatments have been used. To this, CAM critics point out that this does not account for conventional medical success in double blind clinical trials.

People should be free to choose whatever method of healthcare they want, but stipulate that people must be informed as to the safety and efficacy of whatever method they choose. People who choose alternative medicine may think they are choosing a safe, effective medicine, while they may only be getting quack remedies. Grapefruit seed extract is an example of quackery when multiple studies demonstrate its universal antimicrobial effect is due to synthetic antimicrobial contamination [18, 19] .

Those who have had success with one alternative therapy for a minor ailment may be convinced of its efficacy and persuaded to extrapolate that success to some other alternative therapy for a more serious, possibly life-threatening illness. For this reason, critics contend that therapies that rely on the placebo effect to define success are very dangerous. Scientifically unsupported health practices can lead individuals to forgo effective treatments and this can be referred to as “opportunity cost”. Individuals who spend large amounts of time and money on ineffective treatments may be left with precious little of either, and may forfeit the opportunity to obtain treatments that could be more helpful. More research must be undertaken to prove the effectiveness of complimentary therapies before they can be incorporated in formal medical practice. Sufficient evidence is required for biological or clinical plausibility in order to justify the investment of time and energy in exploring the merits of alternative medicine. After all, human life is precious and no chances can be taken to comprise the health of any individual.


The safety of Ayurvedic medicines

Yoga, relaxation techniques and massage are generally safe. But, other remedies that you ingest need more attention.

Most Ayurvedic medicines are made from different herbs. There has been no research to test many of them.

Some herbal medicines might interact with cancer drugs or radiotherapy. Or, some might contain harmful substances.

In 2012 US researchers found that six people had lead poisoning. The lead came from Ayurvedic medicines bought from India. Previous research had similar results. It found that over the counter Ayurvedic medicines had harmful ingredients. These included mercury, lead and arsenic. All the remedies were from South Asia.

How unlicensed traditional Chinese or Ayurvedic medicines are made can vary. Some contain illegal substances and toxic herbs. These may not appear on the packaging. The amount of active ingredient can also vary widely between products.

Companies that make over the counter herbal products have to meet quality standards. They need to provide information about their product. It has to include what it contains, the dose and how safe it is.

Only use registered herbal products. That means registered under the Traditional Herbal Remedies (THR) scheme. Registered remedies have a THR mark and symbol on the packaging. THR products have been tested for quality and safety.

To be safe, only buy plant remedies from a trained and qualified herbal practitioner. They can trace the origin of their herbs and plants.

Always check with your doctor first before having any type of herb or medicine.


What Conditions Does Homeopathy Treat?

It’s used for a wide variety of health issues, including some chronic illnesses:

It can also be used for minor issues like bruises, scrapes, toothaches, headaches, nausea, coughs, and colds.

Don’t use homeopathic medicine for life-threatening illnesses, like asthma, cancer, and heart disease, or in emergencies. You should also avoid using it in place of vaccines. Some homeopathic products called “nosodes” are marketed as an alternative for vaccines, but there’s no research to prove they’re effective.


Cancer clone evolution

The natural history of cancer is illustrated in a very simplified fashion in Fig. 2. The evolutionary trajectory of a cancer clone, starting from a single mutant cell and progressing to a malignant and metastatic clone of

10 11 cells, can have very variable dynamics, with time frames ranging from a few months (some aggressive paediatric tumours) to one or several decades (many adult epithelial carcinomas). The tempo of cell population dynamics can be steady or proceed in jumps—punctuated equilibrium [11]. The majority of initiated tumour clones never evolve to fully fledged malignant clones [12, 13] but for those that do, the end game is dissemination in the body, or metastasis, a territorial hijack with onboard therapeutic resistance. It’s an evolutionary process, not just in terms of change over time but in the true Darwinian sense of random genetic variation and natural selection of the best-adapted or fittest variants. Cancer clone progression is equivalent to fast track evolution of an asexual species of unicellular organisms. But it’s fuelled by the recombinatorial genetic diversity normally acquired via sexual reproduction.

Natural history of cancer. Left: Breast cancer cell (National Cancer Institute [83])

Middle: Stereoscan image showing neovascularisation around an in situ carcinoma (angiogenesis). Photo provided by Professor M A Konerding. Right: PET scan showing cancer disseminated throughout the body (dark patches). Image originally published in JNM [84] and reproduced with permission: Even-Sapir E, Metser U, Mishani E, Gennady Lievshitz G, Lerman H, Leibovitch I. The detection of bone metastases in patients with high-risk prostate cancer: 99mTc-MDP planar bone scintigraphy, single- and multi-field-of-view SPECT, 18F–fluoride PET, and 18F–fluoride PET/CT. J Nucl Med. 200647:287–97. © by the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Inc. Most of this evolutionary process is clinically silent or covert

These ideas first emerged in the 1970s [14]. The evidence then was based on observations of serial changes, over time, in gross chromosomal structural alterations in cells. The current perspective is more detailed and contextual [7] with cancer cells subject to whole genome sequencing [15]. Single cell genetic scrutiny [16,17,18,19,20] or analysis of small micro-dissected regions of tumours [21,22,23] identifies sub-clonal architectures from which phylogenic relationships can be inferred.

Clonal phylogenies for cancer cells can reveal early or founder genetic lesions (present in all cells) and time-ordered sequences of subsequent mutations. In most cases, sub-clonal architectures are branching rather than linear [15,16,17,18, 21,22,23,24], reminiscent of Charles Darwin’s iconic ‘I think’ drawing in which he imagined how different species might evolve from a common ancestor (Fig. 3). Side branches of individual cancers often have independent mutations in the same genes, reflecting parallel or convergent evolution and prevailing selective pressures on all sub-clones. This new, evolutionary portrait of cancer cell diversity and its variegated genetics [24] has considerable practical implications for patient prognosis, monitoring and treatment [8,9,10].

Critical features of cancer clone phylogenetics. Left: Charles Darwin’s iconic ‘I think’ drawing of a phylogenetic tree from his 1837 Notebook (B) [85]. Right: Example of subclonal phylogeny based on single cell genetics (in leukemia), taken from author’s own research in [17]. Seven subclones shown (B2–8), each with mutations listed. B1 (7.1%) are normal cells. CDKN2A in green in box: reiterated mutation of same gene is different branches or subclones. One subclone (B3) is numerically dominant (at 54.9%)

There are caveats to these analyses. Cancer cell phylogenetic constructs are often based on single time point snapshots and miss the dynamic shifts in sub-clonal population structure that occur at early pre-clinical time points, over time with progression of disease and in recurrence or relapse. The depth of genomic sequencing is still limited in most cases and, as a consequence, minor sub-clones are invisible and the extent of diversity under-estimated [25].

Although some of the sub-clonal architecture in cancer derives from neutral evolution or drift [26], particularly in early phases with low cell numbers [27], a prevailing view is that cancer cell populations undergo positive, or, occasionally, negative, selection via tissue ecosystem pressures [7, 28]. In this sense, the highly recurrent genetic changes in gene copy number or single nucleotide variants can be seen as adaptive, being selected, in a Darwinian sense, as a consequence of the fitness benefit they provide [10]. Fitness is expressed via so-called ‘hallmark’ phenotypic features of cancer cells [29], which include enhanced proliferation, resistance to signals for cell death or senescence, metabolic changes and epigenetic shifts favouring self-renewal of stem/progenitor cells at the expense of differentiation. All of which impact, directly or indirectly, on reproductive fitness. Some cancers exhibit massive genomic instability [15] but even this can be considered as an adaptive strategy, gambling on rare ‘winners’, as similarly employed by bacteria under potent metabolic stress [30].


Does homeopathic or herbal treatment of cancer have any scientific recognition? - Biology

Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FACP, FSCT, FASCO, was the Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO 20132021). He was formerly the Chief of Hematology/Oncology in the Department of Medicine and Deputy Director of the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center. He specializes in new drug development and treatment of gastrointestinal cancers. Dr. Schilsky is a Past President of ASCO, having served in the role during 2008–2009, and also a Past Chair of one of the National Cancer Institute’s Cooperative Groups, Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB). Follow Dr. Schilsky on Twitter @rschilsky.

Immunotherapy and targeted therapy have changed the way doctors think about how we treat cancer. These treatment methods provide a way to treat a tumor based on its specific genetic makeup rather than just its location in the body. In November 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved larotrectinib (Vitrakvi) to treat solid tumors with very specific genetic features. This approval and 2 recent FDA approvals for pembrolizumab (Keytruda described below) have been called a step forward in “tumor agnostic,” “site agnostic,” or “histology agnostic” drug development. But what exactly does “tumor agnostic” mean, and why is it important for people with cancer? In this blog post, I’ll address the key things patients and their loved ones need to know about this emerging type of treatment.

1. What is a tumor-agnostic treatment?

A tumor-agnostic treatment is a drug treatment that is used to treat any kind of cancer, regardless of where in the body it started or the type of tissue from which it developed. This type of treatment can be used when the tumor has a very specific molecular alteration that is targeted by the drug or predicts that the drug is likely to work.

Most cancer treatments are developed to treat a cancer that has developed in a specific organ or tissue, like breast cancer or lung cancer. A tumor-agnostic treatment treats any kind of cancer as long as the cancer has the specific molecular alteration targeted by the drug.

2. What treatments have been approved so far?

Pembrolizumab was the first drug to be approved with a tumor-agnostic indication. Pembrolizumab is a type of immunotherapy, a drug that works by releasing the brakes on the immune system. In 2017, pembrolizumab was approved by the FDA to treat adults and children with solid tumors that have spread, called metastatic, or that cannot be treated with surgery, called unresectable. These tumors must also have a molecular alteration called microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or DNA mismatch repair deficiency (dMMR). Tumors that have MSI-H or dMMR have difficulty repairing damage to their DNA. As a result, they often develop large numbers of mutations in their DNA. These mutations produce abnormal proteins on the tumor cells that make it easier for immune cells to find and attack the tumor.

In June 2020, the FDA approved another use for pembrolizumab to treat adults and children with unresectable or metastatic solid tumors that have a high tumor mutational burden (TMB-H) and other treatment options offer fewer benefits. Tumor mutational burden is the number of gene changes, or mutations, in a cancer cell. Cancer cells with TMB-H have more mutations in them and may be more likely to be effectively treated with cancer treatments, like pembrolizumab, that stimulate the immune system to fight the cancer.

Another immunotherapy drug called nivolumab (Opdivo) has also been approved to treat adults and children with MSI-H or dMMR metastatic colorectal cancer that has not been stopped by chemotherapy.

Since 2018, the FDA has also approved both larotrectinib and entrectinib (Rozlytrek), which are both targeted therapies, to treat adults and children with solid tumors that have a gene alteration known as a neurotrophic receptor tyrosine kinase (NTRK) gene fusion. There are other requirements for treatment with both drugs:

The cancer has spread, meaning that it is metastatic, or removing the tumor with surgery will lead to severe problems.

There are no other acceptable treatment options or other treatments did not stop the cancer from growing or spreading.

3. What are basket trials?

Doctors and scientists are always looking for better ways to care for people with cancer. To make scientific advances, doctors create research studies involving volunteers, called clinical trials. Every FDA-approved drug was tested in clinical trials. In most clinical trials, the volunteers are people with the same type of cancer. However, tumor-agnostic treatments are often studied in a special type of clinical trial called a “basket trial."

A basket trial is a clinical trial that tests how well a specific drug works in many different cancer types at the same time, all of which have the same genomic alteration, such as an NTRK gene fusion described above. Basket trials allow people with different types of cancer to enroll in the same clinical trial and receive treatment with the drug being studied. In order to analyze the effectiveness of the study treatment, patients are grouped together in “baskets” that include patients who all have both the same kind of cancer, such as lung cancer, and the same genomic alteration, such as an NTRK gene fusion.

Many of these genetic changes are rare, and basket trials offer a more efficient way to study a drug in tumors with rare genetic changes. In traditional clinical trials, which usually test the effects of a drug in a single type of cancer, it is often very hard to find enough people with cancer with a rare genetic mutation who can volunteer for a study. Basket trials can be particularly useful in the study of rare cancers or cancer with rare mutations.

4. Why is this important for patients?

Tumor-agnostic treatment represents a new way of thinking about how cancer is treated that is quite different from how treatment plans have been developed in the past. With tumor-agnostic treatments, testing the tumor’s genes or other molecular features can help doctors decide which treatments may be best for an individual with cancer, regardless of where the cancer is located or how it looks under the microscope. The molecular testing thus becomes an essential element of the treatment planning. This is a natural step forward in the development of personalized or precision medicine for cancer treatment. People with cancer should talk with their oncologists about whether testing their tumor for gene alterations is appropriate.


Watch the video: Γνωριμία με την Βοτανοθεραπεύτρια Κωνσταντίνα Λίτσα (January 2022).