I’d like to share some information taken from Traditional Chinese Medicine. One of the important aspects of full-spectrum care to improve cancer outcomes is investigating. Many times these investigations have led outside the borders of our country.
China has a long, well developed, complex system of medicine. It is very different from what we are used to here in the West. Many of the ideas used can seem very foreign.
However, it has served them well for literally thousands of years, totally independent of Hippocrates and our ideas in here in the US.
Let’s look at a common treatment which is used in many of the Chinese preparations. It is beneficial in cancer management and we can take advantage of it in our country.
It is Astragalus membranaceous, Huang qi in Chinese. There are many subspecies of this legume, and some of the other types can be toxic in large doses.
This herb has several applications in canine cancer care. First, it is an immune booster. Cancer patients often have suppressed immunity, which leads to secondary infections as well as cancer progression.
Immune stimulation is critical in dealing with cancer. Along with medicinal mushrooms (K-9 Immunity), Bio-Bran, Active Hexose Correlated Compound, Avemar, Beres drops,and zinc, huang qu is an immune stimulator. Many of these items have been the subject of past blog posts.
This herb seems able to stimulate B-cells preferentially. B-cells are the white blood cells that make antibodies. Although antibodies are not the primary way the body attacks cancer cells, they are useful in overall immunity. Many times infections in the body or within the tumors themselves create further sickness.
Huang qi also was shown to increase survival times and lessen chemotherapy’s side effects. In a study where lung cancers were treated with platinum drugs, the group treated with this herb lived longer and had fewer side effects. Platinum drugs are commonly used in veterinary oncology and include cisplatin and carboplatin.
Astralagus species of plants accumulate selenium from the soil. Selenium is considered generally to be an anti-oxidant.
However, in larger amounts, selenium is a pro-oxidant. Administering pro-oxidants to fight cancer is very common. Many chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy work by killing cancer cells through oxidation. They have pro-oxidant effects.
The selenium in the Huang qi is one way that this herb may help. The breakdown products of selenium in the body actually induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) of cancer cells. Read more here.
Astragalus is commonly found in teas. However, the amounts of tea needed are likely too high to be useful.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, people use this root on the order of 1/2 to 1 ounce.
It could be useful to give 1/4 to 1/2 an ounce of the root one to two times daily for a 60 lb dog with cancer. It comes as a sliced, woody material, and it can be soaked with low-sodium chicken or beef broth to make it palatable.
As usual, work with your veterinarian or oncologist to come up with a plan that makes sense. Don’t forget that you are your dog’s primary health advocate!
Best to all,