Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

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Homeopathy for Dog Cancer?

Homeopathy in dog cancer is a mixed bag, but may be useful for certain cancers.

Homeopathy is the administration of very diluted amounts of substances that have effects on the body that mimic the symptoms of the disease being treated.  There is much debate on whether there is enough active ingredient in these dilute preparations to even do anything, but it seems there is some evidence that the answer is yes.

The most interesting use of homeopathy in cancer medicine is for brain cancer, by far.  In a real clinical study at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Treatment Center in Houston, a number of human brain cancer patients were treated with a homeopathic remedy called ruta 6.  One type of brain cancer, gliomas, appeared very sensitive to the effects of the homeopathic remedy.

The ruta-6 was combined with another agent ( Ca3(PO4)2 ) and used to treat these glioma patients.  Out of 7 patients treated, 6 of them had complete regression.  This is quite an achievement.

To read the abstract, click here.  One reason this is a remarkable result is that brain cancer, in particular in veterinary medicine, is so difficult to treat.  Very, very few have access to the facilities needed to diagnose and treat brain tumors in the dog.

Ruta 6 is made from the common rue, otherwise known as the “herb of grace”.  This is a shrub that is used both in medicine and also as a cooking herb. However, please note that this plant is not the same as the homeopathic remedy, and extracts can cause some potent effects including causing abortions. Read more here.

Take note that homeopathic remedies should only be administered to your dog by a licensed vet familiar with their use.

In some in vitro (literally, “in glass”, or in test tubes, as opposed to living bodies) studies showed that homeopathic remedies were able to cause cancer cells to commit suicide.

In this study, homeopathy was found to slow the rate of growth of prostate cancer cells that were implanted in lab rats. There was no effects on cancer cells that were exposed to any of the five homeopathic remedies.  It seems that the remedies were able to alter the rats physiology enough to increase their bodies’ ability to fight the tumors a bit.

However, the evidence for using homeopathy across the board for cancer does not exist.  Take a look at these tidbits.

Another study, which was a systematic review of a lot of other studies, found no real evidence for the remedies helping cancer patients.  Yet another showed no benefit of ruta 6 in extending the life of lab animals with solid tumors.

What is the bottom line?  If your dog is suspected of having a brain tumor, contact a vet with knowledge of homeopathy and consider ruta 6.  Also, if your dog has prostate cancer, you may be well served getting homeopathic intervention. Since options are usually limited in these cases and side effects pretty limited, homeopathy is one possibility that could (maybe) make a difference.  (See the last post on contacting an “alternative” vet.)

For more on dog cancer treatments that you may have not heard of before, see The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

Best to all,

Dr D

About the Author: Demian Dressler, DVM


Dr. Demian Dressler, DVM is known as the "dog cancer vet" and is author of Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog's Life Quality and Longevity. Visit his blog and sign up free to get the latest information about canine cancer. Go to http://www.DogCancerBlog.com.

  • LisaT

    After my dog developed a mast cell tumor (actually 5 clumped together) from a wasp sting, I did have her treated by our homeopathic vet. The vet said that there is actually a protocol for such a tumor.

    I think these things are difficult to measure, but I know that homeopathy has been a lifesaver in this household on several occasions.

    As for my girl, it’s been 2 1/2 years since the tumors were removed, and she is doing well. It was stage 2, with low mitotic figures, and I treated with surgery, supplements, and homeopathy.

  • Lisbeth Gjetnes

    I am treating my Standard Poodle with Carcinosis and Thuja alternet weeks prescribed by my homeopathic vet. I am also giving him K9 Immunity and K9 Transferre factor daily. He is on a organic raw meaty
    bone and veg diet and following surgery for an agressive giant cell sarcoma which evidence showed was re growing this tumour on his treatment regime has shrunk in front of our eyes. Its a miracle, he is 10 years old but believes he is two, SO full of fun and bounce. Thank goodness for alternet meassures. Lisbeth Gjetnes

  • Millie

    I was not fortunate enough to have access to a homeopathy vet in the treatment of my dog’s MCT. She lost her lengthy battle with it Dec 24/09. I know I would have lost her much sooner had it not been for me discovering Dr Dressler and purchasing his book. The information I learned from it and his regular blogs have been invaluable. I used the book in her treatment and in my preparing myself for letting her go. I can only say thank you to him for sharing his knowledge in his book and regularly here with those of us who found his website. I do know if his guidance and information is used the cancer can be held in check, more importantly I believe the quality of the dog’s life is greatly improved. My dog remained active and happy until the very last couple days of her life. I attribute that my use of the information I learned and more importantly practiced from the time I received Dr Dressler’s book. He states in it, it is not cheap nor from my experience without commitment on the part of the doggy’s caretaker however it is invaluable if we want to give our furry friend’s the best we can. Thank you Dr Dressler from the bottom of my heart, you are a very special doctor to those of us who have dogs that are suffering from cancer. I guide people here to you site when I hear they have a dog who is dealing with cancer.

    • Dr. Dressler

      :)
      Thank you dear Millie
      Dr D

  • Phillip Conroy

    I hope several of you readers get to see this before Dr. D’s henchmen take it down. Apparently anything useful to fight canine cancer other than what you are told on this site is not worth much in spite of the accredation of the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute. The supplement is resveratrol and it has be shown in animal studies to reduce tumor incidence.

    Here is a link to the article so that you can see it for yourself.
    After reading it you can contact Dr. D and ask why this beneficial information is repeatedly deleted from the blog in spite of my trying to share this information with the readership who are only here to seek help and ideas for therapies.
    And Dr. D says “you can learn from your patients and you should listen to them with an open mind and not pooh pooh alternative strategies”. Resveratrol for dogs is a great way to help prevent and treat cancer. The lack of recognition of this on this site and the removal of my earlier comments trying to share this It’s known as ‘condimnation
    without investigation’ and yes Dr. D is guilty as charged. The leading
    hypocrite wishing for you to know only what he tells you. Like most
    Vets, out for the serious buck and wanting to control you using your heartstrings; i.e the love of your dog.

    This is the worst kind of censorship.

  • Dr. Dressler

    Dear Phillip,

    I am sorry you feel this way. You have indeed shared your viewpoint on previous comments, along with the link, and I have kept your post active for those interested.

    here is the still-active link in the blog if you would like to check it out for yourself:
    http://www.dogcancerblog.com/apoptosis-and-dog-cancer/
    Scroll down to the comments section to see your comment about your resveratrol-containing product, Canine Resvantage.

    Unfortunately, I am trying to avoid advertising in the comment section of the blog, including your product Canine Resvantage.

    Indeed, the continued onslaught of advertisements for your product, masquerading as information dissemination, has been intercepted. Additionally, I find the evidence for resveratrol use in existing canine cancer patients to be rather flimsy at this time. Perhaps this will change as new data emerge. It is actually funny as I just blogged on it, and then found your comment, so please read the blog post.

    I would entertain all your comments there, and would welcome any new information that is truly relevant to the blog post, and that reveal any areas where my commentary appears lacking or ill-informed.

    You will find that I have investigated it, although I am not condemning it. More precisely, I am suggesting that there are problems in whole-heartedly supporting resveratrol’s use for dogs with existing cancers. I have used the site mostly for people coping with a current canine cancer diagnosis, not so much as a cancer prevention blog.

    There is a difference, one that deserves your attention, between existing cancer treatment, and cancer prevention. There is also a difference between cancer therapy concentrations in a petri dish and cancer therapy concentrations in the bloodstream or in a real life tumor. These differences highlight my lack of unbridled enthusiasm currently.

    I am sorry if this is not in line with sales of your Resvantage Canine, but this is the story as I see it at this time. This viewpoint, as usual, is subject to change with the influx of new data.

    I wish you well in your business endeavor and hope Resvantage Canine is profitable for you. Be well and I look forward to your input in the resveratrol comment section :) !

    Best,
    Dr D

  • Michael

    In May of 2009 our Veternarian diagnosed our boxer with bone cancer in his right front leg. He got to where he could barely walk and was taking pain medication so that he could deal with the pain. The Veternarian said this disease would act very quickly and we would soon have to put him to sleep.
    I contacted a homeopathy doctor that treats my wife for Brain Cancer and he prescribed our dog with a medicine that seems to be working great. He stopped limping on his front leg within a month and acts almost like a new puppy jumpimg around playing. It has been over a year now and he is a nine year old boxer.

    • http://www.dogcancerblog.com Demian Dressler

      Great work Michael!
      Do you remember the name of the remedy?
      Best,
      DR D

  • Pingback: Signs of Brain Cancer In Dogs

  • Beverly

    Hello, a very interesting article. The Neurologist we just went to for our eight year old Aussie had prescribed 20mg prednisone for ten days and 1 for the balance til we see him about 20 days after. After 2-1/2 days he was consuming bowls of water and hungry all the time and urinating excessively inside and out. We stopped the pills and I’ve left a message. The first thing he wanted to do was an MRI and we do not want our dog to go thru that. He’s pacing in circles and we think it was a stroke, but it could be a tumor. We just want to now make him comfortable and not worse with medicine or invasive treatments and he just seemed H…* bent on an MRI. and possibly brain surgery. If you have some comments or suggestions I’d sure appreciate it. Thank you.
    is obviously Neurological which I already figured out as did our Vet when he recommended us.

  • Laureli

    My dog was diagnosed with “malignant sarcoma” after a needle biopsy from a lump over the shoulder that appeared overnight. Treated her with natural supplements. 3.5 months later, the lump doubled in size and got hard, again overnight. Had lump surgically removed – surgeon said it was nicely encapsulated that the staff all thought it looked like a lipoma and not cancer. Thank you supplements and Dr. Dressler for your research. Here is the confusing part. The biopsy came back and it showed: Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor” (MPNST) -aka “Malignant schwannoma,” “Neurofibrosarcoma,” and “Neurosarcoma. Was the first biopsy wrong? Are there two types of cancer in her? Is this second type to be treated differently due to being in the nerve sheath? I can’t wrap my head around it. Lastly, does anyone know if there any specific homeopathic treatments for this type of cancer and where I would find them?

    Thank you x infinity!

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Laureli,
      the diagnosis of malignant sarcoma is a more general description of the tumors you describe, all of which fit into that larger category. Hopefully that clears up the confusion. Are you giving the supplements, providing the dog cancer diet, and so on?
      Just checking…
      Best,
      D

  • http://www.twinheartphoto.com Diane

    Just wondering why you suggest only allowing homeopathy to be used by a licensed vet.

    That’s the wonderful thing about the modality– if it isn’t the right remedy, it simply does nothing.

    I’ve used alternative practices on my animals and my human family for over 30 years and have found homeopathy to be among the best. It’s not hard to research the remedies, knowing yourself or your dog and the symptoms, and then to pay the 6-8 bucks for a remedy. It can’t hurt the patient if it’s the wrong remedy and might do amazing things if it’s the correct one– without the side effects of traditional medicine.

    So, just wondering…. Since the vast majority of veterinarians and human doctors scoff at homeopathy (in North America), why shouldn’t people who do not have access to the few who will consider it, let alone have any training in it, do the research and give it a try themselves?

    • http://DogCancerBlog.com DemianDressler

      Dear Diane,
      I appreciate what you are saying. However, there is a 2-3% adverse reaction rate in homeopathic remedy treatment.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16226201
      Many read this blog and the Guide (thousands of dog lovers). If 1000 dogs are treated with homoepathy, this means 20-30 of them will experience an adverse reaction. In my opinion, someone with the expertise to deal with adverse effects should be at least monitoring these patients. My two cents only…
      D

  • http://www.twinheartphoto.com Diane

    Hi again,

    I had a look at the abstract and it appears that, although they used Ruta, they did not use the homeopathic version and in accordance with homeopathic rules.

    I’m surpised that, for a study, they used the tricalcium phosphate with it instead of separately first.

  • Michelle

    Hi Dr.

    Was hoping you could recommend a homepathic treatment for my 7 year old minature schnauzer “max”. About 2 years ago he went from a normal, playful dog to one that now, 1) walks in circles, 2) drools from one side of his mouth (left side)and the tearing is more prominent on this side as well, 3) sits on the couch all day and night and leans against the left side of his head, If he goes to his food dish (which is rare, I bring the food to him) he pushes the dish with his nose, 4) he has started pushing pillows, etc with his nose as well when we come home and his tall is wagging, 5) his back foot seems unstable and spreads out when he is drinking from his water bowl. I had him at the vet when this started and they took blood and that seemed fine, but they wanted to procede with a nuerologist and MRI, all of which I cannot afford. He does not seem to be in pain, but Max is not the way he was and I am concerned for him and how he is feeling. Also, when I go to touch his right left leg, he pulls this away as if it is painful but there is and was not any injury there that I am aware of. Can you recommend treatment for him. I cannot afford the vet bills but I want to do all that I can to make him happy…. thank you for considering my inquiry.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler

      Dear Michelle,
      maybe this will help:
      http://www.dogcancerblog.com/homeopathy-for-dog-cancer/
      you could try some of the Ruta 6 anyway with your vet’s supervision. I am not sure though if you are really talking about “homeopathy” as opposed to “alternative” or “Holistic” or “integrative” or “inexpensive”. I would be thinking diet and supplements and oral medication under your circumstances. The Guide would be worth your time and money I believe for more information on these topics.
      I hope this helps
      Dr D

  • Jackie

    Dear Dr Dressler,

    My 9 year old boxer was diagnosed with an intra axial mass compatable with glioma or metastatic disease 2 days ago after an MRI scan. She had had 3 short seizures within 8 hours. She had a rare adrenal tumour removed in January and recovered well with no further treatment needed at that stage. She has been commenced on Keppra and prednisolone at present. Surgery and radiotherapy are not an option. I have an appointment with my vet, who is qualified in homeopathy, tomorrow. I was interested to read your opinion on Ruta 6. Is there any homeopathic treatment you could suggest which i could discuss with my vet. She has helped many dogs with various cancers but never a dog with a brain tumour.

    Kind regards

    Jackie

  • Ravi

    Dear Dr Dressler,

    My dog has been diagnosed with stomach cancer which has spread to her throat. It’s has been deemed terminal by our vet who has recommended only steroid pain killers to help her manage. I know of no homeopathic vets in the United Kingdom despite countless hours of searching on the Internet and asking vets. Would you know of any you could point me towards and any treatments or specific remedies you would recommend?

    Ravi

  • Susan Kazara Harper

    Hi Kalyani,
    So sorry to hear about your dog’s diagnosis. If you don’t already, you must establish the best nutrition for your dog. Please go to http://www.dogcancerdiet.com. Apocaps could definitely be a good option to include in your treatment plan (always coordinated with your vet). They are available from amazon.co.uk, and viovet.com. Please read about them at http://www.apocaps.com for further information. I’m going to send you a separate msg with contact details about a vet who knows the scenario in India. Take a deep breath and hang in there. There is a lot you can do. We’re wishing you all the best,

  • nui loa

    my dog was diagnosed with breast cancer…..prognosis poor rapidly growing…..i want to try homeopathics and any other alternative ! she has been my beloved service dog and she deserves all the stops! can you please help?

    • Susan Kazara Harper

      Hello Nui Loa,
      Very sorry to hear about your girl. It’s understandable to want to do everything possible, in a natural, complementary way. Equally, cancer is highly aggressive, and homeopathics, while very powerful, seem to serve better when used in conjunction with conventional or allopathic treatment. There is little evidence that homeopathics alone produce successful results against cancer. It is a wildfire; we need a strong counter-attack. The Dog Cancer Survival Guide and Dog Cancer Diet (www.dogcancerbookcom and http://www.dogcancerdiet.com) contain invaluable information about supporting your girl nutritionally and the book covers all the aspects of mammary cancer. If your vet is a conventional vet and you truly want to include complementary treatments for her, ask to be referred to a specialist to consult. The effective complementary options are best prescribed by a holistic veterinarian who can work in harmony with your vet. Please consider Apocaps in your treatment protocol. Good luck! We are hoping for the best for you both.