For years, Essiac has been touted as an herbal anti-cancer remedy. It got a lot of publicity and press, and has become entrenched in the minds of the alternative health community.
It is used to a great extent, and some use it for dog cancer treatment. Let’s look at this a little closer.
Many are familiar with the old saying, “First, do no harm.” This is the translation of the original latin, primum non nocere. Some believe it to be part of the Hippocratic oath, but the saying probably was coined by a French doctor alive during the 1700’s and 1800’s.
When we are coping with a canine cancer diagnosis, primum non nocere takes on a whole new meaning, in particular in the realm of conventional care. Side effects are more concerning in cancer medicine than in almost any other branch of traditional medicine.
We must remember though that the so-called “natural” treatments also have side effects. This should be a critical aspect of selecting which are used, and how, and when.
When I was evaluating Apocaps, a big part of the development was safety. Regular blood tests were done investigating 28 dogs over time to make sure all the internal organs were healthy. This type of consideration is important for a loved family member.
Now, when making the choice to use an intervention, I am hoping that the reader will want information. Being your dog’s primary health advocate means that you are in the driver’s seat, that you must take an active role with your veterinarian or oncologist in creating a plan for your loved dog.
Now, at the risk of offending some, I feel that we should really look at the use of Essiac before charging into it. I have yet to see an “in vivo” study (in real life bodies, not in test tubes or petri dishes) that really show that Essiac does something real.
Okay, I will admit that not everything that works has an official clinical trial to back it up. But what if there is a published study suggesting it may do harm?
This is the case with Essiac. There is actually a study in rats that suggests that Essiac may literally increase the risk (promote growth) of breast cancer. Here is the abstract for you to read yourself.
Ouch! This is not what I would reach for in treating a dog with cancer, personally speaking. It just gives me the heebie jeebies that this data exists. Seriously, it is like giving an antibiotic that may actually be a capsule with germs in it. Granted, I am sure there are many examples where the patient did not have tumor growth, but non the less I would not want to risk worsening anything without clear, definite advantages to the choice.
So that’s the scoop on Essiac for now. For more information on aspects like this, check out the Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.