Alternative Cancer Treatments For Pets (And People) – What We Tried With Sadie

After we lost our dog Sadie to cancer earlier this fall, it seems like we hear from friends whose pets (and/or human family members) have been diagnosed with the disease every other day. I knew of course that cancer claims many victims among both humans and animals every year, but it seems like it’s getting worse and worse.

It turns out that many had not heard of the alternative cancer treatments we tried with Sadie (which can all also be used for humans), so I decided to share here some information about the different supplements and treatments we used. Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor or veterinarian, and what I’m posting here is not medical advice. I just wanted to put it out there so that you can at least know about it, have a starting place for your own research and ask your vet or doctor about it. Many have had success with these things when the cancer is caught early (which it unfortunately wasn’t in Sadie’s case), and hopefully you will have better luck than we did.

Alternative Medicine

We tried:
Tong Ren
There are many testimonials and cases online where people tell the story of how they have been cured of cancer with the help of this unusual energy healing method. Also see the Tong Ren for Animals post here on AWG.

Mostly to help with pain relief, and it really did seem to work. Sadie moved better and more smoothly, and rested easier and slept deeper after each session.

Pulsed electromagnetic therapy (for more info, see this PEMF post). According to the published research, they are curing lymphoma with it in Russia and we felt had nothing to lose, so we tried it, but it was very late in the game, and we only managed to fit in two treatments. Did not notice anything special after each.

Similar to homeopathy (and also invented by a German, Dr. Hans-Heinrich Reckeweg), but there are some major differences: In classic Hahnemann Homeopathy, diagnosis is based on the patient’s entire being, including personality and emotional state, and the treatment is based on the theory that “like is cured with like” (i.e. you give the patient a small amount of a very diluted version of a substance that in higher concentrations would cause the disease or symptoms he is suffering from). In Homeopathy, you use single-source remedies directed at the symptoms, not the cause of them.

In Homotoxicology (often described as a bridge between homeopathy and allopathic medicine), disease is diagnosed “the allopathic medicine way”, but the theory is that all disease is caused by toxins. The body continuously flush out the toxins we are all confronted with every day (external and internal), but when it for some reason cannot rid itself of them, we get sick. In Homotoxicological theory, there are 6 phases to illness, and it is only in the last 3 phases that illnesses start to show signs, so the key is to help the body rid itself of toxins before they get stuck. Homotoxicology uses homeopathically prepared combination remedies (like GalliumHeel, Traumeel, etc.). that are are directed at the toxins that cause the symptoms.

Anthroposophical Medicine
We also ordered mistletoe extract from Austria through Weleda here in the US (but it arrived too late Alternative cancer treatments: Mistletoeso we never had a chance to try it). It is widely used in Europe for cancer (more than 50% of all cancer patients in Germany are treated with it), and there have been studies done that indicate it helps with survival time and quality of life, particularly in conjunction with chemo. Weleda’s proprietary cancer treatment formulation is called Iscador and it was first used in Switzerland 90 years ago. The Mistletoe is injected and it helps the immune system slow down the growth of cancer cells.

From the National Cancer Institute: “Extracts of mistletoe have been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory and to boost the immune system. For this reason, mistletoe has been classified as a type of biological response modifier (a substance that stimulates the body’s response to infection and disease). Extracts of mistletoe have also been shown in the laboratory to prevent the growth of new blood vessels needed for tumors to grow.”… “Many studies involve using mistletoe as adjuvant therapy in patients with cancer. One retrospective cohort study done between 1993 and 2000 looked at the use of a mistletoe extract (Iscador) as long-term adjuvant therapy in 800 patients treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy for colorectal cancer that had not spread. The study found that patients treated with Iscador had fewer adverse events, better symptom relief, and improved disease-free survival compared to patients who did not receive Iscador as adjuvant therapy.

In the US, Mistletoe is not approved by the FDA as a cancer treatment for humans, and injectable Mistletoe is only allowed to be imported for use in clinical research (to find ongoing trials, go to and type in Mistletoe in the search window).

It’s ok to use on pets however. Your vet needs to send a prescription to Weleda (make sure to call Weleda first – there are several varieties of Mistletoe, and different kinds are used depending on what type of cancer it is) who will then order it for you.

Herbs and Supplements

Wholly Immune
Recommended by Sadie’s vet. Wholly Immune was developed by Dr. Friedrich Douwes, founder of the St. Georg Medical Klinic (a cancer clinic in Germany) and Dr. Stephen Levine, founder of Allergy Research Group (who makes Wholly Immune). It has over 60 nutrients and herbs in it, and according to ARG, it “works synergistically to enhance immune system function, decrease oxidative damage, and to promote liver detoxification.

Chinese herbs (Chih-ko and Curcuma & Gynostemma)
Also from our vet.

Chih-ko/Curcuma was developed based on a formula called Pingxiao Dan, used by a Chinese cancer specialist, Jia Kun. Chih-ko/Curcuma contains a bunch of herbs that resolve phlegm masses, resolve static blood, and eliminate toxins.

Gynostemma is a single herb said to restore normal function in all body systems (immune, digestive, cardiovascular, nervous and reproductive).

From “Studies into the anti cancer activity of Gynostemma have shown a significant inhibition rate on a broad cross section of cancer cells. Intensive studies are being conducted into both its anti cancer activity and its potential as an immune protection / prophylactic agent for HIV infected patients. There is research indicating that Gynostemma may prevent cells from becoming cancerous in the first place and may disrupt cell division in existing cancer cells.”

Turkey Tail mushrooms

A mix of seven mushrooms – Cordyceps sinensis (Caterpillar mushroom), Lentinula edodes (Shitake), Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi), Grifola frondosa (Maitake), Coriolus versicolor (Turkey tail), Tremella fuciformis (White wood ear) and Schizophyllum commune (Split gills) – that have been shown to enhance the immune system “by increasing tumor necrosis factor alpha, stimulating macrophage phagocytic activity, improving NK cell number and activity, stimulating Interleukins 1 and 2, B-lymphocyte stimulation, improvement of T-cell ratios, gamma interferon stimulation, and improvement of antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity.”

Studies in New Zealand found that a combination of Reishi and Cordyceps extracts had beneficial effects on the quality of life for some advanced cancer patients. Researchers believe that a mixture of the active ingredients from different mushrooms maximizes the immune response by providing multiple stimuli to the body’s natural defenses.

From Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: “Cordyceps stimulates the number of T helper cells, prolongs the survival of lymphocytes, enhances TNF-alpha and interleukin 1 production, and increases the activity of natural killer cells in cultured rat Kupffer cells. Enhanced proliferation of erythroid progenitor cell in the bone marrow of mice is also shown. One study suggests that cordyceps can stimulate progesterone production in animal cells. Another study shows that cordyceps may be effective against tumor celIs by down-regulating MHC class II antigen expression… “Animal studies showed proliferation of progenitor red blood cells. Therefore, cordyceps should not be used by those with myelogenous type cancers.

From the American Cancer Society: “Several potential cancer-fighting substances have been found in shiitake mushrooms… There have been some studies in humans. At least one randomized clinical trial of lentinan has shown it to prolong life of patients with advanced and recurrent stomach and colorectal cancer who were also given chemotherapy. Lentinan is a beta glucan (sometimes called beta glycan) that is found in several mushrooms, yeasts, and other foods. Beta glucan is a polysaccharide, a large and complex molecule made up of smaller sugar molecules. The beta glucan polysaccharide is believed to stimulate the immune system and activate certain cells and proteins that attack cancer, including macrophages, T-cells, and natural killer cells. In laboratory studies, beta glucan appears to slow the growth of cancer in some cell cultures.

From Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: “In vitro and animal studies indicate that reishi has chemopreventive effects, alleviates chemotherapy-induced nausea, enhances the efficacy of radiotherapy, and increases the sensitivity of ovarian cancer cells to cisplatin [a chemotherapy drug]. It was also effective in preventing cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity. In small clinical studies, reishi increased plasma antioxidant capacity and enhanced immune responses in advance-stage cancer patients. Remission of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has been reported in a few cases.

From NIH: “Maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa) has previously exhibited strong anticancer activity by increasing immune-competent cell activity. In a non-random case series, a combination of MD-fraction and whole maitake powder was investigated to determine its effectiveness for 22- to 57-year-old cancer patients in stages II-IV. Cancer regression or significant symptom improvement was observed in 58.3 percent of liver cancer patients, 68.8 percent of breast cancer patients, and 62.5 percent of lung cancer patients. The trial found a less than 10-20 percent improvement for leukemia, stomach cancer, and brain cancer patients. Furthermore, when maitake was taken in addition to chemotherapy, immune-competent cell activities were enhanced 1.2-1.4 times, compared with chemotherapy alone. Animal studies have supported the use of maitake MD-fraction for cancer.

From the American Cancer Society: “More than 2 dozen human studies of PSK (Turkey Tail Mushroom) have been reviewed by experts at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Almost all of these studies were done in Japan and focused on cancer of the esophagus, stomach, colon, or breast. Most of them found that people with cancer were helped by PSK. People who received PSK with other treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy, generally had longer periods of time without disease and had increased survival rates compared with patients who received only standard treatment. Side effects from PSK in these studies were very mild. Smaller studies have suggested PSK may not be as effective against liver cancer or leukemia.

And in one of those strange coincidences that happen so often, the owners of the dog Sophie, whose battle with DM was featured in this Hydrotherapy post here on AWG, contacted me out of the blue to share some good news. Sophie had been diagnosed with cancer, but had made a miraculous recovery with the help of supplements recommended by their holistic vet. When I told them about Sadie, they immediately offered to share some of their supplements with us and put us in contact with their vet. The products they had used were:

Lactoferrin (which is also in Wholly Immune). A safe supply of iron; tumors need iron to grow and will drain the animal’s system of free iron so you don’t want to give your dog regular iron supplements – it will just feed the cancer. Lactoferrin is iron that is tightly bound up with other elements and when the tumor tries to ‘grab’ the iron, it turns into a “tug-of-war” as the tumor iron receptacles being plugged up and not able to grow.

From NIH: “Several physiological roles have been attributed to LF (lactoferrin), namely regulation of iron homeostasis, host defense against infection and inflammation, regulation of cellular growth, and differentiation and protection against cancer development and metastasis. These findings have suggested LF’s great potential therapeutic use in cancer disease prevention and/or treatment, namely as a chemopreventive agent.”… “In experimental studies, bovine lactoferrin (bLF) has been found to significantly inhibit colon, esophagus, lung, and bladder carcinogenesis in rats when administered orally in the post-initiation stage.

From the Journal of Dairy Science: “In the present work, the effects of bovine milk lactoferrin on human breast cancer HS578T and T47D cells were studied. The cells were either untreated or treated with lactoferrin concentrations ranging from 0.125 to 125 μM. Lactoferrin decreased the cell viability of HS578T and T47D by 47 and 54%, respectively, and increased apoptosis about 2-fold for both cell lines. Proliferation rates decreased by 40.3 and 63.9% for HS578T and T47D, respectively. For the T47D line, cell migration decreased in the presence of the protein. Although the mechanisms of action are not fully known, the results gathered in this work suggest that lactoferrin interferes with some of the most important steps involved in cancer development.

Yunnan Baiyao – famous for being carried by the Vietcong to stop bleeding during the Vietnam War. A mix of Chinese herbs that stops external and internal bleeding (anything from shaving accidents to gunshot wounds!) and tonifies the blood. There are conflicting opinions about the use of this herb and cancer, so definitely check with someone who knows what they are talking about before using it. Sophie’s vet advised us not to use it with Sadie.

Sea Buckthorn

Sea Buckthorn – a natural form of serotonin from the bark of the sea buckthorn tree (Hippophae rhamnoides, L.) in Siberia. Attacks cancer cells and makes the animal feel good.

From NIH: “A 70% ethanol extract of the branches of Hippophae rhamnoides exhibited remarkable antitumor activity in an in vivo two-stage carcinogenesis test in mice“… “The clinical trials and scientific studies during the 20th century confirm the medicinal and nutritional value of sea buckthorn, and the most important of them is its anti-carcinogenic properties.


We also tried giving Sadie a high fat, low carb diet, which seems to be pretty universally regarded as a good way to slow cancer. We used sautéed ground beef (grass fed), beef liver and rice (oh, how she loved that diet!), but be careful not to switch your pet’s food overnight – it can cause terrible stomach upset. Slowly mix it in with the regular food and keep changing the proportions until your pet can eat the “cancer diet” without problems.

As I said before, this is not to be regarded as medical advice, and I am in no way qualified to give such advice, but I did want to share what we have learned and discovered when it comes to battling cancer. I hope you never ever have reason to use this information, but if you do, I hope this is of some help. Please make sure to do your own research – there are many conflicting opinions on the effectiveness of all these therapies and supplements. And if you have used any of them already, I would love to hear about your experience with it/them.

Cattie Coyle

Cattie Coyle

Founder and Editor at Animal Wellness Guide
Cattie is the founder and editor of Animal Wellness Guide. She is a freelance photographer, graduate of Bancroft School of Massage Therapy’s small animal program, and has studied Applied Zoopharmacognosy. Learn more about Cattie
Cattie Coyle
Happy Midsummer (lots of celebrating going on in Sweden today) and Happy Anniversary… - 3 days ago


  1. Cheri says

    Cattie, I ran across your site while trying to find Dr. Martin Goldstein’s recommended Chih-Ko & Curcuma pills as cheap as possible for my lab that has a lipoma I am trying to treat naturally.

    In addition to all of the helpful information you provided, I’d like to add a frightening statistic that I was not aware of until last fall when my 13 year old Great Pyrenees was diagnosed with cancer. 50% of all dogs over the age of 10 get cancer. 50%!!!! Roxie was my third (teenage) senior and the first to ever have cancer. Considering that I do not vaccinate beyond puppyhood, don’t spray my yard for weeds or pests, keep flea and tick meds to a bare minimum and try to feed good quality food, I was floored to get that diagnosis. And like your Sadie, Roxie was diagnosed very late in the game.

    The first thing I did was research and start ordering things to fight cancer. A great resource for cancer is ‘The Truth About Cancer’. From it, I put Roxie on The Budwig Diet, Essiac Tea, as well as numerous supplements recommended by holistic vets in books I had (I have no holistic vet in my area), including Dr. Martin Goldstein’s ‘The Nature of Animal Healing’ and Dr. Barbara Royal’s ‘The Royal Treatment’, both of which I highly recommend. Despite trying so many different things, we lost the battle, but learned a very important lesson. When you have a senior dog, it is crucial that you pay very close attention to their habits, like eating. Roxie stopped eating and was having trouble going potty, so when the vet diagnosed her with a UTI, I accepted it without question, not knowing the statistics of cancer. Looking back, I would have insisted more testing just to make sure there wasn’t something else going on. As our pets’ parents, we know our animals better than anyone else, so if you have a feeling something isn’t right, you are probably correct. Don’t let your vet bully or dissuade you from being concerned. When my own dear sweet Sadie had a negative reaction after taking the NSAID ‘Previcox’, I called the vet’s office concerned. I was repeatedly brushed off until her symptoms were so bad, I demanded she be looked at. By then, it was too late and I will forever have the guilt of her death on my heart, both because I didn’t research how dangerous NSAID’s are to dogs before administering it to my sweet girl and also because I didn’t get her possibly life saving treatment sooner because the vet’s office wasn’t concerned and told me to just “keep an eye on her’.

  2. says

    Cherie, thank you so much for sharing your experiences and findings with us here. I am so sorry to hear about your Sadie, Roxie, and your lab’s current health issues. You are so right that we should never question our instinct that “something isn’t right”, and insist on more tests, or find another vet who will listen to us when our regular one doesn’t take that hunch seriously. It is a sad fact that as first time pet parents, we are at the mercy of our chosen vet, and have to rely on their expertise. Even though we do learn the signs and what to look for with each new experience, it should never have to be at the cost of our first pets’ health and lives. Thank you again for sharing, and I hope your lab recovers soon!

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