17 Best Anti-Cancer Herbs and Supplements for Fighting Cancer
Anti-cancer herbs and supplements help you prevent and fight cancer by lowering your risk of getting this dreaded disease and thwarting the spread of rogue cells by promoting their death or limiting their ability to migrate in the body.
Cancer fighting herbs and supplements can be powerful allies in your quest to prevent and heal this dreaded disease.
Can herbs heal cancer? Studies suggest that even if they don’t stop the spread of cancer on their own, they are valuable allies in prevention and treatment. Many claims about anti-cancer herbs are backed by research and/or anecdotal evidence collected over hundred or thousands of years. As part of a holistic plan, they can help you beat this disease, especially when used along with healthy anti-cancer foods, detoxification, and appropriate conventional and/or alternative treatments.
Reminder: If you are on medication or being treated for cancer or another health condition, always consult your medical provider before taking medicinal herbs or supplements. They may interact negatively with medication or be contraindicated for your condition.
How Anti-Cancer Herbs Work
Most herbs have general cancer fighting benefits. For their own survival, plants contain compounds for warding off invaders and microbes. For us, these life-affirming compounds have anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory and/or anti-microbial effects that are important for good health and for fighting cancer.
In addition to these general benefits, several herbs have more specific actions. Some promote cancer cell death (apoptosis), meaning they inhibit the ability of rogue cells to be immortal.
This is accomplished either by killing them directly or by restricting their ability to grow blood vessels. This all important blood supply brings nourishment and is the avenue that allows tumors to grow and travel to other body parts.
Other anti-cancer herbs help prevent and heal cancer by boosting the immune system. which is often compromised in cancer patients. Killer cells in the immune system must be able to see and kill cancerous cells in order to keep them under control.
Not all herbs for cancer affect tumors and cancer cells. Some of them help patients by easing pain and the nausea and vomiting caused by their treatments.
The Best Anti-Cancer Herbs and Spices List
If you want to prevent or fight cancer with herbs, the following list provides a sampling of the best anti-cancer herbs that you can incorporate into your diet. Some of them, like dandelion, chamomile and turmeric, can safely be part of your daily diet long-term in amounts you enjoy. For general health and prevention, regularly including a variety of anti-cancer herbs and foods as part of your daily diet or supplement routine can have cumulative benefits over time.
However, if you already have cancer, the small amounts of herbs and spices used in recipes may not be enough to have an effect. For fighting cancer, you would have to take therapeutic doses, usually two or three times a day.
Herbs with a track record of treating specific types of cancer, like blood root for skin cancer, must be used carefully according to directions. Read the herbal profile of anti-cancer herbs and consult an expert before using them to make sure they are safe and appropriate for your needs. If you are receiving medical treatment, check for negative interactions first.
Red Clover eases inflammation and is a good source of anti-oxidants. It has a long history of use as a blood purifier and in herbal natural cancer cures. Red clover is rich in phytoestrogens, or isoflavones, which are responsible for its anti-estrogen activity. These isoflavones may help with estrogen driven cancers, including breast and prostate cancers.
Red clover shows a marked limiting effect in benign prostate hyperplasia, a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate.
Because of its blood thinning coumarin, red clover should not be taken before surgery or if you are on blood thinners. If using dried red clover, make sure the flowers are pink and not browned.
Sanguinaria canadensis has proven useful for carcinomas and sarcomas. This powerful anti-infective herb has a long history of treating skin cancer, gangrene, warts, oral infections and fungoid tumors.
Bloodroot needs to be applied to the skin with great care as it may cause serious side effects including nausea, inflammation, and scarring. It is one of the herbs in Black Salve, which is applied topically to eradicate skin cancer.
Astragalus root is a safe, effective adaptogenic herb with a glowing reputation as an anti-cancer herb.
Astragalus has been shown to increase the survival rate of patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation by up to double and is used to enhance recovery.
Most notably, astragalus boosts the immune system and reduces immune suppression caused by chemotherapy (Sloan-Kettering Study). It increases the number of killer T-cells and other white blood cells and makes viruses, bacteria and rogue cells more visible to the immune system so they can be destroyed. Astragalus inhibits the ability of tumors to grow and spread.
Astragalus is worthy of being a regular addition to your diet. Add the sliced root or root powder to soups and stews, drink as a tea, or take the powdered root in capsules.
Hemp, or cannabis, has many medicinal purposes. It’s two most studied molecules, THC and CBD both have benefits for cancer patients. THC is useful for quelling nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. CBD (cannabidiol) has been shown in test tubes and small animal studies to treat cancers of the pancreas, colon, prostate, breasts and lungs. Even though non-hallucinogenic CBD oil has a fantastic reputation as a safe pain killer, it is not legal to sell it in some countries, including the U.S.
Cannabis fights cancer by prompting apoptosis (death), preventing growth of new blood vessels to tumors, and stopping cell divisions. It also inhibits their movement into neighboring tissue.
Medical marijuana and hemp oil contains high levels of medicinal and low levels of THC. Read more about cannabis as an anti-cancer herb here.
Turmeric is one of the main curry spices. It is also one of the most potent anti-cancer herbs. Its main constituent, curcumin, has been studied extensively, and appears to be useful in treating just about every type of cancer. When absorbed by the cells, turmeric can affect around 700 genes and acts on over 100 molecular pathways. It has anti-oxidant, anti-microbial and powerful anti-inflammatory actions.
Research shows that turmeric fights cancer in a variety of ways. It eases inflammation and protects healthy cells from turning cancerous, It inhibits cancer cells from multiplying, shrinks cancerous tumors and inhibits their blood supply.
A University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer study showed that turmeric, along with black pepper (to aid absorption) slowed the growth of breast cancer stem cells in tumors.
Add health boosting turmeric to tea, soups, and stews or take in capsules. A favorite turmeric beverage is golden milk, often made with coconut milk, black pepper (aids absorption) and perhaps other herbs, like ashwagandha.
Therapeutic doses are generally between 500-1000 mg 3-4 times a day. Curcumin is best absorbed with piperine (black pepper) and fat.
This favorite culinary herb is rich in antioxidants. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory spice with anti-tumor, anti-microbial, and anti-parasitic properties. Cloves show promise as a stomach, colon, skin, and lung cancer-fighting herb. Use powdered or whole cloves year round for its health promoting benefits.
Chamomile tea is much loved as a relaxing herb that also soothes tummy troubles. It makes the anti-cancer herbs list because Greek researchers discovered that when people drank chamomile tea two to six times a week over a 30 year period, they had 80% less risk of getting thyroid cancer and benign thyroid diseases than those who did not drink it.
Chamomile contains the flavonoid, apigenin. In small animal studies, apigenin slowed breast cancer tumor growth and switched off its ability to be immortal.
Other benefits of chamomile are its mildly sedating, anti-inflammatory, pain lowering properties. It reduces swelling and redness. Chamomile can be enjoyed as a tea or added to beauty products. You may need to avoid chamomile if you are sensitive to ragweed.
Mistletoe, the legendary plant of Christmas kisses, is also an herb for cancer. Fermented mistletoe extracts are prescribed to cancer patients in certain European countries. It is still under study in the U.S.
Mistletoe has been shown to promote the death of cancerous cells in the lab. It boosts the immune system. Mistletoe helps reduce symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and numbness, diarrhea and fatigue caused by chemo and radiation. Patients also report feeling more positive and less anxious.
Dandelion, often deemed a garden pest and eradicated with poison, is one of our best herbal allies for health, including cancer prevention and treatment.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that dandelion root tea may kill different types of cancer cells, including chemotherapy-resistant melanomas. Besides being a good source of vitamins and minerals, the reason dandelion may be a worthy cancer fighting herb and preventive is that it is a supreme liver cleanser. When the liver functions optimally, health generally improves. Most people can safely drink the root tea daily for many months for a gradual detoxifying effect on the liver.
Worth noting among anti-cancer herbs is berberine. This flourescent yellow colored alkoloid is found in roots, stems, and bark of certain plants including coptis, goldenseal, Oregon grape, barberry and others. Berberine has been used in Chinese Medicine for thousands of years and is renowned for its antimicrobial properties.
Berberine is now making headlines as a powerful cancer fighter because it slows blood vessel growth to tumors. It seems to suppress the growth of a wide variety of tumors including those in the breast, prostate, liver, pancreas and brain.
As a bonus, this same action slows the growth of fat tissue that depends on the same process as the growth of cancerous cells (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berberine)
Wormwood is potent against intestinal parasites, microbes and yeast. It is shown to have direct ant-cancer effects as well.
Researchers at UW tested an artemisinin-based compound on human leukemia cells. Within 16 hours, up to 98% of cancerous cells died. By itself, artemesia reduced breast cancer cells by 28%, When combined with iron, almost all cancer cells were killed. Normal cells were unharmed. (Source: sciencemag.org/news/2001/11/wormwood-extract-kills-cancer-cells)
Milk Thistle protects the liver from toxins and can reduce toxicity during chemotherapy. Your doctor may prefer you wait to take milk thistle until your treatments are finished.
Milk thistle contains silymarin, a flavonoid that protects against skin and colon cancer. It stimulates glutathione and SOD activity needed for detoxification and promotes oxygenation to blood cells. A therapeutic dose for liver detoxification, inflammation, and a lower cancer risk is 200-600 mg of milk thistle daily.
The ursolic acid found in holy basil reduces inflammation-promoting enzymes that block abnormal cell cycles and the expression of genes that turn off cellular death. This makes it more difficult for cancer stem cells to reproduce, spread, and live long lives. Ursolic acid is also found in apple peels, lavender, peppermint, thyme, and oregano.
Holy basil tastes nice as a tea and is also available as tinctures and capsules.
Anti-cancer herbs are often used in combination for added benefits and the synergy of them working together. They may be blended with anti-inflammatory herbs, such as red clover and ginger, and cleansing antimicrobial herbs, such as Pau D’Arco.
Essiac tea is made of four to eight different herbs for a synergistic effect. The traditional formula is made with burdock root, slippery elm bark, Turkish rhubarb root and sheep sorrel. Multiple cups of tea are drunk each day during the treatment.
It’s main anti-cancer herb, sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella) is a potent vermifuge against intestinal worms. It is cleansing and regenerates tissue. Burdock root is cleansing to the blood and has a reputation for killing cancer. Other herbs in the formula aid detoxification and support the immune system. Dry herb blends are available so you can make your own tea. Buy organic to avoid toxic pesticides.
5 Supplements for Cancer Prevention and Treatment
The following supplements have been studied and used as part of comprehensive cancer prevention and treatment protocols. They are provided here as examples of natural cancer therapies.
- Beta Glucan has been the subject of much research and is even being used to enhance other treatments by some conventional medical doctors. It has been approved as an immune therapy in several countries. Beta Glucan is a natural fiber molecule that safely modulates the immune system and makes it smarter without overstimulating it. It is found in seaweed, grains, buckwheat and mushrooms. Beta 1, 3-D Glucan supplements are made from baker’s yeast.
- Pancreatic, or proteolytic, enzymes that are specially manufactured and taken in high doses have a strong anti-neoplastic effect. They were an important part of Dr. Kelley’s metabolic therapy protocol. Over the counter pancreatic enzymes are probably not effective as cancer fighters.
- Vitamin D has been shown in hundreds of studies to reduce the risk of all cancers by up to 77% and reduce the risk of all cancers up to 77% and more for non-inflammatory breast cancer. Vitamin D fights cancer by promoting apoptosis and inhibiting a tumor’s blood supply. It appears to keep breast cancer from spreading. Optimal Vitamin D levels are very important to a well functioning immune system. Suggested blood levels are between 50-70 ng/ml and up to 100 ng/ml to treat cancer. Postmenopausal women are 1.5 times more likely to get breast cancer if they are vitamin D deficient and overweight.
- Magnesium Chloride is, according to Dr. Mark Sircus, a top priority natural cancer cure. He says, “Magnesium chloride is the first and most important item in any person’s cancer treatment strategy.” He suggests that from the first day of a cancer survival protocol that a patient “almost drown oneself in transdermally applied magnesium chloride.” It takes a few months for cellular levels to get up to normal, but patients often experience its medicinal and healing effects within days.
- DMSO and Vitamin C treatment – This twice daily method is designed to get cancer-killing vitamin C into rogue cells. The theory is that because cancer cells consume much more glucose than regular cells, they will also consume more vitamin C, which is similar to glucose. DMSO helps it target the cancer cells and get inside them. When done along with a very low sugar diet, more Vitamin C gets into the cells and destroys them.
Healthy anti-cancer foods and detoxification, exercise, and incorporating these best anti-cancer herbs and supplements into your daily life help prevent and treat cancer as part of your comprehensive wellness protocol.
If you are battling cancer, please work with your medical specialist or holistic cancer coach to design a program specifically for you and your needs so you get the best possible results.
Cancer herbs page updated 04/2020