9 Sea Road


Boswellia and Cancer

Collaborative cancer treatment; a Role for herbal medicines

Cancer is many diseases, with many different organs affected. They affect each person in a unique way.

We have long given up on the miracle drug, the universal cancer fix.

Debate about the benefit of different approaches is long past debating but few positively promote a collaborate approach to cancer as added benefit policy.

Boswellia is a good example. This is an Indian Tree long used for a range of conditions. This makes sense because it is anti-inflammatory acting on all the usual suspects underlying inflammation (histamine, prostaglandins, 5-lipooxygenase, human leukocyte elastase, cytokines, alpha TNF, and free oxygen radicles). The anti-inflammatory constituents of the herb have been identified but how they work is still being worked out. Just as well that herbs have worked for many generations before we could even get this far in analyzing the science.

However getting back to cancer I have one particular study to share.[1] This showed that radiotherapy treated patients had less oedema (swelling with fluid) demonstrated by MRI scans if they were treated with an extract of Boswellia rather than placebo while having their treatment.

This means that patients taking Boswellia may not need as much steroid drugs following their radiotherapy. Steroid side effects are pretty miserable and quality of life is very important with cancer treatment and survival.

‘This was a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, pilot trial of 44 patients.

While this is a small study I have read so many similar studies and they all cry out for more research, but this is not funded for a variety of reasons. Many herbs play a role in treating cancer, because we treat the patient not the cancer. A medical herbalist addresses immune function, the core of cancer surveillance and body vigilance. Of course the immune system is influenced by sleep, worry, and lifestyle.

We are beyond simple killing machine medicine in cancer treatment Thankfully we kill a varying percentage of them, but we rarely kill all the rogue cells. In the meantime we have not addressed the poor vigilance that led to our exposure to cancer.

Herbal medicine has a real impact on cancer treatment in collaboration with every other treatment indicated. A thorough level of herbal medicine qualification is essential for treating patients on chemotherapy and radiotherapy

Rational medicine cannot ignore causes. We need to acknowledge this weakness in our oncology approach and embrace collaboration. This is just one example.

Dr Clare

[1] Boswellia Serrata Acts on Cerebral Edema in Patients Irradiated for Brain Tumors: A Prospective, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Pilot Trial

S Kirste et al. Cancer 117 (16), 3788-3795. 2011 Feb 01.