All antioxidants are considered immune system enhancers. There are many more supplements and herbs which are said to do the same. Before beginning any regimen, get advice from an herbalist, naturopath, or holistic physician. Discuss anything you are taking or considering taking with the physician in charge of your case. Be careful of what you buy. Educate yourself on the workings and uses, interactions and content of the products used.
Popular natural sources of immune building substances would include the following (this list is by no means complete);
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Cat’s Claw
- Golden Seal
- Spirulina (a green food)
Ralph Moss, Ph.D‘s book, Cancer Therapy: The Independent Consumer’s Guide to Non-Toxic Treatment and Prevention is definitely worth looking at for those interested in this topic. Here is his list of serious ‘Ímmune Boosters’ in the index:
Immune Boosters 397
Coley’s Toxins 407
Maruyama Vaccine 431
Staphage Lysate 456
Thymic Factors 459
Tumor Necrosis Factor 463
To fight cancer, Dr. Steve B. Edelson, medical director of the Environmental and Preventive Health Center of Atlanta, Georgia states;
First, remove all potential stress factors that contribute to disease or block the ability to heal. These include toxic chemicals, heavy metals, infections, nutritional insufficiency, emotional problems, excess weight, postural misalignments, and unresolved physical trauma.
Second, improve the body’s internal resistance to disease by preventive nutrition, bolstering the immune system, and enhancing the vitality of all the body’s cells through various nontoxic strategies including;
ANTI-CANCER DIET PLAN. Once he determines the patient’s vitamin and mineral levels, antioxidant status, and degree of nutrient imbalance, Dr. Edelson recommends major dietary changes to treat the existing cancer and to prevent future recurrences.
EMPHASIZE THESE FOODS. Recommended are steamed and raw vegetables, raw fruit and fresh juices, organic whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, miso, seaweed, and shiitake mushrooms. All fruits and most vegetables should be eaten raw to preserve their vital enzymes. [In light of the recent data about the lycopenes in cooked tomatoes, there may be an exception to this otherwise good advice. See nutrition]
AVOID ANIMAL PRODUCTS. Specifically, it’s best to eliminate red meats, poultry, most fish, fatty, smoked, and cured meats, butter, cream, cheese, and commercial whole milk. Animal products are discouraged because these foods tend to concentrate a large number of environmental pollutants.
REJECT PROCESSED FOODS. Items to eliminate include margarine and commercial oils, vegetable shortening, coconut and palm oils, deep-fat fried foods, rich desserts (high in sugar, fats, white flour), white flour bakery goods including pasta, and all highly processed foods. Further, use a water filter for all drinking water to remove chemical impurities.
All drugs, chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and other pollutants must first be “biotransformed” or made less toxic in the body before they can be excreted. Here you must be careful, Dr. Edelson advises, because if you don’t find a way to strengthen this transformation of toxins, “you’re going to make things much worse.” That’s because “the liver accumulates rather than eliminates toxins and the cancer patient, under conventional care, often eventually dies from the excessive buildup of liver toxins compounded by severe malnutrition and lean tissue loss.” Thus, the liver must be supported with nutritional and herbal products, enzyme therapy, and caffeine enemas, which aid detoxification.
Most of Dr. Edelson’s patients are encouraged to completely redo their lifestyle to achieve the least toxic burden for the body fighting cancer. This means reducing their exposure to polluted air and water, chemicalized products, and mercury, found in both dental amalgams and the environment. Dr. Edelson also advises his patients to minimize any vigorous aerobic exercise; walking is okay, but anything more strenuous churns up more free radicals in the body, which can actually “feed” the cancer.
In general, Dr. Edelson says, the more you can reduce the total burden on the immune system and detoxification pathways away from the ‘normal’ levels we’re forced to handle every day, the more power you put into your ability to fight the cancer.”
Dr. Edelson’s approach does not exclude the use of conventional cancer therapies, in which case he recommends that a patient also work with an oncologist. “The treatment is far more effective when you use the poisons, such as chemotherapy, together with the substances that are going to improve the immune system and detoxify the body.” [For an opposing view, refer to ‘Antioxidant concerns for chemo patients?’)
The clearest benefits of an alternative medicine approach, Dr. Edelson states, is its capacity to improve the quality of life and to extend the survival rate of people with cancer. “We cannot yet predict who is going to beat cancer and who is not. It takes a considerable amount of commitment to see your healing process through, but we know you can lengthen your life-span on our program.”
From: Cancer: How Leading Physicians successfully Treat It. By Nathiel Mead.
Dr. Victor Maricial-Vegas, who has treated thousands of cancer patients with alternative approaches, has this to say about the immune system;
“At least 95% of my cancer patients are immunosuppressed due to physical, chemical, mental, and/or environmental causes,” Dr. Marcial-Vega says. “This means if you do not address the immune system, you’re treating the cancer without really treating the cause of the cancer.
Dr. Marcial-Vega has developed a three-pronged strategy for treating cancer: overpower the cancer, strengthen the body, and heal the psyche. In his view, while some patients may need chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery to overpower the cancer, most do not. Dr. Marcial-Vega contends that the latter methods are often “overutilized,” even abused by cancer doctors today. If people use the natural treatments in the early stages of their cancer, they might not have to endure the conventional methods. Unfortunately, many people wait until they have exhausted all those possibilities and are in the advanced stages of cancer before turning to alternatives.
Although most of Dr. Marcial-Vega’s patients are in this category, “I have patients who have been cured by the natural treatments only.” He estimates that 5-10% of those who come to him in the advanced stages have cancers reversed by his treatments, and 90% are helped to some degree.
Some products used by Dr. Marcials-Vegas;
Cartilage (bovine and shark) contains factors that help block the formation of new blood vessels, thereby starving tumors so that they cannot continue to grow.
Enzymes not only digest food, but also help the immune system eliminate cancer cells. It is vital, says Dr. Marcial-Vega, to take the enzymes between meals, on an empty stomach, and preferably not at the same time as Essiac or cartilage. Dr. Marcial-Vega uses Intenzyme Forte (containing pancreatin, bromelain, papain, lipase, amylase, and trypsin) and Retenzyme Forte (with bovine thymus, pea and lentil concentrate, papain, and pancreatin).
Intravenous Vitamin C.
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C can selectively kill tumor cells in a manner similar to other chemotherapy drugs. Research shows that vitamin C boosts Natural Killer (NK) cell activity against cancer cells, and this increased activity is greatest between 8 and 24 hours after ingesting the vitamin C.
Green vegetable concentrates, such as blue-green algae, spirulina, wheat grass, watercress, or green magma, contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as various probiotics, or “friendly” bacteria, that aid in digestion, detoxification, and other key functions.
This 8-herb formula is believed to strengthen the immune system, reduce the toxic side effects of many drugs, in-crease energy levels, and diminish inflammatory processes, says Dr. Marcial-Vega.
Dr. Marcial-Vegas also includes a regimen of antioxidants. Furthermore, he states that stress must be elimated as much as possible. He reminds me very much of Dr. Bernie Seigel when he stresses the importance of unconditional self-acceptance and realization, self-forgiveness, and taking action and responsibility for oneself.
It is a grave error, says Dr Marcial-Vega, for doctors to prescribe supplements and other nontoxic strategies without paying attention to the person’s areas of denial or repression. Sometimes it’s helpful to guide the patient through a visualization exercise that helps them experience silence, receptivity, and safety, says Dr. Marcial-Vega. “After this process, patients often decide they are ready to nurture themselves and commit to their healing process.
From: Reversing Cancer Through Building Immune Health By Nathiel Mead
Another holistic health practioner, Douglas Brodie, M.D., is also working to bolster the patient’s natural immune defenses through optimum nutrition, supplements, and a variety of special non-toxic substances. Many of the cancer-fighting substances he uses are known to biochemists as Biological Response Modifiers (BRMs) for their ability to strengthen the performance of the immune system.
Dr. Brodie also recommends antioxidants. “Antioxidants protect the cell’s DNA and membranes from free radical damage, thus preserving normal cell reproduction and overall functioning,”
He uses B-Complex Vitamins as well. “Many people in the U.S. may be deficient in various B vitamins, notably B6,” says Dr. Brodie. “This may not only increase their risk of cancer, but diminish their chances of recovery.”
On the subject of Cartilage he had this to say, “In no way should shark cartilage be considered a cure for cancer or to be sufficient to control cancer by itself. However, when combined with other immune-enhancing agents, it has been a welcome addition to our arsenal.” Although Dr. Brodie uses the cartilage from both shark and cow, he says the bovine form is “equally efficacious while being considerably less expensive.
Phytochemicals. These natural plant chemicals have many cancer-repelling properties. Examples include allyl sulfides (found in garlic, leeks, and onions), dithiolthiones (in broccoli and cabbages), and indoles (in most members of the cabbage family). Dr. Brodie recommends the use of soy products, such as tofu and soy powder, which are among the richest sources of phytochemicals.
Ukrain. Derived from a plant called chelidonium, Ukrain has shown powerful immune-stimulating effects in cancer cases. Dr. Brodie says the main advantage of Ukrain is that it selectively kills cancer cells while activating Natural Killer (NK) cells, essential in fighting cancer.
Melatonin. Commonly used as a natural sleep aid, the brain hormone melatonin is both a chemical messenger and a powerful antioxidant, and probably helps protect the brain from toxins that contribute to disease and aging,” states Dr. Brodie.
A profound sense of loss is among the psychological traits that may actually promote cancer, says Dr. Brodie. He has observed hundreds of cases in which the person with cancer had suffered an intense emotional loss in the decade preceding the diagnosis. In many cases, however, the individual never effectively processed the grief, guilt, anguish, and other heavy emotions associated with the loss. Another feature of the cancer-prone psyche, he notes, is that these individuals usually prefer to “suffer in silence,” bearing their burdens without complaint or even acknowledgment.
To improve the prognosis, Dr. Brodie’s counseling sessions help his patients establish a sense of personal control, an optimistic outlook, greater facility with expressing their feelings, and a solid support system of family, friends, and health professionals.
All these psychological and psychosocial changes correlate with a better prognosis, he notes. We help them cope with cancer, both physically and psychologically, and to replace their hopelessness with hope.
From: Cancer Reversal Through Nutritional and Immune Support Nathenial Mead
Dr. Jesse Stoff advises the use of Iscador as an immune enhancer. He claims that Viscum album (made from mistletoe and known commercially as Iscador) is a well-known, widely used, and copiously documented European anticancer agent. Iscador’s ability to stimulate the immune system, kill cancer cells, inhibit tumor formation, and extend survival time in cancer patients has been demonstrated in approximately 4,600 documented cases and in numerous clinical studies.
For Dr. Stoff’s alternative approach to prostate and bladder cancer in particular, there is an interesting article to be found here;
Fine-tuning the immune system to reverse illnesses is possible when you know the functional status of all the components. http://www.alternativemedicine.com/digest/issue21/index.shtml
Jesse Stoff, M.D. Ask the Physician
Dr. Stoff defines the immune system for us as follows;
The immune system guards the body against foreign, disease-producing substances. Its “workers” are various white blood cells. A lymphocyte is a specialized form of white blood cell, representing 25-40% of the total blood count, whose numbers increase during viral infection and when you’re fighting cancer. Lymphocytes are produced in the bone marrow and come in two basic forms. B cells mature in the bone marrow and produce antibodies to neutralize foreign cells (this is known as humoral immunity). B cells account for 10-15% of all lymphocytes.
T cells mature in the thymus gland and react to and destroy specific invading antigens (this is known as cell-mediated immunity); 75-80% of lymphocytes are T cells. T cells are predisposed to respond to specific foreign substances (antigens) or infections. Helper T cells (also known as T-4 or CD-4 cells) secrete immune proteins (particularly the interleukins and interferon) to stimulate B cells and macrophages, and activate Killer T cells; they account for 60-75% of T cells.
Killer T cells (T-8 or CD-8 cells) bind to the specific invader and secrete enzymes to destroy it; they account for 25-30% of T cells. Suppressor T cells prevent excessive immune reactions by suppressing antibody activity. Natural Killer (NK) cells are a type of nonspecific, free-ranging lymphocyte that is neither a B nor T cell. Unlike other lymphocytes, NK cells are not activated by a specific antigen—they can recognize and quickly destroy any antigen on first contact. They have potent cell-killing activity, being “armed” with an estimated 100 different biochemical poisons for destroying foreign cells. As with antibodies, their role is surveillance, to rid the body of aberrant or foreign cells before they can grow and produce cancer or infection. NK cells account for 5% to 10% of all lymphocytes. An estimated 65% of normal healthy individuals have NK cell function between 30 and 160, 20% between 20 and 29, 10% between 161 and 250, and 5% have less than 20.
For more links to websites with information to help you learn more about immune boosting agents, alternative resources, as well as recommended reading.