As more and more of our dogs are being diagnosed with cancer, we are also looking for more treatment options. Holistic therapy is a wonderful resource in helping in the fight against cancer. Some choose to use holistic/alternative therapy alone or in conjunction with the more conventional chemotherapy treatments. Again, we stress that you consult with a holistic veterinarian before giving your pet any of the following. Not all situations are the same and need to be adjusted according to a particular dog’s need. We will be adding more holistic supplements to this page as the information becomes available to us.
- Coenzyme Q10 is made naturally by the human body.
- Coenzyme Q10 helps cells to produce energy, and it acts as an antioxidant.
- Coenzyme Q10 has shown an ability to stimulate the immune system and to protect the heart from damage caused by certain chemotherapy drugs.
- Low blood levels of coenzyme Q10 have been detected in patients with some types of cancer.
- No report of a randomized clinical trial of coenzyme Q10 as a treatment for cancer has been published in a peer-reviewed, scientific journal.
- Coenzyme Q10 is marketed in the United States as a dietary supplement.
Coenzyme Q (also known as Co Q, Q, vitamin Q, ubiquinone, or ubidecarenone) is a benzoquinone compound synthesized naturally by the human body. The “Q” and the “10″ in the name refer to the quinone chemical group and the 10 isoprenyl chemical subunits, respectively, that are part of this compound’s structure. The term “coenzyme” denotes it as an organic (contains carbon atoms), nonprotein molecule necessary for the proper functioning of its protein partner (an enzyme or an enzyme complex). Coenzyme Q10 is used by cells of the body in a process known variously as aerobic respiration, aerobic metabolism, oxidative metabolism or cell respiration.
Through this process, energy for cell growth and maintenance is created inside cells in compartments called mitochondria. Coenzyme Q10 is also used by the body as an endogenous antioxidant. An antioxidant is a substance that protects cells from free radicals, which are highly reactive chemicals, often containing oxygen atoms, capable of damaging important cellular components such as DNA and lipids. In addition, the plasma level of coenzyme Q10 has been used, in studies, as a measure of oxidative stress (a situation in which normal antioxidant levels are reduced). Coenzyme Q10 is present in most tissues, but the highest concentrations are found in the heart, the liver, the kidneys, and the pancreas. The lowest concentration is found in the lungs.
Tissue levels of this compound decrease as people age, due to increased requirements, decreased production, or insufficient intake of the chemical precursors needed for synthesis. In humans, normal blood levels of coenzyme Q10 have been defined variably, with reported values ranging from 0.30 to 3.84 micrograms per milliliter. Given the importance of coenzyme Q10 to optimal cellular energy production, use of this compound as a treatment for diseases other than cancer has been explored. Most of these investigations have focused on coenzyme Q10 as a treatment for cardiovascular disease.
In patients with cancer, coenzyme Q10 has been shown to protect the heart from anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity (anthracyclines are a family of chemotherapy drugs, including doxorubicin, that have the potential to damage the heart) and to stimulate the immune system. Stimulation of the immune system by this compound has also been observed in animal studies and in humans without cancer.
In part because of its immunostimulatory potential, coenzyme Q10 has been used as an adjuvant therapy in patients with various types of cancer. While coenzyme Q10 may show indirect anticancer activity through its effect(s) on the immune system, there is evidence to suggest that analogs of this compound can suppress cancer growth directly. Analogs of coenzyme Q10 have been shown to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cellsin vitro and the growth of cancer cells transplanted into rats and mice. In view of these findings, it has been proposed that analogs of coenzyme Q10 may function as antimetabolites to disrupt normal biochemical reactions that are required for cell growth and/or survival and, thus, that they may be useful for short periods of time as chemotherapeutic agents.
Several companies distribute coenzyme Q10 as a dietary supplement. In the United States, dietary supplements are regulated as foods not drugs. Therefore, premarket evaluation and approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are not required unless specific disease prevention or treatment claims are made. Because dietary supplements are not formally reviewed for manufacturing consistency, there may be considerable variation from lot to lot.
Laboratory work on coenzyme Q10 has focused primarily on its structure and its function in cell respiration. Studies in animals have demonstrated that coenzyme Q10 is capable of stimulating the immune system, with treated animals showing increased resistance to protozoal infections and to viral and chemically induced neoplasia. Early studies of coenzyme Q10 showed increased hemotopoiesis (the formation of new blood cells) in monkeys, rabbits, and poultry.
Coenzyme Q10 demonstrated a protective effect on the heart muscle of mice, rats, and rabbits given the anthracycline anticancer drug doxorubicin. Although another study confirmed this protective effect with intraperitoneal administration of doxorubicin in mice, it failed to demonstrate a protective effect when the anthracycline was given intravenously, which is the route of administration in humans. Researchers in one study sounded a cautionary note when they found that coadministration of coenzyme Q10 and radiation therapy decreased the effectiveness of the radiotherapy. In this study, mice inoculated with human small cell lung cancer cells (a xenograft study), and then given coenzyme Q10 and single-dose radiation therapy, showed substantially less inhibition of tumor growth than mice in the control group that were treated with radiation therapy alone.
Since radiation leads to the production of free radicals, and since antioxidants protect against free radical damage, the effect in this study might be explained by coenzyme Q10 acting as an antioxidant. As noted previously, there is some evidence from laboratory and animal studies that analogs of coenzyme Q10 may have direct anticancer activity.
No serious toxicity associated with the use of coenzyme Q10 has been reported. Doses of 100 milligrams per day or higher have caused mild insomnia in some individuals. Liver enzyme elevation has been detected in patients taking doses of 300 milligrams per day for extended periods of time, but no liver toxicity has been reported. Researchers in one cardiovascular study reported that coenzyme Q10 caused rashes, nausea, and epigastric (upper abdominal) pain that required withdrawal of a small number of patients from the study.
Other reported side effects have included dizziness, photophobia (abnormal visual sensitivity to light), irritability, headache, heartburn, and fatigue. Certain lipid-lowering drugs, such as the “statins” (lovastatin, pravastatin, and simvastatin) and gemfibrozil, as well as oral agents that lower blood sugar, such as glyburide and tolazamide, cause a decrease in serum levels of coenzyme Q10 and reduce the effects of coenzyme Q10 supplementation. Beta-blockers (drugs that slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure) can inhibit coenzyme Q10-dependent enzyme reactions. The contractile force of the heart in patients with high blood pressure can be increased by coenzyme Q10 administration. Coenzyme Q10 can reduce the body’s response to the anticoagulant drug warfarin. Finally, coenzyme Q10 can decrease insulin requirements in individuals with diabetes.
So far, the most extensive study on the use of Artemisinin as an anti-cancer agent was carried out by bioengineering scientists Drs Narenda Singh and Henry Lai of the University of Washington. This study was reported in the Journal Life Science (70 (2001): 49-56).
Iron is required for cell division, and it is well known that many cancer cell types selectively accumulate iron for this purpose. Most cancers have large number of iron attracting transferring receptors on their cell surface compared to normal cells. In laboratory studies of radiation, resistant breast cancer cells that has high propensity for accumulating iron revealed that artemisinin has 75 percent cancer cell killing properties in a 8 hours and almost 100 percent killing properties within 24 hours when these cancer cells are “pre-loaded” with iron after incubation with holotransferrin.
On the other hand, the normal cells remained virtually unharmed. Another study showing the effectiveness of artesunate in treatment of cancer was also published in Oncology (April 2001: 18(4): 767-73). The fact that iron content of cancer cells is high has also been used in another anti-cancer therapy called Zoetron therapy, where iron containing cancer cells are induced into motion using a magnetic device to induce resonance. Resonance generate heat. Cancer cells are more sensitive to heat compared to normal healthy cells. When cancer cells are heated to a certain temperature, they die while normal cells still survive.
Artemisinin is effective against a wide variety of cancers as shown in a series of successful experiments. The most effective is leukemia and colon cancer. Intermediate activities were also shown against melanoma, breast, ovarian, prostate, CNS and renal cancer. Although artemisinin is insoluble in water, it is able to cross the blood brain barrier (the water soluble artesunate is the weakness among the derivates) and may be particularly suitable for curing brain tumors, together with Poly-MVA (an metalo-vitamin)
In laboratory studies, iron needs to be added to enhance the effects of artemisinin. Within the human body, no such addition is necessary, as iron already exist in the body. It can also be taken orally and therefore high doses are not required. Some people believe that as nitrogen (tertiary amine) is absent in ART, cancer cells cannot get rid of it once it enters into the cancer cell. As a result, ART stays in the cell much longer.
In addition to the high affinity for iron in aggressive cancer cell types, most cancer cells also lack the enzyme catalayse and gutathione peroxidase. Catalayse breaks down hydrogen peroxide. A low catalayse content means a higher hydrogen peroxide load, which can release superoxide free radicals when properly stimulated to do so. This is in fact one common mechanism among chemotherapeutic agents as well as vitamin C. These traits make cancer cells more susceptible to oxidative damage as compare to normal cells in the presence of hydrogen peroxide. For this reason, administration of vitamin C in high dose is acceptable, although a gap of 2-3 hours is preferred.
According to Dr Rowen , a naturally oriented medical doctor and editor of the medical newsletter ” Second Opinion” , the Hoang family of physicians in Vietnam had used arteminisin in the treatment of cancer for years. They have reported that, over a 10-year period, more than 400 patients were treated with artemisinin in conjunction with a comprehensive anti-cancer program with 50 to 60 percent long-term remission rate. The safety record of artemisinin has well been studied for over 25 years. No significant toxicity in short-term use for malaria at high dose of up to 70 mg/kg per day has been reported.
Artemisinin is not a stand-alone chemotherapeutic agent. A combination of nutritional supplements (such as green tea, CoQ10 and pancreatic enzyme) as well as a good anti-cancer diet is required.
ART may be administered orally, with a 32 percent bioavailability as compared to injections. It is highly bound to membranes. Laboratory measurement of its serum level is therefore not exact.
FORMS OF ARTEMISININ
There are three common forms of artemisinin. The water soluble form is called artesunate . It is the most active and the least toxic. It also has the shortest life within the body Artemether is the lipid soluble form. It has the longest life but also the most toxic in high dosage which is seldom needed. The biggest advantage of artemether is that it can cross the blood brain barrier. Artemisinin is the active parent compound of the plant. It’s half-life is intermediate. It is also very safe, and can cross the blood-brain barrier. Some clinicians prefer to use a combination of all three forms, while others tend to favor the use of artemisinin alone with great success.
Toxicity and Side Effects
High doses of artemisinin can produce neurotoxicity such as gait disturbances, loss of spinal and pain response, respiratory depression, and ultimately cardiopulmonary arrest in large animals. In human beings, there are very few reports of adverse effects except for one case of first-degree heart block. According to Robert Rowen, MD, there is a dose related decrease in reticulocyte count for 4 days after artesunate or artemether at doses of 4 mg/kg per day for 3 days.
However, the count returns to normal by day 14. When artemisinin suppositories are used, doses as high as 40 mg/kg per day have no effects on the reticulocyte count. In a study, it was reported that up to 35 percent of the volunteers had some form of transient drug induced fever.
When ART is tested with monkeys, they showed no toxicity when they received up to 292 mg/kg of artemether over 1 to 3 months. This is equal to a human dose of 20,000 mg for a 70 kg male (Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine 2(1):31-36 1982). In another study, there was also no sign of toxicity in over 4000 patients. This does not exclude possible cases of long-term cumulative toxicity which is unknown at this time.
No artesminin should be taken within 30 days of radiation therapy because of possible free iron leaks to the surrounding tissues after radiation therapy.
b. Preliminary laboratory studies include: CBC, reticulocyte count, liver function test, ferritin, TIBC, ESR, C reactive protein, and appropriate tumor markers. If the iron load is low, supplementing iron for a few days can be considered prior to starting artemisinin.
c. Tumor markers may increase during the initial stages as the tumor starts breaking down.
d. Vitamin E may work against the effectiveness of ART in vitro. However, this has not been shown to be a concern in human clinical cases.
The therapeutic dose ranges from 200 mg a day up to 1,000 a day (in divided doses 4 times a day) for those with active cancer. Some doctors are recommending up to 1,600 mg per day
Artemisinin should always be taken with food. Cod liver oil , cottage cheese, or fish oil may be administered at the same time to enhance absorption. Generally, 400 to 800 mg per day can be used for at least 6 to 12 months. After that, it can be tapered off slowly. Artemisinin is a “cooling herb” in the traditional Chinese medicine perspective, and some may find it too “cooling” with symptoms such as tingling. If this occurs, then the dosage should be reduced.
Despite its seemingly high degree of effectiveness, it is important to note that artemisinin is not a stand-alone compound. Concurrent use of high dose pancreatic enzyme , daily enema, liver detoxification, and periodic laboratory measurement should also be considered as part of an overall agressive anti-cancer program.
Due to the increasing popularity of this product, the consumer should exercise extreme caution and buy only from the most reputable supplier. Only genuine and pure artemisinin should be used, and only buy from sources you are familiar with. There is tremendous variation in the potency of the herb. A 100 mg of artemisinin from one source may be manytimes more potent than the same 100 mg from another source. Only buy from source you can trust, and not be fooled by inexpensive “alternatives”.
Since the herb comes from China and South-east Asia, proper quality assurance on purity and standardization is of tremendous importance. High-grade artemisinin must always be confirmed by independent laboratory analysis on a batch by batch basis to ensure consistence and purity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ON ARTEMISININ
Michael Lam, M.D., M.P.H., A.B.A.A.M. is a specialist in Preventive and Anti-Aging Medicine. He is currently the Director of Medical Education at the Academy of Anti-Aging Research, U.S.A. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon State University, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Loma Linda University School of Medicine, California. He also holds a Masters of Public Health degree and is Board Certification in Anti-aging Medicine by the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine. Dr. Lam pioneered the formulation of the three clinical phases of aging as well as the concept of diagnosis and treatment of sub-clinical age related degenerative diseases to deter the aging process. Dr. Lam has been published extensively in this field. He is the author of The Five Proven Secrets to Longevity (available on-line). He also serves as editor of the Journal of Anti-Aging Research.