BACK TO ASK THE HERBALIST
QUESTION: I have several questions that I hope
you can answer through email. I am undergoing treatment
for invasive lobular breast cancer, stage 3. I just
finished my last chemo and will start radiation about
the 2nd week of April. Since my cancer is estrogen
positive, it is strongly recommended that I take
estrogen blockers for 5 years starting after I finish
I am already suffering from severe vaginal dryness and
other problems associated with the chemo. I need to know
if phytoestrogens will feed the cancer the same as the
hormone estrogen will. I had already purchased
Shatavari in liquid and capsules before I got my
diagnosis . The information I read said shatavari would
actually fight breast cancer as well as work for vaginal
dryness, low libido and many other problems that I have
including digestive problems.
Another question I have is about Red Clover. I read
something you wrote for another person dealing with
excessively large breast and you suggested Red Clover
for swelling and lymphedema. I don't have lymphedema
but I am afraid I will get it since 16 of my lymph
nodes were removed. Will Red Clover be appropriate for
me to prevent lymphedema?
I am 63 years old and other than stress, I thought I had
been living a pretty healthy lifestyle. I have been a
school bus driver for 30 years until I got my diagnosis
and had to retire early. I am on a very limited/low
income but I have been fortunate enough to have good
insurance to pay for my cancer treatment.
However, it won't pay a cent on alternative treatment
and that's why I am doing conventional medical treatment
that I don't like or trust. I am trying to incorporate
as much alternative treatment as I can afford and
without my Oncologist's approval.
Traditionally Red Clover is used as an
anti-inflammatory, and research has shown that it does
inhibit some tumors, so it is sometimes also used to
treat breast cancer. Extracts and tinctures always work
better and faster. If wishing to use Red Clover, I
suggest 25 drops extract or tincture in a cup of Green
tea 3xs day.
I sincerely recommend a diet that includes plenty of
garlic, citrus fruits, black currants, tomatoes,
broccoli, cabbage and potatoes, wheat germ, nuts,
pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, seafood, brazil nuts,
lemons, grapefruit, cherries, red pepper and bananas.
I suggest and urge to consider first, eliminating from
your diet: Pork, white sugar, salt, red meats, eggs,
pasta, sodas, all dairy (except yogurt), caffeine,
cigarrettes, alcohol, fried and greasy foods, and all
foods containing additives or preservatives.
Enhance your diet with: Oily fish, sardines, mackerel,
shrimp, turkey, steamed green leafy vegetables, fresh
fruits, carrots, corn, apples, yogurt and in particular
eat plenty of oats. Snack on black licorice sticks
and/or pumpkin seeds.
There has been some success noted with the Native
American remedy called Essiac. If unable to purchase it,
you may wish to blend in equal parts infusions of
Burdock root, Sheep's sorrel and Slippery elm, and to
these add a pinch of Chinese rhubarb. Drink 2xs daily
and sweeten only with honey.
Add to all your broths, soups and stews: 1 Astragalus
root, 2 pieces of Chinese angelica and a small piece of
white Chinese ginseng.
To replenish decreased estrogen and progesterone levels
I suggest drinking Green tea often and adding 30 drops
of extract or tincture of Agnus castus and 15 drops
extract or tincture of Peony root, to the tea 2xs day.
Would you please provide clarification on supplementing
with Red Clover. I was diagnosed with breast cancer
(estrogen/progesterone positive) in February and had a
lumpectomy and interoperable radiation. I refused the
recommended follow-up therapy of Tamoxifen and/or chemo
and take numerous vitamins, supplements, and herbs
instead. I read “Herbal Medicine, Healing & Cancer” by
Donald Yance. It is mentioned that Red Clover can act as
inhibitor of estradiol, alter action of hormone receptor
type cancer. I feel this is exactly what I need since
estradiol is the “bad” estrogen (for breast cancer).
However, I have also read on various websites that those
who have breast cancer should not take Red Clover
because of its estrogen effects. Could you please
provide me with some clarification.
The court is still out on this, because there are
several views on this, I am including the best 3 links I
Hope this helps clear your concern.
Can you tell me if paw paw root cell regulator is
effective on breast cancer or would essiac tea be a
My choice would be Essiac tea adding 25 drops of extract
of Astragalus to support and tonify the immune system.
Drink plenty of Green tea daily. Avoid foods that
stagnate the system, such as: Red meats, pork, white
sugar, all dairy, all fried foods, foods containing
additives or preservatives, alcohol and excessive
coffee. Enhance your diet with foods rich in Omega 3 &
6, like: Salmon, mackerel, sardines. Eat fresh garlic
daily. Also eat chicken, turkey, brown rice, honey, raw
or steamed vegetables and plenty of fresh fruit.
Mu wife had breast cancer which is under control. She
has hot flushes. A herbalist gave her three remedies to
use I would like to know if any of these herbs such
cancer patients? Or contraindicated for cancer.
Black cohosh, alfafa, hawthorne, liquorice root, chaste
tree, cranesbill, mother-wort, vervain, wild yam, false
unicorn root, soy.
Can any of these herbs reawake the cancer cells?
The herbs should be fine, it also depends on the form
used, the dosage and the frequency.
I would suggest avoiding so many herbs and drinking
infusions of Lemon Balm and adding 15 drops extract of
Black Cohosh and 15 drops extract of St. John's Wort
This combination is very effective in treating hot
flashes. Drink 3xs day in particular an hour or two
before bedtime, and sweeten only with a bit of honey.
Extracts and tinctures work better and faster. Drink as
ANSWER FROM LORYHL
I have a form of breast cancer that is estrogen
receptor-positive. Are any
of the herbs in Essiac phytoestrogens?
To my knowledge they are not estrogen receptors. The
Essiac is not based on hormone type herbs, and I have
never heard of anyone having this problem. I suggest
you call the manufacturer, and double check with them on
this matter. Essiac has been a great formula for many
people. If I may suggest that you read the following
downloads, especially the castor oil packs on your
breast, and on your abdomen, cleansing and cleaning your
gall bladder, and bowel. We carry the herbs suggested if
you decide to do this.
ANSWERS FROM KAREN
My grandmother, 76 years old, recently had a partial
mastectomy as treatment for breast cancer. Of the 14
lymphnodes they removed, 12 were found to be cancerous.
However, a bone scan showed that the cancer had not
spread to her skeletal system. As a result, she will
undergo chemotherapy as well as radiation but not until
the middle of August or so. We are wondering if there
are any herbal products that she could be using until
then. We are concerned that some may have adverse
affects if taken too near the time she begins her
traditional chemotherapy. We purchased Essiac having
heard some very promising things about it, but then
realized one of the ingredients in it has a form of
estrogen. Grandma's cancer is estrogen receptive so we
are unsure if it would be good to take it. Basically, we
are very confused as to what we should be doing at this
point and if some herbal products could prove to be
harmful rather than
beneficial. Could you please fill us in on Essiac as
well as any other products you think could prove
beneficial? Also, is there anything she should be
taking during both the chemo and radiation therapies?
Thank you for this service and I look forward to reading
your response and sharing it with my family.
I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother.
There are several things you can do to help her.
However, and please don't take this the wrong way,
giving her life and health promoting herbs and then
subjecting her to the poison of chemo and radiation
seems counter productive to me. I know cancer is a very
scary thing and you want to take every avenue, but what
you're proposing will be counter productive. Still, I'll
give you the herbs for helping to bring the body back to
a state of wellness and you can decide from there.
diet. Several foods have been clinically proven to help
prevent cancer and recurrence. Those are apples,
burdock, carrots, dark, leafy greens, dried beans,
garlic, kelp, soy products, sweet potatoes and wild
mushrooms. Turmeric is a wonderful spice and it is
extremely effective at inhibiting recurrence in
laboratory animals. It has greater anti-oxidant
abilities than Vitamins C, E, or beta carotene. So use
it to season your food.
If you are bent on
going the chemotherapy route, use the time you have to
strengthen her liver. Dandelion, yellow dock, burdock
and milk thistle are the herbs of choice for this. I
also have a liver tonic tea you can purchase on my
www.allgoodegifts.com in the Herb Shoppe under TEAS.
Essiac is wonderful
and has most of these liver toning herbs in it. (I'm not
sure which herb you feel is a form of estrogen. Essiac
should only have burdock, yellow dock, slippery elm,
sheep sorrel and turkey rhubarb root. If there's
anything else in there, it's not the original Essiac
formula and I would find one that is from an herb store.
In addition, many women suffering from breast cancer
have used Essiac with great success, so the estrogen
issue shouldn't be a factor. Hopefully this has
provided the information you need. Consider carefully
whether to subject your grandmother to the problems and
issues that will be added by chemo or radiation therapy.
I am wondering if a woman's nipple itches, is that one of
the symptoms of breast cancer.. I don't have any drainage
it is just sore but, as long as I keep antibiotic cream on
my nipple it doesn't bother me to much.. And, it is a
little bit painful but, not too bad.. Could you please
let me know.
If the area around your nipple is scaly and itchy, I would
have it checked. You say there is no discharge, but they
are sore. Are you nursing? Is this all the time or before
your period? Don't take any chances. Seek medical
attention if for no other reason than your peace of mind.
If an antibiotic cream is helping you, then it may also be
some sort of fungus. Hopefully you are doing regular
monthly breast exams to ensure you are aware of any
changes in your breasts.
I hope this is just a simple question because I am asking it for a customer at the Pharmacy where I work. She is having hot flashes and wants to take something like Promensil or Estroven, or Soy isoflavones, or black cohosh, etc....but she has had breast cancer in the past and is on tamoxifen. I don't know about these supplements, but I know you're not supposed to take estrogen supplements with tamoxifen as that would defeat the purpose! But I can't think of what to suggest that she can take for hot flashes. She is an
older woman, probably at least 60 to 70 years old.
I would not worry so much about the herb it is the drug she is on that concerns me, Tamoxifen has been associated with increased risk of uterine cancer.
The second thing is no herb has estrogen in it, it may have chemicals similar to estrogen's chemical structure or may effect the body like estrogen but no estrogen. Most plant phytoestrogens act amphoterically in the female reproductive system, either they act like estrogen in hypo conditions or take up receptor sites in hyper conditions. I do not see it as an issue for her.
The Tamoxifen is what she should be worried about. She may be trading borrowed time today only to deal with another problem tomorrow.
I would use medicinal mushrooms to help her immune system fight the cancer and might employ a Chinese herbal formula called Fu Zheng, which boost immune response, increase energy and helps fight the side effects of chemotherapy, such as Tamoxifen.
Black Cohosh, Latin Named: Cimicifuga racemosa is a great herb for the female reproductive system, it is appropriately used for doom and gloom depression, pain from muscular arthritis, uterine pain, hot flashes and other menopausal issues.
The phytoestrogen in Black Cohosh is FORMONONETIN, this chemical has the following activities:Abortifacient; Anticephalagic; Antifeedant; Antiulcer; Cancer-Preventive; Estrogenic; Fungicide; Herbicide-Safener; Hypocholesterolemic; Hypolipidemic; Myorelaxant; Pesticide; VAM-Stimulant
The suggested preparation and dose of this herb is 10 - 30 drops, 3 to 4 times a day of a fresh or dry alcohol extract of the root or you can try a making a tea daily of 1/2 to 1 teaspoons of recently ground dried root to 12 ounces of water, boil herb in water for 15 - 30 minutes keep lid on pot, let herbs in water and cool for at least 1 hour, drink 4 ounces of tea 3 or 4 times a day.
I would suggest the tincture more convenient.
Dosage and preparation methods differ among herbalists, the standard joke among is us if you have 12 herbalists in a room, you will get 13 opinions.
You will be able to fine tune the dose by increasing a few drops at a time until you see results. Give it a couple weeks to see effects. Most suggested doses are low to begin with and can be increased most of the time, but guidance of a local herbalist would help.
There is a Herbalpedia available from the webmaster of Herbworld and Herbnet email Herbworld@aol.com for details. Herbalpedia(TM) is a monthly monograph series of herbs through which you'll receive 5 in depth profiles of various botanicals. They are more extensive than the monographs in our monthly online magazine. We try to pick a selection of medicinal herbs, culinary herbs and spices. But often these lines are foggy and you'll get plants that cross all the borders. We try to find the most up-to-date research as well as the folklore. And we want to give you as man6y ways to use the plants as possible, so of course, there's always lots of recipes. Our aim is to increase your knowledge and awareness of our green relations as well as increase your culinary and healing skills. If ordered hardcopy they come double-sided with 3 punch holes so they're easily included in a binder. They range from 2-8 pages in length. Back issues can be ordered separately
Contraindications: 1.) Do not take if pregnant except in the last 2 weeks, helps to bring on delivery and ease labor by stimulating the uterus. 2.) This herb has been known to increase or decrease blood pressure depending on the person, 3.) this herb is very strong and is not for kids or weak people such as elderly or sick. 4.) This herb should be taken with food because it could cause irritation of the gastric mucousal of your digestive tract.
For more information about chemical constituents in plants go to Jim Duke, PhD website and look up the constituents for Black Cohosh, at the following
Chaste Tree, Monks pepper, Latin Named: Vitex agnus-castus is also used for Hot Flashes and other menopause issues, it does not contain phytoestrogens and works via the pituitary gland balancing FSH (folicle stimulating hormone) and LH (lutenizing hormone). Use for elevated estrogen and normal to low progesterone OR normal estrogen and low progesterone.
The suggested preparation and dose of this herb is 60 - 90 drops, up to three times a day of a dry alcohol extract or up to two cups a day of freshly ground berry tea which has been covered with boiling water and left to steep with the lid on for up to one hour. Note get these doses in early in the day, before lunch to see the best effect.
Contraindications:pregnancy especially after first trimester. Low estrogen levels and elevated progesterone levels.
Note smaller amounts over a longer term is better then larger amounts over a short term for this herb.
Additionally - Licorice root, Dang Qui and White Sage has also been used for Hot Flashes.
I was recently diagnosed with stage 1 neg. node estrogen receptive breast
cancer. I am currently taking tamoxifen. As a result of the tamoxifen I am
having vaginal dryness. Have a desire for sex, but hard to achieve orgasm.
Was wondering if avena sativa is safe to take with breast cancer history?
If not can you recomend any thing else? What about muira puama. Not having
any issues with my body or psycological. Think it's purely physical from
Oats, Latin Named Avena Sativa would not be contraindicated for your condition. Oats are normally given for people who suffer from sexual neurasthenia, stress and nervous issues. It is a great nerve tonic and food. Additionally it has helped women who have vaginal dryness caused by menopause, so it may help you. It is best taken as a fresh alcohol extract. The energy of this plant is warm and moistening. It is also used in combination with other herbs as listed below.
My concern would be the drug you are taking, Tamoxifen increases the risk of uterine cancer. I hope your physician made you aware of the risk-benefit ratio for this treatment. Additionally studies have revealed the reduced effectiveness of the drug over time and possible increased risk for breast cancer, which women are taking it to prevent.
(MAYO CLINIC)-- A study published in the July 30, 1999, issue of the journal Science revealed that the anti-estrogen drug, Tamoxifen, may lose its effectiveness in preventing breast cancer - and may even begin to promote the disease - after 2 to 5 years of use.
If you continue on the Tamoxifen, you should consider the use of a great Traditional Chinese formula. It is called Fu Zheng. It increases immune response, appetite and energy while at the same time reduces the side effects of the chemo drug which can cause nausea. You may also want to employ the use of Milk Thistle to protect your liver because testing has shown some toxicity to the liver, animal studies have also shown an increase risk for liver cancer but this does not prove an increased risk of liver cancer in humans.
Other herbs which can be used for dryness are:
Licorice Root, Latin Named: Glycorrhiza uralensis, this herb in addition to being moistening to mucus membranes is also appropriate for Estrogen sensitive cancers because of its Phytoestrogen content. This herb is traditionally used in Hoxsey and Fu Zheng formulas
Shatavari, Latin Named: Asparagus racemosis is commonly referred to as "She with a thousand husbands" and is good for vaginal dryness
Chaste Tree, Monks pepper, Latin Named: Vitex agnus-castus is used in combination with Oats and Shatavari for vaginal dryness, there are some reports that it stimulate the libido in women.
White Pond Lily, Latin Named: Nymphaea odorata is good for vaginal dryness, it is used in combination with fresh oat, licorice and Shatavari.
Use Evening Primrose Oil as a supplement to decrease vaginal dryness.
Additionally the use of CoQ10 as a supplement has helped women with breast cancer, I have seen suggested doses of 200 to 800 mg. Donnie Yantz well know cancer fighting herbalist suggests 400 mg, taken with an EPA rich essential fatty acid to increase absorption.
Marshmallow, Latin Name: Althea officinalis
Slippery Elm, Latin Name: Ulmus fulva, U. Rubra
are used for dryness that can occur any where in the body.
As to Muira Puama, Latin Named, Ptychopetalum olacoides, P. uncinatum
See Dr Jim Dukes Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases for the chemical constiuents and the activities of Muira Puama at:
There seems to be a controversy about its aphrodisiac effects but most agree it has tonic qualities which may help you. My question would be is this the best herbal choice for you.
Finally there maybe other herbs which contain Phytoestrogen which may be helpful for you such as Red Clover and Soy Beans. Plant Phytoestrogen act as Estrogen Effect Amphoterics, increasing estrogen like effects when Estrogen levels are low and replacing Estrogen in its receptor sites in the body so reducing its Estrogen effects in excess.
A great book on cancer and herbs is written by Donnie Yantz, entitled Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer.
QUESTION: I've just had a mascectomy and my post surgery results indicated cancer cells in the lymph nodes/system.
What can I do herbally to help while I go through chemotherapy?
ANSWER: If you are going to begin chemo or radiation therapies, I would suggest a
Chinese formula called Fu Zheng. As the story goes, Chinese Doctors who
trained in oncology at the US medical universities returned to their country
to find that chemotherapy drugs were unavailable or to expensive for the
general public. These Doctors knew the Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM)
and consulted with a practitioner to find toxic or poisonous plants to use
instead of the prescription chemo drugs, which are basically poison
themselves. The TCM practitioners provided the herbs which would do the
same as the chemo type drugs and when administered to the clients produced
the same adverse actions and side effects, lethargy, nausea, reduced immune
reservoir and response and loss of appetite. Luckily the US trained Chinese
Doctors went one step further and asked the TCM practitioner to provide an
herbal protocol to counteract the side effects of the poisonous plants.
This formula called Fu Zheng helped the client to increase immune response,
have more energy, reduce nausea and eat more post chemo therapies whether
plant based or prescription drug based. We have had great responses from
customers and clients who have taken this Fu Zheng therapy when undergoing
both radiation and chemotherapy.
Here are some general guide lines for you.
Reduce exposure to Xeno-estrogens in the environment and diet, for
example, pollutants, herbicides, insecticides, cleaners, plastics especially
don't cook foods in plastic container in microwaves, etc. Eat organic,
lower red meat ingestion, increase vegetables to be largest part of your
diet. Reduce stress, release problems emotional and otherwise.
Clean up your diet completely the fuel of cancer is simple sugars and
carbohydrates: Stop eating anything with dextrose, sucrose, lactose,
maltose, corn syrup, sorbitol and any other alcohol-sugars or those made
from white flour or refined flour as an ingredient. This is most of the processed and
refined foods. Eat only organic whole foods, join a Community Supported
Agriculture (CSA) to receive seasonal produce or buy organic foods such as
Lady Moon brand at Giant or Weis supermarkets. Shop at health food stores
if available. Fat free foods are high in sugar in most cases and should be
avoided, they take the fat out but put sugar type molecules in for texture
My suggestion would be to write on a 3x5 card in this order
5. Fruits should be your desert if you have desert.
Carry the card everywhere you go.
Then eating and planning a meal or ordering off a menu is easy. Preferred
drink is bottled water, reduce consumption of fluorinated or chlorinated water.
Drink upwards of 12 - 15 glasses of water a day - you will urinate more
frequently at first but within a short timeframe your body will adjust and
you will simply have more volume at you previous regular elimination intervals.
Eliminate soda, juice, sugared drinks, drink herbal tea, flavor water with
lemon when water becomes intolerable by itself.
Eat vegetables as your mainstay, especially cruciferous veggies, kale,
brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and the colorful ones as well,
tomatoes, peppers, carrots etc. Make soups with Medicinal mushrooms bases
or get a tincture of them - Shitake, Maitake, Chaga and Gano derma; these
mushrooms are immune boosting.
Proteins should be organic, do not buy proteins produced from steroid or
antibiotic injected stock, eat deep sea fish as your preferred protein, then
chicken and turkey, finally pork and beef as last choice if at all. Eat
only organic produced, fish, foul and meats. You only need a small amount
roughly the size of a deck of playing cards, 4 oz.
The fruits again should be the colorful, blue, red and purple fleshed when
consumed; you should realize they are high in sugar also and use them as a dessert
choice, if you have dessert at all.
The colors indicate flavonoids, carotenoids and other nutrients which are
all good for you such as lycopene, proanthocyanidins, anthocyanidins,
cyanidins, lutein, betacarotene etc,.
You should also increase lymph movement; use of Alterative herbs improve
elimination through many pathways of the body.
Use burdock, violet, cleavers, poke, red root, red clover, Figwort and other
Since I don't know all the facts I will include the following:
Licorice is used for Estrogen sensitive Breast Cancers, this is a component
in the Hoxy formula a traditional anticancer herbal formula and the Fu Zheng
Astragulus is a great immune building herb, it can be used in your herbal anticancer
Chaga is one of the strongest medicinal mushrooms; it is appropriate for
breast, lung, stomach, rectum and many other parts of the body cancers.
Red Clover is especially helpful for clearing lymph congestion in the
breasts. The isoflavones inhibit mastitis of cancer cells and inhibit
growth of estrogen sensitive cancers. This herb is appropriate for breast
and ovarian cancers. It has a long history of use for cancer and is used as
Violet is the number one lymphatic drainage herb, used in many traditional
herbal cancer formulas, fresh juice or fresh leaf tincture is best. In TCM
they used it to remove hardness in body, i.e. tumors.
This is the best I can do without knowing all the facts.