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An Alternative Treatment for Osteosarcoma

Artemisinin

Summary

Artemisinin is an herb that helps kill cancer cells in the body. It may be used in conjunction with chemotherapy. It may be used before radiation treatments, but should be discontinued when starting radiation therapy, and not resumed until two months after the last radiation treatment. It is given away from food or supplements containing iron, and is cycled, that is given for a number of days, and then not given for a number of days. It has been used for years as an anti-malarial drug, and does not have toxic side effects at the doses recommended.

What is Artemisinin ?

Artemisinin is an herbal drug that has been shown to kill human and canine cancer cells in the laboratory. It is also being used to treat people and dogs with cancer.

It has been an effective anti-malarial drug in Asia for decades, so there is long standing knowledge about its effects and side effects. It works because the malaria parasite collects iron from the blood and stores it. The Artemisinin converts the collected iron into a chemical that releases a free radical, which then kills the malaria parasite.

It is one of four compounds derived from the herb Artemisia annua L., also known as sweet wormwood, annual wormwood, or sweet Annie. (It is not the same plant as perennial wormwood.)

How Does it Work on Cancer ?

Cancer cells also collect and store iron because they need extra iron to replicate DNA when they divide. Therefore, the cancer cells have a higher concentration of iron than normal cells, and can be differentiated from normal cells. Two researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle, Professors Henry Lai, PhD and Narendra Singh, MBBS, began to study the use of Artemisinin in human patients. Then, in 1999, working with a vet, they began to study its use in dogs with cancer.

Their experience has confirmed that Artemisinin helps stop the growth of cancer cells in dogs. Numerous anecdotal reports from people using Artemisinin for dogs with osteosarcoma, lymphoma, and metastases from osteosarcoma claim that it has extended their dogs lives beyond what was expected.

How to Give Artemisinin

The optimal treatment regimen has still to be determined, and researchers are conducting trials to determine the best combination of derivative form, dosage and timing. In the meantime, the following protocols have been recommended.

Protocols

Dosage: Initially, Dr Lai recommended a dose of 2.2-4.4mg of Artemisinin per pound of bodyweight. More recently, he has said that it may be preferable to use only Artemether and give it two times a day, 12 hours apart, keeping some in the blood stream at all times.

Dr.Singh believes taking all three forms of Artemisinin at the same time (bedtime) once a day is the most effective treatment protocol.

Dr. Cuoto recommends 6.6-8.8mg Artemisinin per pound.

Holley Pharmaceuticals is recommending up to 11-16mg Artemisinin per pound.

(For kilogram dosages, divide the dose per pound by 2.2)

Timing: Again, there is some variation in timing. Some people split the dose, giving some in the morning and some before bed. Some give it all just before bed.

There is agreement that Artemisinin should not be given within 3 hours of food containing iron – for example, meat. It may also be better given away from anti-oxidants since it works by creating free radicals that attack the cancer cells, and anti-oxidants are harmful to free radicals.

Giving it with some fat is recommended, but not necessary. Many people disguise the capsules in cream cheese or other dairy product, or peanut butter. If your dog won’t take capsules, it may be emptied into whipped cream or other non-iron containing food. (It is quite bitter tasting.)

Cycling: Herbal remedies are thought to be more effective if they are “cycled” or “pulsed”, that is, given for a certain number of days, and then not given for a certain number of days. It is believed that if the body rests between doses, it will be less likely to build up a resistance to the herb, which will then be more effective for a longer period of time. Artemisinin may be cycled or pulsed by days or weeks.

Examples: One protocol for a 70-pound dog with OS consists of a 100 mg capsule of Artemisinin (Art-E) in the morning, and a capsule of Artemix before bed. This course is followed for two weeks on and then one week off.

A 60-pound dog is given 200mg of Artemisinin in the morning, and 40 mg of Artemether in the evening, 5 days on and 2 days off.

Another dog has been given mega doses one day per week.

For each individual case it is necessary to determine the amount and frequency of giving Artemisinin and its derivatives to the dog, taking into account how the dog responds to the treatment, and other factors.

Toxicity

When Artemisinin was tested with monkeys, they showed no toxicity after they received up to 292 mg/kg (642 mg/pound) of Artemether over 1 to 3 months.

Animal research has shown neurotoxic results with massive doses of Artemether—150mg/kg/day (330mg/pound).

Generally, at the lower recommended doses of 2-16 mg/pound, there is no reported toxicity.

Radiation

Radiation releases iron stored in cancer cells into surrounding tissue. Therefore, it is recommended that it be used before radiation treatments, be discontinued during radiation treatments, and not resumed until two months after the last radiation treatment.

Chemotherapy

Artemisinin was tested in combination with 22 chemotherapy drugs and was found to enhance the drugs’ effectiveness. If used in conjunction with chemotherapy, it should be taken several hours after the chemotherapy treatment ends. (Artemisinin does not alleviate possible chemotherapy side effects.)

Butyrex or Butyrin

May increase the effectiveness of Artemisinin.

Dietary Considerations

As with other complementary or alternative therapies, Artemisinin’s effectiveness is enhanced by a good diet, high in protein and low in carbohydrates. (See files.)

Antioxidants help to clear the body of the waste from Artemisinin’s action on cancer cells. Dr. Singh recommends Vitamin C for its anti-cancer properties, but does not recommend glutathione, which may reduce the efficacy of Artemisinin.