Artemisinin – when cancer cells kill themselves

What if you had an herbal extract that could fight cancer safely even in those animals who were very sick and old?

Artemisinin is the second most common herbal I use to fight cancer in animals and it is extremely safe in almost all cases.

Artemisinin is an extract from the herb sweet wormwood and was originally used to treat malaria. It is currently under study by Dr. Henry Lai at the University of Washington for its effects against cancer, especially breast and bone cancer.

So how does it work?

Cancer cells take up more iron then normal cells. Artemisinin is attracted to these high iron cells and selectively goes to them. Once inside the cancer cells it reacts with the iron causing free radial formation which kills the cancer cells.

Also see
UW licenses potential cancer treatment derived from ancient Chinese folk remedy
Ancient Chinese remedy shows potential in preventing breast cancer

K9 health support also has a great page with links to articles and research on Artemisinin
Dog Cancer Treatment Options

Because it selects for these cells with high iron it is very safe to use in all cases but one. If your animal is undergoing radiation you must not use this herbal. Radiation blasts cancer cells, which spreads their iron into neighboring cells. In this case, Artemisinin can hurt the normal cells as well. If your animal is undergoing radiation you must wait a month after the last treatment of radiation to use this.

I have found Artemisinin to be very impressive for keeping tumor growth in check and for preventing spread of cancer in my animal patients. While I usually use it in combination with other herbals I have had some cases where I have used just this herbal and nothing else.

I find it works best against bone cancers, squamous cell carcinoma, fibrosarcoma and lymphoma. However I have used it for a number of other tumors as well. When using Chinese Medicine classification this herbal works better against the phlegm nodule tumors. This is also an herbal which may be effective for brain cancers.

I have yet to see a side effect from this herbal beyond that its antibacterial effects can make bad breath better. In fact I occasionally use this for animals with very bad breath who are too ill for dental work.

I dose Artemisinin at 50mg twice a day for cats and dogs under 30 pounds. Dogs over 30 pounds receive 100mg twice a day. Dogs over 100 pounds receive 200mg twice a day. I recommend the online company Holley Pharmacy for purchasing Artemisinin. I have found their customer service to be good, their product to work, and they usually have a special of some sort going.

The studies have shown that Artemisinin works best if there is a break from it every two weeks. I recommend that this herbal is giving for 11 days then stopped for three and then restarted in 11 days on, 3 days off cycles.

As with everything, please check with your animal’s vet before using this product.

Return to Integrative and Holistic Methods for Treating Cancer in Cats and Dogs.

Comments are closed on this article please refer to the link above to find more articles about cancer and how to find a holistic practitioner near you.

73 Responses to “Artemisinin – when cancer cells kill themselves”

  1. David S Says:

    Hi Dr Lena, yes i think this is what we might do: try as many days artesiminin as darky can stand without affecting him and giving him free days to rest and gain his appetite and drink lust again and start all over again. Thank you for your advise it’s much appreciated. David S

  2. Traci Says:

    Dr. Lena, I have a chocolate lab, who at 3 years old (2 months ago) was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the neck. I took her to Cornell and due to the size and location was told there is nothing we can do. She was given pain meds with an expectation of 2 weeks to 2 months to live. Sadie, just turned 4 yesterday. I did some research online because I cannot sit and do nothing. I found the article by Dr. Lai and Dr. Singh about the artemesin and a number of other articles about this herb. It appears that the dosage seems to be different with everything I’ve read. Here is what I did. I put her on Wellness brand dog food, type Core – grain free Salmon based. I have her on Vetri DMG for her immune system, Probiotics, and NuVet Plus Canine Daily Supplement. I read that it is best to serve the artemesin about 3 hours after eating (with yogurt or cottage cheese) so it is on an empty stomach. I’ve given her 100 mg in the morning and 100 mg before she goes to bed each with yogurt. I’ve done this now for 12 days (today is the 12th day). The tumor has shrunk noticeably and she has had no problems eating or defacating. Her spirit is up and she has some pep in her step. I thought I was going to have to put her down 2 weeks ago. There are no holistic vets around here so I am trying to figure this out myself. I landed on your page and have found some hope. My question is do you have any other suggestions for adding anything else to the mix? I am reluctant to take her off the artemesinin for a few days but wonder if this is really what I should do. Why do you think a couple of days off the artemesinin is a good thing? Any suggestion would be helpful since I absolutely have nothing to lose. Thank you. Traci

  3. Lena Says:

    Hi Traci,
    I am so sorry that she is having to deal with this at such a young age. That sounds very hopefully that you have seen tumor shrinkage with the artemisinin already. It was actually at the suggestion of Dr. Lai (through a conversation one of the technicians working with me had with him) that I went to the 11 days on 3 days off protocol. He had found that it comes back working stronger and will work better for longer if occasional breaks are taken. If you are worried about it you could do a 1-2 days off protocol for the first break and see how that goes. I don’t know if you already found this article as well, http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2011/05/08/three-legged-and-happy-how-to-holistically-treat-osteosarcoma-bone-cancer-in-dogs/ but if you haven’t it may be helpful. Some herbals you may want to look into would be Sanshedan Chuanbeiye, which helps to keep cancer out of the lungs http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2011/03/13/sanshedan-chuanbeiye-toxins-in-small-amounts-to-fight-cancer/, Hoxsey make be helpful but I would hesitate to use it without a holistic vet on board because it can sometimes make dogs sick to the stomach, with added boneset it is also helpful for bone pain http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2011/04/17/hoxsey-like-formula-for-dogs-and-cats-with-cancer/. Another formula not mentioned in the article is Si Miao San http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2011/06/17/si-miao-san-slowing-down-cancer-and-inflammation/ which can be helpful for osteosarcoma, milder but similar action to the Hoxsey but usually without side effects.
    best wishes,
    Lena

  4. Barbara Pavel Says:

    My 17 yr 9 month old dog has been diagnosed with lung cancer, probably bronchiogenic carcinoma.
    Cannot use Neoplascene because he has been on prednisone for lupus for 10 years. Tried Tumexal but no change in tumor. Currently trying Apocaps but he throws up, tonight a meal of chicken and rice, and last night drank so much water, he vomited. There is very little information on alternative treatment for canine lung cancer. I have ordered Avemar and would like to know if alternating it with artemisinin would be something to try. His only symptom is a cough. sudi is 15 lb neutered male Coton de Tulear. Thank you for any help you can offer. We don’t have any holistic vets in our area except one who just uses Neo.

  5. Lena Says:

    Hi Barbara,
    I have one dog who I am currently treating for primary lung cancer (although we don’t know what type) and have had two of my own cats come down with it. I don’t know if you have read this article http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2011/04/26/breathing-through-cancer-holistic-herbal-therapies-to-control-lung-metastasis-in-cancer-in-dogs-and-cats/ but I usually use a similar protocol in treating primary lung cancer. In particular you may want to check out info on Xiao Chai Hu Tang http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2011/04/09/xiao-chai-hu-tang-herbs-to-fight-cancer-reversing-triple-burner-obstruction/ and Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2011/04/22/xue-fu-zhu-yu-tang-supporting-the-lungs-against-cancer/ which I have found to be helpful used together in many animals. The lungs are a hard place to have cancer. I have not used Avemar before and it is not something commonly used in the holistic vet community.
    best wishes,
    Lena

  6. Barbara Says:

    thank you so much, Lena. My husband is researching them now and we will see where we can order them, or find a local herbalist, which in a small town isn’t easy. Sudi is refusing to eat today, but moving around, and not showing any signs of distress so we think it is just an upset tummy. He is drinking water. I honestly think we may have run out of time, if only the vets had diagnosed this sooner we might have had a chance. Our vets in our main residence told us for a year his cough was just allergy and would not do an xray, because his lung and heart sounds were clear so we lost a lot of time and now he is very old and the tumor is very large.

    As the article says, I don’t want him to die gasping for breath so hope these herbs can do something to help that from happening. When he coughs, we both feel like we are dying inside and my husband counts each cough to make sure the episodes are not getting worse.

    Barbara

  7. Amanda Says:

    Hi Dr. Lena,

    I have an 8 year old Wheaten diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. I have ordered artemisinin to give her, but it is not from Holley Pharmaceuticals. Is it safe to give to her? Will it work? I started working with a holisitc vet hoping to give us some or time with her or by some miracle, a cure. She is currently taking Dang Gui Bu Xua Tang 2 x daily, .3 ccc of Vitamin A/D, 300 IU of Vitamin E, fish oil, Selenium 200 mcg, Canine Cardiac Support 2x daily, 50 mg CoQ10 daily, and 100 mg Ester C. She will also begin Missing Link as soon as it arrives. Do you any further suggestions? Thank you.

    Amanda

  8. Lena Says:

    Hi Amanda,
    I have had clients use other sources of artemisinin before and they have seemed to be fine. I have to admit I am partial to the Holley Pharmacy brand because Dr. Li uses it but really probably any of the others are ok. I don’t know if you have seen my article on hemangiosarcoma http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2012/07/31/the-hardest-cancer-how-to-treat-hemangiosarcoma-in-dogs-holistically-with-herbs-and-supplements/ . If you haven’t it might be very helpful. I no longer use artemisinin for hemangio and instead follows Dr. Steve Marsden’s protocol for hemangiosarcoma. I have been highly impressed with it. I do sell the modified version of Chai Hu Jia Long Mu Li Tang through my etsy store but highly recommend that people work with a holistic vet if they are using it, which you are already doing, as it can sometimes cause side effects. The Yunnan Baiyao which is sold many places is also a very important part of treating hemangiosarcoma in my opinion. Truthfully before following Steve’s protocol I had not found anything I was impressed with.
    Hope this is helpful
    best wishes,
    Lena

  9. Amanda Says:

    Thanks Dr. Lena.

    I probably should have said where her cancer is at. It’s on her heart. Would this affect treatment? Does the Dang Gui Bu Xue Tang that my holistic vet prescribed as good as what Dr. Steve Marsden uses?

    Amanda

  10. Lena Says:

    Heart is more difficult as surgery is not an option. I have used a combo of Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang and Xiao Chai Hu Tang with Yunnan Baiyao in the past and felt like it bought more time for heart hemangio. If I had a heart hemangiosarcoma I was treating currently (I haven’t seen one since learning Steve’s protocol), I would replace the Chai Hu Jia Long Mu Li Tang for the XCHT, but still use Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang and Yunnan Baiyao. Dang Gui Bu Xue Tang is good at treating anemia (which can be a large issue with hemangio) but not very strong against cancer or bleeding in my opinion, however I don’t have your dog in front of me so your holistic vet may be seeing something that I don’t. Realized I need to modify the hemangio article to talk about heart hemangiosarcoma, as I haven’t included it.

  11. Joanne Johnson Says:

    Dear Dr. Lena

    My 7 old Doberman Pinscher has just been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He is due to start oral Melphalan and prednisone this weekend. We caught this early as he shows no symptoms just some bleeding at the corner of his mouth which prompted our vet visit. I have a Ph.D in Natural medicine. My specialty is in herbal medicine in humans. I am a bit worried about chemo. I favor natural methods if I can.

    Can I use artemisinin in conjunction with chemo? Romeo is 70 pounds.

    Thank you.

    Dr. Joanne M. Johnson

  12. Lena Says:

    Hi Joanne,
    I often use artemisinin in addition to chemo. I also have almost all my chemo patients on Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2011/09/24/bu-zhong-yi-qi-tang-chemotherapy-herbal-support-for-dogs-and-cats/ as it really helps with side effects (you may also have some good herbals that will work just as well). For blood bourne cancers like mutiple myeloma I also often use Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2011/04/22/xue-fu-zhu-yu-tang-supporting-the-lungs-against-cancer/ for its blood stasis properties.

    Most people end up landing on the artemisinin page but I have about 3/4 of a book done on working with cancer with integrative methods, lots more infomation. http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/cancer-care/

    Good luck! Its great that you have a wonderful herbal background and can help him with that.
    best wishes,
    Lena

  13. Joanne Johnson Says:

    Should I just use the BZYQT or the artemisinin too? Also do you think that the Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang would be better for the multiple myeloma? I’m trying to figure out what the best supplement would be for his immune system and getting the myeloma into remission.

    Thanks.

    Joanne

  14. Lena Says:

    I often times use all three together. Most dogs I treat for cancer are on 3-5 herbals even if chemo is involved.

  15. Twyla Says:

    Hi I was wondering if I could get advise on giving my heavy shitzu hepalin for cushings disease? Will it hurt her? How much should I give her shes probably 25lbs or more. Any advise would be good if it wont hurt I would like to try it as chemo is one of the treatments for canine cushings.

  16. Twyla Says:

    Hi I was wondering if I could get advise on giving my heavy shitzu hepalin for cushings disease? Will it hurt her? How much should I give her shes probably 25lbs or more. Any advise would be good if it wont hurt I would like to try it. What else do you recommend with the artemisinin

  17. Lena Says:

    Hi Twyla,
    I am not sure what hepalin is, have never used it myself. Chemo is not a treatment for Cushing’s disease unless you are dealing with an adrenal adenocarcinoma and most dogs with those do not have Cushings. I do not recommend artemisinin for Cushings. I don’t know if you have already found my article on Cushing’s disease but if you haven’t it might be helpful http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2011/06/25/managing-cushings-disease-in-dogs-holistically/
    best wishes,
    Lena

  18. sharon Says:

    Hello Lena,

    Our 11 year old doggy has grade 3 soft cell sarcoma. We have had a tumor removed from her elbow and could not get clean margins. She starts chemo next week and I am wondering if it is ok to use artemisinin with chemo? Thanks!

    Sharon

  19. Elias Says:

    Hello,

    I’ve just treated my cat with the first Chemo therapy session and it went well. This chemo therapy was done after two cancer surgeries in a period of 2 months. September and November this year and the third was done in December 10th whcih then a chemotherapy was suggested

    The Oncologist that performed the treatment was well recommended and is actually excellent – so far 🙂
    Everything happened as discussed prior the chemotherapy so I’m positive as my cat responded well and had no side effects other than being a bit quiet.

    However, being directed from another forum to learn more on \Artemisin/ I wonder why the oncologist didn’t recommend it.

    My question would be, My cat is 14 years old and had two cancer surgeries this year. Just 3 days ago we’ve done a chemo session. Prior to the last surgery we’ve done an ultra sound, Xrays from different directions and all was excellent, lungs, liver, kidney, heart, etc..

    What would be your suggestion now knowing that she had three surgeries in a period of 3 months and a chemo therapy. Her Cancer is very aggressive.
    Is Artemisin still a good decision?

    Thank you

  20. Lena Says:

    Hi Sharon,
    I almost always use artemisinin with chemotherapy and consider it to be safe. I hope things go well for your dog.
    best wishes,
    Lena

  21. Lena Says:

    Hi Elias,
    I have almost all my cancer patients on artemisinin because I have found it to be a safe and effective treatment for slowing cancer down. Cats are always a little more tricky because they usually hate oral medications so it really depends how much trauma is involved with a daily or twice a day medication. See http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2012/05/29/cats-and-cancer-some-thoughts-before-you-treat/ .Most oncologists no matter how good, don’t recommend natural treatments either because they don’t know enough about them or are against them. See http://pathwithpaws.com/blog/2012/11/25/supporting-chemotherapy-with-anti-oxidants-and-herbs-in-dogs-and-cats/ . With cats I try to recommend that folks see a holistic vet if possible just because I find you can not give as many supplements as with dogs so you really have to pick the right 1-3 for your cat. Sounds like so far she has done very well, I hope that continues.
    best wishes,
    Lena

  22. judy fulop Says:

    Hi. I was wondering what you would suggest, but especially if artemesia would not be a good idea for my PWD 12 y/o Francie who had an ovarian cancer removed but with vascular invasion, 4 months after surgery she was found to have pink fluid on aspiration on ultrasound but everything else fine. Yesterday, since the fluid built up, only a small amount of it was aspirated because it was bloody and contained non-coagulated blood. She was given two days, but I’ve started her with my holistic vet on YB, 1 cap twice a day. Would you go up on the dose? Would you say that artemesia is counter-indicated because she is losing blood in her abdominal cavity and it would sequester too much iron? Even if the iron is in the cancerous cells that line the peritoneum (most likely source)? Thanks. Judy Fulop

  23. Lena Says:

    Judy,
    I have not seen an ovarian cancer in my practice and am not sure how they normally present Chinese medicine wise. Your holistic vet will probably have a much better idea of how to treat her since they are able to see her. Artemisinin should not make the blood lose worse or sequester iron away from normal cells. The yunnan baiyao is probably going to be the most helpful, if she is really bleeding a lot you should probably take to your vet about if giving the red pill would be helpful. If they think she may die of blood lose that would be the perfect time to use it. Also perhaps a formula that helps her build up blood volume would be helpful. The most simple and effective one contains just Dang Gui and Huang Qi. I’m not sure what PWD is but assuming that she is a dog.
    best wishes,
    Lena