Researchers have been studying the health benefits of Agaricus blazei (A. blazei), an edible mushroom native to Brazil. A. blazei appears to act as an antioxidant, to balance glucose within the body, prevent abnormal cell growth, bolster the immune system and attack existing tumor cells. Is it worth taking in supplement form?

Health Benefits

Studies show the benefits of A. blazei for the following conditions…

  • Cancer. In one study, patients with cervical, ovarian or endometrial cancer were treated with chemotherapy, plus either an oral A. blazei extract or a placebo. The activity of tumor-fighting cells was significantly higher in those taking A. blazei compared with those who took the placebo.

Most striking: Patients taking A. blazei also suffered fewer side effects of chemotherapy, including hair loss, weakness and decreased appetite.

  • Hepatitis C. A study in Japanese Pharmacology & Therapeutics suggests that A. blazei extract may be effective in treating hepatitis C. In 80% of study participants, A. blazei extract appeared to reduce levels of the liver enzyme gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT), an indicator of liver damage.

My Advice

For those with any type of cancer particularly those noted above) or hepatitis C, I recommend 1,500 milligrams (mg) to 3,000 mg daily of A. blazei. Have your doctor determine the dose and monitor your response, including blood glucose levels. (A. blazei can improve insulin resistance, a condition in which the body doesn't use insulin properly.)

Caution: A. blazei should not be taken by anyone on immune-suppressing transplant medications-these patients do not want their immune system to reject the new organ. Avoid A. blazei if you have an autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis) in which the immune system already is overactive.

Good choice: NutraceuticsRx AgariPure Agaricus Blazei Murrill Extract by American Nutrition (800-454-3724,

Natural Way to Kill Cancer Cells

Most people have never heard of intravenous M V ) vitamin C, and yet it is one of the best alternative therapies to fight cancer. As most people know, vitamin C is an antioxidant with an immune-boosting effect. But when I and a host of other natural physicians-administer it at very high doses, it plays an altogether different role, acting like a type of natural chemotherapy and killing cancer cells. When used in conjunction with regular chemotherapy, IV vitamin C works right alongside it, helping to kill cancer cells while also boosting the immune system and helping the body to rid itself of unwanted waste products.

At my clinic, I use IV vitamin C treatment for patients at all stages of cancer. All of these patients are also under the care of an oncologist. I give IV vitamin C to cancer patients at the outset of their treatment, to those who have tried conventional treatments to no avail and to those in remission who want an immune system boost. For patients with terminal disease, it helps to improve quality of life by increasing their energy and reducing nausea.

The use of vitamins in the treatment of cancer is controversial, extending back 40 years to when Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling, PhD, first proposed the use of high-dose vitamin C in the treatment of cancer. Many oncologists today remain skeptical about using any type of vitamin therapy in the treatment of cancer. Cancer specialists maintain that some types of chemotherapy and radiation kill cancer cells by generating large numbers of destructive free radicals. Because vitamin C is an antioxidant, they believe that it will neutralize these free radicals and reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation.

I think this view is simplistic. At low doses (under 25 grams (gl, or 25,000 milligrams (mg), vitamin C's antioxidant properties do help to neutralize disease-causing free radicals. But at doses higher than 25 g, vitamin C has a prooxidant effect that exploits a weakness in the biochemistry of cancer cells and increases production of hydrogen peroxide, an acid that has been shown to kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells.

It's impossible to achieve the required high concentrations of vitamin C through oral supplements alone. The body regulates the amount of vitamin C that can be absorbed through the gut, and very large amounts of the vitamin will cause diarrhea. Intravenous vitamin C bypasses this problem because it goes directly into the bloodstream. I provide my patients with IV vitamin C in the office. They lie comfortably in a reclining chair during a one-to two-hour treatment session, at which time they receive doses of 30 g to 75 g of vitamin C.

Promising Research

The benefits of IV vitamin C for cancer patients has been demonstrated in studies, including those by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. Laboratory studies have shown that IV vitamin C kills cancer cells but not normal cells. Studies by physicians at University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, for example, described two cases in which patients suffering from advanced ovarian cancer underwent surgery and then received chemotherapy and IV vitamin C. Three years after treatment, both women had no sign of disease, which is quite unusual, because the prognosis for ovarian cancer typically is quite poor. Other research has shown the benefit of this treatment for terminally ill patients. A Korean study found that a combination of IV and oral vitamin C improved quality of life, reducing nausea and increasing energy in terminally ill patients.

Most researchers agree that data from large clinical trials is needed. Several clinical trials currently are under way to assess the effect of IV vitamin C and other antioxidants on different types of cancers.

What To Do…

Many oncologists will not advocate vitamin therapy in any form.

My advice: While you're undergoing conventional therapy, look for a medical doctor or naturopathic physician experienced in IV therapies to work with your oncologist. You and your doctors can decide whether to administer IV vitamins during or immediately after receiving conventional therapies. Your doctor will determine the number of treatments you need. Some patients get one or two IV vitamin C infusions weekly for the first year after diagnosis and initial treatment for cancer, and then every other week for a few years to help prevent cancer cells from returning and to boost the immune system.

Large amounts of vitamin C are nontoxic and generally safe for everyone except those with kidney failure, who can't tolerate large amounts. In addition, a small percentage of people are deficient in the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), which is needed to maintain normal red blood cells. Without this enzyme, large amounts of vitamin C can cause hemolytic anemia, a type of anemia that involves the abnormal breakdown of red blood cells. Before receiving IV vitamin C, ask your doctor to test you for this deficiency. If you have it, you should not have IV vitamin C.

Note that patients' response to cancer treatment of any kind varies, and no physician can ever know for certain how a tumor will respond to a specific treatment.

Milk Thistle Protects Liver

Chemotherapy drugs can inflame the liver, forcing patients to reduce or halt cancer-fighting treatment

Study: Leukemia patients undergoing chemo took a daily placebo or milk thistle extract. After 28 days, liver enzyme levels were better among milk thistle users than placebo users. Ask your oncologist about milk thistle.

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