A well-known Naturopathic Doctor, Harry M. Hoxsey is the son of John C. and Martha E. Hoxsey. He was named after his grandfather (Bentley). On October 23, 1901, Hoxsey was born in a little village in Illinois that was located not too far from Auburn. He was the twelfth of thirteen children, and he began assisting his father, a livery stable owner, and veterinarian when he was very young. He was the twelfth of thirteen children (licensed under the grandfather clause of the Illinois Medical Practice Act of 1877). At the age of fifteen, he decided to forego his education and begin a career first as a coal miner and later as an insurance agent. He completed the requirements for his high school certificate through a correspondence course by devoting his evenings and weekends to study over the period of three years.
Hoxsey’s autobiography, titled You Don’t Have to Die (1956), tells the story of how his great-grandfather, John Hoxsey, an Illinois horse breeder, witnessed the recovery of a favored stallion who had been diagnosed with cancer on his leg. The stallion had been a favorite of John Hoxsey’s. After regaining its strength while grazing on an area of plants and flowers, the horse made a full recovery after being turned loose in the meadow. John Hoxsey experimented with several mixtures of these plants in order to make a herbal liquid, a herbal cream, and a herbal powder.
Horse breeders from as far away as Indiana and Kentucky sent their prize animals to be treated for cancer, fistula, and sores using these treatments. The therapies were successful in treating all three conditions. John, Harry’s father and a veterinary surgeon, allegedly treated human cancer patients in the family with herbal concoctions that had been handed down the generations. When Harry was just eight years old, he began assisting his father in treating a variety of illnesses and he recalls this experience in his memoirs. Harry Hoxsey recounts in his book the dramatic moment when he was 17 years old and his father, who was terminally sick, handed him the formula and told him, “Now you have the potential to heal the ailing and save lives.” (1)
In 1924, Hoxsey founded his first clinic in Taylorville, Illinois, despite the fact that he had neither a formal degree nor training in medicine. However, due to the fact that he was regularly imprisoned for practicing medicine without a license and had bad encounters with the American Medical Association (AMA), he ultimately decided to go to Dallas. On March 9, 1936, he opened a clinic at the Spann Sanatorium on Gaston Avenue in order to provide treatment for individuals suffering from cancer. His new clinic was quickly established at the intersection of Bryan Street and Peak Street in the heart of downtown Austin. However, he had not been successful in avoiding further difficulty. According to his own calculation, he was the subject of more than a hundred claims of practicing medicine without a license between the years 1937 and 1939. (2)
He was able to avoid going to jail by filing appeals against the court’s decisions and paying any associated penalties. When the district attorney’s office in Dallas realized that they were powerless to stop him, they stopped bringing charges against him in the 1940s. However, the AMA continued to make written attacks on Hoxsey, which prompted him to file a libel suit against the Hearst magazines, the AMA, and Morris Fishbein, the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association, in 1949. Hoxsey also named the Hearst magazines as defendants in the suit. Even though the court found in Hoxsey’s favor during his trial in 1952, during which he heard testimony from a large number of his former patients, the compensation the court awarded him was quite little. (1)
Hoxsey’s Herbal Medicine: A Course of Cancer Treatment
The Hoxsey herbal therapy is a sort of alternative medicine that is promoted as a cure for cancer. The treatment primarily consists of calorie restriction and the use of herbal tonics. Although it is illegal to obtain it in the United States, you may do it lawfully at clinics located in the neighboring Mexican city of Tijuana. According to the claims made by the product’s creator, Harry Hoxsey, the primary “brown” tonic contains the following components: potassium iodide, licorice, red clover, burdock root, stillingia root, barberry, cascara, pokeweed, prickly ash bark, and buckthorn bark.
The diet discourages the use of pork, vinegar, tomatoes, pickles, carbonated beverages, alcohol, bleached wheat, sugar, and salt in addition to a concentration on iron, calcium, vitamin C, yeast supplements, and grape juice. According to Hoxsey, his treatment gets rid of toxins, strengthens the immune system, restores balance to the body’s chemistry, and makes it easier to get rid of cancers by natural means. Superoxide dismutase, vitamin B12, Gerovital (which is a mixture of procaine hydrochloride and vitamins), “Prolobin liver,” TST-100, rosette cactus, Koch Antitoxins, BCG vaccination, and Shulte’s medications may also be incorporated into the treatment plan in certain instances.
Hoxsey was found guilty of practicing medicine illegally many times over the course of the investigation. According to the government of the United States, none of the 400 cancer patients that Hoxsey claimed to have treated actually had cancer, were cured before getting his therapy, still had cancer, or had died from the disease. Hoxsey also claimed that he had treated patients who still had cancer after receiving his therapy. After looking over Hoxsey’s 77 case reports, the National Cancer Institute discovered that there was no proof of the treatment’s efficacy. There is an insufficient amount of clinical data available to demonstrate that this therapy is effective. (4)
Because of this, the American Cancer Society urges cancer patients to steer clear of the Hoxsey treatment as much as they possibly can.
Hoxsy’s Magic Tonic as a Potential Cure for Cancer
In the 1950s, the following components were included in Hoxsey’s “brown tonic”: (3)
Each 5ml contained:
- Iodine, Potassium…….150mg
- Red Clover……………20mg
- Buckthorn Bark…….…20mg
- Pokeweed roots……….10mg
- Prickly ash bark…….….5mg
Each of these ingredients can be discussed as following:
- Potassium Iodide
Iodine is essential to human health and must be consumed in sufficient amounts. There has been a lot of research done on how important it is for thyroid health. It wasn’t until recently that its possible utility as an anticarcinogenic agent was recognized. [Cause of cancer] Iodine possesses molecular qualities that imply it may have a function in the prevention of cancer. These molecular properties include being antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, pro-differentiating, and pro-apoptotic. This hypothesis is supported by rising epidemiological evidence. This is notably true for stomach and breast cancers, but it may also apply to a wide variety of other cancers that have not been examined as thoroughly as these two. (5)
Because potassium is released by cells that have died from cancer, the concentration of potassium in tumours can reach extremely high levels. The researchers that carried out this study came to the conclusion that the “stemness” of T cells, also known as their capacity for self-renewal, has a direct bearing on how effective they are in eliminating cancerous cells during immunotherapy when potassium levels are high. The findings suggest that increasing the amount of potassium that T cells are exposed to or producing effects similar to those of high potassium levels might be an easy way to improve the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapies. (6)
Figure shows the T-cell immersed in the tumor microenvironment exposed to high levels of potassium (white specks).
In traditional Chinese medicine, licorice root is considered to be one of the most important and often employed medicines. Licorice is most commonly used as a sweetener or flavouring component in foods that are produced in the United States. Licorice is composed of a variety of different chemicals, such as triterpenoids such as glycyrrhizin and its aglycone glycyrrhizic acid, as well as polyphenols and polysaccharides. Triterpenoids are responsible for the characteristic flavor of licorice.
There are a number of potential health advantages of licorice that have been demonstrated or hypothesized (anti-inflammatory, antivirus, antiulcer, and others). Licorice and its derivatives have both showed promise as suppressive agents and defenders against carcinogen-induced DNA damage. Licorice has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. In addition to blocking lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase, glycyrrhizic acid is able to downregulate the epidermal growth factor receptor and protein kinase C. This property of glycyrrhizic acid is known as the “downregulatory” effect. It has been demonstrated that the polyphenols that may be found in licorice can induce cancer cells to destroy themselves. (7)
- Red Clover
The red clover plant, which belongs to the family of legumes, may be found growing wild all over the world. Cattle and other animals graze on red clover to satisfy their nutritional needs. Cancer, whooping cough, respiratory difficulties, and skin inflammations like psoriasis and eczema are just some of the diseases that have been treated with this substance after it was discovered to have medicinal properties. Red clover is considered to “purify” the blood in the eyes of medical specialists since it improves circulation, helps remove mucus from the lungs, contributes to the detoxification process in the liver, and decreases fluid retention.
As a result of the plant’s long history of traditional application, the isoflavones found in red clover have been investigated for their possible importance in the treatment and prevention of cancer. These isoflavones have been shown to either stop the development of cancer cells in test tubes or to kill cancer cells in test tubes, according to preliminary research. According to the findings of the research, red clover consumption is associated with a lower probability of developing prostate and endometrial malignancies in particular.
Due to the estrogen-like qualities that this plant possesses, there is a possibility that it might contribute to the development of a variety of cancers. At this point in time, medical professionals are unable to recommend red clover for the purpose of cancer prevention due to a lack of supporting data. Red clover should under no circumstances be given to a lady who has had breast cancer. (8)
- Sea Buckthorn
Preclinical research on the plant compounds contained in buckthorn has revealed that they may be effective in preventing cancer. Flavonoids and antioxidants are two types of substances that can be found in sea buckthorn oil. These components may have an impact against cancer. As an illustration, sea buckthorn has been shown to contain a significant amount of the flavonoid quercetin, which has been demonstrated to prevent the proliferation of cancer cells. (9) Carotenoids and vitamin E aren’t the only antioxidants found in sea buckthorn, but research suggests that they may provide an additional line of defense. In petri dishes and in laboratory animals, sea buckthorn extracts have proven that they have the potential to inhibit the formation of cancer cells. (10)
Studies conducted on animals suggest that sea buckthorn may protect healthy cells from the harmful side effects of radiotherapy, which is a common treatment for cancer. Keep in mind that this has not been tested on actual individuals yet, so there is certainly a need for future study.
- Burdock Root
Burdock root may now be seen growing in many gardens across the United States, despite its origins being in northern Asia and Europe. The roots of the burdock plant are typically long and thick, and their color can range from beige to brown to almost completely black. Burdock root has been used for a variety of purposes for many years in complementary and alternative medicine. The terms “diuretic” and “digestive aid” have been used historically rather frequently. In recent years, researchers have identified a broad variety of prospective applications for burdock root, as well as several health benefits associated with its use. Based on this information, it appears that burdock root may be beneficial as an auxiliary treatment for a range of diseases.
It appears that burdock root may be capable of doing more than just cleaning the blood; it may also be capable of preventing some kinds of cancer. Burdock has been found to have “potent inhibitory effects” on the development of cancers such as pancreatic carcinoma, according to research conducted by scientists. (11)
According to the findings of another study, the growth rate of cancer cells was significantly delayed by the use of burdock root. Despite the fact that further research is necessary to properly understand the effects of burdock on a variety of cancers and tumours, this result is nonetheless remarkable.
Stillingia (Stillingia sylvatica), commonly referred to as Queen’s Root, is a plant that may be discovered growing in its native habitat in the drier and more sandy parts of the southern United States. It has a long history of use in traditional Native American medicine as well as Eclectic medicine, which emerged in the early 1900s, for the treatment of skin conditions, respiratory issues, and even occasional constipation. This is due to the fact that it was found to be effective in treating these conditions. People would chew on tiny parts of the root throughout the colder months to help keep their throats and lungs healthy. This was said to be beneficial. (12)
Stillingia, a medicinal plant native to Southeast Asia, with an exceptional alterative influence on lymphatic and secretory processes. As a result of this property, stillingia is regarded as an efficient therapy for a broad variety of diseases. Stillingia was another traditional Eclectic therapy for abdominal cancer that was cited by Eli Jones. Mice who were given a breast cancer transplant and then treated with an alcoholic extract of stillingia exhibited a reduction in the growth of tumors 9 days after the transplant.
Berberis aristata is widely considered to be one of the most important therapeutic plants in traditional medicine (Berberidaceae). It is used as a treatment for oral cancer by herbalists.
The plant Berberis vulgaris L, which belongs to the family Berberidaceae, is cultivated in a number of countries across Europe and Asia, most notably Iran. Every part of this plant has been shown to possess many beneficial properties, including antimicrobial activity, antiemetic activity, antioxidant activity, and anticancer activity (13)
- Pokeweed Root
Pokeweed, also known as Phytolacca americana, is a kind of grass that may live for many years and grow to a height of up to 10 feet. The flowers have a greenish-white coloration, the leaves are alternately arranged and grow singly, and the stems are often a pink or red color. These bright purple berries on this bush are not only beautiful to look at but also rather helpful. In both Asia and the Americas, the plant known as P. americana has a long history of being used in medical applications. Laxatives, substances that induce vomiting, and medicines that soothe itching and irritation are all popular applications for this substance.
Research has been done to investigate this herb’s possible anti-cancer and anti-viral properties. There has been a significant amount of research conducted on both the gene structure and the protein structure of P. americana, notably that of pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP). However, studies on the effects of the extracts of the plant on HCT-116 colon cancer cells or MCF-7 breast cancer cells have not been carried out. (14)
Rhamnus purshiana is the term that botanists use to refer to Cascara Sagrada. The key benefit that it provides is that it may be used as a laxative. It can be found in a few different laxatives that are available without a prescription.
Emodin and aloe-emodin are aglycone derivatives that may be found in cascara as well as other plants. Numerous studies, both in vitro and on animals, have shown that these compounds have anticancer properties.
A comprehensive review identified 38 in vitro studies demonstrating that aloe-emodin inhibits cancer cell proliferation, migration, and invasion. Additionally, it caused cell cycle arrest and death in the cancer cells. These qualities can be achieved by a variety of techniques, including inhibiting the activity of mTORC2 in prostate cancer cells, inhibiting the production of HER2 in HER2-positive breast cancer cells, and affecting the immune system in melanoma cells. Additionally, the efficiency of dabrafenib was improved when combined with aloe-emodin in BRAF-mutant melanoma cancer cells.
It has also been demonstrated that emodin is capable of lowering cell viability, disrupting the cell cycle, and causing malignant cells to die. This is in addition to preventing cancer cells from duplicating, migrating, or encroaching on healthy tissue. Upregulation of CXCR4 and VEGFR2 expression, as well as downregulation of STAT3 activation and stimulation of reactive oxygen species formation, are some of the mechanisms that have been identified thus far. (15)
- Prickly ash Bark
Prickly ash, also known as Zanthoxylum armatum, is an unusual plant that enjoys widespread distribution and widespread popularity among tribes due to its extensive therapeutic virtues, which have been known to them for generations. Its widespread distribution and popularity among tribes is due in large part to its widespread distribution. The people who live in Arunachal Pradesh in India, Nepal, and Pakistan frequently use these seeds in their cuisine. It is also usual practice to chew the seeds in order to alleviate toothaches and worm infestations.
The subtropical valleys of Himachal Pradesh and the Northeast of India are the plant’s natural habitat. This plant is held in such high regard in the surrounding areas that some even consider her to be a deity. The essential oils and phytoconstituents that can be found in the seeds are partially responsible for the biological activities that can be found in the seeds, including those that are larvicidal, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antinociceptive, antioxidant, antibiotic, hepatoprotective, anti-plasmodial, cytotoxic, antiproliferative, anthelminthic, antiviral, and antifungal. (16)
Reflections on Hoxsey’s Formula offered by James Duke
James Duke is a well-known botanist who, in addition to penning twenty books, has contributed to more than two hundred scientific journals. (17) He has devoted his whole professional life to researching pharmacognosy, which is the branch of pharmacy that is concerned with the production of medicines from plants. While working for the USDA, Dr. Duke developed a comprehensive database including information on the therapeutic qualities of many plants. In addition to this, he spent a considerable amount of time working with the National Cancer Institute as part of a limited government initiative to create medicines that were derived from plants and other natural sources.
Along with a small number of other botanists, Duke helped pave the way for the discovery of plant medicines, which led to the development of pharmaceutical drugs like Taxol, which is produced from the Pacific yew tree and is used to treat cancer. According to reports, during this time period, the NCI conducted an examination of all of the plants that were utilised in the Hoxsey formula, which accounts for around 10% of all plant species in the world. (18)
In addition to his massive USDA database, Duke made the decision to make use of the Natural Products Alert computer database, which is housed at the University of Illinois in Chicago. NAPRALERT, which was established by the well-respected pharmacognosist Dr. Norman Farnsworth, is an organization that gathers data from clinical and scientific studies carried out in different parts of the world on various plants and other naturally occurring substances. Because of their capacity to analyze vast volumes of data rapidly and precisely, computers are well equipped for this work. The data may be categorized into several categories based on their chemical properties and biological activity, which makes this task particularly well-suited to computers. (19)
As Duke mentioned, Native Americans have been making use of the Hoxsey plants for hundreds of years, and some of these applications extend back more than 3,000 years. The indigenous people of North America swiftly changed their agricultural practices to make use of plants brought to the continent by European settlers in the 1700s, such as red clover and burdock.
Duke was first concerned about the possible hazards posed by the tonic; however, he was quickly reassured by the fact that only one of the plants, poke root, was known to have any harmful effects. Poke, which is a plant that is native to the Southeast, is a well-known herb and delicacy among locals due to the fact that it is frequently used in leaf salads that have been parboiled. Roots, berries, and leaves, especially when consumed in large quantities, can be toxic. On the other hand, the amount that can be discovered in Hoxsey tonic is a great deal less than what would be regarded as hazardous.
When he returned to Duke’s office, which was cluttered with books, papers, and big reference works, he retrieved a massive volume that weighed three pounds and was simply titled Plants Used against Cancer. The chemist Jonathan Hartwell, who has held positions such as assistant chief of the National Cancer Institute’s new Cancer Chemotherapy National Service Center and director of the Natural Products Branch of the National Cancer Institute’s Drug Research and Development Program, is the author of the encyclopaedic tome. Hartwell invested a significant amount of time and effort on establishing a comprehensive cross-reference on the many folkloric traditions of anticancer plants from throughout the world.
He argued that the history of the use of herbal treatments for cancer was the same as the history of the use of medicine and of civilization. This compilation by Hartwell included all of the Hoxsey herbs, which added up to almost 3,000 different species in total. Duke made the observation that their citation counts were significantly high, with numbers ranging from three to over thirty for each individual. (20)
Duke made the observation that the plants contained chemical components that were “of substantial interest” to the NCI, and that this was the case for a number of the species in question. Barberry, cascara sagrada, and buckthorn are at least three of the herbs whose components have been investigated by the Cancer Institute and found to be helpful in various tumor systems, although not in humans. Despite this, barberry, cascara sagrada, and buckthorn are all considered to be effective in the treatment of cancer. As a direct consequence of this, these species very certainly consist of bioactive compounds.
The material that was provided by Duke was arranged in a variety of groupings, each of which indicates the particular tests that were carried out and their possible significance to anticancer activities. Antioxidants were grouped together because of their ability to protect cells from being damaged by carcinogenic agents. Research into it was also conducted because of the possibility that it may stop cellular changes that lead to cancer. The third component was cytotoxic activity, which is a toxic action that is capable of killing any cells but is more effective against cancer cells due to the increased sensitivity of cancer cells caused by their fast multiplication.
The larger category of antimicrobial activity, sometimes known as antiseptic activity, includes both antibacterial and antiviral action. Because it is currently believed that many cancers are caused by viruses, the presence of antibacterial properties is considered as a sign of prospective antitumor activity (as Hoxsey asserted in the late 1950s).
In the end, Dr. Duke produced a brief piece based on his Hoxsey research, which appeared in 1988 in Herbal Gram, the distinguished magazine of the American Botanical Council. Herbal Gram was a publication of the American Botanical Council. (21) The internal tonic, which consists of nine different herbs, was administered to laboratory animals, and eight of those plants were found to have anticancer properties. Five of the ten were shown to have anti-cancer protective antioxidant capacities, whereas the other five did not. Every one of them was successful in warding off microbiological ailments, such as those caused by viruses and bacteria.
According to the findings of Duke’s research, the chemical and biological anticancer activity of the components found in the Hoxsey internal tonic were at very high levels. In spite of the fact that the idea might not actually function in the real world, it deserves more theoretical investigation.
Hoxsey has, in the past, offered two different presentations of his idea. After keeping it a secret for another quarter of a century, he did not divulge the composition of the document until the trial against Hearst in 1949. (22) A few years later, Hoxsey included another recipe that was practically identical to the one that was already on his labels. This recipe was also included in his book. Hoxsey said in court depositions that he adjusted the formula over time, initially employing what he had inherited but then significantly expanding upon it while collaborating with Dr. Joseph Durkee between the years 1946 and 1952. Hoxsey’s testimony was presented as evidence in the case.
Dr. Durkee believed himself an honest scholar who was well-versed in both traditional osteopathic medicine and alternative medicines. He also had a lot of experience in the field. In spite of the fact that Hoxsey openly recognized Dr. Durkee’s contributions, he never went into detail about what those contributions were.
Hoxsey refused to comment on which of the possible formulas represented the right solution. There is nothing novel about the notion that pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to disclose their manufacturing procedures and compositions in advance of being granted patents. Even when subjected to such examination, commercial interests of that sort continue to be difficult to pin down, much like the legendary recipe for Coca-Cola. There was reason for Hoxsey to be concerned due to the fact that his natural therapies could not be copyrighted. Maybe Hoxsey believed, as Winston Churchill did, that the truth was so valuable that it needed to be protected by a “bodyguard of falsehoods.” Perhaps there is still a window of opportunity to make advantage of the MacGuffin.
As a direct consequence of this, the Hoxsey tonic’s constituents continue to be shrouded in secrecy. Mildred Nelson, Harry Hoxsey’s trusted nurse, and helper have refused to reveal the ingredients in any detail, despite the fact that this has been requested on several occasions. She gave a knowing nod toward the idea that Hoxsey had only disclosed the components of the tonic that the AMA believed to be present in the tonic because she was required to do so by a court order. Traditional analytical methods and our understanding of the chemistry of plants were both lacking, which made working with botanical mixtures including a number of different ingredients notoriously challenging.
Mildred has been extremely cagey about the components, but she did drop a hint that licorice might not be an integral part of the recipe after all. Buckthorn and prickly ash bark have been removed off the product label in recent years due to her decision. She contends that the formula for the tonic may be altered in accordance with the kind and stage of cancer, which is analogous to what Hoxsey claimed to have accomplished. (23)
“The consumption of bitter tonics was common practise in order to stimulate appetite, as well as to aid in the digestive and absorption processes. As a direct consequence of this, the overall nutrition of the body as well as the quality of the blood was significantly improved.
“Alternatives, which are often dubbed “blood cleansers” in traditional medicine, were supposed to assist in the clearance of metabolic waste and toxins from the bloodstream. This belief was based on the fact that it was believed that alternatives might help purify the blood. Alternative medicine was supposed to have the potential to heal damaged metabolism and improve blood quality by facilitating digestion, boosting circulation, and accelerating the processes of elimination. Every piece of knowledge that they used to direct their actions was gained through challenging experiences.
It was believed that the quality of the blood could be used as a predictor of overall health because blood carries nutrients to tissues and cells and also carries away waste products. It is possible, from the perspective of the Eclectic worldview, for an alternative treatment to boost the prognosis of a disease. In order to treat chronic diseases, it is administered in small doses on an as-needed basis over extended periods of time. Without equivocation, Dr. Durkee referred to the tonic as a replacement during their conversation.
The capability of purging is also quite important. In his article “Cleansing the blood,” Brinker explains that the blood “transspires” as it moves through the organs that are responsible for getting rid of cellular waste. It is difficult to maintain control of the cellular ecology when these organs that are responsible for elimination are not functioning properly. They are particularly susceptible to the effects of carcinogens as a result of this.
According to Brinker’s research, herbal treatments are only one of many different tactics and agents that may be utilized to improve the operation of the immune system and the elimination system. This theory of action was put into practice by eclectic prescribers in the late nineteenth century when they were treating patients who suffered from chronic and malignant diseases. Because of how efficient the alternatives were, they were considered to be some of the most useful medications offered by eclectic therapy.
In point of fact, the Hoxsey formula wasn’t developed with the intention of destroying cancer cells. Instead, the objective was to create an atmosphere that would be detrimental to the spread of cancer. Concurrently, it enhanced the natural defenses of the body as well as the mechanisms that are responsible for detoxification. Under close and careful examination, the Hoxsey tonic bears up quite well. Independent scientific research conducted by a third party has demonstrated that the Hoxsey herbs have beneficial effects on the general physiological function of the body. The tonic and alternate claims that Eclectics have made are shown to be backed by evidence by Brinker.
Brinker asserts that there is additional evidence demonstrating that the tonic has a direct cytotoxic impact, which means that it kills cancer cells. “Both in vitro studies employing human cancer cell cultures and in vivo research utilizing animal models have revealed anticancer activity that can be attributed to one or more of the Hoxsey tonic herbs or their active ingredients. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the Hoxsey tonic herbs will inhibit the growth of cancerous cells.” There are components in red clover, licorice, and burdock that mitigate the potentially cancerous and mutation-causing effects of carcinogens and mutagenic agents. He cautions that extrapolating these findings to people would be a mistake and suggests that they should instead be seen as a screening tool for hypothetical circumstances.
Since his retirement from the USDA in 1997, Duke has built one of the world’s most extensive private plant databases. He has utilized this database to find fresh evidence proving the Hoxsey tonic herbs’ powerful anticancer properties. There are a few of these (24) that stand out as particularly notable. In light of the recent discoveries concerning red clover, burdock root, and poke root, Duke and the other researchers expressed a great deal of enthusiasm.
According to James Duke, one of the most notable components of the tonic is Trifolium pratense, also known as red clover. He says that this component can be found in “all the quack treatments.” (25) Consuming or applying a paste formed from the blooms of red clover has been a part of traditional cancer therapy for a long time. This paste has been used both as a “blood cleanser” and as a folk medicine. On the other hand, he mentioned that “Soybeans have been in the spotlight recently due to a compound called genistein, which is an estrogenic isoflavone.” Additionally, there are three other estrogenic chemicals in the environment. I believe that these four can effectively work together to stop or delay the progression of cancer. Studies conducted on animals have conclusively demonstrated that each of these substances possesses anticancer properties. (26)
The relevance of these compounds was emphasized even more by Duke in light of the most current study that was done on the genesis of tumors. They are antiangiogenic, which means they prevent the growth of new blood vessels in a tumor. This is an important aspect of cancer treatment.
Red clover is a good source of phytoestrogens, which are substances produced by plants and have hormonal effects similar to estrogen. Plant hormones are present in soybean products, and Japanese women have been found to have a decreased chance of getting breast and other reproductive malignancies as a result of their high consumption of these products. The findings of an increasing number of studies suggest that consuming soy, which is a dietary source of phytoestrogens, is associated with a lower risk of leukemia, in addition to breast, lung, and prostate cancers. Out of the 150 plants that were evaluated for hormone action, Hoxsey’s red clover, licorice, and soy were found to have the highest levels. (27)
Soybeans were found to contain a substance that was structurally comparable to the anticancer medication tamoxifen, according to a report that appeared in Science News in May of 1990. According to the findings of Duke University, “This tamoxifen analog may prevent cancer in its early stages.” It was determined that genistein, a compound found in red clover, was responsible for the favorable results. It is possible that genistein will improve the immune system’s ability to eliminate cancerous cells by preventing the development of cancerous cells at an earlier stage. (28)
According to further information provided by Duke, the findings indicate that phytoestrogens like genistein affect the immune system and appear to inhibit the spread of breast cancer have only recently been recognized by specialists. Recent test findings for the synthetic pharmaceutical Tamoxifen have caused a lot of attention due to the fact that the pill has the potential to prevent breast cancer in as many as half of all women. On the other hand, the medication has also been associated with potentially lethal “side effects,” such as uterine cancer and blood clots that might prove fatal. (29) Duke asserts that the compounds that can be found in red clover can serve as a suitable substitute for this potentially lethal pharmaceutical medicine.
In addition, Duke notes that Jethro Kloss’s seminal herbal work Back to Eden and Hartwell’s Plants Used against Cancer both extensively describe the traditional use of red clover for its anticancer effects. Hartwell’s Plants Used against Cancer was written by Hartwell, and Back to Eden was written by Jethro Kloss. Even Duke University’s own scholarly publication, the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, makes significant reference to it. (30)
Because of its exceptional ability to improve the immune system, burdock, also known as Arctium lappa, is one of Duke’s favorite Hoxsey components. Chemicals discovered in it have been shown to have anticancer effects in laboratory experiments conducted on cancer cells. Additionally, it has compounds that have been shown to have profound effects on the immune system. According to Duke, burdock has a long history of folk usage as a cure for cancer in several nations, including the United States of America, Canada, China, India, and Russia.
Burdock is commonly advised by herbalists as a blood cleanser and alternative medicine, in addition to the well-known part it plays in the herbal combination known as Essiac, which is used to cure cancer. René Caisse, a nurse from Canada who invented the formula in the 1930s and claimed that the Ojibwa Indians used it as a traditional cancer therapy, was given credit for the name Essiac (which is Caisse spelled backward). Since then, the recipe has gained traction among consumers throughout the United States and Canada. (31) Something stands out when it’s used in multiple preparations but it’s the same plant.
In the Hoxsey tonic, Duke places an emphasis on the traditional history of the plant Phytolacca americana, sometimes known as poke root. He views poke root as a supporting player in the Hoxsey tonic. The roots, leaves, and berries of the potentially lethal poke plant have all been used medicinally for their anticancer properties for a long time. This includes the plant’s berries. The Native Americans and the early settlers employed the juice of the berry to treat skin cancers, while the Native Americans also used a powdered form of the root. There is a long tradition of people believing that the juice may heal cancer. Both the root and the leaf have a long history of usage in the treatment of cancer and tumours, typically in the form of an ointment or a decoction.
Poke was praised by the early Eclectics for what was thought to be its capacity to prevent cancer. According to Eli Jones, a prominent Eclectic physician and “one of the fathers of modern oncology” according to the scientific journalist Ralph Moss, poke was the most valuable general medicine for curing cancer after it had been used for forty years. This was the opinion of Eli Jones. (32) Cancer root was another name for it at one point in time.
Antimicrobial Agents & Chemotherapy is the official publication of the American Society for Microbiology. In 1998, a study demonstrating that poke may successfully cure HIV infection in mice was presented in that journal. (33) The new medication, which is derived from the pokeweed plant, contains a potent antiviral protein that is between one hundred and one thousand times more effective than any other anti-HIV treatment that is currently on the market. The newly developed medication is akin to a silver bullet since it kills just the cells that are infected with HIV. In mice, the human disease AIDS was successfully treated with no negative side effects. It was possible for monkeys to get therapeutic drug dosages without experiencing any adverse effects. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave their blessing for the beginning of clinical research in HIV-infected patients who were receiving therapy in the United States since the results were so highly optimistic. In South Africa, an altered version of the conventional cancer treatment is presently being put through its paces in a series of clinical trials. (34)
Barberry and Prickly Ash bark
Both barberry and prickly ash have demonstrated activity in the fight against cancer. The anticancer potential of barberry (Berberis vulgaris), which is primarily connected to the alkaloid berberine, is one of the primary reasons why Duke emphasizes the significance of this plant. (Alkaloids are organic bases that have a taste that is described as being bitter, and plants are full of them.) Because of its high concentration of anticancer, antitumor, antioxidant, and mutation-preventing chemicals, barberry has the potential to both prevent and treat cancer, making it one of the numerous beneficial properties of this plant. The indigenous people of North America discovered a number of different uses for the plant, one of which was to cleanse the blood. (12)
Duke emphasizes that prickly ash bark, also known as Zanthoxylum americanum has some of the same alkaloid compounds as barberry and that as a result, it is another important component of the formula. Barberry is also an important component. On the other hand, because of the very low amounts that are now present, the possible effects of the tonic should not be exaggerated. (16) The root of licorice, the root of stillingia, the bark of buckthorn, and the bark of sassafras are all components.
Buckthorn Bark, Cascara Sagrada, Stillingia Root, and Licorice Root
In addition, the remaining Hoxsey botanicals have demonstrated significant anticancer action in animal studies. Since ancient times, the bark of the buckthorn tree, also known as Rhamnus frangula, has been utilized to successfully treat digestive system cancers. It has been utilized for quite some time to cure a variety of conditions, including liver dysfunction, blood impurities, and even constipation. Studies conducted on animals have shown that the laxative chemical aloe-emodin, which may be found in aloe vera, inhibits the growth of a variety of tumor systems, including leukemia. Buckthorn was the source of the antileukemic component that Ward discovered through his research. The researchers came to the conclusion that this finding called for more study into the anticancer activities of various laxative plant components after making this discovery. (10)
Cascara sagrada has been used for a very long time since it has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of medical conditions, including as a purgative, laxative, tonic, and treatment for the liver. A ten-day delay in the progression of breast cancer that had been transplanted into mice was a result of the use of a cascara extract. (13)
Stillingia, commonly known as queen’s root, is a medicinal plant native to the Southeast that is sometimes referred to by its scientific name, Stillingia sylvatica. This herb has an unprecedented alternative influence on the lymphatic and secretory systems. Stillingia was another traditional Eclectic therapy for abdominal cancer that was cited by Eli Jones. Mice who were given a breast cancer transplant and then treated with an alcoholic extract of stillingia exhibited a reduction in the growth of tumors 9 days after the transplant. Hoxsey utilized the root of the stillingia plant, and in 1980, two German researchers supposedly uncovered two unique members of a chemical group with recognized anticancer effects in the root. Hoxsey’s treatment was successful in combating cancer. (12)
Hoxsey could potentially benefit from licorice root, commonly known as Glycyrrhiza glabra, which has a wide variety of constituents that are effective in various contexts. It also helps to enhance immunity and has effects that are similar to those of estrogen. Tonic, blood purifier, and inflammation reducer are just a few of the traditional uses for this plant. Antibacterial chemicals are present. In animal models, it has been shown that a few different chemicals produced from licorice can suppress the formation of tumors. Recent studies have shown that giving individuals with hepatitis C a supplement that contains both licorice extract and amino acids can help reduce the risk of liver cancer. In traditional Chinese medicine, licorice is considered to have a high value due to the synergistic advantages it confers when combined with other herbs. (8)
It is the potassium iodide base, in which the herbs are floating, that is the most undervalued component of the tonic. Iodine and potassium combine to generate the chemical molecule known as potassium iodide (KI). Potassium iodide has a long history of application in complementary and alternative medicine, including veterinary medicine, holistic practices, and other types of therapy. Potassium iodide was put to extensive use by the Eclectics, although not in the context of a therapy for cancer. In the earlier part of this century, it was also utilized as a treatment for a wide range of conditions by conventional medical practitioners.
James Duke is completely in agreement with you. These plants have been shown to contain a wide variety of potential qualities that inhibit the growth of cancer. In each instance, a wide variety of substances are to blame. (6)
The dilemma, as presented by Duke, is a collision of paradigms between the allopathic tradition, with its desire for an isolated, purified magic bullet, and the natural medicine tradition, with its choice for a herbal shotgun shell. Both of these traditions are in the medical field. “The whole is superior,” he adds when contrasted to the various components that make up the total. “In the end, the full package will prove to be the most effective component. However, in order to receive approval from the FDA, a product must provide evidence not just of the safety and efficacy of its individual active components, but also of the safety and efficacy of the product as a whole. There are potentially thousands of different chemical compounds that can be discovered in plants, the vast majority of which serve some sort of biological purpose.
The National Cancer Institute conducted laboratory studies using test tubes containing cultured cancer cells to examine each of the Hoxsey herbs. In contrast to the other pieces of information presented here, virtually all of the results were unfavorable. A significant number of researchers have arrived to the conclusion that the findings acquired from these kinds of studies do not match to those obtained from human volunteers, and as a result, their use has been discontinued.
Because the NCI screens were only meant to identify a narrow spectrum of activity and the cytotoxic potential to kill cancer cells in vitro, Duke and Brinker are unaffected by the fact that the tests did not succeed in discovering anticancer activity from the Hoxsey herbs. According to what Brinker states, I wouldn’t be surprised or concerned if it turned out to be ineffective against cell cultures. That is not the result that I was anticipating getting from that plant. The bulk of the plants are successful not by directly killing cancer cells but rather by limiting the multiplication of malignant cells in some roundabout way. This is a more indirect method of fighting cancer than immediately destroying the cells.
Duke, who has substantial experience dealing with the NCI, has a number of critical comments to make regarding the organization’s operations. “The NCI screen has several shortcomings, but one of the most significant is that it does not evaluate plants in the context of how humans really make use of them. This is one of the major problems. To the best of my knowledge, no actual human being has ever been given an oral extract of red clover, despite the fact that it is sometimes referenced in folklore. Tea made from red clover has to be given to a human test subject in order to complete the experiment. (2)
It is essential that you completely avoid from consuming any:
- Bleached and processed wheat
- Refined salt
- Refined white sugar
The consumption of particular foods can throw off the balance of the Hoxsey Tonic or make it less effective. If even a small amount of cheating is involved, the Hoxsey Tonic may become ineffective for several days.
- Because it is not difficult to determine whether or not something contains pork, you should stay clear of it.
- On the other hand, vinegar is something that should be avoided at all costs. When we first started the diet, I was surprised to see how often vinegar was recommended. The most frequent ones include salad dressing, mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup. Other examples include barbecue sauce. To tell you the truth, I was completely unaware that vinegar was a component in so many different kinds of bread until just now. On some items, vinegar might be mislabeled as acetic acid due to a labelling error.
- Staying away from alcohol completely is the most straightforward solution there is. It is important to keep in mind that extracts that include alcohol, such as vanilla extract, should be avoided. Additionally, you should be aware that there is frequently a minute level of alcohol included in pharmaceuticals (cough syrup, Homeopathic treatments).
- Eat absolutely none of the tomatoes at all: Tomatoes may be distinguished from a variety of other fruits with relative ease. Make sure to give your spices a thorough inspection to rule out the possibility that they include any fresh, powdered, or dried pieces of tomato. Additionally, you should stay away from rice mixes that have a tomato that has been dried or powdered in them.
- Flour that has been bleached or treated should be avoided at all costs. This includes bread, pasta, and white rice that have been improved.
- Avoid refined salt at all costs; although it is necessary for proper cell function, refined salt should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, it’s present in high concentrations in foods that have been processed. The issue is that we consume much too much of it. However, many whole foods have a relatively high salt content. Steer clear of table salt and any other alternatives to salt.
- You should avoid adding any additional salt to your meal, and while you’re cooking, you should use only the minimum amount of sea salt required to bring out the full flavor of the dish. You can also use kelp and various other types of herbal seasonings. Salt in any form should not exceed a half teaspoon per day, including that which comes from sea salt and kelp.
- Avoid consuming any form of white refined sugar at all costs: Sugar is another mineral that we need in order to keep our cellular processes running normally and healthily. The food that we eat is converted into glucose over time, which our cells may subsequently use as a source of energy. The problem is that refined sugar is frequently utilized in the preparation of processed foods.
A ridiculous amount of sugar is added to a ridiculously wide array of items, ranging from candy bars and beverages to morning specialty coffee and workplace cake. This sugar is added in outrageous amounts. Because of this, the rate at which refined sugar is absorbed into the body is quite fast. The rapid absorption of glucose into the bloodstream causes a spike in blood sugar, which is dangerous for anyone, but especially for people who have cancer, diabetes, or hypoglycemia.
- Avoid using artificial sweeteners like Splenda, Nutrasweet, and any others like them. Do not consume any carbonated beverage at any time. This should serve as a hint: organic does not necessarily mean raw! Only sugar in its natural form may be used. (38)
Side Effects of Hoxsey’s therapy
- When applied to the skin, the paste and powder have been shown to cause severe burns, scarring, and deformities that are disfiguring.
- Consuming an excessive amount of potassium iodide has been associated to a variety of adverse health effects, including acne, excessive tear or nasal discharge, impotence, and inflammation of the salivary glands.
- Buckthorn, which is found in the herbal tonic, is a strong laxative that has the potential to cause stomach cramps, anxiety, shallow breathing, dehydration, diarrhea, nausea, trembling, and vomiting. Buckthorn also has the potential to cause these side effects.
- Cascara, which is one of the components of the herbal tonic, has a laxative action, which might result in adverse side effects such as nausea and vomiting, among other things. In addition to these symptoms, you may also have stomach pain, diarrhea, and a change in the color of your urine, as well as a loss of fluid and electrolytes, a weaker skeleton, and deficits in vitamin and mineral intake.
- Licorice, which is found in the herbal tonic, is known to cause fluid, salt, and potassium retention due to its interaction with the hormones in the body. Some of the potential adverse effects include increased blood pressure, lethargy, soreness in the muscles, an irregular heartbeat, decreased libido, and low potassium levels in the blood.
- Pokeweed, which is known to alleviate stomach discomfort, is one of the ingredients in the herbal tonic. Children have been hospitalized and even lost their lives after ingesting these chemicals, which has been connected to the correlation. (36)
According to the findings of numerous comprehensive medical studies, including those carried out by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, there is no evidence to suggest that Hoxsey Therapy is an effective treatment for cancer. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) placed a ban on the promotion and sale of the Hoxsey Method in the United States on September 21, 1960. The FDA stated that the method was a “worthless and discredited” cure and that it fell under the category of quackery. (37)
Tijuana, Mexico’s Bio-Medical Center is currently the principal distributor of Hoxsey Method goods. In addition to traditional advertising channels, Hoxsey Therapy is promoted online; the FDA National Health Fraud Coordinator raised concerns about this to practice in June 2008 “Despite the lack of proof that the Hoxsey treatment has any benefit in combating cancer, consumers can easily find a variety of unsubstantiated claims to the contrary on the internet at this very moment. (4)
If you would like to learn more about natural solutions for health conditions, simply schedule a consultation with one of our health consultants.
This article is dedicated to Aunt Brigitte Kelly, who fought Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma valiantly for several years. Your love for education, business, and creativity lives on.
- Jerry Lincecom, “Hoxsey, Harry M.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 10, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hoxsey-harry-m.
- “Beware of Online Cancer Fraud”. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. June 17, 2008. Retrieved August 27, 2008.
- Vodnala SK, Eil R, Restifo NP, et al. T cell stemness and dysfunction in tumors are triggered by a common mechanism. Science. March 29, 2019. DOI: 10.1126/science.aau0135
- Wang, Z. Y., & Nixon, D. W. (2001). Licorice and cancer. Nutrition and cancer, 39(1), 1-11.
- Reyes-Farias, M., & Carrasco-Pozo, C. (2019). The anti-cancer effect of quercetin: molecular implications in cancer metabolism. International journal of molecular sciences, 20(13), 3177.
- Olas, B., Skalski, B., & Ulanowska, K. (2018). The anticancer activity of sea buckthorn [Elaeagnus rhamnoides (L.) A. Nelson]. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 232.
- Sun, Y., Tan, Y. J., Lu, Z. Z., Li, B. B., Sun, C. H., Li, T., … & Li, J. (2018). Arctigenin inhibits liver cancer tumorigenesis by inhibiting gankyrin expression via C/EBPα and PPARα. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 9, 268.
- Koncic M, Kremer D, Karlovic K, Kosalec I (2010) Evaluation of antioxidant activities and phenolic content of Berberis vulgaris L. and Berberis croatica Horvat. Food Chem Toxicol 48:2176–2180
- Wishon, L. M. (2010). Anticancer Activity Of Phytolacca Americana Root Extracts And Their Fractions On Breast And Colon Cancer Cells.
- Barua, C. C., Yasmin, N., & Elancheran, R. (2018). A review on effective utilization, phytochemical compounds, pharmacological intervention of a popularly used plant for developing a new drug: Zanthoxylum armatum with reference to its anticancer activity. MOJ Bioequiv Availab, 5(3), 156-167.
- Anne Raver, “A Man with a Garden That’s a Medicine Cabinet,” New York Times, 10.15.98.
- Principal sources for this chapter include: NAPRALERT; Father Nature’s Farmacy database (USDA) founded by James Duke, Ph.D.
- NAPRALERT(SM) is currently maintained by the Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences within the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy in the College of Pharmacy of the University of Illinois at Chicago, 833 South Wood Street (m/c 877), Chicago, IL 60612, N.R. Farnsworth—Director and Editor-in-Chief.
- Jonathan L. Hartwell, Plants Used Against Cancer (Lawrence, MA: Quartermain Publications, 1982); originally published in eleven installments in Lloydia, 1970-1971.
- James Duke, “The Herbal Shotgun Shell,” HerbalGram, No. 18/19, Fall 1988/Winter 1989, pp. 12-13.
- Harry Hoxsey, You Don’t Have to Die (New York: Milestone Books, 1956).
- That formula listed alfalfa, buckthorn bark, cascara sagrada, prickly ash, red clover, potassium iodide, and honey drip cane syrup.
- Father Nature’s Farmacy, http://www.ars-grin.gov/~ngrlsb/; also, http://www.inform.umd.edu/PBIO/MEDICAL_BOTANY/index.html.
- Duke’s principal references for red clover and all the following Hoxsey herbs are the Father Nature’s Farmacy database and his own database as listed in previous citation, as well as his own books, especially the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985).
- 25. Along with genistein, it contains daidzein, hormonal neuton, and Biochanin A, all of which are estrogenic and fungicidal. Kaufman P.B., Duke J.A., et al., “A Comparative survey of leguminous plants as sources of the isoflavones, genistein and daidzen: implications for human nutrition and health,” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1997, pp. 7-12; Kennedy A., “The Evidence for soybean products as cancer preventive agents,” Journal of Nutrition, 1995, pp. 125, 733.
- Zava D.T., Dollbaum C.M., et al., “Estrogen and progestin bioactivity of foods, herbs and spices,” Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, Vol. 217, 1998, pp. 369-78.
- Kathy Fackelman, “Blocking Breast Cancer: Do Faulty Estrogen Receptors Make a Meaner, Tougher Tumor?” Science News, Vol. 137, No. 19, 5.12.90, pp. 296-97. Genistein may discourage tumor growth by blocking off estrogen receptors.
- Dr. Samuel Epstein, The Politics of Cancer Revisited (Fremont Center, NY: East Ridge Press) 1998, pp. 484-89. Dr. Samuel Epstein, The Politics of Cancer Revisited (Fremont Center, NY: East Ridge Press) 1998, pp. 484-89.
- Jethro Kloss, Back to Eden (Santa Barbara, CA: Woodbridge Press Publishing Company, 1972; original copyright 1939); James Duke, CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985).
- There are several books on Essiac, but the most objective critical analysis is contained in Herbs Against Cancer by Ralph Moss, pp. 108-35.
- Moss, Herbs Against Cancer, p. 45. Jones found poke root especially beneficial in cancers of the breast, throat, and uterus, particularly in patients past middle age. Lymphomas were also said to be cured by poke root. Eli Jones, Definite Medication, 1910, reprinted by (New Delhi, India: Jain Publishing Co., no date); Eli G. Jones, Cancer: Its Causes, Symptoms and Treatment (Boston: Therapeutic Publishing Co., Inc., 1911).
- Uckun et al., “Pokeweed antiviral protein as a potent inhibitor of human immunodeficiency virus,” Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Vol. 42, No. 2, 1998, pp. 383-88; also see “Editorial: Phytolacca in Carcinoma,” Eclectic Medical Journal, Vol. LVI, No. 1, 1896.
- It is important to note that this modified antiviral poke protein is derived mainly from the plant’s leaves, though similar or equivalent factors have been isolated from the root as well.
- “This Week in FDA History”. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Archived from the original on 8 November 2006. Retrieved 2008-08-27.