inner life






Cancer Herbs

There are probably more varieties of cytotoxic herbs than there are chemotherapeutic drugs. Hartwell researched all references to cancer herbs spanning 5000 years and 2,500,000 herbs. Of these, he determined that at least 3000 herbs possess some anticancer properties. This is the same figure used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Exactly how and why an herb addresses cancer differs enormously from plant to plant, but we may never learn as much as we need to know unless the companies performing the research can isolate an active ingredient that they can develop into a patentable drug. I personally oppose these efforts because in their whole forms and working in synergy with other herbs, the cytotoxic actions are often buffered by the protective actions.  What this means in lay terms is that while a particular constituent of an herb, such as the alkaloids vincristine and vinblastine that are found in the Madagascar periwinkle, may have specific cytotoxic properties, the other hundred or two hundred constituents may have other supportive actions such as the capacity to lower blood sugar or detoxify the liver or protect organs from damage while the cancer cells are being killed.  Every herbalist I know favors not just the use of whole herbs in their natural forms but usually also the synergy of several herbs in combination with each other.

What are these 3000 Herbs?

Of the 3000 herbs with proven anticancer actions, the mechanisms by which they achieve their effects varies significantly. Some arrest the fermentation process upon which the cancer cells depend for survival; some are directly toxic, more to the tumor than healthy tissue; some inhibit cell division; some affect the pH in such a way as to reduce the risks of oxidizing chemicals and the development of secondary tumors and/or metastasis.

Finding the combination that works best for a particular patient is not really a matter of trial and error. Starting with some basic understanding permits one to narrow the focus to a group of formulas likely to accomplish the desired tasks. Obviously, the better the information and greater the knowledge, the more likely it is that correct choices can be made.

I have been reading about anticancer herbs for almost 35 years. Except for a few herbs here and there, such as chaparral, I strongly believe that herbs like companions and that they work best in combination with other herbs. This immediately makes for a huge difference between an isolated constituent and a whole herb, not to mention a formula. Look at Nature. Chaparral grows in the desert where it has few companions, but red clover grows in meadows where there are many other herbs. My uncle wrote a little book at the end of his life. My favorite line was, "If you wish to understand Nature, do not disturb Her." His words have guided me in much of my work with Nature.

For instance, while one may find lists of anticancer herbs that go on and on and formulas that contain 25 or even 75 herbs, I am not too keen on some of these formulas. I prefer the ones that exhibit relationship to the cultural tradition and geographic region that has given us the herbal knowledge. By this, I mean that while pau d'arco may be a fine herb, I think it belongs in a Brazilian formula, not in combination with chaparral or bloodroot.

Many of the formulas re-created for Sacred Medicine Sanctuary are Native American. There are significant Cherokee influences in our tonics. We also carry the Ojibwa formula, called Essiac, and, of course, chaparral which is from the Southwest. In addition, we have created a specialty line of supportive products that address specific aspects of the healing process. Some of our formulas are available through the Sacred Medicine web site, but most are only distributed to practitioners.


I know that deciding how to address cancer is very difficult. Patients and their friends and family are afraid of making a mistake that could cost valuable time or perhaps a life. I want to say that I recognize this dilemma, but I walk in my own sandals. I would offer my sandals to you for a day, but I suspect you would give them back after a few minutes or hours because they fit me better than they do you. I am comfortable with who I am as well as with what Sacred Medicine Sanctuary has to offer, but we make no claims, offer no guarantees, and promise only that we do our best to create responsible herbal products whose formulas are supported by historic healiing traditions, not science.

It is a point of honor for me that I offer the knowledge I have freely . . . without interferring with your decision making processes. I know, I could make it easier on others as well as myself by telling you to take a particular product, but you will never hear me say that. I want to facilitate healing and part of healing means forging a connection between what you feel and what you think. Ergo, if it feels right, it very likely is right. Follow your own inner guidance.

I will offer this. If you are totally confused yet believe the products we provide might be right for you, have your primary health care provider contact me. I will gladly discuss your case history with your doctor and brainstorm what might meet your needs. Please, however, have your practitioner make the contact.

If you are prompted to try our products, I will make it a little simpler by suggesting that you consider one or both of the two main tonics. Trifolium Compound [now called Sundance Elixir] is somewhat more detoxifying and stimulating to the eliminatory system. It has nine herbs that are known to have anticancer actions, but it also contains some cascara sagrada and is purging in higher dosages. Compound Syrup Scrophularia [renamed Seneca Elixir] is more subtle but seems to work better where there is more swelling, lymphatic congestion, and hard lumps. I feel it is also more effective where infection might be aggravating the cancer. Both of these tonics are historic re-creations of tonics or elixirs with a long history in the treatment of cancer.

This part of the site is still being developed, but there is much more information on my older site. You might want to go straight to:


You could also go to the online store. Or, you could tour the section of this site that is more complete and check out treatment strategies.

God bless!


Ingrid Naiman
9 April 2006




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Herb Primer



Sacred Medicine Sanctuary

Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2001, 2006, and 2014


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