Prostate expert explains whether traditional medicine cures cancer

People keep on asking me of my opinion if there is any evidence of using indigenous herbal medicine in the management of prostate cancer in Ghana.


It appears that everywhere I go; people ask me this question partly because of my background and also don?t practice any of the conventional treatments for prostate cancer so everything that I do is objective and not bias. I am interested in your cancer decisions before you choose or make a decision for prostate cancer treatment. Herbal or Traditional medicine in Africa is not adequately research, and are weakly regulated. There is lack of documentation of traditional knowledge.

Traditional African medicine is a holistic discipline involving indigenous herbalism and African spirituality, typically involving diviners, midwives, and herbalists. Practitioners of traditional African medicine claim to be able to cure various and diverse conditions such as cancers, psychiatric disorders, high blood pressure, cholera, most venereal diseases, epilepsy, asthma, eczema, fever, anxiety, depression, benign prostatic hyperplasia, urinary tract infections, gout, and healing of wounds and burns and even Ebola.

As a registered Naturopathic doctor who specialized in prostate cancer, researcher, prostate health educator, ultrasound expert and a PhD student in alternative medicine, Indian Board of Alternative Medicines Academy, Kolkata, India, I can tell you confidently and with no bias that there is currently no evidence of indigenous herbal medicines to cure prostate cancer. The word cure is also hotly debated whether a cure exist or not. So probably if you keep on hearing that herbal medicine cure prostate cancer from any practitioner then treats it as a ?theoretical? and not practical.

Well, sometimes probably their claims can also be correct but once there is no scientific publications in any prestigious medical journal and world of prostate cancer expert, urologist and researchers have not seen it , for now treat it as not true until there is an extensive work done with lots of publications . So, if you ask I will say; ?whether they work or not, I don?t know? but I know there are lots of indigenous herbs for management of enlarge prostate and there is no doubt about that; as conventional medications is becoming ineffective in the management of the enlarged prostate, even with prostate cancer non of the conventional treatment from surgery, irradiation, hormone et al is also superior; so there is the need for effective alternative approach to the management.

According to the WHO, Traditional medicine is the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness.

The terms “complementary medicine” or “alternative medicine” are used inter-changeably with traditional medicine in some countries. They refer to a broad set of health care practices that are not part of that country’s own tradition and are not integrated into the dominant health care system.

Prostate cancer is a serious condition and you don?t have to gamble with your condition for any practitioner who is only interested in your money and not quality of life!

In India there is ayurvida medicine, Ayurveda is an Indian word ? ayur means life and veda means knowledge. Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient Indian system of medicine which began about 5,000 years ago. It is not just one treatment. It is a way of diagnosing illness and using a wide range of treatments and techniques. There is no scientific evidence to prove that Ayurvedic medicine can treat or cure cancer or any other disease.
Ayurvedic medicine can include

? Advice on diet and special diets
? Taking specific Ayurvedic medications
? Herbal medicine
? Massage
? Meditation
? Yoga and
? Breathing and relaxation techniques

The main idea behind Ayurvedic medicine is that health problems happen because your mind, body and spirit are out of balance. Practitioners aim to bring balance and harmony back into your body, which they think prevents or cures disease. They claim that certain combinations of Ayurvedic medicine will help to

? Increase energy and wellbeing
? Balance mind, body and spirit
? Decrease stress
? Possibly prevent and cure disease
Ayurvedic practitioners think we are all made up of 3 elements known as doshas. These are
? Air and space (vata dosha), which allows movement
? Fire and water (pitta dosha), which allows change or transformation and is responsible for digestion and metabolism
? Water and earth (kapha dosha), which gives structure or cohesion

The Challenges for the use of Traditional Herbal Medicine in Prostate Cancer in Ghana
Although traditional herbal medicines, phytomedicines, medicinal foods, and complementary or alternative medicines have been increasingly used over the past decade in European and North American countries, they seem to have not generated interest or been accepted by mainstream medicine practitioners in western countries, especially in standard care for cancer patients.

The key issue considered by many biomedical scientists has been the lack of evidence-based information/guidelines for routine and regulatory application of herbal medicines as ?drugs? for use in public health. The sticking points hindering the use of phytomedicines can be attributed to six major issues:
1. lack of consistent and reliable sources of authentic medicinal plant materials, with respect to species verification and authentication, cultivation using good agricultural practice protocols, and standardized/normalized methods and technology for plant extraction/mixture preparation;
2. lack of definitions and routine preparation of the biochemical/biological ingredients and compositions of herbal medicines or the phytochemicals/phytocompounds derived from medicinal plants, with respect to identification of metabolite profiles, index compounds, and putative active compounds or metabolites;
3. general and specific safety considerations, including tolerable high dosage, minimal effective dosage, and specific usage;
4. proof of efficacy in treating or assisting specific cancer patients, including lack of results/data from preclinical animal studies, execution of bona fide, and double-blind, placebo-included, statistician-assisted clinical trial studies;
5. highly complex ?personalized? prescriptions or formulations for the use of some traditional medicines (e.g., in TCM) that may be mystified by a ?secret ingredient? in specific formulations; and
6. The criminal act of supplementation/ ?spiking? highly potent western chemical drugs into herbal medicines in counterfeit activities. Without addressing all of the above issues, we cannot meet the challenges of modernizing herbal medicines.

One plant that has currently generated more interest in the prostate world and Africa is the plant croton membranaceus used in the herbal hospitals in the management of men?s urinary symptoms. With this plant, now lots of work has been published on it used in the management of enlarged prostate but not prostate cancer. Little work that shows it anticancer abilities is the work done by MT. Bayor et al.

The study authors employed a methanolic extract of the roots showed cytotoxic activities against two cancer cell lines, and bioassay-guided fractionation of this extract revealed that the cytotoxic activity resided mostly in the ethyl acetate fraction. Six compounds were isolated from this fraction, including a new furano-clerodane diterpenoid (1), for which the trivial name crotomembranafuran is suggested. This compound exhibited an IC50 value of 4.1 microgram/mL (10.6 microM) against human prostate (PC-3) cells, providing some support for the traditional use of C. membranaceus in the treatment of cancers
Other studies are also available but not promising enough as there are few questions and answers needed. For instance
7. The study authors must tell us the stage of prostate cancer diagnosed before and after the use of the plant for their research
8. Is the patient also on any other conventional treatment before starting herbal medicines and the type of conventional therapy must be noted
9. The prostate volume before and after using the herbal medicines
10. How the treatment worked
11. What is the stage, grade or score of the patient at the time of the diagnosis of prostate cancer?
12. At what stage can the plant manage prostate cancer?
13. Can relying solely on it for sometime be a calculated gamble for Ghanaian men
14. Would there be recurrence after the treatment

Lots more questions and answers needed but my PhD work in alternative sought to address this problem. We won’t really know whether traditional herbal medicine is helpful in treating cancer until large randomized clinical trials have been carried out.

In conclusion as I a PhD student in alternative medicines, Medicinal herbs and their derivative phytocompounds are being increasingly recognized as useful complementary treatments for cancer. A large volume of clinical studies have reported the beneficial effects of herbal medicines on the survival, immune modulation, and quality of life (QOL) of cancer patients, when these herbal medicines are used in combination with conventional therapeutics

Source: Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu,

Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu, is a registered Naturopathic doctor who specializes in prostate cancer and a PhD candidate in prostate cancer and alternative medicines ?IBAM Academy, Kolkata, India. My research focuses on men of West African descent and prostate cancer and the dangme people. He can be reached on 0500106570 for all contributions. He is the director of Men?s Health Foundation Ghana; De Men?s Clinic & Prostate Research Lab-Dodowa,Akoo House. He is currently working on his book? The state of the dangme land?

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