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Addressing false claims made about oleander for cancer
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James Offline

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Addressing false claims made about oleander for cancer
A self proclaimed “expert” on oleander has made numerous false and unproven claims about the efficacy of "oleander soup" and the oleander product Anvirzel for diseases, primarily cancer. I am going to address some of these claims.

One claim is that oleander extract does not attack healthy cells. Problem with this claim is that there is no evidence to back it up. The only studies that have been done on oleander for cancer showed that oleander had no effect on the cancer cells, but did have a number of side effects. So the million dollar question is if the cancer cells were not being killed then what cells were being harmed to cause the side effects?

Another claim is that the oleander extract not only attacks cancer cells, but also helps to stimulate the immune system. Half of this claim is true.

Oleander extract has been shown to have no real effect against cancer cells in several studies, including one funded by the manufacturer.

Oleander extract though does contain immune stimulating polysaccharides as do many non-toxic plants. Astragalus, seaweeds, birch, echinacea, schisandra, myrrh and medicinal mushrooms are just a tiny fraction of the plants that contain immune stimulating polysaccharides. These other herbs though do not require special processing to render then non-deadly as has to be done with oleander.

In addition, these polysaccharides merely stimulate white blood cell activity, which actually has very little effect on cancer. The problem is that cancer cells use several mechanisms to hide from the immune system. Unless the cancer cells can be detected there is very little the activated white blood cells can do.

He also states that the cardiac glycosides in oleander are not water soluble. Problem is that the Petri dish studies of oleander on different cancer cell lines though relied on the cardiac glycosides of oleander. If they are not water soluble though then there would be little, if any, active cardiac glycosides in the final product since these are water extracts.

This could go a long way in to explaining why the actual human studies conducted with oleander extract on humans showed no effect against the cancer cells.

Even when the actual cardiac glycosides were tested on various cancer cell lines in culture the cardiac glycosides were only found to be effective against some cell lines, not all. Culture tests often do not have the same effects within the human body due to various factors including concentration and alteration by body chemistry. But even if the culture studies could correlate to what actually happens in the humans body this would still only mean that the cardiac glycosides would only have an effect against a few cancers. Due to the toxicity of the cardiac glycosides though the risk of death from the therapy would be extremely high from the required amount to have an effect.

To try and justify these oleander products despite the lack of sufficient levels of active cardiac glycosides, he claims that the oleander contains other anti-cancer and immune stimulating compounds. These include sterols, bioflavonoids and ursolic acid. The problem with this claim is that many plants also contain these same compounds, yet they have not been shown to cure cancer. Just because a compound exists in a plant this does not mean that there is sufficient levels to have an effect. For example, all of these compounds are found in red apples as well. Have you ever seen anyone cured of cancer by eating apples? I don't know of anyone that has. So the claim that these are playing any role in the anti-cancer effects of oleander are unsubstantiated. So far the only components that have been shown to be playing a role in fighting some cancer cell lines in cultures are the highly toxic cardiac glycosides. But again, the actual human studies showed oleander extracts were ineffective against cancer. There are a variety of reasons that could have led to this failure including a lack of sufficient levels of the cardiac glycosides or they were simply metabolized before they could reach the tumor.

Next he states:

I have researched and written extensively about oleander and can tell you that you truly know not what you post about when it comes to properly prepared oleander extract. But don't take my word for it - ask the head of oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Clinic.

So I looked up the study conducted by the MD Anderson Cancer clinic. The study did not even get close to supporting his claims:

Mol Cancer Ther. 2009 Aug;8(8):2319-28. Epub 2009 Aug 11.

Oleandrin-mediated inhibition of human tumor cell proliferation: importance of Na,K-ATPase alpha subunits as drug targets.

Yang P, Menter DG, Cartwright C, Chan D, Dixon S, Suraokar M, Mendoza G, Llansa N, Newman RA.

Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer, Houston, Texas 77054, USA.

Cardiac glycosides such as oleandrin are known to inhibit the Na,K-ATPase pump, resulting in a consequent increase in calcium influx in heart muscle. Here, we investigated the effect of oleandrin on the growth of human and mouse cancer cells in relation to Na,K-ATPase subunits. Oleandrin treatment resulted in selective inhibition of human cancer cell growth but not rodent cell proliferation, which corresponded to the relative level of Na,K-ATPase alpha3 subunit protein expression. Human pancreatic cancer cell lines were found to differentially express varying levels of alpha3 protein, but rodent cancer cells lacked discernable expression of this Na,K-ATPase isoform. A correlation was observed between the ratio of alpha3 to alpha1 isoforms and the level of oleandrin uptake during inhibition of cell growth and initiation of cell death; the higher the alpha3 expression relative to alpha1 expression, the more sensitive the cell was to treatment with oleandrin. Inhibition of proliferation of Panc-1 cells by oleandrin was significantly reduced when the relative expression of alpha3 was decreased by knocking down the expression of alpha3 isoform with alpha3 siRNA or increasing expression of the alpha1 isoform through transient transfection of alpha1 cDNA to the cells. Our data suggest that the relative lack of alpha3 (relative to alpha1) in rodent and some human tumor cells may explain their unresponsiveness to cardiac glycosides. In conclusion, the relatively higher expression of alpha3 with the limited expression of alpha1 may help predict which human tumors are likely to be responsive to treatment with potent lipid-soluble cardiac glycosides such as oleandrin.

As we can see from their study it was the oleandrin that they claim may be effective against some cancer cell lines. But again, cell lines are tested in a Petri dish, not the human body. And inside the human body you can get completely different effects from substances. I give an example of this regarding Saint Johnswort (SJW) in this post:

Again these are cell cultures, not studies of the effects within the human body. Levels used to have any effect on cell lines in a Petri dish could be lethal in an actual human body. So there is a very long way to go before they can actually claim that oleander extracts are an effective treatment for cancer. It still has to be established whether or not sufficient levels of these highly toxic cardiac glycosides can be delivered to sensitive tumors without killing the patient in the process.

So far the only human studies completed showed that oleander extract were failures. The levels they used did not kill anyone, but the levels had no effect on the cancers either.

Taking oleander extracts orally would have even less of a response as much of the cardiac glycosides would be metabolized before reaching the tumors.

Bottom line is that so far the only effects that have been shown in human studies by oleander extracts have been side effects.
07-02-2012 12:56 AM
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