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Can Medicinal Plants Beat Cancer?

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Some of the most encouraging clinical evidence of the value of herbs in treating cancer comes from Paris, France

Some of the most encouraging clinical evidence of the value of herbs in treating cancer comes from Paris, France. It is the work of Drs Jean-Claude Laparaz and Christian Duraffourd, both oncologists at the H?al Boucicaut. They treat cancer with conventional surgery or radio therapy, but they also use herbal medicine to support various systems of the body that are under stress from chemical toxicity and trauma.

The two men have been treating cancer patients this way for over 25 years. The statistics that they have compiled over that period now point to higher long term survival rates, lower recurrences and faster recoveries, as well as avoiding many of the unpleasant side-effects of conventional drugs.

"Our colleagues in the medical profession used to laugh at us. Now they send their wives to us when they get sick," Dr Laparaz told me when I visited his office in the fashionable Passy district of Paris.

Along with his colleague, Christian Duraffourd, he has published a dozen books on phytotherapy including protocols for the full range of complaints commonly met today. They have also organized international conferences on herbal medicine throughout the Francophone African states, most recently in Tunisia, and have set up and taught university courses on medicinal plant therapy (phytotherapy) for doctors in France and Belgium.

They have little respect for the "unscientific double-blind experiment."

In 1995, Dr Suzette Salama, a pharmacist at Henderson Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario presented a paper on the work of the two French doctors at the International Symposium on Oncology in Hamburg, Germany. It put forward a protocol for the use of phytotherapy as an adjunct to conventional cancer treatments in cancer hospitals. It also suggested "simple cost-effective measures that can provide greater patient comfort, more effective treatment of the patient within the hospital and, it is hoped, a longer, more fulfilling survival period."

Treat The Person Not The Disease

The approach of Duraffourd and Laparaz is to consider the person behind the disease. This means a complete assessment of the terrain or background environment within the body. Their holistic approach puts in place a balanced whole food diet, properly assessed mineral and vitamin supplementation and the usual herbal support for the organs of elimination, especially the liver, using plants such as dandelion root (Taraxacum officianale radix), milk thistle (Carduus marianus) and artichoke juice (Cynara scolymus).

Clinical findings indicate the real value of liver remedies: "It has been observed at the H?al Boucicaut in Paris that particularly those side-effects associated with liver inefficiency, including decreased appetite, liver damage, fatigue and nausea and vomiting, are alleviated much faster for patients taking botanical liver remedies." For example, an infusion of thyme (Thymus vulgaris) was found effective against nausea at the H?al Boucicaut.

In Professor Reynier's Clinic of General Surgery and Oncology, Duraffourd and Laparaz perfected a test that can be used to measure follicle-stimulating hormone levels accurately in the blood. They also completed their research on hormonal activity within the body by studying the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in women who were suffering from breast cancer and for whom hormonal treatments using estrogen were contraindicated or unwise. Their clinical work has allowed them to fine-tune their awareness of hormone balances among women suffering from cancer and their treatment with medicinal plants. They have also found links between hormone imbalances, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease.

"The evidence confirms that no manifestation of an illness can be traced to a single specific cause, but to a multiplicity of causes, sparked off by a disorder or imbalancing of the endocrine system," writes Duraffourd.

It was the complexity of this system that led these physicians to work with medicinal plants.

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