As the National Cancer Institute points out, malignancies of the skin number among the most common cancers patients face. As such, many patients seek natural remedies for skin cancer.
Skin cancers vary by type and severity, with melanoma the most serious since it often spreads to other parts of a patient’s body. Other types of skin cancers include:
- Basal cell carcinomas
- Squamous cell carcinomas
- Kaposi sarcoma
Patients looking for natural treatment options have a variety of options to choose from. Whether they’re thinking about a standalone alternative cancer treatment or a complement to traditional therapies, a non-toxic option is worth pursuing. This post will look at 10 of the most effective natural remedies for skin cancer.
A 2014 medical literature review published in the chemistry journal Molecules looked at a variety of studies that demonstrated the effectiveness of natural compounds in treating skin cancers.
Finding alternatives to chemotherapy, the study pointed out, is essential since many chemotherapeutics that doctors use to treat melanoma fail because the body’s natural defenses cause drug resistance. In fact, many of the medications physicians currently use are derivatives of naturally occurring compounds. Looking at other natural compounds for their potential in treating skin malignancies is a logical step in the fight against cancer. Here are some of the most promising natural skin cancer remedies used in holistic medicine.
A flavonol that appears in a broad range of plant sources, quercetin has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it an excellent candidate for an alternative or complement to traditional cancer treatments. Studies featured in the Molecules review revealed that quercetin affects cancer cell viability in low concentrations, while at higher concentrations, it can even induce apoptosis (cell death). In addition, it blocks ultraviolet B (UVB)-induced “oxidative stress and…DNA damage” in cancer cells, again giving rise to apoptosis.
2. Vitamin C
Other studies referenced by the Molecules review show that ascorbic acid (vitamin C) inhibits cell growth and proliferation, increasing the levels of two tumor suppressor proteins, p53 and 021, and causing cell cycle arrest. In addition, it suppresses the formation of new blood vessels cancers need to grow and spread. Vitamin C also suppresses Type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptors and COX-2 expression, slowing melanoma’s growth.
A 2016 study published in Radiology and Oncology demonstrated the promise of pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) treatment for skin cancer. The study, conducted on mouse melanomas, combined cisplatin IV injections with electromagnetic pulses. Researchers found that the combination increased the anticancer drug’s uptake into the tumor cells, slowing their growth.
A 2018 Journal of Advanced Research review of several cancer treatment studies reported that localized hyperthermia induced by an electromagnetic field reduced the growth of new blood vessels and damaged cancer cells’ DNA. Since this treatment must focus specifically on the tumor to heat the tissue, it is an excellent candidate for easy-to-access malignancies, such as skin cancers.
A 2013 review published in The Korean Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery looked at various studies on alpha-lipoic acid’s efficacy in treating multiple types of tumors, including skin malignancies. Alpha-lipoic acid inhibits cellular proliferation in cancerous tumors and induces cell death of “cells with aberrant nuclei,” such as cancer cells. This treatment, the review found, was especially effective in stopping the growth of melanoma cell lines.
A 2011 mouse study on squamous cell carcinomas revealed that curcumin significantly affects tumor growth. In the control group, the tumors’ volume increased 2.3 times faster than those treated with curcumin. The researchers discovered that curcumin slowed S6 phosphorylation, suggesting that the substance inhibited the MTOR pathway. An overactive MTOR pathway is one of the mechanisms that cause tumors to form and grow.
Tumor suppression is an essential part of any successful treatment of skin and other cancers. A 2012 PLOS One study looked at dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO)’s effectiveness in promoting a tumor suppressor, HLJ1, that inhibits the formation, growth, and metastasis of tumors into other parts of the body. The researchers treated cancer cells with DMSO in a variety of concentrations. They found that DMSO increases HLJ1 expression, suppressing tumor growth. In addition, the study found that pretreating cells with DMSO led to increased cell death in the malignant cells.
8. Detoxification Treatment (Chelation)
A 2020 review published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences referenced a broad range of studies that found that when copper binds to kinase 1 (MAP2K1), a mitogen-activated protein, it activates the mitogen-activated kinase pathway (MAPK), a major player in tumor growth. Several of the studies reviewed showed that BRAFV600E cancers – all of which increase activity in the MAPK pathway – have shown themselves vulnerable to chelation therapy. These cancers include melanomas, making chelation therapy a sound option for patients with these fast-growing skin malignancies.
Radiotherapy and chemotherapy induce hypoxia (low oxygen) in the cancers they treat. Unfortunately, that lack of oxygen drives the tumor to form new blood vessels (link to “Does Cancer Thrive on Oxygen”). Those new blood vessels feed the tumors the oxygen they need to grow. It’s a vicious circle, but with ozone therapy, doctors can interrupt the process. Since ozone has three oxygen atoms in each molecule, it would seem to be an excellent vehicle to correct the tumors’ hypoxic condition. A 2004 study in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed precisely that. The researchers introduced ozone into the bloodstream via IV, discovering that the hypoxic values in the tumor dropped over time, making ozone therapy an excellent complement to traditional therapies.
Several studies conducted by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center revealed that mistletoe demonstrates powerful anticancer properties. Mistletoe lectins’ ribosome-inactivating properties induce apoptosis, while mistletoe extracts that contained triterpene performed better against melanomas than conventional treatments due to their ability to slow angiogenesis (the growth of tumor-feeding blood vessels), a mechanism for tumor growth. For that reason, it has become one of the most effective complementary therapies in the fight against skin cancer.
If you are looking for alternative therapies to treat skin cancer, the specialists at Brio-Medical can help. Schedule your free consultation today!
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Chinembiri, Tawona N et al. “Review of natural compounds for potential skin cancer treatment.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 19,8 11679-721. 6 Aug. 2014, doi:10.3390/molecules190811679
Kranjc, Simona et al. “Electrochemotherapy by pulsed electromagnetic field treatment (PEMF) in mouse melanoma B16F10 in vivo.” Radiology and oncology vol. 50,1 39-48. 16 Feb. 2016, doi:10.1515/raon-2016-0014
Sengupta, Somoshree and Balla, Vamsi K. “A review on the use of magnetic fields and ultrasound for non-invasive cancer treatment.” Journal of advanced research vol. 14, 97-111. 2018, doi:10.1016/j.jare.2018.06.003
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Wang, Chi-Chung et al. “Dimethyl sulfoxide promotes the multiple functions of the tumor suppressor HLJ1 through activator protein-1 activation in NSCLC cells.” PloS one vol. 7,4 (2012): e33772. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033772
Baldari, Silvia et al. “Current Biomedical Use of Copper Chelation Therapy.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 21,3 1069. 6 Feb. 2020, doi:10.3390/ijms21031069
Clavo, Bernardino et al. “Ozone Therapy for Tumor Oxygenation: a Pilot Study.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 1,1 (2004): 93-98. doi:10.1093/ecam/neh009
“Mistletoe (European).” Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/mistletoe-european. Accessed 3 Aug. 2022.