People warned against ‘voodoo’ cancer cures


01:50 AM January 17th, 2013


Cancer experts and the government on Wednesday warned the public against herbal supplements that are advertised as cures for cancer, saying these were “voodoo medicine.”

The Philippine Society of Medical Oncology (PSMO) said these herbal supplements had no proven curative effects while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it did not approve any herbal medicine or health supplement as a cure for cancer.

“That’s what I call voodoo medicine …. There is no viable alternative to mainstream cancer treatment,” Dr. Ellie May Villegas, PSMO vice president, said at a press conference sponsored by pharmaceutical companies Roche and Fresenius.

Dr. Oscar Gutierrez Jr., chair of the FDA Policy Planning Office, said at the briefing that the agency had approved a total of 650 food and dietary supplements—including 106 traditionally used herbal products like “lagundi” and 35 herbal medicines—but none of these were certified as cancer cures.

“We saw a dramatic increase in the viability of herbal medicines, food and supplements for cancer patients. Many of these … are very attractive to cancer patients due to their claimed quick results and for their low prices,” Gutierrez said.

“(But) the FDA has not approved any food and dietary supplement against cancer cases. Although in the form of tablet, liquid, or gels that give them a semblance of medicine, food and dietary supplements are not a replacement for drugs and medicine,” he added.

No curative effects


Gutierrez said these supplements were approved to support nutrition and health care but not as substitutes for mainstream health care and medicines.

“They have no therapeutic claims and no documented curative effects. Patients should always seek proper health care and treatment from their doctors,” he said.

Gutierrez said supplements were processed food products intended to complement the diet and should not be used as conventional food or as the sole food item.

“The FDA has issued circulars and administrative orders that put correct labeling for supplements to ensure that the products are not commercially sold or advertised with therapeutic claims. We make sure that these products carry the label `No approved therapeutic claims,’” he added.

“The FDA ensures safety as well as truthfulness and validity of label claims. These products do not have curative effects and testimonials or anecdotal information associated with healing and curing are not allowed,” Gutierrez said.



Villegas said some of the supposed treatments that the public should be wary about included bio-resonance therapies, oxygen treatment, colonic cleansing, “megadosing” of Vitamin C, antineoplastons and immuno-augmentation treatment.

She said herbal medicines might actually interfere with chemotherapy or medicines used in cancer treatment.

“Some herbs cause problematic interactions with chemo, causing blood pressure swings and other complications,” Villegas said.

“The effectivity of the medicine could be adversely affected or it could interfere with the potency of the drug,” she added.

However, Villegas said “complementary alternative medicines” could be used with anticancer drugs. They include acupuncture, music therapy and yoga.

Alternative treatment


“We understand that cancer patients want to try alternative treatment. Integrative oncology is a safe way for cancer patients to mix alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage therapies, diet management, music therapy, meditation, or yoga alongside their standard cancer treatment,” Villegas said.

However, Villegas said these therapies could not treat tumors but only control physical and emotional symptoms.

“These methods should not be used alone to replace research-based and standard cancer treatment, but they can be used with them. It is important to retain proper cancer treatment to get best results,” she said.

PSMO president Felycette Gay Lapus said that while herbal supplements may seem appealing, patients should be vigilant that they were not being misled by false promises.

“We continue in our quest to arm the public with as much information as possible. Prevention and early detection are ultimate goals in decreasing the cancer incidence and increasing survival rates in the country,” Lapus said.

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  • Don

    “Argo F_ck Yourselves…” 

  • Kaloy

    It has been reported that Chemo therapy doesn’t really help cancer patients but in the contrary makes patients deteriorate faster with Chemo . That’s why Hopkins Hospital, one among the biggest and popular Hospitals has reportedly stopped using Chemo to treat cancer patients.

    An Israeli doctor discovered that Tanglad (lemon grass) tea, when taken as water subtitute, is most effective cure for cancer even at stage 4 as he discovered that cancer cells “commit suicide” once in contact with Tanglad tea. It was also reported that the daughter General Mayuga fully recovered from a stage 4 breast cancer after going  treatment for almost a year, of Tanglad (lemon grass) in Israel.

    Search Lemon grass medicinal value at google  for further info about Lrmon grass.

    Wondering why this press release was published degrading herbal and food supplement medicines. Is it is dramatically reducing sales of western medicines?

    We can not blame local doctors whose training were merely on western medical prescriptions.

    • Whoopigsooee

      Johns Hopkins stopped using chemotherapy?! You’re kidding, right? 

      I am a US-based oncologist and I have several oncologist-friends within the Johns Hopkins faculty. I can tell you firsthand that what you’re saying is an outright, bald-faced lie.

    • tamumd

      That is a hoax..propagated by those selling herbal supplements and pushing for alternative medicine. If you bother to check Johns Hopkin’s website, there’s a section specially dedicated to that hoax. Johns Hopkins debunked all those claims point by point. NO it’s not dramatically reducing sales of formulary medicines, the FDA and medical societies such as Philippine Society of Medical Oncology have professional responsibility to correct erroneous, baseless claims about certain therapeutic agent that could potentially harm people or worse… kill someone.

  • chatlainegrace computercenter

     Kalokohan.  Yung nagpapachemo nga tigok agad.   Pero yung mga nagtitiyaga sa herbal medicine like guyabono gumagaling. 

  • Season

    Chemo is likewise not a cure and kills the bad including the good cells. It also weakens the body while undergoing the procedure aside from the expenses incurred while doing the treatment…. What other choices do people have? 

  • roland garcia

    how about chemo, isn’t it “vooddoer” than supplements?

     it is well known fact that it will break your bank before it kills you then fatten the purse of your oncologist.

    tama si Truth baking soda lang ang katapat ng cancer. i think it was started by a nobel winner in the person of otto warburg unlike chemo which is pushed by hall of shameless winners.

  • Ornbort Vortingeresdemesus

    tsk. if you doctors were not so greedy and business oriented, i might actually believe you.

  • Truth

    Baking soda kills cancer,evidence all over the web. 

  • rico

    Supplements are food for the body.  Socrates, the Father of Medicine says “Medicine are food, and food is medicine”.  Let the public be informed of this simple principle by the father of medicine.

  • dennis

    This is just a matter of business! That´s the “boiling point” of this article! Maybe companies were loosing it´s grip in our market aside from treating patient.It´s purely business! If this article was under the NEWS column then it´s a breakthrough! But when it´s under BUSINESS column then it send a different message to the people.Thanks! It´s just a comment.

    • roland garcia

      its purely business. this is what other citizens of first world are shouting for quite a time.

      i read somewhere that in sydney, the gov’t formed a commission composed of doctors to evaluate whether it is viable for the state to keep on bankrolling chemos. after a time, the commission reported that the success rate of chemo is only 3% and yet thousands of dollars is spent by the govt for every cancer stricken aussie.

      many alternatives are available with a success rate better than 3% but the medical world has a better PR in destroying them as ‘voodoo’ simply because they will not earn anything out of it. take the case of dr stanislaw burzynski who was prosecuted for decades by US FDA, the corporate medical stooge. in the end they lost and said doctor is doing well now in houston.

      as said it is purely greeed.

  • dennis

    Well,that´s the nature of human thinking! There´s nothing harm on trying “Herbal medicines”! It´s always like that,the best therapy is to win patient´s belief which is the key factor in response therapy.I´ll set an example,If someone get caught of Dengue,they use “Tawa-tawa” as an alternative in order to survive! The point of every patient is the word “Survive”. If we are in United States then i agree that there is no need to have herbal medicine to have it´s space to compete against Medicines used at the hospital because US had their full support with it´s scientist to invent drugs.They have thousands of good hospitals like John Hopkins,Mayo Clinic and many many more.But look at our country? Look at what we have? St Lukes and MMC in Manila? Imagine if i have a cancer,living in remote areas somewhere else in our country or in Mindanao,you mean i have to take everyday transportation to Manila just to complete the cycle of my cancer treatment? I´m happy enough that we have already “Stem Cell Therapy” in other developed and rich country which sooner will come to us but the question is “In our situation like Philippines,it´s economy,WE WANT TO SURVIVE BUT HOW CAN WE AFFORD THAT?” I hope you got my point about it!

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