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From The Cancer Chronicles #32-33
© June 1996 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.

Aloe vera has long been known for its medicinal properties. In a sense it formed the basis of the American pharmaceutical industry. This year marks the bicentennial of the first medicinal patent ever granted in the US. It went to Samuel Lee, Jr. of Windham, CT for a preparation containing potassium nitrate, gum resin, soap, and aloe. Such concoctions typically were used as purgatives.

In just the last few years attention has focused on aloe for a different reason. Aloe has been found to contain a substance called acemannan (Carrosyn®). This has shown potential as a treatment for AIDS and cancer.

In a number of studies, acemannan has had both immunostimulatory and directly antiviral properties.

It is non-toxic even when injected at high doses, causing "no significant signs of intoxication and no deaths." White blood cells were mobilized with well-defined immune stimulating activity (Fogleman, RW, et al. Vet Hum Toxicol 1992;34:201-205).

In one experiment, a group of laboratory mice were implanted with deadly sarcoma cells. These grew rapidly, producing highly malignant and invasive tumors in all the animals. They routinely died in 20 to 46 days.

But a similar group were treated with acemannan at the time of tumor cell implantation. Approximately 40 percent of these animals survived their cancer. And their tumors, scientists at Texas A&M said, were infiltrated by immune cancer-fighting cells, had dead or dying cores, and/or had regressed (Peng, SY, et al. Mol Biother 1991;3:79-87).

Most of the experiments with acemannan have taken place in animals, particularly in pets. (Veterinarians have less restraints on them than people doctors and are sometimes quite open to innovative treatments.)

In 1991, acemannan was tested as an experimental treatment for feline leukemia.This a very tough model. Feline leukemia is a virally induced disease that kills all of the affected cats: 40 percent of them die within 4 weeks, and 70 percent within 8 weeks of onset.

But injections of acemannan for 6 weeks significantly improved both the quality of life and the survival rate of the infected tabbys. A full 12 weeks after initiation of treatment, 71 percent of the treated cats were still alive and in good health (Sheets, MA, et al., Mol Biother 1991;3:41-45). This is pretty remarkable.

When injected in this way, acemannan was been shown to have profound effects on the immune system, including stimulation of interleukin-1 and tumor necrosis factor production, two cytokines which probably play an anti-cancer role.

In another pet experiment, 43 dogs and cats which had spontaneous cancers of various kinds were treated with acemannan. Upon microscopic inspection, the tumors of 26 of these animals again showed immunological reactions, with marked necrosis (death) of cancerous tissue, white-blood-cell infiltration of the tumors, and even cocoon-like encapsulations.

Twelve of these animals also had obvious clinical improvement, i.e., tumor shrinkage, tumor necrosis, and/or prolonged survival; these included five of the seven animals that had fibrosarcomas (Harris,C., et al. Mol Biother 1991;3: 207-213).

In another study, eight dogs and five cats with fibrosarcomas were treated with acemannan in combination with surgery and radiation therapy. All of these animals had recurrent disease that had failed to respond to previous treatments, a poor prognosis, or both. Veterinarians gave them four to seven weekly injections of acemannan: tumor shrinkage occurred in four of twelve animals whose tumors were accessible to measurement. Once again, there was a notable increase in necrosis and inflammation. Following initiation of acemannan therapy, complete surgical excision was performed on all the animals. Radiation therapy was begun immediately after surgery. Acemannan treatments were continued monthly for one year.

Seven of the thirteen animals remained alive and tumor-free up to 603 days, with a median survival time of 372 days. The "data suggests that acemannan may be an effective adjunct to surgery and radiation therapy in the treatment of canine and feline fibrosarcomas" (King, GK, et al. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 1995;31:439-447).

So, could a human cancer patient get acemannan? Not easily. This is an experimental drug, and was injected in the above experiments. One can get aloe, but you cannot and should not inject it, nor does one easily find out how much acemannan is in a particular aloe product. The most likely way of getting at least some acemannan is to buy and ingest an aloe product made from the whole leaf (minus the purgative elements, of course).

Some companies sell a 40:1 concentrate of the plant. Each four-ounce bottle equals a gallon and a quarter of undiluted aloe. The taste is peculiar but can be masked with vegetable juice (such as V-8). Cancer patients often take three teaspoons per day.

Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. is director of the The Moss Reports for cancer patients. Dr. Moss is the author of eleven books and three documentaries on cancer-related topics. He is or has been an advisor on alternative cancer treatments to the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Urological Association, Columbia University, the University of Texas, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the German Society of Oncology. He wrote the first article on alternative medicine for the Encyclopedia Britannica yearbook. He is listed in Marquis Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in the East, and Who's Who in Entertainment (as a film documentarian). This Web site does not advocate any particular treatment for cancer. We urge you to always seek competent medical advice for all health problems, especially cancer. Before consulting our site please read our full Disclaimer statement.

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