If you haven’t heard already, you will soon come across a new anti-cancer therapy called Kanglaite. It’s manufactured in China and is pushed by incredible hype and fanfares as a “proven” and “miracle” cure. But we’ve been there before, haven’t we? When commercial interests get on the bandwagon, the inconvenient matter of truth and integrity suddenly gets lost in all the brouhaha.
So what are the facts?
Kanglaite was developed by a pharmacist, Li Dapeng. It is made from a plant called Job’s tears, a relative of maize. We might think of it as “Chinese pearl barley”. The botanical name, for those interested, is Coix lachryma-jobi. Its Chinese name, yi-yi-jen, or yi-mi (in southeast China) is the same as that used for barley, or yang-yi-mi, ‘yang’ meaning ‘foreign’, or ‘across the ocean’.
Yi-mi is used in soups and gruel and is a common ingredient in many Chinese traditional herbal medicines for treating a variety of ailments including cancer. It has also been widely used as a diuretic, analgesic and antispasmodic agent.
No one knows exactly how Kanglaite works, but the drug has been taken by more than 270,000 patients in some 2,000 hospitals in China, and has proven effective against malignant tumors such as carcinomas in the lung, liver, stomach and breast.
So far so good.
But from here on, things are not quite as simple as the protagonists claim. In the usual way, it is assumed that there are certain “active” components of the plant seeds and that these individual compounds can be extracted and sold as the “real” reason why the herb works.
It’s true that there are many excellent compounds in the plant and these have been shown to have specific anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, anti-microbial, hypoglycaemic, and ovulatory effects.
Researchers at the National Taiwan University have identified 6 phenolic compounds in the hull (shell) of Job’s tears that have strong but varying anti-oxidant activities. Antioxidants neutralise reactive oxygen species (ROS) and protect cell membranes. Excess ROS is implicated in diseases such as inflammation, aging, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and liver toxicity.
This is good. Remember my saying used throughout “Cancer Confidential”, that all good health measures are anti-cancer measures.
But I have a problem with the over-reaching assumption that the health benefits of plants can be reduced to just a few known compounds. This faulty reasoning ignores the probability (almost certainty) that there are also unknown compounds that may be contributing to the picture.
Big Pharma constantly perpetuates this myth of course and is it easy to see why. They need something to patent for dollars and some reason to steer people away from the herb. Otherwise, why not just feed the cheap plant substance to the patients and get all the benefits?
All this pseudo-scientific rhetoric about “active compounds” is really just a blind for greed and trying to lock up profits. In other words keeping the benefits from the people who need it, unless they pay through the nose.
So, if you like the story so far, I recommend you just get hold of Job’s tears seeds, plant some at home and eat it! I’m all for nutritional sources that fight cancer. But if it’s that good, why not just incorporate it in everyone’s diet. It’s cheap and readily available almost everywhere. It ranks—along with wheat and barley in Europe; beans, corn, squash and pepper in the Americas; and rice in Asia—as one of the earliest domesticated plants.
Scientific trials of Kanglaite
So what is Kanglaite, exactly? It is a “neutral lipid” of the endosperm of Job’s tears, extracted with an organic solvent, such as acetone, and then combined with glycerol and lecithin from soy or egg to make an emulsion in water that can be injected intravenously into patients.
Kanglaite Injection (KLT) has been listed by the Chinese government as a “State Basic Drug”, a “State Basic Medical Insurance Drug” and a “State Key New Drug”. KLT has been on top of the best selling anticancer drugs in China for recent 5 years.
I am always wary of Chinese medicine studies, especially on substances they sell for foreign exchange. Most of it is awful science and a lot of it bordering on ham.
But I can report on pre-clinical studies at John Hopkins University, USA, which showed tumor-inhibitive rate of KLT on transplanted breast carcinoma induced by cell strain MDA-MB-231 was over 50%.
In 2003, FDA approved a US phase II trial on non small-cell lung cancer, a hitherto untreatable cancer once it has gone past the very early stages when surgical intervention is feasible.
Now a new 4-month clinical trial of Kanglaite has been carried out on 15 to 18 volunteers in a hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, making it the first drug derived from a traditional Chinese herbal remedy to go into clinical trials in the United States. The drug is patented in China, United States, Canada, Japan and the European Union.
That means if it is shown to work it will be expensive and the herbal substitute will be attacked and outlawed as “dangerous” by the FDA.
Other features of Kanglaite
As well as killing cancer cells directly and effectively, Kanglaite also has a number of other significant benefits that would be desired by a cancer patient:
- * Improves patient immune function
- * Increases sensitivity to radiotherapy (makes it more effective)
- * Reduces the toxicity of chemo and radiation, when taken concomitantly
- * Provides high energy nutrition to treat cachexia (the body wasting of cancer)
- * Relieves cancerous pain markedly
- * Finally, it improves patient quality of life and notably prolongs survival
All this with minimum side effects. Standard treatment course for KLT is 200 ml (2 bottles) per day via intravenous drip x 42 days (84 bottles). There is a break for 4-5 days after 21 days. And clinical experiences in China and Russia suggest 2 treatment courses for those with late stage advanced and metastatic tumors for better therapeutic effect and evident prolongation of life.
Both Chinese and overseas clinical experiences have shown that KLT has proven effect in the treatment of cancers mainly at sites of lung, breast, liver, nasopharynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, colon-rectum, ovary and prostate. This agent is also applied in the treatment of malignant lymphoma and acute leukemia. KLT has brought great benefits to over 500,000 cancer patients in more than 2,000 big or medium hospitals in China since 1997.
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