Foods that Beat Back Pancreatic Cancer

Foods that Beat Back Pancreatic Cancer

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In the world of food as medicine, are there any foods that treat cancer? The answer is an overwhelming YES! Among the cancers that foods and herbs have been known to treat, mitigate or prevent, one that often eludes mainstream practitioners, is pancreatic cancer. Generally, by the time a prognosis is made, the patient is given months to years to live, and all chemotherapy, radiation and surgery turn out to be useless. This is due in no small part to the fact that by the time symptoms reach the surface where they can be assessed, pancreatic cancer has already gone wild.

In such situations, mainstream doctors offer treatments, but they also insist the patient put their affairs in order because they can’t offer much more than failed mitigation, and they know that.

Biblical Natural Health CoachingThe world of natural health does not claim to offer miracle cures, but does claim to offer knowledge of foods, herbs and spices that have helped people overcome what traditional medicine failed to achieve.  This doesn’t mean natural health methods have necessarily treated or cured every person’s illness, but it does mean there is a wider array of options available to help.

Strangely, mainstream medical science and research often corroborates the results of such foods and herbs, but the knowledge is used to attempt yet more mainstream isolated compounds to synthesize (make fake versions) them for supposedly wider, stronger, more effective use. Doing so however, comes with consequences as we’ll see in the first candidate here for treatment of pancreatic cancer.

I will be referencing several articles written by Dr Mercola, and one or more of the papers from each article to quote those researchers directly as we get started on our discussion in addition to a few other sources along the way. I’ll spend a little time on each candidate, and then share more about them at the end.

Let’s begin with a compound found in Rhubarb (this article’s feature image is a tub full of rhubarb I was given in 2018):

How Rhubarb Might Ward Off Colon Disease
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola  Fact Checked April 04, 2022

“Emodin successfully suppressed epithelial mesenchymal-transition and cancer stem cell formation”

“Emodin may reverse multidrug resistance, which is a significant obstacle to cancer treatment, and “inhibits cell growth in several types of cancer cells and regulates genes and proteins related to the control of cell apoptosis, cell invasion, metastasis and cell cycle arrest”

“Interest in emodin’s anticancer effects has increased in recent years, and a 2021 review published in Cancers touted its benefits, as well as potential toxicity, including hepatotoxicity and reproductive toxicity. Because of this, they noted that more research is needed to determine optimal dosages to maximize benefits and reduce potential toxicity. Still, they noted:

“Emodin has been suggested to be effective for cancer management, principally in digestive system cancers (like pancreatic cancer) by modulating multiple molecular targets included in tumor growth, angiogenesis, invasion, and metastasis according to in vivo or in vitro experimental models. In current years’ investigations, emodin was shown to have anticancer activity in different cancer types …”

” researchers wrote in the Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines, “emodin is expected to become an effective preventive and therapeutic drug of cancer, myocardial infarction, atherosclerosis, diabetes, acute pancreatitis, asthma, periodontitis, fatty livers and neurodegenerative diseases.””

According to the researchers that Mercola footnotes in his article, 

Emodin is:

“a natural anthraquinone derivative found in the rhizomes and roots of mostly Rhamnaceae, Polygonaceae, Rubiaceae and Fabaceae plants”. “Emodin displays a variety of activities such as immunomodulatory, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties”

aloe vera“Emodin (Figure 2) is a chemical component from the anthraquinone family that can be obtained from rhubarb (Rheum sp.), aloe (Aloe vera L.), buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula L.), and Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica Houtt. syn. Polygonum cuspidatum Sieb et Zucc. and P. multiflorum Thunb.). Emodin is significantly abundantin the roots of Chinese rhubarb (Rheum palmatum L.), knotweed, and knotgrass, as well as coffee weed. It is also obtained from several species of fungi, involving members of the genera Aspergillus, Pestalotiopsis, Pyrenochaeta and lichens. ”

“Fascinatingly, numerous current studies have displayed that emodin might synergistically progress the anti-cancer efficiency of conventional chemotherapeutic drugs, such as cisplatin, etoposide, paclitaxel, and gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer”

“Anthraquinones stand out for their extraordinary biological properties, including anticancer, antiarthritic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, diuretic, and antimalarial effects.”

An important note about Emodin in the above study being quoted is the oral administration test that was done:

” a human pancreatic cancer-induced metastatic model was created through orthotropic substitution of human tumor tissue into the pancreatic wall, and oral administration of emodin remarkably reduced tumor weight and metastasis.”

The paper discusses a wide range of cancers and Emodin’s effect on them, then goes on to discuss synthesizing derivatives of it and runs into problems with apparent strength and effectiveness when taken orally. Unfortunately, the paper discusses nano, lipid, and PEGylated methods as suggestions for getting around this issue.

As noted by Mercola, potential toxicity is more than likely dose-related, and considering mainstream medicals habit of isolating compounds from their phytochemical wholes, potentially due to having lost any mitigating factors present elsewhere in the plants they were taken from.

A good paper showing Emodin as an Anthroquinone is this one about breast cancer research.

Anthroquinones as a group, are known to be anti-cancerous and many have been noted for various cancer management/treatment.

Moving on from anthroquinones, we come next to Curcumin.

The Countless Health Benefits of Curcumin
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola  Fact Checked June 13, 2022

“As the researchers from the University of California noted in a press release, curcumin has also demonstrated the ability to suppress cell growth in malignant tumors. Researchers have found this in several types of cancer, including small cell lung cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and ovarian cancer.”

How Curcumin affected pancreatic cancer in the footnoted research paper, was by having several effects of it’s own on the cancer, as well as improving the effects of a chemotherapy drug often given to treat it. The paper can be found here.  The paper spent more time on curcumin acting in support of the chemotherapeutic drug, than on curcumin itself.

Kaempferol is also noted in a more recent paper by Mercola:

Why Flavonoids Are the Key to a Sharp Mind
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola  Fact Checked December 08, 2022

“Kaempferol is also one of the most important constituents in ginkgo biloba, which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. A 2008 study found kaempferol-rich ginkgo biloba extract signi¦cantly inhibited the proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells. “

According to the paper that Mercola footnotes in this article:

“Ginkgo biloba extract kaempferol effectively inhibits pancreatic cancer cell proliferation and induces cancer cell apoptosis, which may sensitize pancreatic tumor cells to chemotherapy. Kaempferol may have clinical applications as adjuvant therapy in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.”

“Intake of beverages or food containing flavonoids has been frequently associated with reduced risk for developing various cancers including prostate, lung, stomach, and breast cancer”

According to this study, even low doses of Kaempferol were effective at reducing pancreatic cancer proliferation.

When the authors of the study compared cytotoxicity of Kaempferol to a common chemotherapy drug, they found: “data confirmed that kaempferol was less toxic to normal cells compared with the traditional chemotherapy agent 5-FU.” This would make it safer in larger doses than Emodin, as far as isolated compounds are concerned.

According to the textbook: Dietary Wellness for Life, by Dr Lawrence DeSantis, CN, ND, dates, grapefruit and oranges are all linked to lower incidences of pancreatic cancer. In his statement about oranges, DeSantis writes:

“Natural cancer-inhibitor, includes carotenoids, terpenes and flavonoids. Also rich in antioxidant vitamin C and beta-carotene. Specifically tied to lower rates of pancreatic cancer. “

In the PDR for Herbal Medicines, copyright 2000, the consumption of Green Tea was reported in 1997 to reduce incidences of pancreatic cancer by up to 47%. Incidentally, Green tea includes quercetin, kaempferol and myricetin.

Our incomplete list of compounds that can fight off pancreatic cancer then, is as follows:

Emodin, found in Rhubarb (and the roots of plants in the Rhamnaceae, Polygonaceae, Rubiaceae and Fabaceae plants  As noted earlier however, pretty much the entire anthroquinone group is anti-cancer or cancer-treating in various ways.

Curcumin, which has been extensively tested to treat various conditions, including various cancers such as pancreatic cancer. It is found in the plant: Turmeric.


Kaempferol, a flavinoid present in various plants that handily knocks down various conditions, including pancreatic cancer.

However, can’t let this list go by without mentioning Allicin, present in garlic, and Vitamin C, present in a wide range of fruits and vegetables and considered a very powerful antioxidant in the body!

This discussion would not be complete without mentioning the food that started the query in the first place, Japanese horseradish or Wasabi. Compounds in this plant, notably allyl isothiocyanate, has been more recently observed to successfully treat pancreatic cancer.

So what would a food list look like that contains these various compounds? After all, it is far better to prevent such a hidden scurge than try to repair it, although many of these plants have shown promise in research papers to assist with killing off the cancer.

First, we have members of the buckwheat family, Rhubarb, Sorrel, Buckwheat etc.

We have members of the Fabaceae family, which includes Alfalfa.

Of the Rubiaceae family, North America has access to Northern Bedstraw or Cleavers. The common coffee plant is part of this plant family.

The buckthorn plant’s fruit are known to be poisonous, so when they say that Emodin is found in the root of Rhamnaceae, it is best to take that seriously. Not all parts of all plants are edible, this is important to remember!

Next we have curcumin, only found in the Turmeric plant.

Third, we have foods containing kaempferol, such as: Asparagus, Chives, Dill, Kale, Leek, Lettuce, Onions, Spinach, Tarragon, Tiger Lily, and Green Tea.

Lastly, we have the vast array of foods that contain Vitamin C!

To prevent pancreatic cancer, Rhubarb, Alfalfa, Cleavers, Turmeric, the entire onion family, garlic, tarragon, citrus fruits, and green tea are all candidates for a typical grocery list. When eaten or drunk in their whole food forms rather than in their isolated components, you get the balancing features of the other phytonutrients also present in the plant, whether you are juicing, cooking, eating raw, making teas or tinctures, etc. Take the whole food, not a single isolated compound from it.

When life hands you a lemonEDIT Februrary 23, 2023

The only potential exemption to this statement, is the well-researched fact that vitamins, large doses of vitamins, have been repeatedly proven to assist if not outright cure, various cancers and other maladies.  In the case of Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, various research papers and clinical studies have confirmed it’s use in treating various cancers, including pancreatic.  You might remember citrus fruits being recommended for pancreatic cancer above. This is because they are high in a number of beneficial nutrients, including Vitamin C. By itself, Vitamin C’s use as medicine in the context of cancer, is intravenous delivery, not oral.  This distinction requires physician attendance to monitor progress, so it is something for your naturopathic doctor to administer and monitor.

end edit

Where foods are so strong in a compound as to potentially cause trouble in some area of the body, have those foods in greater moderation. Green Tea has high concentrations of tannins, and tannins can cause kidney distress if not outright UTI’s, so go easy on the green tea. Rhubarb is noted as having oxylates, as do many other plants out there, but if you eat them only a couple times a week, you should be fine. Horseradish has been known to cause discomfort and should be eaten in moderation as well. Scatter these foods throughout your week so that you don’t build up sensitivities to them by eating them every day. There is enough variety here, that they can be used in meals, snacks, and beverages on a fairly regular basis without overdoing it. These foods have a myriad of other benefits to the body as well, along with the plant families they come from.

Where buckthorn comes in however, should be the realm of your local herbalist or naturopathic doctor to administer safely. Other than that, go clear your sinuses and aid your body in beating back cancer at the same time! Your body marks cancer cells for removal all the time, and these foods can help.

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