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Artemisinin And Canine Cancer

Chinese medicine has yielded a promising new approach for treating cancer. Seattle scientists have shown that a compound extracted from the wormwood plant seeks out and destroys many types of cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells unscathed.

In laboratory experiments, the compound called Artemisinin killed virtually all human breast cancer cells in the test tube, reports Dr. Henry Lai, a bioengineering researcher at the University of Washington. Just as importantly, he says, nearly all of the normal cells exposed to it were still alive. And a dog with osteosarcoma so severe that it couldn’t walk across the room made a complete recovery within five days of receiving the treatment. X-rays showed the animal’s tumor “had basically disappeared,” says Lai, adding that he believed the dog is still alive two years later.

“Not only does Artemisinin appear to be effective, but it’s very selective,” Lai says. “It’s highly toxic to the cancer cells, but has a marginal impact on normal cells.”

Artemesinin is extracted it from the plant Artemesia annua L., commonly known as sweet wormwood, and was used thousands of years ago for use in the treatment of malaria, Lai says. After a “secret recipe” for the treatment was discovered on a stone tablet in the tomb of a prince of the Han Dynasty during an archaeological dig in the 1970s, artemisinin re-emerged as a therapy for the mosquito-borne disease, Lai recalls. In fact, a purified form of the plant compound is now the drug of choice for treating malaria in many areas, particularly where chloroquine-resistant strains have emerged, he says.

There are other forms of the herb wormwood such asArtemisia absinthium (absinth sagewort or common wormwood) but they do not contain the active artemisinin compound. Even subspecies of Artemesia annua may contain different concentrations of artemisinin. The subspecia that gives the highest yield is found in southwestern China and Vietnam.

How it works

Experiments into why artemisinin works as an anti-malaria agent led to its tests as an anti-cancer drug. The key turned out to be a shared characteristic of the malaria parasite and dividing cancer cells: high iron concentrations.When artemisinin — or any of its derivatives — comes into contact with iron, a chemical reaction ensues, spawning charged atoms that chemists call free radicals. In malaria, the free radicals attack and bind with cell membranes, breaking them apart and killing the single-cell parasite. Cells, too, need iron to replicate DNA when they divide, Lai says. And since cancer is characterized by out-of-control cell division, cancer cells have much higher iron concentrations than do normal cells.  On their surfaces, cancer cells also have more so-called transferrin receptors — cellular pathways that allow iron to enter — than healthy cells. In the case of breast cancer, the cells have five to 15 times more transferrin receptors on their surface than normal breast cells, Lai says. And so entered the dash of logic: About seven years ago, Lai reasoned, why not target cancer cells with the anti-malaria treatment? Working with assistant research professor Narendra Singh, Lai devised a strategy and obtained funding from the Breast Cancer Fund in San Francisco. The work appears in the November issue of the journal Life Sciences.


In his experiments, Lai subjected sets of both breast cancer cells and normal breast cells to either: A compound known as holotransferrin, which binds with transferrin receptors to transport iron into cells and thus further increases the cells’ iron concentrations; A water-soluble form of artemisinin; or A combination of both compounds.

Cells exposed to just one of the compounds showed no appreciable effect, Lai reports. But the response by cancer cells when hit with first holotransferrin, then artemisinin, was dramatic, he says. After eight hours, three-fourths of the cancer cells were obliterated. A mere 16 hours later, nearly all the cancer cells were dead. Just as importantly, he says, the vast majority of normal breast cells did not die, showing the safety of the treatment.

The success is particularly noteworthy in that breast cancer cells that were resistant to radiation were utilized in the experiment, Lai adds. “So that means this approach might work for cancer resistant to conventional therapy.” As might be expected, more aggressive cancers such as pancreatic and acute leukemia — which are characterized by more rapid cell division and thus higher iron concentrations — respond even better, Lai says.

In a separate study, the therapy eliminated leukemia cells in the test tube within eight hours, he says.The next step, according to Lai, is further animal testing, followed by human trials. First the patient would be given iron supplements to raise iron concentrations in his or her cancer cells, he says, and then the compound would be given in pill form. While human tests are still years away, the treatment could revolutionize the way some cancers — particularly aggressive, fast-growing ones — are approached if it lives up to its early promise, he adds.

So far, Artemesinin has been shown to prevent cancer cells from developing a resistance to its action, and reportedly has yielded often impressive results in treating a variety of cancers, including leukemia, breast, colon, prostate and brain cancer (including left frontal glioblastoma).

How to give Artemisinin

Artemisinin has two derivatives: Artesunate, which has a relatively short half-life; and Artemether, which may be a more effective derivative, because it stays in the body longer. It also may be more effective than Artemisinin alone in brain cancers, because it penetrates the blood-brain barrier more readily.

Both compounds can be given orally.  The source for the Artemisinin used in the Washington State University studies is Holley Pharmaceuticals

According to Dr.  Narendra P.Sing, a bioengineer involved in the Washington State study, Artemix may be a better choice as it contains artemisinin, artesunate and artemether. Artemix can be purchased from Wellcare

Let your dog pet drink plenty of fresh water during therapy and provide plenty of pleasant, playful exercise, particularly after dinner for 2 to 3 hours. Inactive and old pets with poor health respond poorly to treatment. Iron supplements are NOT necessary. Avoid iron rich food, such as meat, 3 to 4 hours before the dose. It may be best to have your dog evaluated before and after his treatment (ultrasound, biopsy, X-rays and etc.) to see if the treatment is effective.


When Artemisinin was tested with monkeys, they showed no toxicity after they received up to 292 mg/kg (642 mg/pound) of Artemether over 1 to 3 months.  Animal research has shown neurotoxic results with massive doses of Artemether—150mg/kg/day (330mg/pound).  Generally, at the lower recommended doses of 2-16 mg/pound, there is no reported toxicity.


The dose is calculated as 1 milligram of artemether per kg body weight per day, preferably given with butyrate and vitamin D-3.  According to Dr. Singh, when giving Artemix, calculate the dose based on artemether contents (1mg/kg/day) to avoid toxicity issues.  Artemisinin and artesunate are very safe so you only need to be careful with the artemether.

According to Dr. Singh, treatment should be continued every day for 8 weeks. If a response is noted (by a reduction of symptoms, signs, MRI, CAT), then switch to alternate days for 3 to 4 months. If no response is seen in 8 weeks, it would be best to switch to another therapy.

Pets should not have radiation two months prior to using Artemisinin.

To give the Artemesinin, suspend the contents in whole milk or yoghurt and, if necessary, deliver with a syringe. Alternately, you can give it orally by wrapping the capsules in cottage cheese.  It is important that Artemisinin is given 3 to 4 hours after dinner.   Give your dog butyrate with vitamin D-3 at the same time he is given the Artemix or Artesinin.  Low doses of antioxidants, specifically, 250 mg of vitamin C and 200 units of vitamin E, should be added around breakfast and lunch, but not given at the same time as the Artemisinin, according to Dr. Singh.

Artemisinin looks promising as a more natural alternative to chemotherapy or radiation therapy.  If your dog suffers from cancer, this might be an important substance to discuss with your holistic vet.  Alternately, there is a yahoo chat group for dogs with cancer using Artemisinin.  Sometimes, having the experience of other pet owners who have been in your shoes has a lot of value.

There is always hope for dogs diagnosed with cancer.  It is up to us to determine what treatments we are willing to use and how far we will go to help our pets.  Artmesinin looks to be a safe and often effective choice for dog owners who want to think outside the box.


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22 Responses to Artemisinin And Canine Cancer

  1. Hannah

    Has anyone used the artemismin along with radtiation treatment? Would there be a reason not to?

    • Jane

      Don’t give it with radiation. Radiation released iron into tissues. Artemisinin creates free radicals around iron. It’s attracted to it so giving artemsinin during radiation won’t have any effect on the cancer, and will just cause damage. Best to wait 1-2 weeks after radiation. A supplement that you can give during radiation is berberine as it makes tumors radiosensitive and works with radation.

  2. Steve Pelley

    My 8 yr old German Shepard Dog has been diagnosed with a lung tumor. So far she is asymptomatic. We are starting artemisinin instead of surgery. I ordered Artemix along with butyrate and d3.

    I intend to start her on it immediately @ 1mg artemether/lb of body weight (currently 70 lbs).

    I understand that this dose should be administered on an empty stomach, at least 4 hours after eating. Since she normally eats late in the day, I’m assuming giving her the treatment first thing in the morning is ok.

    Any advice is appreciated.


    • Geri Brauer

      I have a cocker spaniel with lymphoma. Initially did chemo routine ( 13 weeks) with three relapses in 15 months. I started artesiminin , Sam-E for large liver and other suppliments and we pulled him into remission three times. Now after 15 months he has been in remission for over 6 weeks, he was stage 3-4 lymphoma. I am still giving the Artemisinin 8 weeks on and then off for a time, then back on. His liver is normal, he eats great, energetic and happy but did go blind and deaf with Chemo. Still he is viable and a big surprise to see how health he has become as i research more holistic therapies and try them.
      I’d like to know if anyone has found success with Artemix (Artesunate 50mg,Artemisinin 50mg, Artemether ) If so what benefits over just using the Artemisinin?

      Still we are lucky since our Cocker is 13 years old and i would have never thought we would have made it this far.


      • Dogs Naturally Magazine

        Geri, I’m glad your Cocker is doing well with his treatment. If you’re not already a member you may want to check out the Yahoo group

        I imagine there are people in that group who may have tried Artemix.

  3. Annie

    I purchased Artemisinin for my dog from Holley Pharmaceuticals.He was diagnose with osteosarcoma and I wanted to try the holistic route instead of surgery or radiation therapy. I have definitely seen improvements in him and his spirits are much higher than before. I am so thankful!

  4. Alycia

    My dog was diagnosed three months ago with osteosarcoma. The vet believed she had only two months to live at the time. Some days she is even up and running around. So far she is on Tumeric, a type of algea for omegas, and essiac tea(pulsed). I’m not seeing her get worse, but sadly I am not seeing her get better either.

    I’ve been looking at Artemisinin. For some reason it confuses me and I can’t figure out where to buy it. If you know about it or know how I can find it please E-mail me at alycia@alycia.org Also if you have any other natural recommendations for her.

    • john

      hi you can buy artemisinin ay amazon is where i got mine at my just got report from vet my dog has osteosarcoma in rear leg was not putting any pressure on it started him on it feb 11 2014 today is 16th one week and he is put pressure on it now when walking he is a golden retriver 80 lbs.ive been giving him 2 100mg at night 4 hours after eating on empty stomach he is on 10 mg prednisone 2 times a day and 50 mg tramadol hydrochlorid for pain 2 times a day he was not putting any pressure on his rear leg untill i gave him artemisinin this seams to be working i hope it keeps going the way it is if you want any more info email me back go to http://www.mwt.net/~drbrewer/canart2.htm read his words on artemisinin hope this helps i know what it is when you hear you best friend has bone cancer thanks john google in artemisinin so you can read up on it this dr on the site meantined is the best

  5. maddy

    Does anyone know what the dose of Vitamin D-3 is? Cannot find this information anywhere! Hope someone knows. Thanks.

  6. greatful danes

    I followed the artemisinin and curcumin protocolsa mentioned as well as adding in medicinal mushrooms. My great dane had histiocytic sarcoma in his knee. He had an amputation and then I treated holistically. No chemo, no radiation. He lived another 17 months before succumbing to spinal problems that were worsened by being a tripawd. I had a necropsy performed with one of the goals being to search out cancer. Multiple samples were sent out for examination and there was no sign of cancer spread. I recommend arte, curcumin, and medicinal mushrooms to all cancer patients.

    • jen

      Hi my 6yr old Saint Bernard has osteosarcoma. Can you email me at jenmalak@yahoo.com please.

      • peggy vivinetto

        My 5 yr old Newfie has survived OS with Tumexal and amputation. We are now waiting for her prostetic from Orthpets in Denver

    • chris

      Hello — thru a series of random research I have found myself trying to use the same three protocols as you — artemisinin, mushrooms and curcumin. Im also working in the budwig protocol.

      What I am trying to figure out is how to administer. Curcumin is an antioxidant while artemisinin is pro oxidant. Did you administer together, or separately? How far apart? I want to do everything I can, but I don’t want to cancel them out accidentally. Any perspective on your dosing timing is greatly appreciated.



  7. Janie

    Hi Gemma–I wonder if you are giving too much fat in the diet? You might join artemesinin_and_cancer Yahoo group and post that question there too.

    Good luck with your fur baby.

  8. susan

    My dog snoop has just been diagnosed with bone cancer in his front leg. I am about to try him on artemisinin as no other treatment viable according to my vet whom is treating his pain with metacam and tramadol. He is in good health at the moment so fingers crossed he responds.

    • Dogs Naturally Magazine

      Please look into mushrooms too. Dr Charles E Loops will do phone consults and is an excellent homeopath who specializes in cancer.

    • I have been treating my Rottie Bitch since early December with Artemisinin for an Osteosarcoma. Sadly NSAID’s didn’t manage her pain, so she is currently on PLT’s and Tramadol as needed. Since switching to the PLT’s we have only had to use Tramadol once after exercise.

      She is on the lowest does possible for her weight with the Steroids to give us room to adjust if needed. The last few weeks, it’s as if Bonnie doesn’t even have a tumour – knowing that basically her bone is erupting, and guessing how painful that is, it’s amazing to see her.

      I have also done research into and been using Curcumin, Quercitin and Omega 3 FIsh Oils along with giving her all the vitamin’s that are recommended for use when using these supplements that promote Apoptosis. Boosting her immune system. I honestly today, was looking at her tumour and without Xray’s obviously, to the touch and naked eye, i do believe that there has been a slight change in size. After the initial growth, i do believe today it look’s smaller and feels smaller.

      Sadly, Bonnie today was rushed into the vets with a distended abdomen and abdominal pain, anorexia and vomiting. After Xrays, bloods showing one Liver enzyme was raised, and scans, it looks like she has acute Pancreatitis. Has anybody ever experienced Pancreatitis as a possible side-effect from Artemisinin treatment? I am aware that Steroids increase the risk, but she’s on low dose so i am just curious. I have everything crossed that she makes it, and never thought it wouldn’t be the Bone tumour and metastisis that claimed her. I am absolutely gutted, as like i said, her tumour is currently not causing her any major issues at all.

  9. Andrea LaFrance

    Our dog has multiple Tumors in his lungs, no primary has been found so we are treating with artemisinin, carboplatin chemo, other supplements, immune boosters and a home cooked high protein diet. He has shown remarkable improvement and each day seems better which we are thankful for, I believe this product is miraculous and hope that it can save others.

  10. June

    Your math is faulty. When converting mg/kg into mg/lb, you should DIVIDE by 2.2 because there are 2.2 lbs/kb, not MULTIPLY by 2.2. So if the toxicity was tested at 292 mg/kg, it’s equivalent to 132 mg/lb, not 642. Fortunately we’re just talking about toxicity testing at levels people should not be approaching, are not recommended amounts.

    • Mt

      No your math is wrong June. If it take 2.2lbs to equal 1kg than the kg is larger. Than you would multiply mg/kg to get mg/lb. you only divide when you convert lbs into kg. I happen to do it on a daily basis as I am a vet tech.

  11. Natalie

    Is there a way for our dogs to participate in trials if we live in the Seattle area? I think both of my boys are developing cancer and I’d like for them to be a part of the UW study. They have appts for biopsies, but I want to go into the vet with as much info as possible cuz they are so negative about alternative treatments.

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