Sunday, February 20, 2000

Herbs can aid cancer patients

Chemotherapy said to be easier

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        About 50 Greater Cincinnati cancer patients and their relatives received a modern introduction Saturday to an ancient herbal formula from India that proponents say can help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.

        The two-part product, Maharishi Amrit Kalash, is a paste and a tablet that includes extracts of 44 herbs and fruits. Amrit Kalash is already sold at some local health food stores as an “herbal super antioxidant” that can boost energy, improve feelings of wellness and resist the physical effects of aging.

        On Saturday, however, a large group gathered at the Wellness Community headquarters in Kenwood to hear what Amrit Kalash can do for cancer patients. They heard from Dr. Hari Sharma, a professor emeritus from Ohio State University, and Dr. Christine Horner-Taylor, a plastic surgeon who does reconstructive surgery for breast cancer patients.

        Dr. Horner-Taylor told the group she has become a believer in ayurvedic medicine, a traditional Indian system of medicine with roots tracing back 5,000 years. She personally takes Amrit Kalash, practices transcendental meditation and has sought treatments at ayurvedic clinics.

        “I tell all of my patients about this now,” Dr. Horner-Taylor said. “(In Western medicine) all we are taught is how to treat disease. We have no idea how to help people stay healthy.”

        Dr. Sharma said Amrit Kalash is an antioxidant that's “1,000 times stronger, weight-for-weight” than vitamins C or E.

        In animal tests, Dr. Sharma said the product prevented breast cancer tumors from forming and sometimes eliminated tumors. However, Dr. Sharma said there have not been similar findings in humans.

        Instead, human testing has involved a few hundred cancer patients in India, all of whom were taking chemotherapy. The patients were tracked primarily to see whether Amrit Kalash reduced toxic side effects.

        Even those benefits sounded attractive to many in the audience.

        Dr. Horner-Taylor wept as she introduced Betsy Malone, a 35-year-old breast cancer patient from Burlington, Ky., who went through chemotherapy treatments last year.

        After seeing Ms. Malone six weeks after she started on the supplement, Dr. Horner-Taylor said, “I couldn't believe it when I saw her. She was radiant.”

        Ms. Malone said she struggled through her first round of chemotherapy without the supplement. But with the supplement, later doses were easy to handle.

        “I haven't missed a day of work. I almost feel better now than before I started my chemotherapy,” Ms. Malone said.

        After recently completing treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Jane Oka of Western Hills said she plans to try Amrit Kalash to see whether it will help with lingering side effects, such as foods burning her mouth.

        “It sounds as if it could really change your life,” Ms. Oka said.


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