John Heinerman, Ph.D. is a Medical Anthropologist and has been the Director of the Anthropological Research Center in Salt Lake City , Utah for 25 years. Considered one of America’s premier authorities on Folk Medicine, Dr. Heinerman has visited 33 countries, and has written 58 books on health, folk medicine, food therapy, and general nutrition, including: The Treatment of Cancer with Herbs, Cancer Treatment Remedies (two volumes), Heinerman’s New Encyclopedia of Fruits and Vegetables, Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Nuts, Berries and Seeds, Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Healing Herbs and Spices, Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Healing Juices, and Heinerman’s Encyclopedia of Juices, Teas, and Tonics. Dr. Heinerman’s books have been translated into 17 foreign languages and have over 25 million copies in print. He shared his unique perspective with CancerWire about cancer, folk medicine, and herbs.
CancerWire) When did you first become interested in cancer?
JH) In 1979. I have been looking at this for over 25 years.
CancerWire) Can herbs and other plants help to heal cancer?
JH) I am not a doctor. I am not licensed or qualified to practice medicine. But as a medical anthropologist I can share with people my observations and knowledge about what I have seen to be efficacious in treating cancer around the world. My answer is yes, there are many plants that are effective in healing cancer, including: Red Clover Trifolium pretense, Chaparral Larrea divaricata, Alfalfa, Garlic, and Dandelion root. I put Red Clover at the top of the list because it is one of the world’s oldest and most common natural cancer remedies. Next, I recommend Chaparral because it contains a great deal of NDGA (nordihydroguaiaretic acid). You can make Chaparral tea by letting it simmer for 15 minutes and then letting it set for 10 hours. Alfalfa is a ready source of chlorophyll and minerals. Garlic has high amounts of sulfur which is very important. And Dandelion root is also helpful because it detoxifies the liver and the liver is a focal point for addressing any type of cancer.
CancerWire) If you had cancer this is what you would take?
JH) I would do more than that. From my travels and research I have concluded that there are three steps to healing from a disease like cancer. The first is changing thoughts and feelings. The second is detoxification. And the third is rebuilding. The use of herbs and plants only come into steps two and three.
CancerWire) What do you mean that the first step is changing thoughts and feelings?
JH) Cancer is a learning experience. It is nature’s way of getting you to slow down and reassess your life. With cancer comes change and discipline. You have no choice. You either change and become disciplined, or you die. Therefore, when you find out you have cancer, the first thing you start off with is what’s between the ears. Your brain. You have to change your thinking and mind-set. The second thing is what’s in the rib cage called the heart – your emotions. You must, out of necessity, change this too. Before you take any capsule, drink any wheat grass, or go on a cleansing you have to start with the mind and heart – thoughts and feelings. Because, if those two things are not taken care of, everything else is wasted. One has to be in a state of calmness and at peace with themselves. How this is achieved is up to the individual. Peace of mind and joy in the heart are essential to cancer recuperation and survival. Fear and desperation will only accelerate the cancer.
CancerWire) You said the second step was detoxification?
JH) Yes, using an analogy, a swamp forms in nature when there is in an in-flow of water, but no out-flow. The water stagnates. It is the same with the human body. With cancer patients, there is a build-up of toxins from inadequate or insufficient bowel movements, urination and perspiration. Toxins become trapped in the body and the swamp has to be drained. Patients use enemas, teas and juices designed to clean the blood and liver. Sweat baths for release of toxins through the skin are also effective. Antiperspirants are not advisable because the body is designed to sweat.
CancerWire) And the third step is rebuilding?
JH) After the swamp has been drained you have to start creating an environment in the body that can rebuild health. This is where nutrition is key. For example, I recommend fish – steamed, baked, or boiled. Avoid red meat, pork, and poultry. Nothing fried. I believe that juicing such as what the Gersons advocate is good up to a point. Juicing is important because the enzymes are critical. However, I have always been against the mixing of fruits and vegetables because they digest differently in the body. I think fruits and vegetables should be kept separate. Root vegetables are very helpful. I think beets are very good. There was research performed by an M.D. in the 1950’s and 60’s in Hungary named Alexander Ferenczi. He found reductions of cancer in some patients and complete eliminations in others when he administered red beets.
CancerWire) What type of juicing do you suggest?
JH) I would suggest that cancer patients consume one-third carrot juice, one-third mixed greens such as endive, romaine, or celery, and one-third beet juice blended together. But, they have to be slowly introduced because beets are strong and they will overwhelm the system.
CancerWire) What else do you recommend?
JH) Any fruits that are high in enzymes such as pineapples and apples. I tend to stay away from straight citrus. Although they contain large amounts of Vitamin C which is good they are also acidic and some types of cancer thrive in an acidic environment. I’m also a big advocate of Black Mission figs. I think they are very good for cancer. Figs are even mentioned in the Old Testament for treating a tumor. Chlorophyll from wheat grass, barley grass and leafy greens is important. However, avoid the wheat grass grown in a tray. Wheat grass should be taken to the first jointed stage in order for the plant constituents such as chlorophyll to be fully developed. There are companies that sell the good stuff in powdered form. Chlorophyll is important, but I am not an advocate of consuming the micro-algaes because they are not as rich in vitamins and minerals as wheat grass. Also some of these products may come from countries where good hygiene is not practiced so it calls into the question the quality of the product. Foods that are high in sulfur are important such as garlic, figs, cabbage, kale, mustard green, and Brussel sprouts. Root vegetables, anything below the ground is very good. Homemade yoghurt, cottage cheese is good. Soups or broth are good. There has to be balance in everything so neutral foods are also critical such as pears, baked squash, and baked potato with the skin intact and flavored with kelp not salt.
CancerWire) I understand that you have developed a program to help cancer patients have a better quality of life?
JH) I have constructed some nutritional tools that will provide patients with the nutrition that their bodies require in order to recuperate from the effects of the disease and the drastic therapies that are used against the disease. These tools are designed to improve a patient’s quality of life. They are not a “cancer cure.” While some patients do have their lives extended that is neither the design nor purpose of the program. It is designed to give the body what it needs so that the body can decrease pain, improve appetite, improve elimination, increase energy, facilitate weight gain, and improve sleeping. Basically, to help the patient return to a sense of wellness.
CancerWire) What does this program consist of?
JH) I created three liquid formulas. The first is a combination of certain vegetable and fruit juices extracts that are fermented. Certain key herbs like Red Clover and Chaparral are also included. The materials are high in enzymes because a cold extraction process is used. The second is a mineral tonic that comes from ancient vegetative matter that has been buried and turned to hardened humus. It contains about 95 different minerals. The third is a seaweed blend from Japan . All three are taken as liquids which help the body assimilate their properties. These formulas can be ordered by contacting me at 801-521-8824 or 801-520-5577.
CancerWire) The NCI has spent millions of dollars looking at the medicinal value of plants and herbs in treating cancer and yet not a single non-toxic therapy has ever been approved for the treatment of cancer. Why do you think this institution sees little value in the thousands of plants that have been tested?
JH) It is not a question of value, but of approach. The value is there, but our medical authorities have taken the wrong approach. For example, these cancer screening tests have been performed by laboratory people with a background in pharmacy. Their approach is to look at things in pieces. They isolate a particular compound, give it a long name, feed it to rats in a laboratory, find that it shrinks tumors, and try to synthesize it in a test-tube. At this point, the substance may not work and will certainly be toxic. By taking a plant apart they do a disservice. Nature does not work in parts. It works in wholes. In a plant, nature provides checks and balances. For example, one substance taken and separated from a plant can be a poison, but when it is in the plant it isn’t quite so poisonous. In herbal and folk medicine, herbs are used in their whole form. They may be ground-up, pulverized, juiced, made into poultices, ointments, or teas, but it is all there. Used in a whole form, they go into the body the way nature intended. However, when an ingredient is separated out, the breaking mechanisms are gone which enhances any toxicity and the compound has been divorced of all of its nutrition. Where are the minerals, vitamins, enzymes, fiber that surrounds this thing? Now, it’s going to cause side-effects and be less effective. Cancer should be treated holistically which means using the whole.
In addition, there are cultural reasons why many of our conventional doctors are hostile to natural cures and approaches. This society treats doctors as demigods and puts them on a pedestal. Their word is law and out of fear, ignorance, pride, jealousy and arrogance they don’t want to be challenged with the unfamiliar. Finally, everything is driven by business interests, profit. Medicine is big money. Plants that can be freely grown may represent a threat to someone’s business interests.
CancerWire) In your travels as a medical anthropologist did you find any cultures that did not have cancer?
JH) In the U.S., certain Native American tribes – particularly the Navajo Indians and the Havasupai had virtually no cancer. Their diet was not especially nutritious and they had all the other diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and liver cirrhosis.
CancerWire) Why no cancer?
JH) I believe the reason is because they do not eat poultry because of their religious believes. They view these animals as very unclean and possessed of evil spirits. Dr. Virginia Livingston-Wheeler, a medical doctor and biologist, wrote about the connection between poultry and cancer. While I don’t agree entirely with the mechanisms she described, I do have to agree that there is something with poultry that it is conducive to the initiation and promotion of cancer. Therefore, cancer patients may want to consider avoiding poultry including eggs.
CancerWire) Do you have any concluding thoughts?
JH) With cancer there is always hope. Hope should not be measured in terms of days, weeks or months. It should be measured in terms of the remainder which is unknown and not marked day by day. We should all live one day at a time. Take the day we have and fill it with the things that are meaningful and that make us happy. All of us should use the time we have left to try to find peace and joy, especially in the service of others.