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There is a recent claim that rhino horn can help in the fight against cancer. This is particularly believed to be true in Vietnam, following the alleged claim by a government official that rhino horn helped to cure his cancer. This claimant has never been located, or the story verified.

This growing belief is extremely damaging. The resulting rise in demand for rhino horn is now thought to be the major factor in the increasing poaching rates we see today.

The fact is, rhinos are being lost and are at an increased risk of extinction because of this belief. The other disturbing issue is that people suffering from cancer are being misled, and those profiting from the trade are taking advantage of very vulnerable people.

So what is cancer? In the simplest terms, the word cancer describes diseases where abnormal cells (the basic parts of body tissues and organs) divide. Cell growth and division is a natural process which keeps our body healthy. New cells replace old or damaged ones. Sometimes this process goes wrong, old cells do not die off as they should, and a tumour can form. Some tumours can be benign and harmless; others are cancerous and able to spread. Cancer is actually a natural process, but its occurrence may be more likely due to inherited factors, and/or in those with ‘unhealthy’ lifestyles.

Why can’t rhino horn cure this disease? It is just not that simple; there is no miracle cure. The closest we have is the targeted attack on cancer cells or tumours with the medical advances of treatments including chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Thanks to continuing developments in cancer diagnosis, treatment and care, more people are surviving the disease for a number of years or even achieving long-term, life-long remission. For a real life case study click here.

Scan before and following three sessions of chemotherapy. © RhiNOremedy

After a short period of feeling unwell the patient, a lady in her late 30’s, was regularly visiting the doctors unable to shift a chest infection. During one week at the end of 2010 the patient’s health deteriorated particularly badly. On attending the doctors at this time she was sent and admitted to hospital that day. She immediately under-went a series of tests. Within days, final stage cancer (Stage 4 large B-Cell Lymphoma) was diagnosed and due to the presence of a severe infection, the family were prepared for the worst. With intensive care and treatment with IV antibiotics, the infection subsided and immediately the patient began a course of intense chemotherapy.

After less than two months from diagnosis, scans revealed the large tumour in the patient’s spleen had shrunk, if not gone completely. On completion of the treatment one month later, the patient was found to be in complete remission. One year on, remission has been maintained. Also crucial to her recovery was positive thinking, supportive family and friends, and a healthy nourishing diet to give her body the best chance of recovery. In addition to the cancer treatment the patient has improved her diet long-term by concentrating much more on healthy and natural foods. Not everyone is so fortunate but thanks to advances in medical science, many people are able to live longer and even survive cancer.

Close case study

Natural medicines, alternative therapies, traditional medicines including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) have never promoted a miracle cure for serious disease such as cancer.

Modern uses of Chinese medicine in cancer care focus on minimising side effects of orthodox treatments (e.g. fatigue, nausea) coupled with nourishment and support. Herbs are designed for each individual and importantly are never given in isolation from other interventions.

As described on the TCM page, Chinese medicine looks at the whole person and aims to restore and maintain balance. TCM is based on the theory of ‘moderation in all things.’ It is believed a good diet (high quality, fresh foods, variety) is vital for good health. Some foods are thought to be particularly pro-health, and may have anti-cancer properties (e.g. broccoli, flaxseed oil, turmeric). Most of all, in the fight against serious disease including cancer, a positive mental outlook is believed to be crucial.

Western medicine works to target the disease, breaking down cancer cells and tumours. The treatments continue to have much success, but western medicine on the whole is not targeted so much at the cause. Some believe there is scope for an integrated approach, combining the theories and practice of restoring overall health, well being and improving the way of living (e.g. a balanced healthy diet) in combination with the targeted treatment of the disease.

Some components of TCM have and continue to be tested for their effectiveness in cancer treatment in combination with other approaches such as chemotherapy. For example, studies have shown initial indications that Poria (a type of fungus) has potential for reducing cancer cell growth. A compound from Job’s tears (a plant in the maize family) has been tested and is being trialled for potential effects on lung cancer. Finally, compounds within peach seeds (which are highly toxic) are being studied for potential anti-tumour activity. It is true that many effective medicines have originated from plant compounds e.g. the rosy periwinkle from Madagascar and Vinblastine (used in the treatment of childhood leukaemia). As previously stated, no traditional or natural medicine has ever been described or found to be a miracle cure.

What is vitally important for people suffering from disease such as cancer is that they follow professional advice. A diagnosis is heartbreaking and the desperation for a cure is completely understandable. What is tragic is that people may waste valuable time and energy in seeking out ‘treatments’ to which false claims of a ‘cure’ are attached.

It is an utter travesty that rhinos are being targeted for medicine, particularly for the total fallacy of a miracle cure, and that vulnerable people are being completely mislead, purely for financial profit.

RhiNOremedy is not able to give medical advice, the information here is for interest only. If you have any health concerns please seek professional advice.

Resources and Links

For general cancer information why not start with a visit to websites such as: