By Dr. Mercola
Cancer is a disease that most people either have personal experience with, or know someone who does.
In this interview, Annie Brandt — herself a 16-year cancer survivor and author of "The Healing Platform: Build Your Own Cure!"— shares some of the support detailed in her book, which can give anyone challenged with cancer access to valuable resources.
We first met last year at Dr. Lee Cowden's ACIM Conquering Cancer conference in Orlando. Brandt is also the coordinator of the Answers for Cancer Summit, an international cancer conference that will include many great speakers.
It's scheduled for April 27 through April 29, 2017, in San Diego, California. You can purchase tickets on bestanswerforcancer.org.
From my perspective, a foundational strategy for anyone concerned about cancer is to address your diet. That's my passion, and it got reignited once I understood that cancer is not a genetic, but a metabolic disease, primarily rooted in mitochondrial dysfunction.
In fact, this is the topic of my latest book, "Fat for Fuel," which will be published in May. More information on this will be coming soon.
I think that's the first step. However, for most people, diet alone will not solve the cancer riddle. It will likely prevent it, but may not solve it if you already have cancer. That's where Brandt's resources and The Healing Platform come in. They really are a great collaborative addition to a healthy diet, which I outline in "Fat for Fuel."
Best Answer for Cancer Foundation
Brandt is more than a little familiar with cancer. She was diagnosed with end-stage metastatic cancer in 2001, and was given three months to live. She decided that if that's all she had left, she would die as healthy as possible, "and as close to how God made me as I could," she says.
She refused surgery, high-dose chemo and radiation. Instead, she tried to make her body as strong and healthy as possible, focusing first on detoxification.
"The way the [Best Answer for Cancer] foundation started was I kind of made a promise to myself that if, in fact, I lived doing all these natural healthy things, I would find a way to help people realize there were all of these options. That's why I started the foundation," Brandt says.
"[The foundation is also] trying to protect the rights of patients and doctors to use natural substances."
Best Answer for Cancer Foundation was inaugurated in 2004, and became a 501(c)(3) organization in 2006. It's a hybrid non-profit that services two different groups of people: an integrative physicians group, and a group for patients with cancer and other chronic disease.
They also hold two conferences per year, one for each group, featuring international experts. The conferences are open to anyone interested in learning more about alternatives to the conventional paradigm of cancer care.
The Answers for Cancer Summit (for patients/lay audiences) not only features great speakers and topics, but also offers hands-on learning events and exhibit booths with valid tools and therapies. This year, a ketogenic lunch is planned as an educational experience.
The Integrative Oncology Conference (for physicians) is a Continuing Medical Education (CME) Conference and includes pre- and post-conference training modules. It is a leader in medical education conferences.
Amazingly, oncology is the only specialty in medicine that is allowed and, may I say, encouraged to sell drugs at massive profits — typically in excess of 50 percent — and cancer drugs are, as a general category, the most expensive medications in all of medicine to begin with.
Oncologists actually get a commission for the chemotherapy drugs they sell, and with that type of incentive, it's nearly impossible to imagine them actively seeking other alternatives.
As a result, patients are typically forced to go it alone if they don't want to go the conventional route.
Oncologists are further constrained by the "standard of care" prescribed by oncology medical boards and the drug industry. If they go against the established standard of care, they're susceptible to having their license reprimanded or even taken away.
Support Systems to Maximize Chances of Recovery
One of Brandt's core principles is that treating the tumor is not enough. She also has a wide variety of options to support your body's immune function and other systems, to maximize your chances of recovery.
"I came to the conclusion that the tumor was just a messenger," Brandt says. "When you look at the tumor itself and think it's a substance that forms around diseased cells, where do the diseased cells come from?
When you look at all the science behind cancer, they bring in mind, body, spirit, lifestyle, the immune system, diet and detoxification.
They're very subtle. But over the years, I found these different modalities that actually address disease. When you think about the tumor, imagine it like the check engine light in your car, that's how I think of it. When it comes on, you don't take a hammer and beat the dash until the check engine light goes out.
You take your car to the garage and find out what's wrong. We don't do that. We want to get rid of the tumor as soon as possible. We want to beat the dash until the light goes out. Then we don't look at what fed it, what created it.
That's why I think there are a lot of reasons why cancer keeps recurring in certain people; they haven't addressed the issues that are feeding it. When you look at what could be feeding it, you have to consider your whole life.
You have to consider the people around you, your job, stress, your environment, what you eat and, believe it or not, how you think. Are you getting enough rest, exercise and sunshine?"
The Importance of Detoxification
One of the strategies Brandt recommends in her book is a detox. I'm a big fan of full-spectrum low-EMF infrared sauna therapy, which is also a wonderful way to eliminate a great number of toxins from your body via sweating.
There are three types of saunas: traditional Finnish-style, far-infrared and near-infrared. Dr. Lawrence Wilson's book, "Sauna Therapy," discusses the importance of near-infrared heat lamp saunas, and actually details how to build one.
That may be the best types of sauna therapy because near-infrared is one of the most important biological frequencies we need for biological health. To learn more about this, see my most recent article on sauna therapy. However, it's not just about cleansing your physical body. It's equally important to address all the other toxins in your life, be it toxic thoughts, people or environments.
"If cancer patients don't think they're worth it, that is a toxic thought. You have to detox the mind. You have to detox the spirit, the emotions. Most cancer patients feel trapped. You have to detox every part of your life," she says. "Don't forget the environment. You need an air purifier to clean the air. You need water purifiers to clean the water. Get rid of your toxic chemicals under the sink. You've really got to do a lifestyle detox."
Detoxing Your Mind and Eliminating Toxic Relationships
While psychotherapy can be valuable for some, many thoughts and beliefs are "embedded" in our very cells. Many are rooted in childhood traumas we cannot even consciously recall. So how do you get rid of those? Like me, Brandt favors energy psychology methods such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), and eye movement desensitization reprogramming (EMDR).
The former releases these stored emotions by tapping into the acupuncture meridians in your body, whereas the latter balances the left and right brain and gets rid of the dysfunction. Meditation, visualization and positive affirmations can also be very helpful.
"I have positive affirmations everywhere, in my car, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, everywhere," Brandt says. "It works. The body will listen. The mind will listen if you tell it enough times …
Another big thing about lifestyle changes — and this is one of the most difficult things to do for everybody, every patient — you have to minimize toxic relationships, negative relationships. Your life should be as positive as possible. Otherwise, you're just not going to be happy here. What kind of life would you live if you're not happy living?
I advocate looking at everything in your life, making sure it's as positive as possible … All the negatives actually stimulate the part of the brain that creates the stress hormones, so they feed the cancer … I literally remade my life. How many chances do you have in your lifetime to remake yourself? This is not only permission; this is encouragement to remake your life. It's really empowering, very joyful."
Basic Strategies That Boost Your Immune Function
Another important component is boosting your immune function, as your immune system is the first line of defense against all disease, including cancer. A well-functioning immune system can typically fight off any malignant cells, preventing them from multiplying in the first place. Brandt had in fact been diagnosed with a dysfunctional immune syndrome in 1992, a decade before her "terminal" cancer diagnosis.
"These days, we have oncoimmunologists who can actually look at your immune system and tell you if it's out of balance, which way it's out of balance and what to do. But there are some general things that you can start out with to boost and regulate it. Acupuncture helps, laughter, endorphins.
Endorphins can even be [produced by] knitting. I didn't know that. You can knit and make endorphins … Laughter is really hard when you've got cancer and when it's a death diagnosis … But you have to keep going. You have to find laughter because this is one way you can fix the imbalances …"
Other strategies that can help boost immune function include but are not limited to:
1. Sun exposure. Sunlight is a natural immune booster. Not only does your body produce vitamin D in response to sun exposure on bare skin, but sunlight also produces a number of other health benefits that are unrelated to vitamin D production. If you don't have access to sun exposure in the winter, you can swallow oral vitamin D3. Although it's not nearly as good, it will still support your immune function.
2. Improve your gut microbiome, which goes back to paying attention to your diet. My book, "Fat for Fuel," goes into this in great detail. I've also written numerous articles on this topic. Your microbiome has enormous influence over the quality of your immune function.
3. Medical cannabis can also be used to stimulate and improve your immune function. Brandt recently found a group called United Patients Group (UPG), the mission of which is to investigate and verify the value and potential uses of medical marijuana, and to educate people about its medicinal uses.
"What my understanding is, so far, is that the medical cannabis in the right proportion [of THC and CBD] can regulate — not just boost, but regulate — the immune system. And each type of cancer has a specific proportion of THC and CBD that is effective for that cancer. Again, going back to diet, I almost consider medical cannabis part of a diet because it does nourish and detox," Brandt says.
5. Proper amount of quality sleep, getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night if you're an adult.
Addressing Metastasized Cancer Cells
Typically, if you have metastasized cancer, targeted cancer cells are floating around in your bloodstream, necessitating multiple strategies to get rid of the cancer. This is one of the reasons why most conventional cancer therapies are not that useful in this scenario, as they do not address these circulating cancer stem cells. You can get rid of the primary tumor, but cancer cells are still present in the body. As noted by Brandt:
"People don't get that conventional medicine doesn't have any way to stop metastasis or to treat metastatic stem cells. It's these metastatic stem cells that kill … The stem cells are what conventional medicine cannot address, that I know of. But alternative medicine can."
Products that are helpful against metastatic stem cells include:
Berberine / metformin
Intravenous vitamin C
Sulforaphane (cruciferous vegetables)
Modified citrus pectin (PectaSol-C)
Berberine and metformin have a similar mechanism of action. I prefer berberine because it's a natural product. That said, metformin, as a drug, is probably one of the safer ones. Millions of people have been on it with relatively few side effects. It's actually used for type 2 diabetes as an oral hypoglycemic.
I take berberine every day as a dietary supplement, as it has so many health benefits. Since its mode of action is very similar to metformin, I would encourage anyone taking metformin for type 2 diabetes or for longevity benefits (a lot of people take it for that) to switch to berberine. I also like pau d'arco.
It has a substrate called beta-lapachone, which is a powerful way to increase NAD+ intercellularly. This is an important component of improving mitochondrial ATP production, which is needed for health in general, but especially if you're fighting disease.
Insulin Potentiation Therapy and Other Targeted Therapies
Insulin potentiation therapy (IPT) acts like a Trojan Horse in that it can achieve targeted delivery of low doses of chemo or other medicines to the diseased cell only.
"It's an elegant delivery mechanism. That's probably my favorite because it worked so well on me," Brandt says. "I just watched the tumors shrink and disappear. There's also high-dose vitamin C. The latest study we just got approval for is high-dose C with artesunate. Artesunate is an intravenous (IV) derivative of artemisinin (wormwood) … a Chinese herb that has been shown to kill cancer with very little side effects."
Brandt's book also includes a comprehensive description of systemic enzyme therapy, where enzymes are taken on an empty stomach — not to help with food digestion but to provide systemic benefits through your bloodstream. I personally rotate four different systemic enzymes on an empty stomach. She also addresses the importance of rotating or cycling through the supplements you take.
"The doctor that I first went to taught me about switching things around. He said, 'Cancer builds immunities.' I thought, 'That's right. Cancer builds immunities to things like chemo and radiation.
I need to keep it on its toes and switch things around.' I had a chart for all my therapies … I could look at the calendar any day and see what I was doing … If you did Essiac tea for four weeks and you do red clover stillingia for two, then you do Essiac for five, red clover and stillingia for six. Just keep switching it around. No patterns."
Indeed, variety is a really important biological principle. I've even integrated it into my nutritional ketosis protocol. In fact, I now believe people should not be in nutritional ketosis long-term. You do have to integrate variety, so a day or two per week you might have a fair amount of carbohydrates, say 100 to even 150 grams of net carbs instead of the recommended 20 to 60 grams. A sampling of other targeted therapies covered in her book include:
Poly-MVA, a colloidal mineral complex that crosses the blood-brain barrier and helps re-nourish your body and brain at the cellular level. It also helps replace nutrients lost during chemotherapeutic and radiological treatments.
AvéULTRA (Metatrol), a fermented wheat germ product.
Selenium, vitamin D and iodine, as most cancer patients are low in these three nutrients. Since I do regular sauna therapy, I take 200 micrograms of SelenoExcell each day. (You tend to excrete selenium when sweating.) Selenium increases glutathione, an important metabolic antioxidant necessary for detoxification. It also catalyzes the conversion of thyroid hormone T3 to T4, so it can be beneficial if you have thyroid problems.
Modified citrus pectin (MCP) has been shown to reverse cancer and stop metastatic cancer. Brandt recommends the brand ecoNugenics, as this is the one that has been scientifically studied and verified to work.
Colloidal silver is a non-toxic, broad spectrum antimicrobial therapy with no known toxicity and no known mechanism for acquired resistance.
Salicinium, a plant-based extract that inhibits production of nagalase — an enzyme produced by cancer cells — while simultaneously stimulating innate immune cells.
Best Answer for Cancer Summit
Whether you're a cancer patient or a doctor, you're welcome to join the Best Answer for Cancer Summit in San Diego, California. There are actually two separate conferences: The Integrative Oncology Conference, which is a three-day-long physician-only event (April 27 to 29) and the Answers for Cancer Summit, which is a two-day event open to the public (April 28 to 29).
"If you're a physician watching this and you want to learn more about this area, this is a very important conference to go to. It's also a conference for patients, if you're a cancer survivor or you're new to the diagnosis of cancer or chronic disease, or you just want to know more," Brandt says.
Best Answer for Cancer Foundation is also in the process of creating a free online support group for cancer patients called The Chrysalis Group to identify with Rebirth: The Blossoming of the Butterfly. To join, write Brandt at: Annie@BestAnswerforCancer.org, as the site is currently under construction.
"We will have a virtual bulletin board and a chatroom. We'll have a library with all the medical references, different therapies [and] different books they can read from different authors. I'm very serious about supporting patients because there were very few survivors in 2001 when I got diagnosed that I could find to talk to."
Build Your Own Cure
Last but not least, pick up a copy of "The Healing Platform: Build Your Own Cure!" Taking a route other than the conventional one can be a frightening proposition, but these days there's more help, support and resources available than ever before. That said, the fear of bucking the system, even when you're convinced the system is fatally flawed and isn't your best option, can be significant.
"I tell patients what I experienced. I say my family and friends were frantic, wanting me to do what everybody else does, the surgery, chemo, radiation. I said, 'You know what? If I do what you want me to do and I die, I'll be pissed. I might come back and haunt you. But if I do what I want to do and I die, well then that was my choice. I'm asking you to support my choice,'" Brandt says.
Her book can go a long way toward directing you to a wide variety of strategies you can use to create your own healing platform. As Brandt says:
"There is the opportunity for each of us to cure ourselves, I believe. I think we're all individuals and therefore our answer for cancer should be tailored to us. I should have a unique answer. I'm a snowflake, totally different from the next person. Why should I do what everybody else is doing?
The book actually talks about how I got sick. You should see parallels in your life if you are sick. It helps you examine your entire life. Then it goes into the platform. Every chapter is a different healing modality, like spirituality, mind-body medicine, immunologic nutrition, detox, lifestyle changes and then targeted cancer therapies. Each one of those chapters is color coded so you can easily go to that chapter to look up a reference.
In addition, for each modality, for example, when you go into a detox, there's a workbook on that modality. So it's a workbook all the way through. It's an interactive guide. You are actually challenged at the end of each chapter to write down your thoughts, your experiences, to help you determine what your 'dis-eases' are.
The book is really easy to follow. I get calls all the time from patients just saying 'Thank you. You gave me hope.' 'Thank you. There's such good information here. I was frustrated at first because I wanted you to tell me what to do, but telling me that I'm an individual said that I needed to go and do my homework.'
I encourage you to get it, whether you have cancer or not. Buy it, read it, pass it on. Chronic disease, I think, is a precursor to cancer and cancer is a chronic disease. You don't have to have cancer to be in danger of getting cancer."
You can get more information at www.bestanswerforcancer.org.