Artemisinin is emerging as a promising supplemental treatment for dogs battling cancer. This ancient Chinese herb, used for centuries to treat fevers and malaria, shows potential to combat canine cancers, too.
Please understand that I am not stating that Artemisinin is a cure for cancer in dogs. It is always advisable to consult with professionals. However, in my 15 years of practice, I have observed more veterinarians using it with chemotherapy. There are some positive results from adding Artemisinin when using chemotherapy.
Using Artemisinin to Fight Cancer in Dogs
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using artemisinin to fight cancer in dogs, including:
– What is Artemisinin and where does it come from?
– How Artemisinin fights cancer at the cellular level
– What dog cancers artemisinin may help treat
– Proper dosing guidelines and administration
– Interactions and side effects to watch for
– Tips for integrating Artemisinin into your dog’s treatment plan
Equipped with this knowledge, I hope you and your veterinarian can make informed decisions about adding Artemisinin to your dog’s integrative cancer care.
What is Artemisinin?
I know, it is a hard word to pronounce 🙂 It is one of my favorite supplements, one I have seen work.
Artemisinin is a compound extracted from the sweet wormwood plant, _Artemisia annua_, which has been used in Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years.
Photo credit: © Nobel Media AB. Photo: A. Mahmoud
The active ingredient was first isolated in 1972 by Chinese scientist Tu Youyou, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in 2015 for her discovery of Artemisinin and its efficacy against malaria.
A number of serious infectious diseases are caused by parasites spread by insects. Malaria is caused by a single-cell parasite that causes severe fever. In the 1970s, after studies of traditional herbal medicines, Tu Youyou focused on sweet wormwood and managed to extract a substance, artemisinin, which inhibits the malaria parasite. Drugs based on artemisinin have led to the survival and improved health of millions of people.
Since then, Artemisinin has become a frontline treatment for malaria worldwide. Hundreds of millions of doses have been administered with very few side effects.
More recently, researchers have taken an interest in Artemisinin’s potential anti-cancer properties. Let’s look at the mechanisms behind these effects.
How Using Artemisinin to Fight Cancer in Dogs Works
Artemisinin contains an endoperoxide bridge structure that reacts with iron, generating free radicals that damage cells. This is important to understand; Artemisinin is ‘attracted’ to iron.
Cancer cells need more iron than healthy cells to support their rapid growth. They uptake iron at a higher rate, leaving them more susceptible to Artemisinin’s free radical effects.
Some key anti-cancer mechanisms researchers have observed with Artemisinin include:
The free radicals induced by Artemisinin preferentially build up in cancer cells due to their high iron content. This disrupts cancer cell membranes and proteins, slowing growth.
Artemisinin increases cancer cell death (apoptosis) through multiple pathways, inhibiting tumor expansion.
Artemisinin appears to suppress vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which tumors need to grow blood vessels (angiogenesis). This starves tumors of nutrients and oxygen.
Artemisinin boosts natural killer cell activity and modulates T-cell function, potentizing the immune response against cancer.
Artemisinin seems to make cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy drugs. Some trials show improved response and survival when paired with conventional treatments.
This multi-targeted assault gives Artemisinin broad potential against cancer. But what types of dog cancer might it help treat?
Cancers Artemisinin May Help Treat in Dogs
Early cell line and animal model research shows Artemisinin’s anti-cancer activity across a range of cancer types, including:
Osteosarcoma (bone cancer)
Artemisinin showed selective toxicity against canine osteosarcoma cells in one laboratory study. Clinical trials pairing Artemisinin with chemotherapy have demonstrated improved outcomes in dogs with osteosarcoma.
Mammary carcinoma (breast cancer)
Tests on isolated canine mammary cancer cells found Artemisinin decreased cell proliferation and increased apoptosis. More research is underway.
Mast cell tumors
Lab tests found Artemisinin decreased mast cell tumor growth, angiogenesis, and viability. Combined with chemotherapy, improved results.
Artemisinin exhibited cytotoxic effects in canine lymphoma cells in vitro and decreased growth in murine lymphoma models.
Artemisinin demonstrated anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects on human and canine melanoma cell lines in multiple studies.
Early evidence shows artemisinin derivatives inhibited hemangiosarcoma growth and spread in rodent models. More research is needed.
Although the findings are not yet conclusive, they indicate that Artemisinin could potentially enhance the ability to combat various typical canine cancers. There are ongoing clinical trials to further investigate this possibility.
Proper Dosing for Dogs with Cancer
Artemisinin dosing guidelines are still being optimized in dogs, but general recommendations are emerging.
Typical dosing ranges from 2-15 mg per pound of body weight per day. Lower doses around 2-5 mg/lb/day are likely sufficient when combined with other treatments.
Higher intermittent dosing (e.g. 10 mg/lb/day for 5 days, break for 5 days) has historically been advised to compensate for Artemisinin’s short half-life.
However, more recent evidence indicates lower continuous dosing (e.g. 3 mg/lb/day) provides similar benefits with fewer side effects.
Work closely with an animal professional to determine the ideal artemisinin regimen for your dog. Follow up periodically to monitor response and adjust dosage as needed.
What I use
This is the artemisinin I use.
Serving Size: 1 Vegetarian Capsule
Servings Per Container: 90
Artemisinin (from Artemisia annua) ……………125 mg ……………….. *
Proprietary blend: …………………………………………417 mg ……………….. *
- Sweet Wormwood Herb Powder (Artemisia annua),
- Sweet Wormwood Herb Extract 30:1 (Artemisia annua),
- Artemisia annua Essential Oil (40% Ketones)
- Bioperine (Black Pepper Extract, Piper nigrum).
How to Give Artemisinin to Dogs
Artemisinin is available in capsules, tablets, oils, and powders. It has relatively low bioavailability, meaning a portion is broken down before reaching circulation.
Giving it with food, especially some dietary fat, can increase absorption. Fish oil, krill oil, peanut butter, or cheese are good options.
Space artemisinin apart from food and other supplements or medications that interact with absorption, mainly iron. An integrative vet can advise on optimal timing and administration.
Interactions and Side Effects
Artemisinin appears quite safe at cancer-fighting doses, with gastric upset being the most common side effect. More significant adverse reactions are possible in high doses.
A few important interactions to note when
Avoid antioxidant supplements like vitamin E, which counteract Artemisinin’s free radical mechanism.
Don’t give artemisinin and iron supplements together, as together they can cause toxicity. Space them apart. They all compete with the iron-rich cancer cells. Ideally you want the body as low in iron as possible when you administer Artemisinin.
Stop Artemisinin 1 week before through 1 week after radiation therapy. The timing ensures free radicals target tumor cells rather than normal radiated tissue.
Check with your oncologist about any interactions with your dog’s chemo drugs. Most standard protocols are likely fine together, but adjustments may be needed.
Your veterinarian can monitor for side effects and fine-tune the regimen to maximize benefits while minimizing risks.
Integrating Artemisinin into Your Dog’s Cancer Plan
While human trials are still in early phases, veterinary use of Artemisinin is already showing promise for dogs fighting cancer.
When combined with conventional treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation under the guidance of a veterinary oncologist and integrative vet, Artemisinin can offer supplemental anti-cancer activity with relatively low risk.
Talk to your integrative vet to see if Artemisinin is right for your pup’s unique needs. They can help identify the optimal dose, schedule, administration method, and synergistic pairings tailored to your dog’s cancer type and treatment plan.
While questions remain, Artemisinin represents an exciting new addition to the integrative toolkit for combating cancer in dogs. Further clinical experience mapping ideal applications, dosing, and combinations will help maximize the benefits of this versatile botanical medicine.
1. Anticancer and Antimalarial Efficacy and Safety of Artemisinin-Derived Trioxane Dimers in Rodents
2.Antitumor Activity of Artemisinin and Its Derivatives: From a Well-Known Antimalarial Agent to a Potential Anticancer Drug
3. Cytotoxic Effects of Artemisia annua L. and Pure Artemisinin on the D-17 Canine Osteosarcoma Cell Line
Isani G, Bertocchi M, Andreani G, Farruggia G, Cappadone C, Salaroli R, Forni M, Bernardini C. Cytotoxic Effects of Artemisia annua L. and Pure Artemisinin on the D-17 Canine Osteosarcoma Cell Line. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019 Jul 4;2019:1615758. doi: 10.1155/2019/1615758. PMID: 31354901; PMCID: PMC6637696.
4. Experimental Therapy of Hepatoma with Artemisinin and Its Derivatives: In vitro and In vivo Activity, Chemosensitization, and Mechanisms of Action
Junmei Hou; Disong Wang; Ruiwen Zhang; Hui Wang
5. Inhibition of angiogenesis in vivo and growth of Kaposi’s sarcoma xenograft tumors by the anti-malarial artesunate
Dell’Eva R, Pfeffer U, Vené R, Anfosso L, Forlani A, Albini A, Efferth T. Inhibition of angiogenesis in vivo and growth of Kaposi’s sarcoma xenograft tumors by the anti-malarial artesunate. Biochem Pharmacol. 2004 Dec 15;68(12):2359-66. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2004.08.021. PMID: 15548382.
6. Retrospective study of small pet tumors treated with Artemisia annua and iron
Saeed MEM, Breuer E, Hegazy MF, Efferth T. Retrospective study of small pet tumors treated with Artemisia annua and iron. Int J Oncol. 2020 Jan;56(1):123-138. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2019.4921. Epub 2019 Nov 25. PMID: 31789393; PMCID: PMC6910181.
Thomas Sandberg CSAN, CCNC, AADP
Thomas Sandberg is a board certified animal naturopath and carnivore nutritionist. He founder of Long Living Pets Research Projects, a 30-year observational study into raw-fed dogs and cats. Thomas also consults in animal naturopathy, including the prevention of chronic diseases and longevity using all-natural modalities. With more than 20 years of experience with hundreds of cancer cases, he has a deep understanding of why so many dogs and cats get cancer today and how we can lower the risk significantly.
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