"" Ralph Moss—Cancer Consultant

Saturday, June 4, 2016


Some years ago, I had a strange experience at the Hoxsey “Biomedical" clinic in Tijuana, Mexico. In my 40 years of visiting foreign cancer clinics, I have had many wonderful experienced and met caring doctors, who were eager to share their methods and experiences….Then there was the Hoxsey clinic. This clinic, which was located in an unmarked building in Tijuana, remains the only clinic that I have been kicked out of! In 1999, I was making site visits to various Mexican cancer clinics. This naturally brought me to so-called Biomedical Center of Tijuana (No relation to the BioMed hospital in Bad Bergzabern, Germany.) 

My friend Kenny Ausubel made a fine documentary about Hoxsey.
I was having a pleasant conversation with one of the American-born doctors when the owner/director interrupted with in a note saying, “Do not talk to that man!” Apparently, she had gotten word that I was an advisor to the Office of Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health. To her, I believe this meant that I was a spy for the enemy. The interview was abruptly terminated and I was told to leave the building. I never went back.

In fact, this attitude represents the antithesis of everything I believed about how CAM could fit into a treatment philosophy now called "integrative oncology." The people involved with it tended to be paranoid, secretive and anti-science. Nevertheless, I will try to give the Hoxsey method a fair and unbiased evaluation. It isn't easy, because there are no reliable studies of the effect 

For many years, Harry Hoxsey promoted his internal cure for cancer. It consisted of a solution of cascara (Rhamnus purshiana) and potassium iodide. Rhamnus purshiana is a plant also known as cascara buckthorn, whose bark is a powerful laxative. Native Americans taught this use to the Europeans settlers. To this, Hoxsey added most or all of the following plant substances: poke root (Phytolacca americana); burdock root (Arctium lappa); barberry root (Berberis vulgaris); a different type of buckthorn bark (Rhamnus frangula); Stillingia root (Stillingia sylvatica); and prickly ash bark (Zanthoxylum americanum).

Hoxsey was not a medical doctor, yet he ran clinics that treated innumerable cancer patients. He can generously be described as an unlicensed and uneducated folk practitioner. (Some people applied less generous names.) Not surprisingly he was vehemently opposed by almost the entire medical profession and by the state and US governments. After a great deal of difficulty, the FDA put out of business in 1960. His one time nurse, Mildred Nelson, RN, took refuge in Tijuana in 1963, to continue Hoxsey's work within a safe haven across the border. Hoxsey himself reputedly died of prostate cancer, which could not be cured with his own medications. (Even if true, this is not irrefutable proof that his treatment was worthless.)

There are many testimonials of people claiming to be helped, or even cured, by taking this internal medication. There are an equal number of statements from conventional experts stating that the treatment does or cannot work. Both kinds of statements are difficult to evaluate, since often we don't really know the exact details of the individual's cases.

So for the scientifically minded, inquiries into the effectiveness of treatments usually starts with PubMed. There we get an idea of what the science itself actually shows. But while there are a few dozen articles that reference Hoxsey and his methods, there is not a single scientific paper that objectively evaluates this combined herbal formula through standard scientific methods! You read that right. The Hoxsey controversy goes back 90 years, yet not a single laboratory study has been done of the combined ingredients in this infamous formula. 

Conversely, a fair amount is known about the individual ingredients in the formula and it presents a disturbing picture. As the late medical historian of the University of Illinois, Patricia Spain Ward, PhD, once wrote:

“More recent literature leaves no doubt that Hoxsey’s formula, however strangely concocted by modern scientific standards, does indeed contain many plant substances of marked therapeutic activity. In fact, orthodox scientific research has now identified anti-tumor activity in all but three of Hoxsey’s plant ingredients. But whether there is therapeutic merit in Hoxsey’s particular formula for internal use remains as much a question today as it was in the 1920s, despite provocative findings of anti-tumor properties in many of the individual herbs he used. Hoxsey's treatment has never actually been tested, either in animals or in humans.”

These words were written in 1987, but they are as true 30 years later as they were when they were written.

(Patricia Spain Ward, "History of the Hoxsey Treatment," contract report to the Office of Technology Assessment,” 1987, republished in Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, 5.97, pp. 68-72; Unconventional Cancer. Treatments, OTA report to Congress, 1990, (GPO #052-003-01203-3), pp. 75-80; Kupchan, S. M., and A. Karim. “Tumor Inhibitors. 114. Aloe Emodin: Antileukemic Principle Isolated from Rhamnus Frangula L.” Lloydia 39, no. 4 (August 1976): 223–24; Maness, L., I. Goktepe, H. Chen, M. Ahmedna, and S. Sang. “Impact of Phytolacca Americana Extracts on Gene Expression of Colon Cancer Cells.” Phytotherapy Research: PTR 28, no. 2 (February 2014): 219–23. doi:10.1002/ptr.4979; Su, Shan, Xinlai Cheng, and Michael Wink. “Natural Lignans from Arctium Lappa Modulate P-Glycoprotein Efflux Function in Multidrug Resistant Cancer Cells.” Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology 22, no. 2 (February 15, 2015): 301–7. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2014.12.009; Huang, Ke, Li-an Li, Yuan-guang Meng, Yan-qin You, Xiao-yu Fu, and Lei Song. “Arctigenin Promotes Apoptosis in Ovarian Cancer Cells via the iNOS/NO/STAT3/survivin Signalling.” Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology 115, no. 6 (December 2014): 507–11. doi:10.1111/bcpt.12270; Saedi, T. A., S. Ghafourian, M. Jafarlou, M. N. Sabariah, P. Ismail, R. M. T. Eusni, and F. Othman. “BERBERIS VULGARIS FRUIT CRUDE EXTRACT AS A NOVEL ANTI-LEUKAEMIC AGENT.” Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents 29, no. 2 (June 2015): 395–99; 

Thursday, March 3, 2016


Electrodermal screening is also called Electroacupuncture According to Voll (EAV). This is a very popular diagnostic technique in Germany, where it originated after World War II.  EAV  is an unconventional way of determining which substances (such as foods, supplements and drugs) interfere with—or, conversely, repair—the "flow of energy" in the body. In EAV, the electrical conductance of the skin just above an individual acupuncture point is measured by the use of low voltage and current. The diagnosis then depends on measuring the electrical flow.

I know how wacky this will sound to some. I thought so, too, at one point. But then I had an EAV practitioner, otherwise unknown to me, successfully detect a conventionally diagnosed stone in my right kidney (without my giving any indication I had the condition). By my observation, EAV also sometimes is able to detect health challenges before they are found through more conventional methods. 

There is actually some scientific justification for this technique (see references below). I certainly would not rely on EAV as the sole diagnostic technique, but I think it could add valuable information that could aid in treatment decision making.

What do you think?

(Sancier KM. The effect of qigong on therapeutic balancing measured by Electroacupuncture According to Voll (EAV): a preliminary study. Acupunct Electrother Res. 1994;19:119-27; Tseng, Ying-Jung, Wen-Long Hu, I.-Ling Hung, Chia-Jung Hsieh, and Yu-Chiang Hung. “Electrodermal Screening of Biologically Active Points for Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding.” The American Journal of Chinese Medicine 42, no. 5 (2014): 1111–21. doi:10.1142/S0192415X14500694)

See also: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=electroacupuncture+voll

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Ralph W. Moss
Published by Chester X. Proudfoot9 mins
‪#‎Ralphwmoss‬ is featured in an excellent article on ‪#‎cancer‬ in Arab News (an English-language newspaper from Saudi Arabia).
Last week, I was discussing Suzanne Somers book, Knockout, one of the most daring books I have read.

Sunday, February 28, 2016


Dogs, like this Labrador Retrievers, can sometimes detect cancer.

In 2006, acupuncturists at the Pine Street Clinic, St. Anselmo, CA, published a pioneering study titled “Diagnostic Accuracy of Canine Scent Detection in Early- and Late-stage Lung and Breast Cancers.” In it, they demonstrated that a dog’s nose is the most sensitive tool known for the detection of cancer cells. On my last visit, two of the dogs in question were the resident deities of Pine Street, and although on incredibly long leashes, more or less had the run of the place.

“Recent research suggests that dogs can detect scent in the measure of one part per trillion,” Nicholas Broffman, son of the clinic's co-director, Michael Broffman, LAc, told me. Nicholas is the executive director of their nonprofit foundation. “Because of the foundation’s cancer research and the clinic’s work with cancer patients, that is what we’ve turned into a specialty. So how do you give cancer patients hope? Early detection, because the earlier you detect cancer, the more options you have, anxiety is less and treatment options are better. So we asked ourselves, how can you catch cancer even earlier?”

Pine Street then asked Prof. Tadeusz Jezierski, of the Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding of the Polish Academy of Sciences, to conduct further research on dogs’ scent detection. “We wondered if there was a biomarker, some kind of signature to cancer cells,” said Nicholas. “We set out to look for a device to test for such a thing, and it turns out that it is the dog. There is no technology that even comes close” (references at end).

Their double-blind study showed that cancer cells convey a scent signature in the patient’s breath, possibly through the decay of cancer cells. These chemicals (not all of which have been identified) can then be "sniffed out" before tumors are found through current scanning equipment such as x-rays and CAT scans.

This theory was confirmed in a 2011 article in the journal, Gut. In this study, a trained Labrador retriever’s sniffing ability was 99 percent accurate and equaled the most sophisticated diagnostic equipment! “A specific cancer scent does indeed exist and that cancer-specific chemical compounds may be circulating throughout the body,” Fukuoka researchers wrote. “These odor materials may become effective tools in CRC [colorectal cancer, ed.] screening.” Dog-based detection was highly sensitive even for early-stage cancers and was not confounded by current smoking, benign colorectal disease or inflammatory disease. This study was a powerful confirmation of the Pine St. Clinic’s once controversial findings.

In March 2012, doctors in Stuttgart published a study in which trained dogs were able to detect lung cancer with a sensitivity of 90 percent and a specificity of 72 percent. This study involved 60 lung cancer patients and 110 healthy controls, and included 50 patients with non-malignant lung disease. These findings also powerfully corroborated the Pine Street results. The high accuracy of canine scent detection of lung cancer, Michael Broffman told me, suggests dogs might, in the future, make a contribution to successes in lung cancer screening and detection. In 2015, the Polish authors wrote:
"The canine method has some advantages as a potential cancer-screening method, due to its non-invasiveness, simplicity of odor sampling and storage, ease of testing and interpretation of results and relatively low costs."
I, for one, would rather have a "dog scan" than a "CAT scan."

What do you think?


(McCulloch, Michael, Tadeusz Jezierski, Michael Broffman, Alan Hubbard, Kirk Turner, and Teresa Janecki. “Diagnostic Accuracy of Canine Scent Detection in Early- and Late-Stage Lung and Breast Cancers.” Integrative Cancer Therapies 5, no. 1 (March 2006): 30–39. doi:10.1177/1534735405285096); Sonoda, Hideto, Shunji Kohnoe, Tetsuro Yamazato, Yuji Satoh, Gouki Morizono, Kentaro Shikata, Makoto Morita, et al. “Colorectal Cancer Screening with Odour Material by Canine Scent Detection.” Gut 60, no. 6 (June 2011): 814–19. doi:10.1136/gut.2010.218305; Ehmann R, Boedeker E, Friedrich U, et al. Canine scent detection in the diagnosis of lung cancer: revisiting a puzzling phenomenon. Eur. Respir. J. 2012;39(3):669–676; Jezierski, Tadeusz, Marta Walczak, Tomasz Ligor, Joanna Rudnicka, and Bogusław Buszewski. “Study of the Art: Canine Olfaction Used for Cancer Detection on the Basis of Breath Odour. Perspectives and Limitations.” Journal of Breath Research 9, no. 2 (June 2015): 027001. doi:10.1088/1752-7155/9/2/027001)

Friday, February 26, 2016


Blood irradiation is popular at CAM clnics.

The American Cancer Society once characterized treatments given at Tijuana cancer clinics as “antiquated.” But is the efficacy of a treatment decided by age alone? Digitalis (from foxglove) for congestive heart failure was discovered in the eighteenth
 century but twenty-first century patients are still prescribed its derivative, digoxin, for various heart related symptoms.

Inasmuch as some treatments (such as homeopathy, Coley’s toxins, methylglyoxal, and ultraviolet blood purification) arose a long while ago, they are old in origin. However, since, as we all know, many advanced cancers are incurable by conventional means, can society afford to throw out possibly useful treatments based on their antiquity?  Some old treatments have considerable scientific documentation behind them, although sometimes they include old or non-English references.

Several of these ‘outdated’ approaches have gone on to form the basis of modern, scientifically verified conventional treatments. Ultraviolet (UV) irradition of the blood is one example. This has long been an alternative staple found in Tijuana clinics. But it also has part of a standard conventional approach to a variety of diseases, including cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. It is described as "extracorporeal photopheresis" in many journal articles and textbooks. 

Yale University doctors devised a more efficient way to make this treatment work. They predicted that it would be useful in the management of patients with a broad variety of malignancies. This treatment has been vigorously advocated by Richard L. Edelson, MD, who is director emeritus of the Yale Cancer Center. A version of this old therapy is also available at several alternative clinics.


It is sometimes said that Mexican clinics specialize in giving treatments that the doctors themselves know are ineffective. This would be one definition of quackery. In the course of a long career, I have occasionally observed this phenomenon. One occasionally finds sociopaths looking for a safe haven in the world of medicine, including "alternative" medicine. But, by and large, this is an unfair characterization of the Mexican clinic directors, and sometimes reeks of national chauvinism. Almost all Mexican clinics are striving for excellence in their own way, and for therapeutic as well as economic success. 

This stands to reason. To knowingly promulgate worthless treatments would be self-defeating and illogical. Some of these clinics have been around since the 1960s or 1970s. Every patient who comes to a Tijuana clinic has to be persuaded to make a costly and difficult trip, often against the wishes of family members or their own physicians. Clinics mainly attract new patients through word-of-mouth recommendations. A clinic’s performance is judged by patients’ perception of the medical results, but also by the kindness and focus of doctors and staff. Clinic doctors thus have a strong incentive to utilize treatments that they and their patients at least believe to be most effective. 

American oncology is excellent in many ways. But it sometimes falls down in its superficial attention to the experience of the patient—cramped, windowless examination rooms; superficial or even non-existent empathy; failure to engage the patient on any human level. These are not infrequently encountered experiences. Sometimes it seems that only the low-level employees truly care, while those at the top of the pecking order protect their privileged positions in a haughty and disdainful manner.

I would suggest that the Mexican doctors' ability to connect to patients on a human level, and to exhibit sympathetic warmth for people struggling for their lives, makes for their continued success in attracting US patients. Unbeknownst to American critics, a few clinics are also approaching or surpassing the standards of American hospitals and seeking Joint Commission Accreditation.

Overall, they are an asset that should be sympathetically encouraged to improve, rather than an enemy to be vilified, attacked and destroyed.

What do you think?

(Rickenbacher P. [Drug treatment for chronic heart failure with reduced ejection fraction.]. Ther Umsch. 2011;68:71-79; www.fda.gov; Edelson RL. Cutaneous T cell lymphoma: the helping hand of dendritic cells. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 2001;941:1-11; Atta, Maria, Nikolaos Papanicolaou, and Panagiotis Tsirigotis. “The Role of Extracorporeal Photopheresis in the Treatment of Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphomas.” Transfusion and Apheresis Science: Official Journal of the World Apheresis Association: Official Journal of the European Society for Haemapheresis 46, no. 2 (April 2012): 195–202. doi:10.1016/j.transci.2011.10.016; www.jointcommission.org)