Last month I was lucky to join a zoom for doctors and complementary practitioners to hear a presentation by Professor Ben L. Pfeifer, M.D., Ph.D (i). He developed a particular treatment for hormone-driven prostate cancer - a cancer that will effect as many as one in seven men in the UK and last year became the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK.
Indeed the figures Dr Pfeifer shared are scary; 20% of prostate cancer patients are diagnosed with advanced disease, less than 10% of us with Stage IV cancer make five years of survival and some 50% with cancer move to stage IV after the ‘curative treatment.’
As someone living with cancer, it can be important to know what we are facing but statistics can also be scary. I loved the words of warning by Sophie Sabbage in her wonderful book, “The Cancer Whisperer”. She says, to stay “away from soul-sapping, fear-inducing information that discusses indicators not inevitabilities….You are not a statistic, but the moment you buy into statistics you are more likely to become one.”
I get it! We need to take prostate cancer seriously, but also recognise that there is growing evidence that those of us who take action around nutrition, exercise, stress and more, can seriously challenge those statistical indicators.
Understanding the treatment options can also be an important part of any cancer journey. Kelly Turner in her ground-breaking book, “Radical Remissions”, shows how taking control is one of nine key factors that can lead to healing. But it is not always easy to take control with so many treatment options and varying degrees of research.
My intention in this blog is not too add to the confusion but to try and explain more about this Protocol so that folks can make their own decisions - and of course doctors supervision is always recommended.
In the talk Dr Pfeifer shared an overview of the immune system and prostate health, possible causal factors of prostate cancer and he looked at measures that have been shown to help, like regular movement/exercise, reducing stress, nutrition, giving up smoking and support to build the immune system. He also covered his Protocol and particularly its use with patients with metastatic prostate cancer. Those interested may want to check out this talk that is currently available online (ii).
What is it?
Dr Pfeifer writes on his website (iii): “In my personal view, I think the name “Pfeifer Protocol” is a bit pretentious, since this website is just a compilation of some of my treatment protocols and their clinical use”.
The Pfeifer Protocol is basically a complementary treatment that has been developed with a programme of herbs, cell nutrients, minerals and vitamins, which are available as commercially developed products. It has been used by over 10,000 patients - and can generally be used with existing orthodox medical or surgical treatments (iv). It has had some success with extending lives of people living with stage IV cancer. Dr Pfeifer also recommends a version of the Protocol before and after a biopsy and a version of the Protocol is now being used with other cancers, most notably breast cancer.
I guess it’s worth saying up front that none of these regimes are cheap and you cannot currently get this on the NHS. It is estimated to be up to £400 for a month supply of the supplements alone. These are taken until PSA level drops when dosages are reduced. Consultation fees are extra.
Dr Pfeifer mentions other measures that can be helpful as part of the Protocol including hydration, nutrition, other supplements and intravenous chelation therapy that aims to reduce heavy metals and environmental carcinogenic material.
One relatively new additional area that Dr Pfeifer notes is that the Aeskulap Clinic is using dendritic cell vaccination to boost the patient’s immune system; producing personalised vaccines that are being used on over 200 patients to date. I understand this works as the dendritic cells from the patient are exposed to immune cell stimulants. These are then added to antigens which are from the patient’s own cancer cells. They ‘learn’ how to recognize these cancer cells. The dendritic cells are then given back to the patient to seek out cancer cells and enable the immune system to target the cancer.
First a warning to anyone buying online - do check that you are getting a quality product. Dr Pfeifer warned that fake versions of these products have been found selling online.
And a warning again to get support from a doctor who can organise the necessary PSA tests and make judgements about how this fits with other treatment you may be having. The more I’ve personally learnt about supplements, the more I see the wisdom of this. It seems to me to be very important to ensure you have the support of an expert in this area. We are all different and our cancers are different; it is hugely challenging to put together Protocols. Seek expert advice. There are an increasing number of practitioners in this country interested in using this Protocol but at the moment we only have one UK-practitioner listed in our Yes to Life Directory (v).
What are some of the products?
ProstaSol is possibly the best known. This is used with nearly all the prostate cancer patients and is a specially formulated food supplement with medicinal herbs such as saw palmetto, reishi, ginger, stinging nettle, beta sitosterol and other compounds. Medpro’s ProstaSol is apparently a more effective product than others labelled ProstaSol.
There is research to show that it can have impact on those with castrate-resistant prostate cancer. For example a 2001 study with 96 men showed it “significantly reduces PSA and pain of metastatic disease, thereby improving patients' quality of life without the detrimental side effects seen with other drug regimens (vi).”
MGN3 is made from rice bran using enzymes from Shitake mushrooms. There are over 30 peer reviewed articles in the US National Library of Medicine showing the impact of this supplement, particularly increased NK-cell function.
One 2004 Japanese study that Dr Pfeifer shared, was the use of MGN3 with 159 cancer patients with Stage III to IV progressive and metastatic disease after conventional treatment with chemotherapy. MGN3 group had a 54% survival rate at 2 years compared to 34% of the control group. Other research has also suggested positive results with no side effects (vii).
Imupros is a blend of nutritional supplements, formulated with vitamins, trace elements, ginseng, lycopene and green tea extract. A number of these like green tea and lycopene have been shown to impact prostate cancer.
Curcumin Combi is an extract from the turmeric spice. Dr Pfeifer notes over 5,000 PUBMED cell culture and animal testing papers showing it inhibits cancer growth, over 500 papers showing anti-inflammatory effects and over 10 papers showing it inhibits angiogenesis. The Combi version includes resveratrol — a plant compound from red grapes with strong antioxidant benefits.
An initial study using this Curcumin Combi with the above products reported a 50% reduction of PSA in 6 months in up to 70% of such patients treated in Switzerland with minimal side effects (viii).
Artemisinin is an extract of Sweet Wormwood. Dr Pfeifer shared that there are over 350 PUBMED cell culture and animal testing papers showing it inhibits cancer growth, over 100 papers showing anti-inflammatory effects and over 50 papers showing it inhibits angiogenesis.
Indole-3-Carbinol (and DIM); this has been shown to inhibit growth of breast and prostate cancer and increases apoptosis.
Zeolite and Green Tea Extract was developed with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The volcanic rock is ground down to very small particles to increase their surface area and this is said to help with detoxifying, antioxidative and immune modulating effects. Studies show it can help to remove heavy metals, radioactive nuclides, aflatoxins and more - plus it activates macrophages and stimulates some of the immune cells. Dr Pfeifer often adds this if the patient is not doing so well on the rest of the Protocol.
Dr Pfeifer concluded his talk saying; “Our integrative treatment approach including specific phytotherapy, detoxification, antioxidation, anti-inflammation and immune support increases quality of life and survival of patients with metastatic and castration-resistant prostate cancer”.
I’ve not come across many people using this Protocol to date but do have a friend who has an early stage prostate cancer and has been using it instead of “watchful waiting”. The evidence that Dr Pfeifer shared for the Protocol suggests that it could be a very useful way to treat prostate cancer at all stages especially metastatic. We do need more independent research but is looking like a very useful addition to the tool box tackling prostate cancer.
With thanks to the Really Healthy Company who organised the event and also sell the supplements (ix). They offer a 10% discount to Wigwam members; enter code W1GW4M at the check out.
Blog by Philip Booth who is currently working a s Wigwam Coordinator
Philip has a background in Social Work, managing care services, local politics as a councillor and for the last nine years has worked for a charity helping residents in Gloucestershire build more welcoming communities. His own journey with prostate cancer has led to a passion for helping people come together to support each other in more proactive, personalised approaches to health and wellbeing.
(i) Dr Pfeifer is an integrative oncologist with more than 35 years’ experience using both conventional and complementary therapies. He is Director for Research & Development at Aeskulap-International in Switzerland and has a book published, 76 publications in peer reviewed medical journals and 56 presented papers at national and international medical conferences.
(ii) See the talk, slides and some links to research at: https://clearfeed.com/pfeifer/
(iv) See Dr Pfeifer’s comments regarding use with other treatments:
Dr Pfeifer also answered my question at the talk about the Protocol and radiotherapy. His reply said: “Yes, it is. Many men have asked this question. Considering the very high recurrence rate of almost 50% after the so called “GOLD STANDARD” curative treatments such as radical prostatectomy or various forms of radiation treatment, it is wise to start with ProstaSol about 2 to 3 weeks prior to those treatments and then continue with ProstaSol for 6 to 12 months. If there is R1 resection in the pathology report after radical prostatectomy or indications for seminal vessel involvement for prostate capsule infiltration we usually recommend our extended treatment programme for 12 to 18 months post definitive treatment.”
(viii) Pfeifer and Aeikens Positive Health 2006, 120:19-25/