Natural compounds and alternative treatments for Leukaemia

Natural compounds and alternative treatments for Leukaemia

A Research Review on Leukaemia to empower patients with ideas for what compounds and complementary treatments you might use to help yourself increase your personal odds of fighting and even beating the different forms of leukaemia.

Many people face their leukaemia with sheer trepidation - it’s not just the disease, but the extremely strong drugs and bone marrow transplants. There’s no need to. We can help you (writes CANCERactive founder and Oxford University biochemist, Chris Woollams). 

Are there really alternatives? Extras you can use?  Well, for example, here on our Feedback and Comments page, you will see that Chris recently helped 'M' fight hers to the surprise of all her oncologists with her blast score falling from 36 to below 3, after less than 3 months (and only one round of chemo). Doctors used the word excellent six times to describe her results!

Go to Personal Prescriptions; Feedback and Comments


Leukaemia is a cancer of the body's blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system. Many types of leukaemia exist. Some forms of leukaemia are more common in children. Other forms of leukaemia occur mostly in adults. Most leukaemia starts in early forms of white blood cells, B-lymphocytes, in the bone marrow (as does lymphoma and myleloma). Damage occurs resulting in the body producing too many cells which don't function properly (Mayo Clinic).

The major types of leukaemia are:

* Acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL). This is the most common type of leukemia in young children. ALL can also occur in adults. Also called Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

* Acute myelogenous or myeloid leukaemia (AML). AML is a common type of leukaemia. It occurs in children and adults. AML is the most common type of acute leukaemia in adults.


* Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). With CLL, the most common chronic adult leukaemia, you may feel well for years without needing treatment. Also called chronic lymphoblastic leukaemia.


* Chronic myelogenous or myeloid leukaemia (CML). This type of leukaemia mainly affects adults. A person with CML may have few or no symptoms for months or years before entering a phase in which the leukaemia cells grow more quickly.


Almost all Leukaemia (and B-Lymphoma) is caused by Toxins. But there are other contributory factors.

Toxins that increase leukaemia risk come under three headings:

   1) From the environment:  I've had people working in printing, using benzene, owning a cement factory, playing with a file of mercury, using pesticides, living near electricity pylons/cables, and cancer patients who have been treated with radioactive iodine.


See - Cancer in the workplace


See - Pesticides and cancer


   2) Consumed: aspartame doubles risk of leukaemia, and radiotherapy and some drugs - like antibiotics, immunosuppressants and PPIs - can increase risk. Even chemotherapy for a cancer may later be shown to have increased leukaemia risk.

People with poor immune systems develop more CLL and lymphoma. Children born by caesarian and/or not breast fed and or to a mother who smoked, took drugs or who was ill develop more leukaemia.

   3) Toxins from infection: Leukaemia can be related to B-cell issues - parasites (food poisoning), Helicobacter pylori, E coli, Campylobacter, Coxiella, yeasts and even viruses such as HIV. There's a link between B-cell strand breaks and Epstein-Barr, and Hepatitis C.


More than 15 percent of people over the age of 60 develop TET2 - it’s a mutation in the stem cells that produce blood cells. Long before a person develops leukaemia, changes in the microbiome are taking place which seem to bring it about. TET2 changes cause changes in the blood cells and leukaemia. 


There is evidence of the immune system overworking in cases of Epstein Barr and other viruses and of B-cells then being genetically altered. Viruses can lead to blood and lymph cancer, aided and abetted by a damaged microbiome.


EBV can cause cancer usually by the formation of double strand breaks in the DNA, rather than mutation.


* EBV is a member of the human herpesvirus family (Herpes 1, 8 - cold sores - and HPV are others). Where young people are infected, they are often asymptomatic. EBV has been linked to several forms of Lymphoma, and to Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia. Its presence is linked to higher rates of relapse. Its presence is highest in Hodgkin's lymphoma at about one third of patients and it is active in 5% of CLL patients (1).


The virus is a potent lymphotropic agent capable of transforming B-cells in vitro into a state of continuous proliferation called ‘immortalisation’. 


Other contributors to Leukaemia risk include:


4) Diabetes and poor sugar control are associated with an increased risk of leukaemia (by 20%) and B-cell Lymphoma (2).


People with diabetes and treated for CLL have lowered rates of survival (3).


There is evidence that poor sugar control increases risk of ALL (4).


There is evidence that leukaemia cells so desire sugar that they actually rob their healthy neighbours and even alter insulin levels so that the sugar stays higher in the bloodstream.


And there's evidence that fasting can block the development of ALL (5).


Fasting can turn the immune system against almost any cancer (6)


Both Metformin (20) and Berberine have research showing the can target Leukaemia cells.

5) High cholesterol is not helpful either -  cholesterol is closely linked to the abundance and function of numerous growth signalling proteins, strongly affecting the proliferation rate of ALL and CLL cells (7)

6) A Poor Microbiome - see later.



First, you need to know that Stem Cells were the blob of cells that first grew when you were an embryo. From your stem cells all body cells 'differentiate' - liver, eyes, brain etc. Some stem cells get 'stuck' in their rapidly dividing form, usually under the influence of oestrogen - however, research suggests it is possible that, for example, EBV can do this too. These can become Cancer Stem Cells at the heart of a cancer. No conventional drug kills them and they generate rapidly dividing irregular B-lymphocytes.  They are therefore cells that can lead to recurrence. 


Bone Marrow Microenvironment understanding is in its infancy. Much of the research on PubMed is in the past 2 years! The bone marrow has its own microbiome. Bone Marrow Health, Bone Marrow fat and stem cells, which are formed in the marrow and go onto make osteoclasts, osteoblasts, T-cells, B-cells and others, are all intertwined. 


Stem cells and B-cell progenitors are crucial to your health. They both exist in the bone marrow and ensure new healthy blood cells, and B-cells  are made. For example, when B-cell lymphoma occurs, it seems that the stem cells are less likely to make fully formed or mature B-cells (8).


In AML, a group of B-cells, called regulatory B-cells or Breg have an immunomodulatory role and seem to prevent autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Although AML is not strictly a B-cell cancer, high Breg cell numbers are linked to lower survival (9).   


Marrow lipids (fats) are essential to the health of your bone marrow and there is a high turnover of fats in the bone marrow (10) .


In one study, (11) 'powering up' the adipocytes powered up the bone marrow lipid content and generated healthier blood cells.. How did the researchers power up the Bone Marrow? They gave people Metformin - ordinarily this diabetes drug is used to cut blood sugar. It does it by affecting factors in the liver. In this research it unexpectedly changed the bone marrow lipid profile for the better kicking out the imprfect B-cells.This research was with CLL


In another study, the health of the bone marrow was linked to the health of lymphocytes and vice versa (12) This review contains a huge list of research papers on the subject. 




Not surprisingly, there are several research studies showing that your gut microbiome can affect your bone marrow microenvironment (for example, 13) Be clear; not just the pathogens (parasites, bacteria, viruses) but the commensal (good) bacteria in the gut microbiome too.

Other studies, (for example, 14) show that damage to the gut microbiome by drugs and antibiotics (and food poisoning etc) can CAUSE blood and lymph cancers (obviously by affecting the bone marrow microenvironment).

In 2015 there was a review by UCLA experts on how pathogens in the microbiome of the gut could cause B-cell lymphomagenesis (15).  The bottom line from these researchers was that pathogens can directly interact with immune cells causing oxidative stress, and with epithelial cells causing increased Reactive Oxygen Species (bad) and inhibition of NF-κB. Oxidative stress (also bad) is well understood to cause message damage from your DNA and lead to carcinogenesis. For information, Melatonin and Glutathione (the two biggest antioxidants you make yourself) neutralise ROS and Free Radicals in the cellular microenvironment.

Gut bacteria alone can cause an immune response to a pathogen and change the lymphocytes. The researchers made the point that the family Lactobacillus (250 family members or strains) seems to be significantly protective in this change and we have covered research that B-cell problems and blood and lymph cancer risk can be linked simply to lost members.

Loss of good bacteria, gain of 'bad', is a driving force in all cancer.

A few years ago, I created a Heal Your Gut protocol. It is flexible and we change it according to the patient involved. The Heal your gut you need to do four things - Heal the gut wall; kill the pathogens; replenish with trillions of good bacterial feed them right. We have included the HUG PROTOCOL in the references so you can read the full programme (16).

In particular, we use unpasteurised goats' cheese with butyrate to restore the families Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. This is a good way of regenerating the full membership of those families, and with them an acidic gut. You need an alkaline body, but you also need an acidic gut for good health.


We know (from 2020 research) that an intact , healthy microbiome protects children from Leukaemia, especially Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (17). Children who did not have a natural birth, were not breast fed for long, were born to mothers that were taking drugs (prescribed or otherwise), who were ill, or had depression, can all have damaged microbiomes and a heightened risk of Leukaemia.


We know from 2021 research that dysbiosis of the microbiome is linked to benign and cancerous blood and lymph diseases; and, unfortunately, chemotherapy and immunosuppressants may worsen these diseases (18). Leukaemia can arise from chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy for other cancers.

And there is 2016 research showing that the degeneration of the gut wall and lining allows bacteria to 'wander' from the gut around the body and may be a major contributor to leukaemia. These wandering cells can even affect organs. Degeneration of the gut wall increases with age, as does leukaemia risk.

Dysbiosis and gut wall damage doesn’t have to be the result of age, or too many antibiotics, immunosuppressants, or drugs. Binge drinking, smoking, food poisoning and stress can each and all have a negative effect on your gut microbiome, and from there, the bone marrow microbiome. As can excess sugar consumption and not eating enough soluble fibre foods like pulses, nuts and seeds, oats and vegetables.


There is evidence that Stem Cell (Bone Marrow) Transplants work better if you have a healthy microbiome. A large study looked at the use of fecal transplants comparing them to people merely being left to their own devices for a year (19).

There is evidence that AFTER a Stem Cell Transplant, you would be extremely wise to immediately rebuild your microbiome. Where people simply went home, one year later they still only had 27% of their ideal microbiome - Yes, just two drugs for four rounds plus antibiotics for only 2 weeks cuts your microbiome by three quarters. How many Medical professionals realise this. Even Proton Pump inhibitors such as omeprazole, greatly damage the microbiome. The American Gastrointestinal Society Doctors say they should never be used for more than 3 days and only at low doses. Has a PPI caused your leukaemia?


Here are a few suggestions from research studies - we’ve done the hard work for you - and left the links in place for ease of reference:

i) Brazilian lapacho tree bark -

Ortho-quinones, called β-lapachone are known for their potential to control the abnormal increase in the number of cells and are good candidates for the treatment of AML leukemia -

ii) Fucoidan -

From brown seaweed, it has several studies showing effect against AML and T-cell Leukaemia. A summary of anticancer research is -

And Fucoidan causes apoptosis in Leukaemia cells -

iii) Honokiol -


Again, there are a number of studies showing effects with leukaemia. 


With AML cells -


Honokiol kills AML cells -


Honokiol with B-cell CLL -


iv) Dandelion Root -


It seems to have active properties against leukaemia. See -

Dandelion and Leukaemia -

v) Feverfew -

the active ingredient Parthenolide has been shown to have effects on CLL  and ALL -


The FDA promised to fast-track the compound but never did.

vi) Grape Seed Extract -

There's limited research, but it appears to block an important pathway driving leukaemia -

vii) Berberine

Lots of research.

Berberine induces cell death in ALL -

Berberine and Lymphoblastic Leukaemia -

Berberine and diffuse large B cell lymphoma -

Berberine and B-cell Lymphocytic leukaemia -

There are numerous studies with leukaemia - a Review: It is especially powerful when combined with drugs.

viii) Turmeric -

Apart from its immune boosting, angiogenesis preventing and chemotherapy and radiotherapy enhancing benefits, turmeric has a good number of studies against leukaemia. It is active against all types of Leukaemia, and can work synergistically with EGCG from Green tea - 

ix) Green tea

EGCG keeps CLL in check in majority of patients -

x) Turmeric and Green Tea -

A recipe for CLL?:

xi) Resveratrol -

Another cancer stem cell killer, it has research since 2002 showing effects against leukaemia. For example see -

Resveratrol in Leukaemia and lymphoma -

xii) Ursolic Acid -

From Tulsi (Holy Basil) or Pistacchio nuts - another stem cell killer; kills leukaemia cells in vitro and in vivo -

xiii) Genistein -

Yet another stem cell killers also attacks leukaemia in vitro and in vivo -

Genistein and Leukaemia -

Genistein and haematological cancer -

xiv) Selenium -

This mineral has been shown to suppress various types of Leukaemia including CLL -

xv) Zinc -


Another important mineral for the immune system, Zinc is often at low levels in ALL patients. It seems capable of limiting progression in leukaemia -


xvi) Magnesium -


Important mineral for the immune system, the liver and some 300 reactions in metabolism, lowered levels are found in patients with leukaemia -

xvii) Melatonin -

There is a growing level of research on the benefits of melatonin with leukaemia. Go to bed at a regular time; spend at least two hours out of doors even on the darkest day. And, possibly supplement, up to 20 mg a night. See -

Blood and lymph cancers, chemotherapy aid -

A promising agent targeting leukaemia -

Melatonin inhibits cell proliferation and induces caspase activation and apoptosis -

xviii) Quercetin -

Multitarget effects of Quercetin with Leukaemia -

The potential anti-cancer effects of quercetin on blood, prostate and lung cancers: An update -,an%20aggressive%20B%20cell%20lymphoma.

xix) Thiamine (vitamin B1) 

Thiamine deficiency in CLL -

B-cell lymphoma, thiamine deficiency, and lactic acidosis -

xx) Vitamin D

Vitamin D arms the immune cells. Vitamin D and leukemia -

Low Vitamin D and poor outcomes in CLL -

xxi) Cannabis, leukaemia and lymphoma

Little or no decent research for its use with Leukaemia. Sorry!

Cannabinoid Receptor 1 has been identified as a predominant feature of Hodgkin's lymphoma cells and could be a potential target. See -

xxii) Carotenoids and lymphoma

Carotenoid slows down CLL growth -

There is a significant inverse dose-response relationship between alpha-carotene intake and NHL risk (13% lower risk per 1000 μg/day increment of intake). A meta-analysis found that higher intakes of alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene foods such as lycopene and carrots, and lutein/zeaxanthin might well protect against B-cell NHL development. See -

xxiii) Apigenin - a major plant flavone, possessing antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties with multi-targets:. It was researched with various leukaemia lines -

And -

And -


I sincerely hope this article gives you ideas for increasing your personal odds of survival if you have leukaemia - from sugar and cholesterol control, to fixing your gut and taking natural compounds.



1. EBV active in 5% of CLL patients - 

2. Diabetes and Leukemia -

3. Diabetes and CLL -

4. Poor sugar control and ALL -

5. Fasting Blocks ALL development -

6. Fasting can restrict cancer -

7. Cholesterol and Leukaemia -

8. Stem cells and lymphoma -

9. Breg cells and ALL -

10. Bone Marrow fats -

11. CLL, Metformin and bone marrow fat -

12. Health of bone Marrow fat affects health of Lymphocytes -

13. The Microbiome and bone marrow -

14. Damage to microbiome and leukaemia risk:-

15. Pathogens causing leukaemia - 

16. Heal your gut  -

17. Children, microbiome and leukaemia -

18. Chemotherapy,  immunosupressants and leukaemia -

19. Microbiome after Stem Cell Transplants -

20. Metformin, an Anti-diabetic Drug to Target Leukemia -



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