Alternative Medicine: You Asked, We Answered

This week ABC News asked viewers to submit their questions about alternative medicine. We chose a representative sample from the wide variety of questions received and then reached out to health-care specialists from around the country.

Some of the questions that we received are not included below because they should be answered by a personal physician or other qualified health provider.

Please remember that the following answers are for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site.

1) My husband was recently diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme (grade 4). Do you know if toad venom has proven effective for this type of cancer/tumor? Are there any other types of alternative treatments that have proven effective? Thank you -- Lynn

Dr. Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D, director, Integrative Medicine Program, Departments of Behavioral and Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, MD Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Texas:

To my knowledge, I am not aware of any research to date supporting the use of Huachansu to treat GBM.

2) Is Liquid Zeolite, Blue Green Algae (enzyme enhanced), and Oxy-E safe to be taken with Herceptin or is safe at all to be taken. -- Andriene

Timothy C. Birdsall, N.D., vice president, Integrative Medicine, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Member, National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health:

Dear Andriene,

Zeolite is actually a generic term, which refers to a family of aluminum-containing minerals, which are used in a variety of industrial and agricultural applications. In humans, liquid zeolite products have been claimed to help remove heavy metal toxins such as mercury from the body, although very little clinical research has been performed to document the effectiveness of this approach or whether this has any clinical benefit in cancer treatment.

Blue green algae falls into the category of what are often termed "superfoods," which are packed with nutrients, trace minerals and enzymes; however, the health claims of these products are often exaggerated. Oxy-E is one of a group of products currently being promoted to enhance oxygen levels within the tissues of the body. Many of these products contain fulvic acid or humic acid, naturally occurring constituents of soil.

At this point, I am unaware of any research showing that these types of products actually do what they claim, or that this approach has any clinical benefit in treating cancer. None of these products have been tested in combination with Herceptin, either to determine if they might interfere with Herceptin's effectiveness, or to demonstrate any potential benefit.

3) I have a dx of non small cell lung cancer, stage 1. I have received much encouragement to drink Essiac tea. I have researched this tea online but haven't received any other input. Would you please give me information that you might have on Essiac tea? -- Sue

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