Nutritional supplements like Buckthorn have many health benefits and are being widely used by cancer patients and those at-genetic-risk of cancer. But, is it safe to take Buckthorn supplements for all types of cancer and without considering any ongoing treatments and other lifestyle conditions? A common belief but only a myth is that anything natural can only benefit me or do no harm. As one example, the use of grapefruit with certain medications is not recommended. Another example, the use of spinach with some blood thinning medications can cause adverse interactions and should be avoided. For cancer, nutrition which includes the food and natural supplements has been shown to influence outcomes. Hence a frequently asked question by cancer patients to dieticians and doctors is “What Should I eat and What Should I Avoid?”.
Taking nutritional Buckthorn supplements can benefit Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS) patients on Lenalidomide cancer treatment. But avoid Buckthorn supplements if on Etoposide treatment for Pineoblastoma. Similarly, taking nutritional supplement Buckthorn can benefit healthy individuals who are at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene TP53. But avoid taking nutritional supplement Buckthorn when at genetic risk of cancer due to mutation of gene TERT.
The takeaway being – your individual context will influence your decision if nutritional supplement Buckthorn is safe or not. And also that this decision needs to be constantly revisited as conditions change. Conditions like cancer type, current ongoing treatments and supplements, age, gender, weight, height, lifestyle and any genetic mutations identified matter. So a legitimate question for you to ask for any recommendation of food and natural supplement is how it is related to your individual context.
Nutritional supplements – vitamins, herbs, minerals, probiotics, and other specialty categories are increasing. Supplements are high concentrations of active ingredients which are also found in different foods. The difference being foods contain more than one active ingredient at lower diffused concentrations. Remember that each of these ingredients has its own science and biological mechanism at molecular level – hence choose the right combination of supplements like Buckthorn based on individual context and conditions.
So the question is should you take the supplement Buckthorn? Should you take it when at genetic risk of cancer for mutation of gene TERT? Should you take it when at genetic risk of cancer for mutation of gene TP53? Should you take it when diagnosed with Pineoblastoma? Should you take Buckthorn supplement when diagnosed with Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS)? Should you take it when on Etoposide treatment? Should you continue taking Buckthorn supplement if you change your treatment from Etoposide to Lenalidomide? So a general explanation like – it is natural or it increases immunity may not be acceptable and sufficient for choosing Buckthorn.
Cancer remains an unsolved problem statement. The improved availability of personalized treatments and monitoring of cancer via blood and saliva have been significant factors to improve outcomes. The earlier the intervention – the better the influence on outcome. Genetic testing has the potential to assess cancer risk and susceptibility early. But besides regular monitoring in most cases there are no therapeutic intervention options available. After diagnosis with cancer such as Pineoblastoma or Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS), the treatments get personalized to tumor genomics and factors like staging of disease, age and gender. During cancer remission (after treatment cycle is complete) – monitoring is used for assessment of any relapse and accordingly decide next steps. A large majority of cancer patients and those at-risk do take nutritional supplements like Buckthorn.
So the question is that are all genetic mutation risks and types of cancers to be considered as one when deciding the use of Buckthorn? Are the biochemical pathway implications of genetic risk for cancer due to mutation of gene TERT the same as due to mutation of gene TP53? Are the implications of taking Buckthorn supplement in Pineoblastoma the same as Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS)? Is it one and the same if you are on treatment Etoposide or on Lenalidomide?
Buckthorn – A Nutritional Supplement
Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), also known as European buckthorn and Common Buckthorn, is a herb native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia, from the central British Isles south to Morocco, and east to Kyrgyzstan. The berries of Buckthorn are considered to have medicinal properties. It has been traditionally used for relieving constipation. Buckthorn is also available in the form of supplements. However, excessive use can lead to certain side effects in some people such as discolored urine, stomach cramps, diarrhea, heart problems, and blood in the urine.
Buckthorn supplements contain many active ingredients including Chrysophanol, Emodin and Barbaloin at different concentration levels. The molecular pathways which are regulated by Buckthorn include DNA Repair, Glucocorticoid Signaling, Apoptosis, Cell Cycle Checkpoints and PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling. These cellular pathways directly or indirectly regulate specific cancer molecular endpoints like growth, spread and death. Because of this biological regulation – for cancer nutrition, the right choice of supplements like Buckthorn individually or in combination is an important decision to be made. When making decisions on the use of supplement Buckthorn for cancer – do consider all these factors and explanations. Because just as true for cancer treatments – Buckthorn use cannot be a one-size-fits-all decision for all types of cancers.
Choosing Buckthorn Supplements for Your Cancer
The reason there is no easy way to answer the question “When should I avoid Buckthorn for Cancer” is because “It Depends!”. Just like the same treatment does not work for every cancer patient, based on your individual context the Buckthorn may be harmful or safe. Along with which cancer and associated genetics – the ongoing treatments, supplements, lifestyle habits, BMI and allergies are all factors deciding if Buckthorn should be avoided or not and why.
1. Will Buckthorn Supplements benefit Cancer Patients with Pineoblastoma undergoing Etoposide treatment?
Pineoblastoma is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like ATR and ATM leading to biochemical pathway changes in DNA Repair, EPHRIN Signaling and PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling. A cancer treatment like Etoposide works through a specific pathway mechanism of action. The goal is to have a good overlap between the treatment and cancer driving pathways for a personalized approach which is effective. In such a condition any food or nutritional supplement which has a contrary effect to the treatment or reduces the overlap should be avoided. As an example, Buckthorn should be avoided for Pineoblastoma along with treatment of Etoposide. Buckthorn impacts pathways/processes like DNA Repair which either promote drivers of the disease and/or nullify the treatment effect. Additionally, Buckthorn Supplements contain active ingredients like Emodin which has CYP3A4 interactions with Etoposide treatment and hence should be avoided by patients undergoing this treatment. (Yitong Liu et al, J Appl Toxicol., 2021; Xiaoliang Zhuo et al, Drug Metab Dispos., 2004) Some of the factors which should be considered when choosing nutrition are type of cancer, treatments and supplements being taken currently (if any), age, gender, BMI, lifestyle and any genetic mutation information (if available).
2. Will Buckthorn Supplements benefit Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS) Patients undergoing Lenalidomide Cancer Treatment?
Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS) is characterized and driven by specific genetic mutations like LATS2 and ZMYM2 leading to biochemical pathway changes in Glucocorticoid Signaling, JAK-STAT Signaling, PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling, Hypoxia and Angiogenesis. A cancer treatment like Lenalidomide works through specific pathway mechanisms. The goal is to have a good overlap between the treatment and cancer driving pathways for a personalized approach. In such a condition any food or nutritional supplement which has a compatible effect to the treatment or reduces the overlap should be considered. As an example, Buckthorn supplement should be considered for Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS) along with treatment Lenalidomide. Buckthorn supplement impacts pathways/processes like Glucocorticoid Signaling and JAK-STAT Signaling which either obstruct drivers of MGUS and/or improve Lenalidomide treatment effect.
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3. Are Buckthorn Supplements Safe for Healthy Individuals with TERT Mutation Associated Genetic Risk?
Different companies offer panels of genes to be tested for assessing genetic risk to different cancers. These panels cover genes associated with cancers of the breast, ovary, uterus, prostate, and gastrointestinal system and others. Genetic testing of these genes may confirm a diagnosis and help guide treatment and management decisions. Identification of a disease-causing variant may also guide testing and diagnosis of at-risk relatives. TERT is one of the genes generally available in panels for cancer risk testing.
TERT mutation causes biochemical pathways/processes like Apoptosis, Cell Cycle Checkpoints, RUNX Signaling, Stem Cell Signaling and JAK-STAT Signaling to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Buckthorn should be avoided when the genetic panel identifies mutation of TERT for Hematological Cancer. Buckthorn impacts pathways/processes like Apoptosis and Cell Cycle Checkpoints and creates adverse effects with TERT and related conditions.
4. Are Buckthorn Supplements Safe for Healthy Individuals with TP53 Mutation Associated Genetic Risk?
TP53 is one of the genes available in panels for cancer risk testing. TP53 mutation causes biochemical pathways/processes like Cell Cycle Checkpoints, TGFB Signaling, Stem Cell Signaling, PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling and Autophagy to get impacted. These pathways are direct or indirect drivers of cancer molecular endpoints. Consider taking Buckthorn supplements when the genetic panel identifies mutation in TP53 for Breast Cancer and Lung Cancer. Buckthorn impacts pathways/processes like Cell Cycle Checkpoints and TGFB Signaling and creates a supportive effect in those with TP53 mutation and related conditions.
* Other Factors are also included like BMI, Treatments, Lifestyle Habits
The two most important things to remember are that cancer treatments and nutrition are never the same for everyone. Nutrition which includes food and nutritional supplements like Buckthorn, is an effective tool which can be controlled by you, while facing cancer.
What food you eat and which supplements you take is a decision you make. Your decision should include consideration of the cancer gene mutations, which cancer, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, lifestyle information, weight, height and habits.
The nutrition planning for cancer from addon is not based on internet searches. It automates the decision making for you based on molecular science implemented by our scientists and software engineers. Irrespective of whether you care to understand the underlying biochemical molecular pathways or not - for nutrition planning for cancer that understanding is needed.
Get started NOW with your nutrition planning by answering questions on the name of cancer, genetic mutations, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, habits, lifestyle, age group and gender.
Personalized Nutrition for Cancer!
Cancer changes with time. Customize and modify your nutrition based on cancer indication, treatments, lifestyle, food preferences, allergies and other factors.
Cancer patients often have to deal with different chemotherapy side effects which affect their quality of life and look out for alternative therapies for cancer. Taking the right nutrition and supplements based on scientific considerations (avoiding guesswork and random selection) is the best natural remedy for cancer and treatment related side-effects.