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Frequently Asked Questions

 


I read about an herbal product called Amrit® in Coping Magazine (for cancer patients). Is there any science to this stuff? Is this product safe for me to take when I am on chemotherapy?

You are very wise to try to learn as much as you can about any complementary therapy, such as this herbal product, that you might choose to help fight your cancer. I refer to that as making an informed decision rather than an emotional decision.

Ayurveda is the ancient Indian system of medicine and surgery. The word Ayurveda in Sanskrit (root language of Indian Subcontinent) literally means "Life Science". Research is underway regarding many aspects of Ayurveda, including the health benefits of the Ayurvedic preparation called Maharishi Amrit Kalash (also abbreviated as MAK-4&5), which is made from extracts of 44 herbs and fruits and based on a ancient formula. Amrit® literally means "food for immortality".

Amrit Protection System® (called Amrit® for short) consists of two products, called MAK-4 and MAK-5. MAK-4 is available as a thick nectar consistency paste, which is taken orally by mouth. One month supply of MAK-4 in 2-21 oz jars costs $79. MAK-5 is available in tablet form only and is taken orally as well. 120 tablets for a monthly supply cost $70. (Costs quoted are current as of the date this faq was posted but are always changing.)

Several studies testing Amrit's® anti-cancer activity have been conducted. The following two examples have been published in a peer-reviewed journal, as have several other in vitro and animal studies.
(1) The herbal mixture MAK-4 was tested for anticarcinogenic properties against artificially induced mammary tumors in rats. This study showed that diet supplemented with MAK-4 protected the rats against artificially induced carcinogenesis by reducing both tumor incidence and multiplicity during initiation and promotion phases (The Pharmacologist, Vol. 34, No. 3, p.184, 1992).
(2) MAK-4 and MAK-5 have also shown to reverse the malignant process in murine neuroblastoma cells tissue culture under laboratory conditions (Neuropharmacology, Vol.31, No.6, pp.599-607, 1992).

There are several additional reported research studies that have tested Amrit® in patients undergoing chemotherapy:
(1) 62 patients with various types of cancer, Rao, R.S., Deo, M.G., and Sanghvi, L.D. Proceedings of XVI International Cancer Congress. Bologna, Italy: Monduzzi, Editore, 1994: pp.3099-3102,
(2) 92 breast cancer patients - All India Institute of Medical Science, Srivastava A, Samaiya A, et.al., Abstract no 172,1999,
(3) 129 breast cancer patients - FASEB Experimental Biology 2000 Meeting, San Diego, CA

However, it is very important to note that these research studies have only been presented at scientific conferences, and have not yet been published in peer-reviewed journals (a necessary step for the widespread acceptance of the data presented.)

Several Internet sites and other media outlets are promoting Amrit® as a formula that will prevent side effects secondary to chemotherapy without reducing the effectiveness of the chemotherapy. However, without being able to see all the data upon which these claims are based, I cannot really validate the scientific strength of these statements at this time. Thus, I am unable to answer your question of whether Amrit® is safe to take during chemotherapy at this time.

As an additional point of clarification, several web sites discussing Amrit® mention that it contains high amounts of the antioxidants Vitamin E and Vitamin C. Other web sites state that the formula has an antioxidant capacity 1000x greater than that of Vitamin C or E. The ingredients as listed on Amrit's main web site do not include any additional antioxidants in the formula, and no nutritional analysis of Amrit's® Vitamin C and Vitamin E contents could be found published on the Internet. It is very common for phytochemicals found in plants to have significant antioxidant activity, far beyond that of the plant's antioxidant nutrient content. However, it is not known if Amrit's® anti-cancer activity shown in the animal and in vitro studies is due to its antioxidant actions or the multiple other potential anti-cancer mechanisms that this complex formula may provide.

An Email inquiry and a telephone call have been made to the company that manufactures Amrit®, asking for the latest research and more detailed information about these studies and claims that the formula does not diminish chemotherapy's effects. In the meantime, I cannot yet recommend this product, but I will provide updated information on my web site as the company provides me with further data.

The benefits of Amrit® for cancer patients, while very intriguing, will remain unproven until large-scale human studies are undertaken and published in peer-reviewed journals, with enough data available for the oncology community to review, analyze and evaluate. Accordingly, the scientific community will then be able to better establish the validity of the Amrit® formula's benefits.

Ultimately, the choice is yours to make regarding all the therapeutic options you utilize to fight your cancer. I will admit that "unproven does not equal disproven". Gather as much information as you can, make your choices, and then believe in those therapies with 1000% conviction. However, if you do choose to use Amrit® or any other complementary therapy (acupuncture for example) as a component of your personal cancer healing plan, I strongly recommend that you discuss that choice with your oncologist and have that healing modality documented in your medical record.

Best wishes to you.

This question and answer was researched and developed by Mitali Kapila, MSc, MS, RD. The information posted here was written under the direction of and edited by Diana Dyer, MS, RD.


Posted 9/02, Updated 2/04, Updated 11/05

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Herbs and other Dietary Supplements

Can herbs interact with any of the chemotherapy drugs? posted 4/01, updated 9/02
Is the herbal product Amrit® safe to take during chemotherapy? posted 9/02
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These questions and answers are intended to be of a general informative nature. Please consult with the Registered Dietitian in your cancer center or your health care provider for nutritional advice that can be individualized to your specific medical condition.


 

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