An article published in Dogs Naturally magazine in August of 2015 espoused the use of a natural plant compound called artemisinin in treating canine cancer. A researcher at the University of Washington, Dr. Henry Lai, treated a dog with severe osteosarcoma who could barely walk with the compound and five days later, the dog had made a complete recovery. X-rays indicated that the tumor was completely gone. When my first dog, Porter, was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, artemisinin was one of the ingredients in his supplements. But because his cancer had already metastasized, it is hard to say whether anything could have helped him by that point.
The effectiveness of artemisinin relies on the high iron concentrations and transferrin receptors that are found in cancer cells. When the compound comes into contact with iron, it causes a chemical reaction where free radicals are created from charged atoms that are released. The free radicals then “attack and bind with cell membranes, breaking them apart and killing the cell.”
The article includes information on dosing and how artemisinin should be administered. It also refers to a Yahoo chat group where owners of dogs with cancer who are using artemisinin share experiences. As with any treatment for canine cancer, it is up to you to determine the best course of action. The results do look promising, but it is best to discuss any treatment plan with your veterinary oncologist.