By Tony M. Isaacs
Author of Cancer’s Natural Enemy
My own search for a possible cancer cure began in late 2004 when I found out that my cousin, lifelong friend and running buddy, Jeff Johnson, had been diagnosed as having stage-three melanoma. The cancer had appeared out of nowhere and so it was quite a shock to my cousin and everyone close to him. As luck would have it, I had spent a lot of time the previous four years or so working on my dream of someday posting a website aimed at helping aging baby boomers and others live longer, healthier and happier lives. Naturally, a lot of my research involved searching for ways to ward off and treat diseases and ills such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney and liver disease, and so forth. When I found out about my cousin, I already had a head start on knowing where and how to look, and so I began to redouble my efforts and focus my research more on cancer. As a result of my research, I found a lot of very good information about fighting cancer and other diseases, boosting our immune systems and improving health in general - much of which you may find in my simple “How to Live a Long and Healthy Life” book. However, it was not my research that led me to finding out about the magical, miraculous oleander plant – it was a card game!
Yes, the way I first heard about the healing powers of oleander happened one evening when I was sitting down at a friendly card game and mentioned my cousin’s cancer. An acquaintance of mine whom I had known for a few years and who had worked for the American Medical Association at one time, looked across the table at me and, as serious as could be, said “I know a cure.” He then proceeded to tell me an amazing story of what he knew about oleander. Later, I found others who told me essentially the same basic story, although each person seemed to have a slightly different version. I fully expect that the story is headed toward becoming a modern day legend someday. Although the versions I heard have differed somewhat, the basic story line I believe to be essentially correct is as follows:
In the early 1960's a Turkish doctor by the name of Huseyin Ziya Ozel was searching for a cure for his pet dog’s cancer when he noticed that a large number of Turkish villagers referred to him came from high altitudes and he thought that perhaps there was more to the story than just the higher incidence of skin cancer associated with higher altitudes:
In many versions of the story, Doctor Ozel was reported to have observed Turkish villagers drinking an oleander remedy, which pretty much correlates with the description of Oleander Leaf on the American Cancer Society website, where it states that Doctor Ozel started his study of oleander because of folk traditions that suggested that an extract from oleander was active against leukemia. It should be noted that Doctor Ozel’s daughter Sumru disputes this version and states that Doctor Ozell “studied folkloric remedies and discovered that poultices made of crushed oleander leaves and flour were applied topically to wounds and produced amazingly fast healing of the wounds.” The author suspects that this version may have been put forward to put distance between what Ozel observed and what he later patented in order to protect the patent from challenges.
According to Ozel’s daughter, Doctor Ozel made an observation that the majority of cancer patients referring to him were coming from an altitude above 600 meters. He thought that there should be a correlation between the rate of cancer occurrence and some environmental influence.
Whatever the actual truth, Doctor Ozel obviously did observe Turkish villagers using oleander and did review that use as well as a number of environmental factors, and he proceeded to continue his research on oleander based on what he found.
Further research showed that Nerium Oleander was most abundant in lower altitudes and practically did not exist at high altitude. Satisfied that he may have determined the cause of the villager’s good health, Doctor Ozel became intrigued with the plant and began to prepare and work with various extracts of Oleander himself in 1966 while he was the head of the surgical department at Mugla State Hospital of Turkey.
Doctor Ozel first conducted animal studies to determine that the substance was non-toxic and, once he determined the toxicology and effects of Nerium Oleander Extract (or NOE), he conducted further experiments and developed his treatment in various forms until he eventually started tests on terminal human cases.
After initial success in treating human cancer patients with NOE, Doctor Ozel began to discussing his findings with other professionals in his field. He sought analysis of the extract from various Turkish laboratories to understand the empirical results. They were unable to characterize the extracted compounds. In hope of gaining assistance from the government or research organizations, he prepared a paper to present his first human cases at the Fourth Balkanic Medical Days Symposium held in
The cases presented were all considered terminal cases when the patients came to Doctor Ozel. By law, he could not treat patients with an experimental drug, such as NOE, unless they had exhausted all other conventional treatment methods with no response or were diagnosed as advanced stage, terminal cases. At the symposium he was able to call the attention of the scientific community to NOE and how the extract had shown to be efficacious on cancer cases of different varieties. He was sure that his presentation would trigger serious and abundant research on NOE, and that it finally could be put into service for mankind.
The response from the scientific community was less than overwhelming. The skepticism centered mainly on the fact that the presentation contradicted what little literature there was on oleander species. Clearly the results presented could not be explained as an extension of prior art but Turkish scientists strongly denied the facts that Doctor Ozel had presented without any further research. To conclude, the medical community was reluctant to accept the results. Doctor Ozel was undaunted by the criticism and lack of support for the ideas presented. He continued his research and patients continued to seek treatment.
In 1974, he published additional case reports in the Turkish Medical Journal “Dirim”. Doctor Ozel resigned from his position as Chief Doctor at
Doctor Ozel contacted various universities in
In 1985 he started to look for research facilities abroad. During 1986-1987 some tests performed in
In 1988, a research team was formed at Munich University Pharmacology Institute to isolate the active components contained in the N.O. extract. Several polysaccharides were identified that might be responsible for some part of the immune activity. On 17-22 July 1990, the initial results were presented as a poster at the symposium of Biology and Chemistry of Active Natural Substances (BACANS) which was held in
The patented name of Doctor Ozel's oleander extract is Anvirzel™, whose trademark was once owned by Ozelle Pharmaceuticals, which was formed by Doctor Ozel’s son and other investors. Today, trademark rights are in dispute. Unfortunately, since Doctor Ozel had claimed that oleander was a cure for cancer, as opposed to a natural supplement, and since his extract was patented and given a trademark, the FDA now considers oleander as an unproven medicine which, because of the toxicity of the raw plant, must have it's safety and effectiveness proven before the FDA will allow it's use even as a herbal supplement, and so it is very difficult to obtain herbal supplements which contain oleander in the United States.
Today, the lengthy and costly three-phase FDA trial process for approval of Anvirzel™ or any other oleander extract, is far from over, although many people and millions of investor dollars are counting on it ultimately being approved. In 2000, Ozelle Pharmaceuticals had successful phase I FDA trials conducted on Anvirzel™, but subsequently ran into investor problems and had to reorganize. Although Ozelle continues to publish plans that it will soon begin phase II trials with Anvirzel™, such plans have not yet reached fruition and funding appears to continue to be a major problem for Ozelle.
In the interim, a competing company, Phoenix Biotech, also obtained a patent for Anvirzel™ in
Within just the past three years, a third competing company appeared by the name of Shimoda Atlantic Oncology Biosciences, and claimed to have developed its own oleander extract named Xenavex™ which it claimed was much stronger due to an ethanol extraction method. As it turned out, I and others exposed the company as a fraud that was created to cheat investors and the drug was actually a heart medication imported from
Sadly, I must report that it may be many years, if ever, before an oleander based medicine wins FDA approval. The simple fact is that it takes hundreds of millions of dollars to get a new drug successfully through all the FDA trials, and this pretty much bars competition to all but the very large pharmaceutical companies. Many feel that if the issue ever went to court, the patent itself would be hard to defend, since it is based on a common plant and a centuries-old folk remedy. Others feel that, because of the billions of dollars in profits at stake for the trillion-dollar world pharmaceutical industry and their myriad cancer treatments, no oleander medicine will ever be approved in the
The best hope as of the time of this writing appears to be the development of an oleander based tablet by Phoenix Biotech which is reported to be have a much stronger concentration of oleandrin and the other cardiac glycosides while losing none of the other essential synergistic compounds. Only time will tell if a major pharmaceutical company with the requisite funds will pick up this new oleander product from
Live Long, Live Healthy, Live Happy!
Tony Isaacs (aka DQ)
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