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What’s All This Talk About Artemisinin?

June 28th, 2012 · 20 Comments

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We often hear about using artemisinin to treat dog cancer, and thanks to the following contribution by Tripawds member AngelAbby’sMom (aka Jackie Bouchard, author of the novel “What the Dog Ate”), we have some reading material for pawrents who want to learn about this holistic cancer therapy. 

Many thanks to Jackie for this excellent summary of what she has learned about artemisinin. Please remember, we are not veterinarians and this article is not meant to replace veterinary care for your Tripawd.

Finally, we welcome blog posts from members so if you would like to share your experiences in caring for a Tripawd family member, please contact us today.

Artemisinin Basics

If you’ve been around Tripawds for a while, you’ve probably seen me mentioning artemisinin to pawrents that want to go the holistic route or are looking for supplements to try.

This post puts what I have learned about artemisinin into one handy spot for future reference.

The information I have from Dr. Singh is from my own email correspondence with him (he’s super helpful that way!) and from a list of questions sent to him by the Yahoo Group “artemisinin_and_cancer” which I used to be a member of. I highly recommend joining the group if you want to learn more.

Let me start out by saying I’m not a vet. And I’m not even close to being a scientist. Most of what’s below is taken from my own personal use of artemisinin with my dog, Abby, and from Dr. Singh, a researcher at University of Washington. Dr. Lai and Dr. Singh are two experts on the use of artemisinin for fighting cancer in dogs, having studied the herb since the 1990s.

What is Artemisinin and Where Do I Get It?

Artemisinin, also known as Qinghaosu, is derived from the herb Artemisia annua, or sweet wormwood. It’s been used for hundreds of years in China to fight malaria. This long history of use means it is known to have low toxicity, at least in human use.

Discussions can get a little confusing because there are two different options for utilizing it:

Option 1: Artemix

A blend of 3 derivations of the herb; it contains artesunate (50mg), artemisinin (50mg) and artemether (40mg). Dr. Singh recommends purchasing Artemix from and he notes that artesunate and artemisinin are both very safe, therefore dosing should be based on the artemether. (See below.) Dr. Singh suggests using Artemix to fight cancer, since it’s best to have the various derivations of the herb working together in the system.

Option 2: Artemisinin

This is just pure artemisinin and can be purchased in either 50mg or 100mg pills. Dr. Singh recommends Holley Pharmaceuticals for buying pure artemisinin. Because artemisinin is considered to be safe, you can supplement Artemix with additional plain artemisinin. This is what we did with Abby.

Note that Hepalin and Holley Pharma are the only companies recommended because they produce pharmaceutical grade pills which are 99% pure.

For ease of discussion I’ll refer simply to artemisinin from here on out, and will specify if referring to Artemix.

How Does Artemisinin Work?

Studies performed in vitro (basically outside the cell in a test tube) show that the artemisinin kills cancer cells. There is also some data from in vivo testing (within the cell, or tested in humans/animals), but I don’t want to turn this into a review of the scientific literature, so we’ll stick to the basics from Dr. Singh.

Cancer cells require much more iron to multiply than normal cells do. Artemisinin attacks the iron, and since normal cells don’t have as much iron, they are “safe” from the attack. Dr. Singh and Dr. Lai research the use of artemisinin for many types of cancer: bone cancer, mast cells, breast cancer, etc. They state that there is still much research to be done.

How do I Dose Artemisinin?

This gets a little tricky. Because of the iron-attack-mode that artemisinin goes into, you have to give it away from any iron-containing foods, which would be most diets that cancer pups are on due to the high protein content. Therefore you must give the artemisinin about 3-4 hours after dinner.

We also avoided giving meaty/high protein treats at night while Abby was on the artemisinin. Since artemisinin should be given with some form of whole-milk, such as cottage cheese, Abby’s pills—hidden in full-fat cream cheese—became her nightly treat. She found this very enjoyable.

The other thing that is tricky is that if you do some research on the internet, you’ll find varying advice as to dosage/frequency. For example, some recommend cycling on/off the drug for varying amounts of time, say 5 days on/5 days off. The dose/administration below is as per Dr. Singh, and from what I’ve seen his dosage recommendation is at the lower end of the spectrum. I’d suggest if you want to try artemisinin with your pup, you can start with Dr. Singh’s guidelines here and also do some additional research and adjust as you see fit.

Calculating the Dose

As I mentioned above, Dr. Singh thinks Artemix is the better option for fighting cancer, and dosing is based on the artemether.

Calculate the dose based on 1 to 2mg of artemether/lb of body weight. So, if your dog weighs 80 lbs, and Artemix has 40mg artemether, that’s 2 to 4 capsules per day.

Again, plain artemisinin is considered very safe, so you can supplement the Artemix dose with additional plain artemisinin if you want. This is what I did with Abby (47lbs), giving her two Artemix per day, plus 100mg of plain artemisinin. The cost was ~$150/month when she was on it daily.

Dr. Singh suggests giving the pills every day for 8 weeks, with an x-ray or some other evaluation done at the beginning of the period and again at the end to see if it is helping. If so, you can go to every other day at that point.

With Abby we had an x-ray done at 12 weeks. One lung met was slightly smaller, the other was about 20% larger. No new mets developed over the 12 weeks. Although the results were mixed, we hoped for the best and continued on with pills every other day.

 What Else Should be Given with Artemisinin?

Dr. Singh recommends also giving butyrate and vitamin D-3 at the same time as the artemisinin. Butyrate is available as Butyrex from Holley Pharmaceuticals or Dr. Singh also recommends Jigsaw Health.

Dr. Singh did not recommend a specific dose for the Vitamin D-3, but did recommend that an 80lb. dog can be given 4 capsules of butyrate.

We gave Abby (47lbs) 2 butyrate and she did not enjoy them as they are horribly stinky and even the cream cheese couldn’t mask the odor. If you give the Butyrex, you are going to want to hold your nose while you open the bottle!

Other Recommendations

  • Dr. Singh recommends giving your dog Vitamins C (500mg/day) and E (400mg/day) while on artemisinin. The C & E, as well as any other immune-boosting/antioxidant supplements, should be given at breakfast/lunch; well away from the nighttime artemisinin dose.
  • Dr. Singh recommends dogs with clear lung x-rays can be on artemisinin indefinitely, although he states that you can eventually go to every other day and down to twice a week at some point. (No timeline was given).
 Please be aware that we are not veterinarians. The information presented here is not meant to be construed as medical advice or guidance, nor should it be substituted for professional veterinary assistance. Always discuss any remedies and treatments you wish to pursue with your veterinarian. 
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20 responses so far ↓

  • 1    Tory // Mar 15, 2014 at 10:55 am

    My question is, are there any other brands that anyone has tried. Price can be an object for people, and the cost varies. I read one brand which said they got their arteminisin from Holly, but it is arteminisin only.

    How is Abby now? Forgive me if I missed reading this.

  • 2    jerry // Mar 15, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Hi Tory, thanks for reading. Sadly, Abby is an angel now, but she really kicked cancer’s butt when she was earthbound. As for looking for cheaper prices on artemisinin, I would be very careful on letting the price point be a deciding factor since so many scary ingredients are coming from China. Always choose brands that are recommended by veterinarians. Good luck.

  • 3    Rottweiler Shares Osteosarcoma Dog Cancer Diet, Supplement Tips | Tripawds Nutrition | Best Canine Cancer Dog Amputation Diet Supplements Health Help // Mar 24, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    […] Artemisinin, Artememther, and Butyrex: given as an anti-cancer supplement believed to attack cancer cells […]

  • 4    How to Bake a Healthy Grain-Free Cake for Dogs | Tripawds Nutrition | Best Canine Cancer Dog Amputation Diet Supplements Health Help // May 19, 2014 at 3:00 am

    […] have a ton of cream cheese on hand to give him his artemisinin and other supplements so that was easy to use as icing. I’ve also decorated the cake with […]

  • 5    Sue & George // Sep 8, 2014 at 5:45 am

    Came across Abby’s story with interest. We agree with all of her Artemix protocol. Have observed many dogs using a similar doseage, and we have found Drs Singh and Lai to be very helpful with any questions on their considerable research. We have also found the Artemix from Hepalin, and Butyrex and Artemisinin from Holley to be of the quality stated in this article.

  • 6    jerry // Sep 10, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Thanks for sharing your experience Sue, we appreciate hearing about it.

  • 7    Greg // Jan 9, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    I read a different dosing from Dr. Dessler and on other sites it gives a dosage of Artemix as 1mg/kg which would mean a 1/2mg/lb. Our dog was just diagnosed with lymphoma he is 10.5 years old and about 84lbs.

  • 8    jerry // Jan 10, 2015 at 12:19 am

    Greg, I would definitely find a holistic vet who is knowledgeable to help you find the right dosage for your pup. Recommendations vary so it’s always good to find a vet who knows your dog’s exact situation. Best wishes to you and your pup.

  • 9    Sue and George // Jan 10, 2015 at 4:26 am

    Greg and jerry, Re doseage
    We have been helping dogs with cancer for about 16 years, and have found it difficult to find holistic vets who use or have an understanding on the doseage with Artemisinin/Artemix. Because Professors Singh and Lai are the senior researchers in this area, we find it safe to follow their guidelines. Most of the suggestions by Dr Dressler seem to mention Artemisinin, which seems to have very high dose tolerance ( One study demonstrated 200 times the recommended dose to be safely tolerated) We have found other supps like K9 Immunity, Transfer Factor, Pet Alive C Caps and a seaweed extract called Fucoidan to be helpful with Lymphoma.
    Hope this helps

  • 10    jerry // Jan 11, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Sue and George, thanks for your helpful feedback. Please contact me via our contact form, I’d love to hear more about your expertise. Thanks!

  • 11    Clare Watts // Feb 1, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Help please. My GSD has been diagnosed with adenocarcinoma which was found in a routine anal sac clean. The vet said it was as big as his finger. My dog has had diarrhoea for nearly two years and Cushing’s was diagnosed. Vet says he thinks there is damage in her intestines hence the diarrhoea which has nothing to do with the Cushing’s which is under control. Then he found the adenocarcinoma. I am going to follow the protocol in the above article, but living in the UK I have bought the Artemisinin from Amazon but it is not the one mentioned above. I only found one supplier of Butyrate in England so have ordered that just now. Can anyone give me the exact dosage of Butyrate please. She weighs 82 pounds. Also any hope please. My vet says there is nothing to be done and it will kill her. She is nearly eleven years old. We don’t know how long she has had this cancer but as I said she has had diarrhoea for nearly two years. Nothing has really helped with this apart from Canigest which I can’t afford long term. Tests show even though she has diarrhoea she is absorbing nutrients properly. Many thanks to anyone who can help.

  • 12    jerry // Feb 2, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Clare, we are so sorry to hear about your pup. I apologize, we don’t know the dosage but highly recommend seeing a holistic-minded veterinarian for another opinion and also joining the Yahooo Artemisinin group mentioned in this article, those folks there will have some tips for you. Best wishes to you and your pup.

  • 13    Laurie Christensen // Feb 11, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    I was so happy to find this article! My 12 y.o. English Shepherd has sternal osteosarcoma. I began giving him artemisinin recently, *just* got Artemix as well and was very confused about the protocol for using them together. This helped me enormously; thanks so much!

    Two questions: First, it sounds like you gave Abby two Artemix tablets (along with the artemisinin) at once, in her after dinner dose…is that correct?

    Secondly…what does the Butyrex do, exactly? Looks like it would help prevent gastric distress…does it help or enhance the absorption of the Artemix/Artemisinin as well?

    Thanks for a really, really great guide to using these supplements, Jerry!

  • 14    admin // Feb 12, 2015 at 9:17 am

    Thanks for the comment Laurie! Consider posting in the forums if you receive no replies here.

  • 15    Sue and George // Feb 13, 2015 at 5:55 am

    Following Prof. Singhs advice we have found Artemix most suitable for use with dogs, most particularly because of the longer half life of one of the derivatives ie 12 hrs. (Artemisinin only has a 4 hr half life) You can add as many Artemisinin to the Artemix as you like (up to a point) as it has been tested at up to 200 times the recommended dosage. We have often found Artemisinin quite helpful in topical applications direct on open tumors.
    Prof Singh and Lai research article in “Anticancer Research” found that besides the beneficial role of butyrate as a digestive and anti inflammatory agent, they found that “Using a combination of artemisinin and butyrate significantly enhanced the effect of either ingredient alone.”…….and….
    Butyric acid increases potency of artemisinin by 5-10 times
    In a conversation with Prof Singh, he suggested that Artemix, with its 2 derivatives and especially with Butyrex may offset the assimilation/plateauing issues of using just Artemisinin.
    Hope this helps

  • 16    jennifer // Mar 22, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    Hi there. I feel so luckyk to have found this information. I have a 9 year black lab named Flash and he has osteosarcoma in his back left leg. I came across artemisinin and have just ordered it. I also ordered the artemix and plan to use both together. Iam thinking 100 mg of the artemisinin 2 x a day is correct as well as 3 pills of the artemix 2 x a day. If someone knows if that is ok if they could let me know. Iam excited to see how this will work for my dog. He has never had any medical issue and to have this is mind boggeling. I will keep everyone posted as to how flash is doing. Thanks for your comments. help.input….it trally helps.

  • 17    Paula // Mar 24, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    The dosage is so difficult. My little Odis, 18# cairn terrier, was diagnosed with axial osterosarcoma, nasty fast growing and in operable as it’s on his skull. This being mainly a “large breed” disease, no one is dealing with dosages for the little guys. It has been 4 weeks since the 1st sign of it and since the CT scan 2 weeks ago the doctors have not been very optimistic that he will live more than 12 weeks. Chemo and radiation are not viable options per the oncologist. Gotta do something!! Any recommendations?

  • 18    admin // Mar 24, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Consider searching/posting in the forums Paula, where you will likely get much more feedback than here in these blog comments. Also check out Apocaps or other recommendations by Dr. Dressler.

  • 19    Jennifer // Mar 25, 2015 at 9:16 am

    I have an almost 14 year old cat with large dime sized bloody squamous call carcinoma on her nose. Its been untreated for closer to 2 years. Would you apply artemisinin topically and internally? What dosage? Would you dilute it in DMSO? I have read the article on Tabby the cat but have a few more questions.

  • 20    admin // Mar 25, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Best wishes with your kitty Jennifer! Please consult with your vet and consider posting in our Ask A Vet Forum where you may receive better feedback.

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