On December 15, 1991 the LA Times published a large expose about Jimmy Keller, a man dedicated to healing and experimental medicine. The government believed he was a con man, kidnapped him in Mexico, convicted him of fraud and put him in jail. Interestingly and importantly, the 1999 Nobel Prize research showed him to have been a medical genius. Almost all our understanding of arginine, a simple amino acid, comes in the years following Keller’s conviction.
Researchers around the world are serious about the use of amino acids in cancer treatment. L-arginine is the common substrate for two enzymes, arginase and nitric oxide synthase (NOS). As a precursor to nitric oxide, it is a key component of endothelial-derived relaxing factor. The endothelium is the lining inside blood vessels and arginine supplements help make more nitric oxide, which helps to relax and dilate blood vessels. The body needs higher levels of arginine when it is under conditions of stress, illness, malnutrition or injury. When these conditions are present, arginine becomes essential for healing to occur.
Dr. Joe Prendergast, a longtime expert on the power of L-arginine says, “Arginine uses the two natural pathways into the brain to promote anti-aging properties, sports performance, and boost the immune system. Because L-arginine promotes healthy blood flow, it can also benefit human sexuality.” Arginine overcomes cardiovascular issues and reverses atherosclerosis. Dr. Prendergast is proud to say that all his patients through the last 17 years have managed to not succumb to any strokes, heart attacks or even to diabetes.
Arginine is used to treat conditions that improve with increased blood flow, such as chest pains, erectile dysfunction, clogged arteries, vascular disease and headaches, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Arginine is one of the 20 most common natural amino acids and this is what Keller was injecting intelligently into his cancer patients’ veins. When he administered the amino acid solution intravenously into himself first, he was astonished. “I felt a tingling in my tumor areas. They got softer. It was phenomenal.”
The LA Times article explains how, when Keller gave a patient an injection of Tumorex, the patient would start feeling heat in their tumor (a thermometer placed on the tumor, Keller said, showed a temperature rise of one to two degrees). There was a pulling, tingling, grabbing sensation. One patient said it felt like a thousand little fingers pulling at her tumors. People with brain tumors heard popping and cracking sounds as if fireworks were going off in their heads. Tumorex didn’t always work with everyone, but when it did, Keller said, the results could be spectacular. Within hours, patients reported, tumors began to soften and shrink, and within days they began to disappear. “On open tumors,” Keller said, “you could actually see bubbles.”
The LA Times explains further how visitors to the Keller clinic would be astounded. They’d tell stories about having seen people who would come to the clinic near death, and who, after a few days or few weeks of treatment, would be back on their feet again, walking, shopping and ready to resume their normal lives. Dr. George Eisberg, an Albuquerque family physician who testified at Keller’s trial, told of escorting a dying friend to Keller’s clinic. “I wheeled him in in a wheelchair. He couldn’t swallow.” But as soon as Keller put him on the IV drip, the patient’s chest pain subsided so much that for dinner that night he went out and ordered a lobster and a pina colada.
The Times said that, “Keller openly practiced medicine without a license, giving injections and megavitamin IV drips, hanging the bottles on clothes hooks, treating as many as 20 people a day from all over the country. He didn’t merely give injections; he would hold people’s hands and pray with them. He put all his patients on a strict diet of foods such as whole grains, fresh vegetables, fish, fertile eggs and chicken breasts. He urged patients to avoid aluminum pots, red meat, canned goods, alcohol, coffee, white flour and salt.”
According to the Times, the easiest part of Keller’s defense was disproving the government’s contention that the L-arginine serum used by Keller was “ineffective as a cancer treatment.” To refute that assertion, one of Keller’s five attorneys put several health researchers on the stand. They testified that computer searches of the standard medical databases showed some 20 to 25 articles, several of which were done at the National Cancer Institute itself, demonstrating that L-arginine either prevented cancerous tumors in the first place or, in the case of existing tumors, made them significantly shrink or disappear entirely. The papers ranged from a 1943 study showing that in 83% of the animals tested, rat tumors disappeared within two to three weeks when injected with L-arginine, to a 1991 Lancet study showing that when human volunteers were injected with large doses of L-arginine over a three-day period, their “natural-killer-cell activity rose a mean of 91%.”
Dr. Prendergast discusses what we can do with what we know right now about L-arginine:
In 2011 in the journal, Clinical Cancer Research, scientists at the University of Colorado Cancer Center showed that treatment with the over-the-counter amino acid arginine reactivates cancer-fighting T-cells in patients with glioblastoma, thus potentially allowing the immune system to help cleanse the body of cancer.
Most believe that every one of us has some cancer cells in our body all the time but our immune system is usually successful in destroying them. It just makes sense to have a strong immune system when fighting cancer, whether the FDA or CDC or the American Medical Association say so or not. We notice cancer when the cells overwhelm our immune system and grow into a noticeable tumor, so anything that strengthens the immune system is going to help us.
Nitric oxide (NO) can also have a multitude of effects on other aspects of tumor biology, including angiogenesis and metastasis. The American Society for Nutritional Sciences said in 1994 that arginine is a dibasic, cationic, semi-essential amino acid with numerous roles in cellular metabolism. It serves as an intermediate in the urea cycle and as a precursor for protein, polyamine, creatine and nitric oxide biosynthesis. Arginine stimulates the release of growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor 1, insulin, and prolactin. Furthermore, arginine influences pro-inflammatory cytokine levels. The discovery that L-arginine is the sole precursor for the multifunctional messenger molecule, nitric oxide, led to investigation into the role of arginine in numerous physiologic and pathophysiologic phenomena including cancer. In the past decade, the use of NO in the treatment of cancer has become a new field that has rapidly gained credibility and understanding at the biochemical and molecular levels.
Nitric oxide production goes down as we age.
Nitric oxide is an important signaling molecule that plays a significant role in the regulation of cancer biological functions. Accumulating evidences have reported two facets of NO as a possible mediator of cancer development and anti-cancer therapeutics. The paradoxical action of NO in cancer biology depends on concentration and other factors. In a 2006 issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, a Johns Hopkins team said that boosting levels of nitric oxide appear to dampen the effects of a specialized cell that diverts the immune system away from tumors, allowing swarms of cancer-attacking T-cells to migrate to tumor sites in the rodents.
Dr. Ivan Borrello, professor at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center concluded that arginine that raises NO levels won’t cure cancer “but could be used in addition to standard chemotherapy or immunotherapy treatments.” He is probably correct, but as he is saying, it could be and should be used in addition to other safe and effective medicinals; you will find it in my Natural Allopathic Universal and Cancer protocols.
Oxygen, Arginine & Cancer
Dr. Joe Prendergast explains that one of the basic reasons arginine would be helpful for cancer patients is its ability to safely deliver more oxygen to oxygen-deprived tissues in the body. The entire world of alternative medicine agrees that getting more oxygen to the tissues is going to be bad news for any and all cancer cells because they have given up normal respiration for fermentation. When acid levels are high and oxygen levels are low we find cancer flourishing—a situation that orthodox oncology ignores.
Arginine opens up the veins and arteries to increase blood flow and volume, thus increasing oxygen to the cells. In my cancer protocol, we also have magnesium increasing oxygen-carrying capacity as it relaxes blood vessels and brings down blood pressure, and we have sodium bicarbonate that, as every athlete knows, also makes it easier to circulate oxygen, thus immediately increasing endurance.
Results of a study at Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Duke University Medical Center in 2005 showed that adding nitric oxide to the blood’s hemoglobin can make it deliver more oxygen to tissues—without boosting heart rate or constricting blood vessels. Hemoglobin is the blood’s oxygen-carrying component. The study was led by Dr. Mark Dewhirst, professor of radiation oncology who said, “Hemoglobin needs its natural partner in the blood, nitric oxide, to do its job of delivering oxygen to tissues, but current treatments deliver hemoglobin without nitric oxide. If we could raise the level of tumor oxygenation before radiation, we would have a better chance of killing more of the cancer cells.”
As it turns out, breathing in pure oxygen naturally raises the level of circulating oxygen, but not oxygen levels in the arteries feeding tumors. But hemoglobin plus nitric oxide, by contrast, raises oxygen levels in the tumors. The team’s finding in the study above is the strongest evidence to date supporting a theory, first developed in 1996, that nitric oxide is an innate part of the body’s oxygen delivery system. In previous studies scientists demonstrated that nitric oxide in blood cells is an active regulatory molecule that senses the oxygen level in tissue and causes hemoglobin to undergo subtle shape changes to release its oxygen in tissues when levels are low.
The Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine was awarded in 1998 to Drs. Furchgott, Ignarro, and Murad for their discoveries concerning “Nitric oxide (NO) as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system.” NO-inducing cell-signaling events within the cell producing it and the diffusibility of NO to other cells have led to the discovery of many other physiological functions in many different types of cells, including cancer cells.
Arginine’s many benefits:
- Aids in liver detoxification
- Detoxifies ammonia
- Increases sperm count in males
- Aids in kidney disorders and trauma
- Maximizes protein synthesis
- Helps lower cholesterol
- Stimulates blood flow
- Stimulates cerebral circulation
- Promotes optimum growth
- Helps to reduce body fat and increase lean muscle mass
- Assists the body in collagen production
- Assists in the release of growth hormones
- Assists sexual satisfaction and potency
Actions related to its use in cancer treatment are:
- Increases oxygen-carrying capacity and delivery to cells
- Inhibits cellular replication of tumors
- Enhances immune system function
- Causes retardation of tumor growth
- Assists in the release of growth hormones
- Enhances immune response
- Improves rate of wound healing (in cases of surgical intervention)
Throwing in the Kitchen Sink
If I have not convinced you of the reasons why arginine should be used universally for patients with cancer and other chronic diseases, and why I have placed it in a key position in my Natural Allopathic Protocol, read the following from UC Davis Cancer Center.
Arginine deiminase, a novel drug for cancer, is like a saw to a carpenter who has had only a hammer, says Rick Bold, UC Davis chief of surgical oncology. It is a tool that opens a new realm of possibilities for treating cancer and that is beginning to generate excitement nationwide. Arginine deiminase triggers a function inside cells known as autophagy, a Greek term meaning “self eating” or “self digestion.” Autophagy may be a way to kill cancer cells very specifically, or in oncology parlances, very elegantly—that is, to kill them without poisoning or harming normal cells as current approaches do.
The Davis group has injected both pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer cells into animals and treated them with arginine deiminase (a pharmaceutical preparation), and it appeared to kill those cancer cells. They believe it will deliver a one-two punch when used with chemo agents. Its potential in a natural protocol would be even greater and the use of a non-pharmaceutical-sourced arginine product would be safer and probably more effective.
In India, scientists at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre have gone into further detail saying that arginine is an effective anti-cancer molecule if used in proper dose in an alkaline medium, and can prove to be a natural alternative to painful chemotherapy.
“Arginine when injected in proper doses and in an alkaline environment (pH around 9.5) leads to speedy disruption of tumor cells and results in disappearance of the tumor,” said the lead researchers, who were working on the anti-cancer molecule project since 2007. They found that arginine disrupted the cell membrane of cancer cells when the alkalinity was high enough, and this will go a long way in the non-invasive treatment of cancer.
I hope you are catching the hint here to use arginine with sodium bicarbonate. In terms of dosages for arginine I would recommend the same levels that are recommended for heart patients, which is five grams per day. Depending on each individual, and at the discretion of supervising health professionals, high dosages can be taken but should be brought up slowly unless the situation is already critical and in stage four or five.
Arginine & Prostate Cancer
There are doctors and researchers who usually get most things wrong and who attempt to reduce the amount of arginine in your body when treating prostate cancer. It is typical that they would desire to manipulate the nutritional levels driving them lower as they routinely do with most of their pharmaceutical medications. Arginine deprivation therapy may reduce tumors, according to some, but it is certainly playing around with the possibility of reducing overall health of normal cells as well. The kingdom of heaven is said to be upside down to the way things are normally here and I would certainly choose to increase not decrease nutrition—meaning in this case—to supplement with high dosages of arginine rather than use pharmaceuticals to drive arginine levels down further than they already are in the aging and in the malnourished, which most cancer patients are.
Contraindications / Side Effects
L-arginine supplements should not be taken by pregnant and lactating women unless under the care of a health professional and even then a broadband superfood like spirulina would be safer and better. It should be avoided by those with viral infections such as herpes, those with liver diseases that cause an excess of ammonia in the system (some liver disorders are benefited from arginine), or those who have kidney failure. Diabetics should be careful with arginine due to its insulin-blocking effects but that could be counteracted when embedded in a full protocol of other concentrated nutrients. Schizophrenics should not take more that 30 milligrams per day. Children who have not completed bone growth should avoid arginine supplementation but should eat arginine-rich foods.
In general, like all nutritional medicine, arginine has been shown to be remarkably free of side effects for the vast majority of people who have taken it, even in large therapeutic doses and with greater frequency of doses. Some have experienced diarrhea and/or nausea when taking high therapeutic doses and one study found that several weeks of large doses might result in thickening and coarsening of the skin in some people.
Some medical scientists believe arginine can be harmful rather than helpful in treating cancer. Arginine supplementation is part of a strategy of giving cancer cells the amino acids they “don’t want” while depriving them of amino acids they need to proliferate. The important consideration, however, is that different kinds of cancer cells have different metabolic requirements.
Specialists in the surgical treatment of cancer have been studying the use of supplemental arginine in cancer treatment since the early 1990s. In 1992, these scientists reported that the only time they observed recovery of the immune system from surgery for cancer in the upper digestive tract was when patients received a combination of arginine, RNA, and omega-3 fatty acids.
The amino acid arginine has long been used as an immune-nutrient to improve the immune function in compromised individuals, such as those suffering from burns, sepsis (poisoning by the presence of pathogens in the blood or tissues), or trauma; it is often given to cancer and HIV patients as well. Arginine is considered a “conditionally essential” amino acid, which means that under certain circumstances, such as those just mentioned, your body cannot synthesize adequate amounts of it and you need to obtain it from dietary sources. Intake of 12.5 grams of arginine per day improved immune function in hospitalized patients; the benefits include improved T-cell counts, lower infection rates, and shortened hospital stays.
The combination of omega-3 fatty acids, arginine, and RNA (the Rejuvenate formula is exceptionally high in RNA) are also associated with a reduced risk of post-operative complications and reduced length of hospital stay. One of the earliest studies using arginine/omega-3 fatty acids/RNA to improve immune function was performed at the University of Minnesota in 1991 and involved 20 patients (aged 21-80) from the hospital’s intensive care unit. For 7-10 days, eleven of the patients received supplementation with a solution of 12.5 g of arginine, 11.1 g of menhaden oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and 1.25 g of RNA per liter of nutrient formula, while nine patients received a placebo. The solution was delivered via a feeding tube inserted into the patients’ duodenums.
In another study of cancers in the lower digestive tract, specifically colorectal cancer, researchers found that giving cancer patients 30 grams (that’s 30,000 mg) of arginine for three days caused cancer cells to grow more receptor sites where white blood cells could identify and destroy them.
 Nitric oxide opens the microscopic blood vessels surrounding the cancer cells, and some might fear that this would allow the cancerous tumor greater nourishment and an avenue to spread into other parts of the body. But for these people the idea of using arginine as a Trojan horse—allowing cancer killer substances like sodium bicarbonate to overwhelm the cancer cells with blasts of alkalinity and oxygen that are flowing in with the new blood flow—would be reassuring.
It is not a good idea for people with pancreatic or any kind of cancer to take supplemental arginine outside the context of a well-thought-out protocol.
Research by Dr. Louis Ignarro has shown that you need to consume 4,000-6,000 mg of L-arginine in each serving to boost production of nitric oxide and receive meaningful benefits. It is critical to read and compare labels when choosing any cardio-health supplement. Unfortunately, many companies have reduced the amount of ingredients they use up to 90% in order to save money. L-arginine Plus contains 5000 mg of L-arginine and 1000 mg of L-citrulline., (critical in the production of nitric oxide, which extends the body’s production of nitric oxide to over 20 hours!). The amino acid citrulline is metabolized to yield more L-arginine, which in turn provides the additional nitric oxide.
 Hardening of the arteries (arthrosclerosis) is a disorder in which arteries (blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body) become narrowed because fat (cholesterol deposits called atherosclerosis) is first deposited on the inside walls of the arteries, then becomes hardened by fibrous tissue and calcification (arteriosclerosis). As this plaque grows, it narrows the lumen of the artery (the space in the artery tubes), thereby reducing both the oxygen and blood supply to the affected organ (like the heart, eyes, kidney, legs, gut, or the brain). The plaque may eventually severely block the artery, causing death of the tissue supplied by the artery, for example, heart attack or stroke;
 Tumorex is an amino acid product claimed to be a powerful immune system builder that can successfully treat cancer. It was administered intravenously with or without dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO). Laboratory analyses of “Tumorex” samples identified it as chemically identical to the amino acid L-arginine.
 Studies of arginine have used anywhere from 6 g to 30 g daily. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center reports a standard daily dose usually consists of 2 g to 8 g, though in some conditions, including cancer, much higher dosages may be needed.
 According to Dr. Louis Ignarro you need 4-6 grams of L-arginine and 200 to 1000 mg of L-citrulline to have a therapeutic effect. Anything less and you’re not going to get improved nitric oxide production. Dr. Ignarro won the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine, along with two other American researchers, for discovering how your endothelium converts the essential amino acid L-arginine into nitric oxide – the most powerful signaling molecule of your entire cardiovascular system. The following quotes are taken from his 2005 bestseller NO More Heart Disease:
“My research shows that L-arginine in doses smaller than 4 to 6 grams produces almost zero increase in NO, so it is in essence an ‘all or nothing’ proposition – you must receive the full dose of L-arginine.”
“It is the synergy between the L-arginine (in a large enough dose), the L-citrulline, and the key antioxidants that creates dramatic increases in your body’s nitric oxide production. Without the proper combination of these nutrients, which so many other programs lack, you will receive little to no benefit from NO therapy.” Info provided by Dan Hammer, who has a background in biology, chemistry, and exercise physiology. He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.
 Citrulline is found most abundantly in nature in watermelons, but is also derived from the metabolism of arginine in your body. Little peer-reviewed scientific information regarding effective dosages of citrulline are available. However, a 2008 study published by the British Journal of Nutrition found that short-term supplementation of citrulline in 2 to 15 g doses is safe and well-tolerated. Another study published in 2002 by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that 6 g per day of citrulline supplementation promoted aerobic energy production and changes in muscle metabolism in healthy subjects during exercise.