Frankincense oil research combats melanoma
Jun 01, 2006
BLACKSBURG, VA. — John Robertson, VMD, MS, PhD, director of the University of Virginia-Maryland Center for Comparative Oncology, is experimenting with frankincense oil as a possible treatment for malignant melanoma in horses.
Robertson shared his study during a recent regional meeting of the American Cancer Society in Roanoke, Va. About 54,000 human cases are diagnosed each year, according to the American Cancer Society.
"I think this research on frankincense oil suggests that this ancient medicine may have significant modern uses for chemotherapy of non-resectable malignancies," Robertson says. "This research showed that equine melanomas respond to this therapy."
An experimental protocol involving an 11-year-old Thoroughbred named Chili, diagnosed with multi-centric malignant melanoma at age 7, administered daily injections of medicinal-grade, sterile frankincense oil directly into his tumors and the application of oil on topical tumors, while Chili's comfort and well-being was maintained through pain and nutritional management, including copious amounts of peeled baby carrots and peppermints.
The lesions were observed, measured, photographed and periodically biopsied, Robertson says. Those tumor biopsies demonstrated that some small tumor cells were destroyed by the treatment and those treated topically were reduced in size. But Chili died in October 2005 as a result of the progressive and relentless growth of the non-treated tumors.
Information gleaned from this Phase I-II National Cancer Institute clinical trial has supported the development of three new grant applications and helped in the treatment of five additional horses, Robertson says.
The disease often affects horses with the development of lesions on the lips, neck and perineum.