“LDN for Pancreatic Cancer and More”
LDN for Pancreatic Cancer & More: New Expert Interview
“Dr. Burton Berkson, a highly accomplished integrative
physician/researcher first published about LDN
(and combination LDN + alpha lipoic acid) for
pancreatic cancer and B-cell lymphoma. Now
he discusses what he’s learned about LDN’s
benefits for a variety of conditions, including
notoriously difficult-to-treat cancers and autoimmune diseases.”
May 01, 2016
Interview with Dr. Burton Berkson of the Integrative Medical Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA.
Having a Choice: Successful Use of LDN for Difficult-To-Treat Cancers and AutoImmune Diseases
May 01, 2016
Interview with Dr. Burton Berkson of the Integrative Medical Center
in Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA.
Thank you for volunteering to be interviewed by LDNscience.org.
How did you originally learn about LDN?
“About 18 years ago, a man walked into my office with a walker.
He had prostate cancer that was metastatic (had spread) to
his bones, and terrible rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and he
was in horrible pain. The MD Anderson Cancer Hospital
(in Texas) said he only had a few weeks to live and he
wanted to know if I’d give him pain medication and I
said, “Sure I would.” He asked me if I’d heard of Dr. Zagon
at Penn State or Dr. Bihari in New York, and I said no. He
said he heard they had a drug that might reverse cancer.
So I asked why he didn’t go and see these people. He said,
“Well, Dr. Bihari is just in a little office- if he was any good,
wouldn’t he be in a university?” I told him that if he could
reverse cancer, he’d put these big institutions out of business.
They treat cancer, but they don’t cure many cancers. I told
him that, many years ago, when I was associated with a
university in the mid-west I discovered an inexpensive
way (with intravenous alpha lipoic acid) to regenerate
livers of people who were on the liver transplant list
but couldn’t get them due to insufficient numbers of
available organs. They wanted to strangle me. They were
interested in liver transplantation, not in the inexpensive
reversal of liver disease.
After he listened to my story, he went to go see Dr. Bihari,
and didn’t come back, so I thought he died. But three years
later, he walks in my office, and without his walker. He told
me that Dr. Bihari had stopped the growth of the cancer and
cured his rheumatoid arthritis- all with a drug that at that
time cost $15 a month: low dose naltrexone. I was very skeptical.
But I must have had 60-70 people with rheumatoid arthritis
and systemic lupus in my practice at the time, and I asked
them if they wanted to try it. Within 6 months or so, most of
them were much improved. Many were completely free of
their disease. So, I learned about LDN from that patient.”
What made you start treating your cancer patients with LDN?
“I had been working with intravenous alpha lipoic acid
(IV ALA) for many years; we did the first human clinical
studies at the United States’ National Institutes of Health
back in the 1970’s. I always thought that would be a good
treatment for cancer because it floods cancer cells with
oxygen and they tend to die (are forced into an anaerobic
metabolism). So I was interested in that, and then when
I learned about LDN, I thought I’d combine the two.
Then a man came to see me who had pancreatic cancer
which had spread to the liver. A big university hospital
told him there was no hope and there was nothing else
that could be done. He was only 46 years old, had no bad
habits, and was basically a healthy man. I asked him if
he’d like to try this combination treatment and he agreed.
So we gave him the IV ALA and LDN. Within 2 months he
went back to work and his disease was non-progressive
and symptom-free more than 3 years later (as opposed
to most patients with this cancer who succumb to their
disease within 6 months after a very painful course).
So I wrote up the case and it was published in
Integrative Cancer Therapies.
Afterwards, oncologists I knew said to me,
“You’re not an oncologist; you have no right to treat cancer.”
I said, “Well, you people gave up on him, and I have a Ph.D.
in cell biology and microbiology in addition to my M.D. An
M.D. can do whatever he wants to if he feels it is to the
benefit of a patient.” Nine years later, still on this protocol,
that patient’s PET scan was still free of cancer. After him,
3 more people came in, one of whom also had metastatic
pancreatic cancer; they had heard about the original
person I published about. I treated them the same way,
and within 6 months their scans showed no cancer.
I published a case series about that as well.”
Do you think LDN and ALA work synergistically?
“It’s important to understand how both work. We’re alive
because of lipoic acid. You eat food, and the food is
converted into something called pyruvate. This is
done without oxygen. Cancer cells only go this far…
they just kind of move sluggishly along, and are very
difficult to kill. Normal human cells have to change
that pyruvate into acetyl Co A, which is the fuel for
the mitochondria (the energy factory of the cell).
This is how our cells normally metabolize food.
So what turns the pyruvate into the fuel for our
cells? There is an enzyme called pyruvate dehydrogenase,
and a major part of that enzyme is alpha lipoic acid (ALA).
In other words, without lipoic acid, we would not be
alive. It converts our food into fuel for the energy factory
of our cells. So, ALA forces cancer cell metabolism
(without oxygen) into normal metabolism and floods
them with oxygen. When this is done, they tend to
undergo apoptosis (cell death).
And with low dose naltrexone, it produces a temporary
blockade of the opiate release system which fools the
brain into thinking there are not enough endogenous
opiates in the blood stream. In the morning (when LDN is
taken at night), a flood of endogenous opiates are released
and at least one or more endorphins
(e.g. Met-Enkephalin endorphins) bind to the cancer
cells and cause them die.”
Do you put all your cancer patients on ALA and LDN?
“Yes, all of them. At least 50% of our “terminal” cancer
patients go on living with this combination (ALA + LDN)
for a longer time. Some just go on living and feel normal.”
What evidence do you have that LDN is working well for RA and Lupus?
“We have our best results with LDN on rheumatoid arthritis
and systemic lupus. Among our RA patients, we follow
their rheumatoid factor. It often goes down to normal
after starting LDN, and their pain goes from an 8-10
down to 0-2. With our systemic lupus patients,
we follow their anti-nuclear antibodies, and we get
the same type of results. I’m preparing a paper now
for publication on the results of treating many patients
with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis with just low dose
naltrexone. I have so much data on rheumatoid arthritis,
lupus, and cancer, but I’m so busy, I don’t have the real
time to go through the grant application process in order
to try to receive funds to support the completion of this
work. I still am an adjunct professor at a couple of universities,
and it would be nice if I had some funding to finish the papers
on rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus with LDN.”
Have you seen long-term results?
“Ten, eleven years, yes. They are still alive, no one knows
they are sick, and they are still working.
Pretty remarkable, no?”
What kind of patients does your clinic treat?
“About 80% come from far away (Australia, Africa,
China, Japan, Europe, South America, and all over
the US). We don’t do any advertising. It’s all word
of mouth. At one time the majority of our patients
were seeking reversal of diabetic neuropathy. ALA
is the only thing in the world that will reverse
diabetic neuropathies. LDN may buffer down
the inflammatory markers, but ALA causes new
nerve growth and blood vessel growth into the
drug back then) at that time, but I never heard from
that doctor again. Then several years later, I read
an article that they took 1200 patients with very
serious diabetic neuropathies and gave them IV ALA.
Within 3 weeks they grew new blood vessels and
nerves in the toes, and most were free of the problem.
They stopped using this treatment. I suspect there’s
more money in surgery.”
Have you found the standard 4.5 mg of LDN works best for your patients?
“We usually start with 3 mg, and if they do well on
3 mg we keep them on that. If they are not getting
much better, I go up to 4.5 mg.
Have you seen side effects from LDN?
“Every once in a while somebody tells me they
had a side effect. But sometimes they read about
somebody else’s side effects on the internet and
all of the sudden they too are having the side effect,
like vivid dreams. I take LDN every night to prevent
disease, but have never had vivid dreams or anything else.
In fact everybody in my family takes it.”
Do you find that patients are more compliant
with taking LDN than other medications?
“Yes, I think that’s probably true. People will take it
because it works so well.”
How do your colleagues perceive your treatment
protocol of LDN with ALA?
Anything that interferes with business is
not well-received. There’s a lot of money in
chemotherapy. Oncologists, like any other
business person, don’t generally like to hear
about things that may be effective when they
don’t make any money on it. With the cancer
patients come to our office, oncology has most
often given up on them; they’ve tried all sorts
of things that haven’t worked and have been
told to go into hospice.
I’ll give you an example of this phenomenon regarding
rheumatoid arthritis. I have a brother-in-law who is a
medical doctor in Wisconsin; in fact, he’s a vice-president
of a big hospital system there. He fell off his motorcycle
and injured his hip. One day he called me and told me
that he was going to get a hip replacement. He was
only in his 50’s at the time. I said, “Don’t do it.”
I’ve seen so many people get hip replacements,
especially when they are young, and get rheumatoid
disease because of it (maybe because of the metals
in the replacement). He’s a very active person, he likes
to ride his motorcycle, and he likes to run. I asked him
how far he could run without pain, and he said about
2 miles. I said, “Don’t run more than 2 miles, and don’t
have the hip replacement.”
He decided to have it anyway, and he developed full
blown rheumatoid arthritis. His rheumatologist
(who works for him in this big hospital system) put him
on Enbrel and also Humira at one time. I told him these
things can possibly cause cancer. He said he was thinking
about getting off of them, but didn’t know what else he
could do. I asked him to consider LDN. I wrote him a
prescription and he started taking it. Within a very
short time his rheumatoid disease almost disappeared
– it got much, much better. So he told his rheumatologist
about it, and the rheumatologist himself said he had RA also,
and he went on it and started getting better.
One day my brother-in-law spoke to the rheumatologist
and asked him if he was putting all his RA patients on it.
The rheumatologist’s response was “Hell no!” Isn’t that terrible?
He’ll do it for himself but not for his patients. There’s a lot
of money to be made on drugs, especially if they are injectable.
I get many medical doctors as patients and they tell me
the same thing, which is really a sick situation.
When people come to me and ask me what they should do,
I say the patient should be the boss. The patient should check
things out. If they want to go the standard way, I’m not
against it go ahead. If you want to do it our way, you can too.
It’s still a free country. You decide what you want to do. Many
choose to go the conventional route, and others do it our way.
Many years ago, I did that study at the National Institutes
of Health (NIH) I referred to earlier. We took 79 people
waiting for liver transplants, with severe hepatic necrosis
(a dead liver, basically), and gave them IV ALA.
Seventy-five of the seventy-nine (95%) regenerated
their livers within a month. I wrote a short note to
the New England Journal of Medicine and it was
published. All of the liver doctors I knew said to me,
‘You have no right to treat liver disease. You’re not
a liver expert’. I asked if they wanted to know what
I did to achieve this. No, they didn’t.
I worked with Dr. Fred Bartter, who was the Chief
at the NIH, and he and I were invited to Germany
to be visiting professors in Heidelberg, and we gave
many speeches there. ALA became a very popular
drug in Germany, and in Europe. When I returned
to the United States, I was told by a group of people
associated with the university system, “Berkson,
as far as we’re concerned, you’re a biologist, a
microbiologist, a professor. Stay in your laboratory.
Teach your students about germs. That’s what
you’re an expert in. If you keep telling people they
can regenerate their livers without a transplant,
you could lose your career.” As a young doctor that
was depressing. But that’s the nature of the business.”
How is your medical approach different from conventional medicine?
“We have a relatively small clinic, and patients
come in from all over. They will spend anywhere
from a week to six months with us. It’s very laid-back;
everyone is on a first-name basis, including myself.
People with very serious diseases come in very frightened,
and within a short time they relax, are telling jokes
and laughing. It’s really a wonderful place, and it’s
a pleasure going to work every day.”