Cassava: The Local Laetrile

Ms. A., my patient in New York City back in ’64, was a very conservative, single, Hispanic old lady who never thought to go see a doctor for the simple reason that to show her breasts, even to a lady doctor, was immodest, and unthinkable!  It was her sister who called us at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York; the stench had became unbearable and nauseating.  When I first saw her at home, both breasts were cancerous.  She was hunched over a hospital over-bed table, unable to lie back.  Breathing was difficult with two hard and heavy mounds pressing down on her chest.  The left breast oozed pus and worms.  Dead tissue around the edges gave the stink of decay.  Inoperable, this patient lived with her cancerous breasts for a good 25 years; it was truly a miserable existence.  Laetrile would have made a huge difference for Ms.A.

The problem was, her doctors would have scoffed at Laetrile, pronounced a fake cancer cure by the FDA and therefore banned in the U.S..  Even in the ‘70s, it was still illegal in most states and Mama’s supply often had to be sourced from Tijuana, Mexico.

Luckily we have a local alternative to Laetrile: kamoteng kahoy or cassava.

Case 1

Laetrile was unavailable when a destitute old woman stricken with terminal cancer of the liver was brought to my attention by her sister.  She was in extremis; her ceaseless moaning caused her family and neighbors sleepless nights.  Dr. Navarro prescribed kamoteng kahoy, high in nitriloside, and a natural pain killer.  I relayed the doctor’s detailed instructions to the old woman’s niece.

The cassava should be young (mura, long and thin) and when snapped into two, the meat should be pure white with no brown veins or stain.  I showed her how to prepare and administer the cassava, slicing off a millimeter cross-wise, scraping off the skin with my nail, then quartering it.  I gave her aunt ONLY A FOURTH (1/4) AT A TIME, instructing her to chew on the quarter pieces slowly, to swallow only the juice extracted, and to spit out the pulp.  The patient was instructed that the moment she felt faint or dizzy, which was the signal that the dose sufficient to ease her pain had been reached, she was to immediately spit out whatever juice and pulp she still had in her mouth.

Family and neighbors later reported how her ceaseless moaning stopped, and that her last three months were apparently pain-free; she eventually passed away in her sleep.

Case 2

The next patient I referred to Dr. Navarro was a young father of 2 whose cancer of the sinus had already spread to his spine. Apparently given up on, he was discharged from hospital just a couple of days earlier.  The young wife was shopping for a foam mattress for her husband who suffered sleepless nights fidgeting, trying to find a comfortable position, hoping to ease the pain he felt, though unable to say where the pain was exactly.

After the wife relayed Mama’s story, and that of the old woman with liver cancer, her husband was eager to consult with Dr. Navarro even though the only means of transport they could afford was a hired passenger jeepney where he’d have to endure the long and painful trip on the floor.  To save him a 2nd unnecessary trip, I instructed the wife to collect her husband’s early morning urine in a bottle of San Miguel beer freshly opened and thrice well-rinsed with water, and bring it first to Dr. Navarro’s clinic in Sta. Mesa, Manila for the HCG titer.  The titer results would be the doctor’s guide re the patient’s dose of Laetrile at the following day’s consultation.

The patient’s far advanced condition initially warranted injections of Laetrile, but the dosage was eventually reduced to capsules taken orally when his titer improved.  And then I lost track of them.  I can’t remember how long after it was when a young woman in black came up to me in the store, smiling but in tears.  Her husband had since passed away.  She had come to express the family’s gratitude: her husband had been pain-free until the day he died.  With Laetrile he regained his appetite, and even gained pounds.  He slept well, and was pleasant with everyone: a great blessing as the children have kind and wistful memories of their father.

Case 3

Some months later, a woman who had heard about the young father and how he fared on Laetrile came to me with the story of her neighbor with breast cancer.  The breast was already oozing, and was so foul-smelling her family had isolated her in a far corner of their home lot in a makeshift room.  The poor woman was obviously in pain, moaning and groaning all the while.

Again, Laetrile was unavailable.  I had some 25 capsules in stock, but it was not enough.  Dr. Navarro suggested cassava ‘quarters’ as a second line of defense for pain.  Also he recommended cassava as poultice for the oozing ulcer: a length of the young cassava (depending on the size of the ulceration), peeled with one’s nails, was to be pounded to a mush and applied to cover the open wound.

I never did get to see this patient as I was in cast at the time, having suffered a leg fracture.  But the feedback I got amused, and amazed me as well.  Amusing was how the patient, probably left to her own devices and finding topical application cumbersome, decided to chew on kamoteng kahoy ‘quarters’ for its medicinal juice when it was supposed to be ‘pangtapal’, and then saw fit to open the capsule and sprinkle the Laetrile powder on the oozing mass!  Amazing was the report that the wound stopped oozing, then progressively, and thoroughly, closed up!  I heard that the patient passed away in due time, but her last months were spent quietly with family at home, and in her own room.

Case 4

The worst of all these terminal cancer cases was a good-looking young professional whose sarcoma was so far advanced, his balls were gone, as most of his buttocks too.  The patient came in periodically for removal of dead and decaying tissues of what still remained of his buttocks.  The doctor called on me to assist, in case I could refer the patient for Laetrile management.  The stench was horrible, truly reminiscent of my NYC patient back in 1964 whose ulcerated breast oozed worms and pus.  I gave him all the 50 Laetrile capsules I had in stock, though I knew that he’d need a lot more, given the size of the affected area.  Really much much more.

It was unfortunate that Laetrile was unavailable at the time.  The young man was not disposed to chewing on cassava quarters for the juice, or to apply the pulp to the diseased areas.  Orthodox medicine came in capsules.  Since Laetrile came in capsules, and it had helped dispel the smell, he wanted only Laetrile.  He came knocking one night riding their service tricycle, asking for Laetrile, and I just had none to give.  His family doctor advised me of his passing a couple of months later.

~~~

History of Laetrile/B17

Testimonials, Case Histories, Success Stories

The Laetrile “Quacks” (?)

Vitamin B17: The Cancer Buster That Is Kept A Secret

ALIVE AND WELL:  One Doctor’s Experience with Nutrition in the Treatment of Cancer Patients

Is Laetrile Toxic?

3 thoughts on “Cassava: The Local Laetrile

  1. […] to dismiss laetrile therapy as quackery but my sister swears by it.   in her latest blogpost Cassava: The Local Laetrile she tells her stories of how even terminal cancer patients who can’t afford laetrile have […]

  2. Ciarra says:

    Hi, just want to ask a few questions about administering the cassava. My mom has stage 4 LC and I’d like to try giving her this treatment until we get our hands on a supply of f Vit B7.

    Is the cassava better given when it’s hilaw? My mom is worried kasi she says it is poisonous when raw. How big of a chunk should she chew on? And how often? Since she coughs a lot and is always out of breath, is it ok if we grind the cassava so it’s easier for her to chew on it and suck its pulp? Thanks so much, your insight will be of great help!

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