Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

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Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia


Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (otherwise known as acute lymphocytic leukemia or ALL) is a life-threatening disease in which malignant, immature white blood cells (lymphoblasts) multiply rapidly in the bone marrow, eventually crowding out normal, healthy cells. 



ALL is the most common form of cancer in children, accounting for one quarter of all cancers in children below 15 years old. It is most often diagnosed in children between the ages of two to five years, and more prevalent in adults above 45.


Disease pathway

The overproduction of lymphoblasts is due to DNA damage, causing increased chemical instructions for growth, or impairing chemical signals to control growth. DNA damage may result from radiation or exposure to certain chemicals.

The body’s immune system becomes compromised by the gradual decline in the white blood cell population. This renders the patient susceptible to disease, leading to the characteristic symptoms of ALL.


Symptoms and diagnosis

Early symptoms of ALL are caused by the bone marrow’s inability to produce sufficiently many normal white blood cells, and include:

·         Overall weakness and fatigue;

·         Anaemia;

·         Excessive, frequent bruising;

·         Joint pain; and

·         Fever and/or infection.



Chemotherapy has been shown to be very effective against ALL. The aim of the treatment is to destroy the lymphoblasts, enabling healthy white blood cells to regenerate in the marrow.

Additional treatment may be required to treat the other symptoms of ALL, depending on individual circumstances.



Efficacy of Alternative and Other Treatments According to GRADE* Ranking:

Vitae Elixxir:

Please note, this management does NOT treat the condition itself. It is proposed only as a weak supportive symptomatic support, and even then, has insufficient evidence to back up this claim at present. Warning: Possible side effects of Vitae Elixxir include diarrhoea, pain, and a general worsening of existing symptoms.

Recommendation: weakly against (Available evidence does not support claims that vitae elixir helps to treat leukemia)

Grade of Evidence: very low quality of evidence

Uncaria Tomentosa Plant (Cats Claw Herb) [1, 2, 3]:

Recommendation: Strongly against (There is no sufficient evidence that cats claw can help treat leukemia. There have been reports of complications from those with leukemia using cats claw and can even increase the growth of leukemia cells)

Grade of Evidence: Low level of evidence

Germanium (Germanium Sesquioxide, Vitamin O) [4]:

Recommendation: No recommendation (Early studies indicate that germanium may be helpful in the treatment of leukemia, however more evidence is needed)

Grade of Evidence: Very low level of evidence

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza Glabra, Gan Cao) [5, 6, 7, 8, 9]:

Recommendation: Weakly in favor (There is some evidence that licorice may be helpful in the treatment of leukemia. Studies have shown an active licorice derived compound, glycyrrhetinic acid, may inhibit cancer cell proliferation and induces apoptosis in leukemic cells. However, more research is needed)

Grade of Evidence: Low level of evidence

Mistletoe (Iscador, Viscum Album) [10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17]:

Recommendation: Weakly in favor (Early studies indicate that mistletoe extracts may be able to stimulate the immune system and be cytotoxic to leukemic cells. Few serious side effects have been associated with the use of mistletoe extract, not to be confused with mistletoe berries or leaves which are poisonous. More research is needed)

Grade of Evidence: Low level of evidence

Pau Darco (Lapachol, Tabebuia Impetiginosa, Tabebuia Heptaphylla) [18] :

Please note, this treatment has potentially serious side effects. Some of the chemicals in the plant are known to be toxic. High doses are known to cause liver and kidney. Even at low doses, chemicals in the plant may interfere with blood clotting, causing excess bleeding and anaemia. Pau D'Arco should be avoided, especially by pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Recommendation: Strongly against (There is insufficient evidence to support claims that Pau D'arco helps to treat leukemia. This, combined with its potentially harmful side effects if taken without supervision from a doctor or pharmacist gives enough reason to avoid this treatment.)

Grade of Evidence: Very low quality of evidence

Rabdosia Rubescens (Dong Ling Cao, Oridonin, Isodon Rubescens):

Recommendation: No recommendation (There is insufficient evidence to support claims that rabdosia rubescens helps to treat leukemia. Some studies show that it may be effective but more research is needed. It is not known how safe it is or what side effects may occur)

Grade of Evidence: Very low level of evidence

Vitamin C [19]:

Recommendation: No recommendation (There is insufficient evidence to support claims that Vitamin C helps to treat leukemia)

Grade of Evidence: Very low level of evidence


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