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Alstonine, Flavopereirine, Sempervirine, Serpentine, Pao Pereira, Rauwolfia, Ginko biloba & the Work of Mirko Beljanski

For 40 years, the Yugoslavian molecular biologist, Mirko Beljanski PhD (1923–1998), in association with his wife and research associate, Monique, conducted research into the respective roles of DNA and RNA in the development and cure of cancer, first at the Pasteur Institute in France (1948–1978) and then at the Faculty of Pharmacy at Chatenay Malabry (1978–1988). During this time, he wrote 133 papers, published in both French and international journals.

Cancer is generally regarded as arising from damage to or mutations of the molecular structure of DNA. Beljanski's primary thesis is that cancer is caused not only by DNA mutations, but also by damage to the hydrogen bonds that hold the two strands of the DNA double helix together. Like a damaged zipper than is failing in places, allowing the two parts to separate, cancerous or pre-cancerous DNA has many broken or weakened hydrogen bonds. Once these bonds are broken over a particular area of the double helix, the DNA in that area is destabilized, and carcinogens are more readily able to infiltrate and cause the molecular damage that can lead to cancer. This explains, for example, why an excess of certain hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone (and other steroids, too) is carcinogenic, although they do not appear to be the direct cause of mutations.

Among his other discoveries is that fragments of RNA (which he called Beljanski Leucocyte Restorers or BLBs) are capable of rapidly restoring the depletion of (red) blood platelets and (white) leucocytes brought about by radiation therapy and chemotherapy agents. BLBs selectively stimulate the normal replication of red and white blood cells in the bone marrow and spleen, without enhancing the proliferation of cancer cells. Beljanski reported that patients who received BLBs along with chemotherapy suffered few of the expected side effects, such as nausea and hair loss, and were able to continue with their normal daily lives.

Beljanski also developed what he called the 'oncotest' – a way of determining which kind of substances could destabilize DNA function, leading to cancerous cell proliferation, and, conversely, which kind of substances could repair or cause the programmed death (apoptosis) of damaged and cancer-forming DNA. Among such molecules, he discovered, are the naturally occurring plant alkaloids, alstonine, flavopereirine, serpentine and sempervirine, which are able to distinguish between normal and cancer-forming DNA, either repairing the damaged DNA or causing the death of the malignant cells (apoptosis). Beljanski conducted many trials on the anti-cancer properties of these substances. He was able, for example, to cure an appreciable proportion of mice with lymphoma. Other in vitro studies showed that flavopereirine was active against a number of other cancer cell lines (brain, breast, ovarian, prostate, kidney, thyroid, pancreatic, colon, liver, skin), including those that were multidrug resistant.

His research also showed that the flavanone, JO-1, which contains a large amount of naringin as well as some as yet unidentified substances, prevented multiplication (in vitro) of human cancer cell lines (colon, ovary, breast, leukaemia). Under the same experimental conditions, normal bone marrow cell multiplication was not affected. He also demonstrated that these substances also work in synergy with standard chemotherapy agents, providing better results than with the chemotherapy alone.

Dr Beljanski was forced to leave the Pasteur Institute when his innovative ideas came into conflict the Institute's new director. Underfunded, he continued his research and the publication of scientific papers, mostly in French. His wife, Monique, and daughter, Sylvia, now endeavour to bring the fruits of his research to a wider public. Sylvia Beljanski is president of Natural Source International Inc., in New York, the US company that now manufactures the Beljanski products.

Although he worked informally with many doctors in France and Belgium, Beljanski was largely ostracized by French oncologists. For a number of years prior to his death in 1998, he was persecuted as a charlatan, despite the commendations of many users of his products, including the French president, François Mitterand. In one instance, a journalist who had set out to expose Beljanski was not only unable to find any evidence of fraud, but ultimately became a grateful user of his products when he discovered that he himself had intestinal cancer. Beljanski's work is the subject of a book, The Beljanski Anti-Cancer Remedies: Inside the Double Helix of DNA (2006).

The Beljanski products are now manufactured in the USA according to Beljanski's methods. They have been shown to be totally non-toxic to animals and humans in the recommended doses:

Pao V An extract of the bark of the Amazonian tree, pao pereira (Geissospermum vellosii), containing the alkaloid flavopereirine (also called PB-100). Flavopereirine is a smaller molecule than alstonine, and is able to cross the blood brain barrier, making it useful in the treatment of brain tumours. Research studies, many being in vitro, have shown flavopereirine to be effective against a wide range of cancers. Also possesses antiviral properties, research studies showing efficacy against HIV, hepatitis C, etc., where it is generally used in conjunction with Ginko V.
Pao V “FM” A combined extract of the bark of pao pereira and pao tariri (Quassia amara), the latter stimulating gastric juices and being commonly used as an aid to digestion. The bark also contains quassimarin, which has demonstrated some anti-tumour and anti-leukemic properties, in various studies.
Rovol V An extract from the bark of the roots of the African tree, Rauwolfia vomitoria, containing the alkaloid, alstonine (also called BG-8). Research studies, many being in vitro, have shown alstonine to be especially effective against hormone-related cancers, such as those of the breast and prostate, as long as the patient was not simultaneously taking any form of hormone-related treatment, such as tamoxifen or oestrogen. The anti-psychotic alkaloid, reserpine, also found in Rauwolfia species is removed from Rovol V during the extraction process.
Ginko V An extract from the leaves of the Chinese tree, Ginko biloba. Different from the usual commercially available ginko extracts (used to improve circulation and brain function), Ginko V contains a rare substance found in ginko, which regulates the production of a family of enzymes known as ribonucleases.

Ribonucleases are a family of enzymes that break down RNA. During radiation treatment, the overproduction of ribonucleases appears to contribute to scarring or fibrosis of normal tissues, which can lead to impaired functioning of the effected organs, such the heart or lungs. Likewise, unusual scarring can occur after surgery. Again, viral infection and autoimmune diseases can result in overproduction of ribonucleases. It seems that in all these cases, Ginko V may be of benefit.
ReaL-Build An extract of RNA fragments, derived from the bacterium Escherichia coli (K-12). It has no anti-cancer properties, but is useful in combating the side effects of chemotherapy. Presently undergoing clinical trials. Early results, like previous laboratory studies, are said to be positive.
Prostabel A combined extract of pao pereira and rauwolfia. Currently the subject of a clinical trial on men with elevated PSA levels. Early results are said to be positive.

It need hardly be added that – like so many complementary treatments – a great deal more research needs to be conducted into Beljanski's ideas and products.

Beljanski was by no means the first to discover the anti-cancer properties of plant alkaloids. As far back as the 1950s, scientists discovered that the traditional herbal remedy, the Madagascar periwinkle (Vinca rosea or Catharanthus roseus) contained medicinally active 'vinca alkaloids', among which were the first phytochemicals used to treat cancer. Analysis of Vinca rosea revealed that it contains over 70 indole alkaloids, including alstonine, ajmalicine, reserpine, vincamin, camptothecin, vinblastine, and vincristine (leurocrystine), all possessing powerful medicinal properties. Vinblastine, vincristine and other semi-synthetic derivatives inhibit division of cancer cells and are commonly used in conventional chemotherapy, exhibiting the usual range of chemotherapy side effects. All are extremely toxic. Vinblastine is used to treat Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and testicular and kidney cancer. Vincristine is usually given in combination with other anti-cancer agents to treat acute lymphocytic leukaemia, lymphoma, neuroblastoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, Wilm's tumour, Ewing's sarcoma, and cancers of the breast, cervix, bladder and lungs.

Reserpine, an alkaloid found in a number of rauwolfia species, especially Rauwolfia serpentina (Indian snakeroot), was the first anti-psychotic medication used in modern medicine, and has long been used in Indian traditional medicine as a tranquilizer. References in Sanskrit texts date back to 600 BC. It is also used in conventional medicine to treat high blood pressure.

Whale – A brief history of Mirko Beljanski's research, including a 1992 paper summarizing his work, “A New Approach to Cancer Therapy.”

CIRIS – A website dedicated to the work of Dr Mirko Beljanski, providing an in-depth introduction to his work, with a great many positive patient testimonials, and a full list of his published scientific papers.

Beljanski Foundation – A site currently under construction, dedicated to further the research of Dr Beljanski, chaired by his widow, Monique Beljanski, including a summary of his work.

Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine – An introduction to Dr Beljanski's work from US doctor, Dr Michael Schachter, including an excellent bulleted overview of his work.

Townsend Letter – “The Beljanski Approach: Outside the Box,” by Monique Beljanski. A scientific overview.

Townsend Letter – “Destabilization of the DNA Double Helix in Cancer: Mirko Beljanski's Theory of Carcinogenesis and Anti-cancer Extracts,” by John Hall. An overview of Beljanski's discovery that cancer is not only caused by DNA mutations, but also by destabilization of the DNA double helix.

Oncology – “Three Alkaloids as Selective Destroyers of Cancer Cells in Mice.” A 1986 paper by Mirko and Monique Beljanski.

Experimental Cell Biology – “Selective inhibition of in vitro synthesis of cancer DNA by alkaloids of beta-carboline class.” A 1982 paper by Mirko and Monique Beljanski.

Genetics and Molecular Biology – “The Anticancer Agent PB-100 (Flavopereirine), Selectively Active on Malignant Cells, Inhibits Multiplication of Sixteen Malignant Cell Lines, even Multidrug Resistant,” by Mirko Beljanski. Published in 2000.

Columbia University Medical Center – “Anti-Prostate Cancer Activity of a Novel Extract from the Tropical African Shrub, Rauwolfia vomitoria.” A positive independent test of rauwolfia extract, in vitro and in mice.

Townsend Letter – “A novel combination of plant extracts with promising anti-prostate cancer activity.” An overview of Dr Beljanski's work, including a report on ongoing trials of extracts of pao pereira and Rauwolfia vomitoria by Drs Katz and Bemis at the Dept. of Urology, Columbia University.

Natural Source International – The manufacturer of the Beljanski products.

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine – “The Alkaloid Alstonine: A Review of Its Pharmacological Properties.” An interesting review.

Raintree Nutrition – Botanical and medicinal details concerning Quassia amara, including references to scientific studies.

Journal of Organic Chemistry – “Quassimarin, a new antileukemic quassinoid from Quassia amara.” To read this paper, you will need to register for a 15 days free trial at MedicinesComplete.

Anti-Angiogenesis Agents: C-Statin & Imm-Kine

To grow bigger than 2mm, tumours need to develop their own blood supply (angiogenesis). One of the more promising of the targeted approaches to cancer is therefore to prevent the development of a blood supply to the tumour. If this can be accomplished, tumour cells cease proliferation. In fact, it has been shown that abnormally high levels of angiogenic peptides, known as VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factors), are associated with poor prognosis and decreased survival time in cancer patients. Conversely, there is encouraging data that VEGF suppression results in a more positive outcome.

Among the various substances known to inhibit angiogenesis are an extract of field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) and MPGC (Muramyl polysaccharide-glycan complex), a cell wall extract from the bacterium Lactobacilus fermentum. Both suppress VEGF levels. Bindweed extract contains angiogenesis-suppressing proteoglycan molecules (PGMs), and MPGC regulates the production of a potent angiogenesis inhibitor, interleukin 12 (IL-12). Suitable commercial products are manufactured by Aidan Incorporated as C-Statin and Imm-Kine.

Anti-angiogenesis formulae should not be taken where the formation of new blood vessels is desirable, e.g. heart disease or an actively healing wound. They should always be taken in consultation with a doctor, and should not be taken for two weeks before and after surgery, or during pregnancy or lactation.

Field bindweed is a small white or pink-tinged creeping plant founds in fields and gardens, generally common in temperate zones. It propagates by underground roots, which can tunnel to a depth of a metre or more, and from even a small part of which a new plant can grow.

Townsend Newsletter for Doctors and Patients A brief scientific overview.

Dove Clinic for Integrated Medicine Angiogenesis inhibition in cancer patients. An introductory overview.

Aidan Incorporated The manufacturer's product information on C-Statin and Imm-Kine.

Springboard A brief note on the use of bindweed extract by the suppliers of the bindweed extract, Vascustatin, also called Angioblock.

Aidan Products Distributors of C-Statin and Imm-Kine.

ARC Nutrition A US supplier of C-Statin and Imm-Kine.

A Good Vitamin A US supplier of C-Statin.


Ukrain is a semi-synthetic combination of alkaloids (notably chelidonine) from the greater celandine (Chelidonium majus) and the cancer drug, triethylene thiophosphoric acid triamide (thio-TEPA). It was first developed in 1978 by a Ukrainian doctor, J.W. Nowicky, director of the Ukrainian Anti-cancer Institute of Vienna, Austria, and who first presented it in 1983, in Vienna, at the 13th International Congress of Chemotherapy. Dr Nowicky named it after his country of birth.

A number of clinical trials of Ukrain have shown promising results, although some of the detailed methodology of these trials is uncertain. Some minor side effects have been reported. Ukrain is said to contain no unbound thio-TEPA, to be far less toxic than its ingredients, and to have a more powerful anti-cancer effect, but the mechanisms by which Ukrain is effective are not entirely clear. It is preferentially absorbed by cancer cells, to which it is selectively toxic. Ukrain is believed to inhibit the utilization of oxygen by cancer cells, which leads to their death. It is also thought to inhibit RNA, DNA and protein synthesis in cancer cells, inhibiting their proliferation. It causes cancer cells to self-destruct (apoptosis), and boosts immune function, stimulating the body's own lymphocytes to destroy cancer cells. Ukrain is administered intravenously or intramuscularly, every day or every second to fifth day, for ten days to three months, and should only be used under the supervision of a doctor. It is also expensive. Like practically all anti-cancer drugs it is not 100% effective. However, it does seem to be considerably more effective than a number of standard chemotherapy drugs, such as 5-FU.

Greater celandine is a member of the poppy family found throughout Europe, and temperate and subarctic Asia, commonly self-seeding in gardens, and characterized by its bright orange sap, visible when a stem is broken. All parts of the plant have been used in traditional herbal medicine.

CAM Cancer – A balanced appraisal.

Ralph Moss – An excellent, though dated (1995), review.

Ukranian Anti-Cancer Institute – The manufacturer's description of the mechanisms behind Ukrain's tumour-specific cytotoxicity.

BMC Cancer – “Ukrain – a new cancer cure? A systematic review of randomised clinical trials.” An excellent review of clinical trials to date, published in July 2005 and concluding, ”The data from randomised clinical trials suggest ukrain to have potential as an anti-cancer drug. However, numerous caveats prevent a positive conclusion, and independent rigorous studies are urgently needed.” Has a full list of references to ukrain trials.

American Cancer Society – A predictable description of Ukrain from the viewpoint of standard Western medicine.

Fountain of Life – A description of Ukrain from the viewpoint of complementary medicine, with a brief description of the clinical trials performed.

Drugs Under Experimental and Clinical Research
– “Ukrain (NSC-631570) in the treatment of pancreas cancer.” The report of a promising study conducted during 1996-1999.

Anti-Cancer Drugs – “Effect of Ukrain on matrix metalloproteinase-2 and Secreted Protein Acidic and Rich in Cysteine (SPARC) expression in human glioblastoma cells.” A promising in vitro study, published in February 2006, regarding the treatment of brain tumours.

Salvestrols & Resveratrol

Salvestrols are natural compounds, found in a number of fruits and vegetables (e.g. tangerines, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, red grapes), which are specifically activated by a family of enzymes found only in cancer cells. When so activated, the salvestrols cause the cancer cells to self-destruct (apoptosis). Prof. Gerry Potter (University of Leicester, UK) suggests that the enzymes have evolved as a physiological rescue mechanism. The process has been demonstrated in vitro, in cell lines taken from many different types of human cancerous tissue. Salvestrols may therefore possess anti-cancer properties when ingested.
The first salvestrol to be discovered was resveratrol, found in red grapes.

Salvestrols are produced by plants in response to fungal attack and other infections. When plants are sprayed with fungicides and pesticides, their production of salvestrols is impaired, since they are no longer challenged by these diseases. Properly grown organic fruits and vegetables therefore contain disease-fighting substances such as salvestrols, which are absent from or present in far smaller quantities in non-organically grown produce.

Considerable publicity has been given to resveratrol as the substances found in red grapes, red grape juice and red wine. Resveratrol, however, is unstable, disappearing from red wine within an hour of opening the bottle. Taking advantage of the publicity, a number of companies now offer red grape extract. But before purchasing any such product, it is worth quizzing the company on their extraction methods, as well as the concentration and stability of active resveratrol in their product.

Nature's Defence – A commercial biotech company set up to research salvestrol-based and allied substances, resulting from the work of the Cancer Drug Discovery Group at the De Montfort University in Leicester, UK, headed by Prof. Gerry Potter. Among other useful information is a short video that is worth viewing. For ethical reasons, Prof. Potter does does not believe in animal testing. Clinical trials among human beings are proving difficult to organize because salvestrol products are relatively inexpensive, and no cancer patient is willing to be part of a control group who does not get the treatment. However, cell culture experiments have been very promising, and there is an increasing body of positive anecdotal evidence concerning the efficacy of salvestrols.

A good source of information on salvestrols, from salvestrol vendor, Nature's Defence.

British Journal of Cancer
– Study of the cancer preventive agent resveratrol.

British Journal of Haematology
“Analysis of resveratrol-induced apoptosis in human B-cell chronic leukaemia (CLL) (2002).

Leukemia & Lymphoma
Comparative antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of resveratrol, epsilon-viniferin and vine-shots derived polyphenols (vineatrols) on chronic B lymphocytic leukemia cells (CLL) and normal human lymphocytes” (2002).

Resveratrol inhibits the growth and induces the apoptosis of both normal and leukemic hematopoietic cells" (2002).

Institute for Complementary Medicine Journal
Informative article, “Can salvestrols fruit and vegetables cut cancer deaths?

Fruit Force – Salvestrol sales website for Nature’s Defence in the UK.

Salvestrol.caSalvestrol sales website for Nature’s Defence in Canada.

Cancer Drug Discovery Group – Research group at the Leicester School of Pharmacy, De Montfort University, directed by Professor Gerry Potter, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry.

Biomedica – Concerning their proprietary product Immune Fx, a blend of medicinal mushrooms and other anti-cancer substances extracted from green tea and grapes, including resveratrols.


The product is described by one of the vendors in glowing terms: “Poly-MVA is a unique new formulated combination of minerals, vitamins and amino-acids (hence MVA), designed to support cellular energy production and promote health by replacing certain nutrients that may be depleted during chemotherapy and radiation. As a patented supplement with some 40-years of clinical laboratory research and testing, Poly-MVA is a revolutionary product and the first in a new category called ‘palladium lipoic complexes or LAPd’.” (International Anti-Aging Systems). However, there appears to be a lack of scientific studies supporting the claims, other than those covering the general use of vitamins and other nutritional supplements.
The manufacturers say that the product should not be taken along with high doses of vitamins.

PolyMVA.org – The manufacturer’s site.

International Anti-Aging Systems – A vendor’s site.

Poly-MVA Cancer Survivors – Promotes the use of Poly-MVA as a well-researched cure for cancer, although the evidence provided is only anecdotal; it is uncertain who is running/financing this smooth-talking site.


A drink designed and used specifically to combat cancer. The evidence of its efficacy is at present only anecdotal. In such situations, FDA regulations limit the claims that manufacturers can make for their products. Hence the manufacturer's non-cancer-specific description. CellQuest describe their product as:

“A natural product derived from the pseudostem of the musaceas plant. Many refer to the plant as the banana or plantain tree, but factually it is the world’s largest herb and a member of the grass family such as wheat or rye. The CellQuest dietary liquid supplement is extracted naturally from the herb and contains a wide range of phytochemicals. Greatest interest is focused on polysaccharides, polyphenols and phytoalexins (plant defensive compounds). The potential benefits of included micronutrients are also being examined.

“Some of these compounds have been scientifically studied in countries around the world for both nutritional and medicinal benefits. Several of the ingredients in CellQuest have been researched and studied to indicate positive support for the immune system and the division of healthy cells.

“CellQuest is a good source of potassium and is sodium free. In addition, it is a good source of calcium and iron. It is high in manganese content, beneficial for both bones and tissues.” (CellQuest Inc.)

CellQuest Inc – The US manufacturer’s site.

PrWeb News Release – A CellQuest press release.

Copyright John Davidson, 2006, 2008

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