Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is a type of cancer that is characterized by an accumulation of abnormal lymphocytes in the blood and the bone marrow. They fill the bone marrow, reducing the number of normal white cells, red cells, and platelets that can be made. The cells do not mature completely and are not normal. These cells are not able to fight infection as well as normal cells do. They survive longer, build up, and crowd out normal cells. CLL builds up over a long time, and even though it is considered incurable, it is a slowly developing disease, and many people live a normal life for a long time without symptoms or treatment.
The causes of CLL are not very specific, but doctors believe that something happens which causes a genetic mutation in the DNA of blood-producing cells. This mutation causes the blood cells to produce abnormal, ineffective lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infection. They invade the blood and in time, also invade other parts of the body, like the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen. These lymphocytes do not perform their functions like the normal ones would and interfere with the production of other blood cells which are necessary for the normal functioning of the blood. This leads to problems like deficiency of the immune system, coagulation problems, swollen lymph nodes, and many other conditions.
The risk factors for CLL include age, sex, family history, and exposure to certain types of chemicals. Most people diagnosed with CLL are over 60 and they are most likely to be men. A family history of CLL or any other blood or bone marrow cancers increases the risk.
Symptoms of CLL
The most common symptoms of CLL are as follows, but they could also be caused by other illnesses. Most people, do not find out that they have CLL based on their symptoms, but when they go for a blood test for some other purpose.
- Swollen lymph glands
- Abdominal discomfort due to enlarged spleen
- Weight loss
- Bleeding or bruising
- Frequent infections
- Night sweats
Treating chronic lymphocytic leukemia depends on several factors, like at what stage the cancer is, whether the person is experiencing signs and symptoms, and the overall health of the patient. People with early-stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia don’t receive treatment. Studies have shown that early treatment does not help in any way. Doctors usually monitor the condition of the patient and treat only when leukemia progresses. They have the blood tested every few months to monitor the condition. If the doctor determines that your CLL is progressing, then the treatment options include chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy, or bone marrow stem cell transplant.
Treating CLL with Natural Cures and remedies
Even though the alternative treatments do not cure the disease, it helps to manage the progression of the disease. If you are diagnosed with CLL, you can make some lifestyle changes to keep your body healthy. You can start off, by trying to avoid infections, as people with CLL are prone to frequent infections. Eating healthy (lots of fruits and vegetables), keeping away from people who are sick, and maintaining a clean lifestyle also helps. People who have CLL run the risk of getting second cancer. This can be avoided by eating healthy plant-based food, not smoking, abstaining from alcohol, and avoiding too much exposure to the sun as you run the risk of skin cancer. To cope with the fatigue that sets in, alternative therapies like yoga, meditation, and exercise, are said to help.
Some herbs and food are noted to help treat and control the progression of the condition. It is very important to alkalize the body. We must eat alkaline foods to help keep the PH at about 7, which is very desirable for preventing and treating cancer. Build up your immunity, by eating immune-boosting food. Do not eat burnt food. Studies have shown that food, when cooked above 120 degrees C or 248 degrees F, produces a chemical known as acrylamide. This compound has been found to play a role in the development of several cancers. Acrylamide forms in some starchy foods during high-temperature cooking, such as frying, roasting, and baking.
In another study, it was found that Neem leaf extract induces cell death by apoptosis and autophagy in B-chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells.
Most of the remedies below are ones we tried with our father who was diagnosed with CLL. We have managed the disease for almost 15 years after the doctor said we should start chemotherapy. We did not want to put him through it so tried all we could. He is 89 now and only recently we have had to resort to blood transfusions to keep his hemoglobin at a reasonable level.
The Mayo Clinic says that Green tea extracts help people with early-stage leukemia. They say laboratory research determined that a compound in green tea extract, called EGCG, can kill CLL cells. In a study of people with early-stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia, taking EGCG in pill form reduced some signs of the disease in a portion of the participants. For instance, some participants noticed that their enlarged lymph nodes decreased in size and blood tests revealed some participants had fewer leukemia cells in their blood.
Researchers report that when they exposed human leukemia cells to grapeseed extract in test tubes, the leukemia cells were killed rapidly through a process of cell suicide known as “apoptosis.” Moreover, the grapeseed extract did not hurt normal cells. Using a commercially available grape seed extract, Xianglin Shi, lead author, at the Graduate Center for Toxicology – the University of Kentucky exposed leukemia cells to the extract in different doses and found the marked effect in causing apoptosis in these cells at one of the higher doses. It should be noted that no one had tested the extract in hematological cancers. More on grapeseed extract benefits to fight leukemia
Insufficient vitamin D levels in CLL patients are linked to cancer progression. Researchers at Mayo Clinic have found a significant difference in cancer progression and death in CLL patients who had sufficient vitamin D levels in their blood compared to those who didn’t. The finding is significant as for the first time, it potentially offers patients with this typically slower growing form of leukemia a way to slow progression, says the study’s lead author, Tait Shanafelt, M.D., a hematologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He says that, “this tells us that vitamin D insufficiency may be the first potentially modifiable risk factor associated with prognosis in newly diagnosed CLL, “More on Vitamin D benefits for CLL
Vitamin C seems to stimulate lymphocyte activity which is why it is thought to be effective in the prevention of malignancy in cancers. It is found that vitamin C is of use against the acutely aggravated tendency to hemorrhage, often accompanying chronic leukemia. A study found that human and mouse hematopoietic stem cells absorb unusually large amounts of vitamin C. When the cells were depleted of vitamin C, they were more likely to turn into leukemia cells. Another study found that high doses of vitamin C can cause leukemic cells to die, potentially making it a useful and safe chemotherapy agent. It was led by scientists at NYU Langone Health and published in the Cell.
Wheatgrass is said to consist of chlorophyll. The chlorophyll in wheatgrass is said to be almost identical to the hemoglobin molecule in the human blood. Wheatgrass juice helps build red blood cells and helps deliver oxygen and other nutrients to the body’s cells. Because it is high in saponin, it is said to offer great support to the lymphatic system. It cleanses the system and regenerates the body. Wheatgrass juice is an effective way to boost your body’s immune system. It is a good source of beta carotene and is an effective anti-oxidant. More on the health benefits of wheatgrass
The anti-cancer properties of Cynodon dactylon are currently being investigated as a more benign alternative to chemotherapy and radiation. Preliminary studies, using the extracts from this grass, have found that it acts as a strong antioxidant, protecting cells from the impact of dangerous free radicals. It contains more than 65% of chlorophyll. This helps in increasing the number of red blood cells in our body. It helps in maintaining the alkalinity of blood and increases hemoglobin levels. According to Ayurveda, it helps in curbing tumors and enlarged spleen. Studies show that it definitely has anti-cancer properties. More on the health benefits of Cynodon dactylon
Treatment of older patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia: key questions and current answers
Turmeric and green tea: a recipe for B-Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia