Polycythemia vera alternative treatment
January 20 2016 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Polycythemia is the increase of the red blood cell count, hemoglobin, and total red blood cell volume, accompanied by an increase in total blood volume. PV is a disorder of unknown etiology involving a multipotent hematopoietic progenitor cell that is characterized by the accumulation of phenotypically normal red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in the absence of a definable cause; extramedullary hematopoiesis, marrow fibrosis, and, in a few patients, transformation to acute leukemia can also occur. First described in 1892, the cause of the disease remains unknown and no potentially curative therapy other than bone marrow transplantation is currently available. This acquired disorder is often associated with thrombocytosis, leukocytosis and splenomegaly.

Polycythemia vera diagnosis
Diagnosis is based on basic clinical and biological abnormalities. Sometimes, positive diagnosis required more sophisticated tests as assay of endogenous erythroid colony, erythropoietin blood level and bone marrow biopsy. Usually the natural history of disease remains long with a good quality of life. In some cases complications occur: mainly thrombosis and late myeloid metaplasia with myelofibrosis and acute leukemia.

Polycythemia vera treatment
The aim is to reduce hyper viscosity complications and to avoid therapeutic induced leukemia. Therapeutic approaches remain complex and difficult to optimize based up on age and disease severity.
   If untreated, this blood cell disease leads to thrombohemorrhagic complications and eventually to progressive myelofibrosis of the marrow, anemia, and splenomegaly. Two drugs, interferon and imatinib mesylate, may alter the course of this disease. Used as single agents, each produces lasting remissions in about 75% of the cases.

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013. Antiplatelet drugs for polycythaemia vera and essential thrombocythaemia. Polycythaemia vera and essential thrombocythaemia are chronic Philadelphia-negative myeloproliferative neoplasms that increase the risk of arterial and venous thrombosis, as well as bleeding. In addition to the different therapeutic strategies available, an antiplatelet drug is often used to reduce thrombotic risk. For patients with polycythaemia vera who have no clear indication or contraindication to aspirin therapy, available evidence suggests that the use of low-dose aspirin, when compared with no treatment, is associated with a statistically non-significant reduction in the risk of fatal thrombotic events and all-cause mortality, without an increased risk of major bleeding.

Conventional therapeutic options aim at reducing vascular and thrombotic risk, with low-dose aspirin and phlebotomy as first-line recommendations for patients at low risk of thrombotic events and cytoreductive therapy (usually hydroxyurea or interferon alpha) recommended for high-risk patients. However, long-term effective and well-tolerated treatments are still lacking.

Symptom of polycythemia
People with this condition sometimes have no symptoms for years. The earliest polycythemia vera symptoms usually are weakness, fatigue, headache, light-headedness, shortness of breath, and night sweats. Vision may be distorted, and a person may have blind spots or may see flashes of light. Bleeding from the gums and more bleeding than would be expected from small cuts are common. The skin, especially the face, may look red. A person may itch all over, particularly after bathing or showering. Burning sensations in the hands and feet or, more rarely, bone pain may be felt.

Musher had Polycythemia Vera
Four-time Iditarod champion Susan Butcher died in August, 2006 in a Seattle hospital of complications from a bone marrow transplant. She was 51. Three years ago, when Susan Butcher was considering a comeback, doctors found she had the condition. Butcher planned to compete in a 300-mile race in winter 2006, but was unable to compete after she was diagnosed with leukemia.

Q. Is there a cure for polycythemia vera?
   A. I am not aware of a polycthemia vera cure at this time.

Q. Is green tea and green tea supplements safe for patients with polycythemia vera?
   A. We have not come across such research regarding the use of green tea, so we don't know.

On of the less than perfect days of my life happened a little over 20 months ago when diagnosed with bilateral renal cell carcinoma with mets to lymph and liver and in reality given only about 4 to 6 months to live. I was successful in stopping the cancer within 5 months using only supplements and diet, BUT seemed to have stumbled across something else to keep me amused. Polycythemia vera appears to have become part of my life.
   I have not studied this blood condition in much detail and do not have personal experience with herbs for this condition. However, you could take a look at the cancer page for more info. We wish you the best healing possible.

Will lipoic acid be helpful?
   I don't know.

Q. My 75 year old Mother has polycythemia vera. She is under doctors supervision, takes hydroxy urea and blood pressure meds, and gets regular phlebotomies. She asked me to order a homeopathic remedy / product specific to polycythemia vera called Veritin. I have tried, without results, to find out if this is a legitimate site and product. While I firmly believe in alternative medicine, I am also aware that scams abound and require caution. I have followed your health columns through other sites and appreciate your integrity. Can you advise?
   A. As of 2015, I could not find any published studies in the medical literature regarding the treatment of polycythemia vera with Veritin. I am not a big believer in homeopathic remedies.

An email received in March 2014
I have found your article and question for polycythemia vera treatment just by chance today in the internet (searching for new articles about PV treatments for my paper). You will have information from me with this email about the low side effects treatment of my wife over 15 years and the chronology of this treatment. At the moment I have started since some days writing a scientific paper about this very successful low side effects treatment polycyhemia (PV) treatment of my wife the last 15 years without any cytoreductive treatments (for example with hydroxy ureas). I have never used hydroyurea (HU) and cardiovascular medicaments and vitamin B6 and one vitamin B6-analogue, only! I know since 15years, HU cause a lot of side effects and causing progression of PV to later post myelofibrosis (postMF) or other disease like leucemias (AML,CML) etc., because of raising oxidative stress in the cells following mutations and more transformations of the cells. Therefore I have started with this very special unusual treatment of my wife till now, which was never done before with a PV patient. But Im scientist and have studied for Chemistry, Biochemistry and Medical Doctor and have worked my whole life most at the Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried Martinsried near Munich (Germany), but retired since some years. I have had over long years students of all continents, also from India. I have done also research in herbal medicine, for example extracts of the neem tree and other plants.I have attached documents of my written first 5 sites of this paper (I dont have not more and have to work out this paper the next weeks) about my PV-treatments and results over 15 years, which is first draft with compilation of the chronology of the main events and the used medicaments. This paper is in the early beginning, only. Im going to publish together with Prof. Dr. Haferlach which is specialist in blood cancers (you could find in the internet) and Prof. Dr.Dr. Volker Diehl who are both since long time involved in the research and therapy of blood cancers.I have used for the treatment of my wife cardiovascular medicaments, only. But in the beginning I have used in addition to cardivascular medicaments the Vitamin B6 and a new antioxidative Vitamin B6-analogue (B6PR) and using one of them (B6PR) with great success. But I must stop the BPR treatment, because I was not able to synthesize this compound again after retirement, having no laboratory. About this (B6PR) I have published in the journal Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry 7 (1999) 359-367 with the title: A New Antioxidative Vitamin B6 Analogue Modulates pathophysiological Cell proliferation and Damage.  Probably you know about Artemisinines, extracted from a the leafs of the plant artemesia annua (this is a flower). Artemisinines are used for the treatment of Malaria and since some years for the treatment of cancers. There is also another possibility, to cure probably PV with Artemisinines. For example Artesunate, Dihydroartemisine and Artemether are produced in India. You could find a lot of sientific papers in the internet about treatment of all cancers with Artemisinines, for example with Artesunate or other analogues of Artemisinines. It is long time known about treatment of cancers with this artemisinies. But I have never tried with my wife with artemisinines, because wife feels very well all the years till now. Treatment with of PV Artemisinines must be done in a clinic, because there are some risks. If you have more questions about all this PV treatment of my wife or other questions, you could and should write me by email.
Dr. Walter Oberthuer Walteroberthuer@aol.com