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Grapeseed extract, green tea polyphenols, and curcumin By Dr Neil McKinney, ND

A French scientist Jacques Masquelier discovered an interesting anomaly in the ship’s log of one of the earliest French explorers to come to Quebec. The crew arrived very sickly, and local First Nations promptly offered them pine bark tea. Some historians might pass it off as another scurvy crew revived with pine needle tea offered by their gracious hosts. However, Masquelier crew’s symptoms were not consistent with scurvy and credited the Indigenous people with great knowledge of the use of plant medicines, including knowing the difference between pine needles and pine bark. He isolated from pine bark a potent antioxidant oligomeric proanthocyanidin (OPC) he named pycnogenol. The late Allen Tyler, ND, MD went to France to talk to Professor about pycnogenol, and arranged for it to be produced and sold in Canada. Over time the source of the OPCs changed to grapeseed, which was more sustainable, and less costly.

John Boik, from MD Anderson in Houston, circa 1996, brought forward grapeseed extract and several other natural agents with good pre-clinical evidence of utility in cancer care. I was particularly focused on finding a synergistic triplet of remedies. I had worked in nuclear particle research – Pi mesons for cancer therapy. Studying up on physics lead to the baffling subject of quantum mechanics. I became a devotee of Richard Feynman when I heard his pronouncement that “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.” I felt the same way about cancer. I found in the newly emerging Chaos theory a concept that 3 or more forces acting upon a system might cause completely chaotic behaviour, regularly irregular patterns, or the emergence of orderly structures and behaviours. I hoped the right three remedies might draw order out of the chaos that is cancer.

In the late 1990’s Dr. Arthur Djang, MD, PhD produced some interesting responses in some cancer patients I knew who took his Oncolyn formula. I attended his lecture and had dinner with him, and was informed of his discovery of promising cancer research on grapeseed extract he witnessed in China. It has not been fully disclosed, but I believe the core of his formula is grapeseed extract, green tea extract, and apple seed extract. This gave me encouragement to continue exploring the combination my own research suggested: grapeseed extract, green tea polyphenols extract, and curcumin. It rarely shrank cancers, but did sometimes arrest the disease and often prolonged survival with improved quality life. I published my findings with this combination in my first book on cancer in 2003.

In 2014 I received by email a poster presentation titled “Examining the Combinatorial Effects of Plant-derived Substances on Lifespan and Tumor Growth of Sarcoma 180 Cells in Mice” by D. Bandarage, A. Vuong, and Z. Cui, from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In some 15 years of research on natural medicines for cancer, screening thousands of compounds and combinations in rodents, the best they found was green tea, grapeseed and curcumin. In their Kaplan-Meier plot it is plain that each natural agent had a modest effect on survival, but in combination they were highly synergistic.

It is my clinical experience, and that of my students and peers in naturopathic oncology that this combination has an impact on many carcinomas in humans. It has not proved out in human sarcomas, ironically. Still, it is a foundation upon which we can build a program to assist in the care of many types and stages of cancer.


  • John Boik., Cancer & Natural Medicine – a Textbook of Basic Science and Clinical Research, 1996, Oregon Medical Press.
  • John Boik., Natural Compounds in Cancer Therapy – Promising Non-toxic Anti-tumour Agents from Plants and Other Natural Sources, Oregon Medical Press 2001. 
  • Naturally There’s Hope – a handbook for the naturopathic care of cancer patients – 2003 – Trafford Press – ISBN: 1-4120-0464-0.
  • Naturopathic Oncology- an encyclopedic Guide for patients and physicians – 3rd edition – 2016- Liaison Press – ISBN: 978-1-926946-02-3. 
  • Yarnell, Quart. Rev. Nat. Med. 1998; 218-220.
  • Shehzad., et al. Arch. Pharm. (Weinheim). 2010; 343 (9): 489-499.
  • Morré & Morré, Cancer Lett. 2006; 238 (2): 202-209. 
  • Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPCs) – Monograph, Alt. Med. Rev. 2003; Vol. 8, No.4: 442-450. 
  • McKenna et al., Green Tea Monograph. Alt. Ther. May 2000; Vol. 6, No. 3: 61-84. 

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