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Hoxsey Therapy

Herbal therapies that have been used by vast numbers of patients, with many startling reported successes. Thought to have its origins in ancient American Indian culture, the ingredients have all been found to possess anti-cancer properties under laboratory conditions. Hoxsey used red and yellow paste with external cancers and a tonic for internal.


Hoxsey Therapy is a concoction of herbal ingredients including Buckthorn bark, Cascara, Barberry root, Potassium iodide. It is named after Harry Hoxsey who formulated the herbal mixture. The preparation is used either directly on the skin (external) or drunk as a tonic (internal). The external mixture is said to be selectively destructive of cancerous tissue and consists of a red and a yellow paste. The red paste contains antimony trisulfide, zinc chloride and bloodroot; the yellow powder contains arsenic sulfide, sulfur and talc. The internal mixture is a liquid containing licorice, red clover, burdock root, stillingia root, barberry, cascara, prickly ash bark, buckthorn bark and potassium iodide. This internal mixture is considered to be cathartic/cleansing and/or immune boosting. The dose of the therapy varies depending on the specific needs of each patient and whether the cancer is internal or external.

Harry Hoxsey considered cancer a systemic disease, however localised its manifestations might appear to be. The therapy aims to restore physiological normalcy to a disturbed metabolism throughout the body, with emphasis on purgation, to help carry away wastes from the tumours that he believed his herbal mixtures caused to necrotise.

People often combine Hoxsey therapy with other approaches like Laetrile.


Harry Hoxsey a miner, developed a herbal formula that he believed was a help to people with cancer. According to his autobiography, it was his great-grandfather, a horse breeder named John Hoxsey, who originated it in the mid-nineteenth century, out of grasses and flowering wild plants which John took from the pasture where a favourite stallion, afflicted with a cancerous growth, grazed daily until the growth necrotised.

According to Harry, John Hoxsey reasoned that the wild plants had caused the stallion’s recovery. He therefore concocted a liquid out of red clover and alfalfa, buckthorn and prickly ash (and other plants which John could not identify), gathered from the area where the stallion had apparently cured himself. Although he was not a doctor, Harry Hoxsey treated thousands of cancer patients. He opened his first clinic in Taylorville, Illinois, in the 1920s, but was forced to move to Dallas following hostile encounters with the local American Medical Association (AMA).

In 1949, he sued the Hearst publications, the AMA and Morris Fishbein, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), for libel and slander after a negative article. The judge found in favour of Hoxsey, but only awarded him $2. In the 1960s, when he closed the clinic in Dallas, he gave the formula for the tonic to one of his nurses, Mildred Nelson, who reported that her mother had been cured of cancer at the Hoxsey clinic in 1946.

In 1963, Ms. Nelson set up a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, where she and a full medical staff treated cancer patients. Ms. Nelson died in 1998, but the clinic is still operational and sees approximately 1200 patients annually for cancer and other conditions. Adaptations of the formula are being used by some naturopathic physicians in the US.


This therapy can be used for patients who have been treated with radiation and/or chemotherapy.

Some of the ingredients in the Hoxsey formula can cause side effects. For example, buckthorn bark can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea if taken in large quantities. Cascara can cause diarrhoea. Diarrhoea can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Barberry root administered to rabbits (dose unspecified) caused swelling of the kidney and cardio toxicity. Potassium iodide could cause adverse reactions in sensitive patients.


The option for lifetime supply of the tonic is no longer offered.

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