Written by Katja Boehm and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated April 29, 2016

Carctol

Is it safe?

The safety of Carctol has so far not been systematically assessed. The distributors of the remedy claim that Carctol is not associated with adverse effects or herb-drug interacdtions, but information on adverse effects and interactions is available for the individual plants Carctol contains. These do not necessarily refer to the dosages used in Carctol.

Adverse effects

No adverse effects of Carctol have been reported. One of the ingredients of Carctol, Himalayan rhubarb (Rheum acuminatum), has been linked with adverse effects such as bone loss and muscle weakness. Rhubarb can also cause anaphylaxis, diarrhoea, heart arrhythmias, depletion of potassium and other electrolytres.9 There is one report of a four-year old who ingested rhubarb leaves containing oxalic acid and died.10 Orally, rhubarb can cause cramp-like or spasmodic GI discomfort, watery diarrhoea and uterine contractions. When consuming sarsaparilla in excessive amounts, gastrointestinal (GI) irritation or temporary kidney impairment may occur due to it saponin constituents. Orally, ingesting large amounts of garden cress may cause GI irritations. Java pepper (Piper cubeba L.) and Puncture vine (Tribulus terrestris) can have psychoactive effects.

Contraindications

None known.

Interactions

Sarsaparilla can interact with digitalis by increasing the glycoside absorption. Theoretically, sarsaparilla may alter the absorption or elimination of simultaneously administered herbs. Sarsaparilla may interact with digoxin (Lanoxin) as it may increase digitalis glycoside absorption.5

Theoretically, due to reports that cubebs increases stomach acid, cubebs might decrease the effectiveness of antacids and H2-blockers cimetidine (Tagamet), ranitidine (Zantac), nizatidine (Axid) and famotidine (Pepcid). Cubebs might also decrease the effectiveness of proton pump inhibitors including omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), rabeprazole (Aciphex), pantoprazole (Protonix) and esomeprazole (Nexium).

Theoretically, puncture vine might enhance the blood glucose-lowering effect of hypoglycaemic drugs, including glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (Diabeta, Glynase PresTabs, Micronase), insulin, metformin (Glucophage), pioglitazone (Actos), and rosiglitazone (Avanida).

Concurrent use of rhubarb might decrease mineral absorption. Overuse of rhubarb might cause potassium depletion, increasing the risk of cardio toxicity and digoxin toxicity. Overuse might compound corticosteroid-induced or diuretic-induced potassium loss (diuretics include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), and hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, Hydrodiuril, Microzide).

No interactions of garden cress with herbs, supplements or other drugs are known..

Precautions/warnings

Patients are advised to drink three to five litres of water each day and to follow a vegetarian diet. This could possibly lead to malnutrition and fluid congestion. There is no data on the use of Carctol during pregnancy and lactation.

Quality issues

There are no independent assessments of the quality of Carctol.

Citation Katja Boehm, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Carctol [online document]. http://ws.cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Herbal-products/Carctol. April 29, 2016.

References

  1. Carctol home website www.carctolhome.com (accessed on 08.05.12)
  2. Anticancer herb website www.anticancerherb.com (accessed on 08.05.12)
  3. Ebner S. Dr Daniel's 'miracle' cure. The Guardian, 21 September 2004, http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2004/sep/21/lifeandhealth.medicineandhealth (accessed on 08.05.12)
  4. Cancer research UK website http://www.cancerresearchuk.org (accessed 08.05.12)
  5. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database http://www.naturaldatabase.com (accessed on 08.05.12)
  6. Brown GA, Vukovich MD, Reifenrath TA, et al. Effects of anabolic precursors on serum testosterone concentrations and adaptations to resistance training in young men. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2000;10:340-59.
  7. Antonio J, Uelmen J, Rodriguez R, Earnest C. The effects of Tribulus terrestris on body composition and exercise performance in resistance-trained males. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2000;10:208-15.
  8. Jiao DH, Ma YH, Chen SJ, et al. Resume of 400 cases of acute upper digestive tract bleeding treated by rhubarb alone. Pharmacology 1980;20 Suppl 1:128-30.
  9. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, LLC 1997.
  10. Ellenhorn MJ, et al. Ellenhorn's Medical Toxicology: Diagnoses and Treatment of Human Poisoning. 2nd ed. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1997.
  11. Anonymous: Carctol. http://www.canceractive.com/page.php?n=534 (accessed on 08.05.12)
  12. Ernst E. Carctol: profit before patients? Breast Care 2009;4:31-3.
  13. Anonymous: Carctol. http://treatmentoptions.tripod.com/id5.html (accessed on 08.05.12)
  14. Anonymous: Carctol. http://www.healthcreation.co.uk (accessed on 08.05.12)
  15. Bown D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. 1995.
  16. Klotter J. Carctol. Townsend Letter Feb/March 2005. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0ISW/is_259-260/ai_n10018573/ (accessed on 08.05.12)