Simple Wheat Germ Extract Revealed to be a Powerful Cancer Fighter
There’s a natural and powerful anticancer therapy hiding in a common food that’s practically unknown to almost every oncologist in North America. Yet, if you travel to a country such as Hungary you will find that it’s an accepted therapy by cancer specialists. I’m talking about fermented wheat germ extract (FWGE). This special extract is different than the wheat germ oil you’ll find on the shelves of your local health food store.
FWGE was developed by Dr. Mate Hidvegi, a Hungarian chemist, in the 1990s. He was following up on the work of Dr. Albert Szent Gyorgyi who received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1937 for the discovery of vitamin C and the life sustaining processes of cellular metabolism. Dr. Gyorgyi theorized that substances known as benzoquinones, (also known as DMBQ’s), play a critical role in glucose metabolism. Before completing his work in this area he died in 1986.
Dr. Mate Hidvégi followed up on this research with a team of scientists. He developed a patented process of fermenting wheat germ with baker’s yeast. The result was a well- researched natural substance with more than 100 studies described in over 20 peer-reviewed medical journals. For example, it has been studied at UCLA, General Clinical Research Center and Clinical Nutrition Research Unit as well as The Scientific Program, NATO. Many of those studies explored its use for the complementary treatment of cancer.
How FWGE works
FWGE has unique actions in the body that make it a powerful assistant in the fight against cancer.
You see cancer cells thrive on glucose, using the sugar for fuel. But fermented wheat germ blocks those cells from gobbling up the glucose. It accomplishes this by inhibiting an enzyme known as glucose- 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH) which is required for glucose metabolism. Studies show it can inhibit this enzyme by up to a stunning 95 percent.1 Without a fuel supply the cancer cells are unable to grow and eventually they die.
But FWGE’s anti-cancer actions don’t stop there. Not by a long shot. In fact, the wheat germ hits cancer with not just one but two more cancer killing punches. First FWGE reduces the amount of a specific protein found on tumor cells. When this protein is curbed it gives the body’s own cancer killing immune cells the opening they need to attack the cancer cells more effectively. Second FWGE completes the job by supercharging the activity of certain immune cells that target tumors.
There are likely a number of components of FWGE that gives it its unique anti-cancer properties, but the best studied is a group of chemicals called benzoquinones. (I mentioned them earlier.) Wheat germ naturally contains some benzoquinones and the fermentation process causes their levels to skyrocket. And the higher the benzoquinones levels are the higher the anticancer potential of FWGE is. Regular wheat germ extract doesn’t have nearly the levels of benzoquinones that the fermented version has and this is why the run-of-the-mill extracts don’t have similar therapeutic activity. And, most importantly, unlike chemotherapy and radiation FWGE is able to accomplish its anticancer effects without doing any damage to healthy cells in the process.
Let’s take a look at a couple of those over 100 studies on FWGE that I mentioned earlier. There are plenty to choose from, but let’s focus on just a few of the human studies today. These studies show an overall improvement in survival, disease-free survival, and improved quality of life.
Kicking colorectal cancer
Hungarian researchers tested the effect of FWGE on sixty-six patients with colorectal cancer. The volunteers received FWGE supplementation for more than 6 months while 104 control patients received traditional anticancer therapies alone. By the end of the study 23 percent of the patients receiving conventional cancer treatments had their cancer spread. In sharp contrast, only eight percent of the FWGE patients saw their cancer spread.2
Melanoma meets its match
In one randomized clinical trial patients with melanoma were given standard chemotherapy or chemotherapy plus FWGE for one year. After a seven-year follow up period, researchers found that patients who had taken FWGE were half as likely to die from melanoma during this time.3
Opting out of oral cancers
There’s very little research available on natural products for cancers of the mouth and neck so I was pleased to uncover such positive research on FWGE. Researchers followed 22 patients with oral cancer who took FWGE and compared them with 21 patients not receiving FWGE. Those who took FWGE reduced the risk for cancer progression by a stunning 85 percent.4
In fact, FWGEs abilities to fight the spread of oral cancer are so impressive that when the Hungarian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons reviewed the research they sung the fermented wheat germ’s praises saying: “For patients suffering from head and neck tumors—primarily malignant tumorous diseases of the oral cavity, the progression of the disease can be slowed significantly, the five-year survival rate increased considerably, the quality of life improved, and the oxidative stress on the patients reduced by the long-term application of the supplementary formula Avemar (FWGE). The Association considers the supportive treatment with the formula Avemar as an important part of the complex therapeutic protocols applied in stages II, III and IV of malignant tumorous diseases of the oral cavity.”5 I’d call that a ringing endorsement.
Curb chemo infections
One of the many risks with chemotherapy is the suppression of your white blood cells which fight infection. FWGE was found, in one study, to have the ability to head infections off at the pass in children and teenagers undergoing chemotherapy. When researchers followed 22 kids and teens who were being treated for different types of cancer they found that those who received FWGE had significantly fewer infections and fevers while receiving chemotherapy.6
Leave behind lung Cancer
At the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center an open trial with 16 people with lung cancer who were receiving standard cancer therapy was supplemented with FWGE. Patient’s symptoms and quality of life were monitored with a questionnaire. Researchers found a significant improvement in the overall state of health including a reduction in fatigue and pain, and an improvement in appetite and emotional state.7
Ban breast cancer
In 2004 Hungarian researchers put FWGE to the test against human breast cancer cells. When the fermented wheat germ was combined with the estrogen blocking breast-cancer drug Tamoxifen it increased the rate of cancer cell death.8
Beat rheumatoid arthritis
Over the years I’ve told you about a number of natural substances that may help with the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) including collagen, MSM, fish oil, and turmeric. It looks like we might need to add FWGE to that list. Interestingly, FWGE has been shown in preliminary studies to help people with their RA symptoms. In a year-long study, patients with RA had a significant reduction in stiffness at their six- and 12-month follow up. Half of the participants were even able to reduce the amount of steroids they were taking.9
Dosage and usage details
In the morning before breakfast I generally recommend, taking one packet containing 8.5 to 9 g of FWGE daily mixed with eight ounces cold water or any other beverage that contains less than 10 mg vitamin C per eight-ounce serving. Store the packets at room temperature or in the refrigerator. It’s also available in tablets. The typical tablet dosage is 5 tabs twice a day on an empty stomach. Side effects are very uncommon with FWGE. Some people occasionally have minor digestive upset and that can be relieved by dividing the dose in half twice daily.
Be sure to not take vitamin C supplements or beverages containing high amounts of vitamin C within two hours of ingesting FWGE. If you are pregnant, a nursing mother, have had an organ or tissue transplant, are suffering from bleeding gastrointestinal ulcers, malabsorption syndrome, gluten sensitive enteropathies (celiac sprue), fructose intolerance, or have hypersensitivity to gluten or wheat germ you should not use FWGE.
As I mentioned earlier, FWGE is very different from the wheat germ granules and wheat germ oil you may be familiar with. It comes in a powder and is sold in many health food stores, by health professionals, or online as a dietary supplement in the United States. I routinely prescribe it to patients who see me at my clinic for the complementary treatment of cancer because studies clearly show it improves cancer survival rates. Speak to a doctor skilled in natural medicine about adding this to your diet. The Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine uses a professional formula of FWGE known as Oncomar.
1. Comin-Anduix B, Boros LG, Marin S, et al. Fermented wheat-germ extract inhibits glycolysis/pentose cycle enzymes and induces apoptosis through poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase activation in Jurkat T-cell leukemia tumor cells. J Biol Chem, 2002 Nov 29;277(48):46408-14.
2. Farkas E. Fermented wheat germ extract in the supportive therapy of colorectal cancer. Orv Hetil. 2005;146(37):1925-31.
3. Demidov LV, Manziuk LV, Kharkevitch GY, Pirogova NA, Artamonova EV, Adjuvant fermented wheat germ extract (Avemar) nutraceutical improves survival of high-risk skin melanoma patients: a randomized, pilot, phase II clinical study with a 7-year follow-up. Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 2008;23(4):477-82.
4. Barabás J, Németh Z. Recommendation of the Hungarian SocietyforFace, Mandible and Oral Surgery in the indication of supportive therapy with Avemar. Orv Hetil. 2006;147(35):1709-11.
5. J. Barabás, Zs. Németh. Recommendation of the Hungarian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (Magyar Arc-, Állcsont-és Szájsebészeti Társoság) in the indication of supportive therapy with Avemar.Hungarian Medical Journal. 2006 Volume 147, Issue 35, 1709–1711
6. Garami M, Schuler D, Babosa M, Borgulya G, Hauser P, Müller J, Paksy A, Szabó E, Hidvégi M, Fekete G. Fermented wheat germ extract reduces chemotherapy-induced febrile neutropenia in pediatric cancer patients, J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2004;26(10):631-5.
7. Boros LG, Nichelatti M, Shoenfeld Y. Fermented wheat germ extract (Avemar) in the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Jun;1051:529-42.
8. Marcsek Z, Kocsis Z, Jakab M, Szende B, Tompa A. The efficacy of tamoxifen in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells is enhanced by a medical nutriment. Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 2004 Dec;19(6):746-53.
9. Bálint G, Apáthy A, Gaál M, Telekes A, Resetár A, Blazsó G, Falkay G, Szende B, Paksy A, Ehrenfeld M, Shoenfeld Y, Hidvégi M., Effect of Avemar—a fermented wheat germ extract—on rheumatoid arthritis. Preliminary data, Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2006;24(3):325-8.)
Used with permission from Dr. Mark Stengler’s Health Revelations newsletter www.healthrevelations.com