Health Guide

Hoxsey therapy

What is it?

Hoxsey therapy is a combination herbal treatment for cancer.

Harry Hoxsey (1901-1973) called himself a naturopath but he was an unlicensed practitioner. He learned how to use an herbal preparation as a treatment for cancer. The herbal remedy was discovered by his great grandfather who found that a horse with cancer grazed on certain plants in the field and was "cured."

Hoxsey's use of the "Hoxsey formula" in treating cancer patients was upsetting to the American Medical Association (AMA). They brought legal charges against him for practicing medicine without a license. Although these charges were probably valid, he was never convicted. During the trials, Hoxsey's lawyers would bring successfully treated patients to testify on his behalf and convince the juries to vote not guilty.

Hoxsey therapy has been on the American Cancer Society's unproved methods list for over thirty years but is still used by many for cancer treatment. The one clinical study done on Hoxsey therapy was an observational study. Steve Austin, a naturopathic doctor, followed 16 cancer patients that used the formula from 1983 to 1988. He found that 6 out the 16 were cancer-free 48 to 96 months after starting the Hoxsey treatment. Dr. Austin emphasized that his observations were not a scientifically controlled study, but he felt these results were unlikely due to a placebo effect. Many feel that these results should be followed up with a scientific study of the Hoxsey treatment. Because of the AMA's previous court cases against Hoxsey, a serious study will probably not be done in the near future.

Although conventional cancer drugs like vincristine and paclitaxel (Taxol) are derived from herbs, most Western medical doctors feel herbal remedies have no value in the treatment of cancer. The Hoxsey formula contains herbs that have been used by Native American healers to treat cancer. The Hoxsey formula contains the following ingredients: potassium iodine, red clover, burdock root, cascara amarga, prickly ash, poke root, stillingia, buckthorn, and licorice. These herbs are claimed to help support the immune system and stimulate the thyroid, liver, colon, and kidneys. Patients taking the formula are warned to avoid tomatoes, alcohol, processed flour, and vinegar because they block the effects of the herbs.

Hoxsey claimed that his treatment worked best for skin cancers. Other cancers that have supposedly responded to the Hoxsey treatment include advanced lung and bladder cancer. These reports have not been verified by scientific studies so patients with cancer should not use only the Hoxsey treatment in hopes of curing their disease.

It is possible to receive the Hoxsey treatment in Tijuana, Mexico. The Hoxsey clinic claims that 80% of the patients who use the formula benefit from its use. Many naturopathic doctors use the Hoxsey formula as a part of a cancer treatment. The preparation is available from companies supplying herbs to naturopaths and alternative medical doctors.

For more information:

  • American Association of Naturopathic Medicine (206) 323-7610.
  • Bio-Medical Center 011-52-66-84-9011.
  • National College of Naturopathic Medicine (503) 255-4860.


1. Austin S: Breast Cancer: what you should know about prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA; 1994.

2. Burton Goldberg Group: Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide. Future Medicine Publishing, Puyallup, WA; 1994.

Last Updated: 4/4/2018
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