714-X (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Patient Information [NCI]

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714-X (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Patient Information [NCI]

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http://cancer.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.



  • The main ingredient of 714-X is camphor, which comes from the wood and bark of the camphor tree (see Question 1).
  • It is claimed that 714-X helps the immune system fight cancer (see Question 3).
  • No study of 714-X has been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal to show it is safe or effective in treating cancer (see Question 6).
  • 714-X is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States (see Question 8).

Questions and Answers About 714-X

What is 714-X?

714-X is a chemical compound that contains camphor, a natural substance that comes from the wood and bark of the camphor tree. Nitrogen, water, and salts are added to camphor to make 714-X.

What is the history of the discovery and use of 714-X as a complementary and alternative treatment for cancer?

714-X was developed in the 1960s in Canada, where it is still being made. Patients in Canada can get 714-X only from a doctor, for compassionate use (giving a treatment to patients before it is approved, because they have a life-threatening disease and there is no drug or other therapy to treat the disease). 714-X is used in Mexico and some western European countries. It is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the United States (see Question 8).

What is the theory behind the claim that 714-X is useful in treating cancer?

The development of 714-X was based on the theory that there are tiny living things in the blood called somatids. According to this theory, some types of somatids are found only in the blood of people who have cancer or other serious diseases. These types of somatids are said to make growth hormones that cause cells to grow without control. The makers of 714-X state that by looking at the number and type of somatids in the blood, doctors can see if cancer is starting to form or can diagnose cancer and predict where the cancer will spread.

The theory states that cancer cells trap nitrogen needed by normal cells and make a toxic substance that weakens the immune system. 714-X is reported to help the body fight cancer cells in these ways:

  • The camphor in 714-X is said to prevent cancer cells from taking nitrogen from the body's normal cells.
  • 714-X is also said to help the immune system by increasing the flow of lymph, the colorless fluid that travels through the body carrying white blood cells that help fight infection and disease.

Some research studies are published in scientific journals. Most scientific journals have experts who review research reports before they are published, to make sure that the evidence and conclusions are sound. This is called peer review. Studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals are considered to be better evidence. No studies have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals to support the theory of somatids in the development of cancer. Research on the use of 714-X as a cancer treatment is discussed in Question 5 and Question 6.

How is 714-X administered?

714-X is usually given by injection near the lymph nodes in the groin. In some patients with lung or oral cancer, 714-X can be sprayed into the nose using a nebulizer (a device that turns liquid into a fine spray). The makers of 714-X do not recommend injecting it into a vein (intravenously) or taking it by mouth.

The makers of 714-X suggest the following:

  • 714-X is more effective if given early in the disease, before chemotherapy or radiation therapy is begun.
  • 714-X can be used along with conventional treatments.
  • Vitamin B12 supplements,vitamin E supplements, shark cartilage, and alcohol should not be used during treatment with 714-X.
Have any preclinical (laboratory or animal) studies been conducted using 714-X?

Research in a laboratory or using animals is done to find out if a drug, procedure, or treatment is likely to be useful in humans. Animal tumor models are used to learn how a cancer may progress and to test new treatments. These preclinical studies are done before any testing in humans is begun.

No laboratory studies of the safety and/or effectiveness of 714-X have been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. A few animal experiments have been done, but the results of these experiments have not been reported in scientific journals. The animal studies used a lymphosarcoma tumor model in rats and lymphoma tumor models in dogs and cows. 714-X was not found to be effective against cancer in these studies.

Have any clinical trials (research studies with people) of 714-X been conducted?

No clinical trials or other studies with cancer patients have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals to support the safety or effectiveness of 714-X. A number of anecdotal reports (incomplete descriptions of the medical and treatment history of one or more patients) and testimonials (personal reports from people who claim to have been helped or cured by the product) have been published in newspapers and other nonmedical literature. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reviewed the records of some cancer patients who used 714-X. This review was done to decide if NCI should begin a clinical trial of the product. Not enough information was available to support recommending a trial. See the notice on the Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine Web site.

Have any side effects or risks been reported from 714-X?

The makers of 714-X claim that it is not harmful to humans. The reported side effects of treatment with 714-X are redness, tenderness, and swelling at the injection site.

Is 714-X approved by the FDA as a cancer treatment in the United States?

The FDA has not approved 714-X for use in the United States.

Changes To This Summary (06 / 10 / 2009)

The PDQcancer information summaries are reviewed regularly and updated as new information becomes available. This section describes the latest changes made to this summary as of the date above.

Editorial changes were made to this summary.

General CAM Information

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)—also referred to as integrative medicine—includes a broad range of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies. A therapy is generally called complementary when it is used in addition to conventional treatments; it is often called alternative when it is used instead of conventional treatment. (Conventional treatments are those that are widely accepted and practiced by the mainstream medical community.) Depending on how they are used, some therapies can be considered either complementary or alternative. Complementary and alternative therapies are used in an effort to prevent illness, reduce stress, prevent or reduce side effects and symptoms, or control or cure disease.

Unlike conventional treatments for cancer, complementary and alternative therapies are often not covered by insurance companies. Patients should check with their insurance provider to find out about coverage for complementary and alternative therapies.

Cancer patients considering complementary and alternative therapies should discuss this decision with their doctor, nurse, or pharmacist as they would any therapeutic approach, because some complementary and alternative therapies may interfere with their standard treatment or may be harmful when used with conventional treatment.

Evaluation of CAM Approaches

It is important that the same rigorous scientific evaluation used to assess conventional approaches be used to evaluate CAM therapies. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) are sponsoring a number of clinical trials (research studies) at medical centers to evaluate CAM therapies for cancer.

Conventional approaches to cancer treatment have generally been studied for safety and effectiveness through a rigorous scientific process that includes clinical trials with large numbers of patients. Less is known about the safety and effectiveness of complementary and alternative methods. Few CAM therapies have undergone rigorous evaluation. A small number of CAM therapies originally considered to be purely alternative approaches are finding a place in cancer treatment—not as cures, but as complementary therapies that may help patients feel better and recover faster. One example is acupuncture. According to a panel of experts at a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Conference in November 1997, acupuncture has been found to be effective in the management of chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting and in controlling pain associated with surgery. In contrast, some approaches, such as the use of laetrile, have been studied and found ineffective or potentially harmful.

The NCI Best Case Series Program, which was started in 1991, is one way CAM approaches that are being used in practice are being investigated. The program is overseen by the NCI's Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM). Health care professionals who offer alternative cancer therapies submit their patients' medical records and related materials to OCCAM. OCCAM conducts a critical review of the materials and develops follow-up research strategies for approaches deemed to warrant NCI-initiated research.

Questions to Ask Your Health Care Provider About CAM

When considering complementary and alternative therapies, patients should ask their health care provider the following questions:

  • What side effects can be expected?
  • What are the risks associated with this therapy?
  • Do the known benefits outweigh the risks?
  • What benefits can be expected from this therapy?
  • Will the therapy interfere with conventional treatment?
  • Is this therapy part of a clinical trial?
  • If so, who is sponsoring the trial?
  • Will the therapy be covered by health insurance?

To Learn More About CAM

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) facilitates research and evaluation of complementary and alternative practices, and provides information about a variety of approaches to health professionals and the public.

NCCAM Clearinghouse
Post Office Box 7923 Gaithersburg, MD 20898–7923
Telephone: 1–888–644–6226 (toll free) 301–519–3153 (for International callers)
TTY (for deaf and hard of hearing callers): 1–866–464–3615
Fax: 1–866–464–3616
E-mail: info@nccam.nih.gov
Web site: http://nccam.nih.gov

CAM on PubMed

NCCAM and the NIH National Library of Medicine (NLM) jointly developed CAM on PubMed, a free and easy-to-use search tool for finding CAM-related journal citations. As a subset of the NLM's PubMed bibliographic database, CAM on PubMed features more than 230,000 references and abstracts for CAM-related articles from scientific journals. This database also provides links to the Web sites of over 1,800 journals, allowing users to view full-text articles. (A subscription or other fee may be required to access full-text articles.) CAM on PubMed is available through the NCCAM Web site. It can also be accessed through NLM PubMed bibliographic database by selecting the "Limits" tab and choosing "Complementary Medicine" as a subset.

Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine

The NCI Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM) coordinates the activities of the NCI in the area of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). OCCAM supports CAM cancer research and provides information about cancer-related CAM to health providers and the general public via the NCI Web site.

National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Information Service

U.S. residents may call the NCI Cancer Information Service toll free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. A trained Cancer Information Specialist is available to answer your questions.

Food and Drug Administration

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates drugs and medical devices to ensure that they are safe and effective.

Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857
Telephone: 1–888–463–6332 (toll free)
Web site: http://www.fda.gov/

Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces consumer protection laws. Publications available from the FTC include:

  • Who Cares: Sources of Information About Health Care Products and Services
  • Fraudulent Health Claims: Don't Be Fooled
Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, DC 20580
Telephone: 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) (toll free)
TTY (for deaf and hearing impaired callers): 202-326-2502
Web site: http://www.ftc.gov/

Last Revised: 2009-06-10

If you want to know more about cancer and how it is treated, or if you wish to know about clinical trials for your type of cancer, you can call the NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-422-6237, toll free. A trained information specialist can talk with you and answer your questions.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.