Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen

In Alternative Cancer Therapies, Alternatives Cancer Treatment, Alternatives to Tamoxifen, aromatase inhibitors, BPA and breast cancer, Breast Cancer, Healing Cancer Naturally, Hormone Balance, Tamoxifen, Uncategorized on January 15, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Over the past few months I have been asked many times if I know of a natural substitute for Tamoxifen.  I apologize that it has taken me so long to write this post, but it has required extensive research and obtaining the knowledge of many experts.  Many are not convinced that Tamoxifen is the wonder drug it is made out to be.  I am one of those people.  However, it is not my opinion that matters.  My job is to give you information and options, not opinions.  There are many others who believe that Tamoxifen is a beneficial drug. You and you alone can decide what is best for you, for your needs and concerns.

Tamoxifen is a synthetic drug that competes with estrogens for binding to the estrogen receptors in the body.  When estrogens bind the estrogen receptors in the cells of the breast or uterus, for example, this activates cell growth and division.  When Tamoxifen occupies the estrogen receptor in place of an estrogen, it paralyzes the receptor, preventing it from triggering the events that result in cell division.  It does not kill cancer cells, but in some respect, puts them to sleep or disables them.  Scientists call this a cytostatic drug; the word cytotoxic means toxic to cells, or cell-killing. However, Tam does not kill the cancer cells, but rather only stops them from growing; therefore there is no offer for a cure, only a band-aid.  When you remove the band-aid, the cells can then begin to divide again.  Tamoxifen also comes with a host of potential side effects so many doctors suggest a time limit of five years, after which the negatives may outweigh the positives.

Okay, so is there a natural substitute for Tamoxifen?  The short answer is no. Many women seek out a natural replacement for this drug, but the replacement is really an overall lifestyle approach – including diet, exercise, stress management, avoidance of toxins and adding the support of herbs and supplements. In other words, the best thing really is to follow an anti-cancer strategy.  In doing so, you will naturally incorporate an anti-estrogen strategy.  Your endocrine and immune systems will be in balance and you will be optimizing the other systems in your body to join you in your defense of cancer. However there are some things you can concentrate on.

The first thing you can do to reduce estrogen is to avoid unnecessary exposure to hormone- influencing toxins.  Be aware that most commercial home, garden and beauty products contain hormone-like compounds in them.  Purchase safer, chemical-free products, and please, do not use plastic containers or plastic wrap in the microwave (better yet, toss the micro, but that is a story for another day) and avoid BPA exposure as much as possible.

View my video on Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen—Dr Kelly Turner, PhD interviews Elyn Jacobs for The Radical Remission Project. Update added 1/19/14

You may also want to read my updated version of Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors 

Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight play a crucial role in cancer prevention.  Exercise helps to reduce excess estrogen from the body and being overweight boosts the body’s estrogen levels.  Obesity increases the body’s insulin levels and insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) that have a growth promoting effect on cells, especially on cancerous cells. Further, recent studies have proven that overweight and obese women have higher levels of inflammation, which provides a cancer promoting environment in the body. Try to exercise for at least 30-45 minutes a day. Any exercise is better than none, but a brisk walk or run will give you more protection.

           “Let Food be thy Medicine, and Medicine be thy Food”    Hippocrates

Hippocrates was right, and in this case, specific food choices and supplements offer natural ways to inhibit cancer growth and balance hormones.

Flaxseed–The lignans in flax are phytoestrogens, but they actually bind to estrogen receptors in the body and work a bit like Tamoxifen, as they hop on the estrogen and bind up these hormones and carcinogens and remove them from the body.  Although lignans are found in most unrefined grains (barley, buckwheat, millet and oats), soybeans, and some vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and spinach), flaxseed is the richest source.  I recommend eating 2 tablespoons freshly ground flaxseed daily. If you are unable to eat 2-3 Tbs daily, I recommend a supplement: Brevail Proactive Breast Health Capsules. I have written many articles on the benefits of flaxseed.

Love your liver—No, not liver, your liver. Your body depends on a fully-functioning liver to break down and eliminate hormones and toxins in the body. Calcium d-glucurate, a natural ingredient found in certain vegetables and fruits that helps detoxify the liver and promote estrogen metabolism.  Vegetables rich in glucaric acid include those in the cruciferous family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, etc. –please eat several servings of these every day), as well as in the gourd (think squash, watermelon and pumpkins).  For fruits, look for oranges and apples, and consider legumes such as peas, lentils and bean sprouts. Calcium d-glucurate can also be found in supplement form. Silymarin or milk thistle also prevents damage to the liver by acting as an antioxidant and enhancing the detoxification process.  NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) is also a liver fortifier and detoxification tool.  (NAC is also useful in the removal of the lead and mercury from dental fillings as well as the toxins in paint). Limit alcohol and avoid drugs that can damage the liver.

Adding bitter greens, such as arugula and chicory, to salads will also help the liver excrete excess hormones.  (Arugula is also a member of the cruciferous family)

Pomegranateare a potent source phytonutrients, and antioxidants like polyphenols, ellagitannins (ellagic acid), tannins and anthocyanins.  These compounds are strong free-radical fighters, providing added protection against cellular damage, and research has suggested that these phytochemicals may suppress estrogen.  Researchers now believe that it is specifically the ellagic acid in pomegranates that inhibits aromatase, the key enzyme used by the body to make estrogen.  Thus, as breast and ovarian cancers require estrogen to grow, AIs are offered to either block the production of estrogen or block the action of estrogen on receptors; pomegranates and their bioactive metabolites may act as a natural aromatase inhibitor. Other sources of Ellagic acid are raspberries and Marion berries.

Please note: I do not suggest that you take ellagic acid supplements, but rather whole food sources of Ellagitannin.  When you eat foods that contain ellagitannins, your body converts these ellagitannins into ellagic acid much in the same way your body converts Beta-carotene into vitamin A.  When you eat beta-carotene rich foods, you get the full benefit of Vitamin A without the potential health risks of the synthetic form of vitamin A.  The same is true for Ellagic Acid which is not as available to the body and comes with potential side effects, such as high blood pressure.

Limit Caffeine– Those who consumed at least 500 mg of caffeine daily, the equivalent of four or five cups of coffee had nearly 70% more estrogen than women who consumed less than 100 mg of caffeine daily.

Choose only organic animal products from grass-fed livestock that has not been fed estrogen, progesterone or testosterone.  Fats from milk and meat are loaded with estrogen, but at least try to avoid products with added hormones.

Eat apples, every day.  Quercetin, found in apples, red wine, onions, and green tea, has anti-estrogenic effects and may reduce the metastatic potential of cancer cells. Red wine you say?  Yes, many studies show red wine may lower estrogen levels.

Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a phytonutrient and plant indole found in cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale, with many powerful anticancer properties. Dim also promotes  estrogen metabolism.  Estrogen can be metabolized in two different pathways in the liver, which results in two different kinds of estrogen, “good” and “bad” estrogen. “Good” estrogen metabolites are released into the bloodstream there they cause many of the benefits estrogen provides, such as prevention of heart disease, and strong, healthy bones. “Bad” estrogen, in large quantities, can result in many health problems including autoimmune disorders, breast cancer, cervical dysplasia, fibroid tumors, magnesium deficiency, osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and zinc deficiency. ***Please read the following articles for updates on DIM, posted April 8th 2013 —DIM-New Thoughts on an Old Story. and  posted October 31, 2013 DIM: A Bright New View on Cancer Management .  My recommendation for DIM.

Manage Stress—the adrenal gland is where stress is expressed.  Chronic stress leading to adrenal fatigue is a leading cause of progesterone depletion and thus estrogen dominance.  Stress, per se, is not the true enemy, but rather how we respond to it.  For more on stress and cancer, please read my article on changing the cancer environment.

My post on Chinese Herbal Medicine highlighted the point that CHM looks to individually assess each person’s condition, identifying excesses, deficiencies, and imbalances – as understood within the TCM diagnostic framework – and to prescribe a combination of herbs to bring the system as a whole back into balance. With that said, a lot of research has been done on the physiological effects of various herbs, particularly on estrogen and other hormones, so a visit with an herbalist might be a good part of an anti-estrogen strategy.

Simply put, estrogen can be reduced or managed using exercise, diet and relaxation modalities, but there is not one magic bullet.  That said, I know I have mentioned embracing  the cruciferous family, but I cannot stress this enough….raw or lightly cooked is best, juicing fantastic, and freeze-dried fine if that is the only way to get them.  One option is the use of super-food powders. Supplements are a great way to bridge the gap between great intentions and actually getting the nutrients and enzymes we need (just remember, supplements are intended to accompany a good diet, not replace one.)  Take time for yourself everyday for exercise, laughter, relaxation and love, and benefit from a monthly massage.  Embrace every day and remind yourself everyday that you matter, that you deserve to be loved and cared for.

Please understand that nothing in this post represents medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist or naturopathic doctor. I have compiled this information solely for those seeking an alternative to Tamoxifen and cannot endorse either protocol.

Herbal Medicine, and Healing Cancer , by Dr Donald Yance, is an excellent resource for balancing hormones and healing cancer naturally, as well as for support during conventional cancer treatments.

You may also be interested in Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors.  and Natural Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer

This article was updated 11/3/2019

In your good health,


~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

ej portrait 150res for PrueElyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and holistic cancer strategist who helps people make healthier, less-toxic choices for their healing. She emphasizes the importance of not just surviving cancer, but surviving well and reducing the risk of recurrence. She is a Contributing Editor for The Truth About Cancer and is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn has written for numerous journals and publications. She was the former Executive Director of the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation and the creator and host of the Survive and Live Well Radio Show. To contact Elyn, visit www.elynjacobs.com. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone, or in-person. Elyn does not provide online advice.

Elyn Jacobs does not provide medical advice. The information provided is for general information only. No online site should be used as a substitute for personal medical attention.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not a recommendation to forgo medical advice and treatment.  This post is not intended to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose any disease or condition. This post does not represent medical advice nor should it be considered to be medical advice or a replacement for medical advice.  I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist, naturopathic doctor, or conventional oncologist. The information provided is from my research and not to be taken as scientific evidence.

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  1. Thank you elyn.
    I was just diagnosed with DCIS last month. My life, from childhood, has been stress filled, beginning with physical abuse, isolation, a Bi-polar mother and enabling but absent father. What you wrote about the adrenal gland, along with evrything tying together the body as a whole is so incredibly useful for me! I have a host of other health problems I have sought herbal/natural remedies for with some relief. I look forward to investigating your information and definately following the nutritional advice.
    Again, thank you ever so much for your work!!!
    God bless 🙂

    • Thank you Amy. If you can, please tune into http://www.W4CS.com, Tuesdays at 1pm (est) for my radio show, Survive and Live Well; Helayne Waldman, my guest on Tuesday, May 29th, will be talking about this same issue. You can find more info about the show on my site, just click on Survive and Live Well, or W4CS…be well and hope to see you there!

  2. […] as I said in my post about Tamoxifen, there is not an easy answer. However, there are many powerful natural aromatase inhibitors in your […]

  3. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who was doing a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me breakfast due to the fact that I discovered it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this issue here on your site.

  4. Very informative article, thank you for both carrying out all the research and for sharing it. Yvonne

  5. Ovarian cancer is a silent killer and is one of the deadliest threats to women’s health. The American Cancer Society says that about 20,180 American women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year alone. Every woman faces a risk of 1:57 risk of getting ovarian cancer in her lifetime. The symptoms of ovarian cancer are not perceptible until the cancer becomes widespread and critical, which explains why thousands of women die of this dreaded disease every year. Although ovarian cancer is treatable, in most instances, it is detected late causing complications and death to ovarian cancer patients.”

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  6. […] Is there a natural solution to estrogen management for breast cancer? The answer is yes and no.  I believe that there is. However, to date, there are no natural supplements that have been compared with aromatase inhibitors side by side to verify that they are equal substitutes or even superior to pharmaceutical drugs. Clinical trials are not likely to be done, simply because there is not enough financial reward to big Pharma; in other words they have nothing to gain and tons to lose by funding research for natural solutions such as consumption of foods such as button mushrooms, broccoli and pomegranate. […]

  7. Thank you very much for your article. I refused Tamoxifen because of the side effects, but face criticism from friends and doctors – so, now I can be more specific in my replies to them. I had breast cancer, now lung cancer!!!!! On we go. (They are not related to one another).

  8. Hello Elyn and everybody

    Let me recommend a highly efficient pomegranate concentrated drug made by Dr jacob (a german doctor), which I am taking right now as part of my breast cancer adjuvant treatment. The brand name I am taking is GranaProsan. You can buy it here in Europe from:

    Thank you for your very informative website

    Gerard de angeli

  9. I would want to read the post about aromatase inhibitors. What I do know is that a tamoxifen altenative exists and it’s called calcium D glucatate. It was so effective when I took it that my gums went downhill from the drop in estrogen. You also feel some symptoms similar to tamoxifen ones. At least symptoms I have heard tamoxifen causes,,,,I refused it and I am 5 years out because it xauses a deadly bilateral breast cancer and some other cancers.

    • Thank you FCCS, Calcium D Glucatate is a good supplement, but I don’t think that any one supplement stands alone; I believe it takes a full protocol and effort. Thank you for sharing and glad you had great success with it! My best, Elyn

      • The actual magic bullet in my case was natural progesterone cream I was self-medicating with for a year before diagnosis. I am convinced that a lot of lives would be similarly saved. After the menopause I am still on it, so far with only good side effects….I don;t think the self medication caused the cancer. I am also on mistletoe when I can afford the injections, It makes you feel awesome.

  10. […] 1 Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen […]

  11. From what I understand, they are starting to keep women on Tam for 10 years now. Two years was two years too much for me!

  12. Two was too much for me and not only do they want patients to be on for ten, but they want to create new patients by giving it to healthy people. Very scary.

  13. […] therapies. For more information on an alternative approach to hormone therapy, please read Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen and view my video with Dr Kelly Turner, PhD, author and founder of The Radical Remission […]

  14. Thank you so much for this informative post. I have recently diagnosed with an early stage breast cancer and am terrified at the idea of tamoxifen. Many of the alternatives you have mentioned are already part of my life. I am encouraged by your research and will present these alternatives to my doctor next week.

  15. […] Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen | elyn jacobs – Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen—Dr Kelly Turner, PhD interviews Elyn Jacobs for The Radical Remission Project.Update Added 1/19/2014. Over the past few months I …… […]

  16. Reblogged this on Wellness Rising and commented:
    Great explanation and option strategy for an Anti-Cancer lifestyle

  17. […] Are there natural Alternatives to tamoxifen? Thanks to Elyn Jacobs, we have some answers. Please see her article here. […]

  18. Hi Elyn. I found this article very helpful, thank you. I just wondered about something. I take a supergreen formula called Bioglan Supergreens. I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year so the rest up to now you will be all too familiar with so I won’t bore you with that. What I’m wondering is this. Supergreen formulas have a host of beneficial nutrients and enzymes but is there by contrast any ingredients in them that would be detrimental to someone trying to avoid oestrogen like myself who doesn’t want to use Tamoxifen?


    • Hi Amanda,
      No, nothing stands out that would be estrogen-problematic. However, I do see folic acid in it, which is not the preferred form folate. I also see rice bran high on the list, which is not great, but not bad, as well as calcium (twice) and copper. While we need trace amounts of copper, have to be careful not to take (or eat) too much. Green tea extract can be tough on the liver. That said, can I assume that this is only one of the things you are doing? Best, Elyn

      • Hi Elyn. Thanks so much for getting back to me. You must be a very busy lady so I appreciate it. Yes supergreens is just one of many things I do. I’ve read a lot about nutrition and stuff during this whole thing. I take bicarb every day as well as apple cider vinegar. I take turmeric, coconut oil and milkthistle supplements. I have a smoothie every day normally always with a base of kale, apple and pineapple. I try to keep my diet as alkaline as possible. I’m a veggie trying to transition to full vegan so no meat of any description and very little dairy. I had a reverse osmosis water filter fitted so my water SHOULD be free of metals, toxins and parasites! I use paraben free shampoo and stuff, fluoride free toothpaste. The only area I’m falling down is exercise. This insipid fatigue with the chemo is taking it’s time to go so my energy levels are struggling to recoup. I want to return to swimming but most people have asvised against it as my final chemo was only 3 weeks ago. I am starting a tai chi class next week so I hope that will help.
        Thanks again for listening.
        Amanda. X

  19. That is great Amanda, and keep that D level up, which will help with the cancer stem cells. You may want to consider IP-6 as well. https://elynjacobs.com/2016/12/17/why-you-need-to-know-about-ip-6-if-you-have-cancer/.
    Any my pleasure, thanks for stopping by.

  20. Thanks for sharing. I am about to do total knee replacement surgery in the right knee. I have been on Tamoxifen for 21/2 years after early breast cancer diagnosis. I will discontinue Tamoxifen use prior to surgery and may not resume due to risk of clots and DVT. I would like to succeed on this more natural path. One Love from Jamaica!

  21. Great information, I just leave the oncologist office and felt hopeless after that meeting. I appreciate this information.

  22. I’m in search of an alternative approach to estrogen based breast cancer. I’m not taking tamoxifen. Breast Cancer, 3/2014, mastectomy left breast 4/2014, chemo 5/2014. 18 weeks of herceptin, taxeter, carboplatin followed by 6 weeks of radiation.,one yr. Of hercepton. In remission, with follow ups, last 1 yr.2015, 2016 no cancer markers. I’m wanting a holistic approach.

    • Hi Debra,
      If you would like more information on adopting a holistic approach, you can order my Estrogen and Detoxification handouts or schedule a consult via my Contact page.
      In your good health,

  23. Thank you so much for this tremendously informative article. I take Tamoxifen reluctantly at the moment but I am also doing many of the protocols of diet which you soecify. I just need to be more focused with my regime and not let things slip. I take flaxseed every day and am delighted with your information on that as an oestrogen blocker. I need to take more though so will up my dose from now. I intend to stay on the tamofifen whilst the other natural remedies start to take control, then come off if it once my cancer is in remission .
    Your article has given me great hope and a feeling of self power in my battle. Thank you so much x

  24. Hey Elyn, Thank you for the article. I see it has been three years since the last comment on this post, so hopefully you still see these. I am one of the 1 out of a 1000 male breast cancer survivors. I was stage 1 with no sign of it spreading and had a mastectomy. I also am her2 positive, so I have been on herceptin for 6 months with 6 months left. After that my doctor wants me to start Tamoxifen. I have done a lot of research and guys do not tolerate well and I have already expressed to him that I am not taking it. Any thoughts on Male Breast Cancer and choosing an alternative to Tamoxifen?

    • Hi Jeremy, male or female, tamox is a bad drug. most of the things i recommend for women are good for men too. hard to get into it as i know very little about you, but of course there are many natural alternatives you can choose. Also, flaxseed is a great alternative to herceptin :)..with the caveat that one cannot expect any one thing to resolve a problem. There is a lot more going on than estrogen and HER2.

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