Renal Cancer Supplement Recommendations

Multiple nutritional supplements have been associated with reduced cancer occurrence and/or cancer progression. The list below contains those with the greatest evidence-base and benefit, though it is not necessary that they all be included.


  • A human cell study demonstrated that astragalus reduced oxidative damage to kidney cells.[1] Pretreatment of animal kidney cells with astragalus before use of chemotherapy on these cells reduced the toxic effect of the chemotherapy without reducing its effectiveness.[2] Astragalus also slowed renal tumor progression in animal studies.[3]
  • Suggested dose: Use of standardized extract: 250-500 mg, 3-4 times per day standardized to 0.4% 4-hydroxy-3-methoxy isoflavones; Powdered root: 250 – 500 mg, 3-4 times per day; Tincture (1:5) in 30% ethanol: 20-60 drops, 3 times per day.

Ligustrum lucidum

  • Ligustrum, a berry used in Chinese herbal medicine, when combined with astragalus also slowed renal tumor progression in animal studies.[4]
  • Suggested dose: 5 mg, 2-3 times per day as a capsule or dried.

Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa)

  • Cat’s claw has historically been used for decades to boost the immune system in the genitourinary systems. As a renal cancer therapy, it may prove useful as it has anti-inflammatory effects in cancer cell lines studies[5]
  • Suggested dose: 250-350 mg per day of the ethanolic extract.

Milk Thistle

  • Human cells treated with milk thistle while undergoing chemotherapy demonstrated reduced toxicity from the chemotherapy.[7] Renal tumor size was significantly reduced in animals given milk thistle. Additionally use of milk thistle with common chemotherapy medications increased the effectiveness of the medications against the renal cancer.[8]
  • Suggested dose: 200 mg, 2-3 times per day.

Licorice root

  • An extract isolated from licorice root, called Isoliquiritigenin, suppressed metastasis of renal cell cancer in an animal study. It also decreased the side effect of leukocytopenia of a common chemotherapy drug.[10] Animal studies also show that licorice root decreases the toxic side effects of the chemotherapy medication cisplatin on renal cells.[11]
  • Suggested dose: 100-600 mg per day, standardized at 25%. glycyrrhizic acid.


  • Human cell studies showed that co-treatment with berberine extract and tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) induced cell death in human renal cancer cells.[13] It has also demonstrated positive effects in animal studies with improvement to damaged kidney cells, and in human cell studies.[14],[15],[16]
  • Suggested dose: 500 mg, 3 times per day.

Vitamin D3

  • A prospective study with a large human cohort found that higher plasma 25(OH)D levels were associated with a statistically significantly lower risk of RCC in men and women.[17] Additionally, research on the circulating vitamin D-binding protein (DBP) suggests a strong protective association observed between higher circulating DBP concentration and renal cancer risk.[18]
  • Suggested dose: Suggested dose is that sufficient to raise vitamin D blood levels to >40 ng/mL, which may require 5000 IU per day or more.[19]

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[1] Gui D, Huang J, Guo Y, Chen J, Chen Y, Xiao W, Liu X, Wang N. Astragaloside IV ameliorates renal injury in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats through inhibiting NF-κB-mediated inflammatory genes expression. Cytokine. 2013 Mar;61(3):970-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2013.01.008. Epub 2013 Feb 20.

[2] Liu L, Zhang J, He R, Zhou L, Zhang J. [Astragalus injection ameliorates cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity in mice]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2010 Oct;35(20):2736-40.

[3] Lau BH, Ruckle HC, Botolazzo T, Lui PD. Chinese medicinal herbs inhibit growth of murine renal cell carcinoma. Cancer Biother. 1994 Summer;9(2):153-61.

[4] Lau BH, Ruckle HC, Botolazzo T, Lui PD. Chinese medicinal herbs inhibit growth of murine renal cell carcinoma. Cancer Biother. 1994 Summer;9(2):153-61. PubMed PMID:

[5] Gurrola-Díaz CM, García-López PM, Gulewicz K, Pilarski R, Dihlmann S. Inhibitory mechanisms of two Uncaria tomentosa extracts affecting the Wnt-signaling pathway. Phytomedicine. 2011 Jun 15;18(8-9):683-90.

[6] Hikino H, Kiso Y. Natural products for liver disease. Econ Med Plant Res. 1988;2:39-7

[7] Sonnenbichler J, Scalera F, Sonnenbichler I, Weyhenmeyer R. Stimulatory effects of silibinin and silicristin from the milk thistle Silybum marianum on kidney cells. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1999 Sep;290(3):1375-83.

[8] Chang HR, Chen PN, Yang SF, Sun YS, Wu SW, Hung TW, Lian JD, Chu SC, Hsieh YS. Silibinin inhibits the invasion and migration of renal carcinoma 786-O cells in vitro, inhibits the growth of xenografts in vivo and enhances chemosensitivity to 5-fluorouracil and paclitaxel. Mol Carcinog. 2011 Oct;50(10):811-23.

[9] Isbrucker RA, Burdock GA. Risk and safety assessment on the consumption of Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza sp.), its extract and powder as a food ingredient, with emphasis on the pharmacology and toxicology of glycyrrhizin. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2006 Dec;46(3):167-92. Epub 2006 Aug 1.

[10] Yamazaki S, Morita T, Endo H, Hamamoto T, Baba M, Joichi Y, Kaneko S, Okada Y, Okuyama T, Nishino H, Tokue A. Isoliquiritigenin suppresses pulmonary metastasis of mouse renal cell carcinoma. Cancer Lett. 2002 Sep 8;183(1):23-30.

[11] Arjumand W, Sultana S. Glycyrrhizic acid: a phytochemical with a protective role against cisplatin-induced genotoxicity and nephrotoxicity. Life Sci. 2011 Sep 26;89(13-14):422-9.

[12] Yin J, Xing H, Ye J. Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism. 2008 May;57(5):712-7.

[13] Lee SJ, Noh HJ, Sung EG, Song IH, Kim JY, Kwon TK, Lee TJ. Berberine sensitizes TRAIL-induced apoptosis through proteasome-mediated downregulation of c-FLIP and Mcl-1 proteins. Int J Oncol. 2011 Feb;38(2):485-92.

[14] Li J, Lim SS, Lee ES, Gong JH, Shin D, Kang IJ, Kang YH. Isoangustone A suppresses mesangial fibrosis and inflammation in human renal mesangial cells. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2011 Apr 1;236(4):435-44.

[15] Aksoy N, Dogan Y, Iriadam M, Bitiren M, Uzer E, Ozgonul A, Aksoy S. Protective and therapeutic effects of licorice in rats with acute tubular necrosis. J Ren Nutr. 2012 May;22(3):336-43.

[16] Sakr S, El-Kenawy A, El-Sahra D. Metiram-induced nephrotoxicity in albino mice: effect of licorice aqueous extract. Environ Toxicol. 2013 Jul;28(7):372-9.

[17] Joh HK, Giovannucci EL, Bertrand KA, Lim S, Cho E. Predicted plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of renal cell cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013 May 15;105(10):726-32. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt082. Epub 2013 Apr 8.

[18] Mondul AM, Weinstein SJ, Moy KA, Männistö S, Albanes D. Vitamin D-binding protein, circulating vitamin D and risk of renal cell carcinoma. Int J Cancer. 2014 Jun 1;134(11):2699-706. doi: 10.1002/ijc.28596. Epub 2014 Jan 30

[19] Garland CF, French CB, Baggerly LL, et al. Vitamin D supplement doses and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the range associated with cancer prevention. Anticancer Res. 2011 Feb;31(2):607-11.

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