Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sesame Oil?

Here's a fun chart of my platelet counts since I was first diagnosed in June:

After the first round of chemo (6/26 - 7/2), you can see the platelet count drop to a precipitously low level on 7/11. The spike on the 14th is the result of the subsequent platelet transfusion. The counts went down again (expected since they don't live long), but the good news is that they've stayed relatively higher than they were before. This could be a result of the chemotherapy, but I want to believe it's the sesame oil I've been taking! Let me explain.

If you remember, two weeks back we met with a naturopathic oncologist. The consultation went great, and one of the things he recommended trying was sesame oil, since in some cases it had been shown to improve platelet counts. This was based on some clinical data that had been observed on primates in captivity in which they found that these primates had strange bleeding problems due to low platelet counts. It turns out their diet didn't include the same amount of sesame oil they were getting in the wild. Some studies were done, and they did in fact find a scientific link between sesame oil and platelet production.

The naturopath recommended 2 tablespoons of pure sesame oil a day. We figured it was worth a try, especially since he didn't think pineapples were going to be a big help :) After leaving his office we bumped into an old Chinese woman in the waiting room who had overheard us, and she raved about how sesame oil had worked wonders for her. In fact, she said her platelet levels had gone too high - so they cut her back to only a couple teaspoons a day. Now, she says she only needs to rub it on her wrists and she can almost regulate her platelet levels. Well, after reading other anecdotal evidence about it online and finding some vague clinical data to back it up, I figured it was worth a shot.

We found the specific brand at Whole Foods and I started taking it the same day. The brand is Rapunzel and it's important to get it cold-pressed, not toasted like some of the kinds you find at the asian markets. It doesn't taste like much, and it's not too hard to drink. Some people have found it's easier to take mixed with yogurt, but I haven't tried that yet. By the next blood test my counts had only dropped by 1. A few days later they actually went up from 22 to 30! This was fairly significant, since apart from the transfusion and a couple minor blips, we had watched the counts drop depressingly from blood test to blood test ever since I was diagnosed. Not once had we seen them jump up by this amount.

If you look back at the graph again you can see them pop up. I'm cautiously optimistic about the whole thing and don't want to jump to conclusions, but hey, it's kind of cool! My main oncologist kind of laughed at the whole thing but agreed, "sure why not, keep taking it!" We've also been walking 2-3 miles a day and I've been trying to eat healthier, so it could be anything. But, wow, maybe it really does work!


Cindy said...

That's a cool chart. I'd like to think it's the sesame oil, too!

Anonymous said...

That's really cool! It's amazing how our bodies work.

- S

Sue and Leon said...

Interesting reading. I recall reading another article about this use some time ago. As I recall it too indicated a possible correlation similar to the one you report.

Have you had a good laugh today? They say that's good medicine too.
We're thinking about you often and keeping you and yours in our prayers.
Uncle Leon