When Natural Cures for Cancer Became Illegal

The book, Hoxsey Therapy: When Natural Cures for Cancer Became Illegal, is the autobiographical tale of the battle between Harry Hoxsey and his folk remedy for cancer and his persecution by organized medicine. The book was originally published under the title, You Don’t Have to Die. In it, Hoxsey recounts the incredible thirty-five-year fight for medical freedom with the American Medical Association (AMA), the Institute for Cancer, and the FDA. It’s one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read.

What I found so interesting was not the claims that his herbal remedy cured cancer in some people, but the overwhelming vitriol and persecution by organized medicine against Hoxsey. Between 1920 and 1954 Hoxsey had opened over 17 cancer clinics throughout the US and had been treating thousands of patients with his internal and external herbal remedies. He had the largest cancer clinic in the world and had treated 30k+ patients, who by their own admission were satisfied with the treatment.

Hoxsey had been arrested more than 50 times in Texas by an overzealous prosecutor for practicing medicine without a license. Yet when that same prosecutor’s brother got cancer that was not responding to conventional treatment, he took him to one of Hoxsey’s clinics as a kind of Hail Mary approach when nothing else worked. Amazingly, the treatment worked, and his brother lived for many years afterward. The prosecutor then became Hoxsey’s biggest ally and defended Hoxsey in court becoming his lawyer.

The Origins of the Cure for Cancer

Harry Hoxsey inherited his folk treatment for cancer, passed down to him from his great-grandfather. In 1918, when Harry was 17, his father was on his deathbed and summoned his son to his bedside. Out of the eight Hoxsey children, Harry was the only one who ever showed any interest in his father’s remedies for cancer. His father told him to write down the remedy several times, and then memorize the formulas. His father had treated many people with cancer over the years who heard about the treatment through word of mouth.

The Hoxsey family’s Quaker faith had a profound influence on the fight for freedom in medicine. Hoxsey writes:

The [Quacker] Friends are a religious fellowship without formal creed or priestly hierarchy; hence the Hoxseys were inclined to reject all religious, political or scientific dogma, to deny the authority of witch-doctors of any kind to impose their theories upon the community as divine doctrine. The Friends are opposed to violence, regard human life as sacred; hence the Hoxsey conviction that the preservation of human life is the duty of all men, not merely the exclusive privilege of those entitled to add “M.D.” to their names.

Harry Hoxsey, When Natural Cures for Cancer Became Illegal pg. 61.

Hoxsey’s great grandfather first stumbled upon the folk remedy when one of his horses was seen to have a cancerous growth. Feeling sorry for the animal, he set it out to the pasture for the last few days of its life. Curiously, he noticed that the animal ate unusual herbs from the back corner of the pasture where the other horses did not eat. After several months, the cancerous growth disappeared and the horse became well. Hoxsey’s great-grandfather examined the herbs and made a tincture from them, along with a few other folk herbs and potassium iodide. As the local veterinarian, he used the tincture on other animals with cancer, and eventually tried it on humans. The internal formula was made of licorice, red clover, burdock root, stillingia root, barberis root, poke root, cascara, Aromatic USP 14, prickly ash bark, potassium iodide, and buckthorn bark. Eight of those compounds were later confirmed by analysis to have anti-cancer effects.

The Hoxeys also had an external formula consisting of a yellow paste of herbs and caustic chemicals that he used on external cancers such as melanomas. Later upon further analysis by conventional medicine, it was thought that the paste worked due to the fact that it burned away necrotic cancerous tissue.

You can watch several patient testimonies in the documentary linked below called Hoxsey: The Quack Who Cured Cancer.

Carrying the Legacy Forward

After Harry Hoxsey’s father died, Harry saw it as his duty to bring the anti-cancer formula to humanity. But he had a plan. He’d put himself through medical school, become a doctor and prove it to the world through conventional means.

Harry was hard working and charismatic. After the death of his father at the age of 17, he began working in coal mines to help out with family expenses, while running a taxi cab business on the weekends. He also played minor league baseball. He saved as much as possible in hopes of paying for medical school.

One day, a friend of the family came looking for Harry. He had a cancerous growth on his skin and wanted to know if he could get the external formula to use on it. Harry wanted to stay away from using the formulas until after he was through with medical school. His father had warned him about the high priests of the medical community who would persecute him if he challenged the status quo. The man begged and Harry relented. The man promised he wouldn’t tell anyone. A few weeks passed and the treatment was working. Soon word spread and more people came seeking a cure for their cancers. Harry felt that he couldn’t turn away the poor souls and quickly had a clinic up and running. He found a doctor with whom he could work for as a technician to administer the treatments. The clinic began treating patients by the hundreds and he gave up his dreams of going to med school in favor of making the treatment available to as many people as possible at a reasonable cost.

Harry never claimed that his treatment would cure every case. He was honest about the fact that it might not work. But back in those days, even conventional treatments were bad. Surgery, x-ray radiation, and radium were the only treatments available. Chemotherapy was thought to be a pipedream. Harry saw his therapy not as an alternative, but as a bonafide medical treatment. He believed that the herbs contained the first type of chemotherapy for cancer.

One of Hoxsey’s first patients that convinced him the treatment worked was on the treatment of an emaciated 45-year-old woman who had cancer eating away at her breast and other areas of her body. He didn’t believe that his treatment could help her, but he said he’d try. To his amazement, within several weeks she began to improve and she ended up living until age 75.

A Desire for Recognition

Harry was continually trying to spread the word about his miraculous cure and pushing for recognition from conventional medicine. More than anything, Hoxsey seemed to want to be recognized as a healer. He wanted the world to know about the amazing treatment and the stories of the people he helped.

He petitioned a cancer treatment center in Chicago to examine his treatment. The center gave Hoxsey a few of the patients that were believed to be too far gone and untreatable. When several of them began to turn around with the Hoxsey treatment the doctors were amazed. A high official within the AMA offered to buy the treatment from Hoxsey, test it and make it available. On reading the fine print of the deal, Hoxsey saw that the official wanted to patent the treatment and charge a high fee. Because of his religious background and promise to his father to make the medicine available to anyone, regardless of their willingness to pay, Hoxsey refused to sign the agreement. This set for a long 35-year battle between Hoxsey and the AMA.

Thenceforth, the AMA smeared Hoxsey’s name in print in their journal, warning doctors and patients of the dangerous quack. Hoxsey eventually sued for defamation and won. During the hearings, it came out that the head of the AMA, Dr. Fishbein (who’d constantly smeared Hoxsey’s name), never practiced medicine a day in his life, failed his anatomy courses in medical school, and failed to pass his medical boards. The only thing Dr. Fishbein was competent at was promoting the AMA cartel and smearing alternative treatment providers. The hearings caused Dr. Fishbein to be forced out of his long 35-year stint as the head of the AMA.

in the end, the AMA in cahoots with the FDA, ended up closing all Hoxsey clinics. The only clinic that survived to this day is located in Tijuana Mexico.

Beware of the High Priests of Medicine

For me, the most interesting thing about the Hoxsey story is the hatred that he received from conventional medicine. Doctors have become the high priests of our day. In previous times, you were a heretic if you promoted a religion outside of the approved one. Now, you are a heretic (quack) if you promote a medical treatment outside of the approved one. In America, the land of the free, you are allowed to choose your religion, but you are not allowed to choose your medicine. You may only choose from a small menu approved by the authorities. In the past, people lived in Theocratic states, now we live in a Therapeutic State. A treatment or provider not approved by the state is considered a dangerous threat to society. We’ve seen this prominently in recent years with alternative treatments to Covid-19 such as ivermectin, fluvoxamine, budesonide, hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, vitamin D, and Zinc.


The Hoxsey story is captivating. The life story and case studies written by Harry Hoxsey are incredible to contemplate. Below I’ve included links to a talk by Kenny Ausubel who made the above documentary about Harry Hoxsey. You can also read Kenny’s book, When healing becomes a crime: the amazing story of the Hoxsey cancer clinics and the return of alternative therapies, for free at archive.org.

Below I’ve also included a link to a documentary called, Forbidden Cures. It chronicles the alternative treatments to cancer that have shown some success but have been banned by the state and the legalized medical cartels throughout the years.

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