Ellagic Acid & Alternative Cancer Therapy | Special Report

Date: 09/01/2001    Written by: Jon Barron

The Truth About Ellagic Acid and Red Raspberries

The Ellagic Acid Buzz

If you pay any attention at all to the alternative-health information-grapevine, you've heard the buzz on ellagic acid and red raspberries. If you believe the rumors flying around the Internet, the cure for cancer is at hand!! This is the greatest discovery since sliced bread!! Well, like most rumors, there's some truth to it…and a whole lot of nonsense.

The Truth

Two years ago, I wrote in the Barron Report on antioxidants about the value of including berries in your diet because of the benefits of the ellagic acid derived from them. This recommendation was based on work being done at the Hollings Cancer Institute by Dr. Daniel Nixon, who had been studying the benefits of red raspberries for some 6 years at that time. Since then, two things have changed dramatically.

  • First, the study results are now becoming, for lack of a better word, remarkable.
  • Second, it is now possible to get high quantities of ellagitannins without having to consume a cup of berries every day.

Dr. Nixon's published results show:

  • Consuming one cup of red raspberries per day (40 mg of ellagitannins) prevents the development of cancer cells. At low concentrations, it slows the growth of cancer cells; at higher concentrations, it tells cancer cells to kill themselves. For example, cells infected with the human papilloma virus (which is linked to cervical cancer), when exposed to ellagic acid experienced apoptosis, or normal cell death.
  • Red raspberry ellagitannins slow the growth of abnormal colon cells in humans.
  • Tests reveal similar results for breast, pancreas, esophageal, skin, and prostate cancer cells. The ellagitannins also produce a breakdown in human leukemia cells.
  • Another way that ellagitannins protect your body is through G-Arrest. G-Arrest means that the ellagitannins stop cells from mutating in the first place. If cells don't mutate, then we don't get cancer. This is very important when you understand that that every single day of your life you produce anywhere from a few hundred to as many as 10,000 cancerous cells in your body as part of your normal metabolism. In tests conducted by the Hollings Cancer Institute with Ellagic Acid, G-Arrest began in 72 hours in both breast and cervical cancer.
  • Red raspberry ellagitannins prevent destruction of the P53 gene by cancer cells. P53 prevents mutagenic activity in cervical cells.
  • Red raspberry ellagitannins protect human cells against cancer-causing agents in tobacco smoke, food additives, and petroleum-based substances. Ellagitannins act as scavengers to “bind” cancer-causing chemicals, making them inactive. The ellagitannins inhibit the ability of other chemicals to cause mutations in bacteria. Red Raspberry ellagitannins also protect DNA by blocking carcinogens from binding to the DNA.
  • European medical studies also demonstrate that red raspberry ellagitannins lower the incidence of birth defects, promote wound healing, reduce heart disease, and may reduce or reverse chemically induced liver fibrosis. In addition, the ellagic acid produced from the ellagitannins has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties

Note: It is important to understand that most of the above studies have been conducted in two phases. First, in test tubes on isolated cells using ellagic acid. Later (and ongoing, even now) in live human beings using the full ellagitannin complex as found in red raspberry puree. It is, of course, the human studies that are of interest to us.


The problem with cancer cells is that when they divide, the original cell does not die.

The normal process of cell division, on the other hand, results in the replicating cell being “carried off” as trash just as if a bacterium had died. The body signals the dismantling of the old cell and the new cell takes over its processes. This is called apoptosis, or natural cell death.

Cancer cells, as mentioned above, are different. Cancer cells do not die; they rapidly multiply by cell division (mitosis), making 2 cancer cells, then 4, 8, 16, 32 and so on. What Dr. Nixon found is that in both lab and clinical studies, red raspberry ellagitannins caused cancer cells to go through a nontoxic, normal apoptosis process without damaging the healthy cells. This is a remarkable improvement over standard treatments.

Chemotherapy and radiation do the same thing – kill cancer cells, that is. But they have a devastating side effect that does not happen with the ellagitannins: they kill healthy cells too -- destroying the immune system in the process. More people probably die from the side effects of chemo and radiation than actually die from the original cancer.

This is why Dr. Nixon's studies on ellagitannins are so exciting. Potentially, we're talking about an all-natural cancer treatment/preventative that provides ALL of the benefits of chemo and radiation and NONE OF THE SIDEFFECTS. An all-natural supplement, if you will, that can literally be taken every single day to prevent most cancers from ever even forming in your body.

Enough of the Nonsense

Ellagic acid supplements are now appearing everywhere, and most of them are pure nonsense. As for those products that truly contain pure ellagic acid, you don't want them.

  • First of all, ellagic acid doesn't work as well as the complete ellagitannin complex. Although ellagic acid alone has been shown to inhibit carcinogenesis in vitro (in a test tube with isolated cancer cells), several studies have reported that the other phenolic compounds in the berries also contribute to the observed inhibitory effect. Those compounds are only present in a complete ellagitannin complex, not in a synthetic ellagic acid isolate. In other words, an ellagitannin complex works better than pure ellagic acid. Or as stated on the USDA Agricultural Research Services website:
    • "In pure form, ellagic acid is highly insoluble and biologically unavailable...ellagic acid, as it is biosynthesized in plants, occurs in combination with glucose as ellagitannins. These compounds are quite water soluble and biologically available. This means that relatively small amounts of ellagitannins may be more effective in the human diet than large doses of ellagic acid,"
    • Or to quote from Dr. Nixon himself, "What is interesting to note is the superior efficacy of eating red raspberries as opposed to taking the individual phytochemicals in the form of dietary supplements. Though we do not yet fully comprehend why this is so, it is clear the nutraceutical whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
  • Second, synthetic ellagic acid is too harsh for the human body to accept, and has some potentially serious side effects – not the least of which is its tendency to raise blood pressure.
  • And third. Dr. Nixon's human studies are being done with the complete complex, not with isolated ellagic acid. If you want the same results, you need to use the same source. (Yes, the in vitro, or test tube studies on individual cells, were done with ellagic acid because individual cells have no way to break down ellagitannins into ellagic acid; but all in vivo, or human studies, have been done with red raspberry puree – and it is, after all, results with human beings that we're concerned with here.)

And as for those companies selling some form of berry-based ellagitannin complex and either calling it ellagic acid or claiming that it contains ellagic acid…don't be fooled. It isn't ellagic acid, and it doesn't contain any (unless synthetic ellagic acid has been added to the formula). The fact of the matter is that ellagic acid itself is not naturally present in plants.

Instead, polymers of gallic acid and hexahydroxydipenoyl (HHDP) are linked to glucose centers to form the class of compounds known as ellagitannins. Ellagic acid is formed when the HHDP group is cleaved from the tannin molecule and spontaneously rearranges – as happens in the digestive tract.

red raspberries and ellagitannins

The bottom line is that it is the ellagitannins that are present in various fruits – not the ellagic acid. Again, to quote from the Washington State Red Raspberry Commission: “ Some articles in which ellagitannins are quantified refer to ellagic acid because quantitation of ellagitannins is done by breaking them down into ellagic acid subunits and quantifying the subunits.” Understand, that when researchers refer to the ellagic acid content of foods, they are referring to the amount of ellagic acid that can be derived from a food-based supplement. That's entirely different than saying the supplement contains ellagic acid.

Why does this matter?

Well, for three reasons:

  • If the company selling the supplement truly doesn't know what's in the product they're selling, why would you want to buy from that company in the first place?
  • If they do know, and they're willing to be “inaccurate” for “marketing purposes,” doesn't that call into question everything else they say?
  • And finally, if you understand that it's really the ellagitannins that you're after (and not the ellagic acid), then you realize that the source of your ellagitannins is vital – since the source will determine the exact mix of ellagitannins and how effective that mix is.

The bottom line is you don't want to buy your supplements from a company that doesn't have a clue about what they're selling. Look for a company that uses accurate literature and labeling.

The Cure for Cancer?

Are ellagitannins the cure for cancer? No, of course not. But they are an important piece of the puzzle. You still want to do all parts of the Baseline of Health®.

  • You want to build your immune system. Your immune system is your body's prime defense against cancer.
  • You want to detox your liver and clean your blood – make them hostile to the presence of cancer.
  • You still want to alkalinize your body. Cancer thrives in an acid environment.
  • You still want to maximize nutrition levels
  • You still want to include a full spectrum antioxidant that contains known anti-carcinogens such as green tea, alpha lipoic acid, selenium, lycopene, and curcumin. They all work synergistically with red raspberry ellagitannins – making them that much more effective.

What Source

As we've already discussed, the source of ellagitannins that you use matters.

red raspberries

  • First of all, the availability to the body of ellagic acid from dietary sources has only been confirmed with red raspberries. Other foods such as strawberries and walnuts either contain far lesser amounts of ellagic acid producing ellagitannins, and/or their bioavailability has not been confirmed. One interesting source, however, is pomegranate. Although not proven in clinical studies, the anecdotal evidence is extremely strong – and the concentration of ellagitannins is much higher in pomegranate than raspberries.

    The other key issue is that each source of ellagitannins has its own individual mix of ellagitannins. A useful way to think about this is that the active ingredients in both green tea and grape seeds are a group of bio-chemicals called polyphenols (the same group of bio-chemicals that includes ellagic acid) – but because the mix of polyphenols is different in green tea and grape seeds, they each have an entirely different range of effects on the human body. Of the different sources of ellagitannins, the only “mix” that has been verified is the mix in red raspberries. In other words, for now, you want a red raspberry source. (Note: at some point, future studies will likely verify the efficacy of other sources such as pomegranate – but those studies do not exist at this point in time. Then again, the anecdotal evidence is building strongly.) For the moment then, the Meeker red raspberry is the most proven source of ellagic acid producing ellagitannins, with pomegranates probably a good alternative.
  • The bottom line, though, is that if you want to duplicate Dr. Nixon's protocol, then you need to use the ellagitannin source that he uses -- red raspberries.

Which brings us to the question of how to supplement with red raspberries. To be sure, Dr. Nixon used 1 cup of red raspberry puree per day in his studies. However, that is not practical for most people. Fortunately, it turns out the raspberry seeds have a much higher concentration of ellagitannins than the puree.

  Seeds Pulp Whole
Meeker 8.40 3.36 4.31
Chilliwack 7.78 2.58 3.39
Willamette 8.13 2.05 2.91
Average 8.10 2.66 3.54


As you can see in the above table from the Washington State Red Raspberry Commission, over 70% of the ellagitannins present in the Meeker red raspberry are found in the seeds.

Bottom Line

One gram of red raspberry seed powder, taken twice a day, provides 40 mg of ellagitannins – equivalent to the amount of ellagitannins found in one cup of fresh red raspberries.

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    Submitted by theresa costello on
    August 9, 2011 - 3:20pm

    Please give me a place i can buy rasberry seed powder or the pills in houston tx thank you 713-398-7006

    Submitted by CW on
    May 28, 2014 - 5:18pm

    Organic Red Raspberry seeds powder can be purchased from:
    (Make sure you get organic)
    Botanic Innovations LLC Spomer, WI

    Submitted by Zack on
    January 30, 2015 - 8:52am
    Laketucky , Alabama

    www.herballegacy.com has lots of good resources and a shop for cheap wild crafted and organic herbs.
    Thank the gods there is finally a study that published the chemical make-up of any sort. The internet is filled with slander and libel about herbal medicines. Normally they call it pseudoscience, to me that is the P.C. way to say herbalism is fake science. How can that be when over 120 different over the counter drugs are derivatives of plants? Asprin came from willow, methadone from opium and now some actual evidence that raspberries will be the next drug on the market to aid with cancer. Just remember you are a chemical soup and what you eat constitutes what you cells have to use to grow and heal. You are literally, chemically, and physically what you eat. Stop being a processed meat sack full of growth hormones and GMO garbage and grow your own alfalfa sprouts and oats. Don't let western medicine confuse you with germ theory. Become a vitalist and let your body heal itself.

    Submitted by Guest on
    August 26, 2011 - 1:04pm

    this seems to be the best source www ellagicdirect dot com.  you will probably have to order online.

    Submitted by Guest on
    August 29, 2011 - 7:44pm

    I got a pound at botanicoil.com. $20/lb. Meeker rasp. seed powder.

    Submitted by maria on
    February 19, 2012 - 10:45am

    so, please, I'need to know where can I find these ellagitannins pills, thank you , maria

    Submitted by dianelrothstein on
    June 18, 2012 - 7:09pm

    Please tell me where in Boston, Ma .I can purchase red raspberry seed powder

    Submitted by Guest on
    July 5, 2012 - 1:25am

    Find u-pick raspberry farm. Buy low speed juicer like Omega VRT350 and wet grinder. Juice your raspberries, grind pulp (mostly seeds) into butter add manuka honey and store in a refrigerator. Now you have a concentrate of ellagitannins. Astaxanthin can be added when grinding to prevent oxydation. You can also add Propolis to enhance virus fighting properties of Raspberry Seed Butter.

    Enjoy your Raspberry Juice.

    Submitted by aveta on
    December 13, 2012 - 11:06am

    love it

    Submitted by jeanie on
    January 18, 2013 - 12:34am

    I've been growing my own raspberries for years. I pick and eat them fresh, then quick freeze all the rest, to be used throughout the non raspberry growing time of the year. When I want to used them I shake out as many as I want snd blend up a smoothie etc.I've always made it a point to chew the seeds, as i was sure there was good stuff in them.but I don't have blender strong genough to blend up seeds,..so I just kind of chew them.

    Submitted by nyc on
    May 19, 2013 - 9:25am

    Excellent writeup. Here's a recent survey ...

    Therapeutic Applications of Pomegranate: A Review

    Submitted by Katherine on
    August 13, 2013 - 10:04pm

    I agree. This is a really helpful write up. Thank you.

    Submitted by Anna on
    January 31, 2014 - 6:02pm

    Would this work with yellow raspberries too, as I grow lots of these in my garden?

    Submitted by medsec76 on
    March 31, 2014 - 11:35am

    So if I eat the raspberries (1 cup) do I need to CHEW the seeds to release the ellagictannins (sp)? Or will it be absorbed before the seeds exit?

    Submitted by Harriet Sugar Miller on
    August 4, 2014 - 4:19pm

    Does anybody know which powders are freeze dried? spray dried? I understand spray drying uses a gas that degrades phytonutrients.

    Submitted by Cathy Jackson on
    September 10, 2014 - 9:24pm

    I would definitely recommend www dot raspberrygold.com. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer last year. It had metastasized to every bone in my body. I was given 3 months to live. Went through chemo and the cancer was still there. Finished chemo and went onto raspberry gold along with essiac tea. Four months later the cancer was gone. I will take it for the rest of my life!

    Submitted by Tracy Timlin on
    October 6, 2014 - 6:51am

    My name is Tracy Timlin and I was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer on Oct 1, 2010, My cancer had metastasized to my bones. I completed 1 round of chemo therapy and the cancer cells had shrunk. Cancer is now spreading again. I am very interested in learning more or speaking with anyone that has truly benefited or cured their cancer from rasberry gold or essiac tea. I live in the state of DE and I have 2 children that are 6 and 9. I need to find a cure!

    Submitted by Tariq Hossenbux on
    June 25, 2015 - 8:53pm
    Ottawa ,

    Hi Tracy. I have seen excellent results in family pets with raspberry powder shrinking tumors. I also used tincture of wormwood with this. Both these substances have excellent and substantiated cancer killing properties demonstrated in animal studies. Vegetables from the cruciferous family like cabbage/brussel sprouts are a good addition too. You may also want to consider an organic diet and drinking natural spring water whenever possible too. I got my powders from Naturals in Florida. Good luck!

    Submitted by Bob Good on
    August 7, 2016 - 10:48am
    Dallas , Texas

    Did you get the raspberries? How are you doing? Bob Good

    Submitted by Bob Good on
    August 7, 2016 - 10:29am
    Dallas , Texas

    How are you now? Is the Essiac and raspberry gold still working for your cancer ? Which brand of Essiac yes are you using? My wife has stage 4 sarcoma. Thanks. Bob Good

    Submitted by mm2 on
    February 11, 2015 - 1:50am

    Tracy Timlin, Elaine Cantin's book may be of interest to you. On Amazon.com. Said a prayer for you, may you find the answers you need.

    Submitted by ELLY on
    February 22, 2016 - 6:39am
    NY , New York

    vERY TRUE! 2 years ago I got food poisoning and no medicine was able to cure my gastritis. I had thought I was starting some swort of cancer I my body. Then, two days ago, I had the idea to make a berries fruit cocktail and eat a cup of it and immediately I felt the difference. My gastritis stopped. I was able to tolerate food like a normal person.I am keeping up the same dosage everyday to make sure my stomach infection dissapears for good. God Bless Nature!

    Submitted by ELLY on
    February 22, 2016 - 8:57am
    new york , New York

    I tried lots of food products to test on my own body their reaction on the inflammatory process taking place in my GI tract and adjusted my diet accordingly. Berries are awesome and a real healer! The best substrate that helps in the absorbtion of nutrients in berries is to mix it with a little bit of fat or oils so that it binds to the fat streaky surfaces and penetrates deep withing the cells. There, it get transported by lipidic molecules to the liver and all parts of the cells. So, I make berries in the form of Ice cream and I've found a wonder cure. This confirms the reseach done so far by the Medical body.

    Submitted by susan maclachlan on
    March 10, 2016 - 3:38pm
    jewett City , Connecticut

    To Elly. I need to know.. when you say "berries" are you referring to a mixture of berries? or strictly raspberries? I have a tendency toward skin cancers, I have been doing the berry ice cream recently, but only as a happy replacement for the commercial products. Am I on the right track? I'm using the packages of mixed berries in the frozen food isle, blended with a bit of raw milk..no other ingredients.

    Submitted by michael on
    June 20, 2016 - 9:05am
    miami , Florida

    Very informative article.

    Submitted by Berry Beautiful on
    August 8, 2016 - 5:31pm
    VASHON , Washington

    Hello! We are producers of Meeker Red Raspberry Seed Powder & Oil here in Washington State. We dry, condition & cold-press locally sourced seed from seed to oil & powder. If you're ever interested in purchasing Meeker red raspberry seed powder, directly from the producers, let us know.

    Submitted by denise L. on
    April 18, 2017 - 7:29am
    Spring Grove, IL , Illinois


    I would like to purchase the raspberry powder from you.
    Where/how can i purchase?


    Submitted by Cherylene Osiah on
    April 20, 2017 - 5:40pm
    Detrot , Michigan

    Hi Denise....go to www.berrybeautiful.com they are awesome...I've been ordering from them since January they are about the best Raspberry Seed Powder out their!!! I go in May for my 3 Month Blood Work, I had Colon and Lymphoma Cancer Stage 3, I am in remission now but a woman on the blogs from California healed herself from this as well as Carrot Juice her and I chat twice a month so she gave me this info, and I am a firm believer in natural organic healing...Make sure you order the Non GMO type! God Bless

    Submitted by Jim Dermanoski on
    August 9, 2016 - 9:01am
    Olympia , Washington

    I noted that Berry Beautiful posted above. We ordered our first 5 pound bag of raspberry powder last week. It was a good buy, easy to order, came quickly and we are using the product every day. It is great to find companies that have great products. We are dealing with breast cancer and have discovered several natural products and are using many.

    We have lost seven friend and family members over the last 8 months,mostly cancer and lots of chemo and radiation. The suffering and deaths of the treatments is tragic.

    Submitted by Louise on
    December 14, 2016 - 3:08pm

    My dog was diagnosed with null cell lymphoma last year. The vets haven't seen it in a dog in the U.K before and couldn't tell us anything apart from what they knew about 4 cats in the UK that have had it. The vets gave my dog 6-9m to live.
    My mum stumbled across Meeker raspberry powder on the Internet and so we've been giving it to my dog. Touch wood, my dog is still going strong and it hasn't come back yet.
    My mother in law has got myeloma and isn't sure if she can take the powder or not as she having ongoing treatment for it. Does anyone know if she'd be OK to take it?


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