Carctol and cancer

Carctol is a mixture of 8 herbs. It is based on Ayurvedic medicine. There is no scientific evidence that it can treat cancer.


  • Carctol is a mixture of 8 herbs
  • Used alongside a specific diet
  • There is no scientific evidence that it can treat or prevent cancer
  • Carctol may have side effects

What is Carctol?

Carctol is made from a mixture of 8 herbs.

In 1968 an Ayurvedic doctor, called Nandlal Tiwari, started promoting Carctol alongside dietary changes. He claimed that it could help treat and prevent many types of illness, including cancer.

The herbs that make up Carctol are:

  • hemidesmus indicus
  • tribulus terrestris
  • piper cubeba
  • ammani vesicatoria
  • lepidium sativum
  • blepharis edulis
  • smilax china
  • rheum australe (Rheum emodi)

Carctol is an unlicensed medicine in the UK. There is no scientific evidence to prove that it works to treat any type of illness. 

Talk to your GP or cancer specialist first if you are thinking of taking Carctol.

Why people with cancer use it

The individual herbs in Carctol don't have any anti-cancer properties of their own. But supporters say it is the mixture of herbs that has an effect.

Dr Tiwari claims that Carctol works by helping to get rid of acids in your body. He says that having Carctol and making certain dietary changes create an alkaline environment. And that acidic cancer cells can’t live in this environment.

Dr Tiwari and people that promote Carctol on the internet say that it can treat all types of cancer. They also claim that it can reduce chemotherapy and radiotherapy side effects. But there is no scientific evidence to support this. 

How you have it

Carctol comes in capsules that you swallow, usually several times a day.

Carctol is based on Ayurvedic medicine. So, it involves doing more than swallowing the capsules.

Dr Tiwari advises that you do the following:

  • Eat a vegetarian diet.
  • Avoid sour vegetables and fruits, including those that turn sour when cooked such as tomatoes, tangerines, plums, lemons, grapes, pomegranate and mango.
  • Drink as much cooled boiled water as possible each day.
  • Avoid curd; you can have milk if you can digest it.

There is no scientific evidence to back any of this up. There is also no evidence that changing acid or alkaline levels in the body affects the growth of cancer cells.

There is no effective dose for Carctol. Dr Nandlal Tiwari Pharmaceuticals website says that it's usually about 4 to 8 capsules a day. But this dose may vary.

What are the side effects of Carctol?

Carctol appears to be a safe herbal mixture and there have not been any reports of it causing harm. Dr Tiwari states that it has been tested for safety in both India and the UK. He says that it is a whole herbal food or dietary supplement. But this is very difficult to know for sure because there have been no scientific studies to find out exactly how safe this combination of herbs is.

One of the ingredients, Rheum australe (also known as Rheum emodi or rhubarb) might interact with some heart medicines. It might also cause:

  • stomach cramps and diarrhoea
  • allergic reactions
  • heart beat changes
  • low levels of blood potassium

Other ingredients might cause:

  • stomach irritation
  • short term kidney changes

Dr Tiwari advises people having Carctol to drink as much water as possible each day. They also need to follow a vegetarian diet. This might lead to fluid overload and poor nutrition.

Speak to your cancer doctor if you are thinking of taking Carctol.

Research into Carctol as a cancer treatment

Dr Tiwari says that out of every 100 people who have it, 30 to 40 people (30-40%) will have a positive response. But there is no research evidence to back this up.

Dr Tiwari states that researchers used Carctol in a laboratory (in-vitro) study. This was at the Advanced Cancer Research Center of TATA, Mumbai. Researchers looked at 14 types of human cancer cells. They found that Carctol worked against pancreatic and lung cancer cells. But this study does not mean doctors can use Carctol to treat cancer in humans. We need more research.

Dr Tiwari’s official website for Carctol has testimonials from people who have taken Carctol. There are reports of 1,900 people with advanced cancer who were treated by Dr Tiwari. But these studies are not clinical trials. This means we don’t know what would have happened if these people hadn't taken Carctol.

We also don't know what other types of treatment the people had for their cancer. So, we cannot know for sure that Carctol works.

A search of medical databases for information on Carctol found no scientific studies.

How much it costs

We’re not aware how much Carctol costs. You would have to make a request through Dr Tiwari’s website, which is based in India.

The manufacturers of Carctol recommend that you buy at least 2 months' supply to begin with. Be cautious about believing information or paying for alternative cancer therapy on the internet.

A word of caution

It is understandable that you might want to try anything if you think it might help treat or cure your cancer. Only you can decide whether to use a therapy such as Carctol.

You could harm your health if you stop your cancer treatment for an unproven treatment.

There might be claims in the media that Carctol is a cure for cancer. But no reputable scientific cancer organisations support any of these claims.

  • Carctol: Profit before patients?
    E Ernst
    Breast Care, 2009, Volume 4, Issue 9

  • CAM-CANCER website
    Complementary and Alternative Medicine for cancer website - accessed December 2018

  • The information on this page is based on literature searches and specialist checking. We used many references and there are too many to list here. If you need additional references for this information please contact with details of the particular issue you are interested in.

Last reviewed: 
22 Jun 2022
Next review due: 
22 Jun 2025

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