Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) and Cancer
In China , CHM , has been applied in the treatment of cancer ever since this disease was recognised by modern CHM, or even historically , before the disease , was even named. In recent half century’s practice , CHM practitioners have developed their knowledge and skills in treating cancer, and this was in alliance with modern biomedicine. (1).
In recent decades, increasing numbers of patients have been attracted to use TCM as an adjuvant therapy option for various diseases. In particular, TCM‐based CHM has increasingly been shown to exhibit promising therapeutic effects as an adjunctive treatment following surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or other types of therapy for cancer patients worldwide. CHM is considered a gift of nature and these compounds derived from herbs have the advantage of availability, efficacy, and relatively low toxicity compared with chemotherapy. Evidence has confirmed that TCM in combination with chemotherapy or radiotherapy is capable of promoting the efficacy of and diminishing the limitations and drawbacks induced by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. A considerable quantity of research has been performed to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of TCM in cancer treatment. As mentioned above, TCM can possibly regulate oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, epigenetic modification, the microenvironment, and cancer stem cells” (2)
Herbal medicines are the traditional medicine resources in China, with unique advantages. Medicinal plant resources are widely distributed in China. More than 50% of anticancer drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are extracted from terrestrial plants , indicating that herbal medicines are important in the development of anticancer drugs. (3)
Herbal medicine has been used as part of combined therapies to reduce the side‑effects of chemotherapy, including bone marrow suppression, nausea and vomiting. Herbal remedies have also been used as chemopreventive therapies to treat precancerous conditions in order to reduce the incidence of cancer in high‑risk populations. Emerging evidence has revealed that herbal remedies can regulate the proliferation, apoptosis, adhesion and migration of cancer cells. In addition to this direct effect upon cancer cells, a number of herbal remedies have been identified to suppress angiogenesis and therefore reduce tumour growth. The inhibition of tumour growth may also be due to modifications of the host immune system by the herbal treatment (4).
Breast Cancer and Chemotherapy
The meta-analysis confirmed that using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) combined with neoadjuvant chemotherapy to treat breast cancer has obvious advantages over chemotherapy alone in terms of the objective curative effect, the performance status score effective rate, the TCM syndrome score change, and the incidence of gastrointestinal adverse reactions after chemotherapy. (5).
Prostate Cancer and Chinese Herbs
“In the past years, PCa has been widely studied in China. More and more extracts, formulas, and compounds from traditional Chinese medicines have been found to have anti-prostate cancer activity. Most of these Chinese herbal extracts with anti-prostate cancer activity also show anti-inflammatory activities. Most of the Chinese medicine formulas with anticancer effects have the functions of promoting positive blood flow, removing blood stasis, alleviating fever, and detoxifying. The main compounds present in Chinese medicines with anti-prostate cancer activity are polyphenols, alkaloids, and terpenoids” (6). CHM have multiple anti-cancer actives that include: induce apoptosis, inhibit cell proliferation, and suppress the migration of invasive human prostate cancer cells; inhibit prostate cancer-dependent angiogenesis; impede prostate cancer tumorigenesis ; act as anti-metastatic agents; suppress prostate tumor growth and overcome cell chemo-resistance (6).
- Weber. D. (2020) Chemotherapy and Botanicals Support.
- Xiang, Y., Guo, Z., Zhu, P., Chen, J., & Huang, Y. (2019). Traditional Chinese medicine as a cancer treatment: Modern perspectives of ancient but advanced science. Cancer medicine, 8(5), 1958–1975. https://doi.org/10.1002/cam4.2108
- Fort, R. S., Trinidad Barnech, J. M., Dourron, J., Colazzo, M., Aguirre-Crespo, F. J., Duhagon, M. A., & Álvarez, G. (2018). Isolation and Structural Characterization of Bioactive Molecules on Prostate Cancer from Mayan Traditional Medicinal Plants. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland), 11(3), 78. https://doi.org/10.3390/ph11030078
- Y e, L., Jia, Y., Ji, K., Sanders, A.J., Xue, K., Ji, J. … Jiang, W.G. (2015). Traditional Chinese medicine in the prevention and treatment of cancer and cancer metastasis (Review). Oncology Letters, 10, 1240-1250. https://doi.org/10.3892/ol.2015.3459
- Shi, Gang, Dan Yu, Juan Wu, Yanru Liu, Ruizhen Huang, & Cheng Shun Zhang. “A systematic review and meta-analysis of traditional Chinese medicine with chemotherapy in breast cancer.” Gland Surgery [Online], 10.5 (2021): 1744-1755. Web. 3 May. 2022
- Wang X, Fang G, Pang Y. Chinese Medicines in the Treatment of Prostate Cancer: From Formulas to Extracts and Compounds. Nutrients. 2018;10(3):283. Published 2018 Feb 28. doi:10.3390/nu10030283