Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE B

, Volume 7, Issue 12, pp 1006–1014

Anticancer effects of Chinese herbal medicine, science or myth?


DOI: 10.1631/jzus.2006.B1006

Cite this article as:
Ruan, W., Lai, M. & Zhou, J. J. Zhejiang Univ. - Sci. B (2006) 7: 1006. doi:10.1631/jzus.2006.B1006


Currently there is considerable interest among oncologists to find anticancer drugs in Chinese herbal medicine (CHM). In the past, clinical data showed that some herbs possessed anticancer properties, but western scientists have doubted the scientific validity of CHM due to the lack of scientific evidence from their perspective. Recently there have been encouraging results, from a western perspective, in the cancer research field regarding the anticancer effects of CHM. Experiments showed that CHM played its anticancer role by inducing apoptosis and differentiation, enhancing the immune system, inhibiting angiogenesis, reversing multidrug resistance (MDR), etc. Clinical trials demonstrated that CHM could improve survival, increase tumor response, improve quality of life, or reduce chemotherapy toxicity, although much remained to be determined regarding the objective effects of CHM in human in the context of clinical trials. Interestingly, both laboratory experiments and clinical trials have demonstrated that when combined with chemotherapy, CHM could raise the efficacy level and lower toxic reactions. These facts raised the feasibility of the combination of herbal medicines and chemotherapy, although much remained to be investigated in this area.

Key words

Chinese herbal medicineAnticancer

CLC number


Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruan Wen-jing 
    • 1
  • Lai Mao-de 
    • 1
  • Zhou Jian-guang 
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Pathology, School of MedicineZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Dermatology, the Second Affiliated Hospital, School of MedicineZhejiang UniversityHangzhouChina