An Evidence-based Perspective of Herbal Remedies for Cancer Patients

  • Harendra S. Parekh
  • Jing Jing
Part of the Evidence-based Anticancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine book series (ACAM)


In spite of great advances in cancer therapy, conventional treatments, most notably chemotherapy, are inherently associated with a plethora of side-effects induced by damage to otherwise healthy cells/tissues. Herbal remedies are, however, yielding important breakthroughs in cancer prevention and treatment, and are presently used first line in numerous cultures across the world. Novel effective anticancer herbal constituents have been extensively studied, and shown to be effective in preventing tumor growth while improving quality of life. Furthermore, clinical studies indicate that herbal remedies when used alone or as an adjunct to conventional anticancer treatment can effectively treat cancer as well as reduce side-effects associated with chemotherapy/radiotherapy. Hence, there is an increasingly convincing rationale for employing herbal remedies against neoplastic disease. However, before acceptance of herbal remedies into wide scale clinical use can be achieved, two critical issues need to be addressed; these include a clearer understanding of their precise mechanism of action, along with supporting empirical clinical data on efficacy. In this chapter, firstly, we describe the four primary modes of action that include inducing apoptosis, boosting of the immune system, overcoming multi-drug resistance and inhibiting angiogenesis by herbal remedies. Then, evidence of experimental studies on the families of effective herbal remedies reported to-date, such as alkaloids, flavonoids, polysaccharides, and glycosides are provided. Furthermore, the application, be it via oral or parenteral administration in clinical cases and observations from treating various cancer types along with relevant meta-analyses/systematic reviews are summarized. In closing, future prospects of the road ahead and clinical acceptance of herbal remedies are discussed.


Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia Herbal Remedy Arsenic Trioxide Glycyrrhetic Acid 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Pharmacy, Pharmacy Australia Centre of ExcellenceThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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