Many herbs, dietary supplements, and even vitamins are suspected of interfering with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and doctors now routinely advise patients who are undergoing cancer treatment to avoid taking these products.
At the same time, cancer researchers have been intrigued by the potent and beneficial biological activity shown by some natural products and are testing ways to incorporate them into standard and experimental treatment regimens, both to enhance the anticancer effects of therapy and reduce the side effects.
Natural products, including foods like grapefruit juice, are being studied for their ability to enhance cancer treatment A Treatment More than 1,700 Years in the Making
Dr. Yung-Chi Cheng, Henry Bronson Professor of Pharmacology at the Yale University School of Medicine, is interested in herbal compounds that are used in traditional herbal medicine. Among other projects, his laboratory has reformulated a herbal mixture that has been used for more than 1,700 years to treat gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
This reformulation, called PHY906, was originally tested to lessen the gastrointestinal side effects of chemotherapy, and, in a small, early clinical study, the compound successfully reduced side effects in patients with colon cancer who received the chemotherapy drugs irinotecan and 5-fluorouracil.
Dr. Cheng and his colleagues also observed a synergistic anticancer effect when the compound was given in combination with irinotecan in animal studies—a result that was surprising, said Dr. Cheng.
PHY906 alone had no effect on these tumors, but irinotecan plus PHY906 had greater antitumor activity than irinotecan alone. Now PHY906 is being tested for potential anticancer activity in combination with traditional chemotherapy drugs in three clinical trials.
The formulation consist of the following four herbs liquorice, peony, Skullcap, and the date tree's fruit