Herbs and Other Botanicals in Cancer Patient Care

Integrative Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.
Current Treatment Options in Oncology (Impact Factor: 3.24). 08/2008; 9(2-3):109-16. DOI: 10.1007/s11864-008-0061-5
Source: PubMed


OPINION STATEMENT: Non-prescription herbal remedies are commonly used by cancer patients in efforts to control their disease or to manage symptoms associated with cancer and cancer treatments. We address the issues surrounding the use of herbs, herbal compounds, and other botanical agents in the oncology context. Botanicals are biologically active agents that can be useful under appropriate circumstances, but they may be counterproductive when used by patients on chemotherapy or on other prescription medications. Herbs and other botanical agents, despite common public belief, are not benign. They should be understood as unrefined pharmaceuticals, with the capacity to produce physiologic change for better or worse. Indeed, many prescription drugs, chemotherapeutic agents among them, were derived from plants and other natural agents, and the search for additional constituents of plants, animals, and minerals for use as pharmaceutical agents remains an active effort on many fronts. Cautions, appropriate application, and potential utility of botanical agents are discussed below, and sources of reliable information are provided.

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    • "Current treatment for colorectal cancer is surgical resection combined with radiation and chemotherapy. A number of chemotherapeutic agents have been developed from botanical sources (2,3). "
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    ABSTRACT: Scutellaria baicalensis extract (SbE) has been shown to exert chemopreventive effects on several types of cancer. Baicalin, a hydrophilic flavonoid found in SbE, may have opposing effects that decrease the antitumor potential of SbE against colorectal cancer. In this study, after removing baicalin, we prepared an aglycone-rich fraction (ARF) of SbE and evaluated its anti-proliferative activity and mechanisms of action. The flavonoids found in ARF, baicalin fraction (BF) and SbE were determined by high-performance liquid chromato-graphy (HPLC). The effects of ARF, BF, SbE and representative flavonoids on the proliferation of HCT-116 and HT-29 human colorectal cancer cells were determined by an MTS assay. The cell cycle, the expression of cyclins A and B1 and cell apoptosis were assayed using flow cytometry. Apoptosis-related gene expression was visualized by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and mitochondrial membrane potential was estimated following staining with JC-1. HPLC analysis showed that ARF contained two hydrophobic flavonoids, baicalein and wogonin, and that BF contained only baicalin. SbE had little anti-proliferative effect on the colorectal cancer cells; cancer cell growth was even observed at certain concentrations. ARF exerted potent anti-proliferative effects on the cancer cells. By contrast, BF increased cancer cell growth. ARF arrested cells in the S and G2/M phases, increased the expression of cyclins A and B1, and significantly induced cell apoptosis. Multiple genes in the mitochondrial pathway are involved in ARF-induced apoptosis, and subsequent cellular functional analysis validated the involvement of this pathway. These results suggest that removing baicalin from SbE produces an ARF that significantly inhibits the growth of colorectal cancer cells, and that the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway plays a role in hydrophobic flavonoid-induced apoptosis.
    International Journal of Oncology 01/2013; 42(3). DOI:10.3892/ijo.2013.1777 · 3.03 Impact Factor
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    • "Most individuals believe that HFFs are not harmful because they were made from natural materials [7]. However, some HFFs have been reported to produce serious side effects, such as hepatic and renal failure, cause harmful interactions with prescription drugs, and reduce the efficacy of other drugs [8,9]. Particularly, in the case of natural foods not approved by the Korean Food and Drug Administration (KFDA), food safety might be problematic. "
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    ABSTRACT: As an adjunct to cancer treatment, the use of health functional foods (HFFs) seems to be increasing. However, little is known for the use of HFFs among cancer patients in Korea. The aims of this study were to investigate the exposure rate of HFF use among gastrointestinal (GI) cancer patients and to examine the relationship of socio-demographic and disease-related characteristics with the use of HFFs. A total of 126 patients diagnosed with GI cancer participated in the study. A cross-sectional survey was conducted using a questionnaire. Over a half of all the patients surveyed (n = 67; 53.2%) used HFFs. Patients who were younger, had higher income, or longer duration of disease showed a trend to use HFFs more frequently, even though the tendency was not statistically significant. The most commonly used HFF was vitamin complex (n = 20; 16%), followed by red ginseng (n = 15; 12%), and sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua) (n = 11; 8.8%). About 26% of all responders expressed concerns for using HFFs. The primary concern was 'going against physician's recommendations' (36.8%). About 63% of respondents expressed a desire to consult with their physicians and follow their recommendations. More basic scientific data and educational materials regarding HFFs are required for both health-care professionals and cancer patients. A larger sample and size-controlled groups representing each cancer type will continue to be recruited for participation in this survey.
    01/2013; 2(1):19-25. DOI:10.7762/cnr.2013.2.1.19
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    • "Knowledge about plants that were found to be most effective against particular ailments was passed down to the succeeding generations. These caches of ancient wisdom encompassed diagnostic techniques, instructions for preparation of remedies and instructions about which herbs should be prepared with specific other natural products to achieve optimal results [1]. Herbal remedies and alternative medicines are used throughout the world and in the past herbs often represented the original sources of most drugs [2] [3] [4]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The Scutellaria species (Lamiaceae) is used as a source of flavonoids to treat a variety of diseases in traditional medicine. In spite of many reports about the cytotoxic and antitumor effects of some species of this genus, anticancer researches on one of the Iranian species S. litwinowii have not yet been conducted. The cytotoxic properties of total methanol extract of S. litwinowii and its fractions were investigated on different cancer cell lines including AGS, HeLa, MCF-7, PC12 and NIH 3T3. Meanwhile, the role of apoptosis in this toxicity was explored. The cells were cultured in DMEM medium and incubated with different concentrations of herb plant extracts. Cell viability was quantitated by MTT assay. Apoptotic cells were determined using propidium iodide staining of DNA fragmentation by flow cytometry (sub-G1 peak). Scutellaria litwinowii inhibited the growth of malignant cells in a dose-dependent manner. Among solvent fractions of S. litwinowii, the methylene chloride fraction was found to be more toxic compared to other fractions. The IC(50) values of this fraction against AGS, HeLa, MCF-7 and PC12 cell lines after 24 h were determined, 121.2 ± 3.1, 40.9 ± 2.5, 115.9 ± 3.5 and 64.5 ± 3.4 μg/ml, respectively. Scutellaria litwinowii induced a sub-G1 peak in the flow cytometry histogram of treated cells compared to control cells indicating that apoptotic cell death is involved in S. litwinowii toxicity. Scutellaria litwinowii exerts cytotoxic and proapototic effects in a variety of malignant cell lines and could be considered as a potential chemotherapeutic agent in cancer treatment.
    Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 12/2009; 2011(1741-427X):160682. DOI:10.1093/ecam/nep214 · 1.88 Impact Factor
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