Chinese Herbal Medicine
by Hans R. Larsen, MSc ChE
Effect of Chinese herbs on cancer cells
Chinese Herbal medicine includes more than 3200 herbs that are used to help treat a variety of ailments, restore balance to the body and provide relief from pain.
Herbal medicine is one of numerous complementary modalities that can be added to a cancer therapy regimen. It is not uncommon to find many of China's herbs in local whole food and health stores. Although it is not claimed that Chinese herbs cure cancer, certain herbs may help ease cancer therapy side effects, control pain, boost immune functions, improve quality of life, and, in some cases, reduce tumor growth.
A study published in Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology in 2002 examined the effect of Chinese herbs and extracts in lung cancer cells. The authors of the study concluded, "The Chinese herbal medicine extracts OLEN, SPES and PC-SPES are cytotoxic to both drug-resistant and drug-sensitive lung cancer cells, show some tumor cell specificity compared to their effect on normal cells, and are proapoptotic as measured by DNA breaks and gene expression. The reaction of the tumor cells to these extracts was similar to their reaction to conventional chemotherapeutic drugs".
In February of 2002 PC-SPES was removed from the market and its production halted due to contamination. However, the Chinese herbs that were effective in the study have been used in new formulas that focus on their demonstrated benefits. Some of the Chinese herbs in the original PC-SPES are: chrysanthemum, Ganoderma lucidum, isatis, Panax pseudo-ginseng, Rabdosia rubescens, licorice, saw palmetto, and skullcap. The American Cancer Society reports that new formulas contain the following: magnesium, sterolins, quercetin, Reishi, Baikal skullcap, Rabdosia, dyer's woad, mum[Is this chrysanthemum?], saw palmetto, San-Qi ginseng, and licorice.
Studies continue to monitor the affect of PC-SPES and other Chinese supplements on cancer cells, focusing on the benefits of the active herbal ingredients.
Chinese herb proven in arthritis therapy
Chinese herb alleviates rheumatoid arthritis
One randomized, double-blind trial involving 70 patients with RA compared the effect of 20 mg of T2 taken three times daily with a placebo. Approximately 90 per cent of the patients treated with T2 experienced significant improvement. Trials involving several hundred patients with SLE have shown significant beneficial effects of T2 and a much reduced need for prednisone. Favourable results have also been reported in the treatment of systemic sclerosis and various kidney disorders.
Although highly effective in many cases, T2 can have adverse effects
especially on the gastrointestinal tract. Says Drs. Tao and Lipsky of
the University of Texas "Treatment with extracts of TwHF is effective in
most patients with rheumatic disease; however, close medical supervision
is essential in order to avoid serious adverse effects." [117
Ancient Chinese herb rediscovered
Chinese herbal therapy combats dermatitis
LONDON, ENGLAND. Doctors at the Royal Free Hospital in London have completed an evaluation of an ancient Chinese remedy for dermatitis. The combination used consisted of a mixture of 10 herbs and was first described in the Inner Classic of the Yellow Emperor "published" between 300 and 100 BC. 40 adult patients with longstanding, widespread, atopic (genetically predisposed) dermatitis participated in the trial which lasted 5 months. Each patient was randomly allocated to receive either the herbal remedy or a placebo of similar taste and texture for an 8- week period. Followed by a 4-week wash-out period, the group originally receiving the herbal remedy received the placebo for 8 weeks and vice versa. The active herbs (and the placebo herbs) were prepared as a decoction each day and 200 ml of it consumed while still warm. 31 of the patients completed the study. Both groups showed a rapid and continued improvement in the extent of erythema (redness of the skin) and surface damage during the time they consumed the Chinese herbal remedy. The authors of the study conclude that the remedy is effective in treating adult atopic dermatitis, but warns that further experiments are needed to ensure its safety especially in patients suffering from liver or kidney complications.
The Lancet, July 4, 1992, pp. 13-17
Chinese herbs implicated in kidney failure
Some Chinese medicines may be toxic
Chinese herb proves effective against malaria
Herbal medicines - Are they safe?
Dr. Ernst concludes that the following herbal medicines are safe:
camomile, garlic, Ginkgo biloba, peppermint, sabal, saw palmetto, and
St. John's wort. He also points out that herbal remedies often are
safer than the corresponding pharmaceutical drugs. For instance, St.
John's wort has fewer side effects than synthetic antidepressants.
Herbal remedies for prostate problems are as effective and significantly
safer than the popular drug Finasteride and a mixture of fennel,
peppermint and wormwood is more effective and far safer then
metoclopramide. Editor's note: More than 80 per cent of the world's
population rely on herbal medicines to cure their illnesses and annual
sales in Europe and the United States exceed $8 billion. Dr. Ernst's
exhaustive study documents a total of 37 fatalities and less than 200
other adverse effects involving herbal remedies during a five-year
period. That works out to an average of 7 fatalities and less than 40
adverse events per year ascribable to the use of herbal medicines.
Considering that in the United States alone more than 7500 people die
every year from taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and over
750,000 people experience an adverse drug event within American
hospitals every year it is clear that herbal medicines are actually
AMARILLO, TEXAS. As herbal remedies grow in popularity it becomes increasingly important that users and their health care practitioners know of the potential interactions between herbs and pharmaceutical drugs. Many herbs have powerful effects which may be increased or counteracted by pharmaceutical drugs and vice versa. Dr. Lucinda Miller, a pharmacist at the Texas Tech University, has just published a comprehensive report listing the most common interactions. Among her main findings are the following:
Dr. Miller points out that more than 60 million Americans now use herbal
remedies, but that 70 per cent of them do not tell their physician or
pharmacist that they do so. She recommends that physicians when taking
a patient's medical history pay just as much attention to what herbs
they are taking as to what drugs they are taking. (171
Chinese medicine alleviates irritable bowel syndrome
Lower your cholesterol naturally
Ginger and turmeric fight cancer