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Planta. 2005 Apr;220(6):910-8. Epub 2004 Oct 28.

Investigation on Semecarpus Lehyam--a Siddha medicine for breast cancer.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of Kentucky, Room No. 209D, 900 South Limestone Street, Lexington, KY 40536-0200, USA.


The use of complementary and alternative medicines for breast cancer patients has been increasing every year. Traditional Indian systems of medicine, such as Siddha, have been reported to benefit patients in India through herbal interventions for cancer. One such herbal medicine is Semecarpus Lehyam (SL), and this study aims at providing a scientific basis for the anti-tumor property of SL with respect to breast cancer. SL was subjected to serial extraction with four organic solvents of increasing polarity (n-hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate, n-butanol and water). The solvents from all fractions were removed, dried and dissolved in dimethyl sulfoxide for testing their anti-tumor activity against two breast cancer cell lines, MCF-7 [estrogen receptor (ER)-positive] and MDA 231 (ER-negative) using cell viability and apoptosis assays. The most potent SL fractions were also combined with radiation and doxorubicin to determine the radio- and chemo-sensitizing effects of SL on these breast cancer cell lines. In terms of cytotoxicity as well as induction of apoptosis, the n-hexane and chloroform fractions of SL were more significantly active against MDA 231 cells than MCF-7 cells. The n-butanol fraction of SL showed some activity against MCF-7 cells. When combined with radiation or doxorubicin, the n-hexane and chloroform fractions enhanced the radio-sensitivity (11.8-fold) and chemo-sensitivity (6.5-fold) of MDA 231 cells. This study demonstrated SL to be a potent anti-tumor agent against the ER-negative breast cancer cell line. The study is also the first step in the scientific validation of SL for use against breast cancer, particularly the ER-negative type.

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