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Am J Chin Med. 2012;40(4):657-69. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X12500498.

Herbal medicines as adjuvants for cancer therapeutics.

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  • 1Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research, Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA. cwang@dacc.uchicago.edu


In the United States, many patients, including cancer patients, concurrently take prescription drugs and herbal supplements. Co-administration of prescription medicines and herbal supplements may have negative outcomes via pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic herb-drug interactions. However, multiple constituents in botanicals may also yield beneficial pharmacological activities. Botanicals could possess effective anticancer compounds that may be used as adjuvants to existing chemotherapy to improve efficacy and/or reduce drug-induced toxicity. Herbal medicines, such as ginseng, potentiated the effects of chemotherapeutic agents via synergistic activities, supported by cell cycle evaluations, apoptotic observations, and computer-based docking analysis. Since botanicals are nearly always administrated orally, the role of intestinal microbiota in metabolizing ginseng constituents is presented. Controlled clinical studies are warranted to verify the clinical utility of the botanicals in cancer chemoprevention.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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