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Life Sci. 2003 Dec 19;74(5):573-9.

Effect of Pfaffia paniculata (Brazilian ginseng) on the Ehrlich tumor in its ascitic form.

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Laboratory of Experimental Oncology, Department of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Zootechny, University of São Paulo, São Paulo-SP, Brazil.


The roots of Pfaffia paniculata (Brazilian ginseng) have been indicated for the treatment of several diseases, among which the cancer. The purpose of this study was to investigate experimentally the possible antineoplastic effect of this root. Firstly, a toxicity study was performed in which the doses of 400 and 200 mg/Kg of the powdered root were administered by gavage for 10 days to BALB/cICB mice. The mice did not lose weight during the treatment. No increase in serum alanine-aminotransferase neither histopathological alteration (liver, kidney and spleen) was observed in mice treated with P. paniculata. The effect of this root on the ascitic Ehrlich tumor in BALB/cICB mice was then investigated. Male mice received, by gavage, once a day, 200 mg/Kg of the powdered root of P. paniculata or distilled water, as control, for 20 days. This protocol started 10 days before tumor inoculation with 5 x 10(6) cells i.p., and lasted until 10 days after. The ascitic tumor was evaluated by the quantification of the volume of the ascitic fluid, relative number of tumor cells and total number of tumor cells. A decrease in the total ascitic volume was observed in P. paniculata treated mice, that was followed by a numerical decrease in the total number of Ehrlich tumor cells. These results may indicate that P. paniculata anti-inflammatory effects were responsible by the decrease in the total ascitic fluid. In addition, the presence of tumor-cell inhibitory factors in P. paniculata roots is in agreement with other in vitro studies. The mechanisms of such tumor inhibition should be further investigated.

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