BioScience Trends. 2010;4(6):297-307.

Chinese herbal medicines as adjuvant treatment during chemo- or radio-therapy for cancer.

Qi FH, Li AY, Inagaki Y, Gao JJ, Li JJ, Kokudo N, Li XK, Tang W


Numerous studies have indicated that in cancer treatment Chinese herbal medicines in combination with chemo- or radio-therapy can be used to enhance the efficacy of and diminish the side effects and complications caused by chemo- and radio-therapy. Therefore, an understanding of Chinese herbal medicines is needed by physicians and other health care providers. This review provides evidence for use of Chinese herbal medicines as adjuvant cancer treatment during chemo- or radio-therapy. First, Chinese herbal medicines (e.g. Astragalus, Turmeric, Ginseng, TJ-41, PHY906, Huachansu injection, and Kanglaite injection) that are commonly used by cancer patients for treating the cancer and/or reducing the toxicity induced by chemo- or radio-therapy are discussed. Preclinical and clinical studies have shown that these Chinese herbal medicines possess great advantages in terms of suppressing tumor progression, increasing the sensitivity of chemo- and radio-therapeutics, improving an organism's immune system function, and lessening the damage caused by chemo- and radio-therapeutics. Second, clinical trials of Chinese herbal medicines as adjuvant cancer treatment are reviewed. By reducing side effects and complications during chemo- and radio-therapy, these Chinese herbal medicines have a significant effect on reducing cancer-related fatigue and pain, improving respiratory tract infections and gastrointestinal side effects including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, protecting liver function, and even ameliorating the symptoms of cachexia. This review should contribute to an understanding of Chinese herbal medicines as adjuvant treatment for cancer and provide useful information for the development of more effective anti-cancer drugs.

KEYWORDS: Chinese herbal medicine, adjuvant treatment, chemotherapy, radiotherapy

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