Herbal Management of Breast Cancer
Large-scale research projects are underway worldwide in an effort to
discover and measure the effectiveness of therapies long-used by non-Western
cultures to combat illness and promote health. One of these research projects,
taking place in California, is the screening of Chinese herbs and compounds to
measure their ability to fight breast cancer
cells. By analyzing the active chemicals in more than 70 different herbs,
scientists have found some considerable potency in a few of them. Some examples
Zhi Lian (Chinese) - Scutellaria barbatae (Latin) - This herb
inhibited breast cancer cells in the lab, and
will be tested in a group of women with metastatic breast cancer who are
taking no other cancer drugs. Tea made from the herb has been used for a
variety of purposes - including treatment of liver, lung, and rectal cancer.
The herb is brewed into a dark tea. It's very potent, and only a small
cupful provides a full dose. Avoid drinking lots of the tea in an effort to
Zhi Mu - Anamarrhena asphodeloides - Lab tests showed it to be
"highly active" against breast cancer cells. Future clinical trials are
Wang Bu Liu Xing - Vaccaria sigetalis - Also "highly active"
against breast cancer cells in the lab, and being considered for future
Not only found in herbal lore, health experts are discovering a new and
healthy way for all of us to maximize their use of herbs. One of the best ways
to introduce and sustain the use of healthy herbs and
vitamins in our daily
lives is to cook with them. These phytochemicals (phyto = plant) are present in
fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and culinary herbs, and number in the
thousands. Scientists have found they go beyond protecting against many chronic
diseases and actively fight cancer as well.
rich in coriandrol, helps combat breast and liver cancers. In animal studies,
coriandrol stops aflatoxin (a liver toxin) from binding with DNA. Aflatoxin
causes liver cancer in humans. Coriander is sold in seed form or fresh. Fresh
coriander is known as cilantro.
One herb that helps guard against breast cancer is rosemary. Rosemary
contains high levels of carnosol, a chemical that breaks down other chemicals
that can start a cancer process.
common garden mint plant contains limonene, a powerful anti-cancer agent
that studies suggest blocks the development of breast tumors and may actually
shrink them. We also encounter limonene in citrus peels, such as oranges,
grapefruits, and lemons, though few of us eat much of the peel. But mint can be
used in many foods and drinks as a flavor enhancer.
of us know about garlic and onions, each of which contains allyl
sulfides, powerful and helpful antioxidants, and substances shown to lower
cholesterol and thin
the blood. The same group of compounds has anticancer properties. Other herbs
and vegetables with strong phytochemical characteristics are:
family of vegetables and green tea - Indoles - effective in reducing
levels of naturally occurring estrogen in women
and soybeans - Genistein and diadzein - phyto-flavonoids effective
against some forms of breast cancer and lowering
fruits, some vegetables, teas and wine contain flavonoids and indoles,
powerful antioxidants that protect tissues,
blood vessels, and the heart
Several Herbs To Help Lower Breast-Cancer Risk
spp); 2-6 grams of dried root/day; 1/2 teaspoon of fluid extract
Boosts the immune system; if
taken regularly, may help prevent cancer.
Use cautiously if you're a transplant patient or have an
officinale) root; 10-15 drops tincture 3x/day, or drink tea mornings
Improves liver function, which helps detoxify estrogen.
No known health hazards.
Green tea (Camellia sinensis); 300-400 mg of polyphenols/day;
three cups of green tea contain roughly 240-320 mg.
Antioxidant properties help prevent cancer.
Contains tannin and may cause discomfort to those with sensitive
stomachs; also contains caffeine.
Psyllium (Plantago ovata);
12-40 grams/day; mix powder with fruit juice or cool water and stir.
Aids in ridding body of excess estrogen.
Not recommended for those who have gastrointestinal problems,
obstruction of the bowels, or difficulties regulating diabetes.
May have anticancer properties.
Can cause stomach distress if used for extended period of time;
do not use during pregnancy or if you have obstructed biliary ducts;
those with gallstones should take only under supervision of a
Note: Larger doses may be necessary for disease
management and prevention. Check with your health care practitioner
for individualized recommendations.
Sources: Laurel Vukovic, an Ashland, Oregon-based
herbalist and author of Herbal Healing Secrets for Women (Prentice
Hall Press, 2000); PDR for Herbal Medicines (Medical Economics Co.,
Basic breast cancer formula (Hsu, 85):
pu gong ying 15g
solanum lyratum thunb 15g
zi cao / lithospermum 15g
chuan shan jia / anteater scales 15g
xia ju cao / prunella 30g
gua lou / trichosanthes 12g
wang bu liu xing / vaccaria 12g
orange leaves 9g
bei mu / fritillaria 9g
Another formula from 1970:
Dang gui 30
Gua lou / trichosanthes 60
Huang qi 15
bai zhi 15
jie geng / platycodon 15
pu gong ying 9
zi hua di ding 9
gui zhi 9
yuan zhi / polygala 9
zhen zhu 6
bai shao 6
gan cao 6
For pus, fistula, new tissue growth, and recovery, hua yen tang:
Ren shen 30
Huang qi 30
Jin yin hua 30
Bai zhu 60
Qian cao gen / madder 6
fu ling / hoelen 9
More useful herbs
names: Chuan Xin Liang, Fah Tolai, Kalmegh, King Of Bitters, Kiryat
Andrographis is a branched, erect annual plant that grows in forests and
wastelands in China, India, Pakistan, and Thailand. Its leaves and stems are
harvested in late summer for medicinal use. It is cultivated extensively in
China and Thailand, and in the East and West Indies.
Andrographis is an ancient medicinal herb with an extensive history in Asia.
It has been used for centuries to treat upper respiratory infections, fever,
herpes, sore throat, and a variety of other chronic and infectious diseases. In
Scandinavian countries, it is commonly used to prevent and treat the common
cold. There have been conclusive studies of its use against cancer, AIDS, and a
variety of bacterial and viral diseases.
Benefits of andrographis for specific health conditions include the
Atherosclerosis and heart attack. Clinical studies in China have found
that andrographis prevents the formation of blood clots and that use of the
herb prevents restenosis, or "reclogging," of arteries after angioplasty.
The herb changes the way the linings of blood vessels respond to calcium,
helping them to stay open.
Cancer. It has been shown that if a cancer cell can be made to mature
(or differentiate), it will not have the ability to grow out of control.
Results of a study have demonstrated that andrographis has potent
cell-differentiation-inducing activity on leukemia cells. Moreover, extracts
from andrographis leaves are cytotoxic (cell-killing) against cancer cells.
Japanese researchers have reported that andrographis stops stomach cancer
cells from multiplying. Other studies have found positive results with skin
cancer, prostate and breast cancer cells, and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas.
Cold, fever, and flu. Andrographis prevents infections with
rhinoviruses, the type of viruses most often responsible for the common
cold. Taking 200 milligrams a day of an andrographis preparation (marketed
as Kan Jang) throughout the cold season reduces the risk of catching a cold
by over 50 percent. Andrographis also relieves runny nose, headache, sore
muscles, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue, although a dose of
1,200 milligrams or more a day may be needed for this effect. Andrographis
has also been used to reduce fever and pain, and for disorders of the
Diarrhea and other intestinal disorders. Extracts of andrographis have
been shown to have significant effects against the diarrhea associated with
E. coli bacterial infections. In one study, chronic inflammation of the
colon was treated with a combination of 60 grams of andrographis and 30
grams of rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa), with a cure rate of 72 percent.
Twenty-six percent experienced symptomatic relief.
Hepatitis; liver and gallbladder problems. The primary active ingredient
in andrographis, andrographolide, increases bile flow and the levels of bile
salts and bile acids. It was found to be more potent than silymarin (an
active ingredient in milk thistle), which is used clinically as a
hepatoprotective agent. Also, the andrographolides present in andrographis
are potent stimulators of gallbladder function, therefore reducing the
probability of gallstone formation.
HIV/AIDS. Andrographis counteracts the human immunodeficiency virus
(HIV) in at least four different ways. Studies at the University of
California have shown that a combination of chemicals in the herb keeps the
virus from attaching to healthy T cells. This keeps the celIs from becoming
infected. Manufacturer-reported studies found the herb also fights HIV in
cells once they have become infected. Also a natural protease inhibitor,
andrographis is currently being studied for this property. Compounds in the
herb make it more difficult for HIV to take over a "control enzyme" in
certain T celIs that force the cells to make copies of the virus. This
action is the same as the action of the AIDS drug zidovudine (Retrovir,
better known as AZT), and taking andrographis makes it possible for doctors
to treat AIDS with lower doses of AZT and fewer side effects. Finally,
andrographis keeps HIV from activating an "off-switch" that causes
uninfected T cells to die. The use of this herb reduces viral load while
helping maintain T-cell counts
Yew- Taxus brevifolia
Known by Native Americans as "Chief of the Forest," medical literature shows
that the powerful Pacific Yew tree has been intensively used and analyzed for
its remarkable benefits for cellular health, and has also been historically
utilized in its natural form as an immune booster, as a salve for cuts, scrapes
and skin irritations and more.
saw the yew as the tree of immortality and held it sacred. Later, Christians
planted it in their churchyards. The reason is not clear. Some say it was to
keep cattle from eating its poisonous berries; others say it was because a
steady supply of the wood was needed for making bows. The Latin name taxa comes
from the Greek toxon, the root word for "poison" and "bow". Legend has it that
the famous archer and outlaw Robin Hood was married under a yew tree. Ancient
British law protected the yew tree and prescribed penalties for disfiguring yew
wood furniture, carvings, or doors. Native Americans also held the yew in high
regard. Some tribes saw it as the chief of trees. Although it had a variety of
uses, Native Americans, like Europeans, associated it with war and bows.
The compound paclitaxel, from the bark of this plant, stabilizes microtubules,
the part of the cell that maintains shape and aids in cell division. It combats
certain cancers, most notably ovarian and breast. In the early 1960s the Pacific
yew was part of a wide-spread search for cancer-fighting plants. More than 20
years later, clinical trials began. In 1994 scientists succeeded in synthesizing
paclitaxel from yew needles and bark after concerns that a severe depletion in
the numbers of yews could occur. Needles from a related species, T. baccata,
have been used for many ailments, such as tapeworms, epilepsy, and tonsillitis.
Medical experts do not recommend self prescribing, however, because yew needles
and seeds are known to be toxic
Japenese Mushroom - Lentinus Edodes
Shiitake mushroom is the most widely cultivated specialty mushroom in the world
and is both a prized medicine as well as a culinary delight. Because of its
traditional use in folk medicine and its availability, it has been the subject
of intense research. Shiitake has adequate nutritional qualities to serve as a
main dish. It adapts well to recipes as a meat substitute. Lentinan is not only
useful for cancer treatment, but may also prevent the increase of chromosomal
damage induced by anti-cancer drugs. Shiitake contains all eight essential amino
acids in better proportions than soy beans, meat, milk, or eggs as well as a
good blend of vitamins and minerals including
Shiitake produces a fat-absorbing compound which aids in
weight reduction. Delicious to eat and good for
Shiitake is good for preventing
high blood pressure and
heart disease, controlling cholesterol levels, building resistance to viruses,
and fighting diseases such as cancer.
Research indicates that lentinan extracted from shiitake may help some people
with hepatitis. Case reports from Japan suggest that lentinan also may be
helpful in treating people with HIV / AIDS. Lentinan is generally administered
by injection and has been used as an agent to prolong the survival of people
receiving conventional cancer therapy.
Benefits of shiitake for specific health conditions include the
Cancer. Japanese physicians have long used lentinan's immune-stimulating
capabilities in cancer treatment. Lentinan does not attack cancer cells
directly. Instead, it activates the immune system's lymphokine-activated
killer (LAK) and natural killer (NK) cells to combat various types of
cancers, including carcinoma, hepatoma, and sarcoma. Lentinan also
counteracts the formation of prostaglandins that cause inflammation and keep
the immune system's T cells from reaching maturity.
Japanese physicians have found that lentinan stimulates the capacity of
specialized blood cells to produce immune system chemicals, mainly
interleukin and tumor necrosis factor (TNF), that prevent the growth and
spread of cancer. Lentinan is especially useful when surgery is not
Stomach cancer is unusually difficult to treat because the early symptoms
are often so vague that the cancer is usually quite advanced by the time it
is detected. Japanese physicians have found that when surgery for advanced
stomach cancer is feasible, treatment with a combination of lentinan and
chemotherapy improves the quality of life. In one case, a patient whose
stomach cancer had spread to the liver and lymph nodes was still alive five
years after surgery. The tumors in his liver disappeared after seventeen
months of combined treatment with lentinan and the chemotherapy preparation
uracil plus ftorafur (UFT).
Japanese physicians also use lentinan to treat breast cancer in women
who have had mastectomies without follow-up radiation therapy. When
chemotherapy is used, lentinan prevents immune-system damage if given before
treatment begins. In addition, Japanese studies in animals have shown that
lentinan increases the effectiveness of cancer treatment with a specific
type of interleukin-2 (IL-2). When used together, the two treatments
prevented the spread of breast cancers to the lung.
Even if cancer has spread to the lung, lentinan can increase survival
time. In a group of sixteen people with advanced cancer, Japanese medical
researchers injected lentinan directly into malignant areas. All of the
patients eventually died, but the average survival time of patients who
responded to the treatment was 129 days, compared with 49 days for those who
were given the drug.
Chronic fatigue syndrome and Lyme disease. Japanese physicians report
that lentinan is useful for low natural killer cell syndrome (LNKS), a
disease that causes disabling fatigue. This disease causes symptoms that
appear to be identical to chronic fatigue syndrome as it is diagnosed in the
West. Lentinan treatment has been successful in reversing symptoms,
including remittent fever, persistent fatigue, and low NK cell activity. The
ability of this type of therapy to stimulate NK cells also makes it valuable
in the treatment of Lyme disease.
Common cold and macular degeneration. Shiitake contains polysaccharides
(complex sugars) that stimulate the immune system to fight colds. They also
enhance production of interferon, which helps to rein in the blood-vessel
overgrowth seen in macular degeneration.
High cholesterol. Shiitake is beneficial in lowering levels of both total
cholesterol and LDL (low-density lipoproteins, or "bad") cholesterol. In
animal studies using eritadenine, a chemical found in shiitake, total
cholesterol levels were reduced by 25 percent in one week. This effect was
more pronounced in subjects who ate high-fat diets than in those on low-fat
diets. Japanese scientists have found that shiitake compounds accelerate the
accumulation of LDL in the liver, where it is converted into HDL
(high-density lipoprotein, or "good") cholesterol.
Other medical uses - Viral infection.
Other names: Astragalus membranaceus, Huang Qi
is a twining leguminous perennial plant that grows 11-1/2 to 39 inches high. The
stem has many branches, slanting upward and slightly hairy. The pinnate leaves
are alternate and the 9 to 21 leaflets are elliptical-shaped, 1/4 to 3/4 inches
long and about 1/3 inch wide. The racemes are axillary and the peduncle slender,
with anywhere from 3 to 9 flowers growing at the top. The pod is spindle-shaped,
inflated, a little over an inch in length and beaked at its tip. Astragalus has
20 to 30 seeds. Astragalus grows in grasses or in thickets on hillsides in
northwest China, Manchuria and Mongolia.
value is in the root. Astragalus root is flexible and long, as large as your
forefinger, and covered with a tough, wrinkled, yellowish- brown skin, which has
a tendency to break up into woolly fibers. The woody interior is of a
yellowish-white color and has a faint sweetish taste that reminds you of
Tonic & endurance remedy - Astragalus is a classic energy tonic, perhaps
even superior to ginseng for young people. In China it is believed to warm
and tone the wei qi (a protective energy that circulates just beneath the
skin), helping the body to adapt to
external influences, especially to the cold. Astragalus raises immune
resistance and manifestly improves physical endurance.
Control of fluids - Though a vasodilator (encouraging blood to flow to
the surface), astragalus is used for excessive sweating, including night
sweats. Astragalus is also helpful in both relieving fluid retention and
reducing thirstiness. Astragalus encourages the system to function
Immune stimulant - Not an herb for acute illness, astragalus is nonetheless
a very useful medicine for viral infections such as the common cold.
Other medical uses - Bone cancer, Breast cancer, Cervical cancer, Colorectal
cancer, Endometrial cancer, Hodgkin's disease, Kidney cancer, Liver cancer,
Lung cancer, Ovarian cancer. Astragalus
treats prolapsed organs, especially the uterus, and it is beneficial for
uterine bleeding. Astragalus is often combined with Chinese angelica as a
blood tonic to treat anemia.
If you are being treated for cancer, be aware of the battle that is going on
in your body. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy add to the fatigue caused by
the disease itself. Give your body the rest it needs so that you will feel
better as time goes on. Exercise once you feel rested enough. Ask your cancer
care team whether your cancer or its treatments might limit your exercise
program or other activities. It is important that you consider your emotional,
psychological, and spiritual health along with the physical aspects of your
recovery from cancer.