Herbal medicine has been applied for centuries to treat lots of different health states. As with most kinds of complementary and alternative therapy, people may apply it to assist themselves feel more in control or feel better of their condition. Herbal medicine is often supported as a natural process to aid you relax and manage depression, anxiety and other situations such as hay fever, menstrual (period) problems, irritable bowel syndrome and skin diseases such as eczema.

It is one of the most frequently applied complementary and alternative therapies by people with cancer. Several studies have proved that as many as seven out of ten person with cancer (70%) use herbal medicines alongside traditional cancer treatments. There are lots of different forms of herbal remedies and some of these overlap with foods. Frequently used plants include green tea, ginger, St John's wort, Echinacea etc.

Preventing Cancer

There is no significant evidence that herbal medicines can prevent cancer. Nevertheless, one German research reported in 2009 that the women who used black cohosh and phyto oestrogens for the menopausal symptoms had a lower threat of cancer compared with those who didn't.

Treating Cancer

Plant or some plants extracts have been discovered in lab analysis to have anti cancer consequences and have been become cancer drugs (e.g. Taxol from yew tree). However, there is no scientific data from patient tests that herbal remedy can cure cancer. We have to run large trials to observe whether several herbal products contain anti cancer characteristics. Examples of herbal medicines that people have argued can aid to treat cancer are chaparral and carctol. But there is no proof to support these claims.

Herbal Remedies and Food Pipe Cancer

A review of trials applying Chinese herbal remedies to treat cancer of food pipe (known as oesophagus) submitted in 2007. This found no high quality examinations and said that there is presently no reliable proof that Chinese herbal remedies can aid to treat cancer of food pipe. The researchers recommend that large, high quality experiments are carried out.

Herbal Remedies and Pancreatic Cancer

Chinese herbal remedy has been applied to treat pancreatic cancer, particularly in advanced cancer. A research in 2012 considered 24 trials which used herbal medicines along with chemotherapy for people with the advanced pancreatic cancer. The researchers found that the herbal remedies seemed to help a few people to live longer, lessen radiotherapy and chemotherapy side effects, with an improved quality of life, and decrease symptoms. The researchers say though that the advantage is not much strong to support the application of herbal remedies in the treatment of the pancreatic cancer.

Herbal Medicines for Liver Cancer

In 2009 a research looked at 45 trials that used Chinese herbal remedies for a form of liver cancer known as hepatocellular carcinoma. It is found from the research that giving Chinese herbal remedy seemed to slow the development of cancer and assist a number of people to live longer. This also seemed to reduce tiredness (fatigue), abdominal pain and to boost appetite. However, it was poor quality research and so it is not actually clear how much herbal drug can help.

Safety of Herbal Remedies

Many people believe that when a product is marketed as herbal or natural, it means these are safe to use. Several herbal remedies are safe and harmless but others can have dangerous and serious side effects.
Some herbal remedies may interact with treatments for different diseases from your doctor, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy or biological therapy. A report published by American Journal of Clinical Oncology revealed that some familiar herbal remedies, such as echinacea, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, St John's wort and kava, are able to interact with cancer treatments.

A number of herbal treatments may have an effect on the process medicines are broken down by body, or the process drugs are carried within your body. For instance, information published by US National Cancer Institute recommends that St John's wort is able to accelerate the time that body receives to get rid of anti cancer treatment, like imatinib (GLIVEC) by 44%. It could potentially indicate that this treatment is less successful at fighting your cancer. Several herbal remedies may raise the effect of cancer medicines, representing that you could be better treated.


Many herbs (including echinacea, astragalus, Asian ginseng, and dong quai) supposedly improve the immune system and support the body against existing or future cancer. Small studies suggest that maitake or shiitake mushrooms, mistletoe, various botanical therapies, and extracts of the Venus flytrap used in conventional herbal remedies may help treat certain types of cancer. However, until better proof is in, we cannot completely trust in them.

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