Chemotherapy has many side-effects, including nausea and vomiting, hair loss, exhaustion and even heart failure. It can greatly reduce the quality of life of the cancer patient and in some cases kill them. Sometimes a course of chemotherapy has to be stopped mid-way through because the patient can not tolerate it. Some patients decide for themselves that they cannot go through anymore of the side-effects associated with chemotherapy.
So reducing the side-effects is very important to many oncologists who would like to use chemotherapy with mimimum toxicity to their patients.
Researchers at Yale University have discovered a blend of four different types of Chinese herbs that can alleviate a lot of the discomfort caused by chemotherapy. The compound they have developed – PHY906 – is based on the Chinese herbal remedy Huang Qin Tang that has been used to treat nausea, vomiting and gastrointestinal upset for the last 1,800 years. Dr. Cheng and his colleagues from the university decided to put the remedy to the test to scientifically prove whether or not it worked. They also wanted to see if it could treat the side-effects of chemotherapy without stopping the drugs from killing the cancerous tumors.
They gave PHY906 to mice with colon cancer who were undergoing chemotherapy and found that they did not experience as much toxicity as those not given the remedy. They also maintained a more healthy weight, their immune systems showed more anti-tumor activity and it had even encouraged the growth of new stem cells in the intestines, so not only was it reducing the toxicity of chemotherapy, it also helped to actively fight cancer.
It was also found to reduce inflammation.
‘Herbal medicine PHY906 can counteract the toxicity of CPT-11 via several mechanisms that act simultaneously.’
A review in the journal, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, found that:
‘The toxic side effects of anticancer drugs can be a major limitation to their effective use, as well as seriously affecting quality of life.