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PC-SPES (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Health Professional Information [NCI] - General Information

Note: A separate PDQ summary on Prostate Cancer Treatment is also available.

PC-SPES is a patented herbal mixture that was sold as a dietary supplement and used as a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatment for prostate cancer. It is a combination of the following eight herbs:

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About This PDQ Summary

Purpose of This Summary This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about communicating with the cancer patient and his or her family. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions. Reviewers and Updates This summary is reviewed regularly and updated as necessary by the...

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  • Baikal skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi).
  • Chrysanthemum (Dendranthema morifolium [Ramat.] Tzvelev [synonym Chrysanthemum morifolium]).
  • Ganoderma (Ganoderma lucidum [Curtis:fr] Karst.).
  • Isatis (Isatis indigotica Fort.).
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra L. or Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch. ex DC.).
  • Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer or pseudoginseng (Panax pseudoginseng var. notoginseng Hoo & tseng [synonym Panax notoginseng (Burkill)] F.H.Chen).
  • Isodon rubescens (Hemsl.) Hara (synonym Rabdosia rubescens [Hemsl.] Hara).
  • Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens [Bartr.] Small).

With the exception of saw palmetto, the herbs in PC-SPES have been used individually or in combination in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for a variety of health problems, including those of the prostate, for hundreds of years.[1,2]

PC-SPES is an herbal product that resulted from a collaboration between a chemist at the New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York, and a Chinese herbalist and doctor of TCM in China. Their idea was to combine TCM with the scientific techniques of Western laboratory research. In the United States, a series of in vitro and in vivo laboratory studies was started on the mixture of herbs used in TCM specially formulated to treat prostate problems. Researchers published the results of these studies, which showed promising anticancer activity from PC-SPES.[3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11]

Considerable research has been conducted on the anticancer properties of the eight individual botanicals in PC-SPES.

Baikal skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)—Chinese name huang qin—contains baicalin and wogonin, two active flavones. Baicalin converts to baicalein, which is another active flavone. In vitro, baicalin and baicalein inhibit cell growth of AD LNCaP and JCA-1 AI human prostate cancer cell lines,[12,13] as well as inducing apoptosis in human LNCaP cells.[14] Baicalin also shows antimutagenic and antioxidant activity in vitro as well as free radical scavenging ability.[15,16,17,18,19,20]

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