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


Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra or Glycyrrhiza uralensis)-Chinese name gan cao-contains the very active flavonoid licochalcone A, which has demonstrated in vitro estrogenic activity.[21] This botanical shows a broad range of anticancer activity in vitro. It enhances the cytotoxicity of commonly used anticancer drugs and induces apoptosis in MCF-7 human breast cancer and HL-60 promyelocytic leukemia cell lines.[21,22,23,24]

Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum [Curtis: fr.] Karst.)-Chinese name ling zhi- has been shown to aid in the recovery of leukocyte counts in irradiated mice in a dose-dependent manner. It contains the polysaccharide G009, which has demonstrated antioxidant behavior against HL-60 cells in vitro and dose-dependent inhibition of lipid peroxidation in rat brain cells in vitro.[25,26,27,28,29]

Isatis (Isatis indigotica)-Chinese name da qing ve-contains active agents in each part of the plant.[2] TCM has different names for the medicinals coming from the leaf, stem, and root and uses these plant products for different purposes. Indirubin, an active ingredient, and its analogs have demonstrated inhibition of cyclin-dependent kinases in human mammary carcinoma cell line MCF-7 in vitro.[30]

Ginseng (Panax ginseng or Panax pseudoginseng var. notoginseng)-Chinese name tianqi-contains ginsenosides and saponins. Of the 30 ginsenosides that have been isolated from Panax ginseng, only the 20(S)-protopanaxadiol type R3 has inhibited cell growth and suppressed PSA expression, androgen receptor and 5-alpha-reductase activity, and PCNA production in vitro.[31,32,33]

Chrysanthemum flowers (Dendranthema morifolium)-Chinese name ju hua-contain triterpene diols and triols. Arnidiol exhibited cytotoxicity in vitro against 58 of the 60 human cancer cell lines developed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Developmental Therapeutics Program.[34]

The botanical rabdosia rubescens (Isodon rubescens)-Chinese name dong ling cao-has two very active agents, oridonin and rubesencin b. Oridonin inhibits DNA synthesis in vitro,[1] and rubesencin b inhibited cell growth in cancer cell lines in vitro and in a mouse model.[35]

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is the only botanical in PC-SPES that is not used in TCM. There is strong evidence from human trials that saw palmetto has some activity against benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), including improved urine flow and less erectile dysfunction when compared with placebo or finasteride. S. repens also exhibits antiestrogenic activity in placebo-controlled BPH trials. In LNCaP cells, S. repens produced apoptosis in vitro.[36,37,38,39,40]

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