Use of herbal medicine for cancer treatment-related toxicities

Noah Samuels, Ofir Morag, Yair Maimon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cancer treatment-related toxicities often require dose reductions and delays. Herbal medicine use is prevalent among cancer patients. Though evidence is lacking regarding benefits in treatment outcomes and immunity, a large body of evidence supports the use of herbals for reducing treatment-induced toxicities. We present three cases where herbal medicine provided relief from side effects of anti-cancer treatment, enabling the completion of treatment protocols. In the first case, a 79 year-old female patient with metastatic breast cancer developed flushing and excessive sweating from Tamoxifen treatment. Herbal medicine reduced symptoms significantly, enabling the continuation of treatment with partial disease resolution. In the second case, a 69 year-old male with esophageal cancer terminated treatment on the adjuvant treatment protocol because of severe nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, peripheral neuropathy and fatigue. Herbal medicine reduced symptom severity and chemotherapy was reinstituted. In the third case, a 58 year-old female patient with advanced metastatic colon cancer was referred by her oncologist for treatment with herbal medicine for alleviation of fatigue and weakness, flushing and palpitations, mouth ulcers and dyspnea. Despite significant symptom reduction, with completion of treatment regimens, her disease progressed and she subsequently succumbed to the disease. In summary, the above cases illustrate potential benefits of herbal medicine in the reduction of cancer treatment-related symptoms, enabling patients to complete their anti-cancer treatment regimen. Further research examining the efficacy and safety of herbal compounds is needed, in light of potential toxicity and negative interactions with conventional treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-6, 67
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


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