New research has found that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may help reduce unpleasant side effects caused by chemotherapy.
The US study, conducted by National Foundation for Cancer Research scientist Yung-Chi Cheng from Yale University, involved the use of four ancient Chinese herbs, known collectively as PHY906, in phase I and phase II clinical trials. It was found that when used alongside chemotherapy, the herbs reduce gastrointestinal side effects caused by chemo administered to colon and rectal cancer patients. It also found that PHY906 enhances the anti-tumour activity of some chemotherapy agents. When used in conjunction with Irinotecan – a chemotherapy drug – the herbal mix also helped restore intestinal damage caused by chemotherapy.
It is believed that the finding ‘could lead to the alleviation of the adverse intestinal side effects experienced by [cancer] patients.'
The National Foundation for Cancer Research, which fully funded the clinical study said, ‘this breakthrough represents a paradigm shift in the way the cancer research community thinks about Traditional Chinese Medicine, opening minds to new approaches to treating cancer using these ancient medicines which have the potential to provide new and more effective options for treating cancer patients.’
Scientist Dr Cheng said, ‘This is a new paradigm of drug development. With funding from the National Foundation for Cancer Research, our team at Yale was able to pursue this avenue of research when no one else would support it. We have now been able to prove that these traditional medicines actually do deliver real benefits that may improve the lives of cancer patients.’