Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trials of Herbs Against Cancer
Colleen Huber, NMD
The following studies are some randomized and double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of various botanical medicines against a number of cancers.
Ginger’s effect against colorectal cancer
In 2013, a pilot trial of ginger was done with individuals who had been found by genetic markers to be at increased risk of colorectal cancer. The experimental group received supplementation of the common culinary and medicinal herb ginger, the well-known ginger that is available to consumers in markets throughout the world, and that grows easily in the wetter regions of the world.
In the study 20 people were randomized into two groups, those who received 2 grams of ginger or placebo daily, for 28 days. At the end of that time, biopsies were performed of the rectal mucosa. During that time, in the group receiving ginger, biopsies showed that pro-cancerous genes Bax, hTERT and MIB-1 decreased in the crypts of the rectal mucosa. The authors concluded that ginger may decrease proliferation and increase apoptosis and differentiation in colorectal cancer.
Ukrain against colorectal cancer
Ukrain is a derivative of the plant Chelidonium majus, which is the Latin scientific name for the plant greater celandine. It’s use was pioneered by Wassil Nowicky of Ukraine, then Austria.
A randomized study of 96 colorectal cancer patients found a strong effect of Ukrain against their cancer.
Ukrain against pancreatic cancer
Ukrain showed remarkable effect in the following randomized, controlled trial of pancreatic cancer patients. Of those receiving Ukrain plus low-dose Vitamin C, their rate of remission was remarkable compared to the control group that only received low-dose Vitamin C: 81% survival in the Ukrain group compared to 14% survival in the control group. It would have been interesting if this study had incorporated high dose Vitamin C, as opposed to the 5.4 g Vitamin C that the patients received. The two year survival was 43% in the Ukrain group, compared to 5% in the control group. At two years of the standard gemcitabine and 5-fluorouracil (Gemzar and 5-FU chemotherapy), 0% survived; all of the chemotherapy patients were deceased. In fact, none of the chemotherapy pancreatic cancer patients survived beyond 19 months. The longest survival in the Ukrain group was 54 months after start of therapy.
Ukrain treatment is well-tolerated, without known side effects.
In fact, in a randomized, controlled study of Ukrain in breast cancer, Ukrain was given along with chemotherapy and mastectomy. The Ukrain patients had better wellbeing and faster recuperation from surgery and better tolerance of their chemotherapy treatments than those who did not.
Other randomized trials of Ukrain in various cancers are described in this meta-analysis.
Combination plant extracts against prostate cancer
A meta-analysis of five randomized trials of various plant extracts, such as pomegranate, soy, lycopene, turmeric, green tea, broccoli found the following: Serum PSA levels either stabilized, decreased or rose more slowly in a significant number of men, compared to controls.
One of these studies was a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial involving 199 men with prostate cancer for 6 months. Men in the experimental group were given foods rich in polyphenols, such as pomegranate, green tea, broccoli and turmeric. The experimental group had a 14.7% rise in PSA, as opposed to a 78.5% rise in the placebo group.
Astragalus against lung cancer
A meta-analysis of 17 randomized studies, representing 1552 non-small cell lung cancer patients, showed significant improvement in survival for chemotherapy patients having astragalus supplementation over those have chemotherapy alone. This was the case with 1-year, 2-year and 3-year overall survival rates, as well as performance status and tumor overall response rate, as well as tolerance of chemotherapy side effects.
 Citronberg J, Bostick R, et al. Effects of ginger supplementation on cell-cycle biomarkers in the normal-appearing colonic mucosa of patients at increased risk for colorectal cancer: results from a pilot, randomized, and controlled trial. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). Apr 2013 6(4). 271-81. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23303903
 Susak Y, Zemskov S, et al. Comparison of chemotherapy and X-ray therapy with Ukrain monotherapy for colorectal cancer. Drugs Exp Clin Res. 1996; 22:115-22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8899313
 Uglyanitsa K, Nefyodov L, et al. Comparative evaluation of the efficiency of various Ukrain doses in the combined treatment of breast cancer. Report 1. Clinical aspects of Ukrain application. Drugs Exp Clin Res. 2000; 26(5-6). 223-30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11345029
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 Van Die M, Bone K, et al. Phytotherapeutic interventions in the management of biochemically recurrent prostate cancer: a systematic review of randomised trials. BJU Int. Apr 2016; 117 Suppl 4:17-34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26898239
 Thomas R, Williams M, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial evaluating the effect of a polyphenol-rich whole food supplement on PSA progression in men with prostate cancer – the UK NCRN Pomi-T study. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Disease. Jun 2014; 17(2): 180-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24614693
 Wang S, Wang Q, et al. Astragalus-containing Traditional Chinese Medicine, with and without prescription based on syndrome differentiation, combined with chemotherapy for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer: a systemic review and meta-analysis. Curr. Oncol. Jun 2016; 23(3).e: 188-95. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27330356