Huang Qin Tang Reduces Toxicity and Boosts Chemotherapy Effect

A new study led by Yale University in the US found that an ancient four-herb Chinese herbal remedy first described 1,800 years ago reduced gastrointestinal toxicity and boosted the antitumor effect of the chemotherapy drug CPT-11 (irinotecan) in mice with colon cancer.

PHY906 comprises four herbs and is based on a herbal recipe that in China is known as Huang Qin Tang that was originally used to treat nausea, vomiting and diarrhea as far back as 1,800 years ago. Chang and colleagues decided to investigate its ability to reduce the gastrointestinal effects of a common chemotherapy drug without affecting its ability to kill cancer cells.

The researchers found that after giving PHY906 to mice with colon cancer that were undergoing chemotherapy with CPT-11 the animals experienced less toxicity, lost less weight and showed more anti-tumor activity than similar mice not given the formula. The formula had also encouraged the growth of new intestinal stem cells.

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