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Herbal Management Of Breast Cancer

herbal breast cancer

Large-scale research projects are underway worldwide in an effort to discover and measure the effectiveness of therapies long-used by non-Western cultures to combat illness and promote health. One of these research projects, taking place in California, is the screening of Chinese herbs and compounds to measure their ability to fight breast cancer cells. By analyzing the active chemicals in more than 70 different herbs, scientists have found some considerable potency in a few of them. Some examples are:

Not only found in herbal lore, health experts are discovering a new and healthy way for all of us to maximize their use of herbs. One of the best ways to introduce and sustain the use of healthy herbs andvitamins in our daily lives is to cook with them. These phytochemicals (phyto = plant) are present in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and culinary herbs, and number in the thousands. Scientists have found they go beyond protecting against many chronic diseases and actively fight cancer as well.

Coriander, rich in coriandrol, helps combat breast and liver cancers. In animal studies, coriandrol stops aflatoxin (a liver toxin) from binding with DNA. Aflatoxin causes liver cancer in humans. Coriander is sold in seed form or fresh. Fresh coriander is known as cilantro.

One herb that helps guard against breast cancer is rosemary. Rosemary contains high levels of carnosol, a chemical that breaks down other chemicals that can start a cancer process.


The common garden mint plant contains limonene, a powerful anti-cancer agent that studies suggest blocks the development of breast tumors and may actually shrink them. We also encounter limonene in citrus peels, such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons, though few of us eat much of the peel. But mint can be used in many foods and drinks as a flavor enhancer.

Many of us know about garlic and onions, each of which contains allyl sulfides, powerful and helpful antioxidants, and substances shown to lower cholesterol and thin the blood. The same group of compounds has anticancer properties. Other herbs and vegetables with strong phytochemical characteristics are:

Several Herbs To Help Lower Breast-Cancer Risk

Recommendation Rationale Notes
Astragalus (Astragalus spp); 2-6 grams of dried root/day; 1/2 teaspoon of fluid extract 3x/day. Boosts the immune system; if taken regularly, may help prevent cancer. Use cautiously if you’re a transplant patient or have an autoimmune disease.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root; 10-15 drops tincture 3x/day, or drink tea mornings and evenings. Improves liver function, which helps detoxify estrogen. No known health hazards.
Green tea (Camellia sinensis); 300-400 mg of polyphenols/day; three cups of green tea contain roughly 240-320 mg. Antioxidant properties help prevent cancer. Contains tannin and may cause discomfort to those with sensitive stomachs; also contains caffeine.
Psyllium (Plantago ovata); 12-40 grams/day; mix powder with fruit juice or cool water and stir. Aids in ridding body of excess estrogen. Not recommended for those who have gastrointestinal problems, obstruction of the bowels, or difficulties regulating diabetes.
Turmeric extract
(Curcuma domestica);
1.5-3 grams/day.


May have anticancer properties. Can cause stomach distress if used for extended period of time; do not use during pregnancy or if you have obstructed biliary ducts; those with gallstones should take only under supervision of a physician.
Note: Larger doses may be necessary for disease management and prevention. Check with your health care practitioner for individualized recommendations.
Sources: Laurel Vukovic, an Ashland, Oregon-based herbalist and author of Herbal Healing Secrets for Women (Prentice Hall Press, 2000); PDR for Herbal Medicines (Medical Economics Co., 2000).


Herbal Formulas

Basic breast cancer formula (Hsu, 85):

Another formula from 1970:

For pus, fistula, new tissue growth, and recovery, hua yen tang:

More useful herbs

Other names: Chuan Xin Liang, Fah Tolai, Kalmegh, King Of Bitters, Kiryat
Andrographis is a branched, erect annual plant that grows in forests and wastelands in China, India, Pakistan, and Thailand. Its leaves and stems are harvested in late summer for medicinal use. It is cultivated extensively in China and Thailand, and in the East and West Indies.


Andrographis is an ancient medicinal herb with an extensive history in Asia. It has been used for centuries to treat upper respiratory infections, fever, herpes, sore throat, and a variety of other chronic and infectious diseases. In Scandinavian countries, it is commonly used to prevent and treat the common cold. There have been conclusive studies of its use against cancer, AIDS, and a variety of bacterial and viral diseases.

Benefits of andrographis for specific health conditions include the following:


Pacific Yew– Taxus brevifolia
Known by Native Americans as “Chief of the Forest,” medical literature shows that the powerful Pacific Yew tree has been intensively used and analyzed for its remarkable benefits for cellular health, and has also been historically utilized in its natural form as an immune booster, as a salve for cuts, scrapes and skin irritations and more.

Bark, leaf.


Druids saw the yew as the tree of immortality and held it sacred. Later, Christians planted it in their churchyards. The reason is not clear. Some say it was to keep cattle from eating its poisonous berries; others say it was because a steady supply of the wood was needed for making bows. The Latin name taxa comes from the Greek toxon, the root word for “poison” and “bow”. Legend has it that the famous archer and outlaw Robin Hood was married under a yew tree. Ancient British law protected the yew tree and prescribed penalties for disfiguring yew wood furniture, carvings, or doors. Native Americans also held the yew in high regard. Some tribes saw it as the chief of trees. Although it had a variety of uses, Native Americans, like Europeans, associated it with war and bows.

The compound paclitaxel, from the bark of this plant, stabilizes microtubules, the part of the cell that maintains shape and aids in cell division. It combats certain cancers, most notably ovarian and breast. In the early 1960s the Pacific yew was part of a wide-spread search for cancer-fighting plants. More than 20 years later, clinical trials began. In 1994 scientists succeeded in synthesizing paclitaxel from yew needles and bark after concerns that a severe depletion in the numbers of yews could occur. Needles from a related species, T. baccata, have been used for many ailments, such as tapeworms, epilepsy, and tonsillitis. Medical experts do not recommend self prescribing, however, because yew needles and seeds are known to be toxic

Japenese Mushroom – Lentinus Edodes

The Shiitake mushroom is the most widely cultivated specialty mushroom in the world and is both a prized medicine as well as a culinary delight. Because of its traditional use in folk medicine and its availability, it has been the subject of intense research. Shiitake has adequate nutritional qualities to serve as a main dish. It adapts well to recipes as a meat substitute. Lentinan is not only useful for cancer treatment, but may also prevent the increase of chromosomal damage induced by anti-cancer drugs. Shiitake contains all eight essential amino acids in better proportions than soy beans, meat, milk, or eggs as well as a good blend of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B, B12, C, D and Niacin. Shiitake produces a fat-absorbing compound which aids in weight reduction. Delicious to eat and good for health.

Shiitake is good for preventing high blood pressure and heart disease, controlling cholesterol levels, building resistance to viruses, and fighting diseases such as cancer.

Research indicates that lentinan extracted from shiitake may help some people with hepatitis. Case reports from Japan suggest that lentinan also may be helpful in treating people with HIV / AIDS. Lentinan is generally administered by injection and has been used as an agent to prolong the survival of people receiving conventional cancer therapy.

Benefits of shiitake for specific health conditions include the following:



Other names: Astragalus membranaceus, Huang Qi

Astragalus is a twining leguminous perennial plant that grows 11-1/2 to 39 inches high. The stem has many branches, slanting upward and slightly hairy. The pinnate leaves are alternate and the 9 to 21 leaflets are elliptical-shaped, 1/4 to 3/4 inches long and about 1/3 inch wide. The racemes are axillary and the peduncle slender, with anywhere from 3 to 9 flowers growing at the top. The pod is spindle-shaped, inflated, a little over an inch in length and beaked at its tip. Astragalus has 20 to 30 seeds. Astragalus grows in grasses or in thickets on hillsides in northwest China, Manchuria and Mongolia.

Medicinal value is in the root. Astragalus root is flexible and long, as large as your forefinger, and covered with a tough, wrinkled, yellowish- brown skin, which has a tendency to break up into woolly fibers. The woody interior is of a yellowish-white color and has a faint sweetish taste that reminds you of licorice root.


If you are being treated for cancer, be aware of the battle that is going on in your body. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy add to the fatigue caused by the disease itself. Give your body the rest it needs so that you will feel better as time goes on. Exercise once you feel rested enough. Ask your cancer care team whether your cancer or its treatments might limit your exercise program or other activities. It is important that you consider your emotional, psychological, and spiritual health along with the physical aspects of your recovery from cancer.

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