Traditional Medicine - A Gold Mine in the Treatment of Cancer


  • Department of Pharmacy, Sumandeep Vidyapeeth Deemed to be University, Piparia, Vadodara – 391760, Gujarat
  • Department of Pharmacy, Sumandeep Vidyapeeth Deemed to be University, Piparia, Vadodara – 391760, Gujarat
  • Department of Pharmacy, Sumandeep Vidyapeeth Deemed to be University, Piparia, Vadodara – 391760, Gujarat
  • Department of Pharmacy, Sumandeep Vidyapeeth Deemed to be University, Piparia, Vadodara – 391760, Gujarat
  • Department of Pharmacy, Sumandeep Vidyapeeth Deemed to be University, Piparia, Vadodara – 391760, Gujarat



Astragalus membranaceus, Cancer, Cancerous Cells, Panax ginseng, Thea sinensis, Withania somnifera, Zingiber officinale


The prevalence of non-communicable diseases has been on the rise in the last 2 decades. Amongst which, cancer bags the top spot for being unforgivingly ruthless and is the leading cause of the incessant rise in fatalities globally. The failure of current therapeutic approaches is subject to multiple factors. One of them is their inability to effectively contain or kill cancerous cells that persist. Their unbiased nature, due to which they kill healthy as well as cancerous cells, is one of the biggest drawbacks of the currently available therapeutic options. Recent advances have made targeted therapy a possibility but its high cost renders it an unviable option for a large portion of the affected population. The above mentioned drawbacks of the currently used treatments push our attention towards finding better alternatives to effectively deal with this pestilent disease. Herbal drugs offer tremendous hope and are a potential gold mine that could provide effective treatment options to deal with cancer. In this review, we shed light on a few encouraging herbs like Withania somnifera, Astragalus membranaceus, Zingiber officinale, Thea sinensis, Panax ginseng, Hypericum perforatum, Allium cepa and Allium sativum that hold the potential to provide effective alternative therapeutic interventions for the prevention and management of cancer.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...


Bray F, Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Siegel RL, Torre LA, Jemal A. Global cancer statistics 2018: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA Cancer J Clin. 2018; 68(6):394-424. DOI:

Weinberg RA. How cancer arises. Sci Am. 1996; 275(3):62 70. DOI:

Nagarajan A, Malvi P, Wajapeyee N. Oncogene-directed alterations in cancer cell metabolism. Trends Cancer. 2016; 2(7):365-77. DOI:

Curtin JA, Fridlyand J, Kageshita T, Patel HN, Busam KJ, Kutzner H, et al. Distinct sets of genetic alterations in melanoma. New Eng J Med. 2005; 353(20):2135-47. DOI:

Neri A, Knowles DM, Greco A, McCormick F, Dalla-Favera R. Analysis of RAS oncogene mutations in human lymphoid malignancies. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 1988; 85(23):9268-72. DOI:

Dang CV. MYC on the path to cancer. Cell. 2012; 149:22-35. DOI:

Brodeur GM, Seeger RC, Schwab M, Varmus HE, Bishop JM. Amplification of N-myc in untreated human neuroblastomas correlates with advanced disease stage. Sci. 1984; 224(4653):1121-4. DOI:

Kohl NE, Gee CE, Alt FW. Activated expression of the N-myc gene in human neuroblastomas and related tumors. Sci. 1984; 226(4680):1335-7. 6505694 DOI:

Park S, Chung S, Kim KM, Jung KC, Park C, Hahm ER, Yang CH. Determination of binding constant of transcription factor myc-max/max-max and E-box DNA: the effect of inhibitors on the binding. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004; 1670(3):217-28. 2003.12.007 DOI:

Shtivelman E, Lifshitz B, Gale RP, Canaani E. Fused transcript of abl and bcr genes in chronic myelogenous leukaemia. Nature. 1985; 315(6020):550-4. https://doi. org/10.1038/315550a0 DOI:

Campbell ML, Li W, Arlinghaus RB. P210 BCR-ABL is complexed to P160 BCR and ph-P53 proteins in K562 cells. Oncogene. 1990; 5(5):773-6.

Satoskar RS. Antimitotic Natural Products. 24th edition, Section 12, Elsevier publishing. pp 836.

Hahm ER, Lee J, Huang Y, Singh SV. Withaferin a suppresses estrogen receptor-alpha expression in human breast cancer cells. Mol Carcinog. 2011; 50:614-24. https://doi. org/10.1002/mc.20760 DOI:

Szarc Vel Szic K, Op De Beeck K, Ratman D, Wouters A, Beck IM, Declerck K, et al. Pharmacological levels of Withaferin A (Withania somnifera) trigger clinically relevant anticancer effects specific to triple negative breast cancer cells. PLoS One. 2014; 9:e87850. pone.0087850 DOI:

Mohan R, Bargagna-Mohan P. The Use of Withaferin A to Study Intermediate Filaments. Methods Enzymol 2016; 568:187-218. DOI:

Widodo N, Kaur K, Shrestha BG, Takagi Y, Ishii T, Wadhwa R, et al. Selective killing of cancer cells by leaf extract of Ashwagandha: Identification of a tumor-inhibitory factor and the first molecular insights to its effect. Clin Cancer Res. 2007; 13:2298-2306. 0432.CCR-06-0948 DOI:

Hahm ER, Moura MB, Kelley EE, Van Houten B, Shiva S, Singh SV. Withaferin A-induced apoptosis in human breast cancer cells is mediated by reactive oxygen species. PLoS ONE. 2011; 6:e23354. pone.0023354 DOI:

Ghosh K, De S, Das S, Mukherjee S, Sengupta Bandyopadhyay S. Withaferin A Induces ROS-Mediated Paraptosis in Human Breast Cancer Cell-Lines MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231. PLoS ONE. 2016; 11:e0168488. https://doi. org/10.1371/journal.pone.0168488 DOI:

Choi BY, Kim BW. Withaferin-A Inhibits Colon Cancer Cell Growth by Blocking STAT3 Transcriptional Activity. J Cancer Prev. 2015; 20:185-92. JCP.2015.20.3.185 DOI:

Koduru S, Kumar R, Srinivasan S, Evers MB, Damodaran C. Notch-1 inhibition by Withaferin-A: A therapeutic target against colon carcinogenesis. Mol Cancer Ther. 2010; 9:202- 210. DOI:

Chandrasekaran B, Pal D, Kolluru V, Tyagi A, Baby B, Dahiya NR, et al. The Chemopreventive effect of Withaferin A on spontaneous and Inflammation-associated colon carcinogenesis models. Carcinogenesis. 2018; 39(12):1537-47. DOI:

Suman S, Das TP, Moselhy J, Pal D, Kolluru V, Alatassi H, et al. Oral administration of withaferin A inhibits carcinogenesis of prostate in TRAMP model. Oncotarget. 2016; 7:53751-61. DOI:

Moselhy J, Suman, S, Alghamdi M, Chandarasekharan B, Das TP, Houda A, et al. Withaferin A Inhibits Prostate Carcinogenesis in a PTEN-deficient Mouse Model of Prostate Cancer. Neoplasia. 2017; 19:451-59. https://doi. org/10.1016/j.neo.2017.04.005 DOI:

Das TP, Suman S, Alatassi H, Ankem MK, Damodaran C. Inhibition of AKT promotes FOXO3a-dependent apoptosis in prostate cancer. Cell Death Dis. 2016; 7:e2111. DOI:

Nakano T, Kanai Y, Amano Y, Yoshimoto T, Matsubara D, Shibano T, et al. Establishment of highly metastatic KRAS mutant lung cancer cell sublines in long-term threedimensional low attachment cultures. PLoS ONE. 2017; 12:e0181342. DOI:

Kakar SS, Ratajczak MZ, Powell KS, Moghadamfalahi M, Miller DM, Batra SK, et al. Withaferin A alone and in combination with cisplatin suppresses growth and metastasis of ovarian cancer by targeting putative cancer stem cells. PLoS ONE. 2014; 9:e107596. DOI:

Kakar SS, Worth CA, Wang Z, Carter K, Ratajczak M, Gunjal P. DOXIL when combined with Withaferin A (WFA) targets ALDH1 positive cancer stem cells in ovarian cancer. J Cancer Stem Cell Res. 2016; 4:e1002. DOI:

Beinfeield H, Korngold E. The cauldron of Chinese herbs. Heaven Earth. 1991. 265-321.

Wang D, Shen W, Tian Y, Sun Z, Jiang C, Yuan S. Protective effect of active components extracted from radix Astragali on human erythrocyte membrane damages caused by reactiveoxygen species. China J Chin Mat Med. 1996; 21(12):746-8.

Sun Y, Hong WJ, Deng J. 10-year follow-up study of cancer patients with fu-zheng therapy. Chin J Modern Dev Tradit Med. 1987; 7(12):712-7.

Gupta S, Agarwal SS, Epstein LB, Fernandez G, Good RA. Panax ginseng: A new mitogen and interferon inducer. Clin Res. 1980; 504A:28-32.

Duan P, Wang ZM. Clinical study on effect of Astragalus in efficacy enhancing and toxicity reducing of chemotherapy in patients of malignant tumor. Chin J Integr Med. 2002; 22(7):515-7.

Li NQ. Clinical and experimental study on shen-qi injection with chemotherapy in the treatment of malignant tumor of digestive tract. Chin J Integr Med. 1992; 12(10):588-92.

Semwal RB, Semwal DK, Combrinck S, Viljoen AM. Gingerols and shogaols: Important nutraceutical principles from ginger. Phytochem. 2015; 117:554-68. DOI:

Prasad S, Tyagi AK. Ginger and its constituents: role in prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal cancer. Gastroenterol Res Pract. 2015. Article ID 142979. DOI:

Yusof Y, Ahmad N, Das S, Sulaiman S, Murad N. Chemopreventive efficacy of ginger (Zingiber officinale) in ethionine induced rat hepatocarcinogenesis. African J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2009; 6(1):87-93. DOI:

Park M, Bae J, Lee DS. Antibacterial activity of [10]-gingerol and [12]-gingerol isolated from ginger rhizome against periodontal bacteria. Phytotherapy Res. 2008; 22(11):1446-9. DOI:

Yeh HY, Chuang CH, Chen HC, Wan CJ, Chen TL, Lin LY. Bioactive components analysis of two various gingers (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) and antioxidant effect of ginger extracts. LWTFood Sci Tech. 2014; 55(1):329-34. DOI:

de Lima RM, Dos Reis AC, de Menezes AA, Santos JV, Filho JW, Ferreira JR, et al. Protective and therapeutic potential of ginger (Zingiber officinale) extract and [6]-gingerol in cancer: A comprehensive review. Phytotherapy Res. 2018; 32(10):1885-907. DOI:

Luo J, Inoue M, Iwasaki M, Sasazuki S, Otani T, Ye W, et al. Green tea and coffee intake and risk of pancreatic cancer in a large-scale, population-based cohort study in Japan (JPHC study). Eur J Cancer Prev. 2007; 16(6):542-8. DOI:

Liang Y, Lu J, Zhang L. Comparative study of cream in infusions of black tea and green tea [Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze]. Int J Food Sci Tech. 2002; 37(6):627-34. DOI:

Jian L, Xie LP, Lee AH, Binns CW. Protective effect of green tea against prostate cancer: A case-control study in southeast China. Int J Cancer. 2004; 108(1):130-5. DOI:

Fujiki H, Suganuma M, Imai K, Nakachi K. Green tea: Cancer preventive beverage and/or drug. Cancer lett. 2002; 188(1- 2):9-13. DOI:

Liu CX, Xiao PG. Recent advances on ginseng research in China. J Ethnopharmacol. 1992; 36(1):27-38. DOI:

Wilkie A, Cordess C. Ginseng-a root just like a carrot? J R Soc Med. 1994; 87(10):594-5. DOI:

Lin SY, Liu LM, Wu LC. Effects of Shenmai injection on immune function in cancer patients after chemotherapy. Chin J Integr Med. 1995; 15(8):451-453.

Xie FY, Zeng ZF, Huang HY. Clinical observation on nasopharyngeal carcinoma treated with combined therapy of radiotherapy and ginseng polysaccharide injection. Chin J Integr Med. 2001; 21(5):332-4. BF02934369

Liu CD, Kwan D, Saxton RE, McFadden DW. Hypericin and photodynamic therapy decreases human pancreatic cancer in vitro and in vivo. J Surg Res. 2000; 93(1):137-43. DOI:

Chung PS, Rhee CK, Kim KH, Paek W, Chung J, Paiva MB, et al. Intra tumoral hypericin and KTP laser therapy for transplanted squamous cell carcinoma. Laryngoscope. 2000; 110(8):1312-6. 200008000-00016 DOI:

Ouyang Z, Guo X, Chen X, Liu B, Zhang Q, Yin Z, et al. Hypericin targets osteoclast and prevents breast cancerinduced bone metastasis via NFATc1 signaling pathway. Oncotarget. 2018; 9(2):1868. DOI:

Milner JA. Preclinical perspectives on garlic and cancer. J Nutr. 2006; 136:827S-31S. DOI:

Block E. The chemistry of garlic and onions. Sci Am. 1985; 252:114-9. DOI:

Zhou Y, Zhuang W, Hu W, Liu GJ, Wu TX, Wu XT. Consumption of large amounts of Allium vegetables reduces risk for gastric cancer in a meta-analysis. Gastroenterology. 2011; 141:80-9. DOI:

Galeone C, Pelucchi C, Levi F, Negri E, Franceschi S, Talamini R, et al. Onion and garlic use and human cancer. Am J Cli Nutr. 2006; 84:1027-32. DOI:

Galeone C, Pelucchi C, Dal Maso L, Negri E, Montella M, Zucchetto A, et al. Allium vegetables intake and endometrial cancer risk. Public Health Nutr. 2009; 12:1576-9. DOI:




How to Cite

Maheshwari, R. A., Jitin Raghunathan, N., Maheshwari, A., Mehta, S. P., & Balaraman, R. (2022). Traditional Medicine - A Gold Mine in the Treatment of Cancer. Journal of Natural Remedies, 22(4), 539–547.



Short Review

Most read articles by the same author(s)