Patients with early-stage breast or colon cancer who required postoperative chemotherapy were eligible for the study.
120 patients were assigned to 1 of 3 Chinese herbalists who evaluated and prescribed a combination of herbal extract granules or placebo packages (nontherapeutic herbs, an artificial smell, and taste similar to herbal tea).
There was significantly less nausea in the herbal treatment group, but no difference in chemotherapy-related toxicity to red blood cells, platelets, or white blood cells.
Unfortunately, the abstract from this Annals of Oncology article doesn’t list any specifics on the herbal extract granules, and is vague on the latitude given to the herbalists to customize the herbal treatment. There’s also no specific information on the chemotherapy or on other treatments given to control nausea.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.