CancerCochrane LibraryGinger

Reviewing elemene to treat lung cancer

Elemene is an extract from the ginger plant and an antitumor drug, which is approved to treat cervical cancer and cancer of the lung, liver, and brain in China.

There is some evidence that it kills lung cancer cells in the lab. Here is a Cochrane Library review of the data on lung cancer in humans.

Here’s what they found.

  • The authors identified 20 studies that claimed to use a random assignment of treatment.
  • Interviews with the authors of 16 studies revealed they “misunderstood” the randomization procedure.
  • The authors of the other 4 studies were not available.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “There is no evidence from randomized controlled trials to confirm or refute the effectiveness of elemene as a treatment for lung cancer. Randomized clinical trials, on elemene for the treatment of lung cancer are needed in order to define the efficacy and acceptability of elemene for lung cancer.”

Doesn’t it bother anybody in China that this drug has never been rigorously studied in humans?

10/23/07 15:38 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.