Main content area

Cancer chemopreventive pharmacology of phytochemicals derived from plants of dietary and non-dietary origin: implication for alternative and complementary approaches

Ullah, Mohammad F., Bhat, Showket H., Husain, Eram, Abu-Duhier, Faisel, Hadi, S. M., Sarkar, Fazlul H., Ahmad, Aamir
Phytochemistry reviews 2014 v.13 no.4 pp. 811-833
carcinogenesis, functional foods, statistics, drug therapy, humans, histones, neoplasms, alternative medicine, phytochemicals, chemoprevention, Maclura pomifera, taxanes, animal models, Taxus brevifolia, patients, paclitaxel, vegetables, bark, adverse effects, herbal medicines
The poor survival statistics of the fatal cancer diseases highlight the need for multiple alternative treatment options. An impressive embodiment of evidence shows that naturally occurring herbal products contain a wide variety of phytochemicals that are regarded as effective cancer protective agents, possessing the ability to retard, block or reverse carcinogenesis. These include dietary agents often termed as nutraceuticals and also the components of non-dietary plants. Many studies in different cell lines, animal models and human epidemiological trials suggest a protective role of a large number of medicinal molecules of herbal origin against different types of cancers. The standard chemotherapeutic regime against cancer faces an unequivocal challenge due to the severity of the side-effects and the post therapeutic management of the disease. Cancer control may therefore benefit from the anti-cancer potential of alternative therapies that may include herbal treatment which nonetheless has been an effective curative strategy reported for a number of diseases since ancient times. In congruence of the above idea, it has been observed that in recent years the demand to utilize alternative approaches to the treatment of cancer is escalating. Additionally, the emergence of resistance to cancer chemotherapy has forced researchers to turn to natural products of herbal and marine origin. Currently, in the armamentarium of anti-cancer pharmaceuticals there are effective plant-derived drugs such as paclitaxel (a complex taxane diterpene isolated from the bark of Taxus brevifolia) which acts as microtubule disruptor. Further there are plant-based dietary agents such as sulphoraphane (an isothiocyanate derived from cruciferous vegetables) and non-dietary agents such as pomiferin (an isoflavonoid from Maclura pomifera) which strongly mimic chemotherapeutic drugs such as vorinostat (suberoylanilidehydroxamic acid) possessing histone diacetylase inhibition activity. In this review we provide a comprehensive outline of the translational potential of plant-based herbal medicine for complementing the current treatment modalities as an adjuvant or alternative therapy for cancer patients.