No discussion on using natural immunostimulant compounds in cancer therapy would be complete without some consideration of the many clinical studies that have been done in China. Studies have been conducted on the combined use of chemotherapy and Chinese herbal medicine, as well as on the anticancer use of Chinese herbal medicine alone. The majority of herbal formulas used in the Chinese studies were composed primarily of immunostimulant herbs such as those in Table 12.1 (for example, most formulas included Astragalus or ginseng or both). In Chinese herbal medicine, most of these herbs are considered tonics for the qi, or vital energy.3 (For contents of the herbal formulas mentioned below, see Table H.2 in Appendix H; for more information on the theory of using Chinese herbs in cancer treatment, see reference 68).
Unfortunately, the majority of the Chinese studies suffered design or reporting problems. None discussed here was double-blinded. In some cases, results were compared against historic controls rather than a randomized control group. If controls were provided, they often were not chosen to match the extent of disease, performance status of the patient, or the type of conventional treatment given. In many cases, the information published on the study agent, protocol, or results was inadequate to allow sufficient review. Therefore, the validity of most of these results is questionable. Although I omitted studies with particularly gross inadequacies, the a Herbs that in Chinese herbal medicine terms "clear heat, "
"regulate the blood, " "supplement the blood, " "supplement the yin, " or "supplement the yang" are represented less frequently.
studies taken together do suggest some beneficial effect may be occurring, warranting additional investigation.
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