Herbal remedies have been used throughout history and in many traditional medicine systems. Herbal medicines are produced from various parts of plants containing active ingredients that can cause chemical changes in the body.
Herbal preparations can be consumed or applied to the skin to treat disease and promote health. Therapies using herbs can also be called botanical medicine.
What are the benefits?
Many scientific studies have examined the effects of various herbs on people with cancer. Some remedies have been proven to reduce side effects of cancer treatment. While many remedies don’t have scientific backing, historical usage suggests they may help with skin conditions and energy levels in people who have cancer.
What are the side effects?
Some herbs may cause unwanted side effects and interact with conventional cancer treatment. For more on the effects of specific herbs and botanicals, go to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
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Do herbs cure cancer?
There is no reliable scientific evidence that herbal remedies alone can cure or treat cancer. However, some plant extracts have been found to have anti-cancer effects and have been turned into chemotherapy drugs. These include vincristine from the periwinkle plant, and taxanes from the bark of the Pacific yew tree.
Types of therapies using herbs
Many herbs used in Western and Chinese herbal medicine have been scientifically tested for their safety and effectiveness. They can help reduce the side effects of some cancer treatments.