Anticancer Herbs for Improving the Quality of Life

  • Darakhshan Qaiser Department of Surgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi (India)
  • Anurag Srivastava Department of Surgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi (India)
  • Afshan Qaiser Clinical Research Unit, Department of Pharmacology, Gandhi Medical College, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh (India)


In the world, there are many systems of traditional medicine. Cancer is the major public health burden both in developing and developed countries. Around 50% of existing medicines for cancer treatment have plants origin. Anticancer property of some plant extracts proven to be significantly effective in the treatment of cancer. Many herbs like sadabahar, turmeric, Kalonji, cannabis, garlic, flaxseed contain active components which may be effective in prevention and treatment of many cancers. The present review focuses on the evidence of health benefit of various herbs though recent human and animal studies.

Keywords: Anticancer, Herbs, Anti-angiogenic, Immunity, anti mitotic, quality of life


Download data is not yet available.


  • Safarzadeh, S. S. Shotorbani, B. Baradaran, “Herbal Medicine as Inducers of Apoptosis in Cancer Treatment”, Adv Pharm Bull, vol. 4(Suppl 1), pp. 421-427, August 2014. View

  • N. Notani, “Global variation in cancer incidence and mortality” curr.sci, vol. 81, NO. 5, pp. 465-474, SEPTEMBER 2001.

  • Tavakoli, S. Miar, M.M. Zadehzare, H. Akbari, “Evaluation of Effectiveness of Herbal Medication  in Cancer Care: A Review Study”, Iran J Cancer Prevent vol. 5 no. 3, pp. 144-156, 2012.

  • R. Adhvaryu. N. Reddy, M.H. Parabia, “Anti-Tumor Activity of Four Ayurvedic Herbs In Dalton Lymphoma Ascites Bearing Mice and Their Short-term in vitro Cytotoxicity on Dla- Cell-Line”, Afr. J. Trad. CAM, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 409-418, 2008.

  • Qi, A. Li, Y. Inagaki, J. Gao, J. Li, N. Kokudo, X. K. Li , W. Tang, “ Chinese herbal  medicines  as  adjuvant  treatment during  chemo-  or  radio-therapy  for  cancer”, Biosci Trends, vol. 4 no. 6, pp, 297-307, 2010.

  • Yang, X. Li, X. Li X, L. Wang, J. Li, X. Song, J.Chen, Y.Guo, X. Sun, S. Wang, Z. Zhang, X. Zhou,  J. Liu, “Traditional chinese medicine in cancer care: a review of case series published in the chinese literature”, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med vol. 2012 no. 751046, pp. 1-8, 2012.  View

  • Wang, N. Wang, J. Chen, J. Shen, “Emerging glycolysis targeting and drug discovery from chinese medicine in cancer therapy”, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, vol. 2012, no. 873175, pp. 1-13, 2012. View

  • C. Kaul, Y. Ishida, K. Tamura, T. Wada, T. Iitsuka, S. Garg, M. Kim , R. Gao, S. Nakai , Y. Okamoto, K. Terao, R. Wadhwa, “Novel Methods to generate active ingredients enriched Ashwagandha leaves and extract”, Plos one, vol. PLOS ONE, vol.11, no. 12, e.0166945, 2016. View

  • Agarwal , C. Majee, G. S. Chakraborthy, “Natural Herbs as Anticancer Drugs”, Int.J. Pharma & Ind. Res., vol.4, no.3, pp 1142-1153, 2012.  View

  • R.N. Kumar, V.C. George, P.K. Suresh, R.A. Kumar, “Cytotoxicity,  apoptosis  induction and anti-metastatic potential of Oroxylum indicum in human breast cancer cells”,  Asian Pac J Cancer Prev, vol. 13, no. 6, pp. 2729-2734, 2012.

  • K. Mukherjee, S. Basu, N. Sarkar, A.C. Ghosh, “Advances in cancer therapy with plant based natural products”, Curr Med Chem, vol. 8 no. 12, pp. 1467-1486, 2001. View

  • Balachandran, R. Govindrajan, “Cancer- an Ayurvedic perspective”, Pharmacol. Res., vol. 51, pp. 19-30, 2005. View

  • S. Hall, H.O. Larsen, M. Pouliot, “People, plants and health: a conceptual framework for assessing changes in medicinal plant consumption”, J Ethnobiol Ethnomed vol. 8, no. 43, pp. 1-11, 2012.

  • K. Pal, Y. Shukla, “Herbal medicine:  current  status and  the  future”, Asian  Pac  J  Cancer  Prev, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 281-288, 2003.

  • Yang, Q. Zhao, H. Xiang, M. Liu, Q. Zhang, W. Xue, B. Song, S. Yang, “Antiproliferative activity  and  apoptosis inducing  mechanism  of  constituents  from  Toona sinensis  on  human  cancer  cells”, Cancer  Cell   Int, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 12, 2013.

  • M. Plummer, K.A. Holloway, M.M. Manson, R.J. Munks, A. Kaptein,  S. Farrow, L. Howells, “Inhibition  of  cyclooxygenase  2  expression  in  colon  cells  by  the chemopreventive  agent  curcumin  involves  inhibition of NF-kappaB activation via the NIK/IKK signalling complex”, Oncogene, vol. 18, no. 44, pp. 6013-20, 1999.

  • R. Ireson, D.J. Jones, S. Orr , M.W. Coughtrie, D.J. Boocock, M.L. Williams, P.B. Farmer, W.P. Steward, A.J. Gescher, “Metabolism of  the  cancer chemopreventive  agent  curcumin  in  human  and  rat intestine”, Cancer  Epidemiol  Biomarkers  Prev, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 105-111, 2002.

  • F. De Araujo Junior, T.P. De Souza, J.G. Pires, L.A. Soares, A.A. De Araujo,P.R. Petrovick, H.D.O. Macedo, Sa´ Leitao Oliveira,  G. C.B. Guerra, “A dry extract of  Phyllanthus  niruri  protects  normal  cells  and induces  apoptosis  in  human  liver  carcinoma  cells”, Exp Biol Med, vol. 237, pp. 1281-1288, 2012. View

  • Gratus, S. Wilson, S.M. Greenfield, S.L. Damery, S.A. Warmington, R. Grieve, N.M. Steven, P. Routledge, “The  use  of  herbal medicines  by  people  with  cancer  in  the  UK:  a systematic  review  of  the  literature”, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine vol. 9, no. 14, pp. 9-14, 2009. View

  • M. Cragg, D.J. Newman, “Plants as a source of anticancer agents”, J. Ethnopharmacol,vol. 100, no. 1, pp. 72-79, 2005, View

  • A. Jordan, “Mechanism of action of antitumor drugs that interact with microtubules and tubulin”, Curr Med Chem Anticancer Agents, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 1-17, 2002.

  • Duflos, A. Kruczynski, J. M. Barret, “Novel aspects of Natural and  Modified  Vinca Alkaloids”,  Curr  Med Chem Anticancer Agents, vol. 2, no.1, pp. 55-70, 2002.

  • N. Islam, M.N. Iskander, “Microtubulin Binding sites as Target for developing anticancer agents”, Mini Rev Med Chem, vol. 4, no. 10, pp. 1077-1104, 2004.

  • Keglevich, L. Hazai, G. Kalaus, C. Szántay, “Modifications on the Basic Skeletons of Vinblastine and Vincristine”, Molecules, vol. 17, pp. 5893-5914, 2012. View

  • Kohli, J. Ali, M.J. Ansari, Z. Rehman, “Curcumin: A natural anti-inflametory agent”, Indian J. Pharmacol., vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 141-147, 2005.

  • Krishnaswamy, “Indian functional  foods:  Role  in prevention of cancer”, Nutr Rev, vol. 54, no. 11 Pt 2, pp.  S127-131, 1996.

  • Sittisomwong, V. Leelsangluk, S. Chivapat, A. Wangmad , P. Ragsaman, C. Chuntarachaya, “Acute and subchronic toxicity of turmeric”, Bull Dept Med Sci., vol. 32, no. 8, pp. 101-111, 1990.

  • Zheng, Y. Zhou, Y. Li, D.P. Xu, S.Li, H.B. Li, “Spices for prevention and treatment of Cancers”, Nutrients, vol. 8, pp. 495-515, 2016. View

  • Editorial, King Saud University, “Natural cures for breast cancer treatment”, Saudi pharmaceutical journal, vol. 24, pp. 233-240, 2016.

  • A. Randhawa, M.S. Al-Ghandi, “A review of the Pharmaco-therapeutic effects of Nigella sativa”, Pakistan J. Med. Res., vol.41, no. 2, pp. 77-83, 2002.

  • A. Randhawa, M.S. Al-Ghandi, “Anti-Cancer activity of Nigella Sativa (Black Seed) –A review”, American J. Chinese Medic, vol. 39, no. 6, pp. 1075-1091, 2011.

  • Haq, M. Abdullatif, P.I. Lobo, K.S. Khabar, K.V. Sheth, S.T. Al-Sedairy, “Nigella Sativa: Effect on human lymphocytes and polymorphonuclear leucocyte phagocytic activity”, Immunopharmacology, vol. 30, no. 2, pp.147-150, 1995.

  • Ata-ur-Rehman, S. Malik, K. Zaman, “Nigellimine: A New Isoquinoline Alkaloid from the Seeds of Nigella sativa”, Nat. Prod., Vol. 55, no. 5, pp.676-678, 1992.

  • Ata-ur-Rehman, S. Malik, H. Cun-Hung, J. Clardy, “Isolation and structure determination of nigellicine, a noval alkaloid from seeds of Nigella Sativa” Tetrahedron Lett, 26, no. 23, pp. 2759-2762, 1985.

  • H. Rizvi, M.M. A.Ali Khan, G. Saxena, A.A. Naqvi, “A comparative study on the chemical composition of oil obtained from whole seeds and crushed seeds of Nigella sativa L. from India”, J. Biol. Chem. Research., vol29, no. 1, pp. 44-51, 2012.

  • S. Kumara, B.T. Huat, “Extraction isolation and characterization of anti-tumour principle, alpha-hedrin, from the seeds of Nigella Sativa”, Planta Med. vol. 67, no. 1, pp. 29-32, 2001.

  • M. Gad, M. El-Dakhakhany, M.M. Hassan, “Studies on the chemical constitution of Egyption Nigella Sativa L. oil”, Planta Med., vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 134-138, 1963. View

  • M. El-Fatatry, “Isolation and structure assignment of an anti-microbial principle from the volatile oil of Nigella Sativa L. seeds”, Pharmazie, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 109-111, 1975.

  • Gilani, Q. Jabeen, M.A. Khan, “A review of Medical uses and pharmacological activities Nigella Sativa”. Pakistan J. of Bio. Scien., vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 441-451, 2004.

  • Hailat, Z. Bataineh, S. Lafi, E. Raweily, M. Aqel, M. Al-Katib, S. Hanash, “Effect of Nigella sativa Volatile Oil on Jurkat T Cell Leukemia Polypeptides”,International Journal of Pharmacognosy, vol.33, no. 1, pp. 16-20, 2008. View

  • M.K. Swamy, B.K.H. Tan, “Cytotoxic and immunopotentiating effect of Ethanolic extract of Nigella Sativa seeds”, J. Ethnopharmacol, vol. 70, no.1, pp. 1-7, 2000. View

  • J. Salomi, K.R. Panikkar, “Anti-cancer activity of Nigella Sativa”, Ancient Science of Life, vol. 8, no. 3&4, pp. 262-266, 1989.

  • O. Farah, R.A. Begum, “Effect of Nigella sativa (N. sativa L.) and oxidative stress on the survival pattern of MCF-7 breast cancer cells”, Biomed Sci Instrum.vol. 39, pp. 359-364, 2003.

  • R. Worthen, O.A. Ghosheh, P.A. Crooks, “The in vitro anti-tumor activity of some crude and purified components of blackseed, Nigella sativa L.”, Anticancer Res. Vol. 18, no. 3A, pp. 1527-1532, 1998.

  • J. Houghton,, R. Zarka, B. delas Heras, J.R.. Hoult, “Fixed oil of Nigella sativa and derived thymoquinone inhibit eicosanoid generation in leukocytes and membrane lipid peroxidation, Planta Med., vol. 61, no. 1, pp. 33-36, 1995. View

  • N. Nagi,  K. Alam, O.A. Badary, O.A.  al-Shabanah, H.A. al-Sawaf, A.M. al-Bekairi, “Thymoquinone protects against carbon tetrachloride hepatotoxicity in mice via an antioxidant mechanism” Biochem Mol Biol Int., vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 153-159,  1999.

  • A. Mansour, “Protective effects of thymoquinone and desferrioxamine against hepatotoxicity of carbon tetrachloride in mice” Life Sci., vol. 66, no. 26, pp. 2583-2591, 2000.

  • Burits, F. Bucar, “Antioxidant activity of Nigella Sativa essential oil, Phytother Res. , vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 323-328, 2000.

  • Gaoni, R. Mechoulam, “Isolation, Structure, and Partial Synthesis of an Active Constituent of Hashish”, J. Am. Chem. Soc., vol. 86, no. 8, pp. 1646-1647, 1964. View

  • [50] E. Hollister, “Health aspects of cannabis”, Pharmacol Rev., vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 1-20, 1986.

  • L. Borison,  L.E. McCarthy, S.W. London, “Cannabinoids and emesis”, N Engl J Med., vol. 298, no. 26, pp. 1480-1481, 1978.

  • E. Sallan, N.E. Zinberg E. Frei 3rd, “Antiemetic effect of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients receiving cancer chemotherapy”, N Engl J Med., vol. 293, no. 16, pp. 795-797, 1975.

  • E. Sallan, C. Cronin, M. Zelen, N.E. Zinberg, “Antiemetics in patients receiving chemotherapy for cancer: a randomized comparison of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and prochlorperazine”, N Engl J Med., vol. 302, no. 3, pp. 135-138, 1980.

  • F.Plasse, R.W. Gorter, S.H. Krasnow, M. Lane, K.V. Shepard, R.G. Wadleigh, “Recent clinical experience  with  dronabinol”, Pharmacol Biochem Behav., vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 695-700, 1991.

  • Munro, K.L. Thomas, M. Abu-Shaar, “Molecular characterization of a peripheral receptor for cannabinoids”, Nature, vol. 365, no. 6441, pp. 61-65, 1993.

  • C. Howlett, F.Barth, T.I., Bonner, G. Cabral, P. Casellas, W.A. Devane, C.C. Felder, M. Herkenham, K. Mackie, B.R. Martin,  R. Mechoulam, R.G. Pertwee,, “International Union of Pharmacology. XXVII. Classification of cannabinoid receptors”, Pharmacol Rev.vol. 54, no. 2, pp. 161-202, 2002.

  • Herkenham, A.B. Lynn, M.R. Johnson, L.S. Melvin, B.R. de Costa, K.C. Rice, “Characterization and localization of cannabinoid receptors in rat brain: a quantitative in vitro autoradiographic study”, J Neurosci., vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 563-583, 1991.

  • R. Martin, J.L. Wiley, “Mechanism of Action of Cannabinoids: How It May Lead to Treatment of Cachexia, Emesis, and Pain”, J Support Oncol., vol. 2, no. 4 , pp. 305-314, 2004.

  • L. Hart CL, A.S.  Ward, M . Haney, S.D. Comer, R.W. Foltin,  M.W. Fischman, “Comparison of smoked marijuana and oral Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol in humans”, Psychopharmacology (Berl)., vol. 164, no. 4, pp. 407-415, 2002.

  • Beal, N. Flynn, “AIDS-associated anorexia”, J Physicians Assoc AIDS Care, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 19-22, 1995.

  • Ahmedzai, D.L. Carlyle, I.T. Calder, F. Moran, “Anti-emetic efficacy and toxicity of nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, in lung cancer chemotherapy”, Br J Cancer, vol. 48, no. 5, pp. 657-663.

  • Abrahamov, A. Abrahamov, R. Mechoulam, “An efficient new cannabinoid antiemetic in pediatric oncology”’ Life Sci, vol. 56, no. 23-24, 1995.

  • S.Chan, J.A. Correia, S.M., MacLeod, “Nabilone versus prochlorperazine for control of cancer chemotherapy-induced emesis in children: a double-blind, crossover trial”, Pediatrics, vol. 79, no. 6, pp. 946-952, 1987.

  • Czepukojc, A.K.  Baltes, C. Cerella, M. Kelkel, U.M. Viswanathan, F. Salm, T. Burkholz,, C. Schneider,  M. Dicato, M.  Montenarh, C. Jacob, M. Diederich, “Synthetic polysulfane derivatives induce cell cycle arrest and apoptotic cell death in human hematopoietic cancer cells”, Food Chem. Toxicol.vol 64, pp. 249-257, 2014. View

  • Chiavarini, L. Minelli, R. Fabiani, “Garlic consumption and colorectal cancer risk in man: A systematic review and meta-analysis”, Public Health Nutr., vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 308-317, 2016. View

  • L. Nicastro, S.A. Ross, J.A. Milner, “Garlic and onions: Their cancer prevention properties”, Cancer Prev. Res., vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 181-189, 2015.

  • Zhang, K. Wang, G. Lin, Z. Zhao, “Antitumor mechanisms of S-allyl mercaptocysteine for breast cancer therapy”, BMC Complement. Altern. Med., vol. 14, pp. 270-282, 2014, View.

  • Ling, L.F. Lu, J. He, G.H. Xiao, H. Jiang, Q. Su, “Diallyl disulfide selectively causes checkpoint kinase-1mediated G2/M arrest in human MGC803 gastric cancer cell line”, Oncol. Rep. vol. 32, no. 5, pp. 2274–2282, 2014. View

  • T. Kodali, G.D. Eslick, “Meta-analysis: Does garlic intake reduce risk of gastric cancer?”, Nutr. Cancer, vol. 67, no. 1, pp. 1-11, 2015, View

  • Turati, C. Pelucchi, V. Guercio, C. La Vecchia, C. Galeone, “Allium vegetable intake and gastric cancer: A case-control study and meta-analysis”, Mol. Nutr. Food Res., vol. 59, no. 1, pp. 171-179, 2015. View

  • Jikihara, G. Qi, K. Nozoe, M. Hirokawa, H. Sato, Y. Sugihara, F. Shimamoto, “Aged garlic extract inhibits 1,2-dimethylhydrazine-induced colon tumor development by suppressing cell proliferation”, Oncol. Rep., vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 1131-1140, 2015. View

  • Jung, H. Park, H.Y. Zhao, R. Jeon, J.H. Ryu, W.Y. Kim, “Systemic approaches identify a garlic-derived chemical, Z-ajoene, as a glioblastoma multiforme cancer stem cell-specific targeting agent”, Mol. Cells, vol. 37, no. 7, pp. 547-553, 2014. View

  • Jo, H.M. Yun, K.R. Park, M.H. Park, D.H. Lee, S.H. Cho, H.S. Yoo, Y.M. Lee, H.S. Jeong, Y. Kim, J.K. Jung, M.K. Lee, N.D. Kim, S.B. Han, J.T. Hong, “Anti-cancer effect of thiacremonone through down regulation of peroxiredoxin 6”, PLoS ONE, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. E91508, 2014. View

  • Karna, S.Chagani, S.R. Gundala, P. Rida, G. Asif, V. Sharma, M.V. Gupta, R. Aneja, “Benefits of whole ginger extract in prostate cancer”, Br. J. Nutr, vol. 107, no. 4, pp. 473-483, 2012. View

  • Z. Wang, L.W. Qi, C.S. Yuan, “cancer chemoprevention effects of ginger and its active constituents; potential for new drug discovery”, Am. J. Med. vol. 43, no. 7, pp. 1351-1363, 2015. View

  • M. Bernard, J.R. McConnery, D.W. Hoskin, “[10] Gingerol, a major phenolic consitituent of ginger root, induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in triple negative breast cancer cells”, Expe.Mol.Pathol. vol.102, no. 2, pp. 370-376, 2017. View

  • Goyal, V. Sharma, N. Upadhyay, S. Gill, M. Sihag, “Flax and flaxseed oil: an ancient medicine & modern functional food”, J Food Sci Technol, vol. 51, no. 9, pp. 1633-1653, 2014.

  • Ivanova, T. Rashevskaya, M. Makhonina, “Flaxseed additive application in dairy products production”, Procedia Food Sci, vol. 1, pp. 275-280, 2011. View

  • D. Oomah, “Flaxseed as a functional food source”, J Sci Food Agric, vol. 81, no. 9, pp. 889-894, 2001. View

  • K. Singh, D. Mridula, J. Rehal, P. Barnwal, “Flaxseed- a potential source of food, feed and fiber”, Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, vol. 51, no. 3, pp. 210-222, 2011. View

  • Chen, P.M. Stavro, L.U. Thompson, “Dietary flaxseed inhibits human breast cancer growth and metastasis and downregulates expression of insulin-like growth factor and epidermal growth factor receptor”, Nutr. Cancer, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 187-192, 2002.

  • Y. Chen, G.A. Colditz, B. Rosner, S.E. Hankinson, D.J. Hunter, J.E. Manson, M.J. Stampfer, W.C. Willett, F.E. Speizer, “Use of postmenopausal hormones, alcohol, and risk for invasive breast cancer”, Ann. Intern. Med.vol. 137, no. 10, pp. 798-804, 2002.

  • Flower, H. fritz, L.G. Balneaves, S. Verma, B. Skidmore, R. Fernandes, D. Kennedy, K. Cooley, R. Wong, S. Sagar, D. Fergusson, D. Seely, “Flax and Breast Cancer: A systematic Review”, Integr. Cancer Ther. Vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 181-192, 2014. View

  • Lindahl, N. Saarinen, A. Abrahamsson, C. Dabrosin, “Tamoxifen, flaxseed, and the lignan enterolactone increase stroma- and cancer cell-derived IL-1Ra and decrease tumor angiogenesis in estrogen-dependent breast cancer”, Cancer Res., vol. 71, no. 1, pp. 51-60, 2011. View

  • A. Power, N.M. Saarinen, J.M. Chen, L.U. Thompson, “Mammalian lignans enterolactone and enterodiol, alone and in combination with the isoflavone genistein, do not promote the growth of MCF-7 xenografts in ovariectomized athymic nude mice”, Int J Cancer, vol. 118, no. 5, pp. 1316-1320, 2006.

  • Chen, J.K. Saggar, P. Corey, L.U. Thompson LU, “Flaxseed and pure secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, but not flaxseed hull, reduce human breast tumor growth (MCF-7) in athymic mice”, J Nutr. vol. 139, no. 11, pp. 2061-2066, 2009. View

  • M. Saarinen, K. Power, J. Chen, L.U. Thompson, “Flaxseed attenuates the tumor growth stimulating effect of soy protein in ovariectomized athymic mice with MCF-7 human breast cancer xenografts”, Int J Cancer, vol. 119, no. 4, pp. 925-931, 2006.

How to Cite
D. Qaiser, A. Srivastava, and A. Qaiser, “Anticancer Herbs for Improving the Quality of Life”, Int. Ann. Sci., vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 1-11, May 2018.
Review Article