Sarcandra glabra has not been shown to treat cancer in humans, but may reduce side effectscaused by radiation treatment. Further studies are needed to confirm these effects.
S. glabra is an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine for bone and joint pain as well as bleeding disorders. It may help to reduce the side effects of radiation therapy, such as mouth sores and dry mouth. An extract of this herb has been examined in the lab and is claimed to stop cancer cells from multiplying. However, this effect has not been studied in humans. Long-term adverse effects are unclear.
Laboratory studies have shown that an extract of S. glabra can stop cancer cell division, but human data are lacking.
Side effects of radiation treatment
A small observational study reported that a special preparation of S. glabra can help reduce mouth sores and dry mouth due to radiation therapy.
Studies done in the lab and in animals suggest S. glabra can improve platelet count after chemotherapy, but this has not been studied in humans.
Bone fractures and arthritis
Although S. glabra has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for this purpose, clinical studies have not been conducted in humans.
Sarcandra glabra, an herb native to Southeast Asia, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of bruises, bone fractures, arthritis, nausea, internal pain, and cough (1). Some constituents are reported to have hepatoprotective (2) and cytotoxic (3) properties.
In vitro studies suggestS. glabra can protect against oxidative stress in mesenchymal stem cells (15).An acidic polysaccharide from S. glabra exhibited anticancer effects in human osteosarcoma cells (16). S. glabra inhibited tumor growth in human leukemic cell lines (8).
In animal studies, S. glabra constituentsdemonstrate anti-inflammatory (17)(18) and anti-diabetic (19) activities.S. glabra increases platelet production and may play a role in reducing chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia (5). It also exhibits protective effects against viral pneumonia (6).
Clinical observation in humans suggest S. glabra may be useful in the treatment of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (4). S. glabra extract is marketed to cancer patients to relieve fatigue and as an alternative cancer treatment, but it has not been evaluated for these uses in clinical trials. However, it may relieve some cancer treatment-induced symptoms. One human study found it reduced radiation therapy-induced mucositis and xerostomia in patients with advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma (9). More studies are needed to confirm whether S. glabra can indeed control some cancer treatment-related symptoms and to further validate any antitumor potential.
Mechanism of Action
In influenza virus animal models, S. glabra improves susceptibility marker levels and inhibits inflammatory cytokines levels through down-regulation of NF-κB protein expression to diminish lung injury. This is in part due to the antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects of major constituents including rosmarinic acid, caffeoylquinic acid, and caffeic acid (6).
Caffeic acid 3,4-dihydroxyphenethyl ester (CADPE), a polyphenol component, has indicated some antitumor activity in animal models through inhibition of tumor angiogenesis, induction of cancer cell senescence, and modulation of multiple cellular targets and signal pathways (7). An ethyl acetate extract of S. glabra inhibits proliferation and viability of human promyelocytic leukemic HL-60 cells by arresting the cell cycle S phase via up-regulation of Bax, a pro-apoptotic factor (8).
Generally, active components in S. glabra are more abundant in the stem than leaf (14) and concentrations of constituents vary when examining S. glabra from different provenances.
Hocking GM. A Dictionary of Natural Products. Medford, NJ: Plexus Publishing, Inc; 1997.