A huge number of cancer patients are found to use complementary and alternative medicine to help fight their cancer or make them feel better.
People are more interested in trying new therapies to help fight cancer in recent years. In a systematic study reviewing studies on complementary and alternative medicine use between 2009 and June 2018, the average prevalence for using complementary and alternative medicine was found to reach 51%.
Popular options for complementary therapies include vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc.
Ginseng is a popular medicinal herb that is widely used by cancer patients. The active ingredients, called ginsenosides, are responsible for diverse health-promoting benefits.
Ginsenoside Rh2 is a rare ginsenoside that exhibits superior antitumor activities. The existing antitumor activities of ginsenoside Rh2 found include:
- active tumor suppressors
- inhibiting cellular metabolism
- inhibiting tumor growth
- synergy with antitumor drugs and attenuating multidrug resistance
- preventing tumorigenesis
The brilliant comprehensive antitumor activities of ginsenoside Rh2 indicate it can be used as a complementary therapy in cancer treatment. Some studies found that ginsenoside Rh2 can synergize with antitumor drugs like cisplatin, betulinic acid, cyclophosphamide, daunomycin, docetaxel, paclitaxel, and mitoxantrone to achieve stronger therapeutic efficacy.
In a study published in the journal Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, researchers found that ginsenoside Rh2 synergistically enhanced the antitumor activity of cyclophosphamide, an extensively used antitumor agent and immunosuppressant in the clinic.
Antitumor drugs used alone often bring some harm to normal cells, thus causing chemo side effects. The use of ginsenoside Rh2 was found to help reduce the DNA damage in peripheral white blood cells.
A newly published study also revealed that ginsenoside Rh2 improves the cisplatin antitumor effect in lung adenocarcinoma A549 cells. Cisplatin is a well-known chemotherapy drug that has been used to treat various types of cancer. The use of cisplatin plus Rh2 significantly enhanced the apoptosis of non-small cell lung cancer A549 and H1299 cells.
A large number of researchers have seen a combination of ginsenosides and chemotherapy drugs as a new strategy in cancer treatment. In China, ginsenoside Rg3 has been approved as a class I new drug in traditional Chinese medicine and is widely used to help the treatment of various types of cancer, such as lung cancer, breast cancer, and gastrointestinal tumors.
The current studies have found that ginsenoside Rh2 shows stronger antitumor activities than ginsenoside Rg3, which further suggests ginsenoside Rh2 can be used as a promising complementary therapy.
In the coming future, there is a great need to conduct well-designed clinical studies to confirm the synergistic effects of ginsenoside Rh2 plus antitumor drugs.