A team of Japanese researchers recently conducted a study evaluating the beneficial effects of an herbal medicine formula with regards to aiding side effects from a western cancer medication. Studies like this will likely be seen more and more and show an excellent collaborative stance between modern and traditional medicine. Cancer treatment is one of the areas where this collaboration is crucial as the side effects of modern treatments are high and the overall efficacy in part due to these side effects is relatively low.
This study evaluated the Japanese Herbal Medicine (called Kampo) Juzentaihoto (or Shi Quan Da Bu Wan in Chinese Herbal Medicine) to help alleviate the bone marrow suppression which happens with the western oral cancer drug (Tegafur-uracil (Uftoral®). Tegafur is widely used to treat colon, rectal and other gastrointestinal tumors. The western medication is problematic because it often has to be stopped due to leukopenia (reduction in white blood cells).
Shi Quan Da Bu Wan has been used traditionally to help build the immune system and is used in modern times (as are many other formulas) to reduce the side effects of chemo and radiation.
Within this animal study researchers found that the herbal treatment improved the WBC count and may help provide chemical markers which would show bone marrow suppression before it drops the white blood cell count allowing for earlier dosage changes in both the herbal medicine and/or the western medication to allow the patient to continue treatment.