Effects of a polyherbal formulation on the quality of life and survival of patients with common upper gastrointestinal cancers: A randomized placebo-controlled trial

Document Type : Original Research Article


1 Cancer Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

2 Surgical Oncology Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

3 Cellular and Molecular Research Center, Sabzevar University of Medical Sciences, Sabzevar, Iran

4 Pharmacological Research Center of Medicinal Plants, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran. Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran


Objective: Previous clinical trials have suggested that herbal medicines can improve the quality of life (QOL) and survival of cancer patients. This study was aimed to evaluate the effects of a polyherbal compound (PHC, formulated as syrup) consisting of Allium sativum, Curcuma longa,Panax ginseng, and Camellia sinensis on the quality of life (QOL) and survival in patients with upper gastrointestinal cancers.
Materials and Methods: A randomized placebo-controlled trial was carried out on patients with esophageal or gastric cancer who had finished their oncological treatments. The patients were randomly assigned to PHC (n=20) or placebo (n=20) group. The PHC group was treated with the PHC for 12 weeks, while the placebo group received 70% sucrose syrup. The QOL was assessed at baseline and after 12 weeks. The patients were followed for up to 24 months to determine overall survival.
Results: PHC significantly improved cancer-related symptoms, physical performance, and psychological and social functions of the patients (p<0.05 for all cases). Death occurred in 33 and 22% of cases in the placebo and PHC group, respectively. The mean survival time was 16.8 months (95% CI: 12.8-20.9) in the placebo group and 21.4 months (95% CI: 19.1-23.6) in the PHC group but the difference was not statistically significant.
Conclusion: The PHC improved cancer-related symptoms, physical performance, and psychological and social functions in patients with gastrointestinal cancers. It seems that this herbal compound has the potential to be used as a supplement in the management of cancer.


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