Shown (top left to bottom right) are Chinese liquorice, Chinese peony, Skullcap, and the Chinese date tree's fruit, which comprise a Chinese herbal remedy that may ease some of the side-effects of chemotherapy.Wikimedia Commons
An age-old mixture of four herbs could spare patients with cancer some of the side effects of chemotherapy.
The cocktail comprises Chinese peonies, Chinese liquorice, the fruit of the Chinese date tree and flowers of the Chinese skullcap plant. In China, they call it 'Huang Qin Tang' and have used it to treat gastrointestinal problems for about 1,800 years.
A start-up pharmaceutical company called PhytoCeutica has dubbed its proprietary pill of the blend 'PHY906', and shown in early clinical trials that the mix can combat the severe diarrhoea caused by many chemotherapy drugs, which destroy fast-dividing gut cells in addition to tumour cells.
Now, researchers at PhytoCeutica and Yale University School of Medicine, both in New Haven, Connecticut, have some early leads on how PHY906 does this, despite the fact that most of its individual chemical components remain unknown.