Yunzhi-Danzhen Improves Immune System in Nasopharyngeal Cancer(NPC) Patients

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Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is a prevalent tumor in Hong Kong.  If you have nasopharyngeal cancer, that is a bad news.  The good news is patients with early stage disease (Stage I and II disease) have a 5-year survival rate of more than 70%.

Radical external radiotherapy is the mainstay of treatment for NPC, but this treatment is associated with both acute and long-term toxicities (weight loss and mucositis).

A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggested that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)Yunzhi-Danshen capsules improved the immune system and alleviated the toxicity during radiotherapy.

Yunzhi (Coriolus versicolor) is a mushroom used in traditional Chinese herbal remedies.  .  In phases II and III double-blind clinical trials in China, Yunzhi has been shown to activate immune cell system, alleviate chemotherapy symptoms and increase tumor destruction by white blood cells.

Danshen (Salvia miltiorrhiza) is also a Chinese herb and has been shown to have beneficial effects on the circulation and the immune system.  Investigators, therefore, postulated that the combination of these Chinese herbs can have a synergistic effect to stimulate the immune function and fend off the toxic effects of radiotherapy in nasopharyngeal cancer patients.

The published study randomized twenty-seven (27) patients with NPC to take Yunzhi (3.6 g daily) and Dangshen (1.4 g daily) or placebo for 16 weeks.  At the end of the study, patients who took Yunzhi-Danshen were found to have a stronger immune system (i.e. greater number of white blood cells- cytotoxic T lymphocytes, T suppressor cells, T helper cells) than patients who took the placebo.

This study suggested Yunzhi-Danshen could boost the immune system and attenuate the side-effects associated with chemotherapy.

Source: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2006

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