Integration of phytotherapy and chemotherapy: Recent advances in anticancer molecular pathways

Document Type : Review Article


1 Department of Immunology, School of Medicine, Arak University of Medical Sciences, Arak, Iran

2 Department of Immunology, Medical School, Aja University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Molecular and Medicine Research Center, Arak University of Medical Sciences, Arak, Iran

4 Traditional and Complementary Medicine Research Center (TCMRC), Arak University of Medical Sciences, Arak, Iran


Cancer is a disease characterized by abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells, leading to invasion and metastasis to other tissues. Chemotherapy drugs are some of the primary treatments for cancer, which could detrimentally affect the cancer cells by various molecular mechanisms like apoptosis and cell cycle arrest. These treatment lines have always aligned with side effects and drug resistance. Due to their anticancer effects, medicinal herbs and their active derivative compounds are being profoundly used as complementary treatments for cancer. Many studies have shown that herbal ingredients exert antitumor activities and immune-modulation effects and have fewer side effects. On the other hand, combining phytotherapy and chemotherapy, with their synergistic effects, has gained much attention across the medical community. This review article discussed the therapeutic effects of essential herbal active ingredients combined with chemotherapeutic drugs in cancer therapy. To write this article, PubMed and Scopus database were searched with the keywords “Cancer,” “Combination,” “Herbal,” “Traditional,” and “Natural.” After applying inclusion/exclusion criteria, 110 articles were considered. The study shows the anticancer effects of the active herbal ingredients by inducing apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in cancer cells, especially with a chemotherapeutic agent. This study also indicates that herbal compounds can reduce side effects and dosage, potentiate anticancer responses, and sensitize cancer cells to chemotherapy drugs. 


Main Subjects

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