Colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer. Depending on its stage or the extent of its metastasis, the five-year survival rate of colorectal cancer patients is 65 percent. Luckily, researchers from Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine have found a traditional Chinese medicine that can stop cancer cells from spreading. This herbal remedy is called si jun zi.
In their study, the researchers investigated the effectiveness of si jun zi in inhibiting the metastasis of colorectal cancer cells to the liver. They found that the herbal formula activates the body’s innate immune system, allowing it to respond quickly to the presence of cancer cells and stop them from spreading to other sites.
Si jun zi is a traditional Chinese medicine composed of four popular medicinal herbs. Research suggests that it can be used to treat malignant tumors in the digestive tract and to improve the immune function and quality of life of patients after chemotherapy.
For their study, the researchers used a modified formula of si jun zi to make a decoction. Using mice transplanted with human colorectal cancer cells, they studied the anti-metastasis activities of the modified si jun zi decoction and compared it to the anti-cancer drug, 5-fluorouracil. After three weeks of treatment, the researchers found that mice treated with si jun zi had a survival rate of 91.7 percent. Meanwhile, mice treated with 5-fluorouracil only had a 66.7 percent survival rate.
The researchers believe this is due to the ability of modified si jun zi to enhance the expression of certain cytokines. Cytokines are signaling molecules used by immune cells to mediate immune responses. By increasing the production of cytokines, modified si jun zi helps attract more macrophages to the cancer site. Macrophages are immune cells that have the ability to engulf and digest foreign and harmful substances, including cancer cells.
Based on these findings, which were published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the researchers concluded that the modifified si jun zi decoction inhibits colorectal cancer metastasis by stimulating the body’s innate immune system, which helps it clear away cancer cells in the vascular system in time.
Research confirming the medicinal potential of si jun zi grows
Traditional Chinese medicine has always been a goldmine for cancer researchers, and this new study proves why. Because of their potential to save lives, the amount of research done on si jun zi and other traditional Chinese medicines is substantial. (Related: Used for thousands of years in TCM, Psoralea corylifolia treats a variety of diseases from heart disease to cancer)
Researchers from Sichuan University in China found that si jun zi decoction combined with enteral nutrition can decrease the length of hospital stay and the risk of postoperative complications of people with gastric cancer. A group of researchers from the Southern Medical University in China also found that a modified si jun zi decoction can improve the functions of hepatoma tumor-bearing livers and kidneys.
Si jun zi’s capabilities aren’t limited to its anti-cancer efficacy. Taiwanese researchers found that si jun zi decoction can alleviate toxicity induced by cisplatin, a chemotherapy medication. The decoction also increases the lifespan of patients suffering from cachexia and severe muscular weakeness caused by cancer or another illness. Another group of researchers found that consumption of si jun zi can help regulate the composition of microbes in the gut. Si jun zi also has antioxidant properties that can prevent a variety of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.