Herbs and Prostate Cancer

June 4, 2009 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Last week, I posted a column about the potential of a low-sugar diet in the management of prostate cancer (PC). Today I’d like to share some information about a polyherbal supplement that may be an excellent accompaniment for men who are at high risk for PC. The product in question is composed of many traditionally revered herbs and spices, such as ginger root, green tea, holy basil, oregano, rosemary, skullcap, turmeric and more. But what really sets this formula apart is the considerable amount of scientific study that has been devoted to it.

Holy Basil (Ocimum Sanctum)

A new trial published in the Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology makes a strong case for an herbal blend called Zyflamend in men with HGPIN, which stands for high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia. (1) These are lesions that are thought to increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.

This 18 month study was conducted at Columbia University and New York Presbyterian hospital. It involved 23 men diagnosed with HGPIN, whose ages ranged from 40 to 75 years old. Their PSA (a common marker for prostate cancer) was relatively high, with an average score of 6.1. The researchers tested the participants blood every 3 months and also conducted prostate biopsies every 6 months. The results of this data collection are as follows:

  • A reduction in inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein and NF-kappaB) was noted by the 18th month.
  • 48% of the participants demonstrated a 25%-50% reduction in PSA levels by the 18 month mark.
  • 60% of the volunteers showed completely benign prostate biopsies at the end of the study.
  • No significant side effects or significant alterations in blood chemistry were observed.

These changes indicate a slowing or, perhaps, even a regression in prostate cancer risk factors. The scientists tested for levels of inflammatory markers because certain forms of inflammation appear to spur the growth of prostate and many other cancers. (2,3,4)

Zyflamend’s Supplement Facts

Two Vcaps Contain
Rosemary (leaf) 100 mg supercritical extract and 50 mg extract (23% total phenolic antioxidants [TPA]-34.5 mg) 150 mg
Turmeric (rhizome) 10 mg supercritical extract (45% turmerones-4.5 mg), and 100 mg ethanolic extract (7% curcuminoids-7 mg) 110 mg
Ginger (rhizome) 54 mg supercritical extract (30% pungent compounds – 16.2 mg, 8% zingiberene-4.3 mg), and 46 mg ethanolic extract (3% pungent compounds-1.4 mg) 100 mg
Holy Basil (leaf) extract (2% ursolic acid-2 mg) 100 mg
Green Tea (leaf) extract (45% polyphenols-45 mg) 100 mg
Hu Zhang (Polygonum cuspidatum) (root and rhizome) extract (8% resveratrol-6.4 mg) 80 mg
Chinese Goldthread (root) extract (6% berberine-2.4mg) 40 mg
Barberry (root) extract (%6 berberine-2.4mg) 40 mg
Oregano (leaf) supercritical extract (4% TPA – 1.5 mg) 40 mg
Baikal Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) extract (17-26% baicalein complex including baicalein and baicalin – 3.4-5.2 mg, and 0.4-0.9% wogonin – 0.08-0.18 mg) 20 mg

Zyflamend has also proven itself in several laboratory experiments. This type of research is very important because it helps scientists to identify the mechanisms by which a substance works. It also aids in getting funding for human trials and assists researchers in knowing what to look for in the studies. Here’s a brief overview of what’s currently known about how Zyflamend combats cancer.

  • A 2007 study discovered that this herbal blend slowed the growth of prostate cancer cells primarily by calming various inflammatory substances in prostate tumor cells. What’s interesting about this research is that the antiinflammatory effects were much broader and affected a larger number of inflammatory markers than most conventional medications do. (5)
  • Another 2007 experiment determined that Zyflamend inhibited cancer growth and spread by down-regulating the activity of Nuclear Factor-kappa B, a substance known to promote cancer cell proliferation, invasion and metastasis (spread to other sites in the body). (6)
  • A 2005 laboratory trial found that Zyflamend reduced COX-1 and COX-2 activity (inflammatory substances) and provoked a 40% reduction in “androgen receptor expression”. Androgens are sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone that appear to play a role in PC development and progression. This particular study found a marked suppression of PC cancer cell growth and an increase in PC cell death due to exposure to Zyflamend. (7)

The primary ingredients contained in this herbal preparation are also known to have powerful antioxidant properties. For instance, one of the key players in the formula is Hu Zhang, a rich source of resveratrol, which modern science is studying for its possible “anti-aging” properties.

There are two caveats that need to be mentioned with regard to Zyflamend. 1) This is a potent natural medicine. If you’re taking prescription medications, it would be wise to discuss (with your doctor or pharmacist) any possible interactions between this natural remedy and the synthetic drugs you’re taking. 2) The makers of this supplement utilize a CO2 (carbon dioxide) extraction process that allows for the fat soluble components of the herbs and spices to remain intact. This contributes to the efficacy of the product, but also gives it a very pungent smell and taste. Therefore, it is recommended that you only take Zyflamend with food, never on an empty stomach. If the issue of “taste repetition” is still troublesome after trying it with food, try putting the Zyflamend soft gels in the freezer. The freezing process delays the dispersal of the soft gel contents, which could help better tolerate them.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!


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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Men's Health, Nutritional Supplements

12 Comments & Updates to “Herbs and Prostate Cancer”

  1. David Says:

    Yes, liquid Zyflamend is ugggggg horrible taste, I throw away the bottle. Regards from Europe.

  2. JP Says:


    I can only imagine! 🙂

    That is some powerful smelling stuff! The taste must really be something else!

    Be well!


  3. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    Hey, I’ve had Zyflamend in my fridge for a year….now you’ve persuaded me to take it.

  4. JP Says:

    Great to hear, Iggy!

    I hope you find great success with it. Keep an eye out for any other improvements you may find while taking it – especially with regard to reducing aches and pains.

    Be well!


  5. voxpop81 Says:

    re Zyflamend where do you buy it/

  6. JP Says:

    Zyflamend is widely available online and in many health food stores – primarily in the United States.

    Be well!


  7. JP Says:

    Update: A comprehensive review of holy basil/tulsi – a component of Zyflamend …


    J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2014 Oct-Dec;5(4):251-9.

    Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons.

    The predominant cause of global morbidity and mortality is lifestyle-related chronic diseases, many of which can be addressed through Ayurveda with its focus on healthy lifestyle practices and regular consumption of adaptogenic herbs. Of all the herbs used within Ayurveda, tulsi (Ocimum sanctum Linn) is preeminent, and scientific research is now confirming its beneficial effects. There is mounting evidence that tulsi can address physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological stress through a unique combination of pharmacological actions. Tulsi has been found to protect organs and tissues against chemical stress from industrial pollutants and heavy metals, and physical stress from prolonged physical exertion, ischemia, physical restraint and exposure to cold and excessive noise. Tulsi has also been shown to counter metabolic stress through normalization of blood glucose, blood pressure and lipid levels, and psychological stress through positive effects on memory and cognitive function and through its anxiolytic and anti-depressant properties. Tulsi’s broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, which includes activity against a range of human and animal pathogens, suggests it can be used as a hand sanitizer, mouthwash and water purifier as well as in animal rearing, wound healing, the preservation of food stuffs and herbal raw materials and traveler’s health. Cultivation of tulsi plants has both spiritual and practical significance that connects the grower to the creative powers of nature, and organic cultivation offers solutions for food security, rural poverty, hunger, environmental degradation and climate change. The use of tulsi in daily rituals is a testament to Ayurvedic wisdom and provides an example of ancient knowledge offering solutions to modern problems.

    Be well!


  8. JP Says:

    Update: An interesting, older study on holy basil/tulsi. It should be noted that lower blood sugar tends to protect against cancer …


    Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1996 Sep;34(9):406-9.

    Randomized placebo-controlled, single blind trial of holy basil leaves in patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

    Agrawal P1, Rai V, Singh RB.

    Experimental studies on albino rats reported that leaf extract of Ocimum sanctum and Ocimum album (holy basil) had hypoglycemic effect. To explore further evidence we studied the effects of treatment with holy basil leaves on fasting and postprandial blood glucose and serum cholesterol levels in humans through randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover single blind trial. Results indicated a significant decrease in fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels during treatment with holy basil leaves compared to during treatment with placebo leaves. Fasting blood glucose fell by 21.0 mg/dl, confidence interval of difference -31.4 – (-)11.2 (p < 0.001), and postprandial blood glucose fell by 15.8 mg/dl, confidence interval -27.0 – (-)5.6 (p < 0.02). The lower values of glucose represented reductions of 17.6% and 7.3% in the levels of fasting and postprandial blood glucose, respectively. Urine glucose levels showed similar trend. Mean total cholesterol levels showed mild reduction during basil treatment period. The findings from this study suggest that basil leaves may be prescribed as adjunct to dietary therapy and drug treatment in mild to moderate NIDDM. Be well! JP

  9. JP Says:

    Update: Coffee may reduce prostate cancer risk in a dose dependent manner …


    Nutr Cancer. 2015 Feb 23:1-9.

    Coffee Consumption and Prostate Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies.

    This meta-analysis was conducted to assess the association between coffee consumption and prostate cancer risk. Thirteen cohort studies with 34,105 cases and 539,577 participants were included in the meta-analysis. The summary relative risks (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for different coffee intake levels were calculated. Dose-response relationship was assessed using generalized least square trend estimation. The pooled RR for the highest vs. lowest coffee intake was 0.90 (95% CI: 0.85-0.95), with no significant heterogeneity across studies (P = 0.267; I2= 17.5%). The dose-response analysis showed a lower cancer risk decreased by 2.5% (RR = 0.975; 95% CI: 0.957-0.995) for every 2 cups/day increment in coffee consumption. Stratifying by geographic region, there was a statistically significant protective influence of coffee on prostate cancer risk among European populations. In subgroup analysis of prostate cancer grade, the summary RRs were 0.89 (95% CI: 0.83-0.96) for nonadvanced, 0.82 (95% CI: 0.61-1.10) for advanced and 0.76 (95% CI: 0.55-1.06) for fatal diseases. Our findings suggest that coffee consumption may be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer and it also has an inverse association with nonadvanced prostate cancer. Because of the limited number of studies, more prospective studies with large sample size are needed to confirm this association.

    Be well!


  10. JP Says:

    Update 04/13/15:


    Case Rep Oncol Med. 2015;2015:471861.

    Maintenance Therapy Containing Metformin and/or Zyflamend for Advanced Prostate Cancer: A Case Series.

    Metformin is derived from galegine, a natural ingredient, and recent studies have suggested that metformin could enhance the antitumor effects of hormone ablative therapy or chemotherapy and reduce prostate cancer-specific mortality. Zyflamend is a combination of herbal extracts that reduces inflammation and comprises turmeric, holy basil, green tea, oregano, ginger, rosemary, Chinese goldthread, hu zhang, barberry, and basil skullcap. We propose a maintenance regimen with metformin and/or Zyflamend that targets cancer stem cells and the tumor microenvironment to keep the cancer dormant and prevent it from activation from dormancy. Herein, we report the clinical course of four patients who experienced a clinical response after treatment with metformin and/or Zyflamend.

    Be well!


  11. JP Says:

    Update 06/06/15:


    Cancer. 2015 May 18.

    A phase I trial of mushroom powder in patients with biochemically recurrent prostate cancer: Roles of cytokines and myeloid-derived suppressor cells for Agaricus bisporus-induced prostate-specific antigen responses.

    BACKGROUND: Each year in the United States, nearly 50,000 prostate cancer patients exhibit a rise in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, which can indicate disease recurrence. For patients with biochemically recurrent prostate cancer, we evaluated the effects of white button mushroom (WBM) powder on serum PSA levels and determined the tolerability and biological activity of WBM.

    METHODS: Patients with continuously rising PSA levels were enrolled in the study. Dose escalation was conducted in cohorts of 6; this ensured that no more than 1 patient per cohort experienced dose-limiting toxicity (DLT). The primary objective was to evaluate treatment feasibility and associated toxicity. The secondary objectives were to determine WBM’s effect on serum PSA/androgen levels; myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs); and cytokine levels.

    RESULTS: Thirty-six patients were treated; no DLTs were encountered. The overall PSA response rate was 11%. Two patients receiving 8 and 14 g/d demonstrated complete response (CR): their PSA declined to undetectable levels that continued for 49 and 30 months. Two patients who received 8 and 12 g/d experienced partial response (PR). After 3 months of therapy, 13 (36%) patients experienced some PSA decrease below baseline. Patients with CR and PR demonstrated higher levels of baseline interleukin-15 than nonresponders; for this group, we observed therapy-associated declines in MDSCs.

    CONCLUSIONS: Therapy with WBM appears to both impact PSA levels and modulate the biology of biochemically recurrent prostate cancer by decreasing immunosuppressive factors.

    Be well!


  12. JP Says:

    Update 07/14/15:


    PeerJ. 2015 Jul 2;3:e1080.

    A pilot study to investigate if New Zealand men with prostate cancer benefit from a Mediterranean-style diet.

    Carcinoma of the prostate is the most commonly diagnosed malignancy and the third leading cause of mortality in New Zealand men, making it a significant health issue in this country. Global distribution patterns suggest that diet and lifestyle factors may be linked to the development and progression of this cancer. Twenty men with diagnosed prostate cancer adhered to a Mediterranean diet, with specific adaptations, for three months. Prostate-specific antigen, C-reactive protein and DNA damage were evaluated at baseline and after three months of following the diet. Dietary data were collated from diet diaries and an adaptation of a validated Mediterranean diet questionnaire. A significant reduction in DNA damage compared to baseline was apparent, with particular benefit noted for overall adherence to the diet (p = 0.013), increased intake of folate (p = 0.023), vitamin C (p = 0.007), legumes (p = 0.004) and green tea (p = 0.002). Higher intakes of red meat and dairy products were inversely associated with DNA damage (p = 0.003 and p = 0.008 respectively). The results from this small feasibility study suggest that a high-antioxidant diet, modelled on Mediterranean traditions, may be of benefit for men with prostate cancer. Protection against DNA damage appears to be associated with the diet implemented, ostensibly due to reduction in reactive oxidant species. These findings warrant further exploration in a longer trial, with a larger cohort.

    Be well!


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