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Qamar Uddin*, Amanullah, Khalid M. Siddiqui, Rais-ur-Rahman
Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM), Janakpuri, New Delhi-110058, India
*Corresponding Author, E-mail:
Cancer is a significant global healthcare problem, with an estimated worldwide incidence of 10 million new cases per year, 46% of which are in developed countries. Mortality is high, with >7 million deaths per year. The goal of cancer treatment is first to eradicate the cancer. If this primary goal cannot be accomplished, the therapeutic goal shifts to palliation, the amelioration of symptoms, and preservation of the patient’s quality of life (QOL). In the last two decades, great advances have been made in cancer therapy; however, the success rates still remain unsatisfactory. Current conventional anticancer therapies are associated with adverse effects, drug resistance, and cancer recurrence. Therefore, there is still an urgent need for new therapeutic options for cancer. Current evidence, based on preclinical studies suggests that some Unani medicinal plants have anticancer potential. This review offers an evidence-based perspective of 20 Unani herbal drugs for the prevention and treatment of cancer. Several mechanisms are likely to account for the observed pharmacological effects, the most important being direct cytotoxicity, apoptosis induction, anti-oxidation, and immunomodulation. These Unani herbal drugs when combined with conventional anticancer therapy may help to synergize the anticancer effects, and reduce the side effects of conventional drugs, to improve the patient’s QOL, and to prevent cancer recurrence. However, well-designed and well-executed randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs) are required to validate their usefulness and to make their use acceptable clinically in different types of cancers. Thus, these Unani medicinal plants may have turned into anticancer drugs.
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