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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 3 (2006), Issue 1, Pages 117-124
Original Article

Analysis of the Interactions of Botanical Extract Combinations Against the Viability of Prostate Cancer Cell Lines

Center for Human Nutrition, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA

Received 15 August 2005

Copyright © 2006 Lynn S. Adams et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Herbal medicines are often combinations of botanical extracts that are assumed to have additive or synergistic effects. The purpose of this investigation was to compare the effect of individual botanical extracts with combinations of extracts on prostate cell viability. We then modeled the interactions between botanical extracts in combination isobolographically. Scutellaria baicalensis, Rabdosia rubescens, Panax-pseudo ginseng, Dendranthema morifolium, Glycyrrhiza uralensis and Serenoa repens were collected, taxonomically identified and extracts prepared. Effects of the extracts on cell viability were quantitated in prostate cell lines using a luminescent ATP cell viability assay. Combinations of two botanical extracts of the four most active extracts were tested in the 22Rv1 cell line and their interactions assessed using isobolographic analysis. Each extract significantly inhibited the proliferation of prostate cell lines in a time- and dose-dependent manner except repens. The most active extracts, baicalensis, D. morifolium, G. uralensis and R. rubescens were tested as two-extract combinations. baicalensis and D. morifolium when combined were additive with a trend toward synergy, whereas D. morifolium and R. rubescens together were additive. The remaining two-extract combinations showed antagonism. The four extracts together were significantly more effective than the two-by-two combinations and the individual extracts alone. Combining the four herbal extracts significantly enhanced their activity in the cell lines tested compared with extracts alone. The less predictable nature of the two-way combinations suggests a need for careful characterization of the effects of each individual herb based on their intended use.