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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 7 (2010), Issue 2, Pages 203-212
Original Article

Catalytic Therapy of Cancer with Ascorbate and Extracts of Medicinal Herbs

1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA
2Department of Cancer Biology and Pharmacology, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Peoria, IL 61605, USA
3Research Associate, University of California, Santa Cruz, 367 Western Dr. Apt G, Santa Cruz, CA, 95060, USA

Received 24 January 2007; Accepted 18 July 2007

Copyright © 2010 Nadejda Rozanova (Torshina) 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.


Catalytic therapy (CT) is a cancer treatment modality based on the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) using a combination of substrate molecules and a catalyst. The most frequently used substrate/catalyst pair is ascorbate/Co phthalocyanine (PcCo). In the present work, herb extracts containing pigments have been studied as a catalyst in place of PcCo. Extracts from herbs are expected to have efficiency comparable with that of phthalocyanines but as natural products, to exhibit fewer side effects. The present studies demonstrate that a combined use of ascorbate and herbal extracts results in ROS production and a significant decrease in the number of cancer cells after a single in vitro treatment. Treatment with ascorbate in conjunction with extracts prepared from several medicinal herbs stimulated apoptosis and disrupted the cell cycle. The number of cells accumulating in the sub-G0/G1 stage of the cell cycle was increased 2- to 7-fold, and cells in G2/M increased 1.5- to 20-fold, indicating that the treatment protocol was highly effective in suppressing DNA synthesis and potentially reflecting DNA damage in the tumor cells. In addition, 20–40% of the cells underwent apoptosis within 24 h of completing treatment. Our results suggest that herbal extracts can function as CT catalysts in the treatment of cancer.