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Prunella Vulgaris

Posted by Manuela Boyle on 6 January 2022
Prunella Vulgaris

Recent research has investigated the use of dose-dependant herbal extract of Prunella vulgaris as neoadjuvant therapy in early stages of breast cancer. Researchers also examined the use of the herb together with the chemotherapy drugs taxane and concluded that in both cases, Prunella vulgaris

The principles for treatment of breast cancer at different stages have been continuously refined. The commonly used methods are chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, targeted therapy, endocrine therapy and combination therapy.

Breast cancer should be effectively controlled as soon as possible to minimise or delay its recurrence and metastasis. As shown by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines recommendations, neo-adjuvant therapy is recommended also to patients with early stage operable breast cancer because it may reduce tumour burden and lead to successful subsequent local surgical treatment. This protocol may also reduce local planting and other dissemination of breast cancer that may occur during the surgery. Other research has shown that preoperative therapy can also eliminate whole body micrometastases and reduce their postoperative occurrence (Watanabe et al., 2017; Silva et al., 2018). 

Prunella vulgaris L (PVL) mainly contains flavonoids (Fazal et al., 2016; Qu et al., 2017), pentacyclic triterpenes (Yu et al., 2015), organic acids (Psotova et al., 2003), polysaccharides (Du et al., 2016), and volatile oils (Zhai et al., 2014). PVL extract exert a variety of biological activities, including regulation of tumour metastatic microenvironment (Su et al., 2016), antioxidant effect (Fazal et al., 2016), and anti-inflammatory effect (Hwang et al., 2013).  PVL can also suppress the migration and invasion of human liver cancer cells (Kim et al., 2012). Ethyl acetate extracts of PVL down regulate the protein expression levels of B-cell lymphoma protein-2 (Bcl-2) and pro-angiogenic vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and are thus potent anticancer agents for treatment of gastric cancer (Tan et al., 2015). PVL extracts also exhibit anti-oestrogenic properties and can be used as therapeutic agents for treatment of oestrogen-dependent tumours (Kim et al., 2014). PVL polysaccharide can inhibit human breast carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) by inhibiting the expression of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and the growth of BC cells (Hao et al., 2016).

Docetaxel and taxane are commonly used for chemotherapy of BC and have been explored for combination therapy (Cocconi et al., 2018). PVL may improve the therapeutic effects of combination therapy. 



Zhao, J., Ji, D., Zhai, X., Zhang, L., Luo, X., & Fu, X. (2018). Oral Administration of Prunella vulgaris L Improves the Effect of Taxane on Preventing the Progression of Breast Cancer and Reduces Its Side Effects. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 806. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.00806

Author:Manuela Boyle
Tags:NewsEvidence Based ResearchCancerBreast CancerHerbal Medicine


  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia
  • Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
  • British Naturopathic Association