Integrative oncology in the Middle East: from traditional herbal knowledge to contemporary cancer care

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Background: Based on traditional, historical, ethnobotanical, laboratory, and clinical findings, we present research framework aiming to identify Middle Eastern herbs that are worthy of further research for their anticancer potential.

Methods: A comprehensive research project was developed by a multinational team comprising family physicians, medicine specialists, oncologists, an Islamic medicine history specialist, a traditional medicine ethnobotanist, and a basic research scientist. The project followed two consecutive phases: (i) historical and ethnobotanical search for cancer-related keywords and (ii) Medline search for in vitro and in vivo studies.

Results: This search yielded 44 herbs associated with cancer care. The Medline search yielded 34 herbs of which 9 herbs were reported in various clinical studies.

Conclusions: This multidisciplinary survey was found to be a valuable way to identify herbs with potential clinical significance in cancer care. Based on this pilot study, it is suggested that the Middle East can serve as a valuable region for future multicultural-oriented cancer research.

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