Tian Xian is an alternative therapy advertised on the internet for cancer
What Tian Xian is
Tian Xian is a cocktail of 14 plant extracts, including ginseng and liquorice.
It was invented by a Chinese Professor called Wang Zhen Guo. It is used for cancer treatment in traditional medicine.
Laboratory studies seem to show that Tian Xian can boost immune system cells and may help to kill cancer cells in the test tube. But there is no evidence to show that it can help to prevent or treat cancer in people.
The makers say that Tian Xian should be used alongside conventional cancer treatment. It should not be a substitute for chemotherapy, surgery, biological therapy or radiotherapy.
From the information given by the sellers, this remedy is used mostly in the Far East in places such as Hong Kong, China and Malaysia.
Research into Tian Xian and cancer
The websites selling this product claim that it has been scientifically tested. But the claims are not backed up by much evidence. In 2012 a very small study in Taiwan looked at using Tian Xian for patients with breast cancer that had spread and was not responding to conventional treatment.
In the study 28 patients had Tian Xian and 11 patients had a dummy drug (placebo). They were followed up every 4 weeks for 6 months. The researchers reported that the patients taking Tian Xian had better physical and emotional functioning and less tiredness (fatigue) and side effects.
Some people in the study had mild constipation or itching but there were no serious side effects. The authors say that Tian Xian appears to be a safe treatment. But this study is too small to show if it can help people with cancer.
Side effects of Tian Xian
The side effects listed for Tian Xian by sites that sell it are:
- diarrhoea, which may contain blood
- stomach pain and wind
- feeling and being sick
- racing pulse and raised blood pressure
- loss of appetite
- aches and pains
- darkening skin if you have liver cancer
This is quite a list, but there are no official medical reports of harm coming to people who take Tian Xian. Some of the herbal ingredients could interact with some cancer treatments though so it is important to let your doctor know if you are thinking of taking it.
Cost of treatment
Tian Xian is expensive. The makers suggest you take it daily for 6 months, or until your cancer has gone. Then, you are supposed to take it for 1 month out of 4 for 2 years. Then you take it for 2 months each year for the next 5 years.
The price on the web varies between about $700 and $1,000 for 28 days daily treatment. Even at the cheapest estimate, that works out to be over £9,000 for a full course.
About alternative therapies
There is no proper research evidence that Tian Xian works as a treatment for cancer. We are concerned that these potential cures are often sold for a great deal of money. And people with cancer can be vulnerable.
It is understandable that patients or relatives will try anything if they think it might work. We recommend that you talk to your doctor before buying or using any type of alternative therapy.