Medicinal plants have long been used to treat various diseases including cancers for thousands of years. In contrast to the conventional cancer chemotherapy agents targeting single molecule, the mixture of phytochemicals is able to target multiple-molecules involved in the same pathway or several pathways responsible for cancer development, and exerts better therapeutic efficacy and lower side effects. Dried 4- to 5-year-old roots of Saussurea lappa, known as Mu-xiang, are commonly used as medicine to treat breast cancer and breast hyperplasia in China, Japan and India.
Volatile oil from Saussurea lappa root (VOSL), sesquiterpene lactones-rich fraction, is responsible for the anti-breast cancer activity of Mu-xiang3. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometer (GC-MS) and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometer (LC-MS) analyses revealed that Costunolide (Cos) and Dehydrocostuslactone (Dehy), two natural sesquiterpene lactones, are the main ingredients of VOSL. Moreover, the combination treatment of Cos and Dehy (CD) showed synergistic anti-breast cancer efficiency both in vitro and in vivo.
The mechanism of Muxiang in inhibiting breast cancer is associated with inhibition of Warburg effect and apoptosis.