keeping with government regulations, the PC-SPES
label said only that the product was for a "healthy
after George Dutra was diagnosed with prostate cancer,
it became clear he was in the fight of his life. With
his options running out, his family doctor suggested
an alternative herbal treatment for prostate cancer
that had been gaining attention - PC-SPES. While he
was taking PC-SPES, George's cancer was held back, and
although physicians say that diseases can fluctuate
on their own, George firmly believes it was the herbal
remedy that did the trick.
in the mid 1990's, Dr.
Eric Small at the University of California, San
Francisco attempted to conduct a clinical trial of PC-SPES
(PC stands for prostate cancer; SPES is Latin for "hope").
Initially, patients in the trial showed dramatic improvement,
but suspicion grew that the remedy had been laced with
DES, a synthetic hormone that is a standard prostate
cancer therapy. Lab analyses revealed traces of DES,
although the UCSF team was unable to say what medical
effect, if any, it might have. Nevertheless
the trial was halted, and PC-SPES is now off the market.
The PC-SPES story demonstrates the difficulty in getting
scientifically rigorous results with herbal remedies.
An herbal mixture may contain hundreds of different chemicals,
and it's hard to know which ingredients might be active
- or even what they are. Although PC-SPES might still
be useful, we may never know for sure - and that's true
of most herbal remedies.
more on this topic, see the web feature:
How We Know
The Cold Truth