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Prostate Cancer, Nutrition, and Dietary Supplements (PDQ®)

Health Professional Version



General Information and History

Zyflamend is a dietary supplement that contains extracts of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.), turmeric (Curcuma longa L.), ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe), holy basil (Ocimum sanctum L.), green tea (Camellia sinensis [L.] Kuntze), hu zhang (Polygonum cuspidatum Siebold & Zucc., a source of resveratrol), Chinese goldthread (Coptis chinensis Franch.), barberry (Berberis vulgaris L.), oregano (Origanum vulgare L.), and Baikal skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi). The individual components of Zyflamend have anti-inflammatory and possible anti-carcinogenic properties. For example, results of a 2011 study suggest that Zyflamend may inhibit the growth of melanoma cells.[1]

The extracts in Zyflamend have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects via inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX) activity. COXs are enzymes that convert arachidonic acid into prostaglandins, which are thought to play a role in tumor development and metastasis. One COX enzyme, COX-2, is activated during chronic disease states, such as cancer.[2]

The antitumorigenic mechanisms of action of Zyflamend are unknown, but, according to one study, Zyflamend may suppress activation of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappa B) (a nuclear transcription factor involved in tumorigenesis) and NF-kappa B–regulated gene products.[3]

Preclinical/Animal Studies

In vitro studies

In a study reported in 2012, human prostate cancer cells were treated in vitro with Zyflamend. Cells treated with the supplement at concentrations ranging from 0.06 to 0.5 μL /mL exhibited dose-dependent decreases in androgen receptor and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) expression levels, compared with cells treated with the dimethyl sulfoxide vehicle control. Prostate cancer cells that were treated with a combination of Zyflamend (0.06 μL/mL) and bicalutamide (25 μM), an androgen receptor inhibitor, showed reductions in cell growth, PSA expression, and anti-apoptotic protein expression, compared with cells treated with Zyflamend or bicalutamide alone.[4]

Although the individual components of Zyflamend have been shown to influence COX activity, one study examined the effects of the drug on COX-1 and COX-2 expression in prostate cancer cells. The results revealed that Zyflamend, at a concentration of 0.9 μL/mL, inhibited expression of both COX-1 and COX-2; at a concentration of 0.45 μL/mL. The degree of COX-2 inhibition was observed, but the level of COX-1 inhibition was reduced by 50%. At a concentration of 0.1 μL/mL, Zyflamend effectively inhibited growth of prostate cancer cells and increased the level of caspase-3, a pro-apoptotic enzyme. However, a separate experiment indicated that the prostate cancer cells used in the study (LNCaP cells, which are androgen sensitive) did not express high levels of COX-2, suggesting that Zyflamend’s effects on prostate cancer cells may result from a COX-independent mechanism.[2]

The lipoxygenase isozymes 5-LOX and 12-LOX are also proteins associated with inflammation and tumor growth. In a 2007 study, the effects of Zyflamend on 5-LOX and 12-LOX expression were investigated. The findings indicated that 0.25–2 μL/mL Zyflamend produced decreases in 5-LOX and 12-LOX expression in PC3 prostate cancer cells (cells that have high metastatic potential). The supplement also inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis. In addition, Zyflamend treatment resulted in a decrease in Rb phosphorylation (Rb proteins control cell-cycle -related genes). These results indicate that Zyflamend may inhibit prostate cancer cell growth through a variety of mechanisms.[5]

In a 2011 study, human prostate cancer cells were treated with Zyflamend (200 µg /mL). After 48 hours of treatment, a statistically significant reduction in cell growth was observed for Zyflamend-treated cells, compared with control cells (P < .005). In another experiment, prostate cancer cells were treated with insulin-like growth factor -1 (IGF-1; 0–100 ng /mL) alone or in combination with Zyflamend (200 µg/mL). Cells treated with IGF-1 alone exhibited statistically significant, dose-dependent increases in cell proliferation, whereas cells treated with both IGF-1 and Zyflamend showed significant decreases in cell proliferation. Zyflamend was also shown to decrease cellular levels of the IGF-1 receptor and the androgen receptor in prostate cancer cells.[6]

Animal studies

Additional evidence that Zyflamend promotes apoptosis in cancer cells was obtained in laboratory and animal studies reported in 2012.[7] Treatment of human colorectal carcinoma cell lines in vitro with Zyflamend was shown to significantly down regulate expression of anti-apoptotic proteins, up regulate expression of Bax (a pro-apoptotic protein), and increase expression of death receptor 5 (DR5), a receptor important in apoptosis. Moreover, when nude mice with pancreatic cancer cell implants were randomly assigned to receive Zyflamend or a control treatment for 4 weeks, tumor cells from the Zyflamend-treated mice showed significant reductions in anti-apoptotic proteins and significantly increased expression of DR5, compared to tumor cells from control-treated animals.

In a 2011 study, mice were also implanted with pancreatic cancer cells and then treated with gemcitabine and/or Zyflamend. The combination treatment resulted in a significantly greater decrease in tumor growth than did treatment with gemcitabine or Zyflamend alone. Other findings from this study suggest that Zyflamend exerted its effects by sensitizing the pancreatic tumors to gemcitabine through suppression of multiple targets linked to tumorigenesis.[8]

Human Studies

Intervention studies

In one case report, a patient with high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN) received Zyflamend 3 times daily for 18 months. Zyflamend did not affect this patient's PSA level, but, after 18 months, repeat core biopsies of the prostate did not show PIN or cancer.[9]

In a 2009 phase I study designed to assess safety and toxicity, patients with HGPIN were assigned to take Zyflamend (780 mg) 3 times daily for 18 months, plus combinations of dietary supplements (i.e., probiotic supplement, multivitamin, green and white tea extract, Baikal skullcap, docosahexaenoic acid, holy basil, and turmeric). Zyflamend and the additional dietary supplements were well tolerated by the patients, and no serious adverse events occurred. After 18 months of treatment, 60% of the study subjects had only benign tissue at biopsy; 26.7% had HGPIN in one core; and 13.3% had prostate cancer.[10]

Adverse Effects

Zyflamend was well tolerated in the previously described 2009 clinical study. Mild heartburn was reported in 9 of 23 subjects, but it resolved when the study supplements were taken with food. No serious toxicity or adverse events were reported in the study.[10]


  1. Ekmekcioglu S, Chattopadhyay C, Akar U, et al.: Zyflamend mediates therapeutic induction of autophagy to apoptosis in melanoma cells. Nutr Cancer 63 (6): 940-9, 2011. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Bemis DL, Capodice JL, Anastasiadis AG, et al.: Zyflamend, a unique herbal preparation with nonselective COX inhibitory activity, induces apoptosis of prostate cancer cells that lack COX-2 expression. Nutr Cancer 52 (2): 202-12, 2005. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. Sandur SK, Ahn KS, Ichikawa H, et al.: Zyflamend, a polyherbal preparation, inhibits invasion, suppresses osteoclastogenesis, and potentiates apoptosis through down-regulation of NF-kappa B activation and NF-kappa B-regulated gene products. Nutr Cancer 57 (1): 78-87, 2007. [PUBMED Abstract]
  4. Yan J, Xie B, Capodice JL, et al.: Zyflamend inhibits the expression and function of androgen receptor and acts synergistically with bicalutimide to inhibit prostate cancer cell growth. Prostate 72 (3): 244-52, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]
  5. Yang P, Cartwright C, Chan D, et al.: Zyflamend-mediated inhibition of human prostate cancer PC3 cell proliferation: effects on 12-LOX and Rb protein phosphorylation. Cancer Biol Ther 6 (2): 228-36, 2007. [PUBMED Abstract]
  6. Huang EC, Chen G, Baek SJ, et al.: Zyflamend reduces the expression of androgen receptor in a model of castrate-resistant prostate cancer. Nutr Cancer 63 (8): 1287-96, 2011. [PUBMED Abstract]
  7. Kim JH, Park B, Gupta SC, et al.: Zyflamend sensitizes tumor cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis through up-regulation of death receptors and down-regulation of survival proteins: role of ROS-dependent CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein-homologous protein pathway. Antioxid Redox Signal 16 (5): 413-27, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]
  8. Kunnumakkara AB, Sung B, Ravindran J, et al.: Zyflamend suppresses growth and sensitizes human pancreatic tumors to gemcitabine in an orthotopic mouse model through modulation of multiple targets. Int J Cancer 131 (3): E292-303, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]
  9. Rafailov S, Cammack S, Stone BA, et al.: The role of Zyflamend, an herbal anti-inflammatory, as a potential chemopreventive agent against prostate cancer: a case report. Integr Cancer Ther 6 (1): 74-6, 2007. [PUBMED Abstract]
  10. Capodice JL, Gorroochurn P, Cammack AS, et al.: Zyflamend in men with high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia: results of a phase I clinical trial. J Soc Integr Oncol 7 (2): 43-51, 2009. [PUBMED Abstract]
  • Updated: December 12, 2014