Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2016 Oct 21;16(1):399.
doi: 10.1186/s12906-016-1380-x.

Herbal Remedies and Functional Foods Used by Cancer Patients Attending Specialty Oncology Clinics in Trinidad

Free PMC article

Herbal Remedies and Functional Foods Used by Cancer Patients Attending Specialty Oncology Clinics in Trinidad

Yuri N Clement et al. BMC Complement Altern Med. .
Free PMC article


Background: Cancer is a major disease worldwide, and many patients use complementary and alternative treatments. The purpose of this study was to identify the herbal remedies and functional foods used as complementary medicine by prostate, breast and colorectal cancer patients at speciality care facilities in Trinidad. We also sought to determine how patients rated the efficacy of these modalities compared with conventional treatment.

Methods: A descriptive, cross-sectional survey was conducted using an interviewer-administered pilot-tested de novo questionnaire during the period June to August 2012 at two speciality treatment centres on the island. Data was analysed using χ2 analyses.

Results: Among the 150 patients who reported use of herbal remedies/functional foods, soursop (Annona muricata L.) was the most popular; with 80.7 % using the leaves, bark, fruit and seeds on a regular basis. Other common herbal remedies/functional foods included wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum L.), saffron (Crocus sativus L.) and Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f. The most commonly used functional foods were beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.), carrots (Daucus carata L.) and papaya (Carica papaya L.) used by 43.3 % of patients; and these were mostly blended as a mixture. Herbal remedies and functional foods were used on a daily basis and patients believed that this modality was equally (32.0 %) or more efficacious (14.7 %) than conventional treatment.

Conclusions: This survey identified the most common herbal remedies and functional foods used among prostate, breast and colorectal cancer patients in Trinidad. Although functional foods rarely pose a problem, herbs may interact with conventional chemotherapy and physicians need to inform patients regarding probable herb-drug interactions.

Keywords: Annona muricata L.; Beta vulgaris L.; Breast cancer; Carica papaya L.; Daucus carota L.; Functional foods; Herbal remedies; Prostate cancer; Triticum aestium L..

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 5 articles


    1. GLOBOCAN 2012: Estimated cancer incidence, mortality and prevalence worldwide in 2012. Accessed 9 Feb 2016
    1. Warner WA, Morrison RL, Lee TY, Williams TM, Ramnarine S, Roach V, et al. Associations among ancestry, geography and breast cancer incidence, mortality, and survival in Trinidad and Tobago. Cancer Med. 2015;4(11):1742–53. doi: 10.1002/cam4.503. - DOI - PMC - PubMed
    1. Bunker CH, Patrick AL, Maharaj G, Keenan HA, Ramnarine S, Belle A, et al. Prostate cancer risk is three-fold higher among men, aged 50–64, of African descent compared with men of Asian-Indian descent in Trinidad and Tobago. Ethn Dis. 2002;12(4):S3-30-3. - PubMed
    1. Mungrue K, Moonan S, Mohammed M, Hyatali S. Prostate cancer survival in Trinidad: Is PSA a prognostic factor? Can Urol Assoc J. 2012;6(6):E249–55. doi: 10.5489/cuaj.125. - DOI - PMC - PubMed
    1. Ragin C, Mutetwa B, Attong-Rogers A, Roach V, Taioli E. Geographic and outcome variation among black men diagnosed with prostate cancer. Infect Agent Cancer. 2011;6(Suppl 2):S2. doi: 10.1186/1750-9378-6-S2-S2. - DOI - PMC - PubMed