Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Chemistry and Biochemistry


Cancer, Dandelion root, Hibiscus, Interaction, Lemongrass, Natural health products


Siyaram Pandey




Cancer continues to be the leading cause of death in Canada. Many conventional chemotherapies have indicated side effects due to a lack of treatment specificity and are thus not suitable for long-term usage. Natural health products (NHPs) are well-tolerated and safe for consumption, and some have pharmaceutical uses particularly for their anti-cancer effects. We have previously investigated the anti-cancer efficacy of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root, lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), and hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus) extracts. However, their efficacy on prostate, colorectal, and breast cancer as well as their interactions with standard chemotherapeutics have not been studied to determine if they will be suitable for adjuvant therapies. If successful, these extracts could potentially be used in conjunction with chemotherapeutics to minimize the risk of drug-related toxicity and enhance the efficacy of the treatment. This work aimed evaluate the efficacy and mechanism of apoptotic induction in various cancer cells, assess the drug-drug interactions of NHPs and chemotherapeutics, and investigate the effects of these NHPs on tumour xenografted mice models. Using standard biochemical and morphological assays, we have demonstrated that dandelion root extract (DRE), lemongrass extract (LGE), and hibiscus extract (HE) exhibit selective anti-cancer activity. These extracts were also able to enhance the anticancer efficacy of common chemotherapeutics and protect normal healthy cells from toxicity. In mice xenografted with human cancer cells, DRE and LGE were able to reduce tumour burden and LGE was able to enhance FOLFOX activity. Thus, the implementation of these well-tolerated extracts in adjuvant therapies could be a selective and efficacious approach to cancer treatment. These findings provide scientific validation to support the safe and effective use of NHPs as well-tolerated and effective forms of cancer treatment.