Background: Chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) is a side effect, and has negative effect on quality of life and continuation of chemotherapy. Despite new regimen and drugs, the problems still remain and standard guidelines, effective treatment and supportive care for refractory CINV are still not yet established. Persian medicine, the old Iranian medical school, offer Persumac (prepared from Rhus Coriaria and Bunium Persicum Boiss).

Objective: The specific objectives were to assess the effect of Persumac on the number and severity of nausea and vomiting in refractory CINV in acute and delayed phase.

Methods: This randomized, double blind, crossover clinical trial study was carried out on 93 patients with breast cancer and refractory CINV, who received outpatient high emetogenic chemotherapy in Imam Reza hospital, Mashhad, Iran from October 2015 to May 2016. The study has three stages: in stage I patients received a questionaire and completed it after chemotherapy. In stage II they were randomly divided into intervention group with Persumac and control group with placebo (lactose were used). In stage III, wash out and crossover was conducted. Both groups in all stages received standard antiemetic therapy for CINV. The following were set as the inclusion criteria of the study: female, Age ≥18 years, clinical diagnosis of breast cancer, history of refractory CINV, normal blood tests and at least three courses of chemotherapy remaining. Exclusion criteria of this study were: Total or upper abdominal radiation therapy along with chemotherapy, drugs/therapy for nausea and vomiting not prescribed in this study, hypersensitivity to Sumac or Bunium Persicum, use of sumac and Bunium Persicum in seven days prior to the intervention, clinical diagnosis of digestion disorders, non-chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, milk allergy, loss of two consecutive or three intermittent doses of Persumac or placebo. Outcomes were gathered by Persian questionnaire. Number and severity of nausea and vomiting was measured with a self-reporting tool; visual analog scale.

Results: Demographic data and other characters in both groups have no significant diffrence. Eighty of 93 eligible patients in stage I completed the study and in stage II, eleven declined participation for stage III (crossover). P value of carry over, period and treatment effects demonstrated that they had not affected the results before and after crossover. The mean severity of nausea in acute phase was in stage I: 4.83 ± 1.40, stage II: 4.54 ± 2.0 and stage III: 4.15 ± 0.92 in sequence AB (first Persumac and then placebo in crossover), and in sequence BA (first placebo and then Persumac in crossover) was respectively 4.83 ± 1.40, 4.54 ± 2.0, 4.15 ± 0.92 with p value of carry over effect: 0.03 and period effect: 0.22.  Except for severity of nausea in acute phase, the mean number and severity of nausea and vomiting scores significantly decreased in acute and delayed phase of CINV.

Conclusion: Persumac may control the refractory CINV. The implicable and clinical importance of this research is that another option exists for refractory CINV. Higher doses, different cancers, patients with more various features, and more complete methodology and tools can provide appropriate designs for new research on this topic.

Trial registration: This trial was registered at the Clinical Trials.gov ID: NCT02787707.

Funding: This study is part of a Ph.D. thesis and under grant; No: 930735 of Research Chancellery of MUMS.


Keywords: Breast cancer, Traditional medicine, Chemotherapy Induced Nausea and Vomiting (CINV), Rhus Coriaria, Bunium Persicum
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