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Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Patient Information [NCI]

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http://cancer.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup

Overview

  • "Selected Vegetables" and "Sun's Soup " are different mixtures of vegetables and herbs that are being studied as treatments for people with cancer (see Question 1).
  • Dried and frozen forms of Selected Vegetables are sold in the United States as dietary supplements (see Question 1).
  • The vegetables and herbs in Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup may contain substances that block the growth of cancer cells and/or help the body's immune system kill cancer cells (see Question 2).
  • Researchers reported that the growth of tumors was slower in the mice that were fed ingredients in Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup, compared to the mice that ate standard food (see Question 5).
  • Researchers reported that some cancer patients lived longer and had better quality of life when they received Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup along with other treatments. Randomized controlled trials, enrolling larger numbers of people, are needed to confirm the results (see Question 6).
  • No mixture of Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup has been approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of cancer or any other medical condition (see Question 8).

Questions and Answers About Selected Vegetables / Sun's Soup

What is Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup?

"Selected Vegetables" and "Sun's Soup " are names given to several different mixtures of vegetables and herbs that are being studied as treatments for cancer and other medical conditions, including acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The following versions have been used:

  • Original Mixture
    • Shiitake mushroom.
    • Mung beans.
    • Hedyotis diffusa.
    • Scutellaria barbata (barbat skullcap).

    This mixture is not sold in the United States.

  • Freeze-dried Selected Vegetables (DSV), a freeze-dried mixture of vegetables and herbs sold in the United States as a dietary supplement. DSV is reported to contain the following ingredients:
    • Soybean.
    • Shiitake mushroom.
    • Mung bean.
    • Red date.
    • Scallion.
    • Garlic.
    • Leek.
    • Lentils.
    • Hawthorn fruit.
    • Onion.
    • Ginseng.
    • Angelica root.
    • Licorice.
    • Dandelion root.
    • Senega root.
    • Ginger.
    • Olive.
    • Sesame seed.
    • Parsley.
  • Frozen Selected Vegetables (FSV), a frozen mixture of fresh vegetables and herbs, sold in the United States as a dietary supplement. It contains the same vegetables and herbs as in DSV.
What is the history of the discovery and use of Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup as a complementary and alternative treatment for cancer?

The vegetable and herb mixture now called Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup was developed to treat cancer.

  • In the mid-1980's, the developer created the mixture to treat a relative who was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer and not helped by standard treatment. The mixture contained shiitake mushroom, mung bean, and the herbs Hedyotis diffusa and barbat skullcap. The developer believed these ingredients contain substances that may block the growth of cancer cells and/or help the body's immune system attack cancer cells. The relative was reported to be alive and free of cancer more than 13 years later. Three more patients with advanced cancer were treated with a combination of shiitake mushroom and mung bean. These patients were also reported to benefit from the treatment.
  • In 1992, the developer applied for a patent for Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup as an herbal treatment of cancer. The developer reported on animal studies done in mice (see Question 5). The developer then began doing clinical trials (see Question 6) to test Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup in cancer patients.
  • In 1995, the developer was awarded a patent for Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup.

Many of the vegetables and herbs in Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup were chosen because previous research and traditional Chinese medicine suggest they contain anticancer phytochemicals (substances found in plants that may have effects on the body). These include substances such as protease inhibitors, plant sterols, and isoflavones. These ingredients may block the growth of cancer cells and/or improve the way the body's immune system attacks cancer cells.

What is the theory behind the claim that Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup is useful in treating cancer?

The theory is that certain ingredients in Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup may contain phytochemicals that have significant anticancer effects in humans. One of these ingredients is shiitake mushroom. Lentinan, which is taken from shiitake mushroom, has been used in Japan to treat stomach and colon cancer after surgery. Treatment with lentinan is reported to help patients with stomach cancer live longer and have a better quality of life. Lentinan may not be easily absorbed by the body from food, so it is usually given by injection. Other substances in shiitake mushroom that are more easily used by the body from food have shown anticancer activity in animal tests.

How is Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup administered?

Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup is eaten as part of the diet. Daily doses of either 1 ounce of the DSV (mixed with water or other soup) or 10 ounces of the FSV were used in clinical trials.

Have any preclinical (laboratory or animal) studies been conducted using Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup?

Few preclinical studies have been done with Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup. Research in a laboratory or using animals is done to find out if a drug, procedure, or treatment is likely to be useful in humans. Preclinical studies are done before clinical trials (in humans) are begun.

A small number of mice were injected with tumor cells and fed either standard food or food mixed with one or more ingredients from Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup. The researchers reported that the growth of tumors was slower in the mice that were fed the Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup ingredients, compared to the mice that ate standard food. The tumor growth was slowest when the mice were fed both mung bean and shiitake mushroom.

Have any clinical trials (research studies with people) of Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup been conducted?

Clinical trials using Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup to treat cancer have been done with small numbers of patients. These patients received other types of treatment, either before or during treatment with Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup, and different vegetable mixtures were used in the different studies.

The results of these trials were compared with published information on similar patients who did not receive Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup. Most patients receiving the vegetable mixtures lived longer, were better able to carry out their daily activities, and either gained weight or did not lose weight. In some patients who ate Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup, tumor growth slowed or the tumor completely went away. Because patients in these trials received other treatments, it is not known if their responses were caused by Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup, the other treatments, or both. None of the trials were randomized or controlled. Randomized clinical trials give the highest level of evidence. In randomized trials, volunteers are put randomly (by chance) into one of 2 or more groups that compare different treatments. In a controlled trial, one group (called the control group) does not receive the new treatment being studied. The control group is then compared to the groups that receive the new treatment, to see if the new treatment works. Randomized controlled trials, enrolling larger numbers of people, are needed to confirm the results of studies done so far on Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup.

One randomized clinical trial (NCT00246727) of patients with stage IIIB or stage IV non-small cell lung cancer is now being conducted. The trial is comparing the survival of patients receiving Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup with patients receiving a placebo (inactive substance). Both groups are receiving treatment with supportive care, such as radiation therapy, surgery, or palliative care.

Have any side effects or risks been reported from Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup?

No harmful side effects or risks have been reported in the use of Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup. Some patients felt full or bloated after eating the dry form, but patients who ate the frozen mixture did not report this.

Is Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a cancer treatment in the United States?

The FDA has not approved any form of Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup for the treatment of cancer or any other medical condition. Well-designed clinical trials that test identical mixtures of vegetables and herbs are needed to prove whether Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup is useful in treating cancer.

Changes to This Summary (01 / 10 / 2013)

The PDQ cancer information summaries are reviewed regularly and updated as new information becomes available. This section describes the latest changes made to this summary as of the date above.

Changes were made to this summary to match those made to the health professional version.

About This PDQ Summary

About PDQ

Physician Data Query (PDQ) is the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) comprehensive cancer information database. The PDQ database contains summaries of the latest published information on cancer prevention, detection, genetics, treatment, supportive care, and complementary and alternative medicine. Most summaries come in two versions. The health professional versions have detailed information written in technical language. The patient versions are written in easy-to-understand, nontechnical language. Both versions have cancer information that is accurate and up to date and most versions are also available in Spanish.

PDQ is a service of the NCI. The NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH is the federal government's center of biomedical research. The PDQ summaries are based on an independent review of the medical literature. They are not policy statements of the NCI or the NIH.

Purpose of This Summary

This PDQ cancer information summary has current information about the use of selected vegetables/Sun's soup in the treatment of people with cancer. It is meant to inform and help patients, families, and caregivers. It does not give formal guidelines or recommendations for making decisions about health care.

Reviewers and Updates

Editorial Boards write the PDQ cancer information summaries and keep them up to date. These Boards are made up of experts in cancer treatment and other specialties related to cancer. The summaries are reviewed regularly and changes are made when there is new information. The date on each summary ("Date Last Modified") is the date of the most recent change.

The information in this patient summary was taken from the health professional version, which is reviewed regularly and updated as needed, by the PDQ Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine Editorial Board.

Clinical Trial Information

A clinical trial is a study to answer a scientific question, such as whether one treatment is better than another. Trials are based on past studies and what has been learned in the laboratory. Each trial answers certain scientific questions in order to find new and better ways to help cancer patients. During treatment clinical trials, information is collected about the effects of a new treatment and how well it works. If a clinical trial shows that a new treatment is better than one currently being used, the new treatment may become "standard." Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.

Clinical trials are listed in PDQ and can be found online at NCI's Web site. Many cancer doctors who take part in clinical trials are also listed in PDQ. For more information, call the Cancer Information Service 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

Permission to Use This Summary

PDQ is a registered trademark. The content of PDQ documents can be used freely as text. It cannot be identified as an NCI PDQ cancer information summary unless the whole summary is shown and it is updated regularly. However, a user would be allowed to write a sentence such as "NCI's PDQ cancer information summary about breast cancer prevention states the risks in the following way: [include excerpt from the summary]."

The best way to cite this PDQ summary is:

National Cancer Institute: PDQ® Selected Vegetables/Sun's Soup. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified <MM/DD/YYYY>. Available at: http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/vegetables-sun-soup/Patient. Accessed <MM/DD/YYYY>.

Images in this summary are used with permission of the author(s), artist, and/or publisher for use in the PDQ summaries only. If you want to use an image from a PDQ summary and you are not using the whole summary, you must get permission from the owner. It cannot be given by the National Cancer Institute. Information about using the images in this summary, along with many other images related to cancer can be found in Visuals Online. Visuals Online is a collection of more than 2,000 scientific images.

Disclaimer

The information in these summaries should not be used to make decisions about insurance reimbursement. More information on insurance coverage is available on Cancer.gov on the Coping with Cancer: Financial, Insurance, and Legal Information page.

Contact Us

More information about contacting us or receiving help with the Cancer.gov Web site can be found on our Contact Us for Help page. Questions can also be submitted to Cancer.gov through the Web site's Contact Form.

General CAM Information

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)—also referred to as integrative medicine—includes a broad range of healing philosophies, approaches, and therapies. A therapy is generally called complementary when it is used in addition to conventional treatments; it is often called alternative when it is used instead of conventional treatment. (Conventional treatments are those that are widely accepted and practiced by the mainstream medical community.) Depending on how they are used, some therapies can be considered either complementary or alternative. Complementary and alternative therapies are used in an effort to prevent illness, reduce stress, prevent or reduce side effects and symptoms, or control or cure disease.

Unlike conventional treatments for cancer, complementary and alternative therapies are often not covered by insurance companies. Patients should check with their insurance provider to find out about coverage for complementary and alternative therapies.

Cancer patients considering complementary and alternative therapies should discuss this decision with their doctor, nurse, or pharmacist as they would any therapeutic approach, because some complementary and alternative therapies may interfere with their standard treatment or may be harmful when used with conventional treatment.

Evaluation of CAM Approaches

It is important that the same rigorous scientific evaluation used to assess conventional approaches be used to evaluate CAM therapies. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) are sponsoring a number of clinical trials (research studies) at medical centers to evaluate CAM therapies for cancer.

Conventional approaches to cancer treatment have generally been studied for safety and effectiveness through a rigorous scientific process that includes clinical trials with large numbers of patients. Less is known about the safety and effectiveness of complementary and alternative methods. Few CAM therapies have undergone rigorous evaluation. A small number of CAM therapies originally considered to be purely alternative approaches are finding a place in cancer treatment—not as cures, but as complementary therapies that may help patients feel better and recover faster. One example is acupuncture. According to a panel of experts at a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Conference in November 1997, acupuncture has been found to be effective in the management of chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting and in controlling pain associated with surgery. In contrast, some approaches, such as the use of laetrile, have been studied and found ineffective or potentially harmful.

The NCI Best Case Series Program, which was started in 1991, is one way CAM approaches that are being used in practice are being investigated. The program is overseen by the NCI's Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM). Health care professionals who offer alternative cancer therapies submit their patients' medical records and related materials to OCCAM. OCCAM conducts a critical review of the materials and develops follow-up research strategies for approaches deemed to warrant NCI-initiated research.

Questions to Ask Your Health Care Provider About CAM

When considering complementary and alternative therapies, patients should ask their health care provider the following questions:

  • What side effects can be expected?
  • What are the risks associated with this therapy?
  • Do the known benefits outweigh the risks?
  • What benefits can be expected from this therapy?
  • Will the therapy interfere with conventional treatment?
  • Is this therapy part of a clinical trial?
  • If so, who is sponsoring the trial?
  • Will the therapy be covered by health insurance?

To Learn More About CAM

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) facilitates research and evaluation of complementary and alternative practices, and provides information about a variety of approaches to health professionals and the public.

NCCAM Clearinghouse
Post Office Box 7923 Gaithersburg, MD 20898–7923
Telephone: 1–888–644–6226 (toll free) 301–519–3153 (for International callers)
TTY (for deaf and hard of hearing callers): 1–866–464–3615
Fax: 1–866–464–3616
E-mail: info@nccam.nih.gov
Web site: http://nccam.nih.gov

CAM on PubMed

NCCAM and the NIH National Library of Medicine (NLM) jointly developed CAM on PubMed, a free and easy-to-use search tool for finding CAM-related journal citations. As a subset of the NLM's PubMed bibliographic database, CAM on PubMed features more than 230,000 references and abstracts for CAM-related articles from scientific journals. This database also provides links to the Web sites of over 1,800 journals, allowing users to view full-text articles. (A subscription or other fee may be required to access full-text articles.) CAM on PubMed is available through the NCCAM Web site. It can also be accessed through NLM PubMed bibliographic database by selecting the "Limits" tab and choosing "Complementary Medicine" as a subset.

Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine

The NCI Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM) coordinates the activities of the NCI in the area of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). OCCAM supports CAM cancer research and provides information about cancer-related CAM to health providers and the general public via the NCI Web site.

National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Information Service

U.S. residents may call the NCI Cancer Information Service toll free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. A trained Cancer Information Specialist is available to answer your questions.

Food and Drug Administration

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates drugs and medical devices to ensure that they are safe and effective.

Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857
Telephone: 1–888–463–6332 (toll free)
Web site: http://www.fda.gov/

Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces consumer protection laws. Publications available from the FTC include:

  • Who Cares: Sources of Information About Health Care Products and Services
  • Fraudulent Health Claims: Don't Be Fooled
Consumer Response Center
Federal Trade Commission
CRC-240
Washington, DC 20580
Telephone: 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) (toll free)
TTY (for deaf and hearing impaired callers): 202-326-2502
Web site: http://www.ftc.gov/

Last Revised: 2013-01-10


If you want to know more about cancer and how it is treated, or if you wish to know about clinical trials for your type of cancer, you can call the NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-422-6237, toll free. A trained information specialist can talk with you and answer your questions.


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