Therapeutic gain by radiotherapy can be achieved through improved targeting, selectively sensitizing malignant cells, or protecting normal tissue. The majority of synthetic chemical radiation sensitizers and normal tissue protectors have proved to be too toxic at effective clinical doses. However, Asian botanicals (from both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine) are being evaluated for their ability to improve therapeutic gain through the modulation of reactive oxygen species. An increase in the efficacy of radiotherapy on tumor tissue allows a reduction in the dose applied to normal tissues. In addition, some botanicals may selectively protect normal tissue or increase its repair following radiation therapy. The results are promising enough to consider clinical trials.
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