Written by Liene Dhooghe and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated February 8, 2017


What is it ?

Scientific name(s)/brand name(s)/common name(s)

PC-SPES stands for prostate cancer (PC) and spes, which is the Latin word for hope. It was a patented dietary supplement, manufactured by BotanicLab, Brea, California, USA, but was recalled by the FDA due to contamination with prescription drugs in 2002 and is no longer officially available1,2. Active Botanicals Ltd (UK) has redeveloped PC-spes2, which is not yet commercially available. Other similar products claim to be the replacement supplement for PC-SPES, however, often different combinations of plants are used (for example Prostectan, Prostasol, PC-Care, PC-Hope)3.


The original PC-SPES capsules contained 320 mg of eight Chinese herbs: 25.6 mg Dendranthema morifolium or Chrysanthemum morifolium flower; 32.0 mg Isatis tinctoria or Isatis indigotica leaf (dyer’s woad or glastum); 3.2 mg Glycyrrhiza uralensis root (Chinese liquorice, not to be mistaken with Glycyrrhiza glabrum); 99.2 mg Ganoderma lucidum stem (also known as Lingzhi or Reishi mushroom); 25.6 mg Panax pseudoginseng root (not to be mistaken with Panax ginseng); 35.2 mg Rabdosia rubescens or Isodon rubescens leaf; 19.2 mg Serenoa repens berry (saw palmetto); and 51.2 mg Scutellaria baicalensis or Scutellaria laterifolia root (Baikal skullcap)4.

Application and dosage

The recommended dose for “prostate health” was three to six capsules of PC-SPES per day on an empty stomach.

History/provider(s) / Legal issues

PC-SPES was commercially available from 1996 to 2002, until the California Department of Health Services Food and Drug Branch discovered warfarin and indomethacin in PC-SPES capsules. Independent laboratories also found diethylstilbesterol in some samples2. It was recalled by the FDA and voluntarily withdrawn from the market by BotanicLab. However, it remains accessible through internet and telephone order 4. Recently Active Botanicals Ltd (UK) has redeveloped PC-spes2, which is standardized against five active ingredients (baicalin, oridonin, wogonin, isoliquiritigenin, and licochacone A), compared to only two in the old PC-SPES (baicalin and oridonin). Independent quality control demonstrated no contaminants5. This product is, however, not yet commercially available. Other similar products claiming to be substitutes of PC-SPES, can be purchased online (for example Prostectan, Prostasol, PC-Care).

Mechanism of action

Because of the combination of several plant extracts, multiple mechanisms of action can be responsible for the claimed anticancer activity. Most of the agents have shown in vitro activity, ranging from stimulation of natural killer-cell activity to growth inhibition of different cell lines6. There are components that show estrogenic activity or inhibit 5-alpha reductase6. The extracts can induce apoptosis and can suppress cell growth by restricting cell cycle progression at G(1)/S phase7,8.

Claims of efficacy / Alleged indication(s)

PC-SPES is commercialized for prostate health and strengthening of the immune system. Scientific research is investigating its efficacy in androgen-independent and androgen-dependent prostate cancer.

Prevalence of use

In 2002, approximately 10,000 patients with prostate cancer were using PC-SPES in addition to standard therapy or as a sole treatment6.

Cost(s) and expenditures

In 2002, a bottle of 60 capsules of PC-SPES cost US$ 108.

Citation Liene Dhooghe, CAM-Cancer Consortium. PC-SPES [online document]. http://ws.cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Herbal-products/PC-SPES. February 8, 2017.


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