Written by Katja Boehm, Edzard Ernst and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated February 28, 2017


Does it work?

Controlled trials

There are seven RCTs assessing the efficacy of Ukrain for various cancer types.15 The majority of these studies were published in two different journals between 1995 and 2002 by four different groups of authors, three from the Belarus and one from Germany. They relate to colorectal,16,17 rectal,18 bladder,19 pancreatic,20,21 and breast cancers.22

The results of the six trials carried out in Belarus suggest in all cases that Ukrain is effective in inhibiting cancer progression.16-22 All of these six controlled trials were published with Ukrain manufacturers’ financial involvement. Severe limitations in methodological quality of these trials prevent any firm conclusions and independent replication of the results is needed.

Gansauge et al reported a study of 90 patients with pancreatic cancer treated either with 1000 mg gemcitabine / m2 or 100 mg Ukrain or the combination of both regimens.23 Survival rates suggested that Ukrain was superior to gemcitabine alone. The results and authority of Gansauge et al's study were subsequently questioned.24 The principal investigator, Hans G Beger, a specialist in pancreatic carcinomas was accused of manipulating the outcome of this clinical study in order to push Ukrain on to the market.25 The article also mentions financial sponsorship through the Ukrain manufacturer. Beger denied all accusations.

Uncontrolled trials

In an uncontrolled trial at a German clinic, 203 advanced cancer patients with different types of cancer were treated with Ukrain.26 The authors report surprising remission rates with the highest response rates observed in patients with seminoma and prostate cancer. Some patients were, however, concomitantly treated with regional deep hyperthermia, selenium, cimetidine, thymus extract and vitamin A.

In 2007, Gansauge et al carried out an uncontrolled clinical trial to assess the clinical effects of adjuvant systemic chemotherapy with gemcitabine and NSC-631570 in 30 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.27 The authors report prolonged survival rates with this combination.

Case series

Several case reports exist for the use of Ukrain in cancer patients. Invariably they suggest Ukrain to be effective in terms of antitumour activity, e.g.28-30 However, it must be noted that all case reports were published by the same team of authors.

Pre-clinical studies

While common anticancer drugs are toxic both against cancer and normal cells (cytostatics), Ukrain is allegedly only toxic against cancer cells (“malignocytolytic”). Some studies suggest that there was no evidence to suggest selective cytotoxicity previously reported for Ukrain.3,10 Research carried out at the National Cancer Institute where Ukrain was tested on the screening panel with 60 cell lines from eight human cancer types it was revealed to be cytotoxic against all the solid cancer cell lines tested.31

At least 35 in-vitro and 45 animal experiments have been published that all assess the biological mechanism of Ukrain which suggest that Ukrain has anticancer activity in a wide range of cell lines.15,32-36

Citation Katja Boehm, Edzard Ernst, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Ukrain [online document]. http://ws.cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Herbal-products/Ukrain. February 28, 2017.


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  3. Panzer A, Joubert AM, Eloff JN, Albrecht CF, Erasmus E, Seegers JC. Chemical analyses of Ukrain, a semi-synthetic Chelidonium majus alkaloid derivative, fail to confirm its trimeric structure. Cancer Lett. 2000;160(2):237-41.
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