Use of Medicinal Plants in the Alternative Treatment of Breast Cancer

Quintão Amaral

Department of Agroecology and Agriculture, State University of Paraiba, Brazil.

Semirames do Nascimento Silva *

Academic Unit of Agricultural Sciences, Federal University of Campina Grande, Brazil.

Leonardo Afonso Pereira da Silva Filho

Academic Unit of Agricultural Sciences, Federal University of Campina Grande, Brazil.

Agdylannah Felix Vieira

Academic Unit of Agricultural Engineering, Federal University of Campina Grande, Brazil.

Luís Paulo Firmino Romão da Silva

Academic Unit of Agricultural Engineering, Federal University of Campina Grande, Brazil.

Mailson Gonçalves Gregório

Academic Unit of Agricultural Engineering, Federal University of Campina Grande, Brazil.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Breast cancer is the second most frequent type of cancer in the world and the most common among women and its incidence has been increasing over time. From the 70s of the last century, the use of alternative therapies became popular, with their adherence increasing annually, starting to be used by various groups, including cancer patients. Plants are one of the oldest forms that the population of various regions and cultures in the world uses as a palliative method and with a medicinal purpose for the treatment of various diseases, including cancer. The objective of this study was to identify the use of medicinal plants in the alternative treatment of breast cancer. The survey data were collected from February to March 2022, using a semi-structured questionnaire. The participation of women in the research stood out that of men. The age group of 31 to 40 years stood out from the others, the use of medicinal plants is common in 66.7% of the interviewees. About breast cancer, 31.5% reported that there are cases in the family, which are treated with radiotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery and allopathic medication. 85.2% who believe in treatment with the use of medicinal plants, the most cited plants were lemon balm, lemongrass and mint, chamomile, boldo and aloe, these are generally used by respondents. Aloe vera, soursop, basil and noni were cited as plants used to treat breast cancer. The leaves are the main part used by the interviewees, and the main form of use was infusion/tea, mentioned 45 times by the participants. After starting to use the plants, 85.7% stated that their symptoms had improved. As for the origin of knowledge about the use of medicinal plants, most claimed to have learned from their parents and grandparents. Medicinal herbs are mainly purchased at markets/fairs. For 61.1% of participants, medicinal plants do not pose health risks.

Keywords: Cancer, medicinal herbs, health, breast treatment, popular use

How to Cite

Amaral, Q., Silva, S. do N., Filho, L. A. P. da S., Vieira, A. F., Silva , L. P. F. R. da, & Gregório, M. G. (2023). Use of Medicinal Plants in the Alternative Treatment of Breast Cancer. Archives of Current Research International, 23(6), 11–21.


Download data is not yet available.


Stewart BW, Wild CP. World cancer report: 2014. 1st ed. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC); 2014.

Amorim R, Gomes DCV, Silva Filho JC, Leite GC, Rodrigues LAS, Severo WA, Lima Neto AS, Oliveira GHMX, Santos WB, Sousa IJO. Scientific evidence for the popular use of fruits and medicinal plants used by cancer patients in Piauí. Fitos Magazine. 2021;15(3):316-332.

Dell'antonio LR, Coelho CB, Souza CB, Sacramento HT, Zandonade E, Amorim MHC. Use of medicinal plants by women diagnosed with breast cancer in a rehabilitation program. Brazilian Journal of Research and Health. 2016;17(4): 85-97.

Raghavendran HRB, Rekha S, Shin JW, Kim HG, Wang JH, Park HJ. Effects of Korean ginseng root extract on cisplatin-induced emesis in a rat-pica model. Food Chem Toxicol. 2011;49(1):215-221.

Santana SR, Bianchini-Pontuschka R, Hurtado FB, Oliveira CA, Melo LPR, Santos GJ. Medicinal use of copaiba oil (Copaifera sp.) by elderly people in Presidente Médici, Rondônia, Brazil. Acta Agronomica. 2014;63(4):361-366.

Silva NCS, Vítor AM, Bessa HHS, Barros RMS. The use of medicinal plants and herbal medicines for health. Unique Academic Notebooks. 2017;3(1):1-5.

Martins MC, Garlet TMB. Developing and disseminating knowledge about medicinal plants. Electronic Magazine on Management, Education and Environmental Technology. 2016;20(1): 438-448.

Costa RS, Brasil TC, Santos CL, Santos DB, Barreto ML, Neves NMA, Figueiredo CA. Natural products used to treat asthma in children living in the city of Salvador-BA, Brazil. Brazilian Journal of Pharmacognosy. 2010;20(4):594-599.

Pio IDS. L, Lavor AL, Damasceno CMD, Menezes MN, Silva FS, Maia GLA. Traditional knowledge and uses of medicinal plants by the inhabitants of the islands of the São Francisco river, Brazil and preliminary analysis of Rhaphiodon echinus (Lamiaceae). Brazilian Journal of Biology. 2019;79(1):87-99.

Almeida AV, Câmara CAG, Marques EAT. Brazilian medicinal plants used by dr. João Ferreyra da Rosa in the “Constitution Pestilencial de Pernambuco” at the end of the 17th century. Biotemas. 2008;21(4):39-48.

Barbosa EC. Evaluation of the antiviral activity of plant extracts and fungi against dengue virus (Dissertation Master in Health Sciences), René Rachou Research Center, Belo Horizonte; 2015.

Albuquerque UP, Lucena RFP, Cunha LFC. Methods and techniques in ethnobiological and ethnoecological research. Recife: Nupeea; 2010.

Silva OB, Rocha DM, Pereira N. Traditional knowledge and the use of medicinal plants by residents of the Padre Ezequiel settlement in Mirante da Serra - RO, Brazil. Biodiversity. 2020;19(1):77-96.

Nobre CJS. Ethnobotany of medicinal plants in Biology teaching: a public school contribution towards the recovery of popular knowledge. 2015. 79 f. Completion of course work (Graduation in Biology) – Federal University of Campina Grande, Patos; 2015.

Santos TAX, et al. Knowledge and use of medicinal plants by pharmacy students. Academic Vision. 2019;20(2):17-27.

Inumaru E, Silveira EA, Naves MM. Risk and protective factors for breast cancer: a systematic review. Public Health Notebooks. 2011;27(7):1259-1270.

Nascimento BP, Machado TJS, Aragão KS. Analysis of the use of herbal medicines and medicinal plants by patients with breast cancer. Biohealth. 2019;21(1):17-24.

Cardoso BS, Amaral CS. The use of phytotherapy during pregnancy: a global overview. Science & Collective Health. 2019;24(4):1439-1450.

Roriz CL, Barros L, Carvalho AM, Santos BC, Ferreira IC. Pterospartum tridentatum, Gomphrena globosa and Cymbopogon citratus: A phytochemical study focusing on antioxidant compounds. Food Research International. 2014;(62):684-693.

Oliveira CCA, Santos JS. Active compounds of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus): a review. Research, Society and Development. 2021;10(12): e263101220281.

Lucena BFF, et al. Evaluation of the antibacterial activity and modulator of aminoglycosides of the essential oil of Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf. Acta biol. Colombia. 2015;20(01):39-45.

Peixoto MI et al. Medicinal plants used by the elderly in the rural area of Fagundes - PB. International Congress on Human Aging. 2015;02,(01).

Available: 082015172304.pdf

Accessed on: 13 Feb. 2022.

Nunes MGS, Bernardino AO, Martins RD. Use of medicinal plants by people with hypertension. Renee Magazine. 2015;16(6):775-81.

Neto IRS, Alves MGL, Martins MTCS. Use of medicinal plants by groups of elderly and young people in the municipality of Parari - PB. Scientific Academic Journal. 2015;07(1):1-15.

Ribeiro DA, Macêdo DG, Oliveira LGS, Saraiva ME, Oliveira SF, Souza MMA, Menezes IRA. Therapeutic potential and use of medicinal plants in an area of Caatinga in the state of Ceará, northeastern Brazil. Brazilian Journal of Medicinal Plants. 2014;16(4):912-930.

Ozsoy N. Candoken E, Akev N. Implications for degenerative disorders - Antioxidative activity, total phenols, flavonoids, ascorbic acid, β-carotene and α-tocopherol in Aloe vera. Oxid Med Cell Long. 2009;2,(2):99-106.

Toliopoulos I, Simos Y, Verginadis I, Oikonomidis S, Karkabounas S. NK cell stimulation by administration of vitamin C and Aloe vera juice in vitro and in vivo: A pilot study. J Herbal Med. 2012;2:29- 33.

Silva LM, Nepomuceno JC. Modulating effect of soursop pulp (Annona muricata L.) on the carcinogenicity of mitomycin C, evaluated by means of the test for detection of tumor clones (warts) in Drosophila melanogaster. Rev Núcleo Interd Pesq Ext Unipam. 2011;1(8):80- 94.

Matoso LML, Melo CCR, Menezes LMDCS, Oliveira LE, Oliveira KKD. The characteristics and use of noni (Morinda citrifolia L.). Ciên Desenv Rev Eletr Fainor. 2013;6(1):43-50.

Palioto GF, Silva CFG, Mendes MP, Almeida Rocha CLMSC. Proximate composition, bioactive compounds and antioxidant activity of Morinda citrifolia Linn (noni) fruits cultivated in Paraná. Rev Bras Pl Med. 2015;17(1):59-66.

Brito MFM, Marin EA, Cruz DD. Medicinal plants in rural settlements in a protected area on the coast of northeastern Brazil. Environment & Society Magazine. 2017;20,(1):83-104.

Freitas AL, et al. Diversity and uses of medicinal plants in backyards of the community of São João da Várzea in Mossoró, RN. Brazilian Journal of Medicinal Plants. 2015;17(4):845-56.

Bortoluzzi MM, Schmitt V, Mazur CE. Herbal effects of medicinal plants on anxiety: a brief review. Research, Society and Development. 2020;9(1):1-13.

Lima LL, et al. The practice of phytotherapy based on popular knowledge in three communities in Valentina, João Pessoa – Paraíba. Journal of Health Sciences. 2013;11,(3):20-31.

Campos PSS, Correia R, Marisco G. Medicinal plants used by quilombolas during pregnancy and lactation, and risks of indiscriminate use. Context & Health Magazine. 2020;20(40):236- 243.

Ferreira L, Godoy AG. Importance of the study and use of medicinal plants in the Morro das Pedras agroecological living center, Belo Horizonte, MG. Magazine “Post in Magazine”. 2016;1(12): 103-11.

Feijó AM, et al. Medicinal plants used by elderly people diagnosed with Diabetes mellitus to treat the symptoms of the disease. Brazilian Journal of Medicinal Plants. 2012;14(1):50-56.

Balestrin JT, et al. Use of medicinal plants in a rural community in the municipality of Sertão, North of Rio Grande do Sul. Brazilian Journal of Development. 2020;6(11):84391-84405.

Neri GF, et al. Use of medicinal plants in the family health units of alto sobradinho and cocão in the municipality of santo antônio de jesus-BA. Essays and Science: C. Biological, Agricultural and Health. 2018;22(1):58- 62.