Herbal tonic does not inhibit estrogen receptor negative mammary tumor development in a transgenic mouse model

L. Michelle Bennett, Jennifer L. Montgomery, N. Keith Collins, Seth M. Steinberg, Kristen S. Kulp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer often self-administer complementary and alternative medicines to augment their conventional treatments, improve health, or prevent recurrence. Flor-Essence® herbal tonic is a complex mixture of eight herbal extracts used by cancer patients because of anecdotal evidence that it can treat or prevent disease. In this study four experimental groups of female MMTV-Neu mice were left untreated or treated with 3% Flor-Essence® in utero, from birth until 5 weeks of age, or throughout their lifetime. Palpable mammary tumor incidence and body weight was determined weekly for each group. The mice were sacrificed at 28 weeks of age and mammary tumors were enumerated to determine average tumor incidence and multiplicity for each group. Female mice exposed to Flor-Essence® herbal tonic in utero weighed significantly more than the control group (p < 0.001). The average tumor incidence and tumor multiplicity in the experimental mice treated with Flor-Essence® herbal tonic did not differ from the control animals. Flor-Essence® does not inhibit mammary tumor incidence or mammary tumor multiplicity in MMTV-Neu transgenic mice. Flor-Essence® exposure in utero causes increased body weight in experimental animals. This conclusion challenges widely available anecdotal information as well as the hopes of the consumer that this product will inhibit or suppress tumor development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number21
JournalJournal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • complementary and alternative medicine
  • dietary supplement
  • Essiac
  • herbal tonic
  • mammary tumors
  • MMTV-Neu
  • mouse
  • transgenic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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