Increasing knowledge on the hallmark characteristics of cancer and tumor pharmacology
has promoted the introduction of phytochemicals, such as traditional Chinese
medicine (TCM) in cancer therapy, which modulate numerous molecular targets and exert anticancer
activities. β-elemene, an active and non-toxic compound isolated from the Chinese
medicinal herb Rhizoma Zedoariae, has been explored as a potent anti-cancer agent against
multiple cancers in extensive clinical trials and experimental research in vivo and in vitro.
β-elemene exerts therapeutic potential via modulation of core hallmark capabilities of cancer by
suppressing proliferative signaling, such as MAPK and PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway, inducing cell
death, up-regulating growth suppressors, deactivating invasion and metastasis and interacting
replicative immortality and attenuating angiogenesis. Recent studies have significantly improved
our understanding of anti-cancer activities and underlying molecular mechanisms of this
Chinese medicine. This review presents these novel findings regarding the unique properties of
β-elemene as an agent for cancer treatment, with an emphasis on multi-targeting biological and molecular regulation.