Sun's soup is a packaged food product made by Sun Farm Corporation (Milford, Connecticut) that contains vegetables and herbs. The soup's ingredients are said to possess anticancer and immune-building properties. Named for its creator, the biochemist Alexander Sun, Ph.D., who began work on the soup formula during the 1980s, it is also known as Dr. Sun's soup. Two versions are available: freeze-dried and frozen. It may be ordered online and by phone.
According to a National Cancer Institute report, the original soup formula contained shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes), mung bean (Phaseolus aureus), and the Chinese herbs Bai Hua She She Cao (Hedyotis diffusa) and Ban Zhi Lian (Scutellaria barbata). The Institute report also included two other Sun Farm products, Selected Vegetables (SV) and Frozen Selected Vegetables (FSV), which are believed to contain:
- soybean (Glycine max)
- shiitake mushroom
- mung bean
- red date (Ziziphus zizyphus)
- scallion (Allium cepa)
- garlic (Allium tuberosum)
- leek (Allium porrum)
- lentil (seed of the Lens esculenta plant)
- hawthorn fruit (Crataegus pinnatifida fructus)
- onion (Allium x proliferum)
- ginseng (Panax ginseng)
- angelica root (Dahurica)
- licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
- dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale)
- senega root (Polygala senega)
- ginger (Zingiber officinale)
- olive (Bucida spinosa)
- sesame seed (Sesamum indicum)
- parsley (Petroselinum sativum or crispum).
When Alexander Sun's mother was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer, the Taiwanese biochemist began studying the research about treatments for her condition. According to an article on the Sun Farm Web site, Sun's mother underwent surgery to remove a tumor. During treatment that included chemotherapy, a new tumor was discovered. Sun then began researching traditional Chinese medicine, looking for herbal remedies that would help boost his mother's immune system and cause her tumor to shrink.
Based on his studies of Chinese medical textbooks, Sun developed an herb-and-vegeta ble soup, which his mother ate daily. According to the article, her condition was improved three months later, and doctors removed the remaining tumor. Sun's mother was reported to be cancer-free 13 years later, according to a citation in "Selected Vegetables/Sun's soup," a 13-page summary from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.
In 1992, Sun filed a patent application for his soup product, described as an "herbal treatment of malignancy." He received the patent three years later, and conducted clinical trials involving cancer patients who consumed the soup. Sun classified his product as a dietary supplement. In the United States, dietary supplements are categorized as foods rather than drugs. Companies planning to market new drugs must have their products evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The federal agency must approve the new drug before it is sold to the public as a medical treatment. No pre-market evaluation and approval is required for dietary supplements. However, the FDA may remove a supplement from the market if the product is determined to be unsafe.
As of 2004, Sun's soup is marketed as a food. The National Cancer Institute report noted that the FDA had not approved any formulation of Sun's soup for the treatment of cancer or any other medical condition. Clinical trials have been conducted on the soup, and the Sun Farm Web site contains references to those studies.
The National Cancer Institute report provided more in-depth analysis of two studies. The Institute cited research findings that Dr. Sun published in 1999 and 2001. While Sun's research indicated "improved survival" of cancer patients who consumed the soup, the Institute pointed out that only 18 people participated in the trials. That small number was among the "major weaknesses" of the research, according to the report. The Institute noted that different soup formulas were used in the studies, making it difficult to compare results.
Some of the known ingredients in Sun's soup may be effective as anticancer agents. The National Cancer Institute report described the potential benefits and uses of some ingredients in the various formulas of the herbal vegetable soup:
- Shiitake mushrooms are known to contain anticancer substances including lentinan.
- Mung bean may have an anticancer effect.
- Bai Hua She She Cao is a Chinese herb used to boost the immune system. It may have an anticancer effect.
- Ban Zhi Lian (barbat skullcap) may have an anticancer effect.
- Red date is the fruit of the jujube plant. It has been used to treat medical problems in some cultures.
- Hawthorn fruit is the fruit of the hawthorn tree or bush. It has been used to treat conditions such as heart and gastrointestinal disorders.
- Ginseng may have an anticancer effect.
- Angelica root is the root of the angelica herb. It is used to treat gastrointestinal conditions such as gas, appetite loss, and feelings of fullness.
- Senega root is the root of the Polygala senega herb. It is used to treat respiratory difficulties and other conditions.
The original Sun's soup was prepared by adding it to hot water or another soup. The package contents may also be served on a salad.
The Sun Farm Web site lists daily recommended dosages for the supplement. For the freeze-dried product, the dosage is two 0.7-oz (20-g) pouches. The frozen soup is sold in 10-oz (0.3 kg) containers. The recommended dosage is one container per day.
A diet rich in vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer. However, the FDA has not approved Sun's soup formula as a cancer treatment as of 2004, and the soup is marketed as a food product. On the Sun Farm Web site, the business has a disclaimer regarding any medical effect of its products. While the site contains information about clinical trials, Internet visitors are advised to check with their doctors regarding their medical condition.
The National Cancer Institute report concluded that there was little evidence that Sun's soup is effective as a cancer treatment. The Institute maintained that data are "limited" and "weak." The report called for larger, better-designed clinical studies to determine if the soup could be used to treat cancers, such as non-small cell lung cancer.
Sun's soup is said to be expensive, costing as much as hundreds of dollars per month, according to a 2001 report on the Cancer Guide Web site. The Sun Farm Web site in 2004 listed no prices for online ordering.
According to the National Cancer Institute report, consumption of Sun's soup did not cause any adverse side effects. Some people reported feelings of fullness or bloating after consuming the soup.
There are no published reports of drug interactions from consuming Sun's soup.
American Cancer Society. [cited April 30, 2004]. <http://www.cancer.org>.
Dunn, Steve. "Sun Soup." October 7, 2001. Cancer Guide [cited April 30, 2004.<http://wwww.cancerguide.org/sun_soup.html>.
Dupach, Etieune, Jr. "Cure for Cancer in a Bowl of Soup?" March 6,2000. [cited April 30, 2004]. <http://www.sunfarmcorp.com/title-miami.htm>.
National Cancer Institute. (800) 4-CANCER. "Selected Vegetables/Sun's soup." July 24, 2003. [cited April 30, 2004]. <http://www.nci.nhi.gov/cancerinfo/pdq/cam/vegetablessun-soup>.
Sun Farm Corporation. [cited April 30, 2004]. <http://www.sunfarmcorp.com>.