Medicinal plants against esophageal cancer?

Three herbs growing only in Mauritius inhibit the cell division of tumor cells

These three plants growing only on Mauritius could provide a cure for esophageal cancer © FEFU
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Natural Remedies: Three plants growing only on the island of Mauritius could act against esophageal cancer - one of the most aggressive cancers ever. The extracts of these herbs stop the cell division of esophageal cancer and thus inhibit tumor growth, as experiments in cell cultures showed. If this effect is also confirmed in the living organism, this could pave the way to new remedies for this aggressive cancer, as the researchers explain.

Nature's pharmacy has helped our ancestors stay healthy and cure illnesses. But even today researchers are discovering new, potent active ingredients in plants, fungi, bacteria and even certain clays. Many of these potential natural remedies may prove to be promising allies, especially in the fight against aggressive cancers.

Esophageal cancer hardly curable

Three promising plant remedies have now been discovered by researchers led by Alexander Kagansky from the Federal University of the Far East in Vladivostok. These are herbs that only occur on the island of Mauritius. "Around a third of the plants here are used in traditional healing arts, " says Kagansky. "But so far most of them lack the scientific evidence for their therapeutic potential."

The researchers have now sought under these natural remedies targeted for plant active ingredients against one of the most aggressive cancers: the esophageal cancer. The two forms of this type of cancer, squamous cell and adenocarcinoma, together are the sixth leading cause of death in cancer patients. Fewer than 15 percent of patients survive the first five years after diagnosis. One of the reasons: So far, there are no specific chemotherapeutic agents for this cancer and the broadband therapies are hardly effective.

For their study, the researchers prepared extracts from five plant species endemic to Mauritius and tested their effect on cell cultures of both forms of esophageal cancer. display

Energy saving mode stops cell division

The result: Three of the five plant extracts proved effective. These included the milkweed Acalypha integrifolia, the myrtle family Eugenia tinifolia and the pomegranate plant Labourdonnaisia ​​glauca. They inhibited the proliferation of cancer cells, stopped their growth and led to the death of the tumor cells, as the researchers report.

Further analyzes showed that the plant extracts act on the so-called AMPK signaling pathway. This enzyme complex regulates the energy metabolism of cells and stops cell division when energy shortage threatens. Activation of this signaling pathway is therefore considered a promising starting point for tumor-inhibiting therapies. In the experiment, the cell division of the cancer cells remained quasi "stuck".

Endangered resources of nature

As promising as these first tests are, however, further studies have yet to show whether this inhibition of cancer growth also works in the living organism and how compatible these plant remedies are. However, the researchers are confident that "future studies of these leaf extracts could lead to prototypes of anti-esophageal and other deadly diseases, " says Kagansky.

However, the plants from which the promising extracts originate are in acute danger. They occur only in Mauritius and there their habitat disappears due to human land consumption. "Any other five-star hotel, any bank building or new gold square could end their existence forever, " warns the researcher. Accordingly important is the protection of such species-rich treasure chambers of nature. (Acta Naturae, 2019)

Source: Far Eastern Federal University

- Nadja Podbregar