The same herb frequently eaten as salad in Asia has been shown to destroy cancer cells — without harming healthy tissue. Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) have created a compound based on traditional Chinese medicine that is 1,200 times more effective in killing malignant cells than chemotherapy drugs. Combined with iron, the herb selectively targets cancerous cells and has proven to be a powerful tool in combating the disease.
Standard chemotherapy is rife with side-effects and it destroys as many as one normal cell for every five cancer cells. The compound developed by Sasaki, senior author of the UW research study, is far more specific, killing 12,000 cancer cells for each healthy cell affected, which also minimizes adverse side-effects.
Sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua L.) has been used for over two millennia in traditional Chinese medicine from skin disorders to high blood pressure and malaria. The plant is rich in limonene (anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, antioxidant), B-pinene (antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, antioxidant) and quercetin (anti-inflammatory, supports immune function).
The presence of iron adds to the fighting power of the plant compound. Cancer cells need large amounts of iron to maintain rapid tumor growth. Cancer cells engulf the artemisinin-iron tag compound, and once inside the cell, the iron reacts with artemisinin to release poisonous molecules called free radicals. When enough of these free radicals accumulate, the cell dies.
Researchers are encouraged by the findings with some success in treating human breast and prostate cancers. And since artemisinin is already widely available, a compound to treat cancer could be manufactured inexpensively to help those who are ill in developing countries.
Source: Carolanne Wright, “Exceptional Botanical Kills 98% of Cancer Cells in Under 24 Hours.” Wake Up World. January 2, 2016, http://wakeup-world.com/2016/01/02/exceptional-botanical-kills-98-percent-of-cancer-cells-in-under-24-hours/
Student Researcher: Adaeze Iroka, San Francisco State University
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows, San Francisco State University