This African shrub shows remarkable anticancer potential

Cancer is a disease that strikes fear in a person’s heart, and for good reason. In 2018, the World Health Organization attributed more than 9.6 million deaths to this disease, making it the second leading cause of mortality in the world. While conventional treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and hormone therapy exist, these tend to do more harm than good. Undergoing these treatments can lead to adverse side effects like bleeding, poor memory, higher risk of infections, pain, hair loss, sleep problems, and infertility —  a consequence that comes from the inability of therapies used to differentiate between cancerous cells and healthy ones.

This — combined with the increasing number of people with cancer — shows that there is an urgent need for alternative cancer remedies. This could come in the form of medicinal plants, which have long been used in the treatment of various diseases. A study by researchers from the University of Pretoria in South Africa showed that lavender croton (Croton gratissimus) has potential use as a natural remedy for cancer.

Lavender croton belongs to the Croton genus of plants, which are found in different parts of the world. Other members of this genus include forest fever-berry (Croton sylvaticus) and small lavender croton (Croton pseudopulchellus). Different Croton species are widely used in traditional medicine as natural remedies for cancer, constipation, diabetes, digestive problems, dysentery, external wounds, parasitic infections, and diseases associated with oxidative stress and inflammation.

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In this study, which was published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the researchers evaluated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of forest fever-berry, small lavender croton, and lavender croton. These are important properties for potential cancer treatments since oxidative stress has been associated with chronic inflammation, which in turn leads to chronic diseases like cancer. The researchers also determined if the plants exhibited selective cytotoxicity by testing them against four cancer cell lines (A549, Caco-2, HeLa, and MCF-7) and non-cancerous African green monkey kidney cells.

The results of these in vitro experiments revealed that lavender croton has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, this Croton species exhibited selective cytotoxicity against cancer cells. This was unlike forest fever-berry and small lavender croton, which worked against both healthy and cancerous cells.

From these results, the researchers concluded that lavender croton has potential use as a natural remedy for cancer. This is because of its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, as well as its selective cytotoxicity. With further studies, it can be used as a safer alternative for conventional cancer therapies that also act against healthy cells. (Related: Chemotherapy revealed as toxic poison for every living cell in the human body: Mitochondrial dysfunction warning from researchers.)

Natural remedies for cancer

There are many natural cancer remedies to consider before choosing to undergo harmful conventional therapies. Some examples of these include the following:

  • Astragalus — Recent studies have shown that this herb, which is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine, has promising results against cancer and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). It is believed to work by boosting the immune system and helping it identify rogue cells.
  • Turmeric — Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin that’s known for its potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities. However, studies have shown that it also has the ability to shrink tumors and prevent their growth.
  • Feverfew — A study from the University of Rochester in New York revealed that feverfew has the ability to kill leukemia cells. In fact, it was shown to be more effective than the anticancer drug cytarabine.
  • Cat’s claw — Taking this adaptogenic herb can help reduce tumor size, especially in people with skin cancer. To get the most out of cat’s claw, try taking it alongside astragalus and turmeric.

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