Australian Rainforest Herbs and Cancer
Researchers have confirmed that three some rainforest herbs protect human cells against cancer and inhibit cancer growth among human cells.
Australian rainforest herbs tested
The research comes from Australia’s University of New South Wales. The researchers investigated three native Australian herbs: the Tasmannia pepper leaf (Tasmannia lanceolata), Anise myrtle (Syzygium anisatum), and the Lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora). The researchers also tested these against a reference herb, the Bay leaf (Laurus nobilis).
The researchers applied whole extracts of the four herbs to cancerous human liver cells, cancerous human colon cells, cancerous human bladder cells, stomach cancer cells and human leukemia cells. The researchers then measured the proliferation of these cancer cells compared to the proliferation of similar cancer cells without the herbal extracts.
The researchers found that all three rainforest herbs significantly induced death among the liver cancer cells, the colon cancer cells, the stomach cancer cells and the bladder cancer cells.
In addition to their cancer cell-killing abilities, all three rainforest herbs were found to have superior antioxidant abilities. This allows them to help protect cells against the kind of oxidative radical damage that can produce the initial genetic damage that produces cancerous cells in the first place.
How do these herbs protect against cancer?
The mechanisms used by the three medicinal herbs to inhibit cancer growth includes genetic changes – changes that promote the death of cancer cells. Flow cytometry testing – measuring cell characteristics – found that the herbs altered the DNA of the leukemia and colon cancer cells, stimulating the increase of caspase-3 enzyme activity. The caspase-3 enzyme activity prompts the cell’s kill switch, killing off the cancer cells before they continue to proliferate. Decreased activity of the gene-regulator caspase proteins has been identified as one of the reasons cancerous cells proliferate into tumors.
Which of the rainforest herbs work?
The Tasmanian pepper tree grows among the rainforests of Australia. It contains a significant amount of chlorogenic acid – also a component of green coffee beans. Recent research has shown chlorogenic acid can reduce glucose absorption and thus may have application for diabetes and even possibly weight loss. The leaves and berries of the plant are popular as spices, and it is used to flavor Japanese wasabi. The spice has been shown to prevent spoilage due to its antimicrobial content.
The Syzygium anisatum or Australian aniseed tree is differentiated from the true anise shrub. The tree can grow to over 100 feet tall, and bear white fragrant flowers. The myrtle aniseed tree contains antimicrobial anethole and methyl chavicol biochemicals, which also smell like licorice.
The Backhousia citriodora bush also grows in the rainforests of Australia. The crushed leaves have a strong lemon fragrance, and they contain a biochemical called citral – also known as the mosquito repellent citronella. Backhousia citriodora can contain up to 98% citral – the most of any other plant. The plant also contains geraniol and other constituents.
All three rainforest herbs have been used traditionally by Australians for a variety of infective and inflammatory disorders.
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