Burdock Herb Inhibits Cancer, Boosts Memory

burdock helps memory
Burdock herb boosts memory

New research has revealed that a central constituent of the traditional herb Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa L.) blocks cancer growth and boosts cognition and memory.

What a combination.

Greater Burdock is a traditional medicine

Greater Burdock seeds and roots have been utilized as a blood purification agent and for skin conditions in Chinese, Japanese and Korean traditional medicines. The root has also been part of herbal combinations for boosting immunity and even fighting colds and influenza.

Greater Burdock – Niu Bang Zi in Chinese Medicine – has been used for many centuries for medicinal and nutritional benefits. The roots and seeds are typically used, as they contain numerous medicinal compounds known to be anti-inflammatory. Thus Greater Burdock is often used for lung infections and skin infections. It mucilage content is soothing to mucosal membranes while its arctigenin, arctiin aglycone, sulfur and acetylene compounds have been shown to be anti-viral and anti-inflammatory.

Burdock is also part of the Essiac anti-cancer tea formula.

Burdock and liver cancer

Research from China and Japan has confirmed that Burdock and its constituents block the growth of cancer. In a 2018 study, researchers from China tested two human liver cancer cell lines with Burdock. The research tested HepG2 and Hep3B cancer cell lines – taken from human tumors. The researchers also tested the burdock extracts with animal cancer cases.

The researchers found that a constituent in Burdock called arctigenin halts the proliveration of cancer. It also prevents the migration of cancer cells to other parts of the body.

In addition, the researchers found that the burdock extract halted the formation of tumors for the HepG2 cancer lines. The researchers stated:

“In the present study, we showed that arctigenin efficiently inhibited HCC growth, invasion, and metastasis in vitro. Arctigenin also decreased the levels of gankyrin in HepG2 and Hep3B cell lines. As gankyrin is overexpressed in human liver cancers…”

Prostate cancer inhibited by arctigenin

In a 2017 study from UCLA’s David Gefen School of Medicine, the burdock compound arctigenin was tested against human prostate cancer cell lines, LNCaP and LAPC-4. The researchers found that the arctigenin produced a genetic change in the cells that inhibited the proliferation of the cancer.

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The researchers also tested the compound with cancer mice and found the compound inhibited tumor growth by as much as 70 percent. Other tests showed the compound prevented the growth of prostate cancer cells by 75 percent.

burdock leaves
Burdock leaves are large and broad.

The researchers noted that the combination of studies provided “high promise in its translation to human application.”

Lung cancer and burdock

The research, from Japan’s Kagoshima University and University of the Ryukyus, tested the constituent called Arctigenin from Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa L.) on lung cancer cells. Because Arctigenin has been shown in other recent cancer studies to be a potent anti-cancer constituent, the researchers delved into the mechanisms of its ability to knock down lung cancer cells.

The researchers exposed Arctigenin to human lung adenocarcinoma cells in the laboratory, and measured and analyzed its ability to produce cell death – apoptosis – among the cancer cells.

The study found that Arctigenin knocks out cancer cells with two simultaneous processes. The first is by inhibiting the cancer cells’ production of particular proteins (NPAT proteins) – which effectively cripples the cancer’s ability to reproduce.

Then Arctigenin performs a double-whammy by knocking out the cancer cell through its effect on the cell’s intracellular glutathione metabolism – effectively weakening the cancer cell from the inside.

This ‘smart’ approach of this herbal constituent to cancer cells is typical among so many herbal medicines, that change cellular processes within the body to effect improved health and metabolism.

Breast cancer and Burdock

In a 2017 study from the School of Medicine from South Korea’s Dongguk University, researchers tested the burdock extract against human breast cancer cells lines.

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Once against, the researchers found that the arctigenin compound significantly inhibited the metastasis of the cancer cells. They called the effect “anti-metastatic effects.”

Comparing Burdock’s anti-cancer activity

This study confirms another study done by researchers at Kagoshima University. This research tested 364 herbal extracts for anti-cancer activity and found that Greater Burdock’s Arctigenin had one of the highest levels among the other herbs.

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The researchers found that Arctigenin killed human lung cancer cells, human liver cancer cells and human stomach cancer cells. The researchers wrote:

“In conclusion, this study found that arctigenin was one of cancer specific phytochemicals, and in part responsible for the tumor selective cytotoxicity of the herbal medicine.”

Burdock boosts memory

As if this weren’t enough, other research has established that Greater burdock significantly boosts cognition and memory

In a study from China’s Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, researchers tested arctigenin on memory deficits related to Alzheimer’s disease. The scientists found that the burdock compound suppressed the production of the beta-amyloid protein that is known to occur in Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from South Korea’s Kyung Hee University conducted memory and brain and nerve cell testing using Arctium lappa L. – Greater Burdock – in the laboratory. The researchers found that Greater Burdock extract produced from 62-73% reductions in memory deficits while improving functional activity memory and cognition significantly.

They found that the mechanism of Burdock extract was due to its two central constituents, arctigenin and arctiin, blocking acetylcholinesterase. When acetylcholinesterase is blocked among the brain and nervous system cells, it allows better transmission between nerve/brain cells, because acetylcholinesterase degrades acetylcholine – a critical neurotransmitter.

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In other words, when acetylcholinesterase is blocked, more acetylcholine is available to nerve and brain cells, which improves brain/nerve cell transmissions.

Scientific References

Sun Y, Tan YJ, Lu ZZ, Li BB, Sun CH, Li T, Zhao LL, Liu Z, Zhang GM, Yao JC, Li J. Arctigenin Inhibits Liver Cancer Tumorigenesis by Inhibiting Gankyrin Expression via C/EBPα and PPARα. Front Pharmacol. 2018 Mar 27;9:268. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2018.00268.

Wang P, Solorzano W, Diaz T, Magyar CE, Henning SM, Vadgama JV. Arctigenin inhibits prostate tumor cell growth in vitro and in vivo. Clin Nutr Exp. 2017 Jun;13:1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.yclnex.2017.04.001.

Maxwell T, Chun SY, Lee KS, Kim S, Nam KS. The anti-metastatic effects of the phytoestrogen arctigenin on human breast cancer cell lines regardless of the status of ER expression. Int J Oncol. 2017 Feb;50(2):727-735. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2016.3825.

Susanti S, Iwasaki H, Inafuku M, Taira N, Oku H. Mechanism of arctigenin-mediated specific cytotoxicity against human lung adenocarcinoma cell lines. Phytomedicine. 2013 Sep 7. doi:pii: S0944-7113(13)00285-7.

Susanti S, Iwasaki H, Itokazu Y, Nago M, Taira N, Saitoh S, Oku H. Tumor specific cytotoxicity of arctigenin isolated from herbal plant Arctium lappa L. J Nat Med. 2012 Oct;66(4):614-21. doi: 10.1007/s11418-012-0628-0.

Lee IA, Joh EH, Kim DH. Arctigenin isolated from the seeds of Arctium lappa ameliorates memory deficits in mice. Planta Med. 2011 Sep;77(13):1525-7.

Zhu Z, Yan J, Jiang W, Yao XG, Chen J, Chen L, Li C, Hu L, Jiang H, Shen X. Arctigenin effectively ameliorates memory impairment in Alzheimer’s disease model
mice targeting both β-amyloid production and clearance. J Neurosci. 2013 Aug 7;33(32):13138-49.

Hayashi K, Narutaki K, Nagaoka Y, Hayashi T, Uesato S. Therapeutic effect of arctiin and arctigenin in immunocompetent and immunocompromised mice infected with influenza A virus. Biol Pharm Bull. 2010;33(7):1199-205.

Zhao F, Wang L, Liu K. In vitro anti-inflammatory effects of arctigenin, a lignan from Arctium lappa L., through inhibition on iNOS pathway. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Apr 21;122(3):457-62. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2009.01.038.

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