Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Herbal medicine

"An ancient Chinese folk medicine that's effective against malaria also might be a potent cancer-fighting candidate, scientists at the University of Washington say" (Hill). "A derivative of the sweet wormwood plant used since ancient times to fight malaria and shown to precisely target and kill cancer cells may someday aid in stopping breast cancer before it gets a toehold" (Harril). "Artemisia annua...has shown favorable...results" against "breast cancer and prostate cancer" (Artemisinin).

"The substance, artemisinin, appeared to prevent the onset of breast cancer in rats that had been given a cancer-causing agent." Artemisinin is "selectively toxic to cancer cells" (Harril). "The compound appears to be extremely" harmful "to cancer cells but had little impact on normal cells," according to the researchers (Hill).

"The properties that make artemisinin an effective antimalarial agent also appear responsible for its anti-cancer clout. When artemisinin comes into contact with iron, a chemical reaction ensues that spawns free radicals -- highly reactive chemicals that, when formed inside a cell, attack the cell membrane and other structures, killing the cell...The malaria parasite can't eliminate iron in the blood cells it eats, and stores it. Artemisinin makes that stored iron toxic to the parasite...The same appears to be true for cancer. Because they multiply so rapidly, most cancer cells have a high rate of iron uptake. Their surfaces have large numbers of receptors, which transport iron into the cells. That appears to allow the artemisinin to selectively target and kill the cancer cells, based on their higher iron content" (Harril). "In addition," artemisinin has already "been shown to be safe" in humans, as is evident in malaria patients who have taken the drug (Hill). Artemisnin may provide an alternative for harsh chemotherapy in some cancer cases.

“Artemisinin Herbal Extract Cures Malaria, Breast Cancer and Leukemia”. Associated Content. 29 March 2009.

Harril, Rob. “Malaria drug may help prevent breast cancer, study shows”. University Week. Jan. 12, 2006

Hill, Richard. The Oregonian, 28 Nov 2001 p C12.

Koresby Online. Artemisinin Annua. (Photo)

1 comment:

  1. a truly informative read, and to think this has been used in china for how long? amazing.