Many people are convinced that the earth’s many natural resources could hold the key to fighting cancer. An estimated 9 million people worldwide died of cancer in 2015 and twice as many individuals diagnosed, therefore the need for a safe and effective treatment has never been greater.
Researchers from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), recently examined 52 herbal remedy plants that are local to Saudi Arabia. These researchers want to test if any of them had the potential to help in fighting against cancer. The researchers have identified 3 plants that show anti-cancer properties and deserve further studies.
The study involved the created cell-based phenotypic profiles of the plants bu using imaging-based, high-content screening to determine their anti-cancer activity.
The 3 plants that showed a lot of potential were Citrullus colocynthis, Anastatica hierochuntica and Juniperus phoenicea. All of these contain potent anti-cancer substances called topoisomerase inhibitors, that could potentially be used to develop anti-cancer inhibitors.
But, it could take some time before some of these active compounds can be properly tested and be used in clinical treatments. Below is a closer look at each one of the plants:
1. Anastatica Hierochuntica
This plant is also known as the Resurrection plant, the rose of Jericho, or Kaff Maryam. It is very common in the Arabian and Sahara deserts.
In Middle Eastern societies, it is often taken as an herbal tea. Although folk medicine praise its use in pregnancy, there are some apprehension about it inducing labor.
2. Citrullus Colocynthis
This plant, which is also known by these names bitter cucumber or Hanzal, is a vine that are native to desert areas in Asia and the Mediterranean Basin. It is popular in Nigeria, where it is called Egusi and has long been used for medicinal purposes against diabetes, viruses and malaria.
The ancient Ebers Papyrus scrolls showed that the ancient Egyptians used this herb as a treatment for rheumatism and swelling.
3. Juniperus Phoenicea
This small and conical shrub is native to the coastal Mediterranean, Saudi Arabia, Sinai and the Canary Islands. It is also known as Arar or Phoenician juniper, and is related to the Juniperus communis plant, whose essential oils have been known for their beneficial tannins and antioxidants. Juniper berries have been used to treat bladder and urinary problems and inflammation.
Natural Cures Tha Remain Undiscovered?
There are various plants growing across the planet, whose potential benefits remain unexplored. Saudi Arabia is just one potential source, where, as the researchers in the KAUST study point out, many of the plants being used in traditional medicine have not been studied by the scientists.
Also, in the Amazon rainforest, which is home to one of earth’s biggest and most diverse ecosystems, 3 new previously unknown organisms are being discovered daily on average, and many of these benefits have yet to be uncovered.
But, most of these valuable resources such as the Amazon are being rapidly destroyed by human activities and deforestation, possibly eliminating powerful cures to many of the health issues facing modern human health.