Petiveria alliciacea L. Plant

Herbal remedy may be effective against cancer

Source: Reuters News

Publish Date: 09/19/2002

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The roots and leaves of the Petiveria alliacea L. plant--long used as an herbal remedy for various medical conditions--may also have some anticancer properties, recent study findings suggest.

"The discovery of novel molecules in plants that have the ability to destroy or inactivate disease-causing microbes can often serve as templates for the creation of more potent and perhaps less toxic drugs," she added.

Native to the Amazon Rainforest, the Petiveria alliacea L. plant--commonly known as anamu--has been used extensively in South America both alone and in combination with other herbs to treat gastrointestinal inflammation, bacterial infections and some gastrointestinal and oral cancers, according to Musah.

She and her colleagues conducted the current study to determine if there was any scientific evidence to back up the plant's purported healing effects.

They found that of the 20 compounds present in the plant--several of which had never been identified in nature before--three were similar to compounds identified in garlic, a plant known to have certain medicinal properties. In fact, the anamu plant itself has an odor that is "very similar but different" to garlic, Musah said.

Further, laboratory experiments show that certain compounds in the anamu plant were able to differentiate between normal stomach cells and cancer cells, killing only cancerous stomach cells.

The next phase of Musah's research will be to investigate the plant's cardiovascular effects, she said. Since some of the molecules identified in garlic are known to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, it is suspected that their counterparts in the Petiveria alliacea L. plant may have the same effect.

The study findings were presented in Boston during the recent annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.

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