In the United States, nearly 1 in 3 people will develop cancer at some point in their life. The world has been fighting against cancer for over sixty years, and it often seems that we are no closer to a cure than when we started. Traditional cancer treatments are not nearly as effective as we would want them to be. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy do just as much harm to healthy cells as they do to cancer cells since the treatment does not differentiate. Blood cells are damaged because they have low resistance against chemo. Studies have also found that chemotherapy can actually increase tumor growth and make cancer worse. Alternative treatments are usually met with skepticism due to the lack of interest and funding in natural compounds, but that may change as new studies and information come to light. Pao pereira and Rauwolfia vomitoria are covered extensively in Winning the War on Cancer, and in light of those two natural compounds, it is essential to seek out more natural treatments in our search for a cancer cure.
A derivative of the Chinese herb, wormwood, was found to have a selective effect on cancer cells. Artemisinin can kill 12,000 cancer cells for every healthy cell in the body. Researcher at the University of Washington synthesized the artemisinin in a complex with transferrin. The destabilized cancer cells recognized the transferrin as a normal protein so they took in the complex. When the cells multiplied transferrin triggered release of iron which activated the attached artemisinin. According to this study, artemisinin can effectively target cancer cells while leaving healthy blood cells alone. So far, human trials have not been conducted, even after a study on animals in 2015 proved efficacy. Research found that there was also no development of drug resistance, something that has been noted in current treatments. Artemisinin has been used as an antimalaria drug in China and has some known side effects. This, however, does not explain the lack of clinical trials when such success had been made during research trials.
Another Chinese herb has shown signs of reducing side effects of chemotherapy. It is also thought, though not studied nearly enough, that it may also help in the prevention of cancer. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center states that more clinical trials need to be completed. Research has shown that Astragalus is beneficial when combined with traditional cancer treatments, particularly in lung cancer. It was shown that not only were the side effects of chemo lessened, but tumors were not nearly as numerous or large in size. Apparently combining Astragalus with the traditional chemotherapy treatment made the drugs more effective overall. Other uses for the herb have also been studied, though more research needs to be done in order to verify its effectiveness.
Pao pereira and Rauwolfia vomitoria
Mirko Beljanski identified two different plant extracts that could help with finding a cancer cure. The first of them was Rauwolfia vomitoria, which was being used to treat hypertension due to the effect of reserpine, though it did not come without a fair share of risky side effects. Beljanski perfected a version of the extract which isolated the secondary alkaloid present called Alstonine. This extract was found to have low toxicity and a selective effect on destabilized cells. It was eventually used to detect cancer cells and has applications for preoperative and postoperative diagnoses.
The second extract to be studied was, Pao pereira. Pao pereira is a tree native to South America, where it grows in abundance. For years, the bark of the tree has been used in traditional medicine and research dates back to the 1800s. It was shown to have antimalarial effects and used widely in Brazil. Beljanski was the first to investigate the use of Pao pereira as an anticancer agent. He published research describing the efficiency and selectivity of the extract on cancer cells. While the initially isolated Geissospermine was found to be toxic, Beljanski found that isolating the alkaloid Flavopereirine had the opposite effect. The fact that it is non-toxic and does not harm healthy cells was one of the most important findings. It has shown to selectively target and kill cancer cells, reduces inflammation and has antiviral properties.
Increase in Research Studies
The Beljanski Foundation has made the most advances in the research of the Pao pereira and Rauwolfia vomitoria extracts, in particular due to the longevity of the studies conducted. Some cancer research even states that there is no real evidence that natural compounds can do much more than reduce side effects. However, the truth of the matter is that conducting research into natural compounds means moving away from the synthetic compounds that have generated so much wealth.
Due to science’s inability to create a synthetic drug which can kill cancer without toxicity, more and more of the medical community is looking into natural solutions. A research review compiled medicinal plants that have possible anticancer properties. Among them, there is Birch which is said to be effective against prostate cancer, Yew for breast and lung cancer treatments, and Periwinkle which has shown results against several different cancers. Another survey compiled a number of other plant extracts which also have potential. The Achillea plant has been shown to be cytotoxic to colon cancer cells. The Allium Sativum plant has been shown to reduce the risk of various cancers. The more research goes into studying natural treatments, the more information will become available.
Winning the War on Cancer
The use of plant extracts against cancer needs to become mainstream. Much of the scientific and medical communities continue to maintain that such treatments constitute “alternative medicine”. However, they do assert that not enough research goes into alternatives to current cancer treatments. What is needed by the medical community isn’t opposition to alternative treatments, but more work identifying integrative medicine that is beneficial to patients. The important thing is finding a cancer cure, not defending science that may be doing more harm than good in the long run. Otherwise, we are not really working to find a cure. We will always be trying to prevent its reoccurrence.