SOME ANTICANCER MEDICINAL PLANTS OF FOREIGN
1Department of Zoology and Biotechnology,
Model Science College, Jabalpur 482 001, India
2Rinder Pest (A.H./Veterinary Department, Government of Madhya Pradesh),
Jabalpur Division, Jabalpur 482 001, India
An attempt has been made to review some medicinal plants used for the prevention and treatment of cancer in foreign countries. Information on the botanical names of plants with family names, parts used and their main active components, and original/native place of these plants have been collected from the literature.
This article considers 62 medicinal plants of foreign origin. These plants belong to 40 families, and their different parts (root, stem, bark, corm, bulb, leaf, fruit and seed) or the whole plants/herbs are used. The extracts or decoctions of these are generally used. The medicinal plants contain several phytochemicals such as vitamins (A, C, E, K), carotenoids,
terpenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, alkaloids, tannins, saponins, enzymes, minerals, etc.
These phytochemicals possess antioxidant activities, which prevent or can be used in the treatment of many diseases, including cancer. Herbal drugs are also known to have good immunomodulatory properties. These act by stimulating
both non-specific and specific immunity. Keywords. Anticancer medicinal plants, cancer, foreign
CANCER is the abnormal growth of cells in our bodies that can lead to death. Cancer cells usually invade and destroy normal cells. These cells are born due to imbalance in the body and by correcting this imbalance, the cancer may be treated. Billions of dollars have been spent on cancer research and yet we do not understand exactly what cancer is1. Every year, millions of people are diagnosed with cancer, leading to death. According to the American Cancer Society2, deaths arising from cancer constitute 2–3% of the annual deaths recorded worldwide. Thus cancer kills about 3500 million people annually all over the world. Several chemo preventive agents are used to treat cancer, but they cause toxicity that prevents
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in
. The major causes of cancer are smoking, dietary imbalances, hormones and chronic infections leading to chronic inflammation4. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women worldwide1,5. Amongst South African women, breast cancer is likely to develop in one out of every 31 women in the country5. America
. Cancers affecting the digestive tract are among the most common of all the cancers associated India
with aging. About one out of every 14 men and women in
is diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer at some America
time in his/her life. Because of high death rate associated with cancer and because of the serious side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, many cancer patients seek alternative and/or complementary methods of treatment.
The important preventive methods for most of the cancers include dietary changes, stopping the use of tobacco products,
treating inflammatory diseases effectively, and taking nutritional supplements that aid immune functions. Recent researches revolve round the urgency to evolve suitable chemotherapy consistent with new discoveries in cell biology for the treatment of cancer with no toxic effect. Chemotherapy, being a major treatment modality used for the control of advanced stages of malignancies and as a prophylactic against possible metastasis, exhibits severe toxicity on normal tissues7,8. Plants have been used for treating various diseases of human beings and animals since time immemorial.
They maintain the health and vitality of individuals, and also cure diseases, includingcancer without causing toxicity. More than 50% of all modern drugs in clinical use are of natural products, many of which have the ability to control cancer cells9.
According to the estimates of the WHO, more than 80% of people in developing countries depend on traditional medicine for their primary health needs. A recent survey shows that more than 60% of cancer patients use vitamins or herbs as therapy10,11. Over the past decade, herbal medicines have been accepted universally, and they have an impact on both world health and international trade. Hence, medicinal plants continue to play an important role in the healthcare system
of a large number of the world’s population12. Traditional medicine is widely used in
. Even in India , use USA
780 CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 96, NO. 6, 25 MARCH 2009 of plants and phytomedicines has increased dramatically in the last two decades. A National Centre for Complementary and Alteranative Medicine has been established in
. The herbal products have been classified under ‘dietary supplements’ and are included with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and ‘other products intended to supplement the diet’13. Use of plants as a medicinal remedy is an integral part of the South African cultural life14. USA
It is estimated that 27 million South Africans use herbal medicines from more than 1020 plant species5,15. In fact, there are several medicinal plants all over the world, including
, which are being used traditionally for the prevention and treatment of cancer. However, only few medicinal plants have attracted the interest of scientists to investigate the remedy for neoplasm (tumor or cancer). Hence, an attempt has been made to review some medicinal plants used for the prevention and treatment of cancer in foreign countries. India
ANTICANCER MEDICINAL PLANTS OF FOREIGN ORIGIN
Data on 62 medicinal plants of foreign origin have been collected from the literatures16–36 (Table 1). These plants are used against various types of tumors/cancers such as sarcoma, lymphoma, carcinoma and leukemia. Many of these medicinal plants have been found effective in experimental and clinical cases of cancers. Table 1 contains the botanical names of the medicinal plants (alphabetically) along with their family names, parts used and main active components, and origin/native place. Medicinal plants possess immunomodulatory and antioxidant properties, leading to anticancer activities. They are known to have versatile immunomodulatory activity by stimulating both non-specific and specific immunity8,37.
Plants contain several phytochemicals, which possess strong antioxidant activities. The antioxidants may prevent and cure cancer and other diseases by protecting the cells from damage caused by ‘free radicals’ – the highly reactive oxygen compounds. Thus consuming a diet rich in antioxidant plant foods (e.g. fruits and vegetables) will provide a milieu of phytochemicals, nonnutritive substances in plants that possess health protective effects. Many naturally occurring substances present in the human diet have been identified as potential chemo preventive agents; and consuming relatively
large amounts of vegetables and fruits can prevent the development of cancer2,38. Compared with meat eaters most, but not all studies have found that vegetarians are less likely to be diagnosed with cancer.
Vegetarians have also been shown to have stronger immune function, possibly explaining why they may be partially protected against cancer10,39. Many plant-derived products have been reported to exhibit potent antitumor activity
against several rodent and human cancer cell lines40. Phytochemicals such as vitamins (A, C, E, K), carotenoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, alkaloids, tannins, saponins, pigments, enzymes and minerals have been found to elicit antioxidant activities3,41,42. Ellagic acid and a whole range of flavonoids, carotenoids and terpenoids present in Fragaria versa (strawberries) and Rubus idaeus (raspberries) have been reported to be responsible for antioxidant activity. These chemicals block various hormone actions and metabolic pathways that are associated with the development of cancer27,28. Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) contains substantial amounts of carnosol and ursolic acid, the potent antioxidants that
possess antitumour activity34. Quercetin is the major flavones in the Western diet. Rich sources of quercetin are red and yellow onions, kale, broccoli, red grapes, cherries, French beans, apples and cereals.
Quercetin possesses both anticarcinogenic activity and the ability to inhibit LDL oxidation29,43. A whole variety of phenolic compounds, in addition to flavonoids, are widely distributed in grains, fruits, vegetables and herbs. Phenolic compounds
such as caffeic, ellagic and ferulic acids, sesamol and vanillin have been reported to exhibit antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic activities and inhibit atherosclerosis29,44.
Some medicinal plants (Table 1) have been found effective in various types of malignant (cancer) and benign tumors of humans and experimental animals. These include: Agrimonia pilosa17–22 in sarcoma-180; Ailanthus altissima16–22 in intestinal cancer, sarcoma-180, sarcoma- 37 and leukaemia-16; Akebia quinata17–22 in sarcoma-180 and sarcoma-37; Chelidonium jajus var. asiaticum16 in stomach cancer; Chimaphila umbellate16 in breast tumour; Coix lachryma jobi17–22 in ascites cancer and Yoshida’s sarcoma; Fritillaria thunbergii16 in tumours of the throat, chest, neck and breast; Larrea tridentate16 in various cancers, especially leukaemia; Lonicera japonica16–22 in ascites carcinoma and sarcoma-180; Nidus
vespae17–22 in gastric and liver cancers; Oldenlandia diffusa17– 22 in leukaemia, Yoshida’s sarcoma, sarcoma-180
and Ehrlich’s ascites sarcoma; Patrinia heterophylla and P. scabiosaefolia17–22 in ascites cancer; Phaleria macrocarpa32
in oesophageal cancer; Polygonum cuspidatum17– 22 in sarcoma-180; Pteris multifida17–22 in sarcoma-180, sarcoma-37 and Yoshida’s sarcoma; Pygeum africanum16 in prostate cancer; Pyrus malus33 in lung, colon, breast and intestinal cancers; Scutellaria barbata16–22 in sarcoma- 180 and Ehrlich’s ascites carcinoma; Smilax chinensis and S. glabra16–22 in sarcoma-180 and ascitessarcoma; Solanum lyrati17–22 in sarcoma-180, sarcoma-37, Ehrlich ascites carcinoma and stomach cancer; Sophora flavescens and S. subprostrata16–22 in sarcoma-180, leukaemia and cervical cancer-14 cells; Taraxacum mongolicum16– 22 in ascites cancer, sarcoma-180 and lung cancer cells, and Vitex rotundifolia36 in lung tumour.
Medicinal plants maintain the health and vitality of individuals,and also cure various diseases, including cancer.
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Table 1. Anticancer medicinal plants of foreign origin Botanical name of plant with family name Parts used and their main active components Origin/native place Agave
americana Agavaceae Leaf contains steroidal saponin, alkaloid, coumarin, isoflavonoid, Central America hecogenin and vitamins (A, B, C) Agropyron repens Poaceae Rhizome contains essential oil, polysaccharide and mucilage Europe
Agrimonia pilosa Rosaceae Herb contains agrimonolide, flavonoid, triterpene, tannin and coumarin
China, , Japan Korea, Ailanthus altissima Simaroubaceae Bark contains triterpene, tannin, saponin and quercetin-3-glucoside India China, Akebia quinata Lardizabalaceae Fruit contains flavonoid and saponin Korea China, Japan, Alpinia galanga Zinziberaceae Rhizome contains kaempferide and flavone Korea Europe
Aristolochia contorta Aristolochiaceae Root and fruit contain lysicamine and oxaaporphine
China, Aster tataricus Asteraceae Whole plant and root contain triterpene, monoterpene and epifriedelanol Korea Japan, Broyonia dioica Root contains cucurbitacin and glycoside Korea Europe Cannabis sativa Cannabinaceae Leaf contains stereo isomers of cannabitriol Chelidonium jajus var. asiaticum Herb contains alkaloids (sanguinarine, chelerythrine, berberine) Asia, South Africa Europe Papaveraceae Chimaphila umbellate Ericaceae Whole plant contains ericolin, arbutin, urson and tannin Asia, Europe Coix lachryma jobi Poaceae Seed contains trans-ferulyl stigmasterol Dryopteris crassirhizoma Polypodiaceae Rhizome contains filicinic and filicic acids, aspidinol and aspidin China China, Japan, Echinops setifer Asteraceae . Korea
Whole plant contains echinopsine
Erythronium americanum Liliaceae Whole plant contains alpha-methylenebutyrolactone Korea North America Euonymus alatus Celastraceae Whole plant contains triterpene, euolatin, steroid and sesquiterpene China, Japan, alkaloid Eupatorium cannabinum Asteraceae Whole plant contains sesquiterpene, lactone, pyrrolizidine alkaloid Europe, Korea Asia, and flavonoid North America Fragaria vesca Rosaceae Leaf and fruit contain flavonoid, tannin, borneol and ellagic acid Asia, Europe Fritillaria thunbergii Liliaceae Whole plant contains alkaloid and peimine China, Siberia Galium aparine Rubiaceae Cleaver contains iridoid, polyphenolic acid, tannin, anthraquinone Europe, Africa, and flavonoid Hydrastis canadensis Ranunculaceae Whole plant contains isoquinoline alkaloids (hydrastine, berberine, Australia Canada, berberastine, candaline), resin and lactone Hypoxis argentea Hypoxidaceae Corm South United States Africa Junchus effuses Juncaceae Whole plant contains tridecanone, effusol, juncanol, phenylpropanoid China, Japan, and a-tocopherol Knowltonia capensis Ranunculaceae Leaf South Korea Africa Lantana camara Verbenaceae Whole plant contains alkaloids (camerine, isocamerine, micranine, Tropical America lantanine, lantadene) Larrea tridentate Zygophyllaceae Whole plant contains resin Southwestern USA,
Potentilla chinensis Rolsaaceae Whole plant contains gallic acid and tannin
China, Japan, Pteris multifida Whole plant Korea China
Pygeum africanum Boraginaceae Bark contains phytosterol, triterpene and tannin
Africa Pyrus malus Rosaceae Bark and fruit contain quercetin, catechin, flavonoid, coumaric and gallic acids, phloridzin and procyanidin Rhus chinensis Anacardiaceae Leaf contains tannin, apigenin and glycoside; seed contains Britain China, Japan, bruceosides (A, B), brucein D and fatty oil Rosmarinus officinalis Lamiaceae Whole plant contains volatile oil, borneal, carnosol, ursolic acid, diterpene, Korea South Europe rosmaricine, flavonoid and tannin Rubia akane Rubiaceae Whole plant contains anthraquinone and triterpene Japan, (Contd …) Korea
782 CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 96, NO. 6, 25 MARCH 2009
Table 1. (Contd …)
Botanical name of plant with family name Parts used and their main active components Origin/native place Rubus idaeus Rosaceae Leaf contains flavonoid and tannin; fruit contains vitamins (A, B, C) Asia,
Europe and ellagic acid Scilla natalensis Hyacinthaceae Bulb South Africa Scrophularia nodosa Scrophulariaceae Aerial part contains iridoid, flavonoid and phenolic acid Europe Scutellaria barbata Lamiaceae Whole plant Smilax chinensis Liliaceae Rhizome contains tannin, saponins and flavonoid China China, Smilax glabra Liliaceae Rhizome Japan Solanum aculeastrum Solanaceae Root bark, leaf and fruit China Solanum lyrati Solanaceae Whole plant. South Africa China
Sophora flavescens Fabaceae Root
Sophora subprostrata Fabaceae Root China Tabebuia spp. Bignoniaceae Bark contains quinine, bioflavonoid and co-enzyme Q South America Taraxacum mongolicum Asteraceae Whole plant China China, , Korea Thuja occidentalis Cupressaceae Whole plant contains flavonoid, tannin, volatile oil and mucilage Mongolia Northeastern USA, Europe Thymus vulgaris Lamiaceae Whole plant contains volatile oil, flavonoid and tannin South Europe Trifolium pratense Fabaceae Flower contains glucosides (trifolin, trifolitin, trifolianol), flavonoid and Asia, Europe, phenolic acid Africa, Tulbaghia violacea Alliaceae Bulb South Australia Africa Vitex rotundifolia Verbenaceae Whole plant contains camphene, pinene and diterpene China, Japan, without causing toxicity. In this review, some anticancer medicinal plants of foreign origin have been presented. Korea
These medicinal plants possess good immunodeficiency and antioxidant properties, leading to anticancer activities. The antioxidant phytochemicals protect the cells from oxidative damage. Thus, consuming a diet rich in antioxidant plant foods (e.g. fruits and vegetables) will provide health-protective effects. In conclusion, this article provides the knowledge about anticancer medicinal plants of foreign origin, which are used by the people all over the world. Also, it is of significance to exploit novel anticancer drugs from these medicinal plants.
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Received 30 July 2007; revised accepted 29 January 2009