Three herbs show potential for treating liver cancer

Recently, more attention has been focused on the use of natural products for cancer therapeutics. One study conducted by researchers from the United Arab Emirates University and the University of Sharjah revealed that fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), senna (Cassia acutifolia), and harmal (Rhazya stricta), have potential use for the treatment of liver cancer. These findings, which were published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, were based on the results of in vitro experiments.

  • Antioxidants reduce cancer risk by neutralizing free radicals that can damage DNA, proteins, and cell membranes. By protecting against free radicals, these compounds also prevent abnormal cell division and mutagenesis that cause cancer.
  • Live cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death. Conventional treatments for liver cancer include hepatectomy and chemotherapy, but plants are now being tapped for their anticancer properties.
  • Fenugreek, senna, and harmal are commonly used as traditional medicines in the United Arab Emirates.
  • Locals used fenugreek to remedy flatulence and cancer while senna acts as a laxative. They used harmal as a treatment for diabetes, sore throat, and inflammatory conditions like rheumatism.
  • In this study, the researchers looked at the antioxidant activity of extracts from these three herbs, and evaluated their anticancer properties against liver cancer cells.
  • The authors also assessed the total phenol and flavonoid content of the extracts.

The results of the study showed that fenugreek, senna, and harmal have potent antioxidant activities, which can be attributed to the presence of various polyphenolic compounds. The researchers also observed that the three plants were able to kill cancer cells and prevent them from migrating. Among the three plants, harmal exhibited the strongest antioxidant and anticancer activities. Overall, these results are promising for liver cancer therapeutics.

Read the full text of the study at this link.

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Journal Reference:

Al-Dabbagh B, Elhaty IA, Hrout AAA, Sakkaf RA, El-Awady R, Ashraf SS, Amin A. ANTIOXIDANT AND ANTICANCER ACTIVITIES OF TRIGONELLA FOENUM-GRAECUM, CASSIA ACUTIFOLIA AND RHAZYA STRICTA. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 22 August 2018;18(240). DOI:10.1186/s12906-018-2285-7

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