herbs may help prevent cancer

HCC is one of the most common tumors associated with a high mortality rate. Liver cancer is caused by many risk factors, such as persistent and chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus or hepatitis B virus, chronic untreated inflammation of the liver, as well as oxidative stress and fatty liver disease.

Several treatment protocols, such as chemotherapy and surgical excision, are used in the treatment of HCC, but they are associated with a variety of side effects. While many natural products can help treat and prevent HCC infections or liver cancer.

In this context, a study prepared by a team of Egyptian researchers stated that some types of medicinal herbs can help prevent liver cancer. Because they contain antioxidants, in addition to other substances and elements that help to counter the accumulation of "free cracks", which are one of the causes of cancer. Examples of these herbs are: green tea, red grapes, broccoli, vinegar, star anise, nigella, and licorice.

The study, published in Pharmacotherapy and Biomedicine, stated that “these herbs can be potential sources for preventing and treating liver cancer, by enhancing the effect of chemotherapy drugs, inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and malignancies, and combating stress. Oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. "

Nabil Mohy Abdel Hamid - professor of biology and former dean of Kafr El-Sheikh pharmacy, and head of the research team - says in statements to "science": "There are many treatment methods that are used to treat liver cancer, such as surgical resection, chemotherapy and embolization (vasoconstriction). Intentionally to starve the tumor cells), but these methods have side effects, in addition to the ability of cancer cells to develop resistance to chemotherapy.

He explains: So, in our study, we relied on closing the risk factor in the pathways of cancer development, which is a critical strategy for disease prevention and management. Knowing each of the cell pathways is useful in understanding the development of cancer, its prevention and treatment, by maintaining the balance of cell reproduction and death, especially since the imbalance between the two processes is the cause of all tumors.

To cut off the road to carcinogenesis, the researchers reviewed 204 papers, dealing with the effect of herbs and their components on hepatocytes, especially those with cancer or at risk of infection, with the aim of studying the role of herbal substances in facing HCC.

Abdel Hamid says: “The liver is the main pillar of the body because it is responsible for fighting toxins, and these toxins include everything that a person eats, and the body does not translate it into substances similar to its composition. If an imbalance occurs in the liver and it does not understand that these substances entering it are toxic, then this means That the cell will be affected.

If the factors contributing to cancer, such as infection with the "C" or "B" virus or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, combine, the chances of cell carcinogenesis increase dramatically, according to "Abdul Hamid."

The study indicates that the use of some herbal plants contributes to blocking the way to carcinogenesis of the cell, and helps to increase the body's resistance to oxidation, treatment of viruses and non-carcinogenicity of the hepatocyte in which there are inhibitory and activated cells, which are the cells in which any decrease or increase leads to the occurrence of carcinogenesis. The increase in the area of ​​fatty tissue leads to the activation of the inflammatory material and the increase of the tumor corrosion factor.

The researchers studied 12 types of plants that contain antioxidants and elements capable of "sensitizing the cancer cell" and improving its response to chemotherapy and radiation, noting that "these plants play a vital role in regulating cellular proliferation and differentiation."

12 herbs may help prevent liver cancer

Green tea

At the forefront of these plants is "green tea", which is widely used in China to prevent liver disease. Because it contains polyphenols, which are among the most effective and widespread antioxidants; It provides the body with light and chemical protection and protects it from the influence of ultraviolet rays that help the emergence of cancerous diseases. Green tea also contains abundantly the compound "EGCG", a compound that also has antioxidant properties.

 According to the study, green tea was tested on a group of experimental mice with liver cancer. It showed great treatment capacity in cases of liver damage and resistance to infections and oxidation caused by inhalation of "CCl4", which is leaking from industrial facilities and its presence in the body can be measured through blood, urine and body tissue tests; The researchers went to the ability of green tea to effectively reduce oxidative stress in the liver.

Red grapes and turmeric

As for the compound "phytoalexin", extracted from red grapes, the study indicates that it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, explaining that "the use of herbal extracts of red grapes has a great role in the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, as it helped to resist lipomas and reduce lipomas. Inflammation, oxidative stress, and improved LDL pathways reduced lipid accumulation in the bodies of the experimental mice.

The study showed that "Berberine (a bitter yellow alkaline substance with anti-febrile and anti-bacterial benefits), is one of the most natural supplements found in grapes. It has anti-cancer activity in hepatocytes as it works to inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells. "Berberine helps to strengthen gene 53, which is responsible for regulating the cell cycle and fighting tumors," Abdel-Hamid comments.

Abdel Hamid says: “The turmeric plant contains a compound known as“ Xanthorrhizol ”, which is a compound that is distinguished by its biological, anti-microbial, inflammatory and oxidative activities, and it works selectively to prevent the growth of cancer cells in human liver cells through what is known as“ Apoptosis, which is one of the mechanisms of suppressing cell restraint as it grows, to prevent carcinogenesis.

Galangal and garlic

Among the most important plants studied by the researchers was the "galangal" plant, which is distinguished by its antimicrobial and cytotoxic properties. Because it contains compounds extracted from its roots that have a strong anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effect, especially cancers of the breast, lung, liver and neuroblastoma.

In a related context, the study indicated that "garlic" is one of the most important plants that can help prevent liver cancer. Because it contains "diallyl sulfide", explaining that the experiments conducted on mice showed its many benefits in the field of fighting liver cancer, and that it increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy when treating liver cancer by modifying cytokines.

Abdel Hamid adds that "cytokines stimulate cell movement and increase the activity of the immune system, which helps it to fight carcinogenesis. Therefore, knowing the percentage of secretion of cytokines and the activity of phagocytic cells helps us to estimate whether the immune system reaction is normal or excess, and thus determining Indicators of cancer occurrence. "

A previous study by the research team showed that "rhizome extract" - which is the stalk of the plant that grows horizontally underground - can be used as a promising chemical preventive agent against HCC, as it is an aid in treating liver cancer. It improves liver function and decreases alpha-fetoprotein concentrations in liver cancer.

It also proved to be very effective in protecting the liver tissue of the mice that underwent the experiment, and its roots prevented oxidative stress of cells. Because they contain vitamin "C", known for its antioxidant activity, it protects against oxidative stress resulting from toxins that are produced inside the body or from carbon tetrachloride.

Ginger and broccoli

The research focused on the roots of "ginger" as one of the prevalent herbal plants that is not only used as a "spice", but also for its anti-vomiting, anti-cancer, antioxidant and cell protection activity due to its chemical components documented by many studies in the laboratory and in vivo, including a study published in 2013, and other research Published in 2010, rats were given a daily dose of about 50 mg of ginger extract that contains anti-cancer components in affected liver cells by activating the process of "apoptosis".

In addition, the researchers explained that the "broccoli" plant is characterized by its high content of antioxidants, including vitamins, flavonoids and carotenoids, stressing that "the water product of broccoli" The seeds "is one of the most important antioxidants that stimulate the DNA and protect it from damage through its antioxidant activity That prevents the production of "free radicals".

Amal Al-Awadi, an assistant professor at the Horticultural Research Institute in Mansoura, who conducted a study of plants in 2016, said in statements to Al-Alam: “Broccoli has shown potential anti-cancer activity due to its high content of substances such as“ glucosinolates ”and“ sulforaphane ”. Both are natural antioxidant compounds, and they are powerful stimulants for the enzymes that expel toxins from the body, which reduce the risk of cancer. "

"The king of myrrh" and "the sheep"

The study also stressed the importance of the role played by the "king of myrrh" plant, which earned its name from being the most bitter herb in the botanical world, in fighting liver cancer cells, noting that it "belongs to a plant family of 25 species that are used in Japan, India, Korea and China." And some Asian countries for a long time in the treatment of multiple diseases, such as viral and bacterial infections and high blood pressure. "

She added, "The benefit of this plant is concentrated in the trees and stems. The ethanolic extract that was extracted from the plant showed a strong effect on resistance to liver cancer cells."

The study also confirmed the importance of the role that the "milk thistle" or "mustard" plant plays in fighting liver cancer cells, noting that it is a "spiny plant that belongs to the asterisks, and contains inside it a substance that resembles milk, and is native to the Mediterranean basin. This plant contains a substance." "Silymarin", which has beneficial effects in cases of liver diseases in general (such as hepatitis and fatty liver), in addition to cases of liver cancer.

Licorice, star anise and nigella

The study also dealt with the roots of "licorice", of which there are 12 species and grows in many parts of the world such as Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor, Central Asia and Europe.

The study indicates that licorice roots contain the compound "glycerysic", which "slows down the growth of cancer cells and stops the growth of tumors resulting from several cancers, including liver cancer."

In the same context, the study showed that the "Nigella sativa" plant is characterized by its anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and antioxidant substances. The "Nigella sativa" can prevent the initiation of swelling, and help regulate signaling pathways for cells, including the "gene 53" that inhibits tumors.

Star anise

As for the last herbal plant studied by the study, the "star anise" plant, indicating that it contains volatile compounds and flavonoids (a group of organic compounds that are soluble in water, and can inhibit the free radicals that destroy DNA), in addition to it contains many oils Basic, such as (anethole, alpha-pinene, vlandrin, farnesol, and safrole), all of which are antimicrobial, antioxidant and antifungal due to their cytotoxic activity.

The researchers concluded the need to increase the use of herbal plants in the face of the growing death rates from liver cancer (788 thousand deaths out of 8.8 million deaths due to cancer around the world in 2015) according to the statistics of the World Health Organization, and to include them in the food system in accordance with the principle of prevention is better. Of treatment, and used with therapeutic drugs to increase the body's immunity and limit the spread of cancer cells, as well as to use it after stopping the use of curative drugs as a preventive treatment to avoid the development of liver cancer and reduce its occurrence.

Scientific research criteria

For his part, "Muhammad Al-Qassas" - Professor and Head of the Department of Endemic Diseases in Helwan Medicine and President of the Egyptian Society of Liver Diseases - believes that scientific research standards must be applied about any research, even if it is related to natural herbs.

Al-Qassas said in statements to Al-Alam: “Scientific research criteria must be applied to any study, starting with laboratory experiments and ending with conducting them on healthy and sick volunteers, so that we can confirm the results of the study, and I am not against dealing with herbs. Medicines are only herbal extracts, but I ask for caution, so that we do not find ourselves in front of adverse consequences resulting from the use of a particular plant while treating a patient, and we must conduct more research on herbs that are characterized by antioxidants, to be a nucleus on which we build an integrated scientific research.

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