I love combing through studies. I recently stumbled across one that addresses an herbal extract and the prevention of a disease that has hit within my family, colon cancer. My mother dealt with colon cancer in the late 1990’s. She was one of the lucky ones, only needing a bowel resection and mild chemotherapy. She was vehemently adamant about finding a team of doctors that were open enough to work with her daughter the herbalist (me), and her daughter’s mentors. It’s been almost 17 years now, and although my mother has had her ups and downs, she is going strong and passes for much younger than 78 (my dad, too, does not appear 80).
What’s this new info, you wonder?
A study published in 2014 in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, has shown that Willow Bark extract may have anti-cancer properties.
Willow bark extracts have long been used in traditional herbal medicines for their pain relieving and pain blocking properties. Two researchers decided to further investigate the ethanolic extract of bark from the Salix aegyptiaca. This is a species of willow indiginous to the Middle East. The tree’s high anitoxidant activity and flavonoid content made it a target for further investigatory research.
Earlier research indicated that EEB (ethanolic extract of the bark) “…reduced cell proliferation via apoptosis and cell cycle arrest via the inhibition of phosphatidyl inositol 3-kinase/Protein kinase B and mitogation activated protein kinases signaling pathways as strongly as commercial inhibitors.”
In normal person jargon, that means that an extract of willow bark, made in ethanol (100 proof alcohol, like vodka), reduces the spread of cancer cells because the cancer cells were dying off. Apoptosis is the process in which a cell pretty much kills itself, whether that be by exploding or shriveling up or some other means. They also say that the extract seems to stop the enzyme process that keeps the cell proliferation going (kinases are a special kind of enzymes). So, the extract may be a dual acting substance that keeps the cells contained and kills them off, where they stand.
The study, presented in 2014, showed the “…robust inhibition of anchorage-independent growth, motility, migration, and adhesion of certain colon cancer cell lines (HCT-116 and HT-29) by EEB. [Also, it seemed] to disrupt the protein processes associated with the epithelial to mesenchymal transition.” This is when the regular cells kind of morph into those crazy, invasive cells that can invade the happy, normal tissues in the area. “This is a critical step in the progrssion of noninvasive tumor cells into malignant, metstatic cancinomas.” Therefor the researchers promote the use of EEB consumption for its health promoting benefits. And they refer to it as a potent neutriceutical.
Check out the study for yourself. Click on the link below. Every day we are reminded of the greatness of what is already around us. If only we took the time to appreciate the answers at our finger tips.
Nutr Cancer, 2014;66(6):999-1008. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2014.936949
Enayat S, Banerjee S. Dept of biology, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey