Last week I attended a symposium, given by a friend and her colleagues, where the anti-cancer and anti-snake venom properties of a plant were presented.
It was a 3 year multidisciplinary study and very thorough. Different parts of the plant were used:- roots, leaves, stems etc and their component compounds were extracted, identified and separated. Then they tested their effect on cancer cells of different types (breast, lung, prostate) and compared the effect to currently used cancer treatments.
From the one plant, a number of different compounds were identified, many having a marked therapeutic use in killing off cancer cells (not all for the same type of cancer though). More importantly, where the standard chemotherapy treatments advertently kill healthy cells, the plant extracts did not harm the healthy cells but selectively killed the cancer cells (also reduced the damage caused by snake venom in a separate study).
What struck me very strongly, was that, laying undiscovered is a vast medicine chest locked into the vegetation of the earth, waiting for us to find. Like gold and silver that are hidden in the mountain sides, natural cures to diseases are contained in the earth’s plant life.
Pharmaceutical companies seldom pay attention to this vast undiscovered region, preferring their own rather inferior synthesised solutions which in the case of cancer treatments often produce horrible and sometimes fatal side effects as in killing the cancer cells they also kill the healthy. It’s often a lottery as to which will die first, the cancer or the patient.
It would be a wonderful investment for future generations to set-up a research institute to step up research in this area. Anecdotal evidence is a good starting point. There are multitudes of plants used for centuries by tribal cultures for certain ailments, here in the Philippines, in the Amazon basin and other areas of the world rich in plant life. As the researchers at the symposium acknowledged, God is the greatest chemist, it’s all there for us to discover if we will make the journey with Him.