Morinda citrifolia, a.k.a. Noni is a green leafy plant commonly found in South-East Asia and Australasia. In Polynesian culture, it has been used for hundreds of years as a general tonic to a host of different ailments. Over the past decade, its usage has spread overseas and is now available to buy, most commonly as a form of tea.
Although it has begun to gain a low-level of global recognition, it has mainly remained an innocuous little plant. A study by the Institute of Bioscience at Universiti Putra, Malaysia could be about to turn Noni leaves into a household name. The results of the study provide evidence that the plant could be more effective than drugs in treating lung cancer.
Noni leaves as a cancer treatment
The experiment was split into two segments to give a fuller set of results. The first stage of the research was to test the effect of Noni leaves on the development of lung cancer. By injecting both human and mouse cell models with extracts of the leaf, the team was able to test the effects on both healthy and diseased cells.
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The report of the experiment read that the extract, ‘inhibited the proliferation and induced apoptosis [programmed cell death] in A549 cells (IC50 = 23.47 μg/mL) and mouse Lewis (LL2) lung carcinoma cells (IC50 = 5.50 μg/mL) in vitro, arrested cancer cell cycle at G0/G1 phases and significantly increased caspase-3/-8 without changing caspase-9 levels.’
Outside of scientific jargon, the results were consistent with the success rate you would expect from a potent chemotherapy drug, with one huge exception. Rather than damaging all cells in order to kill cancer cells, the Noni leaves were able to maintain or even strengthen healthy cells, which could increase the body’s ability to fight off the disease. The first set of results showed the potential for Noni leaves to be a non-toxic cancer treatment.
The second test was conducted on mice to test the effects on a living organism. Half of the mice used were fed 300 mg/kg of Noni leaves, and the other half were given 50 mg/kg of the commonly used chemotherapy drug Erlotinib for 21 days. The reason for the increased dosage of Noni leaves in comparison with Erlotinib is that 50% of rodents given a dosage of 1000mg/kg of Erlotinib die as a result of poisoning, compared with 0% of those given the same dosage of the plant.
At the end of the 21-day cycle, the results were conclusively positive about the use of using Noni leaves. The mice who had been treated with the herbal extract were found to have fewer cancer cells than those who had been treated with the drug. Simply put ‘the 300 mg/kg extract was more effective than the 50 mg/kg Erlotinib.’
The study, which was published in May of this year, has shown that this herbal remedy could be an answer to treating lung cancer without poisoning the patient. Although the results are only an initial and singular event the implications could be enormous. Importantly each dosage costs just $0.12 in comparison with the $220 for each round of Erlotinib. A small lesser-known plant from the volcanic slopes of South-East Asia could well prove to be the affordable and natural solution to treating cancer.
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