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A drug made from a plant known as “thunder god vine,” or lei gong teng, that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine, wiped out pancreatic tumors in mice, researchers said, and may soon be tested in humans.
Mice treated with the compound showed no signs of tumors after 40 days or after discontinuing the treatment, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center. The research, funded by the university and the National Institutes of Health. was published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
“This drug is just unbelievably potent in killing tumor cells,” said Ashok Saluja, vice chairman of research at the center and the study’s leader, said in a telephone interview. “You could see that every day you looked at those mice, the tumor was decreasing and decreasing, and then just gone.”
The plant, also known as Tripterygium wilfordii, contains triptolide, which earlier studies have shown can cause cancer cells to die. In traditional Chinese medicine, the plant is used as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. While the researchers hope to start human trials in six months, Saluja said it’s still a long leap from mice to people.
Plants produce thousands of specialized metabolites, many of which have medicinal uses. More than half of the top 150 prescribed drugs in the US have at least one compound derived from plants, and about 80% of the world's population depends on plants or plant extracts as a major source of healthcare. This lecture looks at the history of medicinal plants, herbal remedies in traditional and contemporary medicine, and ongoing efforts to identify novel medicinal compounds from plants. New approaches, such as metabolomics, metabolic engineering and systems and synthetic biology, are contributing towards the identification, characterization and production of plant-derived medicines.
Humans are frequently blamed for deforestation and the destruction of environments, yet there are also examples of peoples and cultures around the world that have learned to manage and conserve the precious resources around them. The Yanesha of the upper Peruvian Amazon and the Tibetans of the Himalayas are two groups of indigenous peoples carrying on traditional ways of life, even in the face of rapid environmental changes. Over the last 40 years, Dr. Jan Salick, senior curator and ethnobotanist with the William L. Brown Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden has worked with these two cultures.
She explains how their traditional knowledge and practices hold the key to conserving, managing and even creating new biodiversity in a paper released in the new text, "Biodiversity in Agriculture: Domestication, Evolution, and Sustainability," published by Cambridge University Press.
The Yanesha and Tibetans are dramatically different peoples living in radically dissimilar environments, but both cultures utilize and highly value plant biodiversity for their food, shelters, clothing and medicines.
"Both cultures use traditional knowledge to create, manage and conserve this biodiversity, and both are learning to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change," said Salick. "They have much to teach and to offer the world if we can successfully learn to integrate science and traditional knowledge.
Researchers found that the scent of peppermint can improve cognitive functions including reasoning, problem solving, attention span, and even memory.
For their research, the participants of this particular study chewed peppermint, cinnamon or cherry flavored gums. Flavorless gum and no gum was offered to control groups. All three flavored gums, including peppermint, increased working memory and visual-motor response.
In another aspect of the research, odors were looked at. Both peppermint and cinnamon scents were shown to improve memory test scores. These studies are interesting in that they don’t require you to ingest anything at all. Even if you don’t like the taste of mint, you can enjoy the benefits simply with the scent. Whether you purchase peppermint essential oils or grow the mint plant itself, try inhaling some of it before an important report is due or when you need a particularly great amount of focus.
Known as the ‘thunder god vine’ or lei gong teng, the Chinese plant is actually integrated into Chinese medicine and has been used for ages in remedying a number of conditions including rheumatoid arthritis.
According to the new research out of the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center, the thunder god plant compound led to no signs of tumors after a 40 day period...
With so many natural cancer cures, why are we still using chemo?
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