A plant used for centuries in traditional medicine in Asia and South America could prove to be a valuable ally in the fight against cancer. In an article published in the scientific journal Oncotarget, a group of researchers has shown how the sarsaparilla extract (Hemidesmus indicus) is able to kill cancer cells while activating the defense mechanisms of the immune system: a particular anti-tumor ability known as “immunogenic cell death” which had never been observed before in a product of natural origin.
Indian sarsaparilla is used in Ayurvedic medicine and by the indigenous people of Central and South America to treat different types of ailments. Traditional medicine recommends its use in the form of a decoction of its root and it has been used for centuries in different parts of the world. For this reason, its characteristics were scientifically analyzed in an investigation that immediately produced promising results.
In recent years, interesting discoveries have alread emerged with a series of articles that have shown that Hemidesmus indicus is able to protect cell DNA from potentially cancerous lesions. However, this new study takes an important step forward by highlighting how Indian sarsaparilla also has the ability to actively fight tumors.
One of the main problems in the fight against cancer is that the immune system is unable to recognize and eliminate cancer cells, which ends up limiting the effectiveness of traditional drug therapies. To overcome this obstacle, research then concentrated on a series of treatments capable of reawakening immune response, which in turn, however, does not directly affect cancer cells. These two different therapeutic directions could find common ground through the use of Hemidesmus indicus.
Its extract has a dual anti-tumor effect: on the one hand it is able to kill cancer cells and on the other it causes dying cells to be recognized by the immune system, thus causing a natural activation of our body’s defense mechanisms. It is a phenomenon known as immunogenic cell death, and Indian sarsaparilla is natural product capable of causing it.
The Hemidesmus indicus extract would therefore also stimulate the immune system, thus supporting the body’s response in fighting disease. Researchers have successfully tested its effectiveness on colon and rectal cancer cells.
A new hope for the fight against cancer? Let’s be cautiously optimistic, as these results are only a first step. But the data obtained so far seems particularly promising!