(NaturalNews) A new study published in PLOS ONE on July 11, 2013, examined the anti-cancer properties of Gynura procumbens - particularly against breast cancer. Additionally, a study published in May of 2013 in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology studied the plant's effect on blood pressure.
Gynura procumbens is a well-known traditional herb in Southeast Asia, commonly used in Thai folk medicine to treat topical inflammation, rheumatism, and viral ailments, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, among other ailments.1 It is sometimes referred to as "longevity spinach."
The researchers in this study were particularly interested in the protein SN-F11/12 derived from the G. procumbens plant. This particular study focused on the effect these plant proteins had on breast cancer cells. The researchers concluded that, "The active protein fraction, SN-F11/12, was found to inhibit the growth of a breast cancer cell line, MDA-MB-231, at an EC50 value of 3.8 µg/mL."2 In other words, the proteins were able to inhibit 50 percent of the growth of the cancer cells at a concentration of 3.8 µg/mL. The study does propose that oral consumption of the protein will not result in the desired bioactivity, as it will be absorbed by the digestive system. They also submit that a protein-based drug will induce an immune reaction. And they state that "a good drug delivery system needs to be devised for its possible intended usage as a chemotherapy drug."2
This plant was also shown to have positive effects on the cardiovascular system; reducing blood pressure by blocking calcium channels and inhibiting the angiotensin-converting enzyme activity. This effect is also accomplished by the plant's activation of the release of nitric oxide (a natural dilator of blood vessels) and prostaglandins that dilate blood vessels and inhibit platelet aggregation.3 These effects can be extremely important for persons with hypertension or other cardiovascular risk factors.
This research suggests the isolated proteins have the potential to be used as a chemotherapeutic medication. It is not clear if these results are applicable to other types of cancer cells. It is not suggested, in the studies mentioned, whether use of the whole plant would have anti-cancer or blood-pressure lowering effects.
This plant may be eaten fresh like a salad, cooked with other vegetables, juiced, or consumed as a cup of tea.4 An alternative method that has been suggested is to chew 3-5 washed, mature leaves until the leaves turn into a thick paste, which is swallowed, and followed by water.5 As mentioned previously, these proteins that have been studied are not expected to be extremely bioactive with oral consumption. Oral consumption of whole G. procumbens is not well-researched.
1. Iskander MN, Song Y, Coupar IM, Jiratchariyakul W. Antiinflammatory screening of the medicinal plant Gynura procumbens. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2002 Fall;57(3-4):233-44.
2. Hew CS, Khoo BY, Gam LH. The Anti-Cancer Property of Proteins Extracted from Gynura procumbens (Lour.) Merr. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(7):e68524.
3. Poh TF, Ng HK, Hoe SZ, Lam SK. Gynura procumbens causes vasodilation by inhibiting angiotensin II and enhancing bradykinin actions. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2013;61(5):378-84