Image: This West African vegetable can be used to heal an impaired liver

(Natural News) Researchers continue to find alternative medicines in plants. One example is the West African vegetable called fluted pumpkin (Telfairia occidentalis) which can be used to treat a damaged liver, according to a study published in the Journal of Biomedical Sciences.

The liver is an important body organ because it plays an essential role in digesting food and eliminating toxic substances in the body. Damage to the liver can result in liver scarring, also known as liver cirrhosis, which can eventually lead to liver failure, which is life-threatening.

Researchers from Gregory University and PAMO University of Medical Sciences in Nigeria investigated the healing and protective effects of fluted pumpkin on liver health. In the study, they examined the effects of fluted pumpkin seeds on liver damage in mice.

The researchers administered carbon tetrachloride in mice to induce liver damage. Then, they gave the mice either 400 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of the chloroform extract of fluted pumpkin seed or 800 mg/kg chloroform extract of fluted pumpkin seed for two weeks.

The treatment with the chloroform extract of fluted pumpkin seed at the given dosages improved liver health. The fluted pumpkin seed extract healed the damaged liver of the mice. It also exhibited protective and preventive properties against further liver damage. The researchers suggested that the healing and protective effects of the fluted pumpkin seed extract may be attributed to its phytochemical contents, such as flavonoids, terpenes, and alkaloids. In addition, the fluted pumpkin seed extract was also considered safe to use as it did not cause any harmful or toxic effects even at high doses of its intake.

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Based on the results of the study, the researchers concluded that fluted pumpkin seed is a safe and effective alternative to prevent liver damage and to treat a damaged liver. (Related: DHA shown to reduce proteins involved in liver fibrosis; good news for the obese.)

Fluted pumpkin can also prevent cancer

Fluted pumpkin is not only good for the liver, but also for cancer prevention. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food Plants revealed that fluted pumpkin and other plants, such as African jointfir (Gnetum africanum), African basil (Ocimum gratissimum), and utazi (Ocimum gratissimum), can help prevent cancer. These plants are commonly consumed in Nigeria.

In the study, a research team from Covenant University in Nigeria screened the leaves of these plants for the presence of known potential chemopreventive agents.

Results of the screenings revealed that these African plants contain some known potential cancer-fighting agents, such as flavonoids, tannins, chalcones, anthocyanidins, phytosterols, chlorophyll, saponins, glycosides, and alkaloids.

Earlier studies have shown that phytosterols inhibit certain cancers in animals, while flavonoids, anthocyanidins, and chalcones are common phytochemicals with powerful beneficial effects. Moreover, saponins have been reported to contain therapeutic and chemopreventive effects, and tannins consumed in large amounts regularly are also effective in preventing certain cancers. Alkaloids and glycosides have also been reported to prevent cancer, while chlorophyllin found in chlorophyll causes an anti-promoting effect on skin cancer in mice.

Results of the current study also revealed that all the four plants almost had similar constituents of these phytochemicals, except for alkaloids, which was only present in fluted pumpkin. According to the research team, these cancer-fighting agents can boost detoxification enzymes against cancer-causing substances, and the synergistic actions of these phytochemicals make them more effective in preventing cancer.

The research team suggested that consumers of these plant foods would have greater protection against certain cancer-causing compounds compared to those who do not eat these plant foods. So, eating fluted pumpkin, African jointfir, African basil, and utazi can reduce the risk of cancer.

Read more news stories and studies on healing plant foods like the fluted pumpkin by going to Phytonutrients.news.

Sources include:

Science.news

MayoClinic.org

CovenantUniversity.edu.ng [PDF]


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