Flowering plant from the Amazon rainforest found to have anticancer potential
02/01/2019 // Ellaine Castillo // Views

Cancer is a highly dreaded disease. A huge portion of the fear that goes with this disease can be attributed to the different side effects associated with – ironically – its treatment. Worse still, conventional cancer treatments have very low success rates so they may be doing more harm than good.

Chemotherapy, which is a common cancer treatment, has been known to cause hair loss, fatigue, susceptibility to infections, mood swings, numbness, pain, appetite changes, and kidney problems. Because of this, there is an urgent need for safer and more effective alternative treatments. (Related: Chemotherapy WARNING as study finds it actually MULTIPLIES cancer throughout the body, almost always killing the patient.)

Many studies have focused on the potential use of medicinal plants as a natural remedy for cancer. These include a study conducted a team of researchers from the University of Sao Paulo and Paulista University in Brazil which revealed that Annona hypoglauca, a plant commonly known as beriba in the Brazilian Amazon region, contains compounds with anticancer and antimicrobial potential.

The Annonaceae family, which includes more than 2,300 plant species, is famous for its traditional use as a remedy for parasitic and protozoal infections, diarrhea, ulcers, and cancer. Scientists attribute the family's wide range of pharmacological activities to acetogenins and isoquinolines, specifically aporphine alkaloids.

One plant species that belongs to the Annonaceae family is beriba, which is commonly found in the flooded areas of northern Amazon forests. It produces an edible fruit that is widely consumed by locals and bark that can be made into a medicinal tea for parasitic infections, anemia, and chronic diarrhea. Previous studies have shown that extracts from the stem of beriba are effective against the Gram-positive bacteria Streptococcus mutans and even breast cancer cells. Unfortunately, there is limited information regarding the components of beriba that contribute to these activities.


In this study, which was published in The Brazilian Journal of Pharmacognosy, the researchers collected extracts from dried beriba stems and proceeded to isolate and identify the phytochemicals present. They were able to identify four major compounds, which were the aporphine alkaloids actinodaphnine, anonaine, isoboldine, and nornuciferine. From there, they then tested the extracts for antimicrobial and cytotoxic activity.

To determine antimicrobial activity, the team tested the extracts against different bacterial strains, namely Staphylococcus aureusEnterococcus faecalis and E. coli. Results showed that beriba extracts were effective against the Gram-positive bacteria S. aureus and E. faecalis but not the Gram-negative E. coli. However, further studies are needed to eliminate the possibility that the plant has antimicrobial activity against other Gram-negative strains.

Moving on to the evaluation of cytotoxic activity, the researchers used multiple cell lines, including breast adenocarcinoma (MCF-7), colon adenocarcinoma (KM-12), multiple myeloma (RPMI-8226), prostate carcinoma (PC-3), glioblastoma (SF-268), and non-small lung-cell carcinoma (NCI-H460). Among these cell lines, beriba extracts were only effective against breast and colon cancer cells. Moreover, these anti-cancer effects were absent in cell lines treated with alkaloid-free beriba extracts. This supports the idea that aporphine alkaloids are responsible for the plant's cytotoxic activity.

Overall, these results show that beriba has potential use as a natural remedy against cancer and some bacterial infections since it contains alkaloids with cytotoxic and antimicrobial activities. With further studies, this plant has potential as a safer alternative to conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy.

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