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Aster herb found to inhibit growth of cancer cells

If there’s one thing almost everyone is afraid of, it’s cancer. This disease is a major cause of concern since it remains to be one of the biggest and deadliest health problems in the world, causing an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018 according to the World Health Organization.

One of the most malignant forms of this disease is known as oral squamous carcinoma. This form of cancer affects various portions of the head and neck region, including the larynx, nasopharynx, lips, oropharynx, or neck cavity. It can arise due to various factors including smoking, drinking alcohol, human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, poor oral hygiene, and nutrient deficiency.

Although there are various conventional treatments available for this disease, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy, these often do more harm than good to the patient. The limited effectiveness of these forms of therapy contributes to the development of resistant cells that lead to cancer recurrence. Moreover, conventional treatments attack both cancer cells and healthy cells, which can cause complications such as anemia, higher susceptibility to infections, digestive problems, hair loss, fatigue, kidney problems, muscle and nerve pain, and weight loss. These adverse side effects highlight the need for more effective and safer alternative therapies, such as medicinal plants.

A group of scientists from various institutions in China found that one of their commonly used medicinal plants called aster (Aster tataricus) has potential use as an alternative cancer treatment. This plant is traditionally used as a remedy for bacterial and fungal infections, chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis, and cancer. Recent advancements in the study of aster have shown that its roots contain bioactive compounds like triterpenes, saponins, and shionone. It also has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents in the form of epifriedelinol and caffeoylquinic acids. Based on these previous observations, the researchers hypothesized that aster potentially has anticancer activity.

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In this study, which was published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, the researchers collected extracts from dried aster roots and prepared various concentrations (10, 20, 40, 80, 160, 320 and 640 micrograms/ml) for use as treatments. Upon administration of the extracts, an in vitro culture of human tongue squamous carcinoma cells exhibited changes in morphology, such as loss of contact between cells and shrinkage. This effect was observed to occur in a dose-dependent manner. Additional tests also revealed that aster extracts prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells by up to 50 percent for the two highest dosages given. Moreover, surviving cells after the treatment did not have the ability to form new colonies.

Overall, these results prove that aster has potential use as a natural remedy against oral cancer due to its antiproliferative effects. (Related: Drinking too much causes an imbalance of bacteria in your mouth and increases your risk of cancer.)

How to reduce your risk of oral cancer

Prevention is always better than cure. One of the ways through which you can reduce your risk of developing oral cancer is by having good oral hygiene. If you don’t take proper care of your oral health, this can disrupt the balance between good and bad bacteria in the mouth. A study published in the Journal of Translational Medicine showed that patients suffering from oral cancer had higher populations of the bacteria Capnocytophaga gingivalis, Prevotella melaninogenica, and Streptococcus mitis than healthy people. This shows the potential role that these bacteria have on oral cancer development.

Most commercially available oral care products, such as toothpaste and mouthwashes, contain harmful chemicals that can cause further harm so it would be best to replace them with natural alternatives. Some natural remedies that can be used to improve oral health include the following:

Baking soda — Baking soda has potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that help improve oral health. Enjoy these benefits by adding a teaspoon of baking soda to warm water and using it as a mouthwash.
Goldenseal — A herbal tea made from goldenseal can be used to improve oral health since it has astringent, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Just use the tea to rinse your mouth after every meal, to prevent bad bacteria from growing.

For more articles about natural remedies for cancer, visit Cancer.news.

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