Long before Big Pharma started cooking up drug cocktails in a lab, doctors looked to nature for remedies.
Atropa belladonna (you might know it as deadly nightshade) has been used for centuries to treat things like inflammation and hay fever.
The milky extract of the Calabar bean, called physostigmine, has been commonly prescribed to folks with glaucoma for close to two centuries.
And now we’re learning about an exciting – and potentially life-saving – new benefit from a familiar friend…
Some 6,000 years ago, the people of Sumer discovered the healing powers of salicin in the bark of willow trees.
They put it in teas and used it topically to treat headaches, rashes and back pain.
Thousands of years later, Hippocrates prescribed it to treat fever.
And almost as soon as we had the technology to do so, it was synthesized in a lab in Germany. And Bayer marketed it as aspirin.
But in its purer form, willow bark is still used today for chronic pain relief.
It’s also more gentle on the stomach. And it doesn’t come with the litany of nasty side effects lab-created aspirin does.
But I’m not writing today to share ancient remedies for back pain…
This is way bigger than pain relief.
Taking a cue from the ancient Sumerians, researchers just discovered that our ancient ancestors were hot on the trail of a cancer-fighting compound.
Hidden in Plain Sight
Because of how successful the power of salicin has been – whether in its natural form or a pill – the willow tree’s additional compounds have largely been ignored.
Besides, Big Pharma prefers its treatments easily patented.
But scientists working together from Rothamsted Research and University of Kent started poking around the willow tree again anyway.
And their efforts appear to have paid off.
The team just discovered a brand-new chemical. And this one looks like a doozy.
This chemical, called miyabeacin, has been found to target and kill cancer cells.
Lab tests have already shown it to be effective at killing off breast, throat and ovarian cancer cells.
And even more exciting, this natural compound was found to be very effective against neuroblastoma – a particularly nasty form of cancer with a survival rate of around 50%.
On a chemical level, this compound contains two different groups of salicin that act as a “double dose” of anti-inflammatories and blood thinners.
This has proven to make this natural remedy very effective (again, in lab tests for now) against Big-Pharma-drug-resistant cancers.
More to Come…
Given the simple fact that the willow tree has given us one of the most effective and popular drugs in the past 100-plus years, it’s mind-blowing to think researchers hadn’t barked up this tree again.
But now, after 6,000 years of beating around the bush, we may be one step closer to clamping down on some of the most dangerous cancers out there.
One team is currently in the midst of ramping up production of miyabeacin and studying the effects.
The next step is to test the effects of miyabeacin on additional forms of cancer before entering clinical trials.
In the meantime, the researchers have partnered with the National Willow Collection in the United Kingdom.
And its archives – as lead author of the study put it – have proven to be a gold mine of new chemistry.
It’s yet another example of an ancient remedy with potential to spare… and proof that Mother Nature has our best interests at heart.
We’ll be keeping our eyes on these studies as they progress.
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