12 January - 20 June 2016

Oregano and rosemary inhibit cancer cell growth

18 November 2015

A recent study by the Department of Pharmacy, University of Calabria, Italy, assessed the anticarcinogenic effect of extracts from 13 edible plants native to Southern Italy on 3 human cancer cell lines: breast cancer MCF-7, hepatic cancer HepG2, and colorectal cancer LoVo. The plants, given in their Latin names, included in the study were: Amaranthus retroflexus, Anchusa azurea, Asparagus acutifolius, Diplotaxis tenuifolia, Mentha spicata. ssp glabrata, Origanum vulgare, Portulaca oleracea, Raphanus raphanistrum, Rosmarinus officinalis, Rubus caesius, Rumex conglomeratus, Silene vulgaris, and Smyrnium olusatrum.

The study found that R. conglomeratus (clustered dock) contained the highest amount of flavonoids (15.5mg/g), followed by A. azurea (garden anchusa) at 11.8mg/g. Phenolic compounds such as flavonoids can display antioxidant behaviours by scavenging free radicals, unstable and highly reactive atoms that may promote carcinogenesis.

Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) contained the highest number of terpenes, compounds that can inhibit cancer cell growth. P. oleracea (purslane) and Raphanus raphanistrum (wild radish) contained the highest number of sterols, aiding the deregulation of cholesterol, increasing the uptake of low-density lipid particles, which is beneficial for cancer progression prevention.

At 100uL/ml, it was found that almost all plant extracts significantly inhibited cell proliferation, the highest inhibitory activity coming from Rosmarinus officinalis, inducing 95% inhibition of LoVo cells and 63% of HepG2 cell lines. O. vulgare (oregano) displayed 67% inhibitory activity on LoVo cells and 45% on breast cancer cell line MCF-7. D. tenuifolia (perennial wall rocket), M. spicata (spearmint) and S. olusatrum (horse parsley) showed the poorest anti-proliferation activity.

The study concludes that plant extracts can be a good natural source of anti-proliferative treatment, able to target lines of cancer cells without introducing toxicity to noncancerous cells. The most promising medicinal applications from this study were shown to be O. vulgare and R. officinalis.

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