(PhD from Department of Botany,
Nagaland University on Medicinal plants)
God has a purpose for every creation and hence, everything, everyone is liable for peaceful and symbiotic co-existence on this planet for proper continuity and sustenance. Throughout the history of civilization, the association between man and plants has been one of the best-bonded relationships since time immemorial. In the present scenario, one of the most dreaded words is “Disease.” More so, if it comes attached with the tag ‘Cancer.’ This dreaded, almost incurable disease is generally a life-style disease (only 3-5% of cancer is genetically related as per WHO report) which can be overcome before the race starts! In other words, once we start the race with Cancer, (more so at a later stage of it), barring a miracle, we are resigned to the fact that we have lost the race.
The best and sole option to fight the Disease is to be ahead of it because once it catches up with us, there is less chances of us winning the race. No one is immortal, yet we have the option of ‘live-long and live-strong’ or ‘live-less and die-early’ in our hands. For the former to materialize, man can harness the gifts and wonders of various plants nature has bestowed upon. Various medicinal drugs have been extracted and synthesized from plants which have been passed on from one generation to another. The discovery of malarial drug, Quinine, is an inspiring illustration. Likewise, the solution for cure of dreaded, non-curable diseases might just be lying at our backyard or forests. Our state – blessed with mysterious landscape and ideally suitable for natural propagation of a variety of medicinal plants not found elsewhere – is a paradise for flora enthusiasts. No wonder, the remedies for certain diseases can be found lying in our own land if given proper priorities.
Much emphasis has been put forth on research for Cancer nowadays. According to WHO (World Health Organization), it is the second cause of death after cardiovascular diseases. Basically, cancer starts with the deformation of a natural cell caused by genetic mutations in DNA. The prevalence of cancer is found in developed and developing countries alike. Nowadays, various methods are used for cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation; however, in these methods, a high percentage of healthy cells are lost while trying to destroy the tumor cells. One of the major challenges in cancer treatment is to destroy tumor cells without damaging the natural cells. A common man find it harder to go through such diagnosis due to certain limits both economically and socially. Thus, the best option to fight such a disease is to suppress the disease when the race begins! There is no concrete cure for cancer till date, yet it can nevertheless be stifled before it begins its battle with our body. Some ways and means of winning this race with the aid of plants are listed below:
Turmeric (Curcuma longa): The plant is common in almost all areas of the state. The rhizome contains a compound known as Curcumin which is a potent tumor suppressor. It has been reported that the average rate of cancer occurrence in Indians is lower than the rate of its occurrence world-wide. Much of this low-rate points toward the use of turmeric in most of the Indian dishes. Studies have shown that the compound Curcumin is highly effective against liver, leukemia, colon and breast cancer.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale): Ginger is extremely instrumental in boosting immune system and for healthy gut bacteria. Both of these are vital for cancer suppression. The root of ginger contains an active compound called Gingerol which is potentially a cancer-preventing compound. Studies in colon and ovarian cancer have found possible tumor killing properties by gingerol compound.
English Yew (Taxus baccata): The plant is found to occur in cold, moist places in higher altitudes. It is sometimes confused with Cephalotaxus griffithii (which has a powdery white form beneath the leaves). Taxus is one of the most happening anti-cancer plants now. Numerous research based on the plant is currently in progress in the US. A compound called Taxol is extracted from the plant which is said to have anti-cancer properties especially for female related cancer.
Tea (Camellia sinensis): Tea is a natural source of caffeine, polyphenols and antioxidants. Consuming tea (preferably Green tea) is said to inhibit the growth of tumor. Recent studies have shown that consuming green tea on a regular basis reduce the risk of cancer and is highly recommended during cancer treatment.
Berries: Various eatable berries like mulberry, strawberry, blueberry, etc. have rich source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber. The presence of antioxidant compounds in these fruits makes them a great source of protectors from cancer.
Plantarum Sanitates! (Plants Cures!)