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Natural therapies hold untapped (for now) potential against cancer

October 16, 2014 | by Tami Dennis

Blueberries, cinnamon, baikal scullcap, grape seed extract (and grape skin extract), mushrooms, barberry, pomegranates ... all contain compounds with the potential to treat, or prevent, cancer.

Blueberries against cancer These aren't just blueberries. They're a potential cancer-fighting powerhouse.

Scientists at City of Hope have found tantalizing evidence of this potential and are determined to explore it to the fullest. They're researching, testing and developing new therapies made from nature's bounty -- from the vegetables, fruits and herbs many people take for granted as simply plants, not medicine.

To help them in their work, City of Hope has launched a Program in Natural Therapies, an effort to find more effective, but also less toxic, cancer therapies. The researchers have already made considerable progress.

They've found that baicalein, for instance, which comes from the traditional Chinese herb baikal scullcap, is showing promise against breast, endometrial, liver, lung, ovarian and prostate cancers. Berbamine, from the European barberry, has anti-cancer properties as well. Compounds in blueberries appear to slow the growth of triple-negative breast cancer cells. And mushrooms, well ... see the above video.

Plants long ago proved their power to ease suffering and even to heal. Aspirin comes from willow tree bark. Antibiotics were found in fungus. And some of today's existing chemotherapy drugs were derived from plants. But then science began to move toward treatments that were considered more modern, more evolved.

It's true that today's cancer experts have the ability to combat cancer more effectively than ever before. But tomorrow's cancer experts may have the ability to do so without the harsh side effects of current treatments.

Ironically perhaps, the potential cures of tomorrow may be among humankind's more ancient compounds.

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Learn more about City of Hope's Program in Natural Therapies, the scientists conducting the research,  and the gift that made it possible. 

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