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Anthraquinones are found in plants such as rhubarb, buckthorn, yellow dock, and senna. They have traditionally been used as dyes and pigments. But since ancient times, individuals have also used anthraquinones for healing as well. And recently, there has been increasing evidence that they contain potent cancer-fighting properties.
The Amazing Cancer-Fighting Properties of Rhubarb
Perhaps the most common source of anthraquinones (and the most studied when it comes to cancer) is rhubarb − largely because Turkish Rhubarb is one of the main ingredients in Essiac Tea. There is a good reason why rhubarb is included as one of the super-healing herbs in this ancient Ojibway formula. Besides being flush with antioxidants such as resveratrol and ferulic acid, it is also the presence of anthraquinones within rhubarb that give it its cancer-healing properties.
A 2012 Taiwanese study found that the anthraquinone substance, rhein, in rhubarb induced cancer cell apoptosis (cancer cell death) in HER2 breast cancer cells, even when they were resistant to chemotherapy. A similar substance in rhubarb called emodin (mostly known for its laxative effects) had the same effect in breast cancer.
Another rather remarkable way that anthraquinones can fight against cancer is in regards to mercury. Researchers at the China Military Institute of Chinese Medicine discovered in March of 2016 that anthraquinones in rhubarb appeared to have a “protective effect against mercury-induced kidney failure.”
Where Else Can You Find Anthraquinones?
Besides rhubarb, other anthraquinone-based plants and herbs found in North America and Europe have shown cancer-healing potential too. A recent Polish study found that Yellow Dock stimulated anti-cancer, apoptotic effects against common leukemia cells.
“We found remarkable cytotoxic activities on leukemic 1301 and EOL-1 cell lines and T cell line at concentration-dependent manners,” stated the researchers.
Studies as early as the 1970s knew about the cancer-fighting effects of Common Buckthorn, also known as Rhamnus frangula L. (not to be confused with sea buckthorn, which is a completely different plant). A study published more than 40 years ago in the medical journal Lloydia found that common buckthorn contained the anthraquinone-substance emodin and was shown to be a significant tumor inhibitor against lymphocytic leukemia in animal models.
Some Warnings About Anthraquinones
For thousands of years, anthraquinone-based plants in Europe and North America have been used primarily to stimulate the colon for the prevention and treatment of constipation. Just as is the case with any intestinal stimulant, if taken over a long time, laxative dependence can occur with anthraquinones. Depletion of essential minerals such as potassium can be one side effect of this.
Anthraquinones move things along in the colon to produce a bowel movement by slightly irritating the colon lining, which causes the colon to contract. Prolonged use of anthraquinones (for more than four months, say some experts) can lead to a condition called Melanosis Coli. While there appears to be no connection between Melanosis Coli and colon cancer, other studies have found a correlation between this condition and an increased number of adenomas (benign colorectal polyps).
Anthraquinones Are Powerful Substances for the Gut & for Cancer Healing
If you are considering using plant therapies that contain anthraquinones for cancer prevention and/or healing, just be sure to do your homework first. Coupling anthraquinone-containing herbs with stomach-soothing “counter-balancing herbs” (such as is the case with Essiac Tea) may help.
What has stood the test of time (and also scientific inquiry) is that anthraquinones are not only powerful and effective substances for getting an impacted colon moving again, they can also stimulate cancer cell death and tumor inhibition. Herbs such as rhubarb can be considered as powerful adjuncts for your cancer-healing toolbox, when used responsibly.
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Anthraquinones are found in plants such as rhubarb, buckthorn, yellow dock, and senna. While traditionally used for healing, there has been increasing evidence that they contain potent cancer-fighting properties.
One of the most well-studied anthraquinones is Turkish Rhubard − one of the ingredients in the famed cancer-fighting Essiac tea recipe.
Other anthraquinone-based plants and herbs found in North America and Europe have shown cancer-healing potential too, including Yellow Dock and Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula L.).
Anthraquinone-based plants have traditionally been used to stimulate the colon for the prevention and treatment of constipation. Prolonged use of anthraquinones can lead to a condition known as Melanosis Coli.
If you are considering using plant therapies that contain anthraquinones for cancer prevention and/or healing, do your homework first. Coupling anthraquinone-containing herbs with stomach-soothing “counter-balancing herbs” (such as is the case with Essiac Tea) may help.