Triphala holds out hope on cancer

Triphala holds out hope on cancer

Triphala, a traditional ayurvedic medicine, has significant anti-cancer properties, which raises the hope for its wider use for cancer treatment in future, scientists claim.

With triphala inhibiting growth of cancerous tumours, scientists said it may be used for both therapeutic and preventive cancer treatment in the long run, after successful trials on animals and humans, which may take several years to complete.

Triphala is a non-toxic fruit-formulation, used in India since long as a household ayurvedic product to tackle chronic intestinal disorders and keep the heart healthy. “The most important conclusion from our experiment is that we found about seven mg of chebulinic acid (the active molecule in Triphala) present in the dose used on mice, that may be responsible for its anti-cancer effect,” Sujit Basu, associate professor at the Ohio State University, who led a team of researchers, told Deccan Herald.

Generally available in the market as a powder, triphala is a combination of three fruit-amla (Emblica officinalis), haritaki (Terminalia chebula) and bibhitaki (Terminalia bellerica)-in equal amount.

Basu and his colleagues used commercially available triphala powder for the experiment. They administered it to cancer-afflicted mice, at a dose of 100 mg per kg of body weight, for seven days. Laboratory analysis showed significantly less growth in cancerous cells in mice who were administered triphala.

Experiments were also conducted with cancer cell lines, which too yielded promising results.

The ayurvedic medicine, as well as its main active constituent, the chebulinic acid, block the action of a body chemical called vascular endothelial growth factor (VGEF) that plays a critical role in tumour formation.

Reporting their findings in the open-access journal, Public Library of Sciences One, on Thursday, the researchers said their results for the first time demonstrated that triphala or chebulinic acid significantly inhibited VEGF induced blood vessel formation. This means cancer cells are essentially starved to death.

“As VEGF induced blood vessel formation has been shown to play a critical role in the initiation, growth and progression of practically all types of malignant tumours, it is possible that triphala may be effective in these tumors,” Basu said.

At present, oncologists use a drug called Avastin, an anti-VGEF agent made by a multinational drug company. If human trials emerge successful, triphala will be a natural substitute. The researchers are now planning the clinical trial.

“It is an interesting experiment, important from a clinical perspective. This may be followed up by further studies and also analysis of other active molecules in triphala, which remains at the top of our Ayurvedic literature,” commented Santosh Kar, a former professor of biology at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, who is not connected to the research.

Comments (+)