A plant long revered by practitioners of Ayurveda, the traditional medical system of India, is now known to be lethal to cancer cells – but harmless to the body’s healthy cells.
It’s not yet clear exactly how extracts derived from this plant, the neem tree, will be used to fight cancer. But the investigations of its compounds all suggest it has a bright future as a potent anti-cancer weapon. Let me tell you what the scientists have found…
BREAKING: Mainstream Medicine Finally
I don’t know if you saw this from the BBC news… But scientists are looking into why some people can eat chocolate or pasta and never gain weight and why others can’t take a single bite. The answer they found?
The microbes in your gut.
Scientists discovered that the types of microbes in your gut affect the way your body reacts to different foods…
…The wrong foods can start a wildfire of inflammation in your gut, which then affects your entire body. Nearly 99% of medical conditions start with inflammation.
I’m talking allergies, autoimmune disorders, and YES, even cancer. So what foods should you avoid?
Well it’s different for everyone.
Many of the researchers who have unveiled neem’s capabilities hail from India, where neem has been considered powerful medicine for at least 4,000 years.
For instance, Sonia Arora, Ph.D., who grew up in New Delhi but who now conducts medical research at Kean University in New Jersey, points out that rural Indians call the neem treat the “village pharmacy.” Neem products (including the tree’s branches) are used to clean teeth and maintain oral health, while neem extracts and teas are taken to treat heart disease and diabetes.1
The neem tree grows throughout the Indian subcontinent and is also found in Nepal and Pakistan as well as in tropical climates. The tree is a versatile part of traditional medicine. Its flower, bark, branches, sap, fruit, roots and seeds are all used for varying purposes.
According to Ayurvedic practitioners, neem can be used to combat arthritis, fatigue, parasites, periodontal disease, hypertension and cancer. And it is also put to work as a contraceptive (pregnant women should avoid neem).
Dr. Arora is studying its use in fighting the virus that leads to AIDS. She notes that neem extracts derived from its bark, leaves and flowers have long been used to fight off fungal and bacterial infections.2
She says, “The farther you go into the villages of India, the more uses of neem you see. Tree branches are used instead of toothpaste and toothbrushes to keep teeth and gums healthy, and neem extracts are used to control the spread of malaria.”
In her work, she has identified almost two dozen substances in neem extracts that look like they can be effective against HIV – they disable the HIV protease, an enzyme the virus needs to reproduce.
“Amazing promise” against cancer
Meanwhile, other Indian expatriates are looking into neem’s anti-cancer effects.
Lab tests at Texas Tech University show that a substance found in neem leaves called nimbolide can halt the growth of pancreatic cancer cells and stop the disease’s spread without harming normal cells.3
“The promise nimbolide has shown is amazing, and the specificity of the treatment towards cancer cells over normal cells is very intriguing,” says researcher Rajkumar Lakshmanaswamy, who has been in the U.S. since 1997.
The Texas tests reveal that nimbolide hampers the ability of the pancreatic cancer cells to move to other parts of the body and invade different tissues. The researchers estimate that this neem extract shrinks the aggressiveness and invasiveness of the cancer by 70 percent.
They also point out that the lethality of pancreatic cancer is usually linked to its spread (metastasis) from the pancreas. So anything that slows down metastasis is potentially life-saving.
Furthermore, the scientists showed that treatment with nimbolide increases apoptosis – the suicide of cancer cells – by 80 percent, causing tumors to shrink dramatically.
“Nimbolide seems to attack pancreatic cancer from all angles,” according to Lakshmanaswamy.
The fact that nimbolide is basically harmless for normal, healthy cells adds to its promise.
“Many people in India actually eat neem and it doesn’t have harmful side effects, which suggests that using nimbolide for pancreatic cancer will not cause adverse effects like chemotherapy and radiation typically do,” adds researcher Ramadevi Subramani.
Neem stimulates the immune system, too
One important element that seems to help certain neem extracts fight cancer is the effect these substances have on the immune system.
Frequently, the ability of a tumor to grow and keep expanding depends on its ability to evade destruction by immune cells. Along with fighting off infection, the immune system is tasked with the job of killing off damaged cells that can potentially turn cancerous.
As medical researchers describe it, the tumor’s microenvironment – the location in the body that immediately surrounds the tumor – often features an imbalance of different varieties of immune cells. In general these cells consist of two types: One type consists of immune cells that are designed to attack cancerous cells. In friendly opposition are other specialized immune cells that keep the attacking cells from being too aggressive and causing excessive damage.
Under normal circumstances, aggressive immune cells roam the body and are allowed to do their job in gobbling up or destroying cells that threaten to turn into tumors, while the restraining “suppressant” cells keep the gobbling cells under just enough control to keep them from attacking healthy cells.
But where cancer is present, the suppressing cells get too much of an upper hand and end up protecting tumors from being destroyed.
Research in Germany shows that when this balance goes seriously awry, your risk of cancer grows significantly. This German study, which looked at immune cell ratios in about 25,000 people, found that the imbalance often occurs years before cancer develops.4
Neem may both prevent and treat cancer
Research at the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute in India shows that an extract from neem leaves can help immune cells stay active enough to invade tumors. In so doing, the immune cells disrupt tumor growth and help limit the cancer’s destructive spread.5
In these lab tests, the researchers discovered that the neem compounds can both prevent cancer – keeping it from developing — and also be a potential therapy, effective in treating tumors after they develop.
According to these scientists, when the immune cells – assisted by neem – penetrate the tumor, they not only set off signals that alert other immune cells to the danger, they actively put a stop to angiogenesis — the tumor’s construction of extra blood vessels to provide itself with blood-borne nutrients.
As the researchers put it, the end result is to “normalize tumor vasculature.” That means that the wild and distorted blood vessels created by the cancer cells are eliminated while the normal “more compact thin blood vessels” which feed that area of the body are allowed to remain.
The UN’s “Tree of the Century”
Neem’s potential for use as a cancer treatment is remarkably promising. Already, the United Nations has declared the neem tree the official “Tree of the 21st Century.”6 Along with its medical benefits, agriculture experts think the tree can help keep farm soils fertile and protect livestock from parasites.
As for its human health benefits – in addition to its potential as a cancer therapy, neem’s versatility as a natural treatment for a wide range of health problems is the result of its rich collection of natural compounds. As one review article puts it, “The main relevant aspect of neem is its chemical complexity. The peculiar character of neem is the variability of the composition of its drugs and derived products.7
Neem contains an astounding number of natural chemicals – a factor in its traditional reputation as a panacea or “cure-all.” That versatility also boosts its role in our health future.
I do not know of any alternative cancer doctors who employ neem as a treatment. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any, just that none have mentioned it. But based on these findings, I think it will start to appear in some treatment protocols.
Neem supplements are readily available from a number of reputable companies such as Nature’s Way. It seems they’re pretty safe when taken for six or ten weeks. For long-term use, safety has not been confirmed. Appropriate doses for cancer treatment have not been established.
WebMD claims that children are prone to have a bad reaction to neem supplements, and, as mentioned earlier, neem is not appropriate for pregnant or nursing women. It may induce miscarriage.
Our last article covered another tree that produces cancer-killing compounds – an American tree, as it happens. If you missed the news, you can read it below.