A recent review by five researchers from Georgia State University rhapsodized about a naturally-occurring compound derived from the poppy plant.
It has powerful anticancer properties delivered by multiple mechanisms, with few if any side effects. And it’s remarkably versatile.
In fact, the Georgia State people described it as “a veritable ‘Renaissance drug’ worthy of commemoration….the sky is truly the limit for this extraordinary family of molecules.”
Read on to find out what got them so excited. . .
Toxic Air In Your Home
I’m always on the lookout for the best and newest inventions out there that could save your life and keep you healthy.
And now, scientists have finally found a way to purify the filthiest air – even if it’s contaminated with microscopic airborne threats – into clean, safe, life-giving air.
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The fact is I can’t keep these little “pure air wonders” in stock.
The first week I burned through my entire inventory.
But I called in some favors and managed to get a new delivery.
I’m not sure how many more I can get because the demand is so high.
My advice is to get one now. You’ll notice a big improvement.
A non-addictive member of the poppy plant
People have been smoking opium for at least two thousand years to promote feelings of euphoria as well as for medicinal purposes.
The 16th century Swiss physician Paracelsus was the first to extract morphine from the poppy plant, and because of the potential medicinal value of the poppy, many other investigators have attempted to extract valuable compounds from it.
One such component was extracted in 1817 by Pierre-Jean Rubiquet from the Paris School of Pharmacy. It was called noscapine, an odorless and bitter fine white powder that’s insoluble in water. It makes up 4 – 12% of the opium seed.
Unlike other extracts of the poppy family, noscapine is non-addictive, lacking any significant hypnotic, euphoric, painkilling or sedative effects. In plain English, it doesn’t make you feel happy, ease your pain or help you sleep, but it does do this. . .
Effective against coughs and stroke
In the late 19th century noscapine was used as an anti-malaria drug, but after its use for this purpose was debunked in 1930, noscapine was considered useless.
However, in the same year its antitussive activity was discovered and it is still used today in many parts of the world as an effective cough suppressant. It can also give relief to people who suffer with bronchial asthma.
In 2003 noscapine was found to be effective against stroke. Much of the brain damage inflicted on victims of stroke is caused by bradykinin, a protein produced in response to injury. It causes inflammation, dilation of small blood vessels and edema.
Noscapine acts as a bradykinin antagonist.
In a small preliminary trial, noscapine was given orally to ten patients who had presented with symptoms of acute ischemic stroke for less than twelve hours. Another ten such patients acted as a control group.
Among the controls, eight died compared to only two deaths in those taking noscapine. Survivors in the noscapine group also experienced improved recovery compared to the survivors in the control group. The researchers concluded that noscapine could be an effective drug for reducing the mortality rate of stroke patients.
A follow-up trial by the same research group saw a 16% reduced risk of death in the noscapine group — something the researchers described as “clinically remarkable.”
Noscapine has also been shown to reduce excess dopamine production and is considered a potential treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome.
In concentrations higher than those used for treating coughs or stroke, noscapine has been shown to induce apoptosis (natural cell death) in cancer cells.
Noscapine seems to work mainly by disturbing microtubule assembly. These are structures involved with cell division. They play important roles in many cellular processes.
In normal cellular growth, microtubules are formed when the cell begins to divide. Once cell division stops, the microtubules are no longer required so they either break down or are destroyed.
In cancer, noscapine prevents the microtubules from breaking down, so they end up clogging the cell. This prevents cancer cells from dividing and proliferating.
While there are already drugs that target microtubules, these are toxic to normal tissues, create drug resistance and come with many unpleasant side effects.
Noscapine has also been shown to impede angiogenesis, the process by which cancer tumors form their own network of blood vessels.
Noscapine hampers angiogenesis by inhibiting HIF-1 alpha, a growth support factor activated in the low-oxygen environment of many cancer cells. The poppy extract also inhibits vascular endothelial growth factor, another important promoter of angiogenesis.
As we have already seen, noscapine inhibits bradykinin. Besides playing a role in stroke, bradykinin is also a strong tumor growth factor.
Noscapine has also been shown to work synergistically with other anti-cancer treatments.
Massively reduces tumor growth
Noscapine was first found to possess significant cancer killing properties in 1954. Four years later the National Cancer Institute confirmed the earlier findings.
Unfortunately, because it could not be protected by patent, no further studies were carried out for four decades.
Then in 1998 noscapine was found to have anticancer activity against various cancers in animal studies.
Breast cancer: In animals with transplanted human breast cancer, noscapine reduced tumor volume by 80% within 21 days. There was no obvious toxicity to the animals’ vital organs or any apparent loss of weight.
Lymphoma: In 2000 the drug was shown effective against lymphoma in mice. The authors again highlighted that it was not toxic, as far as they could determine, nor did it inhibit primary immune responses (as chemotherapy does).
Prostate cancer: In 2008 the Prostate Cancer Research and Educational Foundation in San Diego found that noscapine slowed tumor growth of human prostate cancer cells in mice by 60% and lowered metastasis by 65% when given orally for 56 days — with no toxicity reported.
Dr. Israel Barken, who led the study and claims to have been using the drug on prostate cancer patients for more than a decade, was enthusiastic. “Incredibly, this was achieved with no toxicity. It demonstrates noscapine’s potential as an effective anticancer agent – and a very safe one, too.”
In a follow-up study, noscapine was given a week before mice were injected with human prostate cancer cells, and then compared to those given the drug one week after. A control group received a saline solution.
Tumor growth was about a third less in the pretreatment group compared to the post-treatment group and two-thirds less than the controls who received no drug at all. Lung metastasis was also 80% less in the pretreatment group.
Lung cancer: Researchers grafted human non-small cell lung cancer cells into mice and then gave them different dosages of noscapine for 24 days. The lowest dose saw tumor volumes reduced by 49%; in the mice that received the highest dose, tumor volume was reduced by 86% compared to controls.
The experiment also demonstrated noscapine’s role in inducing apoptosis. The researchers from Florida University concluded that noscapine has “potent antitumor activity…”
In the last two decades, many laboratory studies have demonstrated noscapine’s effectiveness at preventing tumors in a wide variety of cancers — thymus, ovarian, melanoma, bone, gastric and colon cancer, in addition to the ones mentioned earlier. The drug has also been shown to be effective against glioblastoma, a common form of brain cancer, because it can cross the blood brain barrier.
New, improved forms of noscapine
Although noscapine has the advantage of having low toxicity, and can be taken orally, it has oral bioavailability of only about 30%, isn’t active in the body for long, and doesn’t dissolve well in water. It’s also laborious to produce noscapine from poppy seed capsules.
This has led researchers to create new forms of noscapine by modifying five sites on the parent compound. These water-soluble forms have been found to be better at disturbing microtubule assembly and acting against tumor growth when tested on human cell lines of breast, pancreas and prostate cancer.
The researchers from Georgia write in their review that “the newly derived analogs have produced tremendous results. The ability to manipulate noscapine and synthesize new derivatives with success against multiple cancer cell lines reveals the drug’s versatility and foreshadows the possible armory of anticancer noscapinoids.”
The value of noscapine and the improved anticancer activity seen in the new, modified forms suggests a bright future.
It’s already been over 60 years since noscapine’s anticancer activity was first discovered. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another 60 years before noscapine or its analogs are used routinely as a human cancer treatment.