GUINEA HEN WEED - POSSIBLE SOURCE OF ANTI-CANCER TREATMENT: HISTORY, HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF GUINEA HEN WEED
Guinea hen weed is a member of the pokeweed, Phytolacceae family of plants native to the Amazon rainforest, Central and
South America, the Caribbean, parts of Africa, and parts of Florida in the Texas . USA
In the South American continent it is used both for medicine and magic by shaman of indigenous Indian tribes. Its roots particularly have a strong garlicky odour, which is why, presumably it shares the Latin name for garlic, allium. Perhaps because of this smell it is used, as is garlic to ward off evil and witches. Shamans use it for magic too, so it is a highly regarded herb. The root, which smells more strongly than the leaves, is believed to be the most potent part of the plant in traditional medicine systems.
the plant is used as an antispasmodic, diuretic, to stimulate menstruation, to promote sweating in fevers, for oedema, arthritis, malaria, rheumatism and many other complaints. Brazil
A leaf decoction is used for digestive tract problems such as flatulence and the plant which has so many uses, including as an abortifacient, an analgesic to relieve labour pains, to support the immune system, for lung and respiratory problems and even, it is rumoured, as an aphrodisiac.
Because of its uses in traditional medicine it has come to the attention of scientists, who have endeavoured to prove its efficacy for the treatment of cancer and diabetes. However the results have so far been inconclusive, with the best results only in in vitro experiments. It has been shown to have analgesic (mild pain-killing) effects, and to have antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral properties. One article “A fraction from Petivera alliacea induces apoptosis via mitochondria-dependent pathway and regulates HSP70 expression” (Universitas Scientarum Vol.14 (2-3) May-Dec 2009, pp 125-134, Maria Claudia Cifuentes et al. Pontificio Universidad Javieriana, Colombia) found that it has anticancer properties and can inhibit the growth of cancerous cells and kill them. Other studies have also indicated these properties, but they have been limited.
Extracts of the plant have also shown anti-inflammatory actions, but there is still some speculation regarding which chemicals in the plant are responsible for all its actions. Research is ongoing and hopefully it will provide some new treatments for the diseases we suffer from.