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Research from the College of Pharmacy of Saudi Arabia's King Saud University has determined that the extract from the leaves and branches of the Red Spurge tree – a small tree that grows in hot and tropical regions such as Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean and Africa – inhibits the growth of liver cancer.
The researchers performed laboratory analysis on an extract of the leaves and small branches of the tree, Latin name Euphorbia cotinifolia L., also called the Hawaiian Red Spurge, the Mexican Shrubby Spurge and the Caribbean Copper Plant. The researchers found that the extract contained 17 different plant polyphenols, including two ellagitannins not found before.
The research determined that the plant's compounds extracted with methanol with 80% water and chloroform were significant antioxidants. But the most significant finding was that the extracts inhibited the growth of human liver cancer cells - hepatocellular carcinoma cells.
About 2% of all cancers are liver cancer, but liver cancer is severe and not often diagnosed early. Only about a fifth of all liver cancer patients live past one year after diagnosis.
Hepatocellular cancer is the leading type of liver cancer. It often occurs when the liver is damaged from alcohol overuse, hepatitis, the overuse of pharmaceuticals, as well as a number of synthetic compounds such as vinyl chloride, herbicides and others. Type 2 diabetics have an increased risk of hepatocellular cancer.
Liver cancers such as hepatocellular cancer are often symptomized by jaundice, pain around the liver region (upper part of abdomen), extreme weight loss, fatigue and bruising. Hepatitis- or cirrhosis-related liver tumors that can easily spread - or metastasize - throughout the body due the location and action of the liver.
The Spurge tree is indigenous to many tropical and hot regions, and is cultivated throughout the Southern United States among other regions. It has a beautiful red leaf that is hardy in full sun or partial shade. Its small branches contain a milky sap, and can irritate the skin for some.
[Note: For over 150 other natural compounds studied for their anti-liver cancer properties view the GreenMedInfo Liver Cancer Research page.]
Marzouk MS, Moharram FA, Gamal-Eldeen A, Damlakhy IM. Spectroscopic identification of new ellagitannins and a trigalloyl-glucosylkaempferol from an extract of Euphorbia cotinifolia L. with antitumour and antioxidant activity. Z Naturforsch C. 2012 Mar-Apr;67(3-4):151-62.