Ovarian cancer causes more death than any other cancer of the female reproductive system, and there is a breakthrough study of note.
Herbal preparations of Rauwolfia vomitoria and Rauwolfia serpentina, tropical shrubs in the family of Apocynaceae, have been used in traditional folk medicine in Africa to treat a variety of ailments including fever, general weakness, gastrointestinal diseases, liver diseases, and psychosis.
Rauwolfia serpentina, has been used for centuries in India for the treatment of insanity1, as well as fever and snakebites and in 1954 The New York Times reported that Mahatma Gandhi used it as a tranquilizer.2
In the 50’s Reserpine, a drug to control high blood pressure and relieve psychotic symptoms was isolated from the root bark of Rauwolfia vomitoria. But there has been much concern about Reserpine, which has been linked to hypotension and bradycardia, worsening of asthma, and may even lead to depression. Today, Reserpine is rarely used in the management of hypertension, and is regarded as a second-line adjunct agent for patients who are uncontrolled on a diuretic when cost is an issue.3
In the 80’s, while he was working at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, Mirko Beljanski tested some Rauwolfia vomitoria extract with his Oncotest, and it occurred to him that while the Reserpine had a toxic effect, a special extract devoid of Reserpine (but rich in alstonine) was exhibiting some valuable anticarcinogenic properties. It was also gentle on normal cells, and without exhibiting any of the anticipated toxic side effects generally associated with Reserpine.
Mirko Beljanski published on the subject4 and in France, many people started to benefit successfully from his extracts (several testimonials are available on the website of The Beljanski Foundation, Inc.).
In 2006, a team from Columbia University lead by Dr. Aaron Katz confirmed both in vitro and in vivo the anti-cancer properties of this specific extract on prostate cancer cells.5 A study was even conducted on BPH, with successful results reported in the press.6
Kansas University Medical Center (KUMC) was specifically interested in combining natural compounds with standard chemotherapy drugs and see if they will exert additive or synergistic effects on killing cancer cells, thereby allowing lower and safer doses of the more toxic drug.
Indeed: although current chemotherapy can improve the 5-year survival rate, it has not increased the overall rate of cure: 70% of patients experience a relapse and develop a resistance to platinum- and taxane-based treatments.
Also, malignant ascites resistant to conventional chemotherapy affect 28% of ovarian cancer patients in their last period of life, making effective and novel treatment strategies for advanced ovarian cancer most needed.
After confirming the safety of Beljanski’s Rauwolfia vomitoria extract (referred to as “Rau” – sample provided by Natural Source International, Ltd), researchers at KUMC injected it to mice in combination with the classic chemotherapy drug Carboplatin (Cp).
Consistent with earlier reports, this study showed that specific Rauwolfia vomitoria induced apoptosis in vitro and in vivo “Combining Rau with Cp remarkably enhanced the effect of Cp and reduced tumor burden by 87% to 90% and ascites volume by 89% to 97%.” This latest study concludes that “Rauwolfia vomitoria has potent antitumor activity and in combination significantly enhances the effect of Cp against ovarian cancer.”7
1. Sen G, Bose KC. Rauwolfia serpentina: a new Indian drug for insanity and high blood pressure. Indian Medical World. 1931;11:194-201
2.http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,857672,00.html, TIME Magazine, November 8, 1954
3. Moser M (1987). “”Cost containment” in the management of hypertension”. Ann. Intern. Med. 107 (1): 107–9.
4. M. BELJANSKI, S. CROCHET, “The selective anticancer agents PB-100 and BG-8 are active against human melanoma cells, but do not affect non malignant fibroblasts“. International Journal of Oncology 8:1143-1148, 1996.
5. “Anti-prostate cancer activity of B-carboline alkaloid enriched extract from Rauwolfia vomitoria” by D.L. Bemis, J.L. Capodice, P. Gorroochurn, A.E. Katz and R. Buttyan- International Journal of Oncology 29: 1065-1073, 2006
7. “Antitumor Activities of Rauwolfia vomitoria Extract and Potentiation of Carboplatin Effects Against Ovarian Cancer” Jun Yu, PhD1,2, Yan Ma, PhD1,2, Jeanne Drisko, MD2, Qi Chen, PhD