Magnolia Berry Shows Promise in Cancer Treatment

A naturally occurring compound found in magnolia berries may be effective in treating late-stage colon cancer while remaining low in toxicity.

There will be more than 100,000 new cases of colon cancer in the United States in 2024, according to the American Cancer Society. Common colon cancer treatments include chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which are expensive and high in toxicity.

As the cases globally are poised to increase, according to the World Health Organization’s projections, there is an urgent need for innovative treatments that carry fewer side effects.

Schisandrin B (Sch B), a plant compound called polyphenol, has been shown to have a remarkable anti-tumorigenic effect on colon cancer, according to a new study published in the journal ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science.

The compound is found in the fruit called Schisandra chinensis, also known as the magnolia or five-flavor berry. The berry is native to forests of Northern China, the Russian Far East, and Korea but is also found in Japan.

Although previous evidence has suggested that Sch B may help to fight liver, breast, ovarian, gastric, and gall bladder cancers, the mechanism underlying its anti-tumorigenic effect in colon cancer has not been fully understood.

The new study used a combination of Raman spectroscopy, RNA-sequencing, molecular, and biological experiments.

Sch B was found to have a high tumor-killing capacity and a high degree of specificity. Moreover, it could be used to treat different stages of colon cancer and is especially effective for the late stage of the disease.

Compared to other currently available drugs, Sch B has shown very low toxicity against normal cells.

“Polyphenols have shown significant efficacy in preventing cancer development and exhibiting anti-cancer properties. They have potent antioxidative properties, which help prevent cancer cells from spreading,” Professor Hani El-Nezami, co-lead author from the University of Eastern Finland’s School of Medicine, said in a statement.

While the researchers are planning to further explore Sch B as an alternative therapy for colon cancer, patients should not try replacing their current treatments with magnolia berries.

What are the symptoms of colon cancer?

The risk of getting colon cancer increases with age. Other risk factors include having inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and a family history of colon cancer.

Modifying lifestyle factors may reduce the risk of developing the condition. You may want to consider:

  • Exercising regularly.
  • Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables.
  • Reducing the intake of fat and processed meats.
  • Maintaining healthy body weight.
  • Reducing alcohol consumption.
  • Quitting smoking.

Colon cancer can cause no signs in the early stages. Later, the symptoms may include the following:

  • A change in bowel habits.
  • Blood in or on the stool (bowel movement).
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty all the way.
  • Persistent abdominal pain, aches, or cramps.
  • Unexplainable weight loss.

These symptoms may also signal colorectal polyps, which are abnormal growths in the colon or rectum that can become cancerous if not removed.

If you experience the symptoms listed above, discuss them with your health care provider.

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