Scientists and doctors have been working towards combating cancer since a very long time and there have been some improvements too. Radiography, chemotherapy, genetic manipulation or gene therapy are few of the most commonly used treatments. Even-though there have been promising effects in different methods of treatments, the fear and chaos one experiences have always remained the same. People even today do tend to move towards herbal aids for long term benefits and less side effects. India is a country with a treasure of such medicinal herbs and spices. These have been in use in daily life too in the form of house hold spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic, cumin, clove, cardamom and many more. Today let’s look at a very famous herb Bhringraj (False daisy).
Bhringraj scientifically known as Eclipta alba is a weed of ethnomedical (natural resources traditionally used to cure or manage ailments in diverse ethnic cultures) significance. This means that it is an unwanted and uncultured plant in agro-system with secondary bioactive compounds. Majorly found in different regions of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh it is mainly used for treatment of many different ailments. There are many different properties of Bhringraj.
Apart from the above-mentioned properties Bhringraj also has hepato-protective, antidiabetics, anti-microbial, anti-malarial, anti-ulcer and hair growth promoting activities along with neuro-pharmacological activities and immunomodulatory effects.
Eclipta alba has components such as coumestan, wedelolactone, desmethylwedelolactone along with beta- sitosterol. These have been known for their antioxidant, anticancer and anti-thepatotoxic activities.
Weldelolactone activates c-Jun N-terminal kinase and caspase-3 which in-turn induces apoptosis. Apoptosis and cell cycle arrest along with inducing cytotoxicity to cancer cells was indicated by oleanolic acid. On the same lines beta-sitosterol kills cancer cells via apoptosis caused due to induction of oxidative stress, and DNA damage.
Effects of Eclipta alba have been observed in various cell lines such as, HCT-116, PC-3, RCC-45, MCF-7 and many more which are colon cancer, prosthetic adenocarcinoma, renal cell carcinoma and breast cancer cell lines respectively.
A study was conducted on seven different cancer cell lines namely, MDA-MB-231(Breast), HeLa (Cervical), SK-OV-3 (Ovary), PANC-1(Pancreatic), SW620 (Colon), DU145 (Prostate) and A549 (Lung). The study was to figure out dose-dependent cytotoxicity level. It was observed that all the cell lines when exposed to alcoholic extract of Eclipta alba did show morphological changes such as blebbing at cell membranes and shrinkage of sizes which suggested that the cells are undergoing apoptosis. It was also observed that the toxicity on normal cell lines were very minimal. This gives it a way to be used in anti-cancer treatment in many cancer cell types. Since apoptosis was triggered the cell proliferation was also observed to be minimal and in some cases non-existent.
Effect on Breast Cancer:
ANNEXIN V FITC was used on breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) to check or detect apoptosis. Annexin V when conjugated along with flurochromes act as a probe which help in detection of early and late apoptotic cells. Annexin V is a calcium ion dependent phospholipid binding protein that has the affinity for membrane phospholipid phosphotidyle serine (PS). This basically binds to the apoptotic PS which helps in the determination of early and late apoptosis.
When the breast cancer cell lines were treated with different concentrations of alcoholic extraction of Eclipta alba and were later stained with Annexin V (30 minutes), it was observed under the fluorescent microscope that the alcoholic extract caused the translocation of PS to the outer surface of the plasma membrane which was depicted via green fluorescence. This determined the early onset of apoptosis in both the cancer cell lines.
Effect on Colon Cancer:
A study where methanolic extract of Eclipta alba was studied indicated a significant cytotoxicity towards the colon cancer cell line (HCT-116) via a dose dependent manner. This was inferred via a colorimetric assay namely MTT which determined the cellular metabolic activities. Morphological assays conducted, determined the reduction in the size of the tumor. Furthermore, cancer cells lose the ability to grow as colonies once they have lost the connectivity between their neighboring cells; methanolic extract of the plant have proven to reduce the cancer colonies in each plate. As the concentration of the extracts increased the number of colonies grown decreased. This further proved the anti-cancer properties of Eclipta alba. The loss of connectivity does involve in occurrence of secondary tumors but as the exposure to the plant extract decreased the colonies, secondary tumors were also not found. The same study conducted a wound healing assay to study the migration capacity of the cancer cells. A significant inhibition in wound healing or migration of the cells was observed. As the concentration and time of exposure increased, a change in the morphology of the cancer cells was also observed along with a significant inhibition of migration. This yet again confirmed the anti-cancer properties of Eclipta alba when exposed in dose to time dependent manner.
· A table spoon of Bhringraj powder can be added to a glass of warm milk or water and then consumed.
· It can also be consumed with honey.