Guacatonga has shown to be benificial in killing cancer cells and has a rich history in herbal medicine systems in nearly every tropical country where it grows. The Karaja Indians in Brazil prepare a bark maceration to treat diarrhea; the Shipibo-Conibo Indians of Peru use a decoction of the bark for diarrhea, chest colds and flu.
Some of the active ingredients documented, researched, and verified in Guacatonga are a group of clerodane diterpenes. These phytochemicals are being researched and patented for their active biological properties and potential uses.
For cancer (sarcoma, carcinoma, and adenocarcinoma); for stomach disorders (ulcers, acid reflux, indigestion, dyspepsia, stomachache); as an antivenin for snake, spider and bee bites and stings; as a topical analgesic (pain-reliever) and anti-inflammatory for skin diseases, rashes and wounds; as a blood purifier and for general detoxification
BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES AND CLINICAL RESEARCH
The research on guacatonga’s anticancerous properties began in 1988 by Japanese researchers from the Tokyo College of Pharmacy and Pharmacognosy. They published one preliminary trial in 1988 on their discovery of these novel clerodane diterpenes and their anticancerous and antitumorous activities. The study indicated that an ethanol extract of the leaf showed strong antitumorous activity in laboratory mice with sarcomas. As soon as they made this discovery, they rushed to patent it, filing a Japanese patent for the casearin chemicals they’d discovered as new antitumorous agents. They published a follow-up study in 1990, again reporting their results from injecting mice with sarcomas with an ethanol extract of guacatonga leaves (100 mg per gram of body weight) and confirming their previous findings. They then tested individual casearins against various human cancer cell lines and published two more studies in 1991 and 1992. These studies reported newly isolated casearin chemicals and their antitumorous and anticancerous actions against various cancer tumor cells. Oddly, the Japanese researchers have not published any further studies and, since they had already filed patents, other research groups have not been forthcoming in funding research dollars on these patented antitumorous plant chemicals.
In 2002, however, a well-known research group in North Carolina discovered three new casearins in the leaves and stems of guacatonga that the Japanese had not (and, obviously, hadn’t patented). They named the new chemicals casearvestrin A, B and C, and published their first study in February, 2002, stating: “All three compounds displayed promising bioactivity, both in cytotoxicity assays against a panel of tumor cell lines and in antifungal assays . . .” Their research tested the new plant chemicals against human lung, colon and ovarian tumor cells and indicated all three compounds had toxicity to cancer cells in very small amounts. This research was supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (NCI) and performed by a non-profit biotech company, a large pharmaceutical company and a major university.
The NCI has also performed research in-house on clerodane diterpenoids found in another Casearia plant species documenting the antitumor properties of its novel diterpenoids and another university research group has documented the anticancerous properties of this class of chemicals in a Casearia plant from the Madagascar rainforest as well. It will be interesting to see if this diversified group will actually develop these chemicals into new effective chemotherapeutic agents; their research is ongoing.
All other research on the chemicals and activities of guacatonga has been performed by Brazilian research groups over the years. The first published toxicity study with rats indicated no toxicity with an ethanol extract of the leaves at 1840 mg per kg. This research group, at the University of Sao Paulo, studied the anti-ulcer properties of the plant (based on its long history of use as an effective herbal remedy for ulcers). They published two studies confirming these benefits. The first study, with rats (in 1990), showed that a crude leaf extract reduced the volume of gastric secretion by 42%, but had little effect on pH. The extract also prevented lab-induced acute gastric mucosal injury which was equivalent to the antiulcer drug cimetidine (Tagamet?). Ten years later they published a second rat study, documenting that a crude leaf extract protected the stomach lining without changing gastric pH and sped healing of acetic acid-induced chronic ulcers and H. pylori ulcers.
Another Brazilian researcher documented that a bark-and-leaf infusion demonstrated pain relieving and mild anti-inflammatory properties in mice. A university researcher followed up on the anti-inflammatory research, publishing in her dissertation that an extract of the leaves was as effective against inflammation in mice as the NSAID drugs Prioxicam? and Meloxicam?. Leaf extracts have also been shown by two research groups to be active against common food poisoning bacteria strains, Bacillus cerus and B. subtilis, but inactive against such other common bacteria as Staphylococcus, Streptoccoccus, and E. coli.
CURRENT PRACTICAL USES
It will be interesting to see what happens with guacatonga’s ongoing cancer research – especially with sarcomas. These types of tumors typically grow very quickly, are resistant to many of the approved cancer drugs, and represent a bleak prognosis for most cancer patients. In the meantime, guacatonga is considered a safe plant and a great natural herbal remedy for ulcers, inflammation, and pain, and will continue to be used as a snakebite remedy throughout the Amazon jungles by the indigenous peoples. Although not widely available in the U.S. market yet, hopefully as more people learn of its beneficial uses, the market demand for it will increase.
Ingredients: 100% pure guacatonga (Casearia sylvestris) leaf & stem. No binders, fillers or additives are used. This plant is non-irradiated and non-fumigated. One bottle contains 90 / 500mg capsules.