New Discovery Finds Garden Weed Offers Hope for Cancer

While stinging nettles may be the bane of gardeners across the land, new research found that they offer hope in the treatment of cancer. Traditionally used for allergy relief and as a way to boost dietary nutrition, a substance in the weed identified as JPC11 was found to fight cancer in two ways.

New research published in the medical journal Nature Chemistry found that these nuisance weeds may offer hope in the treatment of cancer. The researchers identified a substance called JPC11 which appears to interfere with cancer cells’ ability to divide rapidly—a process necessary to the survival of cancer in the body.

 Current medical treatments for cancer, such as chemotherapy and radiation, have a lengthy list of serious side-effects, and can even be life-threatening, so any natural advancements on the battle against cancer is welcome. Some of the side-effects include: hair loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, anemia, low white blood cell count, susceptibility to infections, blood clotting problems, inflammation of the mucous membranes of the digestive tract, loss of appetite, reduced fertility, diarrhea or constipation, cognitive and memory problems. Platinum-based drugs like cisplatin are a common type of chemotherapy used to treat cancer.

Chemotherapy and radiation destroy cells and they do not differentiate between healthy and cancerous cells, however, the researchers at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom found that this natural substance in stinging nettles targets cancer cells to kill them while leaving healthy tissue alone. JPC11 in stinging nettles seems to have an innate intelligence to differentiate between healthy and cancerous tissue, leaving healthy tissue unharmed.

While the research on JPC11 as a potential treatment for cancer, and prostate and ovarian cancer in particular, is still in the preliminary stage, it could offer a more effective and focused cancer treatment. Researchers concluded that their findings “offer a new approach to cancer therapy.”

In an interview with Medical News Today, Professor Peter Sadler, a medical chemist at the University of Warwick indicated: “Platinum compounds (like cisplatin) are the most widely used drugs for cancer chemotherapy, but we urgently need to respond to the challenges (linked to this treatment and the) side-effects.” Research at the University of Warwick has been focused on the discovery of novel anti-cancer treatments that kill cancer in new and different ways. Considering their focus, it’s not surprising that such novel research on stinging nettles would originate from the school.

Earlier research found that stinging nettles may also be helpful for precancerous conditions. In one study researchers found that nettles was superior than the drug treatment finasteride for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is a condition in which the prostate becomes enlarged and is often a precursor to prostate cancer.


Stinging nettles rears its head every spring in most gardens and lawns but that doesn’t mean you should grab them without knowing a few things first:

  • First, only pick stinging nettles if you are confident you have identified the correct plant or have an experienced herbal guide with you.
  • Only pick stinging nettles if you are wearing gloves. The name will give you a clue as to why I’m suggesting gloves.
  • Only pick fresh stinging nettles in areas that have not been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals and that are far from high traffic areas.
  • Many farmer’s markets are now selling stinging nettles so you can buy them fresh there.
  • You can also purchase dried stinging nettles (which no longer sting) along with teas, tinctures and capsules containing the herb from many health food stores. While not as good as fresh nettles, they can still be highly beneficial. Follow package instructions for the product you choose.
  • If you are using fresh or dried nettles, you can add them to soups, stews and other savory dishes to enjoy their anti-cancer benefits as well as their many nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties.


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