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Calabash contains active ingredients potential for cancer treatment

Calabash tree, scientifically known as Crescentia cujete has been used by local communities as remedy for several illnesses. Because of its many uses in folkloric healing, Calabash tree is considered as miracle tree of General Santos City.

Inspired with the indigenous knowledge on Calabash tree, biology students of Notre Dame of Dadiangas University in General Santos City undertook a study to determine the active ingredients of Calabash tree potential for medical uses.

Analysis showed that Calabash fruit and leaf extracts contain flavonoids such as quercetin and anthraquinone, the important phytochemicals for antiangiogenic activities, a process that inhibits the growth and development of new blood vessels in the body.

Antiangiogenesis controls the spread of tumour cells in the body by disabling the transport of nutrients toward the cancerous cells. Normally, tumour starts from a single cell and divides to make more cancer cells. The growth of malignant cells will depend on the availability of specific nutrients being transported by blood vessels.

In laboratory experiments, the researchers have analyzed the effects of calabash extracts (fruit and leaf extracts) to duck eggs. The extracts have successfully halted the formation of new blood vessels as shown by the lower number of branching points in ducks embryo compared to the control samples.

With these findings, researchers claimed that calabash extracts has the ability to prevent blood vessel growth and development and could be used to help prevent the spread of cancer cells in the human body. Researchers also believe that calabash tree could be a natural resource that can be used in the development of cheaper and locally available anti-cancer treatments.

This study won 3rd prize during the Gruppo Medica Award for outstanding undergraduate thesis in herbal medicine during the 7th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week held in Plaza del Norte Hotel and Convention Center, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.