Cancer-Fighting Plant Found Only In The Exotic Tropics Of...Indiana?
By Kurtis Bright
Meet The Paw-Paw Fruit: ‘Tropical’ Midwest Plant May Prove The Best Tool Yet For Fighting Cancer
Every day it seems like Western science is bumbling across health secrets derived from exotic, mysterious plants discovered in faraway lands, secrets previously only understood by a handful of indigenous people who stuck with the Old Ways that were handed down by their elders.
The paw-paw fruit fits that description to a T: it is a little-known, relatively rare plant that is found only in one specific region, it has long been known to the locals as a healthful, nutritious food, and its curative properties are only now beginning to emerge.
It fits the bill perfectly, were it not for the fact that the paw-paw comes from the exotic, faraway land of Indiana and southern Michigan--not exactly a tropical Pacific island.
Sometimes called the Hoosier banana or the Michigan banana, the paw-paw fruit has a smooth texture that has been likened to custard, and a subtle flavor that is reminiscent of bananas and strawberries. The paw-paw has been known to natural health food enthusiasts for a while now, but it has yet to truly enter the mainstream, although you can occasionally find paw-paw supplement capsules on the shelves of health food stores.
But it's hard to understand why it remains so obscure: boasting antioxidant levels on a par with that of cranberries, 20 times the magnesium of apples, bananas or strawberries, 70 times the iron of the above mentioned fruits, more vitamin C than oranges, and an excellent source of amino acids, the paw-paw fruit is truly a miracle food.
Even more exciting, new research is showing that its cancer-fighting properties may be even more miraculous.
For starters, the bark of the paw-paw tree seems to be one of the strongest anti-cancer compounds known to date, according to a large-scale study conducted at Purdue University.
That study along with a second one, which was also led by Dr. Jerry McLaughlin of Purdue, has led to several patents, and was found to offer strong evidence that the tree bark of the paw-paw can be a powerful ally in the fight against even drug-resistant cancers.
The study McLaughlin led showed that over 40 anti-cancer compounds are in paw-paw bark. And while he noted that cancer cells are famously complex and hard to kill in humans, the study’s results showed promise that with wider studies, the bark could prove to be the basis for a whole new range of cancer treatments in practice.
“The paw-paw compounds are not only effective in killing tumors that have proven resistant to anti-cancer agents, but they also seem to have a special affinity for such resistant cells,” according to a Purdue News piece accompanying McLaughlin’s study.
Meanwhile, we’ll just have to be content with pounding paw-paw pills--unless you are lucky enough to be able to visit the exotic climes of northern Indiana and southern Michigan, and find yourself with an opportunity to sample the fruit that the native peoples there have might offer you.