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Fight Cancer with Herbs

At least five thousand new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed every year in the United Kingdom and this disease causes an annual death toll of four thousand women in the U.K. alone. Fortunately, modern medicine has come up with a cure for this dreaded disease in the form of the drug Taxol.

The story of the development of this drug is a very fascinating one. Taxol is obtained from the Pacific Yew tree (Taxus baccata).
In 1955, the National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health in Washington initiated a program to obtain anti-cancer drugs from plants. Plants that were reported to contain medicinal properties and some other plants at random were collected from all over the world and subjected to intensive tests. During the course of these trials, the Pacific Yew plant was discovered to demonstrate significant anti-cancer activity. Interestingly, this plant has not received any mention in traditional medical texts. Once the Institute had identified the medical properties of the plant, they handed over all the data to the Research Triangle Institute at North Caroline, USA, due to some financial and technical constraints. Two scientists at the Research Triangle Institute, M.C. Wani and Dr Munroe E. Wall finally identified and extracted Taxol from the plant in 1971. It took another twenty one years of research and trials and approximately 180 million dollars before the drug was finally approved by United States Food and Drug Administration in 1992, as a medication for ovarian cancer treatment.

Cancer specialists have hailed the discovery of Taxol as a major breakthrough in the field of cancer treatment. The discovery of Taxol also sets an important precedent for testing plants with no apparent medicinal use for medicinal properties. It highlights the vast treasure trove that nature has bequeathed to us and it behooves us to utilize these to the maximum in an attempt to save human lives suffering from deadly diseases.

Submitted on September 4, 2008