For years I ignored it because I didn’t know what it was. There were usually several varieties available on the supermarket shelves, and in the Chinese medicinal shops it was available as dried herbs, granules as well as pills or capsules. Then recently, for some reason, I started researching it. What I found out spurred me to stock my larder with products containing it.
The oldenlandia plant has been used by the Chinese for medicinal purposes for centuries. The book “An Illustrated Guide to Antineoplastic Chinese Herbal Medicine” lists oldenlandia as having the following:
Properties: sweet, bland, slightly bitter, and slightly cold. Clears heat and toxin, activates blood circulation, removes blood stasis, promotes diuresis, and relieves stranguria (urinary obstruction).
Indications: various kinds of tumor, especially tumors of the digestive tract, lymphosarcoma, carcinoma of the liver and larynx. Also for appendicitis, hepatitis, pneumonia, cholecystitis, urinary infection, furunculosis, cellulites, and snake bite.
In an article titled “Oldenlandia and Scutellaria: Antitoxin and Anticancer Herbs” by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon, USA, it is said that the oldenlandia is from the Rubiaceae family, and is collected from the wild. It is found mainly in the southeastern provinces of China-Guangxi, Guangdong and Fujian-growing at low altitude in moist fields. According to Dr. Dharmananda, Dr. Jiao Shude, in his “Ten Lectures on the use of Medicinals”, says that he “frequently adds about 30-40 grams of this medicinal to an appropriate decoction medicine devised according to the principle of pattern identification” for treating various forms of cancer. He also suggests adding some other anticancer herbs, such as scutellaria barbata.
In “Pharmacology and Applications of Chinese Materia Medica”, it states that: “The herb at the dose of 30-60 grams is often added to conventional prescriptions for carcinoma.” In “Chinese Medicinal Herbs of Hong Kong”, among the indications for oldenlandia is “early stage of cancer of lungs, liver, and rectum.” It is recommended there that oldenlandia be used in a dosage of 60 grams along with 30 grams of scutellaria as a decoction, taken once a day.
Various laboratory studies of the action of oldenlandia suggest that the herb may contribute to inhibiting growth of cancer cells, promoting cancer cell death (apoptosis), and enhancing immune attack against cancer cells.
In the 2006 report “Evidence for Oldenlandia diffusa-evoked cancer cell apoptosis through superoxide burst and caspase activation” by Yadav SK and Lee SC from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, the researchers concluded that “the ethanol extract of the herb effectively evokes cancer cell apoptosis, possibly through burst-mediated caspase activation.” This study was published in PubMed.gov, the online publication of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
In another study, the “Apoptotic effect of Oldenlandia diffusa on the leukaemic cell line HL60 and human lymphocytes”, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 114, Issue 3, 3 December 2007, the researchers reported that their findings“support a cytotoxic action for Oldenlandia diffusa”
Oldenlandia may be used as a preventive health care agent to inhibit mutation of cells by carcinogens. As it also builds up the immune system, this herb may be beneficial for anyone undergoing modern cancer therapies. Fortunately for me, oldenlandia diffusa grows wild here and beverages containing oldenlandia are cheap (the equivalent of 50 US cents per bottle) and easily available where I live. I particularly like one from China which is a sparkling mineral water with oldenlandia extract. It comes in a green glass bottle and the Chinese have been drinking it for decades. You can probably find oldenlandia beverages in most Asian supermarkets and grocers as well as Chinese medical shops.
In Chinese, oldenlandia diffusa is known as “baihuasheshecao” (sometimes written Bai Hua She She Cao). “Baihua” means white flower, “she” means snake, and “shecao” means tongue weed, referring to the long thin leaves of the herb. English-speakers sometimes refer to it as the snake-needle weed.
Cheers to good health!