Researchers have found that plant 'Woad', which was once used as war paint by ancient Britons and Celtic warriors to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies, could now be used in the battle against cancer
It was explained that the plant was used to get blue dye for the war paint is a rich source of a compound that fights breast cancer, scientists have found. They also mentioned that Woad, which belongs to the same plant family as cauliflower and broccoli, contains high levels of the compound glucobrassicin.
The researchers, led by Stefania Galletti, of the University of Bologna, Italy have discovered that Woad contains 20 times more glucobrassicin than broccoli. They explained that they have been able to increase its concentration by damaging the plant, as when they found that when the leaves were damaged the plant released glucobrassicin as a defense mechanism.
The researchers found that its derivatives could kill some plant pests, and that importantly they also have anti-tumor properties and are especially effective against breast cancer. The researchers already suggested that eating vegetables rich in chemicals such as glucobrassicin might help protect people against cancer. Later studies have suggested that glucobrassicin cleanses out cancer-causing compounds including derivatives of estrogen.
Explaining that recent studies had found that people who ate who ate foods rich in glucosinolates had reduced levels of chemicals linked to smoking-related lung cancer, the researchers said that it has been so far difficult to extract enough glucobrassicin from plants to test its effect.
Dr Stefania Galletti and her team now hope that their findings would make it easier to perform such studies. She told the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, "The availability of glucobrassicin in good amounts and at low cost could finally permit studies to be performed in order to clarify the anti-cancer role of glucobrassicin-rich vegetables, like broccoli, in the human diet."
Dr Kat Arney of Cancer Research UK said, "The natural world is a rich source of molecules that can benefit human health. This new way of growing Woad, a plant from the same family as broccoli and cauliflower, could allow researchers to get hold of larger quantities of potential anti-cancer agents. These can then be tested further in the lab and in patients. Chemicals like these could one day prove to have an important part to play in the prevention and treatment of cancer."