Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are major culprits involved in poor health. They signal imbalances in the body such as low levels of antioxidants, poor diet, stress, and toxic overload. Over time, inflammation, free radical damage, and inadequate glucose control lead to chronic conditions like diabetes, heart attack, obesity, and cancer.

For millions of Americans with these conditions, a drug is prescribed to help manage the disease. It’s the quid pro quo of modern medicine: A patient comes in with symptoms and a health care provider writes a prescription to treat the patient’s symptoms. Although addressing a patient’s symptoms is essential, this approach is a small part of the clinical picture and simply scratches the surface.

Symptoms are, in fact, clues to an underlying cause of disease. The goal should be to identify the root cause of the symptoms and to target the problems with personalized treatments. In my new book, The Gene Therapy Plan, I address how a healthful diet and lifestyle can prevent inflammation and free radical damage to promote wellness and healthy aging.

There are various bioactive compounds called phytochemicals that are found in plant-based foods that help to fight against disease at the level of DNA. Interestingly, some nutrients have even been shown to enhance the efficacy or reduce the adverse effects of other drugs.  There’s a powerful plant compound called honokiol that has been shown to effectively attack cancer cells.

How Does Honokiol Fight Cancer?

Honokiol is a polyphenolic compound extracted and purified from magnolia bark. Traditionally, it has been used in Chinese and Japanese medicine for the treatment of digestive problems, anxiety, and stroke. Animal studies show that honokiol is quite effective at targeting various cancer cell lines, and it uses various pathways to stop cancer.

To avoid detection by the body’s immune system, cancer cells (1) inhibit apoptosis (cell death), (2) allow unregulated cell growth, (3) promote self-renewal, (4) trigger angiogenesis (abnormal blood vessel formation), and (5) initiate metastasis (spread to distant tissues). Here are some of the unique properties of honokiol that allow it to exert its chemotherapeutic effects:

  • The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a semi-permeable, highly selective membrane that separates the specialized fluid in the brain from the circulatory system, and few drugs can cross the BBB. Fortunately, honokiol is able to cross the BBB to attack brain tumors.
  • Because cancer cells do not die, many cancer-fighting therapies work to induce cell death. Honokiol activates multiple apoptotic pathways.
  • Another normal process in cells is the development of blood vessels. After a child is born, there isn’t much need for angiogenesis. The exceptions include when a person experiences a cut or undergoes surgery. In either situation, new blood vessels form in a very orderly fashion; in cancer angiogenesis, blood vessels form an irregular pattern. Honokiol is a nutrient that interrupts abnormal angiogenesis by targeting various signaling pathways.
  • Honokiol regulates signaling pathways to control normal cell cycle proteins activity, such as NF-kB and P53, to inhibit cancer growth.
  • Cancer cells can be resistant to traditional chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy. Honokiol is remarkably synergistic; it enhances the effects of traditional cancer treatments by sensitizing cancer cells to the effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapies.

Honokiol is an amazing anticancer compound that is nontoxic and targets cancer using various pathways. When it comes to nutrition, honokiol is one of many phytonutrients that thwart cancer. Various wholesome compounds that are found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, and seeds can also curb cancer activity in your body.

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