Fighting Global Disease

Research in the natural world’s potential in the healthcare field has never been more essential to mankind’s survival than in the present day. With the incidences of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and autism rising each year, we must find innovative ways to solve these growing global health crises. The neem tree has shown immense potential in this regard, offering solutions to some of the most dangerous health problems. Oral cancer is one of the most recent areas in which neem has shown immense potential.

Oral cancer is one of the most common diseases globally, with 400,000 people newly diagnosed every year. In some countries, the incidence is much higher. In India, oral cancer affects 30-35% of the population. Oral cancer has a high mortality rate, as only 50% of those afflicted with the condition survive longer than five years after their initial diagnosis.
Treatments typically include surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. However, these therapies have many unfortunate side effects and damage or completely destroy many of the body’s cells in the process. For these reasons, oral cancer is a prime candidate for more research in natural therapies and treatments.

Currently, there are homeopathic options such as dietary supplements that contain high levels of phytochemicals and antioxidants like vitamin A, C, E, such. Antioxidants are effective due to their capabilities to inhibit the oxidation process of free radicals. Free radicals, or unpaired electrons, interact with DNA, causing cell damage and cancer. Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals and therefore the damage they cause in DNA.

Neem is one such antioxidant, containing many phenolic compounds, such as gallic acid and catechin, showing effectiveness as an anti-carcinogen. These not only compose part of neem’s anti-inflammatory properties, but they are also effective in detoxifying the enzyme Glutathione and inducing apoptosis of cancer cells through suppression of the nuclear factor κ-b (NFκ-b). Nimbolide is also an important part of neem’s cancer treatment potential. Nimbolide is able to induce apoptosis due to its ability to bind with PI3K, a signaling kinase that inactivates Glycogen synthase kinase-3β. When nimbolide is present, GSK-3β functions as normal.

Tumors can regulate their surrounding environment, or microenvironment, to stimulate inflammation and facilitate cell invasion. Nimbolide transforms this environment into one that enables tumor suppression. In a recent study, nimbolide has been shown to activate RECK, a tumor suppressor protein. This protein is typically found in all body tissues, but is absent or found only in low quantities in malignant tumors. Nimbolide prevents the growth of malignant cells and it is able to spread to other body tissues through blood vessels to kill other cancer cells.