garden weed 'cures skin cancer', say scientists
By Jenny Hope
Last updated at 4:41 AM on 26th January 2011
A common weed could help cure skin cancers, claim
The sap from a plant known as petty spurge or
milkweed - found by roadsides
and in woodland - can 'kill' certain types of cancer
cells when applied to
It works on non-melanoma skin cancers, which affect
hundreds of thousands of
Britons each year.
Milkweed miracle: You can find this weed invading
gardens beds across the UK (and the USA)
FACTFILE: PETTY SPURGE, OR MILKWOOD
Latin name: Euphorbia peplus
Occurrence: Petty spurge is a small, branched
annual, plentiful in gardens
and arable fields.
It is native and common throughout the UK, in any
kind of soil. The plant
exudes a milky sap when damaged, which is a severe
irritant if applied to
Biology: Petty spurge flowers from April to
November. The seed number per
plant ranges from 260 to 1,200.
Petty spurge may be found in fruit for eight months
of the year. Seedlings
emerge throughout the year except for in winter but
the main flush is from
April to May. Most seed germinates within a year of
Just a few seedlings emerge in the following 5
years. Germination occurs at
5 to 10 mm depth in soil.
Persistence and Spread: Seed recovered from house
archaeological digs and dated at 20, 25, 30 and 100
years old has been
reported to germinate.
In all cases of successful treatment the skin was
left with a good cosmetic
The researchers, from a number of medical
institutions in Brisbane,
attribute the benefit to the active ingredient
ingenol mebutate which has
been shown to destroy tumour cells.
British experts said further studies were needed and
people should not try
this at home as the weed sap can be harmful to the
eyes and should not be
More than 76,500 people are diagnosed with
non-melanoma skin cancer in the
UK each year, with 90 per cent caused by ultraviolet
Lesions usually appear on the areas most exposed to
the sun, such as the
head, neck, ears, and back of the hands.
Kimberley Carter of the British Association of
Dermatologists said: 'This is
a very small test group so it will be interesting to
see what larger studies
and the development of the active ingredient in E.
peplus sap will reveal.
'Whilst it would not provide an alternative to
surgery for the more invasive
skin cancers or melanoma, in the future it might
become a useful addition to
the treatments available to patients for
superficial, non-melanoma skin
'Any advances that could lead to new therapies for
patients where surgery is
not an option are definitely worth investigating.
'It is also very important to note that this is
definitely not a treatment
people should be trying out at home.
'Exposure of the sap to mucous producing surfaces,
such as the eyes, results
in extreme inflammation and can lead to
'The concentration of the active ingredients in the
sap also varies between
different plants, with high doses able to cause very
severe and excessive
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1350454/Milkweed-miracle-Applying-sap-common-garden-weed-cure-skin-cancer.html#ixzz1CB54oZFY