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January 21, 2019 2:54 pm

Israeli Scientists Discover Encouraging Anti-Cancer Properties of Desert Plant

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Nauplius graveolens, or “fragrant star,” a wildflower that grows in desert areas of Israel. Photo: Dead Sea and Arava Science Center.

Israeli scientists have seen encouraging results in their study of the anti-cancer properties of a desert plant that grows wild in the Jewish state.

According to Hebrew news site Walla, the plant is the “fragrant star” or kochav reichani in Hebrew. It is a desert bush plant that grows throughout the south and east of Israel, in the Arava, Negev and Judean Deserts, and close to the Dead Sea. Also known by the scientific name Nauplius graveolens, it is known for its medicinal properties, being long used to treat pain, digestive problems and birth complications.

Following up on previous studies, scientists at the Arava branch of the Dead Sea and Arava Science Center used an extract of the plant to treat mice with lymphoma. After 24 to 48 hours, 50 percent of the cancer cells died, while healthy cells were left unharmed.

Dr. Rivki Ophir, who headed the research team at the Yair Research Center, said that the processes observed were “very similar to the processes that allow conventional chemotherapy to fight human cancer cells.”

“The results of the study are very encouraging,” she stated. “Although this is a preliminary study that has not yet been tried in humans, and we do not yet know which types of cancers it can help, the potential is clear — the fragrant star has medical value. If one of the pharmaceutical companies decides to invest in this unique plant, we may be able to bring good news to cancer patients.”

“Our findings are not a coincidence,” she added. “The Arava, it is said, is a unique area that allows the natural development of desert plants with many medicinal properties, because they survive severe stress conditions including lack of rain, extreme heat, radiation, and more. To survive, they produce unique organic materials.”

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