Milk thistle fights brain tumors

Milk thistle fights brain tumors

Cushing Disease is caused by a tumor in the brain, which is usually benign (non-cancerous). According to Medline Plus: “With Cushing disease, the pituitary gland releases too much ACTH. ACTH stimulates production and release of cortisol, a stress hormone. Too much ACTH causes the adrenal glands to make too much cortisol.”

This disease causes weight gain, high blood pressure, and muscle weakness. Patients also become more likely to develop osteoporosis, cognitive dysfunction, and sometimes depression.

The tumour can often be removed by brain surgery. However, there are some inoperable cases where the only treatment involves serious side effects.

Scientists from Munich have uncovered new findings, which show that milk thistle fights brain tumors associated with Cushing Disease.

The research team from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich found in cell cultures, animal studies, and human tumour tissue that an extract from milk thistle can treat Cushing Disease.

Silibinin is the major active constituent of milk thistle seeds. It has an outstanding safety profile in humans and is already used for the treatment of liver disease and poisoning,” explains Marcelo Paez-Pereda, the lead scientist on the study. After treating Cushing with silibinin, ACTH production went back to normal, tumor growth slowed, and Cushing Disease symptoms disappeared in mice.

How does silibinin fight Cushing?

We knew that Cushing Disease is caused by the release of too much ACTH. So we asked ourselves what causes this over production and how to stop it,” says Paez-Pereda.

The research team found that there were excess amounts of a protein called heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) in tumour tissue from Cushing Disease patients. This protein in normal amounts works with the glucocorticoid receptor to control the production of ACTH.

As there are too many HSP90 molecules in the tumour tissue, they stick to the glucocorticoid receptor,” explains Paez-Pereda. “We found that silibinin binds to HSP90 thus allowing glucocorticoid receptor molecules to dissolve from HSP90. With silibinin we might have discovered a non-invasive treatment strategy not only for the rare Cushing Disease but also for other conditions with the involvement of glucocorticoid receptors such as lung tumours, acute lymphoblastic leukemia or multiple myeloma,” concludes Paez-Pereda.

This study showing milk thistle fights brain tumors was published in the journal Nature Medicine.

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REFERENCES:
1. “Plant Extract Fights Brain Tumour.” Max Planck Gesellschaft. Max Planck Gesellschaft, 10 Feb. 2015. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
2. “A C-terminal HSP90 Inhibitor Restores Glucocorticoid Sensitivity and Relieves a Mouse Allograft Model of Cushing Disease.” Nature.com. Nature Medicine, 9 Feb. 2015. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
3. “Cushing Disease: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.

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