High-level natural medicine, wellness products developed by DOST

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MEDICAL practitioners in the country have categorized the use of tea from decocted guyabano (Annona muricata L.) leaves as folk medicine.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines alternative medicine as “the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illnesses.”

The WHO cautions however that “inappropriate use of traditional medicines or practices can have negative or dangerous effects” and that “further research is needed to ascertain the efficacy and safety” of several of the practices and medicinal plants used by traditional medicine systems.

Thus, there is need to draw a line between alternative medicine and quackery.


Building the blocks
In 1997, Nicholas H. Oberlies, Vicki L. Croy, Marietta L. Harrison, and Jerry L. McLaughlin of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology in Purdue University, Indiana published in the magazine Cancer Letters, results of their study entitled “Tumor cell growth inhibition by several Annonaceous acetogenins in an in vitro disk diffusion assay.”

With the anti-cancer properties of acetogenins fully established, they worked on the capability of acetogenins to block, or inhibit cell growth of tumor cells. They tested these on several cell types in vitro (outside their normal biological context such as in glass or petri dishes) using cancerous cells from mice and humans as well as non-cancerous cells from the intestinal tract of rats.

Results showed that acetogenins applied to cancerous cells blocked their growth.

However, it did not affect non-cancerous and healthy cells and did not block their growth. These findings indicated that acetogenins selectively blocked cell growth of tumor cells, while keeping healthy cells unaffected.

However, documented efforts to produce large amounts of these active ingredients in the acetogenins of guyabano and subject these to clinical trials involving humans, have been few.

For the meantime, one can turn to the biological acetogenins found in the guyabano natural supplement in capsule and teabag produced by the Department of Science and Technology’s Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI).

Nature in convenient bag and capsule
Remaining undaunted by the “talk” and doubts of some on the therapeutic effects of decocted guyabano leaves, Dr. Rosalinda C. Torres, supervising science research specialist at the Chemicals and Energy Division of ITDI, stood firm in her belief.

On October 24, 2014, Epifanio M. Evasco, director of patents of the Intellectual Property Philippines-Bureau of Patents (IPP-BP), awarded Dr. Torres and her team Utility Model Patent Registration Nos. 2-2014000346 and 2-2014000347 for their work on the process of preparing guyabano leaves in capsule and teabag, respectively.

Her team members are Carmelita O. Manalo, Teresita S. Bonifacio, Evelyn B. Manongsong, Elvira L. Arrogante, Romulo R. Estrella, Eduardo A. Lanto, Cynthia N. Ochona, Yolanda C. Paras, Juliet T. Barcala, and Regin Glen Ortiz.

Two weeks later, IPP-BP again awarded the group with Utility Model Patent Registration Nos. 2-2014000307 for the process of preparing guyabano fruit in capsule, and 2-2014000308 for guyabano fruit in teabag.

The patent will allow the team to make, use, sell, or import the four utility models for the next seven years.

Other wellness products
To date, Dr. Torres’ team has developed other wellness products including essential oils used mainly for their aroma-giving properties. Through steam distillation, oil to be extracted from freshly harvested dried parts of aromatic plants like flowers of ylang-ylang and sampaguita, leaves of citronella, eucalyptus, and lemon grass, and calamansi rind, among others.

She elaborated that industry uses these in aromatherapy, “…for food and beverage processing, and in production of perfume, cosmetics, and other personal care products.”

Another of their products is a slimming cream derived from caffeine from coffee grounds and grapefruit oil extract. It has significantly reduced weight, waist, and hip measurements, as confirmed by an eight-week clinical trial.

DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

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