Ziziphora The “Medicinal Jewel” Treats Gastric Cancer

Did you know…that an extract of an herb most people have never heard of—a “Medicinal Jewel” of traditional Western Asia—may effectively treat gastric cancer?

An extract of the plant Ziziphora has shown promise as an herbal remedy against gastric cancer, according to a new study published in Food and Agricultural Immunology. In the trial, researchers from Shahed University, Iran, studied the effects on gastric cancer (the 4th most common type of cancer) of 4 plants:

  • Aloe Vera
  • Ginger
  • Saffron
  • Ziziphora

Scientists measured cytotoxic (anticancer) effect on cancer cells. Ziziphora demonstrated the strongest effect of the 4 plants tested.

“[Our] understanding of the significance of the gut microflora in good health and in disease has taken major strides in the past 3 decades and much has been made of the importance of herbs and spices as modulators of health and as being useful in preventing various disorders including gastric ulcers and obesity,” says professor C. J. Smith, editor of the journal and director of the Manchester Food Research Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Ziziphora: A Medicinal Jewel of Western Asia

The Ziziphora clinopodioides plant, also known as Blue Mint Bush, thrives in the dry soil of Western Asia. It is in the family Lamiaceae in the major group Angiosperms—or flowering plants. Ziziphora

This traditional medicinal plant has long been studied and applied in the treatment of various diseases, especially in its native growing regions of Iran, Iraq, and central and eastern part of Turkey. It is traditionally used by the Uighur people for treating hypertension.

Ziziphora is also a famous tea among the Siberian Altay nomads. These hunters are said to “come home to their yurts to a hot mug of Ziziphora tea with a pat of yak butter floating on top after a hard day of wolf hunting on horseback with berkuts (the big Siberian eagles they hunt with).”

These nomads believe that Ziziphora invigorates the heart and nourishes the blood.

Ziziphora is highly valued for several other medicinal properties, including…

    • As a sedative and carminative
    • For anti-vomiting
    • As an anti-inflammatory
    • As an antibacterial
    • As an antiseptic in food

“Hippocrates declared, ‘Let your food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food,'” says professor C.J. Smith.

Increasingly, traditional doctors and modern people alike are taking note of this simple wisdom. “As we have developed modern medicines over the last couple of centuries we have neglected the role which diet plays in the maintenance of good health,” says Smith.

“However, recent years have shown the importance of understanding both the role of diet and the role of the gut flora in maintaining good health.”

Where to Find Ziziphora

This herbal remedy has yet to catch on in North America, but can be found in a handful of herbal teas available online (and perhaps in some natural food and herb stores). Ask your herbalist or natural health practitioner about dosage.

If you can’t find Ziziphora and are interested in its health benefits, you may want to consider growing your own. This intensely mint scented perennial thrives in dry, infertile soils and, according to one nursery, “colors the garden with clouds of blue, thyme-like flowers in the summer.”

Ziziphora, which is famed for attracting butterflies, can be grown outdoors in zones 5 – 9.