Anticancer effect of extracts from a North American medicinal plant--wild sarsaparilla

Anticancer Res. May-Jun 2006;26(3A):2157-64.


The wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis) plant is richly distributed in North America, mainly in Canada. In the present study, 24 extracts were obtained from the rhizome, stem, leaf and fruit of wild sarsaparilla. In the presence of RH (hexane fraction from the rhizome), the survival rate of WiDr (human colon cancer cell) was 3.5 +/- 2.7% (IC50 = 30.1 +/- 3.5 microg/ml) and that of Molt (human leukemia cell) was 2.4 +/- 2.8% (IC50 = 7.0 +/- 0.6 microg/ml). The survival rate of HELA (human cervix cancer cell) was only 1.8 +/- 0.9% in the presence of FH (hexane fraction from the fruit of wild sarsaparilla) (IC50 = 33.3 +/- 2.7 microg/ml). The cytotoxicities of RH and FH against normal human umbilical vein endothelial cells were significantly lower than against the tested human cancer cells. RH appeared to be the best extract against WiDr and Molt, whereas FH was the most effective against HELA. Because of the rich natural supply, simple extraction procedure and high yield, RH and FH of wild sarsaparilla have the potential to be developed into selective anticancer nutraceutical and/or pharmaceutical products with few side-effects and low cost.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Aralia / chemistry*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • HeLa Cells
  • Hexanes / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, T-Cell / drug therapy
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Rhizome / chemistry


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Hexanes
  • Plant Extracts