A long-forgotten Native American concoction made with chokecherry just might be a better alternative to traditional cancer treatments.
Destany “Sky” Pete recreated the traditional Native American concoction at the 2017 Elko County Science Fair in Nevada, beating 440 other projects to win first prize.
Studies show that chokecherry effectively inhibits cancer cell growth in just 24 hours. Even the chokecherry pits make an efficient cancer-fighting remedy. The traditional preparation was made with chokecherry as well as crushed chokecherry pits.
Our ancestors often hold forgotten knowledge of medicinal plants that could help treat illnesses and even aid in healing cancer if they were used today. But in the modern world, listening to personal experiences with herbs passed down to generations is not always enough. The scientific arm of society requests studies, but usually does not have enough funds to actually conduct them, unless they’re sponsored either covertly or overtly by corporations, of course.
Sometimes proving the medicinal values of a plant comes from an unexpected source.
One such plant, or rather a specific traditional recipe using it, gained its spotlight when a high school Native American student proved its worth at the International Science Fair in Los Angeles, reported Indian Country Today (ICMN).
When Destany “Sky” Pete, of the Shoshone and Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Idaho and Nevada, was having a conversation with a leader in the community, she learned that the modern health problems the tribe has today is largely due to the lack of traditional foods being consumed. One important forgotten recipe is toishabui or chokecherry pudding.
As Sky later found out, one of chokecherry pudding’s health benefits is its cancer-killing properties. She decided to verify this by conducting an experiment with the help of biochemistry professor Dr. Ken Cornell at Boise State University, who works with cancer cells in a lab.
Dr. Cornell tested four types of chokecherry specimens on uterine sarcoma cancer cells. Only one sample was successful at inhibiting cancer cell growth – and that was the traditional chokecherry pudding. In just 24 hours, cancer cells started dying. The other specimens lacked an important part of the pudding – the chokecherry pits.
“It was the traditional preparation of toishabui with the crushed seeds that had the results,” Sky said.
Proving that another herb is beneficial for treating cancer was well celebrated in the community. And the chokecherry pudding experiment won the First Grand Prize in the 2017 Elko County Science Fair in Nevada by beating over 440 of other projects. In the future, Sky plans to conduct experiments on other types of cancer cells and for a longer period of time.
“I feel like our ancestors were really healthy. Nowadays, we’re prone to diabetes and other diseases. But back then, it was our food that made us healthy,” Sky said.
Image courtesy of: Andrée Reno Sanborn