Cockspur grass destroys four human cancer cell lines: Study

Researchers from Cairo University found a natural remedy for cancer in cockspur grass (Echinochloa crus-galli). Their findings, which were published in The Brazilian Journal of Pharmacognosy, were determined through an in vitro study involving different human cancer cell lines.

  • Cancer, especially of the lungs, stomach, liver, colon, and breast, is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. The high mortality risk associated with cancer is due to factors like high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, physical inactivity, smoking, and alcohol consumption.
  • Many plants have been shown to contain compounds with anticancer properties, such as vinblastine, vincristine, paclitaxel, flavopiridol, and combretastatin. Because of this, researchers continue to screen other plants for potential anticancer agents.
  • Cockspur grass possesses grains which are commonly used as feed for birds and millet for humans.
  • The grains also have traditional applications as remedies for carbuncles, hemorrhage, sores, spleen trouble, wounds, and cancer. Moreover, it is also used to improve weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure.
  • Previous studies have shown that cockspur grass contains phenolic compounds, which are possibly responsible for the health benefits associated with the plant.
  • In this study, the researchers isolated bioactive compounds from cockspur grass grain extracts. They then determined their anticancer activities against four different human cancer cell lines, including MCF-7 (breast carcinoma), HCT-116 (colon carcinoma), HELA (cervical carcinoma) and HEPG-2 (liver carcinoma).
  • They identified and isolated the following phenolic compounds with anticancer properties for the first time in cockspur grass:
    • 5,7-dihydroxy-3?,4?,5?-trimethoxy flavone
    • 5,7,4?-trihydroxy-3?,5?-dimethoxy flavone (tricin)
    • Quercetin
    • Flavone
    • Apigenin-8-C-sophoroside
    • 2-methoxy-4-hydroxy cinnamic acid
    • p-coumaric acid
    • Quercetin-3-O-glucoside

This study shows that cockspur grass grains are a good source of anticancer compounds, with the methoxylated flavones 5,7-dihydroxy-3?,4?,5?-trimethoxy flavone and tricin exhibiting the most potent activity.

Read the full text of the study at this link.

For more articles about natural products with anticancer properties, visit

Journal Reference:

Molla SGE, Motaal AA, Hefnawy HE, Fishawy AE. CYTOTOXIC ACTIVITY OF PHENOLIC CONSTITUENTS FROM ECHINOCHLOA CRUS-GALLI AGAINST FOUR HUMAN CANCER CELL LINES. The Brazilian Journal of Pharmacognosy. 9 October 2015;26(1). DOI: 10.1016/j.bjp.2015.07.026

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