Malignant liver cancer is notoriously problematic to remedy, and early detection, examination and treatment are the only means of curing liver cancer, even with current medical care procedures. Authors of a 2015 study published in CyTA – Journal of Food regard the consumption of insect tea as a benefit by promoting programmed cell death (apoptosis) in liver cancer cells.
Insect tea is created in a lengthy process from the leaves of assorted wild plants, such as Kuding tea (a bitter medicinal infusion) and platycarya which are cooked and dried to remove acridity. They then are moistened with rice water and heaped into bamboo baskets to naturally ferment and thereby exude a delicate aroma. This fragrance is hoped to invite insects such as Hydrillodes repugnalis to lay eggs on the leaves so that their propagated larvae will expel fecula particles after eating the leaves. Since Kuding tea leaves have been scientifically proven to possess numerous health benefits, including cancer prevention, it was postulated that the insect tea made from Kuding tea leaves would preserve the healthful results of Kuding tea, but also could boost the effect through ingestion by the insects.
Using a culture of HepG2 human liver cancer cells for an in vitro study, the researchers treated these cells with insect tea ethanolic extracts (ITEE) for 48 hours. They discovered that different doses of ITEE induced different levels of apoptosis, with cell death rates proportional to the dosage applied. Treatment with 40, 80, and 160 micrograms per milliliter (mcg/mL) induced 15.6, 25.7, and 38.8 percent apoptosis levels respectively.
Insect tea is an extraordinary type of tea with high contents of polyphenols, caffeine, flavones and vitamin C.
- Polyphenols in green tea have been proven in several scientific studies to confer strong anticancer effects in vitro. Insect tea also contains tea polyphenols, although the content measures slightly lower than green tea. Insect tea might also have apoptotic effects in HepG2 cancer cells because of the polyphenols in insect tea.
- Caffeine has potential to reduce skin cancer and also has proven apoptotic effects. It also could be used as a supplement to cancer treatment as an adversary to anticancer drug-induced genotoxicity. Caffeine is a valuable anticancer component of insect tea. It could induce apoptosis in HepG2 cells with other functional components.
- Flavones have many practical effects, and these components could reduce inflammation and cancer, and have been demonstrated to do so in studies involving Scutellaria baicalensis in which they inhibited nicotine-induced proliferation, metastasis and lung cancer-associated inflammation in vitro. They are derived from plants and were also found in insect tea. The flavones from different plants all showed strong apoptotic effects in cancer cells. In this study, insect tea had a compelling apoptotic-inducing effect in HepG2 cancer cells.
- Vitamin C could stimulate the immune system and dampen chronic inflammation; it also has protective effects in normal cells, but could induce the cancer cells apoptosis. Insect tea has a high content of vitamin C. Vitamin C might increase immunity against cancer, thus inducing HepG2 cancer cells apoptosis.
The study concluded that insect tea could inhibit cancer cell growth, induce apoptosis in cancer cells, and is able to induce apoptosis of HepG2 cancer cells in particular. The anticancer effect of insect tea merits further in vivo experiments, and the mechanism requires additional research.