There is no scientific evidence that porcupine flower can cure cancer, the Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine Department has said in response to claims that the plant has brought about full recovery for several cancer patients in upper Central Thailand.
Dr Khwanchai Visithanon, director of the department’s Thai Traditional Medicine Institute, said that, while porcupine flower (Barleria prionitis) had anti-inflammatory properties, there was no scientific proof it was anti-carcinogenic.
The plant is more commonly used in ayurvedic medicine, spread on the feet to prevent the skin from cracking during the monsoon season.
Claims to its utility in treating cancer would have to be verified, Khwanchai said. Officials had already collected information in Sukhothai province, where the claims first emerged.
“If there are grounds to believe the claims, we will conduct extensive research,” Khwanchai said.
Word spread online several weeks ago that ingesting the leaves of the porcupine flower had cured “more than 10” cancer patients in Sukhothai’s Sawankhalok district.
The abbot of Wat Bot had reportedly cured his cancer-stricken brother with the plant.
“I boiled the plant’s leaves for my brother to drink, after doctors said his adenocarcinoma was incurable,” Phra Khru Pipatsutakorn claimed.
He said he had grown the plant on the grounds of his temple and was distributing the leaves to anyone who wanted them.
Amnuay Mapoo, 63, said she lost her right breast to cancer in 2015. The mastectomy was followed by chemotherapy, and since then she has drunk a liquid made from porcupine-flower leaves regularly.
“The cancer hasn’t returned,” she said.