Probiotics and Pao Pereira: The Natural Way to Fight Colorectal Cancer

“Colorectal Cancer”: a dreadful term that covers bowel cancer, colon cancer or rectal cancer. Colorectal Cancer has become the second leading cause of cancer death in women, and the third for men, and the trend keeps growing.

The scientific community has been increasingly focused on the root cause that contributes to an array of diseases – chronic inflammation. When it comes to colorectal health it has become apparent that chronic gut inflammation may lead to cancer. And chronic inflammation itself may have very well been kick started by toxin-producing-bacteria.

What can we do to protect ourselves? As the gastrointestinal and respiratory tract are home to millions of bacterial cells, the nature of this microbiome plays a pivotal role in health outcomes, providing us with valuable knowledge to improve our health.

Good flora is paramount to gut health.

Research published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology, establishes a direct link between the poor quality of gut microbes and increased risk of bowel cancer. Lead study author Dr. Sandra dos Reis and her team researched how gut microbes can increase the risk of bowel cancer. Their first finding relates to gut inflammation: chronic gut inflammation may lead to cancer, and that chronic inflammation may have very well been kick started by toxin-producing-bacteria. Indeed, certain bacteria release molecules that stick to cells lining the colon, affecting cell division, and potentially leading to cancer.

colorectal cancer body image

On the other hand, probiotics, or "good bacteria," can help

Dr. dos Reis and her team spotted the importance of good bacteria to reduce the likelihood of cancer developing in the lower intestine and even reduce tumor growth. “By interacting with the host and other microorganisms present in the intestinal microbiota,” Dr. dos Reis explains, “these microorganisms modulate the functioning of the whole organism through different mechanisms, contributing to intestinal and systemic health…Considering the importance that the gut has to maintain our health, regular consumption of probiotics can impact positively on health.”

Not all probiotics are created equal.

For years we have been told that 70% of our gut is connected to the immune system and that taking probiotics regularly helps the healthy strains of bacteria populate and rebalance the microbiome. Gut health is directly linked to robust health and strong immunity. But no one mentioned that for the most part (in most products available) the bacteria are dormant or dead and never come back to life in the acidic environment of our digestive system. This is because the majority of probiotics currently available are given as vegetative cells (usually as lyophilized preparations) and those bacteria are non-spore formers1.

On the other hand, spore-forming strains are more effective because the endospores that encapsulate the strains are highly resistant to stomach acid, allowing for the delivery of more viable probiotics to the small intestine.

A new generation of probiotic products offers cutting-edge technology (probiotics attached to spores) ensuring superior integrity of microorganisms, even without refrigeration, combined with other ingredients to support the liver and proper digestion. The most advanced formulations in this category are still imported from Europe. Rather than focusing on the billions of bacteria each capsule may contain (most of them will die in your stomach before getting to your intestine), it’s interest lies in the quality of the various strains contained therein such as Bacillus subtilis (strain inducing production of vitamin and immune stimulation, as well as inhibiting the growth of pathogenic E. coli in vitro2).

Additional key strains to look for include Bacillus coagulans (has the ability to go dormant during harsh conditions, including high levels of acid in the stomach, which might kill off other probiotics3) or Bacillus Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which stimulates mucus production in the intestinal tract which leads to smoother bowel movements4.

Pao pereira (Flavopereirine): Multiple Pathways of Anti-Cancer Activity

Pao pereira (Geissospermum vellosii) is a tree growing in the Amazon rain forest. Back in the 1980s Dr. Mirko Beljanski was first to identify the remarkable anti-cancer and anti-viral properties of the bark extract.

Numerous research programs supported by The Beljanski Foundation have since confirmed the activity of flavopereirine rich Pao pereira (Pau pereira) extract against various cancers including prostate5, ovarian6 and pancreatic7. Over the years, the Pao pereira (Pau pereira) extract has been shown to act on multiple pathways, ranging from induction of apoptosis (death of cancerous cells), to reduction of inflammation though inhibition of Nfκb8, to inhibition of the growth of androgen dependent cells by suppression of 5α-reductase9.

Recently, these results caught the attention of a team of researchers in Taiwan, who looked specifically at the activity of flavopereirine on colon cancer cells and concluded that “Flavopereirine Suppresses the Growth of Colorectal Cancer Cells through P53 Signaling Dependence”10.

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A favorite goal of cancer therapy is to force cancer cell death by inducing a process called apoptosis.  Apoptosis is a normal pathway cells use to protect the organism from continued growth of damaged and cancerous cells. Essentially the bad cells are signaled to commit suicide. The apoptosis pathways are complex, the best-known control point is the tumor suppressor gene called p53. In many cancers this pathway is switched off either because of mutations, or because of some negative regulators. Pao pereira (Pau pereira) turns p53 back on and acts selectively, triggering cancer cell death without any negative effect in healthy cells.

Restoration of p53 activity in animal models leads to the suppression of established tumors of different origin11 so it is not surprising to see restoration of p53 in colon cancer cells treated with flavopereirine. We can expect Pao pereira (Pau pereira) to induce apoptosis in many cancers by enhancing activity of p53. Indeed, the Foundation’s research showing induction of apoptosis in prostate cancer indicates how the extract could restore p53 activity: the binding of flavopereirine to the destabilized cancer DNA provokes DNA damage signals which are known to elicit a rapid p53 response.

Mirko Beljanski discovered several natural molecules able to selectively target a broad spectrum of cancers whose DNA has been destabilized. Beljanski tested the activity of his Pao pereira (Pau pereira) extract on 16 different cancer cell lines and observed that the extract is selectively active against cancerous cells including some that are chemo resistant.

The recent study on colorectal cancer cells (CRC) concludes that flavopereirine, a natural β-carboline alkaloid in the Pao pereira (Pau pereira) extract may suppress the relatively more malignant and drug-resistant CRC cell lines.

Another example of the value of a natural approach to cancer.

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  5. Bemis, D., Capodice, J., Desai, M., Gorroochurn, P., Katz, A. and Buttyan. Beta-Carboline Alkaloid–Enriched Extract from the Amazonian Rain Forest Tree Pao pereira (Pau pereira) Suppresses Prostate Cancer Cells. Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology, Vol 7, No 2 (Spring), 2009: pp 59–65.
  6. Yu, J. and Chen, Q. Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology & Therapeutics, University of Kansas Medical Center.  “The Plant Extract of Pao pereira (Pau pereira) Potentiates Carboplatin Effects Against Ovarian Cancer” Pharmaceutical Biology 2014 Jan; 52(1):36-43.
  7. Yu, J., Chen, Q., and Drisko, J. Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology & Therapeutics, University of Kansas Medical Center. “Inhibition of Pancreatic Cancer and Potentiation of Gemcitabine Effects by the Extract of Pao pereira (Pau pereira)” Oncology Reports 2013 Jul; 30(1):149-56.
  8. Dong Y, Liu J, Xue Z, Sun J, Huang Z, Jing Y, Han B, Shen B, Yan J and Huang R.  Pao pereira (Pau pereira) extract suppresses benign prostatic hyperplasia by inhibiting inflammation associated NFκB signaling.  BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies volume 20, Article number: 150 (2020).
  9. Liu J, Fang T, Li M, Song Y, Li J, Xue Z, Li J, Bu D, Liu W, Zeng Q, Zhang Y, Yun S, Huang R, Yan J. Pao pereira (Pau pereira) extract attenuates testosterone-induced benign prostatic hyperplasia in rats by inhibiting 5α-reductase. Scientific Reports (2019) 9:19703.
  10. Li J-M et al. Flavopereirine Suppresses the Growth of Colorectal Cancer Cells through P53 Signaling Dependence.  Cancers (Basel). 2019 Jul 22;11(7):1034.
  11. Sanz G, Singh M, Peuget S, Selivanova G. Inhibition of p53 inhibitors: progress, challenges and perspectives. Journal of Molecular Cell Biology, Volume 11, Issue 7, July 2019, Pages 586–599.