Black nightshade is annual plants that that is often found on rubbish heaps, in a damp and shady place. Generally, it looks like a bushy mass with its stems, leaves, and leaf stalks having some hairs but is not densely hairy or sticky. Its leaves are egg-shaped with a smooth to the wavy edge or an irregular, shallow-toothed edge while their stems are green and hollow. Their flowers, which are usually white in color, are 4-8 star-shaped and grow in a cluster. The fruits of this wild plant turn from green to black when mature.
According to studies, the leaves and seeds of this herb contain protein, fiber, carbohydrates, phosphorus, sulfur, vitamin C, vitamin B, folic acid, vitamin A, and vitamin E.
Traditionally, people have been using the whole black nightshade plant including leaves, fruit, and root to make medicine. This herb serves to be hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, cardiac tonic, antibacterial, antispasmodic, and laxative. It has been used for pain, spasms, cramps, nervousness, stomach irritation, skin infections, burns, and to stimulate kidney function, provoke good sleep, and soothe a tired body.
Black nightshade induces apoptosis and boost immunity to inhibit tumor growth
In a study published in the Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics, experts have found that black nightshade polysaccharides induce programmed cancer cell death (apoptosis) by inhibiting tumor growth in mice with liver cancer. For the 10-day study period, the mice were given black nightshade polysaccharides and results revealed that the treatment increases the index of their thymus (this indicates immune function protection), reduce the average tumor weight, and inhibited tumor growth in a dose-dependent manner. Due to these findings, researchers from China have concluded that black nightshade can possibly boost immunity in the liver and inhibit tumor growth.
Moreover, in a separate study conducted by researchers from the University of Malaya and the University Putra Malaysia, it was discovered that a polysaccharide fraction of black nightshade which has immunomodulatory activity, can increase anti-inflammatory activities, decrease inflammation, and induce tumor cell death in breast tumor-bearing mice. Published in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, researchers concluded that black nightshade may suppress tumor growth by boosting immunity.
Lastly, water and polyphenol extracts of black nightshade suppressed the VEGF-induced activation of AKT and mTOR (an intracellular signaling pathway important in the regulation of the cell cycle) in human umbilical vascular endothelial cells (HUVECs) thus inhibiting the viability of human hepatoma HepG2 cells, these results brought the researchers into a conclusion that black nightshade can stop the growth of tumor by regulating the AKT/mTOR pathway in HUVECs and HepG2 cells.
How To Use Black Nightshade
- A decoction of the plant serves as a good analgesic. It can be used for washing inflamed, irritated and painful parts of the body.
- Green fruits of this plant are found to be very effective in treating ringworms.
- The juice can be applied topically on chronic skin diseases like acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
- A poultice of leaves can be applied on eruptive skin diseases, whitlow and burns to get beneficial results.