Homeopathic mother tincture of Conium initiates reactive oxygen species mediated DNA damage and makes HeLa cells prone to apoptosis
Adverse side-effects and lack of scientific validation of some chemotherapeutic agents prevent the use of many traditional medicines claimed to have anti-cancer effects. Ethanolic extract of Conium maculatum has long been used in traditional and alternative systems of medicine including homeopathy for the treatment of glandular enlargements, cancerous tumours or hard lumps of testicles, prostate, ovaries, breasts and/ or uterus, particularly in the breast. However, if and how it acts still remains scientifically unknown. This study aims to test if Conium extract (CE), used as mother tincture of Conium in homeopathy, has demonstrable anti-cancer potentials without having much cytotoxicity in normal cells. Cytotoxicity of the drug was tested by conducting MTT assay on both normal (peripheral blood mononuclear cells) and HeLa cells. We also evaluated DNA fragmentation and DNA damage by DAPI and diphenylamine assay. The LDH activity assay was done to evaluate the percentages of apoptosis and necrosis. ROS accumulation also was evaluated to pin-point the actual events of apoptosis. Administration of drug clearly demonstrated its anti-cancer potentials as evidenced by the DNA damage analysis. The ROS activity also increased in case of the CE treated cells. LDH data revealed that the mode of cell death was mainly apoptotic and not necrotic. CE appears to induce apoptosis of cancer cells through ROS mediated pathway, and has negligible cytotoxicity against normal cells.