Work of artichoke

If you subscribe to my monthly newsletter Logical Health Alternatives, you might recall that I wrote about apigenin back in July. Suffice it to say that this is one story I’ve been following with a great deal of interest.

Apigenin is a flavonoid that’s abundant in the Mediterranean diet. The latest research shows that this compound can kill malignant cells by taking away their ability to escape programmed cell death. (One of cancer’s insidious calling cards.)

Now, apigenin’s unique cancer-fighting powers are at the center of another recent study—this time focusing on one of the deadliest forms of the disease.

A team of researchers treated human pancreatic cancer cell lines with apigenin, along with another flavonoid called luteolin, extracted from celery and artichoke. And they found that these compounds increased cancer cell death rates from 8.4 percent to 43.8 percent.

Their conclusion? Pretreatment with apigenin might significantly boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy in cases of pancreatic cancer.

The researchers made a point of noting that you likely wouldn’t be able to eat enough of either vegetable to consume the amounts of flavonoids used in this study. And there’s always the question of whether lab results will carry over in a clinical setting.

But their hope—and mine, as well—is that this research will lead to the development of new supplements to aid in the fight against cancer.

As of now, stand-alone apigenin products are scant. (Although other sources, like chamomile extracts, are more common.) I expect that to change in the not-so-distant future, as long as studies like this one keep making headlines.

But until then, you can’t go wrong by filling up on dietary sources of apigenin, like celery and parsley—not to mention tomatoes, broccoli, leeks, basil, and of course, artichokes.


“Interactions between dietary flavonoids apigenin or luteolin and chemotherapeutic drugs to potentiate anti-proliferative effect on human pancreatic cancer cells, in vitro.” Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Jul 18;60C:83-91.