Anamu Leaf

Anamu (Petiveria alliacea) is a flowering herbaceous plant used in certain cultures as herbal medicine. Anamu is said to offer health benefits due to its antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Anamu contains compounds thought to be beneficial to human health, including polyphenols and antioxidants like tannin. Antioxidants are considered important given that they neutralize free radicals that damage cells at the DNA level.

In alternative medicine, anamu is typically used to treat or prevent the following health problems:

Food poisoning
Skin infections

Anamu is also used in traditional cultures as an abortifacient (a substance that induces abortion), although there is little proof that it actually works.
Several animal studies have suggested that anamu may have anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) properties. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology reported that adult rats provided an anamu extract experienced increase locomotor skills (speed and agility of movement) and reduced anxiety based on maze and swimming tests.

On the downside, anamu appeared to increase cellular oxidation, contradicting the longstanding claim that anamu offers antioxidant benefits.

Interestingly, a 2010 study from Colombia found that extracts of the stems and leaves of the anamu plant offered anti-anxiety effects but not the root. The researchers hypothesized that plant-based compounds called flavonoids may be responsible for the effect given that flavonoid concentrations in the stems and leaves were three times that found in the root.
Anamu has long been touted by alternative practitioners for its ability to lower blood sugar (glucose). A 2013 study in the West Indian Medical Journal investigating the effects of anamu in normal and diabetic rats returned mixed results.

In normal rats, a solvent-based extract of anamu had no impact on either fasting blood sugar or glucose tolerance. When provided a water-based extract, the fasting blood sugar actually increased by more than 20%.

In diabetic rats, the solvent-based anamu extract reduced the fasting blood sugar level but only for a short period of time. The water-based extract had no effect.
Claims that anamu can prevent cancer stem from the misinterpretation of studies in which extracts of the plant appeared to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in certain cancer cells. Apoptosis is a naturally occurring event in which older cells die in order to be replaced by newer cells. With cancer, mutations effectively “turn off” apoptosis, allowing cancer cells to persist and multiply unchecked.

A 2018 review of studies in Pharmacognosy Review reported that anamu was able to induce apoptosis in a variety of test-tube studies involving breast cancer, colon cancer, leukemia, melanoma, and other cancer cell lines.

As promising as these findings seem, there are numerous other substances that can induce apoptosis in the test tube. What is unclear is if anamu can do the same in animals or humans. To date, there is no such evidence of this. Further research is needed.