A vendor prepares a traditional Thai vegetable and fish salad at a market in Bangkok on June 27, 2020. ( AFP / Romeo GACAD)

Health experts warn against 'vegetable cancer cure' touted in Thailand

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

Facebook posts shared thousands of times in Thailand recommend drinking the juice of white mugwort, a type of plant used in Asian cuisines, to "cure cancer". The claim is false. Health experts warn there is insufficient evidence to support the claim that the herb can cure cancer, while Thailand's National Cancer Institute said it was "fake news".

"Jing-Ju-Chai, a magical vegetable that cures cancer", reads a Thai-language Facebook post published on September 19.

Jing-Ju-Chai or white mugwort is a plant whose leaves and stems are used in Asian cuisines.

The Facebook post tells the story of a man whose cancer cells purportedly disappeared after he drank a blend of Jing-Ju-Chai leaves that his mother gave him.

Screenshot of the misleading post, captured on October 5, 2021

Similar posts have circulated here in 2021 and previously in 2019 and 2017

However, the claim is false.

'Harmful to your body'

Dr Nattha Pipopchaiyasit, an oncologist at the National Cancer Institute of Thailand warned the plant was not a cure for cancer.

"There is not enough evidence to support the cancer-treating properties of Jing-Ju-Chai," she told AFP on October 5.

"There are three ways to treat cancer patients, which include providing medicines, doing surgery or performing radiation therapy. They should be supervised by medical doctors. Trying things yourself could potentially be harmful to your body."

Kanitha Tananuwong, an associate professor at Chulalongkorn University's Department of Food Technology also refuted the claim.

"The idea of drinking Jing-Ju-Chai smoothies is considered healthy, just like other vegetable shakes that are currently trendy. But we do that to promote a healthy mindset and lifestyle. It is not a matter of disease curing," she told AFP on October 5.

Thailand's National Cancer Institute also said the claim was "fake news" in a statement on February 8.

AFP has debunked a deluge of misinformation about purported cancer treatments, including here, here and here