It is now confirmed: Philippines’ latest agricultural milestone can potentially be one of the best anti-cancer fruits ever known in history. I’m talking about “sapinit” (Rubus hillii) or also known in horticultural world as “wild raspberry”. It has gained public attention ever since it was first featured in various TV shows and blog sites here in the Philippines showing scientific evidences that this hidden gem of Philippine forests is indeed a great addition to Dr. Oz’s list of “super fruits”.
People here and abroad have been expressing their interest for this wild fruit; some even wonder if this is just another marketing hoax or a genuine discovery that can give our country a place in the scientific world. Well, there are so many things about “sapinit” that we ought to know before judging its true potential. However, with credible scientific research data to back it up, it seems that nothing will ever stop “sapinit” from gaining national recognition and worldwide fame.
What is “sapinit”?
“Sapinit” is a wild raspberry endemic to various parts of the Philippines like Quezon, Laguna, Palawan and some parts of Mindanao. Small percentage can also be found in other parts of the world including Fiji, India and Australia. The native people of Dolores, Quezon initially thought that the shrub was just another useless plant with inedible fruits. They called it “wild strawberry” instead of “wild raspberry” without any iota of information about the fruit’s benefits. On a botanical point of view, “sapinit” is classified as a climbing, prickly shrub which can reach a height of up to 2 to 3 meters. The fruit has a bright red-orange color with a distinct bitter-sour-sweet taste and a hairy receptacle.
Who started it all?
When OFW and environmentalist Dionisio Pullan came back to the Philippines from Australia, he immediately started his own quest to find a plant product that is both unique and has a potential to become a successful export product. This is when “sapinit” shrubs in his hometown Quezon started to pique his interest and curiosity; the rest, as they say, is history. The starting point was a little bit rough for Pullan who found it hard to convince the local women that “sapinit” has the potential to spark a new industry in their place. But his efforts definitely paid off; through the help of Anniewenda Reyes, municipal agriculturist of Dolores, Quezon, they were able to convince the Quezon Agricultural Experimental Station (QAES) to invest on this project.
On March 2009, QAES established a 1,000 square meter demonstration site for “sapinit” and got their first harvest on December of the same year. Since then, the Sapinit Production and Utilization Project where Dionisio Pullan now functions as the farmer cooperator, has received overwhelming support both from the people and the national government. As a matter of fact, Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR), with the cooperation of National Agriculture and Fisheries Council and Japan’s KR2 Program, has invested 1.55 million pesos for this project. The risk was all worth it because the initial success of the products made from “sapinit” is a good indicator that Philippines is ready to embrace this fruit wonder.
How can “sapinit” help in curing cancer?
Through the help of the BAR-funded phytochemical analysis that was done by Industrial Technology Development Institute and the University of the Philippines Los Banos-Biotech, we now have a clearer idea of how beneficial “sapinit” is in fighting cancer and other serious diseases like Alzheimer’s. This is because the clinical study that was done by two of the most prestigious scientific authorities in the Philippines has led to the discovery of several anti-cancer phytochemicals found in “sapinit” namely:
Leucoanthocyanin– a naturally occurring flavonoid that can also be found in grape seed and red wines. It is a potent phytochemical that can be used by the body to counteract the negative effects of carcinogens.
Saponins– another phytochemical that also exists in other plant products such as vegetables, herbs and peas. Several studies have proven that saponins play a vital role in regulating blood cholesterol, reducing cancer risks, building stronger bones and strengthening our body’s immune defenses.
Anthraquinones– known for its potent anti-tumor properties and ability to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Other anti-cancer phytochemicals that have been found in “sapinit” berries are: deoxysugars, free fatty acids, hydrolysable tannins (inhibitors of HIV duplication), unsaturated steroids, and benzopyrone nucleus.
How does “sapinit” help the community and the environment as a whole?
If you think that “sapinit” has become special only because of its outstanding health benefits, then you’re probably just looking at the tip of the iceberg. Once we talk about the benefits of “sapinit” on a larger scale, we will be amazed by how this little raspberries have changed the lives of people relying on this fruit’s capability to generate continuous income.
Today, various products such as jam, juice, vinaigrette and wine made from “sapinit” has kept its processing facility in Tiaong busy and has provided additional income and livelihood to almost 18 women members of the Bangkong Kahoy RIC and some 20 members of the Bangkong Kahoy 4H club.
In addition to that, “sapinit” doesn’t require continuous cultivation and can survive for many years after it is planted. For this reason, it can be an indispensable tool to protect the environment and retain the fertility of the soil at the same time.
“You can’t find Sapinit anywhere as much as you find them thriving in our wilds even without a delicate need for nurture and care. They are protectors of our environment,” said Dr. Nicomedes P. Eleazar, BAR director.
“Sapinit” is a fruit that promises a lot of wonderful things not just for our health but for our environment and economy as well. Cancer is such a dreaded disease and with a lot of bad news plaguing the social media right now, the story of “sapinit” provides a ray of hope and a breath of fresh air for those who need it the most.
“Philippine wild raspberry Sapinit may cure Alzheimer’s disease and cancer”. www.philippinehistory.ph. March 20, 2012
Philippine Wild Raspberry “Sapinit” – Can cure Cancer. ABS-CBN News.
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