Vísir reports that reindeer lichen is starting to show encouraging results when it comes to fighting cancer. Reindeer lichen (cladonia rangiferina) can grow in both warm and cold climates, but is typically found up north, due to its hardiness against the cold. It is native to many counties, Iceland among them.
The lichen has already shown promise in destroying prions, the protein strings that cause numerous diseases, among them Mad Cow Disease and chronic wasting disease.
Margrét Bessadóttir, a pharmacologist and medical student at the University of Iceland – where the research is being conducted – told Vísir that the operating principle is simple. Compounds found in reindeer lichen raise the acid levels within cancer cells, doing damage to their organelles, thereby greatly hindering the ability of cancer cells to reproduce.
Research is still in the beginning stages, but Margrét is optimistic that the compounds found in reindeer moss could be used to help boost other cancer drugs, or even reduce the amount of medication a cancer patient needs to take.