SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica, also Polygonum cuspidata) is a highly invasive perennial, introduced into the UK in the 19th century. It is hard to eradicate and grows to a height of 2 to 3 metres with the roots at least as deep. It is illegal to plant this species in the UK. In Chinese medicine it has traditionally been used to protect against cancer, heart disease and various inflammatory diseases. Polygonum cuspidata is an important source of a type of natural phenol and phytoalexin known as resveratrol. In mouse and rat experiments, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, blood-sugar-lowering and other beneficial cardiovascular effects of resveratrol have been reported. Researchers believe that resveratrol supplementation may trigger genes that promote life extension. It is also widely used in the cosmetic industries and as a nutritional supplement in herbal medicines.
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