Euphorbia peplus (petty spurge, radium weed, cancer weed, or milkweed) is a species of Euphorbia, native to most of Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia, where it typically grows in cultivated arable land, gardens, and other disturbed land.
It is an annual plant growing to 5–30 cm (2–12 in) tall (most plants growing as weeds of cultivation tend towards the smaller end), with smooth hairless stems. The leaves are oval-acute, 1–3 cm (0.4–1.2 in) long, with a smooth margin. It has green flowers in three-rayed umbels. The glands, typical of the Euphorbiaceae, are kidney-shaped with long thin horns.
The plant's sap is toxic to rapidly replicating human tissue, and has long been used as a traditional remedy for common skin lesions. The active ingredient in the sap is a diterpene ester called ingenol mebutate. A pharmaceutical-grade ingenol mebutate gel has approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of actinic keratosis.
In Germany, recent studies have linked Euphorbia Peplus with the virtual elimination of Bowen Disease.
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- Braun, S.A.; Homey, B.; Gerber, P.A. (October 2014). "Erfolgreiche Behandlung eines Morbus Bowen mit Ingenolmebutat". Der Hautarzt (in German). 65 (10): 848–850. doi:10.1007/s00105-014-3509-5. ISSN 0017-8470. PMID 25217087.
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