Anti Tumor Herbs


Historically, spices have shaped many events throughout the world. Many voyagers, including the legendary Christopher Columbus, explored the seas in search of treasured spices. These valued commodities contribute not only flavors but also serve as colorants and preservatives in a wide variety of cultures. Today, spices are increasingly revered not only for their culinary properties but also for their potential health benefits. Although the health attributes associated with spice use may arise from their antioxidant properties, their biological effects may arise from their ability to induce changes in a number of cellular processes, including those involved with drug metabolism, cell division, apoptosis, differentiation, and immunocompetence.

The complexity of understanding the biological response to spices first surfaces in the criteria used to distinguish what constitutes a culinary spice and how they differ from culinary herbs. These terms are often used interchangeably in the scientific and lay literature. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines a spice as an “aromatic vegetable substance, in the whole, broken, or ground form,” whose significant function in food is “seasoning rather than nutrition” and from which “no portion of any volatile oil or other flavoring principle has been removed” (Food and Drug Administration 2007:205-208). While this is a viable definition, it does not consider the biological consequences of consuming these items and how they differ from herbs. The U.S. National Arboretum offers an alternative definition and describes spices as “flavorings (often of tropical origin) that are dried and culinary herbs that are fresh or dried leaves from plants which can be used for flavoring purposes in food preparation” (United States National Arboretum 2002). We must remember that the quantity of an item consumed does not dictate its importance. Thus, to avoid the health significance in any definition would appear flawed. In this chapter, we use the terms “herbs” and “spices” interchangeably and assume that both have properties that extend beyond simply providing flavor and color.

You have more cancer-fighting tools at your fingertips than you realize. And they’re all found right inside your spice cabinet. Close to 200 spice-derived compounds have been identified for their health benefits.

Many of the healthy attributes associated with spices come from their powerful antioxidant properties. Their biological health benefits stem from their ability to induce change in certain cellular processes, especially those involved in drug metabolism, cell division, apoptosis, cell differentiation and immunocompetence—the ability for the body to have a normal immune response following exposure to an antigen.

Add these flavorful herbs and spices to your daily meals to boost your immune function and ward off illness.

What is cancer?

Cancer is ultimately the result of cells that uncontrollably grow and do not die. Normal cells in the body follow an orderly path of growth, division, and death. There are three major types of cell death:

  1. Apoptosis—a naturally occurring programmed and targeted cause of cellular death that may occur in multicellular organisms. Biochemical events lead to characteristic cell changes (morphology) and death [12].
  2. Autograph—the basic carbolic mechanism that involves cell degradation of unnecessary or dysfunctional cellular components through the actions of lysosomes. Autograph allows the degradation and recycling of cellular components


Two ingredients found in rosemary are caffeic acid and rosemarinic acid. These are rich in antioxidants and they act as anti-inflammatory. Rosemary is also rich in carnosol, which makes this herb antitumorigenic (helps prohibit the formation of tumors). Rosemary has also been found to detoxify substances that can initiate breast cancer.

Terseness, the last powerful ingredient found in rosemary has been found to reduce oxidative stress and be chemo protective (helps protect healthy tissue from the effects of chemotherapy).


Parsley’s volatile oil, myristicin, has shown in animal studies to inhibit tumor formation in the lungs. The activity of this oil qualifies it to be called a chemo protective food. This cancer-fighting herb can also help to neutralize certain carcinogens, like second hand smoke. Parsley also contains apigenin, a natural oil that has been linked to anti-angiogenesis, which is the reduction of blood vessel growth that supplies cancerous tumors with nutrients.


This colorful powder is known as the king of the anti-cancer spices. Turmeric contains the ingredient curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to inhibit the growth of various cancer cells including, bone, breast, brain tumors, colon, liver, pancreatic, stomach, bladder, kidney, prostate, leukemia, ovarian cancers and melanoma. Turmeric has been known around the world as an antiseptic and antibacterial agent to treat infection, inflammation, support wound healing and improve digestion.

One of its powerful anti-cancer benefits is in its ability to induce apoptosis, which is the programmed cell death of cancer cells without touching or hurting any other healthy cells.

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