Cancer Fighting Herbs

Spices have been widely used as food flavorings and folk medicines for thousands of years. Numerous studies have documented the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and noninflammatory effects of spices, which might be related to prevention and treatment of several cancers, including lung, liver, breast, stomach, colorectum, cervix, and prostate cancers. Several spices are potential sources for prevention and treatment of cancers, such as Curcuma longa (turmeric), Nigel la sativa (black cumin), Zingiber officinale (ginger), Allium sativum (garlic), Crocus sativa (saffron), Piper nigrum (black pepper) and Capsicum annum (chili pepper), which contained several important bioactive compounds, such as curcumin, thymoquinone, piperine and capsaicin. The main mechanisms of action include inducing apoptosis, inhibiting proliferation, migration and invasion of tumors, and sensitizing tumors to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. This review summarized recent studies on some spices for prevention and treatment of cancers, and special attention was paid to bioactive components and mechanisms of action.

Six cancer-fighting herbs and spices

Cancer protection starts with your spice rack!

Herbs and spices can do so much more than enhance the flavor of food. They can help stimulate the immune system and help prevent cancer.
Here are six ways to spice up your food and keep you in good health.

1) Turmeric: 

It’s a yellow curry powder (active poly phenol ingredient is curcumin) that is shown to inhibit growth of cancer cells. It is also an anti-inflammatory.

Tip: Mix with black pepper (piperine) and olive oil to activate and help with absorption. It can be used as a dry rub or added to soups, sauces and stews.

2) Ginger: 

Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties protect against cancer. It is also used as a herbal remedy for upset stomach and nausea, and can serve as an appetite stimulant. 

Steep a few thin slices in hot water for 10 minutes to create a soothing tea.  Six herbs and spices to help fight cancer

3) Cayenne Pepper:

This hot pepper contains capsaicin, a powerful antioxidant that helps with weight loss and is an anti-inflammatory food. Cayenne also contains beta-carotene. It is known to be toxic to cancer cells and helps prevent growth of cancer cells. 

4) Saffron:

This spice may be the most expensive, but it packs a good punch. It contains crocins (water-soluble carotenoids) that may inhibit tumor growth and progression of cancer. 

5) Oregano:

The richest source of antioxidants among herbs slows cancer growth and promotes apoptosis (cell death). It carries antibacterial properties and is a natural disinfectant.  

Tip: Marinating with oregano can help reduce the formation of hetero cyclic amines (HCAs) created when meat is cooked at high temperatures.

6) Garlic:

The most powerful anti-cancer spice is part of the cancer-fighting allium group (onions, shallots, scallions, leeks, chives). Garlic helps boost the immune system to help fight diseases, as well as colds and flu. It also decreases the growth of cancer cells. 

What is herbal medicine?

Herbal medicines are made from plants. They use combinations of plant parts, for example leaves, flowers or roots. Each part of the plant can have a different medicinal use. Manufacturers use different ways of extracting the chemicals from the plant parts. They use fresh and dried plants to make the medicine.

Herbal medicine aims to restore your body, so that it can protect, regulate and heal itself. It is a whole body approach. It looks at your physical, mental and emotional well being. It is sometimes called phytomedicine, physiotherapy or botanical medicine.

Manufacturers make many drugs from plants. But herbalists don’t extract plant substances in the way the drug industry does. Herbalists believe that the remedy works due to the delicate chemical balance of the whole plant, or mixtures of plants. And not from one active ingredient.

The two most common types of herbal medicine used in the UK are Western and Chinese herbal medicine. Less common types include Tibetan or Ayurvedic medicine (Indian).

Western herbal medicine

Western herbal medicine focuses on the whole person rather than their illness. So, the herbalist looks at your:

  • personal health history
  • family history
  • diet
  • lifestyle

Western herbal therapists usually make medicines from European and North American herbs. They also use herbs from China and India.

Herbalists use remedies made from whole plants or plant parts. They believe it helps your body to heal itself or to reduce the side effects of medical treatments.

Chinese herbal medicine

Chinese herbal medicine is part of a whole system of medicine. The system is called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

TCM aims to restore the balance of your Qi (pronounced chee). TCM practitioners believe that Qi is the flow of energy in your body and is essential for good health.

Yin and yang refer to different qualities of Qi. When all of the yin and yang aspects of Qi are in harmony with one another, there is health, wellbeing and peace. Illness is due to a disturbance of the balance between yin and yang. Chinese herbalists use plants according to how they affect a part of the body or energy channel.

TCM includes:

  • acupuncture
  • massage therapy
  • herbal remedies
  • traditional breathing and movement exercises called qi gong (pronounced chee goong)
  • movement exercises called tai chi (pronounced tie chee)

T CM uses hundreds of medicinal substances. Most of these are plants, but there are also some minerals and animal products.

Practitioners may use different parts of plants. They might use the leaves, roots, stems, flowers or seeds. Usually, they combine herbs and you take them as teas, capsules, tinctures, or powders.

Why people with cancer use it

Herbal medicine is one of the most used complementary and alternative therapies by people with cancer. This is alongside conventional cancer treatments.

People have used herbal medicine for centuries to treat many different health conditions. They believe it is a natural way to help you relax and cope with anxiety and depression. Or, to help with other conditions such as:

  • hay fever
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • menstrual (period) problems
  • eczema

People might also use herbal medicine to help themselves to feel better or more in control of their situation.

A 2011 study in the UK surveyed people with cancer who use herbal medicines. It found that most of the people used herbal medicines to feel more in control. And that it helped them to feel that they have some responsibility for their treatment. They also felt the therapies wouldn’t cause side effects.

Anti-Cancer Supplements

What are supplements?

When it comes to dietary supplements, there are far too many options to choose from. If you’ve ever walked by the vitamin aisle of your local health or grocery store, you may have noticed how many different kinds of vitamins and supplements there are.

Dietary supplements are any kind of vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanical, and amino acids that you can eat or drink. Supplements come in all shapes and sizes, such as:

People take supplements for different reasons. The main function of dietary supplements is to do exactly what the name implies — supplement an existing diet. Vitamins and mineral tablets aren’t meant to take the place of a healthy and nutritious diet.

That being said, taking the right supplements with a nutritious and well-rounded diet can provide a host of added health benefits.

For example, supplements can fill in the nutritional gaps of your diet, and can even assist the body in preventing and assisting in the treatment of certain kinds of illnesses, including cancer.

Cancer and supplements

When it comes to cancer of any kind, it’s important to realize that no dietary supplement can fully treat, cure, or prevent cancer. However, there are some supplements that can potentially help prevent cancer or assist in your cancer recovery.

While many vitamins and minerals can benefit your general health, there’s a huge market of unregulated supplements that may provide no added benefit to your health. Certain supplements even have the potential to negatively impact cancer treatments. This is because some supplements can counteract medications or medical therapies.

If you’re thinking about supplementing your diet with anti-cancer vitamins, always talk to your doctor first.

8 best supplements for cancer

1. Ground flax seed

Most people use fish oil supplements to enhance the amount of omega-3’s in their diet. However, fish oil was shown in one study on mice Trusted Source to possibly reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy, and for that reason ground flax seed is a worthy alternative.

Flax seed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce the risk of certain cancers. When supplementing, try to avoid flax seed oil because it lacks the nutrients of ground flax seed.

Ground flax seed can be purchased online or found in many larger grocery store chains. Simply sprinkle some ground flax seed on your food and enjoy.

2. Garlic

Garlic is a great choice when it comes to giving your body a little extra protection. To reap the benefits of garlic, you should eat one clove per day, or 300 to 1,000 milligrams (mg)Trusted Source of garlic extract.

Protective effects may include:

  • antibacterial properties
  • blocking and halting the activation of cancer-causing substances
  • enhanced DNA repair
  • a reduction in cancer cells spreading

3. Ginger

Ginger is suggested to play a beneficial role against cancer because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties.

When it comes to adding ginger to your diet, ginger supplements can be too concentrated and aren’t recommended. Instead, cut up and add fresh ginger root to a meal or purchase ginger candy for a quick snack.

Avoid excessive amounts of ginger, as it may interact with blood thinners and affect certain people’s blood sugar levels.

4. Green tea

Green tea is an excellent antioxidant, and studies show Trusted Source the properties of green tea help protect against metastasis of certain kinds of cancer. Green tea also contains chemicals called polyphenols that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

If you have cancer, consider drinking up to 3 cups of green tea per day to experience the benefits. Green tea pills are also available, but may be too concentrated.

5. Selenium

The mineral selenium removes free radicals from the body, making it a potential defense against cancer. Free radicals are the unstable molecules that attack cells and can eventually lead to cancer if they’re not removed.

Too much selenium can be toxic, but doses as high as 300 micrograms (mcg) have been shown to reduce certain kinds of cancer, including cancers of the:

  • esophagus
  • colon
  • lung
  • liver

The recommended daily amount of selenium is 55 mcg. You can get your daily dose via supplements, or through foods like cereal, grains, and Brazil nuts.

6. Turmeric

The Indian spice turmeric can be extremely helpful when it comes to fighting cancer. Studies show Trusted Source that the curcumin in turmeric may kill cancer cells and slow tumor growth.

The benefits of curcumin may include:

  • blocking cancer cells from multiplying
  • killing colon, breast, prostate, and melanoma cancer cells
  • slowing tumor growth

Add some turmeric to your next dish, or take a supplement containing curcumin to experience the benefits of this powerful substance.

7. Vitamin D

Vitamin D can absorb calcium and help the immune, muscle, and nervous systems function properly.

According to Breast, research suggests that certain cancers such as breast cancer, can have a higher risk of occurring when the body has low levels of vitamin D.

The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 15 mcg. Vitamin D can be absorbed through sunlight, or with the following diet:

  • fatty fish
  • egg yolks
  • fortified milk

8. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an excellent cancer-fighting nutrient. Vitamin E is fat-soluble and acts as a strong antioxidant, helping the body remove cell-damaging free radicals.

Vitamin E can significantly decrease the risk for prostate, colon, and lung cancers. In fact, low amounts of vitamin E may increase the risk of cancer. It’s important to get enough of this vitamin daily from diet or supplements.

The recommended daily amount of vitamin E is 8 to 10 mg. You can also eat the following foods to supplement vitamin E in your diet:

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