10 Effective Herbs In Prevention Of Cancer Cells Growth
It was the spices that inspired Cristopher Columbus to discover America. In the 15 century, spices were valuable as gold and were highly praised in medicine and in cooking.
They were also a status symbol, and black pepper was called black gold. Nowadays, their health benefits are worldwide known and are scientifically based. They are especially known as a rich source of antioxidants and for their anti-inflammatory properties. This way, they can protect your cells from damage and reduce chronic inflammations that can lead to some serious health issues such as cancer.
Yes, cancer, the major health challenge of our century, can be treated with some herbs and spices that are proven to have anti-tumor effects and this is backed up by several scientific studies. Let’s see which spices and herbs found in your kitchen should be part of your everyday diet and may protect you from this global health issue - the cancer.
Definition Of Cancer
Cancer is a major public health issue and one of the main causes of death in the world as one in six deaths are caused by this disease. The most common types of cancer in men are prostate, stomach, liver, and lung cancer, while for women most common are colorectal, lung, breast cancer, cervix, and thyroid cancer.
Cancer or a malignant tumor can be defined as a group of illnesses that can appear in any organ of the body causing abnormal growth of cancer cells, that can spread to other organs, which is a process called metastasizing.
The normal cells are transformed into cancer cells and are the result of genetic interaction with some external factors:
- Ultraviolet radiation
- Chemical carcinogens
- Infections (bacteria, viruses, and parasites) Helicobacter pylori, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and Epstein-Barr virus (1)
There are risk factors that can increase the chances of getting it such as:
- Alcohol consumption
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- Tobacco use
How Does It Work?
The unstable molecules produced in the body, are called free radicals and they usually result from stress or are produced naturally. Excessive production of these unstable molecules leads to serious health conditions, including some inflammatory illnesses such as certain types of cancer, heart diseases, and inflammatory diseases. Some studies showed that some spices, rich in antioxidants, can prevent the antioxidative process and they are proven for their safety. antioxidative effects of turmeric clove, red pepper, black pepper, ginger. garlic, which has been studied in detail. (2)
Let’s see which are the spices and herbs that prevent the growth of cancer cells and why they should be part of your everyday diet.
10 Herbs That Prevent Cancer Cells Growth
Turmeric (Curcuma Longa )
It is curcumin, the turmeric compound that gives its yellow color and its anti-inflammatory properties that make this spice one of the most powerful antioxidants. It is a natural product, and a curcuminoid. You can use it in the kitchen, in most cases as an ingredient of the curry powder. It was a natural medicine used for centuries in Asian and Ayurvedic medicine, where it is known under the name of haridra.
It is mostly used to treat inflammation, but is it useful as a treatment against cancer? Yes, some research has even shown that people living in countries where turmeric is part of the everyday diet have a lower rate of some cancers.
Cancers and tumors can be some sort of weeds in the garden and take the space of their neighbors and make a large network of blood vessels. Curcumin reacts and prevents the growth of the blood vessel network and kills cancer cells.
There are many clinical trials conducted and published in international databases and one of these studies showed that it increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy and reduces its side effects. There are many ongoing studies as well as this spice is a promising alternative medicine. (3)
Curcumin has complex chemistry and is capable of targeting some signaling pathways. Moreover, it can interact with several intracellular and extracellular molecules. These features lead to anti-tumor effects of curcumin on various cancer cells and are useful at different stages, including prevention, treatment, and controlling the symptoms of cancers. (4) (5)
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a spice that is known worldwide but is mostly used in Asian cultures. It contains 400 different compounds, but its major constituents are carbohydrates (50–70%), lipids (3–8%), terpenes, and phenolic compounds. (6) It has been used as a traditional medicine for nausea, (including nausea from chemotherapy), upset stomach, gas, heartburn, diarrhea, and as a pain reliever for arthritis and stomach and ulcer pains. (7)
Its bioactive components have a negative influence over carcinogenesis ( multiple events where a normal cell is transformed into an abnormal one) with the help of several various multiple molecular mechanisms. Its components gingerol and zingerone are thought to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and therefore they may be protective against cancer. (8)
It contains a very useful and powerful antioxidant capsaicin that some studies found to be a powerful bioactive phytochemical. Capsaicin has been shown to change the action of several genes involved in cancer cell survival, spreading, growth arrest, and angiogenesis. (9)
So, it should be part of your diet and you can season your food and salads and put it in the dip to spice up the snacks or mix the cayenne peper with other spices.
Piperine, the plant compound in the black pepper, has powerful antioxidant properties.
When it is combined with turmeric decreases, even more, the lipid oxidation in meat. On the other hand, one study found that piperine, did not show any antioxidant activity, but other black pepper compounds were active in increasing the antioxidant activity of the garlic when combined with turmeric powder. (10)
One comprehensive study of a few spices that included black pepper found that it can suppress cancer cell formation in the colon, breast, prostate cancer.
Oregano is a herb that is often found on pizzas and pasta. It is commonly used in the Mediterranean diet and people eating this diet are known to have a small risk of getting colon cancer.
Oregano contains a large number of antioxidants and antimicrobial components, particularly carvacrol, which is a molecule that prevents the spread of cancer cells and works as a natural disinfectant.
One study showed that oregano extract kills cancer cells ( has a cytotoxic effect and changed their oxidized form). (11)
Lavender is a flower that is grown in the Mediterranean coastline and mountains, and it is often used in aromatherapy to treat anxiety, depression, fungal infections, as an antiseptic, it can be used to heal mild burns and much more. It is generally used in cosmetics and as herbal medicine. Its ingredients linalool and linalyl acetate are naturally occurring phytochemicals showing anti-inflammatory activity and therapeutic activity.
In one study lavender’s antitumor in vitro activities was tested on prostate cancer, one of the most diagnosed cancers among Americans and it proved to have antitumor properties. (12)
Prostate cancer is treated with biological therapy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy prostatectomy, and hormonotherapy that lead to numerous side effects.
But, using natural products, such as lavender, can alleviate treatment in cancer patients with no side effects. (13)
In one animal study, it was found that lavender prevents tumor growth and that its compound linalool had antitumor effects and has a great potential to be a new therapeutic agent for prostate cancer treatment. (14)
One of the problems of cancer patients is a sleep disorder. Lavender can improve sleep disorders in cancer patients when given inhalation aromatherapy combined with peppermint essential oil. (15)
Note: Lavender oil can be poisonous and it should not be taken orally and can also interact with some medication such as blood pressure medications and depressants and sleep medications. It can also cause an already reaction if applied to the skin.
Before taking any supplement, it is important to first speak with your doctor to make sure it will not interfere with your treatment or interact with other medications.
Green tea is one of the healthiest on the planet. It has many potential health benefits and it is believed to be beneficial for losing weight, boosting brain activity, lowering the risk of heart disease, and protecting against cancer. This tea is rich in polyphenols, that are anti-inflammatory and can help in the fight against cancer. This beverage contains catechin named EGCG, which can decrease the formation of free radicals in the body, and gives its medicinal properties. (16)
As it has many anti-inflammatory capabilities, it can be used as a protection against cancer and many types of research have been conducted in this relation.
A comprehensive review of observational studies found that women who drank green tea had an approximately 20–30% lower risk of developing breast cancer, one of the most common cancers in women. (17)
Many observational studies indicate that green tea drinkers are less likely to develop several types of cancer, but more high-quality research is needed to confirm these effects.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is natively from central Asia and is now cultivated around the world.
One interesting fact is that its benefits were known even to Ancient cultures ( Israelis, Egyptians, Greeks, Indians) and it has been used for treating various disorders, including constipation, asthma, leprosy, diarrhea, and infections.
Garlic is rich in phytochemicals that can have a key role in the selective killing of cancer cells. In fact, its anticancer properties are the most noticeable. (18)
It also contains chemicals called organosulfur compounds that have protective effects and prevent carcinogenesis in the esophagus, colon, mammary gland, and lung in studies with animals. (19)
It has a very strong taste and it is a great addition to meat and vegetables.
Cannabis has been used as a medical plant for centuries, and its chemical components cannabinoids, activate some pharmacological effects and in particular in the immune system and in the nervous system. Cannabis oil (marijuana oil) is an extract from marijuana plants and has a psychoactive effect the possession and use of marijuana are illegal in the USA under federal law, but the medical use of the plant is legal in 37 states, and recreational use is legalized in 18 states.
It has not been accepted as a treatment for cancer or any health condition by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration. People who are diagnosed with cancer can have some benefits if treated with cannabis as follows:
- Boosting of appetite
- Relieving pain
- Better sleep
- Prevents nausea and relieves side effects of other drugs (20)
One study in mice found that cannabinoids may protect against the development of certain types of tumors. (21)
Many studies have shown that people tolerate the use of cannabis oil well, but some of them might experience some mild side effects such as:
- Weight change
- Appetite change
It can also interact with other medications (blood thinners, chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics, sedatives anti-seizure medications, antidepressants) and lead to liver damage).
Laetrile is an ingredient that is often found in peaches, apricots, and plums and it became very popular as a cancer therapy in USA a century ago. It is a processed extract from apricot pits. The intestinal enzymes provoke cyanide production from Laetrile and some of its proponents state that it can kill cancer kills leaving the other tissue unharmed. Some people state that is actually the vitamin B17 deficiency that provokes certain types of cancers and Laetrile is actually the vitamin B17.
But, it is proven to be more poisonous than conventional cancer treatments and it can even cause cyanide poisoning. Few clinical studies in the 1970s and 1980s found that it did not suppress tumor growth but some patients experienced cyanide poisoning. Therefore, it is not approved as a cancer treatment by FDA in the United States.
Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale)
Dandelion root is approved by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as a dietary supplement and as a remedy. When dried it can be used in teas, as a tincture, capsules, or a paste. In traditional medicine, it is used for the treatment of heartburn, high cholesterol, eczema, diabetes, and intestinal disorders.
Some studies prove that it can be an effective anti-cancer agent. It kills the cancer cells and in particular in certain types of cancers such as melanoma and leukemia. (22)
There are no approved guidelines for the appropriate consummation of dandelion root in the United States, but European Commission recommends the following dosage as safe for adults: 2 to 8 grams per day for fresh dandelion root and 1 to 2 tbsps. per day for fresh dandelion extract.
Few clinical trials found that it can slow the cancer cell growth in colon, stomach, and liver cancer. (23) (24) (25)
Still, more human research is needed, as most of the research is animal-related.
- Cancer is a major public health issue and one of the main causes of death in the world as one in six deaths are caused by this disease. Some studies showed that some herbs, rich in antioxidants, can prevent the antioxidative process and they are proven for their safety and efficacy.
- They should be part of your everyday diet as they are nutritious, give a nice flavor to your dishes, and what is more important, most of them are healthy and are proven to have anti-inflammatory properties, and serve as anti-cancer agents.