Ayurvedic herbs that fight cancer

Ayurvedic herbs that fight cancer

The top 4 Ayurvedic herbs that fight cancer -
Research into Traditional Ayurveda Medicine and cancer is growing rapidly and four herbs (Holy Basil, Ashwagandha, Turmeric and Ginger) stand out in showing significant potential in the fight against cancer.
 
1. Holy Basil and cancer
 
Ocimum sanctum or Holy Basil is called Tulsi in India. It possesses antimicrobial, anti-viral and anti-fungal benefits. It is a Cox-2 inhibitor and possess strong anti-inflammatory properties. It has analgesic properties and reduces pain. It reduces blood fat levels and so can help reduce metastases in cancer driven by saturated fat; and it can help cleanse and protect the liver, while reducing the symptoms of diabetes.
 
Importantly it calms the whole body and reduces the effects of the modern world. It cleans up the blood, improves cognitive function and may reduce damage after strokes. These anti-stress benefits see it dubbed a primary adaptogen. 
 
It also has important immune boosting and immune-regulatory powers.
 
With all these benefits not surprisingly, when you add them together, there are significant claims that it has strong and varied anti-cancer properties.
 
The herb contains a number of bioactive compounds with epigenetic benefits: for example, ursolic acid, apigenin, rosmarinic acid, myretenal, luteolin, β-sitosterol, eugenol and carnosic acid.
 
These compounds have been shown to reduce free-radical attack, alter gene expression, induce apoptosis and autophagy, and inhibit angiogenesis and metastasis.
 
They have been shown to have action against breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer and skin cancers.
 
One study showed that ursolic acid was effective against all types of breast cancer because it damaged the glycolytic pathway and the AMPK pathway in cancer cell mitochondria.
 
Ursolic acid also seems to sensitise breast cancer cells and thus increase the performance of standard chemotherapy.  Indeed, it seems to enhance both chemo- and radiotherapy while protecting healthy cells from damage.
 
Ursolic acid is also found in apple skins, pomegranate and pistachio nuts.
 
We have a longer review with references on Ursolic acid and Holy Basil elsewhere on the CANCERactive website.
 
2.  Ashwagandha and cancer
 
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a proven adaptogen, which means it can help the body deal with fatigue, stress and trauma. It can also rebalance hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone.
 
It is a proven anti-inflammatory compound which in particular can neutralise the stress hormone cortisol, known to cause inflammation in times of cancer.
 
Scientists have shown that not only do the roots have health benefits, but the leaves too.  The leaf extract has anti-cancer and cancer-inhibitory effects, with at least seven active compounds in the leaf extract each capable of anti-cancer activity.
 
Undertaking a gene silencing and pathway analysis approach, they also found that the leaf extract components kill cancer cells by at least five different pathways; for example p53 signalling, GM-CFS signalling, death receptor signalling, apoptosis signalling and the G2-M DNA damage regulation pathway. A most frequent effect was on p53.
 
3. Turmeric and cancer
 
Turmeric is a popular Indian spice. A root, only 3% of it is curcumin. Although not the only active ingredient in turmeric root, curcumin is the most well-researched compound of all – drugs or natural compounds.
 
Turmeric, like curcumin, is best mixed with a little oil and black pepper to enhance its uptake into the blood stream. It is often made into a paste and stored in a jar in the fridge, to be used at various times in curries. A BBC TV documentary showed that turmeric used in this way, reduced levels of homocysteine in the blood stream. Homocysteine build-up occurs before chronic illnesses such as cancer or Alzheimer’s and leads to increased methylation and gene silencing.
 
In a July 2018 study from the University of California, San Diego, the researchers used x-ray crystallography and genetic profiling to show that curcumin actually binds to the cancer causing kinase enzyme at the atomic level. This inhibits DYRK2 and reduces cell proliferation and cancer levels.
Turmeric has been shown to turn on a tumour suppressor gene, inhibiting metastases and encouraging cancer cell death. It also has a significant effect on Estrogen receptor sites in ER+ve breast cancer(7).

 
Much more can be found on curcumin elsewhere on this website.
 
4. Ginger and cancer
 
The cancer world received shocking news in 2017. A small amount of regular ginger consumption resulted in an anti-cancer effect greater than the drug Taxol (paclitaxel). The University of Michigan showed the inconvenient truth about the power of ginger root (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) not just over breast cancer drugs, but prostate, colorectal and ovarian cancer drugs too. The ginger root also exhibited zero side-effects.
 
The British Journal of Nutrition covered research(1) in 2012 showing that mice, who had been given prostate cancer had tumour shrinkage of 56% when fed 100 mg of ginger per kilogram of body weight (8gm of ginger for an 80 kg person). The ginger extract had no effect on any other rapidly dividing tissues. In studies (2) on rats with Liver cancer, ginger was shown to act as an anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent by reducing NFκB and TNF-α.
 
Ginger root is an extremely powerful anti-inflammatory. It can sooth the digestive system and is thus a realistic alternative to having to take those steroids with your chemotherapy to avoid nausea!
 
Ginger seems to have not one but five powerful ingredients – shogaol, zerumbone, zingerone, paradol and gingerol – and these can regulate Cox-2 limiting eicosanoids like prostaglandins. This has the double effect of limiting inflammation and pain. Although it starts working at about a gram per day, experts believe you should try to consume 5 to 10 grams per day of grated fresh ginger for the best effect.
 
A 2006 study using gingerol and paradol showed apoptosis and autophagy (where cancer cells attack each other) in ovarian cancer (3). By 2012 gingerol was shown to have multi-path action against cancer working in the same way as PARP inhibitors and also on the cancer mitochondrial membrane. Researchers concluded it could bind to cancer cell DNA and induce cell death and autophagy(4). By 2015, zerumbone was being shown to stop spread and cause cell death in prostate cancer(5). In the same year shogaol was shown to activate the AMPK pathway increasing autophagy, while turning off mTOR which prevents autophagy(6).
 
There is also research showing that ginger root extract can regulate blood sugar levels better that the diabetes drug, metformin.
Go to: The many benefits of ginger with cancer
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Refs:
 
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21849094
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2664283/
3. http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/66/8_Supplement/1058.3
4. http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/66/8_Supplement/1058.3
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26246051
6. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0126605
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5354546/
 

 
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