Monday, June 16, 2014

Saffron Benefits for Cancer

Saffron, also known as Kesar, is cultivated in many countries including France, Turkey, Iran and India. It is popularly used as a food coloring and flavoring agent. The plant derived spice is made from the dried stigmas of the flowers of Crocus sativus

In folk and modern medicine, saffron has been used to treat depression, asthma, premenstrual syndrome, erectile dysfunction, macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease and insomnia. Experimental studies have revealed the role of saffron extracts and its components as cancer therapeutic agents as well.

Scientists have been able to identify various compounds in saffron that have anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic properties. This has also been found that saffron can even delay certain types of tumor growth. Although the research is still in their early stages, but the broad range of activities of the plant extract on cancer cells encourages tapping the benefits of saffron in negating cancer.

Saffron has been shown to inhibit carcinogen-induced skin carcinoma in mice and to have cytotoxic action against human leukemia cell lines. Saffron also has been shown to cause cell death in liver cancer cells and carcinoma cells.

Saffron extract and its constituent, Crocin, have shown to significantly inhibit the growth of cancer cells while not ameliorating the normal cells. Crocetin, another natural carotenoid constituent of saffron, has shown significant potential as an anti-tumor agent in animal models and cell culture systems by enhancing anti-oxidative system, inhibiting nucleic acid synthesis, inducing apoptosis and hindering the growth factor signaling pathways.

Saffron extract has been shown to have dose-dependent inhibitory effects on the proliferation of human breast cancer cells. It has been proved to greatly inhibit chemotherapy-induced cellular DNA damage. It also was successful in delaying and preventing cancer in mice that were genetically predisposed to both soft tissue sarcoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Topical application of saffron also resulted in the inhibition of skin tumors. Even more recent research has revealed that saffron can also be utilized to help reduce side effects of chemotherapy drugs.

The other compounds of interest found in saffron are safranal, picrocrocin, and β-carotene that have also shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, radioprotective and anti-carcinogenic properties. In different cancers, it has been established that saffron extracts are dose dependent, and also dependent on the method of intake. Further studies are required to evaluate the safety and efficacy of saffron in cancer treatment.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Chemical Holi Colors can Cause Cancer! Make Organic Colours at Home

Holi is one of the major festivals of India, played with enthusiasm and blast of colors all over you. But when these chemically loaded colors come in contact with the skin, they tend to react and cause skin related problems such as allergies and sometimes, skin cancer! The colors available in market are extremely harmful and stink due to the presence of harsh chemicals in them.

Chemicals like Aluminium bromide (silver) and mercury sulphite (red) present in chemical colours can cause skin cancers. Copper Sulphate (Green) is said to cause eye allergy and temporary blindness; Lead Oxide (Black) can cause renal failure & learning disability; Chromium Iodide (Purple) can lead to bronchial asthma & allergies. After learning this, don’t you think that using natural colors is the safest option as they would go off easily, won’t harm your skin and won’t even cost you much.

Natural colours can be easily made at home. Here are a few ideas on how to create your own natural colours and stay away from harmful chemicals. So, get set to be drenched in colours, without any worries.

Beautiful and bright Yellow colour can be prepared at home by these simple methods.
  • Dry the rind of the Bael fruit and grind to obtain a yellow colored gulal.
  • Mix turmeric powder with double the quantity of gram flour (besan) to be used as yellow gulal. Besan can be substituted by wheat, rice or talcum powder. Turmeric can also be boiled in water to get deep yellow color. 
  • Soak marigold flowers in water and boil it to get yellow color solution. 
  • Dry the petals of flowers like yellow chrysanthemum, Amaltas or marigold and grind them to obtain different shades of yellow. Use this powder with gram flour or use it separately.
Vibrant and Energetic Red is one of the most favorable colors used in Holi. Use the simple tips to make the red colour at home: 
  • Dry red rose petals by spreading them on newspaper. Grind these rose petals and use this red powder as `gulal`. 
  • Dry red hibiscus flowers in the shade and grind them to a lovely red color. 
  • The red sandalwood powder can also be used as Red Gulal. It is beneficial for skin. For wet colour, boil 2 tsp of red sandalwood powder in 5 liters of water. Dilute it with twenty liters of water to get red color solution. 
  • Mix a pinch of lime powder in half a cup of water and add 2 tsp of turmeric powder in it. Use only after diluting with 10 litres of water for red colour.
  • Peels of red pomegranate can be boiled in water to obtain red colour.
  • Madder Tree Wood can also be boiled in water to get a lovely red color. 
  • Sinduria (Annato) has a water chestnut shaped fruit, which contains lovely brick color red seeds. These can be used  to  obtain both dry and wet colors.
Saffron and orange colors are easy to prepare at home. Try these methods-
  • Add little turmeric and sandalwood powder to rose water to make a saffron color solution. 
  • Mix a pinch of sandalwood powder in 1 litre of water for an instant, beautiful and fragrant saffron color.
  • Collect and dry the stalks of Harashringar flowers during the early winter season. Soak them in water to get a pleasant orange color.
  • The flowers, Tesu, Palash or Dhak can be soaked overnight in water and can also be boiled to obtain a fragrant yellowish orange colored water.
  • Soak a few stalks of Saffron in 2 tbsp of water. Leave for few hours and grind to make a fine paste. Dilute with water for desired color strength.
Green Colour has a calming and healing effect, in its natural and herbal form. To prepare the same at home, go for these suggested
  • Use Henna (mehendi) powder mixed with equal quantity of any flour to attain a lovely green shade. Dry mehendi will not leave color on your face as it can be easily brushed off. Only mehendi mixed in water might leave a slight color on face. To prepare wet colour, mix 2 tsp of mehendi in a litre of water and stir well.
  • Gulmohar, spinach, coriander or mint leaves can be dried and ground to get a rich green gulal. Dry and finely powder the Gulmohur tree leaves for a natural Green gulal.
  • Crush the tender leaves of the Wheat plant to obtain a natural safe green Holi color.
Blue and Magenta are the colors of new beginnings and creative expression. Learn about the simple ways to prepare these at home-
  • Crush berries of the Indigo tree and add to water for desired color strength. The leaves of Indigo plant can also yield rich blue color, when boiled in water. 
  • Jacaranda flowers that bloom in summers can be dried in the shade and ground to obtain a lovely blue gulal.
  • Grate one beetroot and soak it in water overnight for a wonderful magenta solution. Boil or leave overnight for a deeper shade.
Holi can be fun by using environment friendly colours. Let’s explore the fascinating world of natural harmless colours that not only are gentle on our skin but are also helping to save our environment and conserve our biodiversity. Celebrating an eco-friendly holi can make a difference to this colorful festival. So, work out these fabulous options and have a happy and safe holi.

May This Festival Fills Your Life with Colours of Love, Happiness, Health and Success! 
Wishing You a Very Happy and Colourful Holi!

Note: While natural colours are usually considered safe, do look out for any reactions or rashes. Each person is different and people with sensitive skin may react to everyday herbs or ingredients.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Cancer Fighting Benefits of Rosemary

Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis)
For centuries, culinary herbs have been the healthy seasonings and an abundant source of healing chemicals. A recent USDA study revealed that many popular herbs are a great source of natural antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals that are believed to be a major trigger to development of cancer.

In many parts of the world, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis, family Lamiaceae), is a common household plant that is used for many purposes including food flavoring, drink, and beverages, as well as cosmetic uses. Rosemary has also been used commercially as an antimicrobial food preservative for years, as it has a lot to offer as a nutritional supplement, especially in the prevention of some types of cancer, allergies, and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Various studies have shown that rosemary can help prevent cancer and age-related skin damage. Rosemary contains more than two dozen antioxidants, including carnosic acid, one of the only antioxidants that deactivate free radicals through a multilevel cascade approach. In vitro studies have shown that as carnosic acid attacks free radicals, it is transformed into at least four other antioxidant compounds, each with the ability to neutralize additional free radicals.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis)
The two key ingredients, caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid, found in rosemary, are potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents that help protect the body's cells from free radical damage. Rich in carnosol, Rosemary has been found to detoxify substances that can initiate the breast-cancer process. The antioxidants in rosemary have also been found to prevent the development of cancer in human liver and bronchial cells. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Reduce Your Risk of Cancer: Follow These Tips

It is well accepted that your chances of developing cancer are affected by the lifestyle choices you make. So if you're concerned about cancer prevention, you must know that some simple changes in the lifestyle can make a big difference. In this post, learn about some of the useful cancer prevention tips:
Eat a Balanced Diet: Consuming a healthy diet might help reduce cancer risk. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and green vegetables. Limit your consumptions of saturated and saturated fats. High-fat diets tend to be higher in calories and might increase the risk of obesity, which may, in turn, increase cancer risk.
Keep a Check on Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight might lower the risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney. Eating a balanced diet along with any form of regular exercise would not only make you fit, but also help to keep a check on weight gain. Include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine to lower the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.
Quit Tobacco consumption: Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer (including cancer of the lung, bladder, cervix and kidney). Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. Even if you don't use tobacco, exposure to passive smoking has the chances to increase the risk of lung cancer. Decision to stop consuming tobacco in any form is one of the most important steps you can take. If you need help quitting tobacco, ask your doctor, family and friends to help and support you.
Cut down on alcohol intake: Drinking alcohol can increase the risks of cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver! The amount you consume and the length of time you have been drinking would increase the chances of inviting the disease.
Avoid direct Sun Exposure: Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer, and one of the most preventable! Try to avoid mid day sun when the sun’s rays are the strongest! When you're outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible. Use sunglasses and a broad-rim hat for help. Wear clothes that cover much of your skin. Opt for bright or dark colors, which reflect more ultraviolet radiation than pastels or bleached cotton. Use generous amounts of sunscreen when you're outdoors, and reapply often.
Get Immunized: Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections. Talk to your doctor about immunization against Hepatitis B and HPV.
Get Regular Self-exams and Screenings: Getting regular screening for cancers such as of the skin, colon, prostate, cervix and breast, can increase your chances of discovering cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Ask your doctor about the best cancer screening schedule for you.
Take cancer prevention into your own hands, starting today. The rewards will last a lifetime.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Turmeric For Cancer Prevention

Cancer Prevention

Turmeric (Curcuma longa), a reputed member of the family Zingiberaceae, is known for its multiple benefits ranging from medicines to food. It is extensively used as a food preservative, spice, and coloring agent in India, China and South-East Asia. Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. This herb has a very good taste and aroma. Its flavor is peppery, warm and bitter while its fragrance is mild yet slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, to which it is related.

The plant is also considered as auspicious and is a part of religious rituals. The rhizome is a rich source of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and essential oils. Curcumin, one of the components found in turmeric is anti inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, chemopreventive, anticoagulant, anti-mutagenic, anticoagulant, diuretic, depurative, antidiabetic and antifungal in nature.

Curcumin has emerged as a potent multimodal cancer-preventing agent that targets various causative factors involved in cancer development. It intervenes at each stage in the complex sequence of cancer development, progression, invasion, and ultimately metastasis to healthy tissues. Curcumin also synergizes with standard chemotherapy drugs, helping to boost their efficacy and potentially reduce the dose of toxic chemotherapy products, minimizing needless harm and suffering for cancer patients.

The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and gene-regulating mechanisms of curcumin have yielded compelling results in combating a remarkably broad array of cancers, including those of the breast, uterus, cervix, prostate and GI tract. A burgeoning body of research demonstrates curcumin’s potential to counter cancers of the blood, brain, lung, and bladder as well. Curcumin is also emerging as a potentially effective intervention for pancreatic cancer- one of cancer’s most lethal and aggressive forms.

Turmeric is used as a spice in Indian kitchens, as well has various medicinal and therapeutic uses. Owing to its aroma and coloring property, powdered or grated form of turmeric is used in food preparations.

  • American cancer society website:
  • Bachmeier BE, Killian P, Pfeffer U, Nerlich AG. Novel aspects for the application of Curcumin in chemoprevention of various cancers. Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2010 Jan 1;2:697-717.
  • Ravindran J, Prasad S, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin and cancer cells: how many ways can curry kill tumor cells selectively? AAPS J. 2009 Sep;11(3):495-510.
  • Cai XZ, Wang J, Li XD, et al. Curcumin suppresses proliferation and invasion in human gastric cancer cells by downregulation of PAK1 activity and cyclin D1 expression. Cancer Biol Ther. 2009 Jul;8(14):1360-8.
  • Lin L, Hutzen B, Zuo M, et al. Novel STAT3 phosphorylation inhibitors exhibit potent growth-suppressive activity in pancreatic and breast cancer cells. Cancer Res. 2010 Mar 15;70(6):2445-54.
  • Purkayastha S, Berliner A, Fernando SS, et al. Curcumin blocks brain tumor formation. Brain Res. 2009 Feb 10.
  • Kelkel M, Jacob C, Dicato M, Diederich M. Potential of the dietary antioxidants resveratrol and curcumin in prevention and treatment of hematologic malignancies. Molecules. 2010;15(10):7035-74.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Garlic and Cancer Prevention
Garlic (Allium sativum)
A native to Central Asia, Garlic (Allium sativum) of the family Liliaceae has historically been prized for both culinary and medicinal use. It has the strongest flavor of all the alliums. A hardy perennial, garlic grows as bulbs, which are made up of cloves. Garlic is unique because of its high sulphur content.

In addition to this, garlic contains arginine, oligosaccharides, flavonoids and selenium, all of which are said to be beneficial to health. The characteristic odour and flavor of are garlic comes from sulphur compounds formed from allicin. The latter is the major precursor of garlic’s bioactive compounds, formed when garlic bulbs are chopped, crushed, or damaged. 

Several studies show an association between increased intake of garlic and reduced risk of certain cancers, including cancers of the stomach, colon, oesophagus, pancreas and breast. An analysis of data from various studiesshowed that the higher the amount of raw and cooked garlic consumed, the lower the risk of stomach and colorectal cancer.

Several compounds are involved in garlic's possible anticancer effects. Garlic contains allyl sulphur and other compounds that slow or prevent the growth of tumor cells. Allyl sulfur compounds, which occur naturally in garlic and onions, make cells vulnerable to the stress created by products of cell division. Because cancer cells divide very quickly, they generate more stressors than most normal cells. Thus, cancer cells are damaged by the presence of allyl sulphur compounds to a much greater extent than normal cells.
Garlic cloves
Protective effects from garlic may also arise from its antibacterial properties or from its ability to block the formation of cancer-causing substances, halt the activation of cancer-causing substances, enhance DNA repair, reduce cell proliferation, or induce cell death.

Although garlic has been used safely in cooking, excessive consumption can cause some side effects, in addition to strong breath and body odour. Ingestion of fresh garlic bulbs, extracts or oil on an empty stomach may occasionally cause heartburn, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Some studies suggest that garlic can lower blood sugar levels and can occasionally cause allergies.

  • National Cancer Institute:
  • Milner JA. Garlic: Its anticarcinogenic and antitumorigenic properties. Nutrition Reviews 1996; 54:S82–S86
  • Fleischauer AT, Arab L. Garlic and cancer: A critical review of the epidemiologic literature. Journal of Nutrition 2001; 131(3s):1032S–1040S. 
  • Milner JA. Mechanisms by which garlic and allyl sulfur compounds suppress carcinogen bioactivation. Garlic and carcinogenesis. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology2001; 492:69–81.
  • Boon H, Wong J. Botanical medicine and cancer: A review of the safety and efficacy. Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy 2004; 5(12):2485–2501.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Eating Cruciferous Vegetables may Help Prevent Cancer!

cancer prevention
Cruciferous Vegetables and Cancer Prevention
Cruciferous vegetables are part of the Brassica genus of plants. They include kale, radish, turnip, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, etc. Cruciferous vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, other nutrients, and chemicals known as glucosinolates. Glucosinolates break down into several biologically active compounds that are being studied for possible anticancer effects. Some of these compounds have shown anticancer effects in cells and animals, but the results of studies with humans have been less clear.

A review of research published in the October 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association showed that 70% or more of the studies found a link between cruciferous vegetables and protection against cancer. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin); vitamins C, E, and K, folate and minerals. They also are a good fiber source.  In addition, cruciferous vegetables contain a group of substances known as glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing chemicals.

These chemicals are responsible for the pungent aroma and bitter flavor of cruciferous vegetables. Indoles and isothiocyanates have been found to inhibit the development of cancer in several organs in rats and mice, including the bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung, and stomach. Studies in animals and experiments with cells grown in the laboratory have identified several potential ways in which these compounds may help prevent cancer.

Another way cruciferous vegetables may help to protect against cancer is by reducing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the overload of harmful molecules called oxygen-free radicals, which are generated by the body. Reducing these free radicals may reduce the risk of colon, lung, prostate, breast, and other cancers.

cancer prevention

Vegetables and herbs that are readily available contain some of the most potent cancer-fighting compounds found in all of nature. Natural phytonutrients derived from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and watercress, along with powerful antioxidant polyphenols such as carnosic acid and carnosol from rosemary, offer powerful, broad-spectrum support for maintaining healthy estrogen metabolism and protecting against the ubiquitous, cancer-provoking agents encountered every day in our environment.

Incorporating these extraordinarily potent, plant-based compounds in a daily supplementation program is a safe, effective, and inexpensive way to guard against many of today’s most common and lethal cancers.