Uncategorized

Spices that Fight Cancer

spicesthatfightcancer

The Spices that Fight Cancer

 

Our bodies fight a constant battle against cancer because many elements both in the environment and in our bodies, spur its formation. Triggers include environmental toxins, inflammation, and viruses. When cells are damaged and they start multiplying, cancer can begin.

 

Our bodies fight back, trying to kill cancer cells by several methods, including producing more killer T-cells that cause aberrant cells to self-destruct. They also use compounds found in foods to wage war. Some herbs and spices contain particularly strong cancer-fighting substances. They include:

 

  • Turmeric. Turmeric is a spice used to flavor traditional Indian dishes. Its active ingredient is curcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory that gives the spice its bright yellow color. Several studies have found it is an effective weapon against cancer.

 

A Phase II clinical trial at MD Anderson Center involved 25 patients with pancreatic cancer who were given 8 grams of turmeric a day for two months. Tumor growth stopped in two patients, one for eight months and another for two-and-a-half years. Another patient’s tumor temporarily regressed by 73 percent. Since the only two drugs approved by the FDA are effective in no more than 10 percent of patients, turmeric’s effectiveness was similar, and with no side effects. Another study found that turmeric reduced tumor growth in mice with pancreatic cancer by 43 percent.

 

 

  • Boswellia. Boswellia serrata is better known as frankincense, and has been used for centuries in Indian Ayurvedic medicine as an anti-inflammatory. Modern research is finding it also has anticancer properties. One laboratory study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine investigated its effect on human bladder cancer cells and found that it activated the genes responsible for suppressing the growth of cancer cells and triggering apoptosis, causing cells to commit suicide. The researchers concluded that frankincense oil was able to distinguish between cancerous and normal bladder cells and to suppress their viability. Other research found links to protection against breast, brain, pancreatic, stomach, and prostate cancers.

 

Although both turmeric and boswellia fight cancer individually, a study at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas found that the combination of extracts from turmeric and boswellia work together to prevent colon cancer. The combo was so powerful that it began influencing tumor growth as early as the second day of administration. The combo even fights cancer in people who have a mutation in a gene that makes their cancer unresponsive to common types of chemotherapy.

 

 

“We’ve known for a while that curcumin and boswellia are powerful anti-inflammatories and have potent anti-cancer properties,” says study author Ajay Goel, Director of Epigenetics, Cancer Prevention, and Geonomics at Baylor. “They are both powerful natural medicines, and both have the ability to reduce inflammation” . “The two together had a much more powerful inflammatory effect than either compound alone.”

 

  • Basil. Basil has been a sacred herb in India for thousands of years, and studies have discovered that by repairing cells damaged by oxidation, it has the possibility to kill pre-cancerous tumors. A lab study, which was published in Cancer Letters, found that basil inhibited the proliferation and invasion of pancreatic cancer cells.

 

Basil contains eugenol, which deters the multiplication of cancer cells and also induces apoptosis. Other cancer-fighting photochemicals of basil include rosmarinic acid, beta-sitosterol, and carnosic acid.

 

 

  • Huang qin tang. Scientists at Yale University found that a combination of four herbs known as huang qin tang boosts the effectiveness of chemotherapy in colon cancer patients. In addition, the mixture, which has been used by Chinese herbalists for 1,800 years, reduces some of the debilitating side effects of chemo including nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. The combination, which contains the herbs Chinese peony, Chinese jujube, Chinese licorice, and baikal skullcap, has been found to have at least 62 active chemicals that work together to be effective.

 

  • Parsley. Compounds found in parsley and dill seeds help fight cancer, according to a study from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. Both herbs contain glaziovianin A, a natural isoflavone known to have potent anti-cancer properties. Glaziovianin A inhibits the growth of tumor cells by disrupting mitosis, the process of cell division. Although it has been possible to synthesize the compounds, the process was complicated and expensive. However, Russian researchers have developed a process that is cheaper and quicker, and may point to a future effective plant-based cancer treatment. The study was published in the Journal of Natural Products.

 

 

  • White willow bark. Aspirin, the world’s most common drug, was originally derived from willow bark whose active ingredient is salacin. A Turkish study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer found that an extract of willow called Salix aegyptiaca, can stop colon cancer cells from replicating

 

Another study found that white willow bark contains a wide variety of additional polyphenols and flavonoids in addition to salacin that fight cancer, and that people who take a daily aspirin would receive more benefits if they took willow bark.

 

  • Garlic. Garlic contains more than 30 organosulphur compounds, many with exciting anti-cancer properties. One is an organosulphur compound called diallyl trisulfide (DATS), which fights cancer by preventing, killing, or blocking the growth and spread of cancerous cells

 

According to the National Cancer Institute, studies have found that garlic can lower the risk of pancreatic cancer by 54 percent, prostate cancer by 50 percent, colon cancer by 50 percent, and stomach cancer by 52 percent. Some studies show even greater benefits: One study conducted at the University of North Carolina found that people who eat garlic cut their risk of colorectal cancer by two-thirds.

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Secrets of Sleep

Secrets-of-Sleep

The Secrets of Sleep

There are lots of reasons why older folks struggle to get a good night’s sleep. Just don’t expect much consensus from the scientific community.

 

Sleep is a precious commodity here in Geezerville. At a certain age, in fact, we begin to pursue it with the sort of evolutionary fervor we once reserved primarily for procreative activities. And yet, for many elderly Americans, a good night’s sleep remains a maddeningly elusive goal. As Jane Brody notes in a recent New York Times column, a 1995 study found that 28 percent of people over 65 had difficulty falling asleep and 42 percent said they had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Given our current propensity to while away our evening hours staring at various electronic screens, Brody suggests those numbers are probably even higher now.

 

I am not one of these cranky insomniacs. Most evenings, I’m conked out within a few minutes of my 11 o’clock bedtime; most mornings, I rise reasonably refreshed, around 8. My Lovely Wife, on the other hand, is a night owl who will not entertain the notion of slumber until she is completely convinced she’s exhausted enough — physically and, more importantly, mentally — to hit the pillow and stay there.

 

She’s been this way since our first child was born, nearly 29 years ago. Hyperalert to any disturbances from the crib down the hall, and secure in the knowledge that I’ve been known to sleep through minor earthquakes, she took on the responsibility and maintains it now, long after our offspring have exited the nest.

 

I’d worry about MLW if she wasn’t able to snooze happily into the mid-morning hours when necessary. (She’s self-employed and has few time-sensitive obligations.) But for those aging insomniacs who never catch enough z’s, there can be serious consequences: cognitive disorders, psychomotor retardation, immune system dysfunction, and depression, among others.

 

Scientists, physicians, and psychiatrists have been trying to figure out the mysteries of sleep for as long as people have been tossing and turning. There are plenty of suggested cures — avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and computer screens before bedtime; ramping up your exercise; eschewing midday naps; and the like — but there’s little consensus on what might be happening in the body to make us more or less likely to snooze. Or why we need to sleep at all.

 

Researchers at Harvard Medical School recently weighed in on the debate with a study suggesting that it’s all connected to the body’s immune response, specifically certain type of brain-based immune proteins known as inflammasome NLRP3. When the brain detects an infection or inflammation in the body, it releases sleep-inducing immune molecules.

 

“We already know that sleep plays a protective role in resolving infections so our observation of inflammasome activation following infection suggests this immune mechanism may have a brain-protective role,” says lead study author Mark Zielinski, PhD.

 

I’m no sleep expert, but this would lead me to believe that my nightly snoozefest is the happy result of some stubborn infection, which seems to be something of a mixed blessing. Eradicate the infection, douse the inflammation, and the reward is an endless string of sleepless nights?

 

No one really questions that there is a restorative function to sleep, but University of Wisconsin–Madison scientists argue that its primary purpose is to help us forget. In a recent study published in the journal Science, biologists Giulio Tononi, MD, PhD, and Chiara Cirelli, MD, PhD, report that the brain’s synapses grow so exuberantly during the day that the circuits get too noisy. When we sleep, our brains surreptitiously delete unnecessary memories so we aren’t overloaded with useless information, rendering our useful memories fuzzy.

 

When I mentioned this the other day to MLW, she wondered how the brain could determine the difference between necessary and unnecessary memories. I said I didn’t know and I wasn’t going to lose any sleep over it. But now I’m sorry I mentioned it all, because she probably will.

 

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Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Your Earwax Can Tell Us a Lot about Your Health

earwax

Your Earwax Can Give You Important Clues about Your Health

 

 

I have asked many patients about wax and drainage in their ears.  Sometimes they look at me with that unbelieving eye, because no other healthcare worker has ever asked them about it. For the most part, we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the inside of our ears, apart from a very general “are they clean?”. Perhaps we should be giving them more thought because the color of our earwax can say a lot about our general health, and it can give us valuable clues when something is wrong.

The Role of Ear Wax in the Body

Earwax is often viewed as a gross and annoying nuisance, but it is actually a very crucial part of our natural defense system. Ear wax is formed from wax glands in the external ear canal and it protects the skin and ear from water and infection.

Everyone differs in the amount of ear wax that they have, and the consistency. Ear wax can be wet, or dry, and too much or too little can be quite dangerous, increasing the risk of infection. So, you really want to have just the right amount.

 

What is the Right Amount of Ear Wax?

Every individual is different in terms of how much ear wax is the right amount, and the only way to truly know if the amount of earwax in your ears is normal is to give us a call and talk to us about it.

If you’re experiencing the following symptoms you may have a buildup of earwax, and you should call us:

Earache, fullness in the ear or a ‘plugged’ feeling

Partial hearing loss

Tinnitus, ringing, or noises in the ear

Itching, odor, or discharge

Coughing

 

What Your Earwax Says About Your Health

Color

The color of each person’s ear wax can vary, but there are some colors that are natural, and others that indicate a serious health problem.

 

“Normal earwax ranges from light orange to dark brown, but if it’s yellow, green, white, or black, that suggests an infection and you need to see your personal physician, and bring a sample with you” says Benjamin Tweel, MD, an otolaryngologist at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

 

Odd Smell

Your ear wax should never have an odor. If it does, this could be a sign of an infection.

 

“In my experience, it’s the patient who notices a smell, but it’s very possible other people might bring it up as well,” says Tweel. “Regardless, it needs to be treated.”

 

Flakiness

If your ear wax is dry and flaky you could have another skin problem that is prevalent, such as eczema. This consistency, accompanied by soreness could also be psoriasis, though it’s less common.

This is usually one of the first stages of having a problem, and it can be corrected quite easily.

 

Itchy Ears

Scratching your ear every once in a while, doesn’t mean that there’s a problem with your ear, but if you are constantly itching and scratching there is a chance you have a systemic problem.  Again, this is a first stage problem, and if it is not corrected fluid builds up in your ears and if you do not find out the cause will develop an infection.   This is what usually happens in children when ear problems are treated, but not cured.

 

Earwax Removal: Do It the Right Way

Ear wax isn’t bad, it keeps your ears dry and prevents infection, but you do want to keep it from blocking your ears. Ideally, the ears will never have to be cleaned, but this is not always the case. If you are experiencing symptoms that are interfering with your day-to-day life, consult a doctor or clean your ears safely using proper methods.

First things first, when it comes to earwax removal, do not use cotton-tipped applicators (such as Q-tips) because you risk breaking your eardrum. It’s also possible to jam ear wax even deeper into the ear shaft. These applicators may also increase the risk of bacterial infection in the external ear canal

Try this safe ear cleaning method at home:

 

Soften the wax – Use an eyedropper to apply a few drops of natural baby oil or glycerin in your ear canal.

Use warm water – After a day or two, when the wax has softened, use a rubber-bulb syringe to gently squirt warm water into your ear canal. Tilt your head to straighten the ear canal and allow the water to enter the ear, and when you are finished irrigating tip your head to the side and let the water drain out.

Dry your ear canal – When you’re finished, gently dry your outer ear with a clean towel

 

Do not have your ears irrigated if you have diabetes, a hole in the eardrum (perforation), ever had a tube in the eardrum, skin problems such as eczema, cardiac conditions, allergies or a weakened immune system.

 

For something that’s thought about so infrequently throughout the day, earwax can give us some important clues as to our general health and well-being. Taking good care of our ears will ensure that our hearing remains top-notch throughout our lives. Something as simple as changing the way that you clean your ears can have a big impact on your health.

 

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Dr P Carrothers

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