An Herbal Approach to Cancer

Although they add a delicious zest to a variety of recipes, herbs are not just for cooking. In some parts of the world, they have been used for centuries in the treatment of various medical conditions including diabetes, kidney disease and digestive disorders. Recent studies have shown that certain herbs may hold promise. Here are six herbs that individuals may want to add to the grocery list. As a tip, try to look for green supplements that include these herbs so that you can easily add the green powder to smoothies.

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)

Derived from a type of bean plant, this is the most frequently used herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is given to boost energy and immune function. Research suggests that astragalus may indeed enhance immune function and improve the outcomes of conventional cancer treatments. It is also thought to help fight heart disease, reduce symptoms of the common cold, lower blood sugars and reduce blood pressure.

Don't know where to find Astragalus in stores? All Day Energy Greens is a high-quality green supplement that includes Astragalus Membranaceus (Root) as well as more than 37 superfoods. This green energy drink powder can be purchase online from the Institute for Vibrant Living.

Job's Tears (Coix lacryma-jobi)

While the herb has not been widely researched in the west, several studies in China have shown encouraging effects on cancers of the breast, colon, pancreas, liver and lungs.

Research in 2011, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that seeds from the Job's Tears plant reduced stomach ulcers in mice and suppressed gastric cancer cells in vitro.

Chinese Ginseng (Panax ginseng)

Native to Russia and East Asia, this herb is mostly cultivated for medicinal use. Commonly thought to have warming properties, many people take Chinese ginseng to increase strength and stamina, and boost the immune system. Although there is no conclusive evidence of Chinese ginseng curing cancer, studies have found that it can suppress tumors, especially in the early stages.

Poria Cocos

Resembling a large truffle, poria cocos is a mushroom that originated in East Asia. It is often used for cooking and can be found growing in rotting logs and in the roots of trees. Extracts from the poria cocos mushroom are also used in TCM for a variety of medical treatments.

An exciting 2013 study published in the International Journal of Oncology found that Poria Triterpine Extract (PTE) derived from Poria cocos inhibits growth of human pancreatic cancer cells. With a survival rate of roughly 5 percent over five years, total remissions from pancreatic cancer are very rare, so this study is promising.

Yellow Sophora Root (Sophora flavescens)

Coming from a deciduous shrub related to the pea family, this herb is known as ku shen (or bitter root) in Chinese. Also used in TCM, it is recognized for its cooling or anti-inflammatory properties. Matrine, an alkaloid present in Sophora flavescens, has shown antitumor effects for gastric cancers and for those of the breast, liver and pancreas.

Atractylodis (atractylodes macrocephala)

Derived from the root of a perennial plant, this herb is used by practitioners of TCM to treat abdominal pain and various gastric diseases.In a Chinese study of 158 patients with late-state gastric cancer, it was found that a formula containing atractylodis and other herbs improved the outcome for certain types of chemotherapy drugs.

While each of the herbs mentioned above carry specific anti-cancer properties, a combination of all of the herbs was used in a recent study examining colorectal cancer patients who were prescribed FOLFOX chemotherapy.

The study found that the addition of the herbs positively impacted patients in a number of ways. It increased survival rates, boosted quality of life, and alleviated side effects of the chemotherapy. That being said, because each of the herbs has shown anti-cancer properties, it is not clearly known if the results were due to one of the herbs or a combination of all.

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