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Herbs to help prevent cancer in someone likely genetically prone to it?

 
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Bit of family history. My mom's mom's mom lived until 98 and died of old age, no cancer. Her daughter--my grandmother--got cancer at 80 and died at 85 from it. My mother developed kidney cancer at 62. Then bladder cancer at 64, followed by lung cancer a few months later. Now they've discovered breast cancer. She's not yet 65. They are all four separate typed of "unrelated" cancer. Needless to say, I am not only worried about my mother, but also about what my cancer risks are with each generation getting cancer 20 years sooner. I'm 35.

I already avoid sugars except from fruit and honey, as well as grains. I eat largely nuts, fruits, vegetables, eggs (from our pastured ducks and chickens), organic dairy and meat. We avoid pesticides/herbicides/fungicides, as well as toxic cleaners and scents.

I'm wondering if it would be wise to add in herbs to help prevent cancer. And, if so, which ones would be wise?

Right now, I have a semi-nightly tea of: 1 tbsp red tea, 1 tsp dried burdock, dash of cayenne, a few grates of pepper, 1/4 tsp ginger and turmeric and (if I remember) dehydrated quercetin. Is this wise? I also have psoriasis, which--when it gets bad--causes swollen lymph nodes.  Are these safe herbs to be having semi-nightly? Is there anything else I should add?
 
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I've heard good things about chaga mushroom tea.  If you want some and can't find any up by you, I can send you a hunk from one of my trees...
 
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My only recommendation would be to ingest more herbs both in quantity and variety.
Make more pickled herb condiments, add more to soups, add more to your seasoning for cheese/meats/salad/etc, add more to your teas and drinks/juices.

In some ways I would add mushrooms to the 'herb' list. I am think koji/amazake, water and milk kefir, and others. Check out this link http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/koji.html
 
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I kinda understand a few things on the subject, and most, if not all, of the herbs used to flavor food are medicinal. Basil, oregano, thyme, mint, parsley, cilantro and others contain all kinds of beneficial compounds in them including unique compounds that help fight cancer. Not generally considered an "herb" but root and bulb foods contain all kinds of cancer fighting compounds, notably turmeric & garlic. Cinnamon, a tree bark, also contains anti cancer compounds.

As noted by others in this thread above me, fungi have incredible anticancer/antitumor compounds in them, mushrooms like the reishi, maitake, chaga, cordyceps, lions mane, and more.

I'm of the notion that herbs and roots and foods as medicine is a good idea to consume all the time, instead of seeking medicinals after falling ill, and something I do for myself to stay healthy and stack the deck in my favor of hopefully avoiding cancer later in life is a principal that I carried over from my gardening practices is I try to maximize diversity. I believe eating the more different medicinals the better.
 
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Hi Nicole,

As I just mentioned on the other thread, I would suggest you loose the black pepper due to it inhibiting glucuronidation. Otherwise the herbs look good and the mushrooms are indeed a good idea that people mentioned. I would suggest variety in everything. Lots of green leafy vegetables, lots of bright colored fruits, plenty of healthy protein and fats and you provide a lot of cancer fighting molecules that way.

In my opinion the increase we see in cancer as well as many other chronic disease is from a mix of excess toxin load and other stressors that keeps increasing and poor nutrition, decreased exercise and disconnect from spirit. So, if you do everything you can to get exercise, get time to relax and be in nature, eat well and do everything you can to stay away from toxins (educate others too so they will decrease), meditate/pray, this will help prevent it. I stress that people eat more dark leafy greens and include a lot of mustard family plants in their diet. Antioxidants help to protect your cells from damage and besides being in fresh fruit and vegetables, they are in many herbs. All the herbs with essential oils have antioxidants as well as all the liver herbs and most herbs that have any type of polyphenol in them are antioxidant too. It is harder to find herbs without antioxidants than to find them with antioxidants.

Here is a list of herbs you might think about including in your diet off and on.
Green Tea, Burdock, Astragalus, Ginseng, Maitake Mushroom, Cordyceps mushroom, Licorice, Turmeric,  Red clover, Artichoke, Lavender, Parsley,  Garlic, Flax seed, Japanese Knotweed, Chinese skullcap  and Milk thistle.  I would also suggest you highly flavor your foods with things like Oregano, Thyme, Cilantro, Ginger, Turmeric, Cinnamon and other antioxidant/anti-inflammatory spices that you like. This is just a short list of herbs and a person could easily list many more.

Our body is constantly removing toxins and repairing damage that would otherwise lead to cancer. If it does not work, we can end up with cancer. However, if we support our bodies ability to detox, we can keep the cells from being damaged. This is what I stress to people who want to prevent cancer. This website has a lot of data on toxins https://www.ewg.org/   If you want to learn more about how the body removes toxins and things to support removal, I have written a lot about it on my website. Here is an article on how borccoli helps detox poisons and it is one of the many mustard plants that help us fight cancer: https://youarethehealer.org/health-conditions/a-z/detox-with-broccoli/ This is an introduction to how the body detoxifies poisons. https://youarethehealer.org/health-conditions/optizmize-your-health/detox-biotransformation-pathways/detox-biotransformation-what-is-it/   This page was created for people with mold illness but it is helpful for anyone wanting to learn some ideas on how to remove toxins  https://youarethehealer.org/mold-and-toxins/moldy-people/healing-from-mold/step-by-step-protocol-to-heal-from-mold/supporting-the-biotransformation-detox-system/
 
Mike Haasl
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I had heard that turmeric doesn't "work" if you don't eat black pepper along with it.  Is there anything to that?
 
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Specifically to block the major metabolic pathways that cancer uses to fuel its growth, the best herbs/ phytochemicals are as follows: Curcumin, Berberine, Luteolin, Resveratrol (or polydatin, from Japanese Knotweed powder), Green Tea and Citrus Bergamot.

However, you might want to consider TCM or adaptogenic herbs as well - Ashwaghanda in particular.

I was diagnosed with de novo Stage IV metastatic breast cancer with metastases to the lymph system, so I've been doing a lot of research on natural therapies. The above are part of my regimen, along with several others for active cancer and the immune system. For your Mom, you might want to look into the therapeutic Keto diet for cancer (significantly more restrictive than the keto diet that's used for weight loss) and fasting for stem cell regeneration.
 
Sharol Tilgner
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Hi Mike,

They use piperine in black pepper to increase the absorption of curcumin (a constituent in Turmeric). However, that is not all that is working in Turmeric. Curcumin is what has been studied mostly. It is rare to study Turmeric. The money is not in studying Turmeric as you can not patent it. I am going to paste some data from my "Herbal ABC's" book here to give you an idea of why their thinking is myopic. Other constituents such as tumerone also help it absorb - tumerone is already in turmeric.  

Recent research has shown that the presence of the relatively lipophilic turmerone (a constituent in Turmeric) appears to facilitate the absorption of curcumin into colonic cells in vitro.  It is not surprising that nature would put a constituent into an herb that would help another constituent in the herb be better absorbed. There are often multiple substances in an herb that act synergistically together and why herbalists often use whole herbs rather than individual extracted ingredients.

In a scientific study, mice with colon tumors were given an alcohol extract of Turmeric (whole plant) with bevacizumab  which was compared to a curcumin (considered the only active ingredient by some people who want to sell it to you) product with bevacizumab. The plasma curcumin level of the turmeric extract-fed mice was the highest, suggesting the alcohol, whole turmeric extract had better bioavailability than the constituent curcumin. Additionally, the alcohol Turmeric extract plus bevacizumab significantly inhibited the tumor growth and had no observable side effects. So, as you can see, they did not give piperine or black pepper and still the whole extract of Turmeric performed wonderfully.

Now, I am not saying curcumin is bad, but it has a lot of hype. It is simply poorly absorbed and that study I just mentioned could be the result of other constituents all acting together for the result obtained.

Here is more on curcumin and enhancing absorption:
Curcumin has been formulated with bromelain for increased absorption as well as enhanced anti-inflammatory effect. Another form that has become popular is the use of the phytosomal curcumin which has also shown better bioavailabilty. I have used the phytosomal form for inflammatory conditions and find it works quite well, but prefer to use it with whole Turmeric. Mixing curcumin with piperine from black pepper has also been found to increase curcumins activity.
Curcumin undergoes glucuronidation which is thought to make it less active and cause it to be removed from the body more readily.  Piperine which is found in black pepper inhibits glucuronidation in rats and guinea pigs.  Therefore piperine has been thought to make curcumin more bioavailable when the two of them  are given together. When piperine has been given to humans and rats at the same time as curcumin, it has enhanced the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000% in humans and 154% in rats. It has been thought to be due to inhibition of glucuronidation by the piperine, although research now shows additional possible mechanisms, such as enhanced absorption/bioavailability due to decreased P-glycoprotein activity.
There is a lot of research on the use of piperine from black pepper with curcumin showing the combination can prevent or alleviate a variety of diseases. However, I have to wonder if using piperine, eating a lot of black pepper, or anything else that is meant to decrease glucuronidation, could backfire on a person and lead to other health issues.
Inhibitors of glucuronidation may expose a person to the ravages of toxins. One has to ask themselves if this is truly a good idea or not. I think we need more data to know for sure. It appears colon cancer might be increased in people  when there is inhibition of  glucuronidation activity. I am also uncomfortable with decreasing P-glycoprotein activity or other types of Phase III cellular “pump” activities in the long term without more consideration of the ramifications of these actions. For some individuals using piperine or Black pepper as an herbal medicine to enhance  bioavailability of curcumin may be helpful, while for others it could lead to additional future health issues.
Meriva®, a curcumin complexed with phospholipids, is a product I have used that uses phytosomal or lipids to enhance absorption.
There are some studies with Turmeric alone and often they have good results such as this one: In a clinical study of stomach ulcers using the powdered, dried herb, 600 mg, of Turmeric taken 5 times daily, one half hour before meals and at 4:00 PM and bedtime for 4 weeks provided superb healing. Ulcers were absent at 4 weeks in 48% of the patients, and 76% of the patients had no ulcers at 12 weeks. They only received the herb for 4 weeks, yet improvement continued after removal of the turmeric.

I also have had patients who used only Turmeric. Usually, heavily in their food and have found it to be a wonderful anti-inflammatory all by itself. It is my belief that there are other constituents beyond curcumin that are working and that is why it works for a variety of ailments that people think only curcumin mixed with something to help absorption will work for.

Did I make this clear as mud? I realize this is a bit of a complicated topic and  I sure don't have the answers. I mostly have questions about this. I am 60 years old and have seen a particular process take place numerous times where companies studying constituents get everyone excited about certain plant constituents and sell them by themselves, sometimes with a patent and always charging more. Then it is eventually found that the single constituent is not as good as the whole herb after people were using the expensive constituent for years. Some multi-constituents that are for sale work well like with the plants Ginkgo and Milk thistle. However, the silymarin sold from Milk thistle is no better than the whole herb in my opinion, so even if it works well, why pay more. They seem to work fairly equal in actual use. With Ginkgo, the use of the leaves is new and in reality using the leaves without processing gives many people a headache and is not a good idea to use very much of them.  The raw leaves have been known to cause headaches and the raw standardized product may also cause headaches depending on how it is processed. The European standardized herbs are processed in a manner that is less likely to cause headaches. So, I always suggest people use 24% standardized European sourced Ginkgo products sold on the market.

The issue I have with the pepper is simply that it is very good at stopping glucuronidation and that is a necessary route our cells use to detox. You can read more about this process here: https://youarethehealer.org/health-conditions/optizmize-your-health/detox-biotransformation-pathways/glucuronidation/  No one knows if this is safe. We are all guinea pigs while using curcumin with black pepper or piperine (the constituent from black pepper usually added to curcumin) . I think it will be fine for some people and possibly even helpful when used to increase absorption of some herbs, but for others it will probably lead to cancer as it appears it may do with colon cancer.

 
Mike Haasl
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Wow, Thanks Sharol!  It's clear as water and makes total sense.  I may let my black pepper consumption drop a bit now :)  I just throw a healthy dash of ground turmeric, black pepper, salt and chipotle on my eggs in the morning.  
 
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Hello there,

This is my first post on Permies forum. I'll add my 2 cents, as a physicist who works in radiation oncology, and has an interest in the basic science of cancer, especially nutritional approaches to managing cancer, and how insights from ecology can be translated to studying cancer.

While it's understandable that many people distrust the medical establishment and would want to experiment with alternative or natural treatments, it's really important to seek out professional care from qualified health care providers. I've seen several cases of cancer that could have been managed easily or even cured if the patients had followed the current state of the art in cancer care, but that ended up in a horrible mess of untreatable metastases because the patients had tried alternative treatments. Alternative treatments should complement, not replace conventional treatments.

The key advances in cancer treatment are early detection and intervention. Today, if cancer is detected early enough and is still localized, it's possible to treat it locally, often without chemo. This is especially true for the most common cancers, such as breast and prostate cancers. It just requires regular screening tests such as mammography or PSA tests. Women who go in for yearly check-ups with their gynecologists usually catch any gynecological malignancies like ovarian or cervix cancer at a stage when they are still treatable. It's also a good idea to do for regular skin checks with a dermatologist to catch melanomas.

Current technology such as radiation therapy with or without local surgery is very effective, with low toxicity and minimal side effects, but only while the cancer is still in an early stage. Lots of people have an irrational fear of radiation, without good reason. Today it's possible to shape beams of high energy x-rays and create plans that are optimized to each patient's specific anatomy that deliver a high dose to the tumor while sparing the surrounding tissues. Anyone with experience in gardening knows that it's easier to pull up weeds when they're still small. If you wait until they take over the garden, you'll have a much larger problem to deal with. In cancer, that's when you have to bring on the chemotherapy. Furthermore, once you bring on the heavy chemical treatments, you have to deal with problems of resistant organisms (whether they're weeds, bacteria or cancer cells).

It seems like there is good evidence that small doses of natural chemotherapy could help prevent the initial development of cancer or recurrences after treatment, but it shouldn't replace conventional treatments. If you want to experiment with natural chemotherapy, I've seen research on dandelion root, milkthistle and vinca alkaloids (these compounds are the basis for several modern chemotherapy treatments). I personally would not mess around with plant-derived substances unless I had someone who knew what they were doing advising me. Just because something is natural, doesn't mean it's not toxic.

The most convincing studies I've seen are on the potential of periodic fasting to prevent cancer. It's not easy, but I think that would be your best bet. If you get regular screening tests, don't smoke, eat a clean diet with plenty of vegetables and good fats, get enough rest, exercise and fast every now and then, you'll be doing a lot to reduce your risk. And remember that in many cases these days, a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence.


 
Sharol Tilgner
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I agree with Sari that mainstream medicine has much better ways to treat cancer currently. I also agree that removing small cancers is fairly easy usually. I suggest that anyone considering cancer treatment, look at the options. Ask what the survival rate is for a conventional treatment if it is known. Get second opinions.  Realize that the survival rate is only for 5 years usually and does not examine quality of life, so ask about these things.

However, I thought the questions was about preventing cancer. It seems like people are getting into the realm of treating cancer with their answers. You will find that naturopathic physicians and functional medicine MDs are not allowed to treat cancer in the USA unless they are oncologists also. The oncologists will also be in court or at least loose their license if they go outside the agreed protocols for cancer.  I want to be sure that you know what I mentioned was in relationship to preventing cancer by keeping a body healthy so it does not take root. I do not treat cancer and nor do any other non-oncologists except for skin cancers by dermatologists. The practitioner will end up in jail or loose their license.  What they can do is to support the person's natural state of health focusing on the immune system and other organs as needed for that person. When a person who has refused mainstream care is being treated by a functional MD doc or naturopathic ND doc in support of whole health and they have a "spontaneous remission" that is entirely legal since the practitioner is not treating the cancer.  

If the patient seeing an "alternative" practitioner is undergoing mainstream chemo or radiation, which they often are, the person needs to make sure they co-ordinate these treatments with their oncologist also. There are in fact cancer centers that now use a more holistic approach and use acupuncturists, naturopaths, and other practitioners on their teams - https://www.cancercenter.com/ - This allows a person to have more options under one roof.

There is a lot of research on nutrients and herbal constituents in relation to cancer, but the end-goal is usually to create a product that can be patented not on the whole herb or food.  I do find research on whole herbs sometimes, but not often. Many of us on this forum want to know about things we can use ourselves ultimately. Studies are few and far between that look at what can be done to easily treat or prevent cancer. It was years before it was accepted that eating more fruits and vegetables could prevent cancer. When the research first started to show this, mainstream medicine thought it was ludicrous.

If you look historically at where mainstream medicine came from, it was created by the pharmaceutical industry who funded the schools that used their drugs. This is why we have what we have. They certainly will not support or promote nutrition and health  from food and herbs as it is not in their financial interest. Don't get angry about it though, it is just how things came to be. Just don't expect them to fund research on whole foods and nutrition. The cancer industry is big money and getting bigger as more people get cancer. I think we are at 1 out of 2 in their life time now. Best thing to do is to live a healthy life, try to stay away from toxins as much as possible and support the biotransformation process ( https://youarethehealer.org/health-conditions/optizmize-your-health/detox-biotransformation-pathways/detox-biotransformation-what-is-it/ ) when you are in toxic environments, decrease stressors and have a positive mental/emotional attitude and plug into spirit.

Recently someone I know told me they had trouble procuring a black salve for skin cancer as they have all been run out of business in the USA. They did find one, but they were frustrated that they had so much trouble getting it. People who sell escharotic herbs as black salve that is used  for skin cancer have been arrested and some have fled the country to go to countries where they can sell their herbs in safety. We have very little in the way of studies examining this ancient use of escharotics for skin cancer. Herbalists have used escharotics in this way historically for much more even. Many people use them and it would be beneficial if there was more research on them, so they could be used safely. Some people really hurt themselves using escharotics due to the lack of guidance available. It is hard to make an informed choice if there is little good information available for folks.  I recently photographed the process on a person who was kind enough to allow me to follow their self-treatment using black salve on a squamous cell cancer. They were not the average person with a tiny skin cancer. They had many issues that made their situation using the mainstream method less than desirable for them, and they ended up choosing to treat themself as  they had no other options that they liked. You can see that process here: https://youarethehealer.org/black-salve-on-skin-cancer-with-photos/  Again, For legal reasons, I want to point out that this was not my patient, but simply someone allowing me to follow their self-treatment.
 
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