Barbara Cunnings-Versaevel of Cancer Help Hub in Canada discusses the direct link between the lower risk of cancer and the anti-inflammation effect of spices.
In preventing or overcoming cancer, much research indicates that avoiding inflammation plays a key role and we know that certain spices contain specific molecules for inhibiting inflammation. Man-made drugs can also inhibit inflammation, but the side effects are so ominous that long-term use of the drugs can be quite damaging.
Besides inhibiting inflammation in our bodies, research has shown that potent molecules in certain spices: Inhibit proliferation of tumor cell growth; Inhibit invasion of tumor cells into other tissue and inhibit angiogenesis (growth of blood vessels to feed tumor tissue).
We also know that our amazing human bodies have numerous built-in mechanisms for dealing with the many cancer cells that try to gain foothold in everyone almost daily. When our health is sound, these anti-cancer mechanisms simply kill and clean up rogue cells before tumors can form. We also know that certain spices have specific molecules that stimulate these anti-cancer mechanisms such as apoptosis (cell-suicide).
The research revealing the actions of these potent spices arose from the observation that cancer incidence is measurably lower in people living in areas of the world where food preparation is rich in these various spices. For example, cancer is hardly existent in areas of India where turmeric (with the molecule Curcumin) is a dietary mainstay mixed with black pepper which, incidentally, aids absorption of the Curcumin molecule.
Allspice, Anise, Basil, Bay Leaves, Black Pepper, Caraway, Cardamom, Celery Seed, Chives, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cilantro/Coriander Seed, Dill, Fennel, GARLIC, GINGER, Horseradish, Marjoram, Peppermint, MUSTARD, Nutmeg, Onion, Paprika, Parsley, Red Pepper, Rosemary, Sage, Sesame seed, Tarragon, Thyme, TURMERIC (curcumin), White Pepper.
STIMULATES APOPTOSIS (CELL SUICIDE):
Basil, Dill, Fennel, GARLIC, GINGER, Horseradish, Peppermint, Mustard Seed, Nutmeg, Paprika, Parsley, Red Pepper, ROSEMARY, Saffron, Sesame Seed, Thyme.
INHIBITS PROLIFERATION (TUMOR CELL GROWTH):
Allspice, Basil, Bay Leaves, Black Pepper, Caraway, Cardamom, Celery Seed, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin, Dill, Fennel, GARLIC, Horseradish, Mustard, Nutmeg, Onion, Paprika, Parsley, Red Pepper, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Sesame Seed, Tamarind, Tarragon, TURMERIC.
INHIBITS INVASION OF TUMOR CELLS INTO OTHER TISSUE:
Allspice, Basil, Bay Leaves, Cardamom, GARLIC, Ginger, Horseradish, Mustard Seed, Onion, Oregano, Red Pepper, Saffron, Sesame Seed, Thyme, Turmeric, Vanilla.
INHIBITION OF ANGIOGENESIS (GROWTH OF TUMOR BLOOD SUPPLY):
Asafetida, Caraway, Cardamom, Chives, Cilantro/Coriander Seeds, GARLIC, Ginger, Horseradish, Mustard, Oregano, Red Pepper, Sesame Seed, Tarragon, Thyme, TURMERIC.
Note: I have emphasized with capitalization those spices with more than one nutraceutical molecule. Obviously Garlic and some others are particularly potent; however, that doesn’t mean others are weak. There may be a particular spice with only one nutraceutical molecule, but it may be a very active one. Eating a variety IS “the spice of life”.
In an effort to keep this article less technical and more useful, I have not listed the particular molecules active in each spice (often referred to as a “nutraceutical” comparing it to a pharmaceutical molecule.
I will say that the molecules in these spices should not be discounted because they are naturally sourced rather than manufactured in a laboratory. Various spices among those listed can be purchased in concentrated “supplement” products. The quality of such products varies so it pays to do some comparison-shopping. The most expensive is not always the most potent or most carefully processed. Getting nutrition from actual food is always a first rate idea.
While these spices are an amazing natural source of health support, individuals can benefit from working with trained healthcare professionals in treating disease. I found no evidence that one could overdose on any of these spices, which have been in use for thousands of years; however, most of that use has been in cooking the favorite dishes of certain cultures rather than in concentrated supplement form. Personally, I enjoy learning to cook with as many of these flavorful spices as I can as often as I can. I’ve also found a few of them to be useful supplements such as turmeric, garlic, and cinnamon (Ceylon variety). I buy organic whenever possible.
Reprinted with permission of Barbara Cunnings-Versaeval