Spices are a potent and delicious tool in the anti-cancer kitchen, and a great variety have been shown to block the cancer-promoting signaling molecule Nuclear Factor Kappa Beta (NFKβ). In addition, each of them have unique cancer fighting roles.
Let’s highlight the lesser known spice – Cloves. A clove is the unopened bud of an evergreen clove tree, a native of the Indonesian spice islands. Dried to a deep brown, they look like tiny nails, hence their Latin root “clavus” meaning “nail”.
The aromatic and active component eugenol as well as the flavonoid kumatakenin have been, and still are, the subject of many health studies, including anti-cancer studies. These active components have been shown to
- prevent cancer cells from multiplying in lung and skin cancers
- reduce radiation-induced oral mucositis in patients with head and neck cancer
- may represent a novel therapeutic herb for the treatment of colorectal cancer
- flavonoid kumatakenin has been shown to induce apoptosis (cell death) and inhibit the activation of tumor-associated macrophages in ovarian cancer cells
Other vital health benefits of cloves include:
- Antibacterial and anti viral – proven to fight off E-Coli (food poisoning), Staphylococcus, Klebsiella (respiratory infections), Heliobacter-Pylori (bacteria can cause stomach ulcers and cancers), Hepatitis-C (can result in liver cirrhosis and cancer), Herpes (can cause cold sores) – and thus a helpful tool when resistance to antibiotics is present
- Great in any form of oral disease as it is a mild anesthetic, creating local numbness which helps relieve a tooth ache, as well as help fight gum disease gingivitis (inflamed gums) and later stage periodontistis when gums recede and erode bone, as well as stomatitis (inflamed mucous lining of mouth)
- If applied topically shown to boost circulation by causing blood vessels near the surface to dilate
- Analgesic and effective in reducing inflammatory joint pain
- Anti-inflammatory, reduce redness and swelling around an injury
- Mosquito repellant (better than citronella)
- Shown to prevent blood clots (effects are comparable to standard medication)
- After-meal breath freshener (used in China for centuries)
- Indigestion (gas, nausea, bloating, colic, spasms)
- Skin problems (acne, ulcers, sores)
During the Middle Ages cloves’ benefits in the kitchen were discovered. Still used all over the world you can find it in popular spice blends such as Indian Garam Masala, Chinese 5-Spice blend, as well as in Moroccan and French blends. The Germans use it in their mulled spice blend for their heated red wine drink Glühwein, a popular beverage at all the Christmas markets. In the US it is found in in Pumpkin and Apple pie spice blends.
Cloves can be used both in sweet and savory dishes. A little goes a long way as they are very pungent and spicy with a bitter aftertaste. Use them ground in Christmas baking, stud them in ham or oranges or even onions to add flavor to soup broths (makes whole clove removal easier) or add them to stews or meat roasts. Cloves are irresistible in Apple and other fruit pies.
HEALTHY SNACK: MIXED SPICED NUTS
Makes approx. 4-5 cups
Nuts are an excellent source of plant protein, healthy omega 3 fats and many vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. Brazil nuts contain the highest level of selenium of any food which helps protect against cancer and also enables treatments such as radiation therapy be more effective as it has been shown to support cancer cell death (apoptosis). Nuts also help build body mass and strength as well as provide energy, all of vital importance when undergoing, or recovering from, conventional cancer treatments.
If you currently have a delicate digestive system, you may wish to combat the sometimes hard to digest anti-nutrients (lectins, phytates, enzyme inhibitors) contained in nuts, by either roasting or soaking the nuts prior to consumption.
Seasoning nuts with a variety of spices that have been shown to block the cancer-promoting signaling molecule Nuclear Factor Kappa Beta (NFKβ), makes this recipe a potent cancer-fighting snack.
- 1 cup raw almonds
- ½ cup raw walnuts
- ½ cup raw pecans
- ½ cup raw brazil nuts or cashews
- ½ cup macadamia nuts
- ½ tsp celtic sea salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp cloves, ground
- ¼ tsp allspice, ground
- ¼ tsp ginger, ground
- ¼ nutmeg, ground
- 1 egg white
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup coconut palm sugar
- Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, combine the coconut palm sugar and spices, stir to combine
- Add the raw egg white and water, stir until well combined. The mix will be pasty.
- Add the nuts and combine well.
- Spread mix onto a baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper. Make sure they are spread out evenly and separated as you do not want the nuts to stick together.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until crisp.
- Store in a glass jar once cooled.
Recipe adapted from “Healing Spices” by Bharat B Aggarwal, PhD w Debora Yost
Liu H, Schmitz JC, Wei J, Cao S, Beumer JH, Strychor S, Cheng L, Liu M, Wang C, Wu N, Zhao X, Zhang Y, Liao J, Chu E, Lin X “Clove extract inhibits tumor growth and promotes cell cycle arrest and apoptosis” Oncol. Res. 2014;21(5):247-59
Kong M, Hwang DS, Yoon SW, Kim J “The effect of clove-based herbal mouthwash on radiation-induced oral mucositis in patients with head and neck cancer: a single-blind randomized preliminary study”, Onco Targets Ther. 2016 Jul22;9:4533-8
Fangiun L, Zhija Y, “Tumor suppressive roles of eugenol in human ling cancer cells”, Thorac. Cancer. 2017 Oct 12 (epub ahead of print) Woo JH, Ahn JH, Jang DS, Lee KT, Choi JH, “Effect of Kumatakenin isolated from cloves on the apoptosis of cancer cella and the alternative activation of tumor-associated macrophages”, J Agric. Food Chem. 2017 Sept 13;65(36):7893-7899
Healing Spices by Bharat B Aggarwal, Phd with Debora Yost, Sterling Press (2011)