Tag: health

Herbal Cure: Turmeric Can Help Fight Colon Cancer

Herbal Cure: Turmeric Can Help Fight Colon Cancer

Herbal Cure: Turmeric Can Help Fight Colon Cancer

Turmeric, a yellow indian spice commonly used as a food coloring, is already known to treat many health problems such as liver disorder, bacterial infections in wounds, eye disorders and many other conditions.

Now a new study from Belgium shows that a compound in turmeric has the potential to treat and prevent colon cancer, thanks to its medicinal properties.

In fact, the study suggests that a combination of two plant compounds – curcumin (an active ingredient in turmeric) and silymarin (a compound naturally found in milk thistle) – can effectively ward off colorectal cancer cells.

According to the study’s findings, both compounds, when used individually, were effective in preventing spread of colon cancer cells, but a combo-pack of them showed a synergistic effect against the colorectal cancer cells.

“A single phytochemical at high concentration may exhibit anticancer activity,” observed the Saint Louis University researchers while conducting a lab test in a line of colon cancer cells. “By combining two phytochemicals, anticancer activity at much lower doses has been sought.”

For the lab test, researchers used three different human colon cancer cell lines and treated them with varying doses of curcumin, silymarin, and a combo of curcumin and silymarin. Cell proliferation (increase in the number of cells) and apoptosis (a process of programmed cell death) were assessed after treating the cells with the compounds.

The research team observed a significant difference between single compound-treated cells and cells treated with a combo of both compounds. They found cells treated with either phytochemical alone had low levels of apoptosis, while treating the cells first with curcumin and then with silymarin resulted in an increased cell death, thus was more effective in fighting cancer.

turmeric curcumin fights colon cancer cells

“The combination of phytochemicals inhibited colon cancer cells from multiplying and spreading. In addition, when the colon cancer cells were pre-exposed to curcumin and then treated with silymarin, the cells underwent a high amount of cell death,” said study author Dr. Uthayashanker Ezekiel, from Saint Louis University.

Phytochemicals may offer alternate therapeutic approaches to cancer treatments and avoid toxicity problems and side effects that chemotherapy can cause,” Ezekiel added.

The researchers acknowledge theirs is a preliminary cell study and more research is to be done before determining the curcumin and silymarin are an effective treatment for colon cancer patients.

“Future studies will explore the NF-kB (nuclear factor-kappa beta) and apoptotic pathways to understand synergistic effects of curcumin and silymarin on colon cancer cells,” they conclude.

The research findings appear in the Journal of Cancer.

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Why You Should Start Your Day With Lemon Water

Why You Should Start Your Day With Lemon Water

I was recently introduced to the concept of lemon water when I mentioned to a friend that I was having a hard time getting rid of my belly fat even though I was exercising regularly and eating healthy. His instant reply to me was, “drink a glass of lemon water every morning.” I’m already an avid water drinker, so any new spin on my old favorite peaks my interest.  Plus, anything that sounds that simple to do is worth trying…or at least looking into.

After reading up on the matter, I discovered that not only can lemon water help me flush out fat, its cleansing and healing effects have a number of positive health effects that convinced me to start every day with a glass of lemon water.

Why lemons?
Lemons are packed with vitamin C, an essential nutrient that protects the body against immune system deficiencies.  They’re also an excellent and rich source of B-complex vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and fiber, and they contain more potassium than apples or grapes!   The high levels of potassium in lemons can help brain and nerve functioning and control blood pressure.  Lemons also contain pectin fiber which is beneficial for colon health and also serves as a powerful antibacterial.

Adding lemon to water not only quenches thirst better than any other beverage, but it also nourishes our body with vitamins, minerals and trace elements which we absolutely need. Lemon with water can be considered the best natural energy booster.

Kick-off Every Morning with Warm Lemon Water

I confess, I love (want, need, can’t survive without) my morning coffee, so replacing my cup of java with lemon water, as some have suggested, just doesn’t seem feasible to me at the moment.  So, I’m going to follow the easiest tip I found which is simply to drink a glass warm lemon water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.  All that’s involved is to wake up, squeeze some fresh lemon juice into a glass, fill with warm water and drink up.   That’s totally doable!

Why warm water?  According to Amy Myers, MD, author of The Autoimmune Solution ($21, amazon.com), our bodies absorb water more efficiently at that temperature because it’s close to our body temperature.  When we wake up in the morning, our bodily tissues are dehydrated and are in need of water to push out toxins and rejuvenate the cells.  Drinking lemon water on an empty stomach is a great way to eliminate internal toxins, regulating proper kidney and digestive tract functions by forcing them to work as smoothly as possible. Drink it first thing in the morning, and wait 15 to 30 minutes to have breakfast. This will help you fully receive the benefits.

During the rest of the day, feel free to sip lemon water at a cooler temperature, if you prefer. This will keep you hydrated, and it may also help quench your thirst for calorie-laden soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages.  For maximum results, some even recommend a drink of water one hour before meals.

Top 11 Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water

  1. Strengthens Your Immune System
    The juice of half a lemon in a glass of water is rich in vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system and assists the body in fighting colds, flu and other ailments.  Since lemon is a powerful antioxidant, it protects the body from free radicals, which interact with the healthy cells of the body, damaging them and their membranes.  The vitamin C travels through the body, neutralizing any free radicals.
  2. Helps With Weight Loss
    Lemons contain pectin fiber, with creates a feeling of fullness, resulting in the suppression of hunger cravings. By feeling fuller for longer, we’re less likely to snack needlessly or make poor food choices.
  3. Boosts Your Energy
    Water with lemon provides the body with electrolytes which hydrate your body. When our bodies are hydrated, we feel more energetic.  Lemon juice also provides the body with energy when it enters the digestive tract.  It also helps reduce anxiety and depression. (Even the scent of lemons has a calming effect on our nervous system!)
  4. Aids Digestion
    The citric acid in lemon juice not only encourages healthy digestion by loosening toxins in your digestive tract, it helps cleanse the bowel by flushing out waste more efficiently and stimulates the release of gastric juices, which aid digestion and can also help relieve symptoms of indigestion, heartburn and bloating.
  5. Cleanses Your System
    Lemon water cleanses the liver.   Lemon juice enhances enzyme function which stimulates the liver to release and flush out toxins in your body.  The liver produces more enzymes from water with lemon than from any other food.  Lemon juice is a diuretic, meaning it encourages the production of urine. As a result, toxins are released at a faster rate, helping to purify the system and keep it healthy.
  6. Keeps your skin blemish-free
    Water with lemon is good for the skin.  The antioxidants in lemon juice helps to decrease blemishes and create collagen synthesis. The job of collagen and connective tissue is to hold things tight and protect your skin tissue–in other words, it keeps wrinkles at bay and helps maintain your skin’s radiance.
  7. Reduces pain of joints and muscles
    If you drink lemon water on a regular basis, it will decrease the acidity in your body. The buildup of uric acid in your joints is one of the main causes of inflammation, which leads to pain. Water with lemon helps to dilute uric acid, to help ease pain in joints and muscles.
  8. Improves Heart, Brain and Nerve Function
    Lemons are high in potassium, which is good for heart health, as well as proper brain and nerve function. The nervous system needs a sufficient amount of potassium to ensure sustainable signals to the heart. Water with lemon also helps combat depression and anxiety which are often the result of low levels of potassium in the blood.
  9. Freshens Your Breath
    The antiseptic qualities in lemon juice help kill off bad bacteria in the mouth by acting as a disinfectant. It also helps relieve toothaches and gingivitis!
  10. Fights Viral Infections
    Warm lemon water is one of the most effective ways to prevent viral infections of the respiratory tract, sore throats and inflammation of the tonsils due to the anti-inflammatory properties of lemon. Plus, with the lemon juice also boosting your immune system, it’s easier for your body to fight off the infection completely.
  11. Balances pH Levels
    Lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods for the body and a good pH level is essential as too much acidity in the body can be inflammatory. If you drink water with lemon immediately before a meal, it creates an alkalizing effect that helps your body maintain a higher level of pH.  The higher the pH, the more your body is able to fight diseases.

Let’s Get Started!

Squeeze the juice of ½ of a lemon into a glass If you weigh more than 150lb, you may want to use a whole lemon to get the most benefit.

Fill the rest of the glass with lukewarm or warm water. 

Drink up.  That’s it!

To get the most juice with minimal effort, I’m going to try the Prepworks from Progressive International CJ-3 Citrus Juicer I found on amazon.com.  It’s inexpensive and over 500 customers give it an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars.  And it seems easy enough to use.

prep works citrus juicer


Of course, you can get all fancy with something like Epica Powerful Stainless Steel Whisper-quiet Citrus Juicer-70 Watt motor, but that just seems like overkill for my needs.  But  I may be upgrading to this in the future.

Epica Citrus Juicer


It can’t get any easier than that, right?  Well, actually it can!  I also found pure organic lemon juice in a bottle and I’m tempted to bypass the squeezing altogether and get the bottle.  I’ve read that you won’t get the maximum health benefits like you would using fresh squeezed lemons, but the bottled stuff will do in a pinch–if you don’t have fresh lemons on hand.  Just make sure you get 100% PURE juice squeezed from real lemons , not concentrate!  And if you go this route, make sure you get the pure juice in a glass bottle–not the plastic bottle–because those in the know say the citric acid could deteriorate the plastic, leeching chemicals into the juice. [UPDATE: I took this shortcut for a little while and found that using fresh squeezed lemons is worth the time and effort after all. I agree with our readers who commented against using the bottled stuff.]


There is one potential downside to consuming lemons. When undiluted lemon juice comes directly in contact with the teeth, the acid in the lemon can break down your tooth enamel. That’s why it’s important to always dilute lemon juice in water of any temperature (though lukewarm is recommended) before drinking it. If you’re really concerned about the acid harming tooth enamel, rinse your mouth with water thoroughly after drinking lemon juice. But for most of us, it won’t pose a real problem because you would have to drink copious amounts of lemon water to strip the enamel.

But what ever you do, don’t brush your teeth immediately after drinking lemon juice. The combination of the acid and the mild abrasives in the toothpaste can really do a number on the enamel. If you’ve been drinking lemon juice, swish your mouth out with fresh water before brushing and use a soft-bristled brush and a non-abrasive toothpaste.

Do you start your day with lemon water? Have you noticed the health benefits? Let us know in the comments below.

16 Health Benefits Of Drinking Warm Lemon Water from Food Matters
This is What Happens To Your Body If You Drink Lemon Water on An Empty Stomach Every Morning from Practically Viral
Why You Should Start Your Day With Lemon Water by Beth Lipton (health.com)
Kick-start your day with lemon and water by Kirsten Hyam (bodyandsoul.com)

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New Research on the Benefits of Turmeric

New Research on the Benefits of Turmeric

Over the years, the root of the Curcuma Longa plant has been used to make yellow dyes and spice food. Ever-growing mounds of evidence show that boldly colored turmeric with its earthy, bitter-gingery taste may offer many health benefits.

Studies conducted in India, Europe and Australia show that turmeric curcumin, can help prevent or treat a wide spectrum of cancers, inflammatory conditions, autoimmune problems, neurological ailments including Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and diabetes neuropathy, among other metabolic diseases.

Interest in turmeric and curcumin began decades ago when researchers began asking why India has one of the lowest rates of colorectal, prostate and lung cancer in the world. They traced India’s advantages largely to its diet staple of curry powder, which is a combination of spices, with turmeric as a main ingredient.

Benefits of Turmeric

On May 20, 2015 a review published in the journal Molecules said studies to date “suggest that chronic inflammation, oxidative stress and most chronic diseases are closely linked, and that antioxidant properties of curcumin can play a key role in the prevention and treatment of chronic inflammation diseases.”

An M.D. Anderson Cancer Center review of curcumin research, in the journal Phytotherapy Research in 2014, found that it regulates inflammation that “plays a major role in most chronic illnesses, including neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases.”

Yet another M.D. Anderson study found that curcumin exhibits “antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities,” all bolstering its “potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic illnesses.”

There are no guarantees that turmeric or its active ingredient of curcumin will work for everyone. Researchers also caution that they may delay but not prevent, or slow down but not stop, a medical condition.

Related: Buy Proline Organic Turmeric

The Curcuma longa plant is a member of the ginger family. Curcumin makes up 3.4 percent of the turmeric root-stem or rhizome but provides its color and many of its health benefits.  Curcumin is available only as a supplement, or by eating turmeric spice.

Don’t confuse curcumin with cumin, which is a spicy seed or spice powder made from the seed and another common ingredient in curry with its own healthful properties. Cumin is unrelated to turmeric or the similar-sounding curcumin.

The NPD Group’s Kitchen Audit, conducted every three years, shows that a steady 40 percent of American kitchens since 2008 have had curry “on hand,” with turmeric showing a slow but steady rise in popularity by being available in 28 percent of American kitchens in 2008, 30 percent in 2011 and 33 percent in 2014.

“Turmeric I’ve learned is often used as a substitute for curry, which could account for curry powder not increasing in household penetration,” NPD Group spokeswoman Kim McLynn said.

What researchers are saying!

The cascade of research about the healthful qualities of turmeric curcumin and curry haven’t been lost on two Pittsburgh researchers.

Joseph Maroon, the noted UPMC neurosurgeon, says he uses curcumin supplements as part of his health regimen as an ultra-marathon runner. He also recommends the use of curcumin and fish oil to his patients with pain and inflammation from degenerative conditions of the spine, neck and lower back. He said 17,000 Americans die each year from over-the-counter, nonsteroidal pain medications.

He was lead author of a 2006 study, “Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief in athletes,” that concludes that “Curcumin’s therapeutic effects are considered comparable to pharmaceutical nonsteroidal medications … but with a major difference in that this compound is relatively nontoxic and free of side effects.”

Dr. Maroon said his patients “would much rather have a natural approach to reducing inflammation and pain than a prescription of nonsteroidal pain killers and their potential risks. There is no question about the benefits. I take it every day and use curry in my cooking, although I tolerate capsules better than the curry.”

He recommends people consume 500 to 1,000 milligrams supplement of curcumin a day, with daily doses not exceeding 2,000 milligrams. A teaspoon of turmeric contains about 200 milligrams of curcumin. Some health advocates recommend consuming turmeric rather than a curcumin supplement because other compounds in turmeric offer their own health advantages. 

Turmeric Curcumin influences 700 genes, including ones that inhibit activation of the COX 2 gene, which produces an enzyme by the same name that causes pain and inflammation, Dr. Maroon said.

“It’s similar to drugs but with none of the side effects of drugs,” he said. While studies have found no notable side effects, possible drug interactions should be discussed with one’s physician. Ingesting black pepper and ginger along with the curcumin improve the biological breakdown of turmeric compounds so they can be absorbed into the blood.

PubMed.com, a research database maintained by the National Institutes of Health, lists 7,728 studies involving curcumin and another 3,205 studies involving turmeric, with the large majority focused on their effectiveness against multiple medical conditions.

“There is a lot of research. But still, much of American research says there’s evidence, but no proof of direct benefits, of turmeric or curcumin,” Dr. Maroon said. “But I’ve yet to read a negative study on curcumin or that it was not effective.”

8 Health Benefits of Turmeric

Challenges of studying curcumin

Human clinical trials, necessary to prove the spice’s direct health benefits, are few because such trials are expensive and natural compounds can’t be patented. That helps explain why some researchers are working to identify the spice’s precise biological mechanisms that could be synthesized, emboldened and patented, then sold as prescribed treatments for multiple medical conditions.

Debasish Bandyopadhyay, a research assistant professor at University of Texas Pan-American, is working to synthesize the properties in curcumin because, he said, “curcumin has everything.”

“In all diseases and almost all cancers it shows very good effects,” he said. “The negative effect is its viability” — the fact its healthful compounds aren’t readily broken down and absorbed into the blood.

“We have synthesized compounds that are anti-cancerous [in laboratory studies],” but these must be tested in expensive human clinical trials. The alternative is to consume curcumin along with ginger root, chili extract and black pepper to help make it more easily absorbed by the body and realize the synergistic effects it has with other spices, he said.

A research instructor at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute at the Hillman Cancer Center said studies including his own show “strong evidence toward the therapeutic potential of curcumin, while identifying the plethora of biological targets and intricate mechanisms of action that characterize curcumin as a potential drug for numerous ailments.”

“They can kill tumor cells but not normal cells,“ said Raghvendra M. Srivastava, whose study years ago explained how curcumin enhanced T cells in the immune system. Studies also have shown that it blocks various inflammatory pathways, with inflammation playing an important role in most cancers. There are even potential benefits, he said, for people with multiple sclerosis.

Bottom line, he said, “Consuming more curcumin is a benefit.”