Ask the Herbalist: All About Anticancer Herbs

Reduce your cancer risk by incorporating these anticancer herbs in your meals and drinks.


| December/January 2012



brussels-sprouts

Eat cruciferous veggies, like Brussels sprouts, to help beat cancer.

Q. Reading all of the reports on cancer prevention is really confusing me. Which anticancer herbs should I include in a daily regimen to stay healthy and reduce my risk of cancer?

A. First off, I’m glad to hear that you want to act now to reduce your cancer risk. Cancer takes years to develop. Prevention, if possible, is preferable to treatment. Avoid known carcinogens such as tobacco smoke, and have the routine screening tests that catch cancer in early, more-treatable stages.

As always, a healthy lifestyle is key. Eat a plant-based diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. Those strategies will also help keep your weight under control. Obesity raises the risk of diabetes, and both conditions are associated with an increased risk of cancer.

A plant-based diet can help shield you from cancer because plants are rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substances that help them (and us) withstand exposure to ultraviolet radiation, air pollution and other noxious substances. (Oxidative damage and inflammation promote cancer as well as a number of other chronic diseases.) Furthermore, some plant chemicals enhance the body’s detoxification systems, stimulate the immune system and have direct anticancer effects.

Weeds are the true survivors. They burst through sidewalk cracks and weather pollution, drought, neglect and outright abuse. Researchers have only begun to investigate the anticancer effects of plants like dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). Nevertheless, I recommend including those two nutrition powerhouses in your diet. If you have access to fresh, pesticide-free leaves, you can steam or sauté them. (Use gloves when picking nettles, as they sting until cooked.) You can also drink infusions of the dried or fresh leaves.

Other foods to include are cruciferous vegetables, asparagus, and Alliums, such as garlic and onions, which all contain sulfurous anticancer compounds. Lycopene, a carotenoid chemical found in high concentrations in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon and guava, has anticancer action. Cooked tomato products are best, as the processing increases the body’s ability to absorb lycopene. The same is true of the isoflavone genistein, found in soybeans.

cancercurer
7/12/2014 12:14:51 PM

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elderberry, echinacea, bee hive

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