Monday, March 31, 2014

Naturally Preventing Breast Cancer

Do you worry about breast cancer?  There is some really amazing news in this month's journal of Anticancer Research.  4,443 women with breast cancer were assessed from five different studies over ten years.  When their levels of Vitamin D were compared, those with the lowest levels of Vitamin D were 94% more likely to have metastasis and had a 73% greater chance of dying. On the flip side, those with the highest levels of Vitamin D had reversals in their disease.  What's this mean?

Obviously, the first thing you should think about if you have worries of breast cancer is get your Vitamin D levels checked.  Just keeping your levels high can be preventive.  In the studies levels of 40-60 ng/l of 25(OH) D were in the protective range.  Pushing it up to 80 ng/l actually reversed tumor growth in those with existing disease.

Second, having adequate levels of calcium in circulation also seemed to facilitate Vitamin D effectiveness.  The authors of the study recommended 1500 mg of calcium a day along with Vitamin D supplementation.  This flies a bit in the face of the cardiovascular risks from calcium supplements that I've addressed in other blogs here.  Getting calcium from food sources and taking a calcium supplement that also includes other minerals such as magnesium, zinc, boron, and Vitamin K2 would modulate the cardiovascular risks of a straight calcium pill.

Third, the study also hinted that the same mechanics that cause Vitamin D to be a preventive/treatment for breast cancer might likely also do the same for prostate cancer.  So men can also benefit from getting plenty of the sunshine vitamin too.

So, everybody get out there and get some (moderate) sunshine starting up those gardens or start making sure you're getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Fun of Herbal Medicine

I love herbal medicine!  There is just something mysterious and wonderful to think that you can actually grow your own medicine.  Yeah right?  Right in your own yard - a veritable green pharmacy!  So i love researching medicinal qualities about plants, and what plants need to grow, and where they can be grown.

Take for example, my herbal research project this afternoon.  A little news headline caught my attention: "Ancient Chinese Medicine Put Through It's Paces for Pancreatic Cancer."  I like hearing news about plants and cancer.  I hold out firm faith that the good Lord put the cure for cancer on this planet, and it's been lurking here somewhere just waiting to be found.  So this article immediately drew me to it.  They are testing an extract of the bark from the Amur Cork tree (Phellodendron Amurense) on pancreatic and prostate cancer with optimistic-looking results.  That's pretty cool.  I wondered what the tree looked like and where it grows.

Turns out the tree is native to China, but it is being sold for growing in Zones 4 and higher.  That's where just about all of us Americans live.  It's a quite pretty spreading shade tree.  Also turns out its bark isn't just for cancer.  Last August PubMed, the national clearinghouse for medical research, reported a study about a supplement that had Phellodendron in it.  The supplement had worked really well in reducing cortisol hormone levels.  Cortisol is a stress hormone that is produced to trigger our fight-flight reaction.  It is associated with weight gain, jittery nerves, insomnia, and can lead to a crash and burn kind of thing physically - burned out, depressed, and anxious.  All of those things were improved with this supplement in the study.  So, think of it -- you could go to a garden nursery, order yourself an Amur Cork tree for your yard.  Then, go out and collect a bit of bark from it, steep it, and drink your Cork tea every afternoon and fall right out of stress, anxiety, obesity, and cancer -- all in one shot!  WOW.

An even more fun side note on this is - the supplement is marketed under the name Relora and come to find out -- I had it sitting right in my dispensary already!  And I didn't even realize that a supplement that I got a while back to try for weight loss (and hadn't gotten around to) had so many other uses.

With spring just around the corner, I'll be sharing some more blogs about other interesting, easier to find and grow herbs that you can be planting in your garden soon.