Oh, the lovely bounty of nature. As the weather warms, home gardeners around the country are able to look no further than their backyard for flavorful herbs to add that farmstead layer of taste to their dinner entrees. We’ve always known they’re yummy but now we know they offer a heck-of-a-lot more than just flavor.
Everyday garden herbs possess legions of medicinal properties and, when eaten in conjunction with healthy vegetables and spices, have powerful cancer-preventive properties. “The easiest, least-expensive way to reduce your risk for cancer is just by eating a healthy diet,” says Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon, PhD, MPH, RD, a researcher at the National Cancer Institute in a recent article. Below are five, easily-found, herbs you might consider eating more of.
Commonly used in cooking, the leaves of this garden herb have a noticeable woody fragrance, thanks to the fatty acids of terpenes, a naturally occurring substance that encourages the cancer cells in tumors to stop reproducing and eventually die.
Today, research has discovered that when the terpene from rosemary is given alongside the chemotherapy drugs Adriamycin and Velban, cancer cells may begin to absorb the chemotherapy that they had previously resisted. In many cases the plant’s natural terpene either brought about the demise of the cancerous cells or helped reduce their spread.
This bright green herb, overlooked as “just a garnish” by many, has lately caught the attention of the medical community. Parsley contains apigenine, a natural oil that has been shown to prevent angiogenesis – the growth of blood vessels that supply cancerous tumors with nutrients. The apigenine from parsley cuts off the blood supply to a tumor, acting similarly to the prescription drug Avastin.
With more than 350 species of thyme around the planet, this herb has a long standing history of medicinal use. Ancient Roman warriors brewed it in tea form to enhance courage and vigor. While no medical studies have quite confirmed thyme for those reasons, there has been modern evidence to suggest that is contains cancer-peventative properties.
Thyme is brimming with an essential oil that is rich in thymol. Thymol, along with rosmarinic and ursolic acids are terpenes (similar to those in rosemary) and possess anti-cancer properties. Thyme can also be used as an antiseptic, antibacterial, and a strong antioxidant. When used in mouthwashes, it can treat inflammations of the mouth and throat.
A phytochemical in mint leaves has been found to cut off the blood supply to cancer tumors, resulting in their untimely death. It’s yet another example of the healing power of nature and the medical efficacy of phytochemicals found in your own garden. Julep anyone?
Apart from offering strong tangy flavor, dill has many medicinal properties, which come from certain compounds called Monoterpenes. The protective Monoterpenes, are stimulants and activate secretions of an enzyme called glutathione-S-transferase (an power anti-oxidant) which is very effective in neutralizing carcinogens, particularly free radicals, thereby protecting from cancer. The essential oils present in dill are also a natural stimulant and activate bile and digestive juices while encouraging peristaltic motion of the intestine.
By Veronica Peterson