Spice up Your Life
By Brit Elders
Spices, seeds and herbs do much more than bring aroma and taste to food even though that is how they are used by most of us. They have long been used for their amazing medicinal qualities, which scientific research and analysis is documenting.
In a recent report researchers noted that Curcumin, the ingredient that gives Turmeric its yellow hue, blocked the growth of melanoma tumor cells and even stimulated their death in the laboratory. "We could completely inhibit the growth of the tumor if we used a big enough dose," said study co-author Bharat B. Aggarwal, chief of the Cytokine Research Section in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. His report was published in a past issue of Cancer. Aggarwal and his colleagues exposed three different cell lines of melanoma to Curcumin, which is found in turmeric.
Exposure to Curcumin decreased the cell viability of all three cell lines, they found. They zeroed in on a molecule called NF-kappa B, which is known to be overactive in several types of tumors, including melanoma. The turmeric shut down the molecule and that lead to inhibition of the tumor growth. Preliminary research has shown turmeric has proven useful in treating multiple myeloma, as well as breast and pancreatic cancers.
The use of Turmeric is also being analyzed as a potential cardiovascular protector, an aid to the liver, and to reduce the risk of childhood leukemia. Its antioxidant characteristics make it a natural free radical inhibitor.
Mustard seeds have been used as a medicinal treatment in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Asia. Hippocrates advised others to use them both externally and internally. Pythagoras, Greek philosopher and mathematician, wrote about mustard seed medical applications and used them to treat many ailments. The Bible references them several times, exemplifying the tiny seed that has such strength and power. Internally, mustard seeds have been used mostly for indigestion and externally, from skin problems to joint pains and a “crick” in the neck.
The unique healing properties of mustard seeds can partly be attributed to their home among the Brassica foods found in the cruciferous plant family.
Mustard seeds contain plentiful amounts of phytonutrients called glucosinolates, and also contain myrosinase enzymes that can break apart the glucosinolates into other phytonutrients called isothiocyanates. The isothiocyanates in mustard seed have been repeatedly studied for their anti-cancer effects. In animal studies - and particularly in studies involving the gastrointestinal tract and colorectal cancer - intake of isothiocyanates has been shown to inhibit growth of existing cancer cells and to be protective against the formation of such cells.
These little seeds that are so powerful contain an enormous amount of selenium, a nutrient which has been shown to help reduce the severity of asthma, decrease some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and help prevent cancer, and magnesium, which can lower high blood pressure, help regulate sleep, especially among peri-menopausal or menopausal women, and even reduce the intensity of migraine headaches.Brit Elders is an investigative journalist, author, documentary filmmaker, CEO of ShirleyMacLaine.com and Editor of Dynamic Living Magazine.