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Can Herbs Prevent a Recurrence of Prostate Cancer?

Evidence is limited but growing that some culinary herbs like turmeric or rosemary may help prevent a recurrence of prostate cancer.
Can Herbs Prevent a Recurrence of Prostate Cancer?
Rosemary. Fresh rosemary herbs. Scissors cut herbs fresh rosemary. Organic aromatic herbs.

A few decades ago, any suggestion that herbs might reduce the risk for cancer would have been greeted with suspicion. As researchers scramble to find out what natural products might be helpful, they have found evidence that certain herbs might reduce the risk of a recurrence of prostate cancer. Which ones are they?

Herbs Against Prostate Cancer:

Q. I have read that certain herbs have both anti-inflammatory and anticancer activity. I’m especially interested in preventing a recurrence of prostate cancer.

Is there any science to support the use of rosemary, turmeric, ginger and oregano? These are just a few of the culinary herbs and spices I have heard might be helpful.

A. There is a surprising amount of basic science to suggest that certain spices have anti-cancer potential (Nutrients, online Aug. 12, 2016).

Curcumin:

The evidence is especially strong for curcumin, an active component of turmeric. This compound interrupts several metabolic pathways that cancer cells use to survive and spread (Anticancer Research, Nov. 2016). Curcumin may also help fight lung, breast, stomach, colorectal and uterine cancer.

Rosemary:

Other culinary herbs and spices that seem promising include garlic, black cumin, ginger, black pepper, chili pepper, rosemary and saffron. Rosemary, for example, interferes with androgen receptors to block prostate cancer cell growth (PLoS One, March 5, 2014).

One group of oncologists has published a small series of case reports using the herbal combination medicine Zyflamend to prevent the recurrence of prostate cancer (Case Reports in Oncological Medicine, online March 15, 2015). Zyflamend contains turmeric, holy basil, green tea, oregano, ginger, rosemary, Chinese goldthread, hu zhang, barberry and skullcap, so you might want to ask your oncologist about taking it.

You can learn more about the research on the anti-oxidant and anticancer activity of various herbs in our new book, Spice Up Your Health: How Everyday Herbs & Spices Can Lengthen & Strengthen Your Life.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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