Although herbs have been used since ages for healing, scientists are finally beginning to discover amazing new facts, such as their abilities to reduce arthritis, destroy cancer cells, and help in managing blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Herbs and other natural remedies, when taken under expert supervision, are as effective as conventional medications, often without any negative side effects.
Here are few of the top healers, with their newly discovered attributes, which not many of us are aware of.
Turmeric: The role of turmeric in treating indigestion, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, common cold, toothache, colic, pre and post surgery health, flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties and bruises is well known.
Less-known fact: It has been found to also prevent Colon Cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
A clinical trial performed by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2006 found that the presence of â€˜curcuminâ€™, a powerful anti-inflammatory compound, helps shrink any pre-cancerous lesions (polyps), when take together with small amounts of quercetin, a powerful anti-oxidant found in apples, onions and cabbage. The average number of polyps dropped by more than 60 percent, while those that remained, shrunk in size by more than 50 percent.
Another 2006 study published in the Journal of Alzheirmer disease revealed that researchers noticed that curcumin clears the brain of any plaques, a characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon has a beneficial effect on your blood sugar levels. It also slows down the rate at which the stomach empties the food, and also reduces gastric emptying rate.
Less-known fact: It also helps lower cholesterol.
A study conducted by researchers at the US Department of Agriculture in 2003, discovered that 60 people with type 2 diabetes, when given one gram of cinnamon per day, for a 40-day period, experienced considerable reduction in their blood sugar levels, total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides.
Rosemary: This well-known herb has gone way beyond being a flavor-enhancer and use in cosmetics. It is now a well known aid for a range of ailments, including digestive disorders, headaches, stomach upsets, is a mild diuretic.
Less-known fact: It is a proven anti-cancerous agent. Rosemary extract helps prevent carcinogens that enter the body from binding with DNA, the first step in tumour formation. When researchers at the University of Illinois, fed rosemary extracts to rats, who were exposed to dimethylbezanthracene, a carcinogen which causes breast cancer (both DNA damage and tumours decreased). The scientists are yet to perform human research, but according to the study lead, Keith W Singletary, Rosemary has lot of cancer-protective potential.
Ginger: It is a well-known fact that ginger averts nausea, prevents stomach upsets, motion sickness and chemotherapy-related nausea.
Less-known fact: Ginger has now proven to help reduce Blood Pressure, Cancer risk and Arthritis pain.
Ginger regulates blood flow, which lowers blood pressure, and its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce arthritis. When ginger extract was administered to 124 patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, during a study conducted at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University of Miami, all 124 patients reported decrease in pain.
During another study by the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, in 2006, it was found that gingerâ€™s anti-inflammatory powers helped in killing ovarian cancer cells, in the same intense manner or better than chemotherapy. The chemo-preventive action of the plant could be due to its ability to induce apoptosis in cancer cells, the researchers felt.
Basil: Being the usual home-grown plant, we are aware about the effectiveness of basil in reducing stress, relieving indigestion, headaches, for treatment of coughs, intestinal disorders and skin diseases.
Less-known fact: It inhibits Breast Cancer.
According to Pratima Nangia-Makker, a researcher at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit, a tea made of the holy basil, helped in shrinking tumours, reduced their blood supply, and stopped their spread, first in test tubes, and then in mice.
Garlic: Garlic is a well-known addition in folklore medicines, known to prevent everything from the cold, flu and gastritis to plague. It is also known to prevent blood clots, and for its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Less-known fact: Garlic contains about 70 active phyto-chemicals, including allicin, which according to studies have known to decrease high BP by as much as 30 points.
Garlic is also known to prevent strokes by reducing arterial blockages, as per the clinical study at UCLA.
Also, the level of homocysteine, a chemical causing plaque in the body, dropped by 12 percent in patients.
According to a study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study participants who consumed most garlic, reduced their risk of developing cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx by 39 percent, oesophageal cancer by 57 percent, colorectal cancer by 26 percent, renal cell cancer by 31 percent, laryngeal cancer by 44 percent, breast cancer by 10 percent, ovarian cancer by 22 percent and prostate cancer by 19 percent, compared to those eating less or no garlic.
On the whole, to net big benefits of these ‘super-healers’, include them in your everyday cooking. After-all, you have nothing to lose!