Herbs and spices have been used as food preservatives, flavorings, and in traditional medicines for thousands of years. More and more scientific evidence supports the medicinal properties of culinary herbs. Colon cancer is the the fourth most common form of cancer worldwide.
Studies show that Garlic, Ginger, Turmeric, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, Spearmint, and Peppermint all inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells:
- Thyme: A study found that extracts of Mastic Thyne (Thymus mastichina L.) may protect from colon cancers. The scientific team, from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa in Portugal concluded in the journal Natural Product Communications that “The presence of these constituents identified by colon cancer cytotoxicity-guided activity indicates that extracts of Thymus mastichina L. may have a protective effect against colon cancers.”
- Rosemary: This herb has the ability to suppress the development of tumors in several organs including the colon, breast, liver, stomach, as well as melanoma and leukemia cells. The Rosemary and cancer prevention: preclinical perspectives, study results suggested that the different molecular targets modulated by rosemary and its active constituents are useful indicators of success in clinical cancer chemo-prevention trials. The main active compounds of rosemary include caffeic acid, rosemarinic acid (RA), ursolic acid (UA), carnosic acid (CA) and carnosol. Approximately 90% of the total antioxidant activity of rosemary is derived from carnosol and CA. Two animal studies investigated on were reported on colorectal cancer. Carnosol (1% in diet) inhibited colorectal cancer at initiation, promotion, and progression, in addition to reducing intestinal tumor multiplicity. Ursolic acid (0.11% in diet) reduced incidence of aberrant crypt foci, one of the earliest precursors of colorectal adenoma development.
- Sage: Sage is the most effective of Mediterranean herbs in fighting cancer tested against thyme, rosemary, spearmint, and peppermint extracts according to the “Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia, Athens, GA. Salvia essential oils have been used in the treatment of a wide range of diseases like those of the nervous system, heart and blood circulation, respiratory system, digestive system, and metabolic and endocrine diseases. In addition, sage essential oil has been shown to have carminative, antispasmodic, antiseptic, and astringent properties. The antioxidant properties of sage have been studied intensively, and are found to be related to the presence of rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid.
- Spearmint: The chief essential oil in spearmint is menthol. Other important chemical components of spearmint are α-pinene, β-pinene, carvone, cineole, linalool, limonene, myrcene and caryophyllene. The herb is also rich in many antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin A (provides 4054 IU or 135% of RDA), beta-carotene, vitamin C, folates (26% of RDA), vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), riboflavin and thiamin.
- Peppermint: Cancers of the skin, lung, and colon are also inhibited by this herb. The fresh herb contains ample amounts of vitamin A, C, B12, K, along with folic acid, thiamine, and riboflavin. Mint also provides many essential minerals such as calcium, copper, fluoride, iron, potassium, selenium, and zinc. The essential oils found in mint include menthol, menthone, and menthol acetate. Peppermint oil is effective in treating side effects related to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, it was found to be useful in controlling nausea after surgery.
Extracts from herb species (thyme, rosemary, sage, spearmint and peppermint) can significantly inhibit the growth of human colon cancer cells. Mixtures of herb extracts can have combination effects on cancer cell growth. These five herbs have potential health benefits to suppress colon cancer.