Category: Herbal Remedies

34 Anticancer Foods

Top 34 Anticancer Foods
Top 34 Anti-Cancer Foods image to repin / share
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Introduction

(Note – this list originally appeared as part of the Anticancer Herbs page on this site – but due to the significant size of the page, we decided to divide them into two pages, one for “herbs” and one for “foods”. Please see the introduction to that page for an explanation of the goal of these pages and help with the technical terms used. Also, note that spices such as turmeric appear on the “herbs” page. )

Please note – the purpose of this page is not to attempt to persuade you that “these foods will cure you of cancer“. We are not making any medicinal claims here! It is important to understand this. The foods listed here have been indicated by various researches to have some preventative / protective or direct cytotoxic effect against cancer cells, often in in vitro lab tests – however some have in vivo study refs and even human studies.

However there is a lot more work to do by our good people of science before these can in general be considered “proven” to counteract cancer in humans – though these are most definitely some healthy foods and widely considered beneficial to health!

The purpose of this page is simply to present as much information as possible on the subject, in order that the person interested in the possibility of anti-cancer foods may be assisted in “doing their homework”. See this page as a “starting point” for research or investigation. I’ve cited all references that I have found. A disclaimer is written in the small print at the foot of this page in greater detail, but it is expedient to repeat it: This page is not medical advice, nor is it intended to substitute for professional medical consultation.

List of claimed Anticancer Foods / active components

Avocado

Studies have found antiproliferative and apoptosis effects of avocado on oral, prostate and other cancer cells. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=avocado%20cancer

Food source Anthocyanin content
(mg per 100g)
Purple Corn 1,642
Chokeberry 1,480
Red Grape 888
Eggplant 750
Black Raspberry 589
Wild Blueberry 558
Raspberry 365
Cherry 350-400
Açaí Berry 320
Marion Blackberry 317
Blackcurrant 190-270
Redcurrant 80-420
Orange ~200
Red wine 24-35

Anthocyanins (Berries, currants, eggplant, orange, red grapes, red wine, purple corn & more)

Anthocyanins are molecules belonging to the flavonoid class, and are pigments appearing red, purple or blue. These substances are found in plant tissues, particularly in red, blue, purple or black fruits. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthocyanin Berries such as blueberry, bilberry, cranberry, elderberry, raspberry and strawberry are anthocyanin rich and have been found by researchers to have anti-carcinogenic effects: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14972022

Black raspberries have been shown to inhibit promotion and progression of tumor cells –
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthocyanin#Research These studies have now reached the human trial stages – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17574861http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16800781

Much research has bene done in this field – list of papers here – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=cancer%20anthocyanins

To the right is a list of some of the foods with the highest anthocyanin content: (sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthocyanin)

Beta-Carotene (sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, pumpkins, butternut / other winter squash, spinach, broccoli, pink grapefruit, mango, papaya and more).

Although named after carrots, beta-carotene also occurs in a number of other fruits and vegetables. It is a red-orange pigment and is the substance that colors the carrots orange. Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A in the body. Source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta-Carotene

Beta-carotene is reported to have cancer preventative and tumor necrosis properties. Source – http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/family-nutrition/anticancer/12-dietary-changes-will-lower-your-cancer-risk Studies have shown that carotenoids possess the capacity for scavenging of DNA-damaging free radicals, suppression of angiogenesis, inhibition of cell proliferation and apoptosis induction. Source – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21466428 Much more here – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=%22beta%20carotene%22%20cancer

Note – excessive consumption of Beta-carotene, particularly associated with supplementation / use as a food coloring, has possible adverse health effects and excess beta-carotene, once stored in the liver, cannot be converted by the body to vitamin A. In particular, excessive beta-carotene is linked to increased lung cancer risk in smokers. Source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta-Carotene

Coffee

Some good news for coffee drinkers – in a 2011 study, caffeic acid, found in not only coffee but also olive oil and some fruits and vegetables, has been discovered to have a “potent anticancer effect” on the HT-1080 human fibrosarcoma cell line. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21116690

Cruciferous vegetables (i.e. Broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts etc)

The cruciferous vegetables are vegetables of the Brassicaceae family. The family includes Broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choi, cauliflower, chinese cabbage, arugula, kale and others. Source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruciferous_vegetables

Lots of recent scientific research, some from prestigious labs, much very recent, supporting anticancer properties of various cruciferous vegetables. Sulforaphane, found in cruciferous vegetables, has been found to suppress proliferation of KPL-1 human breast cancer cells and induce apoptosis:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21617865
Lists of studies here – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=broccoli%20cancer
and here – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=cruciferous%20cancer

In other research, consumption of cruciferous vegetables has been associated with reduced cardiovascular disease. Source – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21593509

Fish

Fish containing eicosapentaenoic acid have correlated with reduced cancer risk. This effect has been found to be increased in combination with lycopene (see tomatoes). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18708285

Flax

Numerous scientific studies showing encouraging results for lignans extracted from flaxseed oil, particularly with breast cancer cells. Studies here – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=flax%20cancer
Interestingly, flaxseed oil was found to enhance the tumor-reducing effects of Trastuzumab, an anticancer drug, in a 2010 study from te University of Toronto. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20580760

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Numerous scientific papers, many recent, report positively on investigation into anticancer effects of garlic and extracted compounds. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=garlic%20cancer

Grapeseed

In a study of 35,239 male residents of Washington state aged 50-76, use of grapeseed supplements was associated with a 41% reduced risk of prostate cancer. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21598177

Lots of encouraging research around grapeseed in the cancer prevention arena – more here http://www.naturalnews.com/033754_grape_seed_extract_cancer_prevention.html

Mushrooms

Certain mushrooms contain polysaccharides which are reported to be beneficial in strengthening the immune system. Other compounds in mushrooms are also thought to have anticancer effects. Mushrooms reported as anticancer include:
Phellinus rimosus, Ganoderma oregonense (“Lacquer Fungus”), Coprinopsis cinerea, Tricholomopsis rutilans (“Plums and Custard”), Coprinellus disseminatus (“Crumble Cap”) source for the above – http://healing-mushrooms.net/archives/phellinus-rimosus-berk-pilat.html, Shiitake, maitake, reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), Agaricus blazei Murill, and Coriolus versicolor. Source – http://www.cancure.org/cancer_fighting_foods.htm

More research here – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=mushroom%20anticancer

Important note – mushrooms should only be wild harvested by true experts who can identify toxic species accurately!

Olives / Olive oil

Part of the “mediterranean diet”, olive oil has been associated with a lower incidence of colorectal cancer. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17999988 Several substances in olive oil may contribute to its anticancer effects – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18069902

Several other studies – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=%22olive%20oil%22%20anticancer

Oranges and Lemons

Oranges an lemons contain limonene which is reported to stimulate cancer killing immune cells. Source – http://www.cancure.org/cancer_fighting_foods.htm

Papaya

Papaya extract found to have antiproliferative effect on breast cancer cell line MCF-7: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19468947

Seaweed

Substances such as polysaccharides / phlorotannins from some seaweeds have been found to have anticancer properties. Studies here –

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20803523 – Ecklonia cava Kjellman
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19735177 – Hizikia fusiforme
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18651721 – Champia feldmannii
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18004241 – Fucoidan (polysaccharide found in brown seaweed) – also see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2476696
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4069551Undaria pinnantifida

Soy

Although some consider soy controversial, it has been claimed that Japanese women whose diets contain much soy are four times less likely to die of breast cancer than American women. Even among the Japanese, those who eat the most soy get the least cancer. Source – http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/family-nutrition/anticancer/12-dietary-changes-will-lower-your-cancer-risk The article referenced also suggests to eat more whole-soy products and not to rely on processed soy products such as soy burgers, soy sauce, and soy beverages.

Soy contains isoflavones and these have been found to induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells in lab tests. Much research here – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=soy%20anticancer

The isoflavone in soy that is reported to have the greatest anticancer properties is genistein. Soy flakes, soy nuts, soy flour and roasted soybeans have the highest content of genistein, with soy milk, soy burgers and tofu having the least. Source – http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/family-nutrition/anticancer/12-dietary-changes-will-lower-your-cancer-risk

Tapioca (Cassava)

Not tapioca itself, but the plant from which it is made, was the subject of some interesting research which I thought worthy of mention.
Genetic material from the plant was used to create a treatment that killed a brain tumor in vivo: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/317467.stm

Tea (Camellia sinensis)

Tea contains Polyphenols, which have been the focus of much interest from anticancer research studies. Green, black, white and other teas are all made from the plant Camellia sinensis, but are created by different post-harvest processes and have widely differing polyphenol content. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21538852
Enzymatic oxidation causes the tea to darken. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea

Catechins found in green teahave been found to ” possess remarkable therapeutic potential against various types of human cancer cells in vitro and in vivo models”. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21725973 Much research has been done in this field – 1,470 search results on Pubmed – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=%22green%20tea%22%20cancer

Much of the cancer research on tea has focused on green tea; however black tea has been much researched and shown promise – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=%22black%20tea%22%20cancer Also a few interesting papers have appeared on white tea – such as http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17571968 .

Tomatoes

Lycopene, a substance found in tomatoes, is considered an antioxidant. It has also been found to have some anticancer activity. A number of papers on this – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=lycopene%20anticancer Interestingly, it is reported that oils must be consumed with the tomato for proper absorption. This has been seen as a vindication of the “mediterranean diet” – itself a subject of anticancer research. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15482626

Wu Xing Soup

Something of an obscure one, this. As far as I can ascertain, Wu Xing Soup (difficult to find information on it) means “five flavors” soup. Wuxing / Wu Xing is the Chinese name for the Taoist system of five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water) – but is also the name for a region, so I am not sure of the connotation. According to http://www.dictall.com/indu/064/0633511167E.htm Wuxing soup is “made of burdock, white radish, carrot, dry mushroom and the leaves of white radish“, and has a legend of antitumor effect in folk medicine.

What I did manage to find, however, was that it has been the subject of research for anticancer properties. I found two papers reporting on anticancer properties of Wuxing soup – and these are listed below:

“The anti-tumour effect of Wuxing soup and its mechanism in inducing apoptosis of tumour cells mediated by calcium”
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19180961

“The anti-tumour effect of Wuxing soup and its effect on the immunity of melanoma mice”http://medicine-hygiene.idnwhois.org/download.php?aid=83211

(more soon). See also Anticancer Herbs

Top 10 Most Amazing Herbal / Natural Remedies For Colds And Flu: A Definitive Guide

The Top 10 Most Amazing Herbal - Natural Remedies For Colds And Flu
Top 10 Most Amazing Herbal / Natural Remedies For Colds And Flu – image to repin / share
Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com. Photo © Adobe Stock (under license)

PLEASE SHARE this important info and help people to become aware that there are awesome natural alternatives to medications.

Herbal remedies have stood the test of time; whereas many of the patent medicines currently in use have only been around for a few years – who can tell what the long term effects will be?

After much research, we have “narrowed down” our list of cold / flu remedies to 10 of the best.

The more scientific among you will be pleased to see that we have backed up our findings with numerous links to peer-reviewed scientific papers. Herbal remedies are not just folk tales, but more and more are being discovered by science to have tremendous potential!

One more tip – If possible, prepare the remedies yourself using the finest fresh, clean, carefully chosen organic ingredients!
Fresh is best – and you are also in control. You can also be sure that what you are making does not contain toxic preservatives etc. –
however you will of course need to be sure that you keep your preparations fresh and discard what is not used in time.

Here they are, then – in no particular order. Enjoy! (Note – the information on this page has not been evaluated by the FDA is not a substitute for professional medical advice.)

1. Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

A cold / flu remedy with a “cult following”, elderberry has been highly regarded since ancient times as one of the most powerful remedies against influenza, herpes and colds – either before or during infection.

This tradition has been upheld by several very positive scientific trials – a couple of examples:

One randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial (2004) found influenza recovery times cut by an average of 4 days across 60 patients – a very impressive result.

A 2009 In vitro (lab) study also found that Elderberry flavonoids prevented infection with the dangerous H1N1 (“swine flu”) strain.

SAFETY NOTE: Elderberry is generally considered safe but if you are collecting your own berries, you MUST know your species, because some red berried Elders are poisonous.

2. Master Tonic

The “Master Tonic” also appears to have something of a “cult following” who swear by its effectiveness against colds, fever, drug-resistant bacterial ailments and more. Proponents rave about it – calling it “a modern day plague formula….It stimulates maximum blood circulation, while putting the best detoxifying herbs into the blood…. it has helped to turn around the deadliest diseases.”

This fiery recipe calls for all fresh ingredients and combines the following:

Garlic cloves, white onions, ginger root, horseradish root, cayenne or hot peppers (habanero, serrano, jalapeno etc) and raw apple cider vinegar (i.e. Bragg’s).

Appropriate care should be taken preparing hot peppers – gloves should be worn and extreme care should be taken not to touch the eyes or other sensitive areas. A jar is filled 3/4 full with the solid ingredients (grated / finely chopped) then raw apple cider vinegar is poured in, filling the jar up to the top. The tonic is left for 14 days, strained, bottled and stored in dark glass bottles. Due to the vinegar content the preparation is reported to be able to be stored for a long period of time.

One thing I didn’t know before researching this was that hot peppers are very high in vitamin C – green chillies provide one of the highest levels of vitamin C by weight – 242.5mg (404% DV) per 100 gram serving. (source)

Here are two (slightly varying) Master Tonic recipes with many excellent additional tips:
http://heal-thyself.ning.com/profiles/blogs/master-tonic-101

http://www.likeamustardseed.com/2012/09/27/preparing-for-the-season-of-colds-master-tonic/

3. Honey Lemon Ginger Cinnamon Tea

An easy-to-prepare, soothing, fun and delicious traditional cold remedy. Use fresh, organic ingredients and raw local honey for best results:

1 teaspoon honey.
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
A few slices of fresh lemon.
A few thin slices of fresh ginger.

I typically slice the lemon and ginger straight into a mug, fill with boiling water then mix in the honey and the cinnamon and let steep for a few minutes. If you wish to filter out the bits or make more than 1 cup, I would suggest preparing in a small pan. Measure the “right amount” of water by pouring fresh water in to the pan from the mugs you are going to be using – then boil the water and switch off the heat before adding the other ingredients. Pour through a tea strainer.

4. Garlic

Belief in the healing qualities of Garlic is widespread. Most people use it in cuisine, however it is often considered to have medicinal benefits – typically being regarded as a blood cleanser, tonic and as a remedy for colds and flu.

Although often fried in food, it can also be steamed (5-7 minutes) which will preserve the nutrients better, or eaten raw if you are feeling brave! For those who do not like the smell it is possible to get capsules of garlic oil.

Despite the popularity of garlic and the tradition of use
against colds, science is as yet far from convinced of its effectiveness: A UK study on 146 volunteers from 2001 found garlic effective in preventing colds, however many more recent studies are critical – returning a verdict of “insufficient evidence”.

5. Feverfew

There is a growing body of research to support the traditional “multipurpose” use of Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.) for many ailments – especially the treatment of fevers and colds – but also others including migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, stomach aches, toothaches, insect bites, infertility, problems with menstruation and labor during childbirth, psoriasis, allergies, asthma, tinnitus, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.

Feverfew has been in use since ancient times, being known to early European and Greek herbalists and is widely cultivated around the world.

6. Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) + Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

(golden seal = liver / blood cleanser)

One of the most popular herbal remedies, the combination of Echinacea and Goldenseal is the “standard” echinacea cold formula that many go for.

It is thought by herbalists that the combination of the two herbs together is more effective – and the popularity of the combination may be an indicator of efficacy. An article on health.com reported on one Bob Martin:

“…Bob Martin says he hasn’t caught a cold in years, not since he discovered echinacea and goldenseal. For the past decade, the 60-year-old teacher from Placitas, N.M., has taken the herbal supplements in megadoses three times a day at the first sign of a sniffle. Now he only gets sick if he doesn’t dose himself in time, he says. “It’s been years since I’ve had a cold,” says Martin. “I take the herbs, climb under the blanket, and I’m fine the next day. They nip it in the bud.”…”

Recent scientific research into Goldenseal has found antibaterial effects: A 2012 study found Goldenseal effective against the MRSA “superbug”. Another study noted that the roots and aerial parts of the plant worked synergistically to enhance antibacterial activity.

Note – Goldenseal should not be used long term. (source)

I have also included a different Echinacea recipe below (#8) together with some of the Echinacea scientific reports.

Ginseng plant
Ginseng plant:

7. Ginseng (P. quinquefolium)

Ginseng root is more commonly considered as a tonic and energy booster, however North American ginseng (P. quinquefolium) is showing considerable potential as an anti-cold herb. A 2005 human trial found that ginseng, taken daily, had a both a preventative effect on colds and a reduction in symptoms -with symptoms being reported on 34.5% less days in total than in the placebo group.

8. Oregano + Reishi + Echinacea tinctures

My own personal fav cold / flu remedy: A combination of reishi, oregano leaf and echinacea tinctures in a small glass of warm water.

I usually put about 20-30 drops of each tincture, which is around half a dropper full, in around 4oz of warm (not too hot) water – 4 times per day. Tastes bitter but is worth it (warm water improves taste significantly & also is said to increase efficacy).
After 2 or 3 doses (a few hours apart) I sometimes find that the symptoms have gone away so thoroughly that I forget to take it the next day and they come creeping back!! (until I take the mixture again).

Echinacea Reishi Oregano Tinctures
My “Secret Weapon”:
Echinacea, Reishi and Oregano tinctures

I find I have to take it for a few days until the “storm has passed” and then I’m all good. In the last couple of years I have found that this knocks out cold type things about 75% of the time. I have introduced it to other friends who now “swear by it”. And the person who introduced it to me…? I have known her to have just one cold in nearly 4 years – despite her having a daughter in school and having a very irregular sleep pattern. She studied herbalism under a “master herbalist” and attributes her immune strength to herbs – including both Oregano leaf and other “deep immune tonics”.

One thing I have noticed is that my “secret weapon” seems to work best when taken immediately at the first sign of symptoms. Just a few days ago I felt that “Uh oh, I am going down with something” feeling and immediately took oregano, echinacea and reishi. Within a few hours I was completely back to normal. On other occasions where I was not able to access the herbs right away, they were not as effective once the symptoms had “taken hold”.

Oregano Leaf (Origanum vulgare) has become a very popular herbal remedy of late as people are rediscovering its potential as an antiviral / antibacterial. There are also reports of people taking it for stomach bugs with great success – and this claim is validated by the latest scientific research, which has found Oregano (and Lemongrass) to be highly effective against Salmonella in lab tests. Some have suggested oregano essential oil, appropriately diluted with a carrier oil, rubbed on the soles of the feet, though I have not tried this.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is a species of mushroom, revered in the Orient since very ancient times, which has been found to have all manner of antiviral and other positive effects by several scientific studies; including action against HIV, herpes, influenza, diabetes and breast cancer cells! Click here to look at Reishi on Amazon. (there are many products, I just chose one with all 5-star reviews):
Reishi Mushroom Liquid Extract 1 fl oz (29.6 ml) Liquid

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) has long been considered to be effective against the common cold. The latest large-sale scientific trials in the UK (2012) have validated Echinacea’s effectiveness in not only reducing the occurrence of colds, but in reducing their recurrence. Not only that, but adverse “side effects” were less with Echinacea than with the placebo. Recent research (2012) has also found Echinacea effective against human colon cancer cells!

Herbal tinctures like this are available in the USA through Amazon (affiliate link) or at a store like Whole Foods.

9. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil has been well known for its antiseptic
qualities for some time. It is even reported to be diffused in hospitals in Australia – which is interesting as the most recent research has found it active in vitro against some serious pathogens – notably “hospital-aquired staph” MRSA, E coli and other nasties.

Common ways to use eucalyptus include using an oil diffuser, or in steam – notably by putting a few drops on the floor of the shower (be careful not to make it slippery if the floor is smooth!), or putting a few drops in a bowl of very hot water and breathing the steam. If you have a cold, steam can help with congestion, helping clear the nose.

Some are making their own vapor disks for placing on the floor of the shower and it is thought that regular inhalation of the vapor may have a preventative effect.

Others rub the essential oil (diluted appropriately with a carrier oil) into the chest or soles of the feet, or use a home-made version of “Vicks”.

I researched on Amazon and found a low cost ($6.99) organic Eucalyptus oil which had a high ratio of “5 star reviews” – Organic Eucalyptus Essential Oil. 10 ml. 100% Pure, Undiluted, Therapeutic Grade.

10. Last but not least…. Vitamins

C and D are considered most valuable in immune support.

Vitamin C is highly regarded as an immune booster and assistant to the body in healing and fighting sickness of many kinds. Vitamin C is commonly known to be found in citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and cherries – however did you know that it is also found in high quantities in Thyme, Parsley, Broccoli, chili peppers, rosemary and…. pine needles?

Yes, pine needles contain 4 to 5 times as much vitamin C by weight as fresh squeezed orange juice! Not that you would eat that many – but here’s a recipe for pine needle tea.

The only caution typically advised with vitamin C is not to take too high a dose – as 2,000mg can cause stomach upset. You can also opt for liposomal vitamin C – which appears not to have the negative effect on the stomach and thus allows stronger doses without this side effect. My personal view is that either liposomal vit C or fresh, organic fruit is the way forward. Organic fruit is often found higher in anthocyanins, vitamin C and other nutrients than non-organic.

Article © herbshealthhappiness.com

Camellia Sinesis (Tea)

Tea
Tea Uses and Benefits – image to repin / share
Infographic: herbshealthhappiness.com. Image credits: See foot of article

Camellia Sinesis – Background

Grown throughout the world, the Camellia sinesis plant – from which we derive “tea” – thrives in humid environments.[1]

Plants grown at high elevations and subtropical climates produce the highest-quality teas (these factors slow the plants’ growth, which greatly improves flavor).

Many claims have been made regarding the supposed health benefits of tea. Descriptions of tea as having healing properties have been traced back to the earliest of Chinese texts. [2]

Tea has been used for centuries by Nomadic peoples and physical laborers for its ability to ward off of fatigue, hunger and exhaustion.

In England during the 17th century, tea was advertised in shops as a health beverage that would cure headaches, colds, fevers and stomaches. It was also promoted as a tonic to increase alertness and suppress the appetite [2]

Camellia Sinesis – Scientific Studies

Tea is considered by many cultures to prevent and combat various diseases, including cancer. For this reason, it has been the object of scientific study in recent years. The results of these studies are varied: In some cases, tea was found to have disease-preventing properties. However, more research must be carried out before a consensus is reached.

In a 2007 study, tea was found to contain over 700 different compounds, many of which are recognized for their potential to fight disease. Among these compounds, the most widely-recognized and well-understood are flavonoids, amino acids, vitamins and polysaccharides. Tea varieties–green, black, white and oolong–were found to contain high concentrations of antioxidants, which indicates that they may possess anti-tumor and anti-aging properties.

Regular consumption of tea may improve the body’s intestinal balance by increasing the presence of beneficial microorganisms, while ridding the body of harmful bacteria.

Tea leaves contain high concentrations of vitamin C, which is known to destroy cancer-causing free-radicals. Due to its low glycemic index and potent cleansing properties, tea consumption has been associated with the prevention of coronary heart disease and diabetes.

In a 2010 study, researchers discovered that cognitive decline occured more often in non-tea drinkers than in those for whom tea-drinking is a regular activity.

Processing of Tea

Native to the mountainous regions of Southern Asia, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world today. All varieites of tea–green, black, oolong and white–are made from leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant.

Black Tea – Of all teas made from Camellia sinesensis leaves, black tea undergoes the most processing. The mature leaves are picked, and then left to wilt for several hours. The leaves are then rolled and left for several hours; once the oils are oxidized, they are placed in an oven at 200 degrees Farenheit until they are nearly dry. Finally, they are heated over a fire to finish the drying process.

Oolong Tea – Oolong tea processing is very similar to that of black tea. The first steps–wilting and rolling–are the same. However, the leaves are left to oxidized for a shorter period of time. Once the veins of the leaves are reddish-brown, the leaves are heated in order to stop the oxidation process. The shelf-life of oolong tea is generally longer than that of black tea because oolong is heated at a higher temperature, which dries out the leaves and reduces the likelihood of mold growth.

Green Tea – In the Chinese method, Green tea is first wilted for a very short time, if at all. The leaves are neither rolled nor left to oxidize. The leaves are then toasted in a pan at low heat to prevent oxidation. In the Japanese method, the leaves are steamed instead of toasted. The leaves are rolled tightly or loosely depending on the type of tea desired (i.e. to make Gunpowder tea, the leaves are rolled tightly into tiny pellets, whereas other varieties are hardly rolled at all).

White Tea – Young buds of the Camellia sinesensis plant are processed to make white tea. The leaves are wilted at a low temperature in a humidity-controlled environment for over 26 hours. The leaves appear “white” because they are sheilded from sunlight during the oxidation process.

Tea – Scientific Studies And Research

The consumption of tea (Camellia sinensis) has been determined by a number of laboratory studies to be effective in preventing chronic diseases such as obesity, a notorious risk factor of type II diabetes, liver and cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. [3] Tea contains catechins, particularly (-)-epigallocatechin gallate, which have been reported to exert antiobesity and antidiabetic effects through mechanisms related to pathways involved in energy balance regulation, food intake, or lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. [4] The results from a Japanese study indicated that tea catechin supplementation in the diet significantly reduces body weight gain induced by a high-fat diet and suppresses the accumulation of visceral and liver fats and the development of hyperinsulinemia and hyperleptinemia. Furthermore, the 1-month consumption of tea catechins resulted in an increased acylCoA oxidase and medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase mRNA expression as well as beta-oxidation activity in the liver. Hence, it appears that the stimulation of lipid catabolism in the liver might be a factor responsible for the antiobesity effects of tea catechins. [5] Because tea catechins are helpful in the prevention of diet-induced obesity, by extension, they also hold a promising potential in the reduction of risk of a few diseases such as diabetes and coronary heart disease.

The potential preventive and inhibitory activity of tea and its polyphenols against cancer has been well studied in several kinds of animal models, such as cancer of the skin, lung, oral cavity, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, small intestine, colon, bladder, prostate, and mammary gland. [6] For instance, green tea and black tea, as well as their corresponding constituents, have been demonstrated in various animal models to inhibit the formation of lung tumors, including those induced by tobacco smoke-related carcinogens such as 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK), benzo[a]pyrene, and N-nitrosodimethylamine and those lung tumors spontaneously developed in A/J mice. [6] An association between tea consumption and a decreased risk of stomach, prostate, and ovarian cancers has also been reported by case-control studies and some cohort studies. [6] Although a lot still needs to be investigated and studies have not yet yielded clear-cut convincing conclusions, a few mechanisms on how tea possibly contributes to the prevention of specific types of cancer have been proposed. These include the modulation of signal transduction pathways that leads to the inhibition of cell proliferation and transformation, induction of apoptosis of preneoplastic and neoplastic cells, and inhibition of tumor invasion and angiogenesis. [8]

Many of the beneficial effects of tea on health have been attributed to the antioxidant action of its catechins and polyphenols. Tea catechins serve as effective scavengers of reactive oxygen species in vitro and indirectly act on transcription factors and enzyme activities. [9] They do this by functioning as a strong metal ion chelator (e.g., chelator of free Fe3+ ions) to prevent the formation of reactive oxygen species or by “trapping” reactive species such as superoxide radical, singlet oxygen, hydroxyl ROS, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and peroxynitrite. [6] Reactive oxygen species are chemically active molecules associated with considerable damage to cell structures, including DNA, and oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids and amino acids when they accumulate in the body in unregulated or increased amounts. [10]

Tea – Molecular Components and Chemistry

The primary and dominant active components of teas are polyphenols and caffeine. The polyphenols characteristic of tea are catechins, especially (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate – the most abundant, most active, and most studied one. Other catechins present in tea include (-)-epigallocatechin, (-)-epicatechin-3-gallate, and (-)-epicatechin, with gallocatechin, epigallocatechin digallates, epicatechin digallate, and 3-O-methyl EC being found in smaller quantities. Tea also contains flavonols, including quercetin, kaempferol, myricitin, and their glycosides. [6]

Camellia Sinesis in old Herbals & Pharmocopœia

The Book of Tea – by Kakuzo Okakura (1906):

THE CUP OF HUMANITY Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. The tea plant a native of southern China was known from very early times to Chinese botany and medicine.

It is alluded to in the classics under the various names of Tou Tseh Chung Kha and Ming and was highly prized for possessing the virtues of relieving fatigue delighting the soul strengthening the will and repairing the eyesight It was not only administered as an internal dose but often applied externally in form of paste to alleviate rheumatic pains. The Taoists claimed it as an important ingredient of the elixir of immortality. The Buddhists used it extensively to prevent drowsiness during their long hours of meditation.

References:

[1] Gautier, Lydia and Jean-Francios Mallet. Tea: Aromas and Flavors around the World. 2005. Chronicle Books: San Francisco, CA.

[2] Hara, Yukihiko. Green Tea: Health Benefits and Applications. 2001. Marcel Dekker, Inc.:
New York.

[3] Grove K. A. & Lambert J. D. (2010). Laboratory, epidemiological, and human intervention studies show that tea (Camellia sinensis) may be useful in the prevention of obesity. Journal of Nutrition, 140(3): 446-453. Retrieved 28 May 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2821884/

[4] Kao Y. H., Chang H. H., Lee M. J., & Chen C. L. (2006). Tea, obesity, and diabetes. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 50(2): 188-210. Retrieved 28 May 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16416476

[5] Murase T., Nagasawa A., Suzuki J., Hase T., & Tokimitsu I. (2002). Beneficial effects of tea catechins on diet-induced obesity: stimulation of lipid catabolism in the liver. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 26(11): 1459-1464. Retrieved 28 May 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12439647

[6] Yang C. S., Lambert J. D., Ju J., Lu G., & Sang S. (2007). Tea and cancer prevention: molecular mechanisms and human relevance. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 224(3): 265-273. doi:10.1016/j.taap.2006.11.024. Retrieved 28 May 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2698225/pdf/nihms33734.pdf

[7] Clark J. & You M. (2006). Chemoprevention of lung cancer by tea. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 50(2): 144-151. Retrieved 28 May 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16425282

[8] Yang C. S., Maliakal P., & Meng X. (2002). Inhibition of carcinogenesis by tea. Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology, 42: 25-54. Retrieved 28 May 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11807163/

[9] Higdon J. V. & Frei B. (2003). Tea catechins and polyphenols: health effects, metabolism, and antioxidant functions. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 43(1): 89-143. Retrieved 28 May 2013 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12587987

[10] Reactive oxygen species. Wikipedia. Retrieved 28 May 2013 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactive_oxygen_species

Main article researched and created by Kelsey Wambold, scientific studies by Dan Ablir.
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