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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Polyphenols Regulate Glutatione

Polyphenols Regulate Glutatione

Should you choose red wine or green tea? How about both: Compounds from both beverages have been found to inhibit growth of colon cancer.

Scientists from Italy’s University of Florence concluded this after an experiment that involved treating rats with a chemical known to cause promotion of colon cancer (azoxymethane). They divided rats into four groups: a control group receiving azoxymethane and fed a normal diet, and three groups receiving azoxymethane plus a diet supplemented with polyphenols from either red wine, black tea or green tea. The amount of polyphenols in the diet was equivalent to what a moderate wine drinker or tea drinker would ingest. Although the green tea group had little or no effect, both the wine and the black tea polyphenol groups produced fewer tumors in response to azoxymethane. The scientists went further to look for biochemical differences in tumors by examining levels of a specific enzyme found in the tumors.

Glutathione S-transferase (GST) is an enzyme that regulates glutathione levels in cells. Glutathione is an important antioxidant in most cells. However, when levels of GST are increased in tumor cells, it can cause failure of chemotherapy, acting as sort of a cell protector in the tumors. In the study, GST levels were increased in tumors from control animals compared to non-tumor tissues and were also greater in tumors from control animals compared to the red wine- and black tea-treated groups.

This suggests that perhaps GST is involved in cancer progression and that the polyphenols found in wine and tea were able to inhibit the progression of cancer by inhibiting the GST enzyme levels. However, another important aspect of inhibiting GST enzymes is that by inhibiting these enzymes, a cancer cell could become more susceptible to chemotherapy, therefore rendering chemotherapy more effective in treating cancer. Studies have not yet been conducted to determine if that is the case. This study is particularly interesting, because although nutrition has been implicated in cancer prevention for some time now, this study suggests nutrition also may be important in treatment regimes for cancer.

Luceri, C., et al. “Red wine and black tea polyphenols modulate the expression of cycloxygenase-2, inducible nitric oxide synthase and glutathione-related enzymes in azoxymethane-induced F344 rat colon tumors.” The Journal of Nutrition 2002, 132: 1376–1379.

Cindy Jones, Ph.D.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Monoterpenes: Essence of a Cancer Cure

By Cindy L.A. Jones, Ph.D.

Essential oils, the highly concentrated volatile, aromatic essences of plants, are a mainstay of aromatherapy but are also used in flavoring, perfumes and even as solvents. Researchers now think that two components of orange oil and lavender oil are a good bet to prevent and treat cancer.

Most essential oils contain monoterpenes, compounds that contain 10 carbon molecules often arranged in a ring. Monoterpenes are formed in the mevalonic acid pathway in plants. This is the same pathway that makes cholesterol in animals and humans. Early on, cancer researchers realized that some aspects of cholesterol metabolism were involved in cancer growth. They then discovered that plant monoterpenes interfered with animal cholesterol synthesis, thereby reducing cholesterol levels and reducing tumor formation in animals.

Limonene and Perillyl Alcohol
Two widely studied monoterpenes are being evaluated for their anticancer activity, limonene from orange peel (Citrus sinensis) and perillyl alcohol from lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). Because limonene and perillyl affect the pathway that produces cholesterol, they can inhibit cholesterol synthesis, thereby eliminating a minor contributor to cancer formation. Monoterpenes also increase the levels of liver enzymes involved in detoxifying carcinogens, an effect that decreases the possibility carcinogens will cause cellular damage. In addition, monoterpenes stimulate apoptosis, a cellular self-destruction mechanism triggered when a cell's DNA is badly damaged. This safety feature is generally activated before a cell becomes cancerous. Finally, monoterpenes inhibit protein isoprenylation. The cell uses this process to help a protein, in this case the ras protein involved in cell growth, find its proper location within the cell. If ras is not in the right place, it becomes overactive and can spur cancerous cell growth.

Where Do They Come From? Most plant matter contains a wide variety of monoterpenes. Rich sources include: herbs, spices, wine, essential oils, eggs, olive & palm oil, rice bran oil, barley oil, and dairy products.
Laboratory animal studies demonstrate that these two monoterpenes inhibit the formation of chemically induced breast, colon, liver, skin and pancreatic tumors. For example, animals fed a diet containing 5 percent orange peel oil had a significantly reduced risk of developing mammary tumors when treated with the chemical tumor inducer DMBA. Similarly, animals fed a 5-percent limonene diet had less chance of mammary tumor growth. Researchers noticed that in this experiment rat tumors also regressed, suggesting limonene may treat existing cancer as well as prevent it.

New drugs typically undergo three phases of clinical tests, each more rigorous than the previous: Phase I trials establish a toxic human dose, phase II trials determine a therapeutic dose and how it is metabolized, and phase III trials determine drug effectiveness. Extensive animal studies are done before phase I trials begin.

Phase I trials have so far shown that limonene is well tolerated by cancer patients and has little toxicity. Phase II trials, to test how well limonene actually works to reduce cancer, are under way at several institutions including the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Md. In other research, perillyl alcohol, a related compound, was found to be five times as active as limonene in regressing tumors. A diet of 2.5 percent perillyl alcohol caused 75 percent of chemically induced rat mammary tumors to regress. Perillyl alcohol is now being tested in NCI-sponsored phase I clinical trials as a treatment for advanced breast, ovarian and prostatic cancers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Researchers speculate that perillyl alcohol may also be effective against pancreatic cancer, which is extremely difficult to treat.

The amount of monoterpenes needed to prevent cancer in humans is not established. Toxicity studies are incomplete, but the high doses required for chemotherapy may cause kidney damage and gastrointestinal problems. Both orange and lavender essential oils are safe to ingest; in fact, orange oil is a common food additive used for flavoring.

Few drugs have been developed that effectively treat cancer, so NCI is constantly searching for potential drug candidates. Many of these candidates, like limonene and perillyl alcohol, are natural products from herbs. For now though, these two concentrated substances remain in the realm of the laboratory, the doses being used in clinical trials are intended for treating cancer and must be monitored by a physician.

1. Elson CE, Yu SG. The chemoprevention of cancer by mevalonate-derived constituents of fruits and vegetables. J Nutr 1994;124:607-14.
2. Gould MN. Cancer chemoprevention and therapy by monoterpenes. Environ Health Perspect 1997;105:S977-9.
3. Mills JJ, et al. Induction of apoptosis in liver tumors by the monoterpene perillyl alcohol. Cancer Res 1995; 55:979-83.
4. Hohl RJ. Monoterpenes as regulators of malignant cell proliferation. In: American Institute for Cancer Research. Dietary Phytochemicals in Cancer Prevention and Treatment. New York: Plenum Press;1996.
5. Elson CE. Suppression of mevalonate pathway activities by dietary isoprenoids: protective roles in cancer and cardiovascular disease. J Nutr 1995;125:1666S-72S.
6. [Anonymous]. Clinical Development Plan: l-Perillyl Alcohol, J Cellular Biochem 1996;26S:137-48.
7. Crowell PL, et al. Antitumor effects of limonene and perillyl alcohol against pancreatic and breast cancer. In: American Institute for Cancer Research. Dietary Phytochemicals in Cancer Prevention and Treatment. New York: Plenum Press;1996.
8. Vigushin DM, et al. Phase I and pharmacokinetic study of d-limonene in patients with advanced cancer. Cancer Research Campaign Phase I/II Clinical Trials Committee. Cancer Chemother & Pharmacol 1998;42:111-17.
9. Ziegler J. Raloxifen, retinoids and lavender: "me too" tamoxifen alternatives under study. J Natl Canc Inst 1996;88:1100-1.
10. Stark MJ, et al. Chemotherapy of pancreatic cancer with the monoterpene perillyl alcohol. Cancer Letters 1995; 96:15-21.

Originally printed April 1999 Nutrition Science News

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What's Coming up this March?

 Hyssop is coming up nicely. I'll use some for respiratory health and some gets sold to make absinth.

 Crocuses are a true sign of spring. I need to plant more of them.
 Mullein is coming up; too much, it needs pulling.
Salad Burnett always reseeds well for me. I need to think of more uses for this herb.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Benefits of Traditional Medicine or Complimentary Medicine

While enrolled in a Public Health class several years back I thought alot about the responsibility of Public Health officials in promoting traditional medicine. This still weighs on my mind so I thought I'd introduce it here. First are definitions, many people get confused about the term 'traditional medicine' and use it instead to describe 'modern medicine' or allopathy.

Traditional Medicine (TM) refers to health traditions that are used by indigenous cultures of the world, including but not limited to herbs, spiritual practices/ritual, guided by local wisdom.We know that hundreds of modern drugs have been extracted from plants that were introduced into medicine from TM.

Indigenous peoples refers to peoples living in countries with populations composed of different ethnic or racial groups who are descendants of the earliest populations which survive in the area. They do not, as a group, control the national government of the countries in which they live

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) are methods used outside the biomedical mainstream, particularly in industrialized countries, often these are adaptations of TM

TM/CAM is found particularly useful in health promotion, prevention, mental health, improving quality of life and in diseases of the aging. 

Much of  TM was outlawed during colonialism in the US and replaced with allopathy or Western medicine. Allopathy or conventional medicine has done much to destroy the reputation of TM as well. Since independence, many nations are reevaluating the use of TM.

In some 3rd world countries TM is many peoples only medicine, while in the US many people use TM/CAM along side allopathic medicine.

What are the Benefits of TM/CAM?
1.Primarily it is affordable and accessible to all people, especially in 3rd world countries where people travel far to clinics and do not have money for care.
A study in Peru found that CAM cost effectiveness was 53-63% higher than allopathy over one year for treating selected pathologies (osteoarthritis, asthma, anxiety, migraines, peptic acid disease, exogenous obesity)
2. It is safe and effective for many conditions; proven by history, although more research needs to be done to determine best treatments. 
3. It respects culture and heritage of a region. Cultural competency is an important leadership skill in Public Health.
4. I promotes a Holistic approach which treats the whole person rather than the symptoms.
5. It makes it financially possibility to provide total health care coverage for a world population.

The WHO has taken an interest in TM and as part of its Essential Drugs and Medicines Policy and plans to:
·         Facilitate integration of TM/CAM into national health care systems.
·         Produce guidelines for TM/CAM to keep it affordable and accessible.
·         Stimulates strategic research into TM/CAM to create a stronger evidence base.
·         Advocate rational use of TM/CAM to create awareness about safe and effective therapies.
·         Manage information on TM/CAM to share information between countries.

For many countries medicine means either TM or no medicine. By protecting and building on the knowledge base of TM Public Health officials may be better equipped to treat more people successfully and respectfully.

Bodeker G. & Kronenberg, F., A public health agenda for traditional, complementary and alternative medicine. American Journal of PublicHealth. October 2002; 92:1582-1591.
Bodeker, G. Lessons on integration from the developing world’s experience. BMJ 2001, 322:164-167.
World Health Organization, Fact sheet N134, Revised May 2003
Legal Status of Traditional Medicine and Complementary/Alternative Medicine: A Worldwide Review
Richter, Rowena K.; Herbal Medicine, Chaos in the Marketplace. Haworth Press Inc. 2003.
WHO Traditional Medicines Strategy 2002-2005, January 2002.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Fire Cider Day 2014

Fire Cider Vinegar

Fire Cider is a generic name for a concoction I typically make at the end of the summer. It contains all the good herbs to help deal with winter illnesses. Probably the name was first coined by Rosemary Gladstar in her books, but the concept is as old as time and most herbalist make some sort of version of fire cider. 

I typically make it from sage, thyme, and oregano from the garden and then add lots of garlic, hot pepper, horseradish and sometimes ginger. I don’t usually make it in the winter, but since today has been declared national Fire Cider Day I’ll make some from what I can find. I have garlic, shallots, horseradish, and ginger from the store. To that I will add some dried oregano, horehound and sage from the summer as well some dried hot peppers we keep on hand.

Many people will add enough honey to make it drinkable. I typically add just a tad of honey and use the fire cider mixed with olive oil on salads. I have a little bit of thyme infused honey that I will scrape out and put in this. One of the great things about herbalism is that many herbs have overlapping properties. If you don't like a particular herb, there is probably another one that can do the job. That is why I am not giving you a particular recipe here. If you want to make fire cider, use similar ingredients that you like or that are easy for you  to find.  Also, don't let the metal lid of the jar come in contact with the vinegar, use plastic or wax paper under the lid to prevent direct contact.

I'll let this set for 2-3 weeks before using it and then use it mostly on salads, but also a few tablespoons straight if I feel a cold coming on. You can dilute in water or tea if its too strong. It can even help clear sinuses by smelling.  The vinegar acts as a natural preservative so it should last several months; however, do keep an eye for mold that may grow.

Fire Cider has gotten a lot of attention recently because the term has been trademarked by a company that is marketing a product they have named Fire Cider. Most herbalists, myself included, believe that because Fire Cider is a generic term for a medicinal vinegar made with herbs, garlic etc. that it should not be trademarked. Surely this company can come up with a more original name for their medicinal cider than Fire Cider. A quick Google search shows that many herbalists make and market a product they call Fire Cider so I don’t know how they were legally able to trademark this term.

If you are interested in learning more about Fire Cider there are many blogs you can read. I suggest
Onion, shallot, garlic, ginger and horseradish from the store.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that results in reddening of the skin on the face, particularly on the cheeks, nose chin or forehead. Its not clear what the cause of rosacea is but there is probably a hereditary component since it is experienced mostly by fair skinned people of Celtic descent. Rosacea is usually diagnosed after the age of 30. It also occurs more in women than men, but comedian W.C. Fields was probably Rosacea’s most famous victim with his recognizable red nose. Some types of rosacea can produce small pus filled pustules like acne. More severe cases can lead to a thickening of the skin especially that of the nose.

Signs of rosacea include flushing, persistent redness, bumps and pimples and visible blood capillaries. Rosacea can also cause eye irritation, burning or stinging of the skin, dry skin, swelling or edema. The redness in rosacea occurs from enlarged and broken capillaries on the face. Normal skin will ‘flush’ giving the cheeks a pink blush, but in rosacea this response is hyperactive and often the capillaries themselves are visible.

The flushing or redness can be triggered by a number of things. The National Rosacea Society says the majority of victims report the following as triggers for rosacea symptoms:
Sun exposure
           Emotional stress
           Alcohol consumption
           Hot baths
           Cold weather
           Spicy foods.

By noting what triggers your rosacea you can learn to decrease the symptoms to a certain degree. Learning stress reduction techniques is also useful.

How to calm rosacea?
There is no cure for rosacea, but there are things to help control it. Stay away from skin irritants. Many acne products can be irritating to the skin such as salicylic acid, tea tree oil and alcohol.  Other ingredients to avoid include glycolic acid often found in peels or antiaging creams. Test a new cosmetic on your neck before using it on your face. Its important to use calming products that have antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Green tea has been used in several studies and has been found to reduce the redness of rosacea.

When washing your face use gentle surfactants and don’t use abrasives for exfoliation. Use a gentle milky or creamy cleanser. Rinse with lukewarm water, not hot or cold. Stinging is more likely to occur on damp skin, so wait a few minutes after cleansing before applying moisturizer or makeup to the skin.

A moisturizer is a must to help with burning, itching and irritation associated with rosacea.
Using a sunscreen is important since sun exposure is the number one trigger reported by rosacea patients. More importantly, stay out of the sun or use a wide brimmed hat during the middle of the day.
For more information see

For a moisturizer we recommend Springtide Antiaging Face Cream from Colorado Aromatics. It contains green tea extract, calendula and botanical oils.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend Hikes - Hall Ranch and Rabbit Mountain

Hall Ranch west of Lyons

Along with eating too much on Thanksgiving comes doing exercise. During the summer I am doing a farmer's market most weekends so I haven’t gotten out for hikes as much as I’d like to. Thankfully this weekend provided us with warm and sunny fall weather which allowed for some hiking. A lot of people had the same idea about getting out after Thanksgiving to enjoy the nice weather and get some exercise.

Since the September floods the roads west of us that go into the mountains have been closed and just recently opened with temporary fixes. Friday we drove through Lyons to Hall Ranch Park. Lyons is still cleaning up debris from the flood and doing repairs, so the roads are full of dump trucks and cones.  Hall Ranch is a great hike that goes through hilly grasslands and up into pine and juniper forest. The views are wide open and include the cliffs that rise above the St. Vrain River. It's a mixed use trail so there were hikers, bikers and horses. The cool fall weather doesn't tend to carry aromas as much as the warm breezes of summer, but the aromatic grasses and pines were detectable.

View of Longs and Meeker Peaks from Rabbit Mountain

Sunlight on the grasses at Rabbit Mountain
On Saturday, I did a limited amount of work and of course went out shopping for small business Saturday. But that still left time for another hike.  This time it was to Rabbit Mountain, east of Lyons so very close to us. We are lucky to have this open space so close and often go there. I like having a hike I can do regularly and observe the changes during the seasons. I typically hike Overlook Trail, but this time we took Eagle Wind Trail. This again goes mostly through hilly grasslands and then Ponderosa pines which give the area a pleasant aroma. The trail is mostly rocky so I have to pay close attention to where I place my feet, but several places were nice and sandy. Most of the trail allows very panoramic views of the Mountains on one side and the great plains on the other side.

For me getting out for a hike is a great way to relax and focus on something other than work. I hope to enjoy a few more hikes over the winter, but if it snows I'll be sure to enjoy cross country skiing.


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