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Natural Ingredients and Cancer

February 13, 2012

The potential for natural ingredients – particularly the polyphenolics found in plants – is well documented in the scientific literature (pubmed).  The Ayurvedic doctors had observed for many hundreds of years that the herbs and spices found naturally had positive effects on health and slowly modern science is also demonstrating that natural compounds found in plants can have a positive effect on chronic illnesses such as cancer.  In this article we review key InnOrbit natural ingredients and how they can positively influence cancer.

..for too long the modern approach has been looking too close at the location of the cancer and a systematic or holistic approach is required.. InnOrbit Notes on Cancer

We have divided the ingredients into three areas:

  1. The link between cancer and obesity – and therefore ingredients that are implicated in weight control;
  2. Inflammation is directly linked with cancer levels so we have included ingredients that are anti-inflammatory;
  3. Ingredients that have a direct inhibitory effect on cancer development.

Link of Obesity with Cancer

Several possible mechanisms have been suggested to explain the association of obesity with increased risk of certain cancers:

  • Fat tissue produces excess amounts of oestrogen, high levels of which have been associated with the risk of breast, endometrial, and some other cancers.
  • Obese people often have increased levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in their blood (a condition known as hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance), which may promote the development of certain tumors.
  • Fat cells produce hormones, called adipokines, that may stimulate or inhibit cell growth.  For example, leptin, which is more abundant in obese people, seems to promote cell proliferation, whereas adiponectin, which is less abundant in obese people, may have antiproliferative effects.
  • Fat cells may also have direct and indirect effects on other tumor growth regulators.
  • Obese people often have chronic low-level, or “subacute,” inflammation, which has been associated with increased cancer risk.
InnOrbit ingredients have previously been reported on in this website and several have implications on obesity and could be used as part of a complimentary therapy to control weight and cancer.
Results of clinical studies have demonstrated that Caralluma can reduce hunger levels, and reduce weight & fat.  Supporting research has also concluded that Caralluma possesses anti-obesogenic and anti-atherosclerotic properties.



The natural ingredient Garcinia is more famous for its ability to control weight and even weight loss.  However, Garcinia has also been gathering attention in other health related areas and results suggest that it can help with beating cancer amongst other chronic conditions. Research by Wang et al  provides an insight into the cellular and molecular mechanisms through which a Garcinia component, Neogambogic acid, can impair the proliferation of breast cancer cells.  Researchers at the University of Florida suggest that hydroxycitric acid (HCA) derived from Garcinia (a key InnOrbit ingredient) could be a potential candidate to safely reduce food intake, body weight, and oxidative stress levels.


  • Inflammation: Recent data have expanded the concept that inflammation is a critical component of tumour progression. Many cancers arise from sites of infection, chronic irritation and inflammation. It is now becoming clear that the tumour microenvironment is largely orchestrated by inflammatory cells.
In the Journal of Medicinal Food,  Chen et al elucidated the effects of Amla induced injury by evaluating reactive oxygen species (ROS) responses in the liver and bile.  Amla was shown to be more effective than vitamin C in scavenging O₂⁻·, hydrogen peroxide, and nitric oxide.  They suggest that Amla counteracts N-nitrosodiethylamine-induced liver injury via its antioxidant, anti-inflammation, anti-apoptosis, and anti-autophagy properties.
Ginger has also been implicated in anti-inflammatory functionality.
Studies on Liquorice have show how certain compounds in Liquorice could be effective in reducing tumour growth.
COX-2 promotes colon cancer.  Selective COX-2 inhibitors can therefore reduce disease but their side effects limit their therapeutic use.  Researchers showed that licorice root could inhibit COX-2 activity, tumor growth, and metastasis.
Tulsi (Holy Basil)

Holy Basil has been studied and has been shown to be a COX-II anti-inflammatory agent and an antioxidant.

Wild Mint
Wild mint has also been shown to be a strong antioxidant and have anti-inflammatory functionality.

Direct Effects on Cancer


Cardamom research suggests that it can inhibit, slow or reverse cancer development and progression and studies found that it has some protective effects.  Apoptosis — programmed cell death — was increased in response to supplementation with cardamom. Additionally, cardamom seems to have anti-inflammatory effects, as observed by the inhibition of cyclooxygenase 2, also known as COX2 — a pro-inflammatory enzyme.

Investigators at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington (Acharya et al) have investigated cardamom (a key ingredient in InnOrbit functional drinks) and its chemo-preventive properties against carcinogenesis.

… limonene and cineole demonstrate promising effects against carcinogenesis.  Thus studies with selected phytochemicals of cardamom and bioavailability research might lead to many medical applications. This review is focused on the patents generated on the effects of indole-3-carbinol and diindolylmethane two constituents of Cardamom and other selected phytochemicals of cardamom on carcinogenesis.


The compounds found in cinnamon have various biological functions including anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammation, anti-diabetic and anti-tumor activity.  Researchers found that cinnamon extracts have anti-cancer effect (associated with modulation of angiogenesis and effector function of CD8T cells).  In this study, they identified the anti-tumor effect of cinnamon extracts and a link with enhanced pro-apoptotic activity by inhibiting the activities NFκB and AP1 in animal melanoma model.

A recent study reports the positive effects of green tea and ginger polyphenolic extracts on cancer cells indicating their promising chemo-preventive effect against lung cancer.
Green Tea
Research on Green Tea and its positive medical effects has been reported extensively on this website. Scientists have recently indicated that EGCG found in green tea can suppress the occurrence of colonic pre-neoplastic lesions (a lesion that precedes the formation of a benign or malignant cancer) and could be a novel strategy for the chemoprevention of colon cancer.
Researchers have indicated that Hibiscus anthocyanins  induced apoptotic cell death in human leukemia cells.
Researchers have shown (in an animal model) that lemongrass has inhibitory effects on early phase hepatocarcinogenesis (liver cancer).
The anticancer properties of Neem have been studied in terms of its preventive, protective, tumor-suppressive, immunomodulatory and apoptotic effects against various types of cancer and their molecular mechanisms.  This article reviews the evidence.
Herbalist and folk practitioners have used plant remedies for centuries, but only recently have scientist begun to study the powers of common herbs and spices. In the current set-up, the anti-proliferative, anti-hypercholesterolemic, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory effects of spices have overriding importance, as the key health concern of mankind nowadays is diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, arthritis and cancer.  Spices or their active compounds could be used as possible ameliorative or preventive agents for these health disorders”  Indian spices for healthy heart – an overview.

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