Recent Scientific Research on Herbs & Spices: Health Benefits
The scientific results on these natural ingredients are very exciting and are opening up potentially more areas and therapies for their use in chronic disease. A significant amount of the results are demonstrating that the traditional medicinal practitioners, of thousands of years ago, were onto something!
Neem (Azadirachta indica)
Its leaves have been found to possess immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. A study by Mahapatra et al, was conducted to evaluate the anti-angiogenic ( growth of new blood vessels) potential of Neem in human endothelial cells . Treatment with Neem inhibited angiogenic response in vitro and in vivo.
Results suggest that Neem extract, by regulating the genes involved in cellular development and cell death functions, could control cell proliferation and could be an effective treatment could have a potential therapeutic role during cancer progression.
Green Tea (Camellia sinensis)
Work by Chen et al demonstrated the activation of AMPK (a biochemical in the body which controls processes related to tumor development amongst others) by Green Tea catechins (EGCG) which resulted in inhibition of cell proliferation and suppression of stem cell population in human breast cancer cells. Findings suggest that novel potent and specific AMPK activators can be discovered from sources like Green Tea that have potential to be used for anti-cancer therapy.
Hypercholesterolaemia (High cholesterol) is one of the risk factors for atherosclerosis and subsequent cardiovascular disease. Luo et al, investigated the effects of dietary supplementation with Ilex latifolia or green tea (Camellia sinensis) on the levels of plasma total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and circulating immune complexes in an animal model. Results suggest that Green Tea could be used to protect against the development of hypercholesterolaemia.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Zhang et al, showed that a ginger component, zerumbone, was able to induce apoptosis of pancreatic carcinoma cell lines, indicating to be a promising treatment for pancreatic cancer.
Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza spp.)
Results from a study by Hwang and Chun provide the first evidence that liquorice components can protect nerve and brain cells under oxidative stress conditions by regulating the apoptotic process and thus suggesting some protection against Parkinson’s disease.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Findings by Kim et al, indicate that Fennel may have potential in preventing bone loss in postmenopausal osteoporosis by reducing both osteoclast differentiation and function.