Traditional holiday mistletoe has a relative that packs more than just a big smooch. Studies indicate that the European mistletoe may actually be a viable cancer fighter. As a common plant in Great Britain, mainland Europe and even Western Asia, the twigs and leaves have been used for centuries as an herbal remedy for common ailments in the body. However, the real potential lies in what’s inside the plant. The extract from the semiparasitic plant has been used in multiple studies. Findings concluded that the extract has shown the ability to kill cancer cells. However, studies have not yet proven that the extract can help the human body fight cancer. Studies performed in Europe in 2009 were only performed on animals and in test tubes. That said, the results were very positive. Researchers agreed that the extract could effectively increase survival rates of cancer patients by reducing tumor growth as well as bolstering the immune system. These findings have Europeans using the extract in cancer therapy injections, mainly under the skin. The injections are also sometimes placed into veins or into the tumors themselves. These treatments are used to combat symptoms from malignant tumors in order to improve the quality of life of patients. Encouragingly, these injections have shown few negative side effects. In the United States, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve the mistletoe extract for any medical conditions. Furthermore, it does not allow the import of injectable mistletoe to be imported, sold, or used for anything other than research purposes. It is clear that European mistletoe has proven to provide many benefits to cancer patients, including combating side effects of chemotherapy, decreasing fatigue, and raising morale. But can it actually cure cancer in humans? The answer right now is no. Many human studies have been conducted since the 1960s, but no substantial evidence has been found. However, the findings do provide some hope that the European Mistletoe may someday be the answer. So stay tuned! By Pat DeRiso Sources: healthline.com, cancer.gov
[caption id="attachment_336" align="alignright" width="300"] Arthritis can be traced back to prehistoric times.[/caption] Arthritis has been known to mankind since ancient times. It can even be traced back to prehistoric man and dinosaurs! In a book by Bruce M. Rothschild, “The Complete Dinosaur”, some forms of arthritis affected dinosaurs, specifically gout. A detailed examination of the bones of a Tyrannosaurus Rex showed the distinctive holes found in the bones of gout patients. On the Internet today, you can find many different natural treatments for arthritis. Read on to find out how different cultures around the world treat arthritis, with some emerging theories on why ancient remedies can work for modern day joint pain. 5 Arthritis Treatments from Around the World Western Medicine View Arthritis is a degenerative condition that affects the joints. The term comes from the Greek word “arthron” which means “joint,” and “itis” which means “inflammation”. In western cultures we consider arthritis to be an inflammatory condition of one or more joints. Although there are several types of arthritis, the main conditions we refer to are rheumatoid arthritis, considered an autoimmune condition, and osteoarthritis, often called wear-and-tear arthritis because it occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of bones wears down over time. In western medicine, prescription and over-the-counter medicines are prescribed to reduce pain. Other treatments may include physical therapy, and in more extreme cases, surgery. 1. The Chinese address blockages [caption id="attachment_337" align="alignright" width="300"] Chinese medicine uses herbs to address blockages.[/caption] In Chinese medicine, the theory is that the body's essential energy (Qi) flows along channels called meridians. These meridians are like rivers that irrigate the body and nourish the tissues. Any obstruction along one of the meridians is like a dam that blocks the vital energy flow, creating pain and disease. Arthritis is referred to as blockage that affects the bones, blood vessels, tendons, or muscles. The aim of Chinese arthritis treatment is to unblock the system, and regulate the immune system. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses herbs to address the blockages, along with ointments, plasters and oils. For pain relief, acupuncture is used on specific points along the meridians to help unblock the blocked energy channels. The goal is to stimulate some of the more than 2,000 points on the body. Sometimes heat, pressure, friction, suction, or electrical impulses are used along with the acupuncture needles. 2. The British use sweets In Britain, where cold, damp climates usually aggravate arthritis pain, the British, swear by crude blackstrap molasses dissolved in water. They claim it eases and even eliminates joint pain when they take it every morning. Molasses is an excellent source of minerals, including copper and manganese, and a very good source of potassium, magnesium and iron. “Copper is essential for the function of a number of antioxidant enzymes, including powerful superoxide dismutase (SOD). It is also involved in vitamin C metabolism and the synthesis of collagen, a structural protein in bones and joints. Lack of copper reduces activity of SOD and may contribute to the development of inflammatory diseases” says Dr. Sarah Brewer, Health Advice, The Telegraph. In Britain they use two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses to sweeten their tea or coffee. This supplies 14.0% of the daily recommended value for copper. 3. Europeans use venom: [caption id="attachment_338" align="alignright" width="300"] Bee stings were used for centuries by ancient Europeans to cure rheumatism, arthritis, and gout.[/caption] This 2000 year-old arthritis therapy may sound like more of a punishment than a treatment, but it was used by Hippocrates. Bee stings were used for centuries by ancient Europeans, and were considered to be the leading cure for rheumatism, arthritis, and gout. More recently, scientists in Switzerland, France, Germany, and Great Britain use injections of bee venom, either with a hypodermic needle or a live bee! The theory is that bee venom stimulates the immune system to better protect you. Some people in Russia use a homemade salve containing viper venom, similar to bee venom, to ease arthritis aches and other pains. Now, Israeli researchers at the Shulov Institute for Sciences have extracted the viper venom and isolated the pain-relieving peptide in the poison. They have created a synthetic version without the dangerous toxins in the venom. This potential treatment is under investigation to confirm its safety and effectiveness. 4. South African’s use desert devils [caption id="attachment_339" align="alignright" width="300"] Africa native tribes have treated arthritis pain with Devil's Claw.[/caption] Devil's-claw is a cure that sounds ominous! It comes from the Kalahari Desert of South Africa where, for at least 250 years, native tribes of this region have treated arthritis pain with a large claw-like fruit. People from these tribes brew a tea from the extract of the root, or use a dry, powdered form. Recently, scientists support the healing properties of devil's-claw. Studies in France and Germany found that devil's-claw relieves pain in a way that is similar to cortisone. The root has active ingredients that act as anti-inflammatory agents. Using the whole plant works even better because it contains additional compounds, such as flavonoids, that enhance the anti-inflammatory effect. You can get devil's-claw tea and other formulations at many health food stores and online. http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/DevilsClaw.htm 5. Americans use gin-soaked raisins: [caption id="attachment_340" align="alignright" width="300"] The gin-soaked raisin remedy became a fad in the United States in the 1990s.[/caption] The gin-soaked raisin remedy became a fad in the United States in the 1990s where people began to eat a prescribed number of the gin-infused raisins daily to combat arthritis. This remedy may have its roots in England in the middle ages, when clusters of juniper berries, a gin ingredient, were used to counter the stench of death from bubonic plague. While there are no rigorous studies supporting this treatment, thousands, if not millions of people around the world claim they received incredible relief from their joint pain, often in only a few weeks. Many people state they have used this method successfully for years. Some people believe it's the raisins themselves, which contain the antioxidant resveratrol. Others believe it's the gin, since most gin is made from juniper berries, which contain many healthy anti-inflammatory ingredients. As with every natural remedy floating around, it's not guaranteed to work for everyone. Some people enjoy the fact that it's natural and most likely won't affect any other medications. However, there is a very small amount of alcohol in the raisins which may not be safe if you take medications. Check with your health provider before trying this or any other new remedy.
Look in your kitchen cupboard, your fridge, or even outside on your lawn. You’ll find plants, herbs, and spices with healing properties. Throughout the ages, people in every culture have taken herbs to stay healthy and heal ailments, in the same way we sip mint tea to aid digestion, or garlic to ward off colds today. In Hippocrates’ time, herbs were the official medicines. Herbs have vital nutrients and many are antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial. Today many of the pharmaceutical drugs we use have their origins in natural plants, and we can still take advantage of these natural forms of medicine without a doctor’s prescription. (Note: Some herbs interfere with some medications, and not all herbs are good for everyone. Please consult a qualified health practitioner before adding herbs to your health regimen. This article is not meant to be a prescription, but is for informational purposes only. ) 1. Willow Bark White willow bark dates back thousands of years, to the time of Hippocrates when patients were advised to chew on the bark to reduce fever and inflammation. White willow bark contains salicin, a chemical similar to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) and in the 1800s, salicin was used to develop aspirin. Combined with the herb's powerful anti-inflammatory plant compounds called flavonoids, salicin is thought to be responsible for the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects of the herb. The University of Maryland Medical center reports that “willow bark shows promise in relieving osteoarthritis-related joint pain, particularly in the knees, back, hips, and neck. Several studies show that willow is more effective at reducing pain from osteoarthritis than placebo.” You can take white willow bark in tea or in tablet form. 2. Cayenne pepper Open your cupboard, and you may find a spice that you can eat or apply locally to reduce joint pain. Spicy-hot cayenne contains the active ingredient capsaicin, the substance that makes chili peppers hot. When you apply it to your skin, it tricks your brain by mildly irritating your skin along the nerve pathways where pain signals travel. This distracts your brain from the true source of pain. In a University of Oxford study, nearly 40 percent of arthritis patients reduced their pain by half after using a topical capsaicin cream for a month, and 60 percent of neuropathy patients achieved the same results after 2 months. You can also find ready-made ointments in health food stores and drug stores. To make your own topical homemade remedy, mix 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper with 1/2 cup of cocoa butter or coconut oil. Apply it directly to the sore joint. When you use it regularly, this mixture should reduce arthritis pain. However, it can cause skin irritation, so don’t overdo it. 3. Stinging nettles A traditional treatment, stinging nettles is an herbal tonic with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. It stimulates circulation and gets the blood flowing to the extremities. Components in nettle’s leaves are thought to enhance the response of the immune system, and also contain biologically active compounds that reduce inflammation. These effects make nettles a good tea for reducing joint pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and rheumatism. You can make a tea from the dried herb or the fresh leaves, and drink it hot or cold. You can also soak a compress in the cold tea to apply to painful joints. 4. Boswellia Boswellia has been used for centuries in Asia and Africa to treat inflammation and pain. Today it is praised by alternative health practitioners for its anti-inflammatory properties. Also known as Indian Frankincense, this herbal extract from the boswellia serrate tree is thought to work by blocking leukotrienes, which are substances that can attack healthy joints in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Available in tablets or topical creams, this herbal remedy may be useful in treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Check with your doctor first, especially if you are taking other pain medications to treat inflammation, as it may interact with or decrease the effects of other medications. 5. Turmeric When you eat Indian food, you’re eating one of nature’s most potent healers, curcumin. Turmeric is a yellow-orange powder used in cooking to make curry. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, and has been used in China and India for thousands of years as both a food and a medicine. Now modern research is showing turmeric to be one of nature's most powerful healers. Methodist Research Institute in Indianapolis reports a “significant anti-inflammatory action. Curcumin eases inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis”. You can buy curcumin inexpensively as a cooking spice and add it to almost any cooked food such as vegetables and meats, and even to salad dressing. To get the optimal effects for joint pain, it’s best to get it from a supplement. 6. Ginger Ginger warms and comforts your body, and increases blood flow to cleanse toxins and promote healing. Ginger is a staple in many alternative medicine cabinets because the compounds that give ginger its strong flavor are also the ones with anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger has a good reputation as a remedy for arthritis, rheumatism, and osteoporosis. In one study, Indian researchers gave three to seven grams of ginger a day to 18 people with osteoarthritis and 28 people with rheumatoid arthritis. More than 75 percent of those participating in the study reported at least some relief from pain and swelling. Get creative to enjoy ginger’s spicy flavor. You can grate fresh ginger into stir fries, steep ginger to make tea, and add it to salad dressings, smoothies and baking. You can also make a compress from cold ginger tea to apply to arthritic joints. 7. Arnica Arnica (Arnica montana) is a traditional homeopathic remedy with natural anti-inflammatory properties. This herb has been used for medicinal purposes since the 1500s and is still popular today. It is commonly applied to the skin, to soothe muscle aches and reduce inflammation, especially for injuries such as sprains and bruises. You can buy it as a cream, ointment, or salve to apply to your skin. Don’t take it orally, except as a Homeopathic remedy where you take it as pellets under the tongue, because it can cause serious side effects. 8. Licorice Licorice is a natural steroid, which means it reduces inflammation without the side effects of steroid drugs. It does this by decreasing free radicals at the site of inflammation and inhibiting the production of an enzyme involved in creating inflammation. This helps ease pain and the frequency of arthritis flare-ups. You can drink licorice in a tea, take it in a tincture, or use it in supplement form. Licorice is not for everyone. If you have high blood pressure, avoid this herb altogether. Note: Check with your health practitioner before you take any herb or supplement.