Santa Barbara Wellness Directory

Cancer and Ayurveda, Part 1: Prevention

by Claudia Ward, L.Ac, Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist

Part 1: Prevention:
Cancer has become an epidemic these days. Cancer at one time was not prevalent in North America and used to be a disease of old age, but now afflicts almost one in two adults. Anyone can get it – any age, any occupation, any personality, the rich, the poor, the fit and the unfit. Kind, loving people seem to get it almost as much as mean people. Animals get it and even young children. Western medicine does not have much to offer in terms of prevention apart from preventative mastectomies (!!) and questionable cervical cancer vaccines (vaccines pose dangers for the immune system).
Once a cancer diagnosis is established modern medicine pulls out the heavy machinery:
Chemotherapy, radiation, surgery. Those treatments are quite violent and invasive, and I suspect that sometimes the treatment can kill the patient faster than the cancer would. The symptoms are attacked at the surface, not at the root. When everything fails, a person might then turn to alternative medicine; however, by then it is often too late.

A Natural Preventative Approach
Ayurveda believes that whenever the body is not in harmony with the natural laws of life, a build-up of ama (toxins) and an imbalance of Vata, Pitta and Kapha is created, which can lead to diseases such as cancer.
Cancer prevention is targeted towards creating balance and harmony through diet, lifestyle, herbs, meditation, pranayama, yoga and cleansing the body of its toxic load through an Ayurvedic cleansing program called Panchakarma.

Ayurvedic Guidelines for Cancer Prevention:

* Consume plenty of foods full of prana (life-force) whole, fresh, sun-ripened, enzyme-rich, alkalizing, organic and mostly plant based. * Avoid processed foods, refined flour products, hydrogenated fats, fast food, excessive low-quality meat and dairy, micro-waved food and leftovers.
* Eat low glycemic foods that have a low sugar content. (Tumor cells love sugar)
* Eat dark green leafy vegetables, especially those that are in the cabbage family such as kale and collards.
* Do regular rejuvenation and purification practices such as regular Panchakarma. Discover your unique body-mind constitution and use herbs, spices and foods according to your unique individual needs.
* Do the Abhyanga (Ayurvedic self-massage) every morning, which will stimulate the lymphatic system to eliminate toxins.

Spices for Cancer Prevention
Spices not only lend irresistible aromas and flavors to dishes, but have potent cancer-fighting properties.
Here is a recipe for a delicious tri-doshic (does not aggravate Vata, Pitta or Kapha) spice-mix that has potent cancer-fighting components:

Grind in coffee grinder or spice grinder: 3 parts coriander seeds, 3 parts fennel seeds, 1 part black pepper, 1 part cumin seeds. Add 1 tablespoon of turmeric. Store in an airtight jar. Saute´ briefly in ghee or olive oil then add to vegetables, meat or rice dishes. When eating out, bring a small jar of your spice mix and sprinkle it on food.

A few Examples of Powerful Cancer-fighting Spices:

Turmeric
Curcumin, the compound that gives turmeric its yellow color, is said to inhibit tumor-promoting enzymes and interfere with the growth of cancerous tumors. As a powerful antioxidant, curcumin neutralizes free radicals that increase the risk of cancer or heart disease.

Rosemary
Rosemary has potent cancer-fighting properties by blocking carcinogen-binding to DNA, and modifying metabolic enzymes to decrease the toxicity of a carcinogen. Since whole rosemary seems to be more beneficial than its isolated compounds, the addition of fresh rosemary to one’s diet may have more benefit than taking it as a supplement.

Ginger
Eat a little ginger with each meal, and your risk of developing cancer drops significantly. Ginger not only kills cancer cells, it also prevents them from building up resistance to cancer treatment.

Coriander
Coriander seeds are the most cooling of all the spices that significantly improve digestion and are a good choice for people high in Pitta.
Coriander, rich in coriandrol, helps combat breast and liver cancers. Fresh coriander is known as cilantro, and is particularly powerful in detoxifying the body of heavy metals, such as lead or mercury.

Fenugreek
In recent research, fenugreek seeds were experimentally shown to protect against cancers of the breast and prostrate cancer. A naturopathic doctor from Germany told me that fresh fenugreek is particularly beneficial for individuals with bone cancer. Both the seeds and the fresh leaves are good for blood sugar and fat metabolism, prevent hair loss and are beneficial for the bones.
Here is a recipe that is especially good for preventing and fighting cancer:

Cabbage and Methi Leaf (Fenugreek)
Effect: Detoxifying and cleansing

2 cups cleaned and chopped green cabbage
1 cup fresh cleaned fenugreek leaves (spinach if fenugreek not available)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 teaspoons pancha phoran (Indian 5 spice, available at Indian markets)
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
fresh lime juice to taste
Warm the olive oil in a pot on medium heat. Add pancha phoran and turmeric. Heat for a few seconds to bring out the potency of the spices. Add the cabbage. Mix in the methi leaves. Add some salt and water to keep from burning. Lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with some lime juice.

Ayurvedic Herbs for Cancer Prevention
There are many Ayurvedic herbs that have anti-carinogenic properties, such as amla, ashwaganda, triphala, guduchi, holy basil, neem, shatavari, gotu kola and brahmi. Consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner who will put you on a diet and herb program that is designed for your individual constitution.

An Apple a Day…….
Have a stewed apple first thing in the morning. Apples have more pectin than any other fruit. They are high in flavanoids and quercetin, the combination of which makes them exceptional cancer-fighters. They have an impressive ORAC value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Value), which means they render potentially cancer-causing free radicals
harmless. The trick is to start the day with a stewed apple. Stewing the apple will enhance the absorption of all the potent nutrients. Sip a cup of warm water with it. This is the best way to start your digestion in the morning by enhancing agni (digestive fire). Here is the recipe:

Stewed Apple
1 serving

1 apple cored and diced (make sure it is organic, then you don’t have to peel it)
1 cup water
2 cloves
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
juice of one half lemon
a little bit of sucanat or agave nectar

Mix apples, water, clove and ginger in a pot. Cook for 10 minutes.
Add lemon juice and sucanat or agave nectar. Discard cloves.
Enjoy!

Cancer is a sign that our internal environment is out of balance. Prevention is the key. The time has come to give more energy to preventative measures and educating people on ways to live healthier lives. The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda that can easily be applied by everyone, enhances the health and immunity in such a way that cancer does not even have a chance!

Read: Cancer & Ayurveda - Part 2: Treatment

About the Author

Licensed Acupuncturist and Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist in Santa Barbara, CA - Claudia Ward, L.Ac, Dipl. C.H., CASClaudia Ward, L.Ac, Dipl. C.H., CAS
is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist in Santa Barbara, CA.

She specializes in nutrition based on the principles of Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and Western medical research.

Claudia combines acupuncture, therapeutic massage, cupping, Ayurvedic therapies, reflexology, essential oils, and herbal recommendations in her work.

Claudia's Acupuncture page in The Wellness Directory

Read the article "Oh Baby! Prenatal and Postpartum the Ayurvedic Way"
- by Gina Tolleson, Santa Barbara News-Press, July 31, 2006



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