Ask The Pharmacist: 4 powerful medicinal herbs for breast cancer
There’s no time like the present to begin the changes necessary for better breast health. The take-home message today is that you can change the way you break down estrogen in your own body. You have direct control over it and that’s important because estrogen break down is different for everyone.
Let’s start with the basics. When you say the word “estrogen” that’s actually three compounds: Estradiol, Estrone and Estriol. Of the three, estradiol is most strongly associated with causing cancer than the other two.
Men and women both make estrogen. It’s the breakdown product from testosterone actually. If you have low testosterone, you’ll have low estrogen too.
Your body breaks down estrogen into metabolites and some of those are more likely to cause cancer than others. Like I said, you can change the way that your body breaks down the circulating estrogen. So right now, I’m going to give valuable information about how to manufacture your own healthy estrogen metabolites and make it such that you break it down into forms that are less likely to cause cancer. If you are currently undergoing chemotherapy, ask your doctor if these are right for you:
- Rosemary: I recommend this either as fresh herb from your grocery store. Cook with it, and make tea with it. Rosemary is a powerful antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory effects similar to a COX 2 inhibitor drug. Rosemary has anti-microbial and direct benefit for breast and prostate health. It has anti-tumor benefits. It works by helping you break down estrogen into the safer anti-cancer metabolites.
- Broccoli: It’s impossible to eat four pounds of broccoli every day so take the supplement called I3C or DIM. It helps to balance estrogen levels in the body, and appears to have anti-cancer effects particularly for the breast and prostate. Too much crash your thyroid levels due to the goitrogenic effect.
- Flax seed: This is kind of like plant-based estrogen (termed phytoestrogens) which kicks off dangerous estrogens from your cells. Men with prostate problems could benefit. Women with “estrogen dominance” hallmarked by heavy periods, breast pain, cramping and anxiety might benefit from flax seed. I recommend buying fresh flax seed and grinding it in a coffee grinder and sprinkling it on yogurt or oatmeal.
- Sage: Salvia officinalis is the botanical name. Just like rosemary, sage contains a lot of “carnosic acid.” This compound was shown in numerous clinical trial to exert apoptosis which means cancer cells die off. Carnosic acid when combined with the breast cancer drug, Tamoxifen, works more effectively together to slow down cancer growth. You can buy fresh sage herb and cook with it, or herbal extracts at any health food store.
There are many other alternatives that I haven’t elaborated on such as vitamin D, curcumin and iodine, so if you’re interested in those, come to my website and sign up for my newsletter. Ask your physician or oncologist if these are right for you. Cooking with the fresh herbs should be just fine.
Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit SuzyCohen.com.