Spice may help fight cancer

Q. I have read that certain herbs have both anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activity. I’m interested in preventing a recurrence of prostate cancer. Is there any science to support the use of rosemary, turmeric, ginger and oregano, to name just a few of the culinary herbs and spices I have heard might be helpful?

A. There is a surprising amount of basic science to suggest that certain spices have anti-cancer potential (Nutrients online, Aug. 12, 2016). The evidence is especially strong for curcumin, an active component of turmeric. It has the ability to interrupt metabolic pathways that cancer cells use to survive and spread (Anticancer Research, November 2016). Curcumin also may have activity against lung, breast, stomach, colorectal and uterine cancer. Other culinary herbs and spices that seem promising in this regard include garlic, black cumin, ginger, black pepper, chili pepper, rosemary and saffron.

Q. You had a question from a person with terrible toenail fungus. The doctor recommended surgically removing the nail. You suggested that urea paste could dissolve the fungus-infected nail.

My 85-year-old mother had both big toes infected with fungus, making them unsightly. She didn’t like wearing open-toe shoes.

We found a solution, and within eight months, both nails are improved. We started with twice-daily applications of tea tree oil, then moved to twice-daily applications of apple-cider vinegar.

This was not a bath or soak, just applying the vinegar with a cotton swab after a shower, before bedtime and once during the afternoon. We allowed the nail to dry completely. With patience and occasional clipping, we have conquered this problem.

A. Patience is critical to any treatment of toenail fungus because toenails grow so slowly. Thanks for the detailed account of your successful treatment.

Readers who would like more details about other home remedies for nail fungus may wish to order our Guide to Hair and Nail Care. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (68 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. H-31, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.

Q. I have had tingling in my lower legs for five years. The doctors I consulted offered nothing but the opinion that I must be diabetic. (Tests did not show any diabetes.) They offered Lyrica or gabapentin, which I refused because I was concerned about the side effects.

Finally, a neurologist did a complete work-up, including a full blood panel. He said the tingling is from a very low functioning thyroid and very low B-vitamin levels. Taking a vitamin-B complex vitamin supplement has helped enormously. I also am being treated for the thyroid problem.

A. A sensation of pins and needles can be a symptom of nerve damage. Low vitamin B-12 levels may trigger this (BMJ Case Reports, July 4, 2012). Low levels of thyroid hormone also can contribute to neuropathy. Correcting the underlying hormone imbalance as well as the vitamin deficiency could account for your improvement.

2016 King Features Syndicate Inc.

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