Natural healing, natural wellness

Immune System Health

Quality Sleep – Give It Priority

I slept for nine hours last night. And the night before that as well. What a relief. I’ve been unable to sleep at night ever since working on a graveyard shift (11 p.m. to 6 a.m.) project for almost three weeks more than a week ago. That project really messed up my system. I had to work at night and I was lucky to sleep for a couple of hours during the day, due to other ongong daytime commitments. I was absolutely exhausted during the project.

When the project finally ended over a week ago, I eagerly looked forward to sleeping normally again. Quality, uninterrupted sleep at night, in a dark room without distracting light or sound, encourages the body to naturally produce melatonin, a powerful antioxidant. This period of blissful sleep, which follows the body’s natural circadian clock rhythm, is the best time for the body to rest, repair and rejuvenate. When we deprive ourselves of this natural sleep pattern, our immune systems become depressed and we are more likely to fall ill and age faster.

To my aggravation, I found myself having difficulty returning to sleeping at night. Despite being utterly exhausted, sleep eluded me. I tossed and turned every night. Nothing would get me to fall asleep. I was a total wreck during the day, and just couldn’t get anything done. I’ve completely neglected this blog for weeks now, and even simple tasks like walking my dog have been very trying.

Then two nights ago I slept almost uninterrupted for almost nine hours, at night, when it was peaceful and dark. I did it again last night. So I’m finally able to write this blog post, at long last. And I’m back to enjoying my walks with Ginger.

In May 2009, Professor Paolo Sassone-Corsi and his team from the University of California, Irvine, reported that women working the night shift are four times more vulnerable to breast cancer because of a disruption in their internal physiology – or circadian clocks. Disrupting these clocks can also lead to other kinds of illnesses. We need to listen to our internal clocks!

Sleep – it’s one of the most powerful secrets behind natural healing and wellness. Make it your priority to get sufficient quality sleep every night.

Oldenlandia – The Cancer-Killing Weed

For years I ignored it because I didn’t know what it was. There were usually several varieties available on the supermarket shelves, and in the Chinese medicinal shops it was available as dried herbs, granules as well as pills or capsules. Then recently, for some reason, I started researching it. What I found out spurred me to stock my larder with products containing it.

The oldenlandia plant has been used by the Chinese for medicinal purposes for centuries. The book “An Illustrated Guide to Antineoplastic Chinese Herbal Medicine” lists oldenlandia as having the following:

Properties: sweet, bland, slightly bitter, and slightly cold. Clears heat and toxin, activates blood circulation, removes blood stasis, promotes diuresis, and relieves stranguria (urinary obstruction).

Indications: various kinds of tumor, especially tumors of the digestive tract, lymphosarcoma, carcinoma of the liver and larynx. Also for appendicitis, hepatitis, pneumonia, cholecystitis, urinary infection, furunculosis, cellulites, and snake bite.

In an article titled “Oldenlandia and Scutellaria: Antitoxin and Anticancer Herbs” by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon, USA, it is said that the oldenlandia is from the Rubiaceae family, and is collected from the wild. It is found mainly in the southeastern provinces of China-Guangxi, Guangdong and Fujian-growing at low altitude in moist fields. According to Dr. Dharmananda, Dr. Jiao Shude, in his “Ten Lectures on the use of Medicinals”, says that he “frequently adds about 30-40 grams of this medicinal to an appropriate decoction medicine devised according to the principle of pattern identification” for treating various forms of cancer. He also suggests adding some other anticancer herbs, such as scutellaria barbata.

In “Pharmacology and Applications of Chinese Materia Medica”, it states that: “The herb at the dose of 30-60 grams is often added to conventional prescriptions for carcinoma.” In “Chinese Medicinal Herbs of Hong Kong”, among the indications for oldenlandia is “early stage of cancer of lungs, liver, and rectum.” It is recommended there that oldenlandia be used in a dosage of 60 grams along with 30 grams of scutellaria as a decoction, taken once a day.

Various laboratory studies of the action of oldenlandia suggest that the herb may contribute to inhibiting growth of cancer cells, promoting cancer cell death (apoptosis), and enhancing immune attack against cancer cells.

In the 2006 report “Evidence for Oldenlandia diffusa-evoked cancer cell apoptosis through superoxide burst and caspase activation” by Yadav SK and Lee SC from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, the researchers concluded that “the ethanol extract of the herb effectively evokes cancer cell apoptosis, possibly through burst-mediated caspase activation.” This study was published in PubMed.gov, the online publication of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health

In another study, the “Apoptotic effect of Oldenlandia diffusa on the leukaemic cell line HL60 and human lymphocytes”, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 114, Issue 3, 3 December 2007, the researchers reported that their findings“support a cytotoxic action for Oldenlandia diffusa”

Oldenlandia may be used as a preventive health care agent to inhibit mutation of cells by carcinogens. As it also builds up the immune system, this herb may be beneficial for anyone undergoing modern cancer therapies. Fortunately for me, oldenlandia diffusa grows wild here and beverages containing oldenlandia are cheap (the equivalent of 50 US cents per bottle) and easily available where I live. I particularly like one from China which is a sparkling mineral water with oldenlandia extract. It comes in a green glass bottle and the Chinese have been drinking it for decades. You can probably find oldenlandia beverages in most Asian supermarkets and grocers as well as Chinese medical shops.

In Chinese, oldenlandia diffusa is known as “baihuasheshecao” (sometimes written Bai Hua She She Cao). “Baihua” means white flower, “she” means snake, and “shecao” means tongue weed, referring to the long thin leaves of the herb. English-speakers sometimes refer to it as the snake-needle weed.

Cheers to good health!

Freeze The Suckers Dead!

This is exciting news for people with breast cancer. Research conducted by the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center has shown that freezing tumors with a cold probe can stop cancer dead in its tracks. As a bonus, when this cancer treatment method is utilized, it generates an immune response that helps stop the cancer’s spread, improving the patient’s chances of survival after surgery.

The study appears online in “Annals of Surgical Oncology”. Two different cryoablation – or cryosurgery – techniques were employed in the study involving mice with breast cancer, and the results were compared to results from mice whose tumors were removed with surgery. One method involves freezing the tumor rapidly, in about 30 seconds; the other freezes the tumor slowly, taking a few minutes.

The breast tumor was successfully killed with both cryoablation techniques. The mice treated with the rapid freeze had fewer tumors that spread to the lungs and improved survival compared to mice treated with surgery alone or mice treated with the slower freezing technique. The study showed that the benefit from the rapid freezing is likely due to changes in the immune system that help to kill the tumor. The immune system did not seem as able to kill the tumor when the slower freezing technique was used.

A clinical trial using cryoablation in patients with breast cancer is now underway. In this trial, researchers use the rapid freezing technique. Cryoablation is currently used routinely for prostate cancer, kidney cancer and a variety of cancers that have spread to the liver and bone.

“Cryoablation has strong potential as a treatment for breast cancer. Not only does it appear effective in treating the primary tumor with little cosmetic concerns, but it also may stimulate an immune response capable of eradicating any cells that have traveled throughout the body, reducing both local and distant recurrence, similar to giving a breast cancer vaccine,” says lead study author Michael Sabel, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School.

“What we learned in this study is that all cryoablation is not equal. The technique used to freeze the tissue can have a significant impact on how the immune system responds. The system we use today appears to be ideal for both destroying the tumor within the breast and generating an anti-cancer immune response,” Sabel says.

University of Michican (U-M) researchers are participating in a national clinical trial to evaluate using cryoablation for early stage breast cancer. Participants will undergo rapid freezing of their tumor, and their blood samples will be analyzed to assess changes in their immune system. All participants will be treated three to four weeks later with standard surgery to remove their tumor.

For more information about the study, contact the U-M Cancer AnswerLine at 800-865-1125. To read the source article  about how freezing breast tumors helps stop cancer spread, visit the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center website.