#13 – Turmeric

Two days ago we received a handwritten note from one of my husband’s co-workers (thank you Sandra!) and it was the recipe for Tumeric Paste.  I’d heard that turmeric itself had healing properties but had never explored it any further.  Usually when I get something like this I check out the primary conduits for cancer research and news – like the Canadian Cancer Society, American Cancer Society or Cancer Research UK.  I hit paydirt on the first site I checked (the ACS) where they have a page dedicated to turmeric and more specifically curcumin.  The article states: “Turmeric is a common food flavoring and coloring in Asian cooking. Animal and laboratory studies have found that curcumin, an antioxidant that is an active ingredient in turmeric, demonstrated some anti-cancer effects in the lab. But human research is needed to determine curcumin’s role in cancer prevention and treatment in people.”   There is a lot of good information there so it is worth reading more.  Notably, the page states studies are underway on a paste made with turmeric: “In India and Malaysia, there is a custom of making turmeric paste to apply directly onto the skin, a practice now under study for the possibility that it may prevent skin cancer.”  This page which has a lot more interesting data can be accessed at: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/turmeric

Here’s the recipe for the paste that was dropped off for us.  Since my husband is in chemo right now I won’t be making it until he’s through, this paste and herb has antioxidant properties and I have been told to delay introduction of these until after his last chemo session.  Consequently I am just sharing the information for those interested to make or use based on your own good judgement.  For those who do use it I’d be interested in any feedback on it.  The recipe has been transcribed word for word from the sheet I received.  I believe that the final instructions about ingesting this warm mean that you should warm your milk or boil your water prior to putting the spoon of turmeric paste into it (which you will spoon out of your glass container from the fridge).  Once you’ve spooned in your paste don’t reheat it in the microwave – try to have the concoction while it is still warm to hot.

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Turmeric Paste

For cholesterol, high blood pressure, tumors, breast cancer

1/4 cup turmeric

1/2 teaspoon of cardamom

1/2 inch to an inch of ginger root, peel and slice thinly or squish it

5 peppercorns (whole)

1 teaspoon of vanilla

3 whole allspice

3/4 cup of water

Put in saucepan and cook on medium heat.  Constantly stir until it turns into a thick paste.  Let cool.  Once cool put into a glass container (not a plastic container).  Put in refrigerator.

Take three times a day.  If you are experiencing an upset stomach then take only two times a day.

When you are ready to consume this add 1 teaspoon to a glass of warm milk or warm water.  Make sure that the liquid is still piping hot and do not warm up in the microwave.  Stir constantly as you drink this.

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Many thanks to everyone who has shared some of their alternate remedies, tinctures, techniques and medicines with me.  I’ve been slow on updating this section of our cancer experience but will try to keep them coming.

November 8 Update:

Saw an article in the Canadian Health & Lifestyle Magazine for Fall 2014 that gives a great recipe using turmeric, here it is:

Turmeric Tea:

Boil 1 – 2 cups of water, turn to simmer and add:

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg

Optional:

A pinch of cloves, or a teaspoon of fresh ground ginger

Simmer for 10 minutes.  Strain.  Sweeten with raw honey and add a dollop of almond or coconut milk to taste.

(Source:  http://www.healthandlifestyle.ca/health/wellness/3-spices-with-surprising-health-benefits/)

Why Do I Blog?

I realized how important this outlet is for me.  I had no idea going in what to expect with respect to this disease.  There still are so many unknowns ahead of us, but as we progress along I capture some of the more clinical stuff.  How the system works here in Canada is all I know, it might be very different elsewhere, but some of the common symptoms, issues and scenarios must be universal.

I know that we have friends and family that follow this blog and it is a good way to get a quick update on our situation without waiting for me to answer or return a phone call.  There are days when I just don’t want to talk about it, and I know he doesn’t want to talk about it.  So the blog works well for saying, yup he’s great, or geez we are in a rough patch.  It also may provide insight for others who may be starting their own journey into the unknown chaos associated with cancer, and this blog provides an overview of some of what we have experienced so far as a Stage 4 Lung Cancer patient.

This really is my journal, at some point I may need to look back instead of forward to figure out what is going on.  Major events and concerns are captured here. The other thing it does is keeps my brain going.  I have about 8 to 10 other cancer “remedies”, “cures” or alternate treatments that I continue to research for this blog.

#12 – Artemisinin (Artemisia annua)

An article on this plant (Sweet Wormwood) was just recently sent to me by a caring and concerned friend.  The article raved about how efficient and effective this herb was at targeting and killing cancerous cells, especially when the dosage taken was paired with iron.  Throughout the internet there is a number of references to the medicinal properties of this plant.  It is also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, referred to as Qinghaosu.  Studies on Qinghaosu have been conducted in relation to its anti-malarial properties as well as its potential anti-cancer properties.

When it comes to cancer, the claims on this herb are crazy.  Anytime I hear or read anything that sounds too good to be true I am very skeptical.  However, this herb has been used on humans for the treatment of malaria, so we know that human tolerance for specific dosages unique to malaria have been determined.  It’s efficacy in dealing with malaria is well documented, and many studies are available to support its use.  It was through these studies that the potential anti-cancer properties were identified, however, more study is required. Many drugs have started off life as a treatment for one human condition and then discovered to be effective in dealing with another completely unrelated condition, illness or disease.  For example,  I take a blood pressure medication daily but I don’t have high blood pressure.  I suffer with sinus-related migraines and a low dose BP medication taken daily has significantly alleviated my incident of migraine.  (Not the best example I know since it is all vascular…)  Anyway, in my case, this has helped when nothing else would.

I plan on doing more research on this particular item.  I’d love to find someone who has taken this particular remedy or supplement for cancer.  First hand knowledge is the best.  In the interim I will file this one under “future follow up.”  For those who are interested, there are plenty of scholarly articles out there, here’s an excerpt from one:

“Artesunate is a semisynthetic derivative from artemisinin, a natural product from the Chinese herb Artemisia annua L. It exerts antimalarial activity, and, additionally, artemisinin and its derivatives are active against cancer cells.”  (“Artesunate Derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine Induces DNA Damage and Repair“.  Paul C.H. Li, Elena Lam, Wynand P. Roos, Malgorzata Z. Zdzienicka, Bernd Kaina, and Thomas Efferth.  American Association for Cancer Research.  2008)

#11 – Traditional Chinese Medicine

I believe that Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM is something well worth exploring. There are centuries of knowledge and research that have contributed to the remedies that have been developed.  It would be a disservice on my part to even try and summarize the premise, philosophies or practices that support TCM.  I won’t even try to scratch the surface in this area, but rather use this blog entry to acknowledge the scope and range of herbal remedies that have been in use by practitioners of TCM.  In future posts I hope to cover a couple of very specific TCM remedies or herbal supports since they have been proposed for use by my husband.  There is a multitude of information available online that considers the TCM approach to immune system issues and disorders as well as specific diseases.  There are also a number of TCM dispensaries scattered around the country and likely one in your area.

If the TCM approach interests you, you may benefit greatly from locating a licenced practitioner and speaking directly with them.  Gather your information (things such as: qualifications of the practitioner, licences held, ingredients, source of the ingredients, dosage, preparation, cost, duration of treatment, anticipated outcome, studies, testimonials, etc.) before you commit to any purchases. The practitioner will ask you questions to identify all your symptoms and particular health concerns and develop a remedy tailored to your needs.  They may likely and understandably expect you to purchase the proposed remedy from them.  That’s why it is so important to know who you are dealing with and what they are selling (especially if you have any allergies or sensitivities).  Use your own good judgement to determine if this is the right course of action for you.   Again, should you determine that you wish to use TCM then this is something that you should discuss with your oncologist, especially if you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation – a well informed team is in your best interests.

#5 – Essiac

This is a “traditional herbal medicine” that has been around since 1922.  Although I was not familiar with it, as soon as we had the diagnosis of cancer at least four different individuals told me to check this out.  One couple that we know routinely drinks the tea as a preventive measure.  The tea, which is quite a process to make, tastes a bit like fenugreek (if you are familiar with that taste).  It is also available in a tincture and in capsule form.  The main ingredients are Burdock RootSlippery Elm Inner BarkSheep Sorrel and Indian Rhubarb Root.

This herbal medicine has quite a storied past and is worth reading about. The medicine itself is based on an Ojibway herbal concoction.   When I went on line to see what was available I discovered that there are many different suppliers of Essiac, and apparently some are better than others.  Since I am Canadian I went with the original manufacturer – the price was comparable to any of the others, but the Canadian manufacturer claims to have the original tried and true preparation.

The purpose of these blog posts is not to promote a particular product, but rather to let people know about the options and products that others are using to battle their cancer.  I have no intention of endorsing a particular product, however, in this case, the brand name is the only way to locate this product on line.

With respect to my husband, yes, he is taking the tincture daily.  I’ve informed both the hospital (oncology) as well as the visiting nurse.  The only thing that the hospital asked me to monitor for was was diarrhea – which has not occurred since he started taking this three weeks ago.   So far, so good.