Monday, 28 February 2011

Cancers and diet: Take 400 grams of fruits and vegetables daily to ward off cancers

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Feb 28: Daily intake of 400 grams of fruits and vegetables will protect people from a number of cancers linked to diet.

According to Dr B Sesikeran, director of the National Institute of Nutrition, one should consume large quantities of fruits and vegetables and avoid dietary supplements sold in the market. "Fresh fruits and vegetables prevent formation of cancers of mouth, throat, food pipe, stomach, large intestine, breast, uterus and prostate glands. But dietary supplements obtained from fruits and vegetables will in fact increase the risk of these cancers," he said.

Dr Sesikeran was delivering a popular lecture at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology to mark the national science day here on Monday. He said 30 per cent of cancers can be prevented by regulating diet and increased physical activity. "There are cancers like blood cancer that are genetic in nature. We cannot do much about them. Cancer of cervix is linked to a virus. However, cancers linked to diet can be prevented," he said.

Stating that about 25 per cent of Indians are inactive without any physical activity, Dr Sesikeran said those with higher physical activity were at less risk of cancers. Inclusion of onions and garlic in food will reduce the risk of stomach cancer while carrot can prevent lung cancer. Large intake of fruits will reduce the risk of lung cancer, while tomato prevents prostate cancer.

He cautioned people against taking ready-made dietary supplements like carotenoids (extracted from carrot) and lycopene (extracted from tomato) as they actually increase the risk of cancers. "Take the whole fruit or vegetable. Do not go in for ready-made chemical dietary supplements and reduce the salt intake. Most of the salt comes from restaurant or preserved foods," he warned.

Referring to cancers in women, Dr Sesikeran said post-menopausal women, who put on five kgs of weight, are more at risk of endometrial cancer, while women, who breast-feed their children, are at low risk of contacting breast cancer. "Taller women are at greater risk of breast cancer," he added.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Plumbago zeylanica: Chitrak provides relief from rheumatic pains

By Syed Aklbar
hitrak (Plumbago zeylanica) is a wild herb whose secret medicinal properties have been known to tribes for ages. This herb widely used in tribal medicines  the world over is also prescribed by Ayurveda and Unani
practitioners. Chitrak or white leadwort is considered the best natural medicine for treatment of rheumatism, and shedding extra body weight.
Like many wild herbs used in tribal medicine, Chitrak, when taken in large proportions,  may cause severe poisoning. Herbal doctors advise extreme care while dealing with this  herb. In small quantities the herb provides wonderful results for a plethora of health  problems ranging from white patches on the skin (leucoderma) to "jelly" motions  (dysentery) and from piles to scabies. It helps in fast absorption of nutrients and  digestion of accumulated fat, and hence considered good for people, who want to shed  extra fat.
Pregnant women should observe extra care while taking Chitrak even in small quantities. It is notorious for causing miscarriage. Other medical uses of Chitrak  are its ability to fight stomach, liver and spleen problems, improve appetite and  clearing the air passage from accumulated mucous in case of cold or bronchitis. Unani 
doctors prescribe Chitrak for skin infections like ring worm. Herbal tonic, prepared from  Chitrak, is sold in herbal stores as an appetiser.
Home remedies
Powder obtained from the roots of Chitrak can be consumed with honey to improve digestive  system. Chitrak root powder is readily sold in leading herbal shops. You can purchase  Chitrak root and make powder at home. It also improves appetite and boost the general health of the body.
Those suffering from skin problems like ring worm may apply crushed fresh roots on the  affected portion. Take fresh roots of Chitrak plant, wash them properly to remove soil  impurities. Dry the roots and crush them. Apply the paste for relief from itching. Herbal  doctors also suggest root paste of Chitrak for quick healing of wounds.
Take Chitrak bark, make it into paste and apply on the joints. Tie gently with  gauze.  You may also gently massage the paste mixed with coconut oil on the affected portion for  relief from rheumatic or joint pains. Ready-made ointment for rheumatic pains is also  available.
Chitrak root powder is often prescribed for obesity. The herbs helps in the improvement  of body physiology and fights excess fat, thus reducing the overall weight.
There have been some research studies at laboratory level wherein Chitrak extract has  been found to contain anti-carcinogenic properties. The result is yet to be extrapolated on human beings.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Hedychium spicatum or Karchura: Gulbakawali (ginger lily) removes cholesterol from arteries

By Syed Akbar
Hedychium spicatum or Gulbakawali is a scented herb found in the Himalayas, but now increasingly cultivated in other hilly regions of the country. Its intoxicating fragrance and beautiful flowers make it a garden favourite. Belonging to the ginger family, Hedychium has been used in a number of traditional medicines the world over, including Ayurveda and Unani.
It is also known as Karchura in Sanskrit and ginger lily or garland flower in English. It has a number of medicinal properties, the most important being its ability to fight cholesterol in the arteries and keep the blood flowing to the heart, and other vital organs including the brain. It thus prevents heart and brain stroke, as also paralysis. Ayurvedic and Unani doctors hail it as a natural vasodilator thanks to its medicinal property of dilating or opening up of the blood vessels.
Gulbakawali is also prescribed for problems relating to digestive system and fighting local inflammation. It controls nausea and vomiting. Its antioxidant properties prevent formation of cancerous cells while its antibacterial effect has been established against a number of bacterial species. Some herbal doctors prescribe extract from Gulbakawali for eye infection and dandruff. In case of dandruff Gulbakawali oil can be gently rubbed against the scalp.
Home remedies
Those suffering from painful tonsils may try decoction obtained from the stems of Gulbakawali. Take a small quantity of fresh or dried stems, clean them properly and boil them in a cup of water. Filter it to obtain decoction. Gargle with the Gulbakawali decoction for relief from tonsillitis
Gulbakawali extract is available in herbal stores and this can be used for eye infections. Herbal doctors believe that extract obtained from Gulbakawali improves eyesight.
For relief from joint pains, take a few leaves of Gulbakawali plant, wash them properly and boil the leaves in water. Remove the leaves and apply them on the affected portion. Its analgesic activity starts working and you will find relief from nagging joint pains.
Gulbakawali tonic or extract is prescribed as a vasodilator to widen the blood vessels in case of their clogging with cholesterol. It is considered good for the heart and body as it improves blood circulation and overall functioning of the cardiac system. Since it is difficult to find Gulbakawali plant in the plains, one may try readymade herbal preparations from a licensed manufacturer or a reputed herbal store. Research studies 
have shown its effectiveness as a vasodilator, particularly of coronary arteries.