A daily cup of tea is a pleasant ritual for a lot of people, whether you sip it while watching the sun rise or drink it to wind down after a long day. And for many of us, tea is the first medicine we turn to for sore throat, tummy trouble, and a constellation of other ailments.
So we’ve known for a while that various teas have a positive effect when it comes to keeping health problems and chronic disease like cancer at bay. We now have even more reasons to drink one tea in particular: chamomile.
Thanks to new research, it appears this tea has specific cancer-fighting benefits — meaning it can bring you much more than the comfort of a daily habit.
Here’s how you can benefit. . .
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Brilliant, gentle approach to knocking out diseased cells
The latest findings come from a small Greek study, where researchers concluded that chamomile tea consumption virtually erased the risk of thyroid cancer. They found that people who drank chamomile tea over a long period of time were much less likely to develop thyroid malignancies or benign growths when compared with those who didn’t drink the tea.
In fact, the people in the study who had consumed chamomile tea regularly for 30 years had an 80 percent lower risk of thyroid cancer than did the general population.
The conclusions from this study also support the familiar advice to eat a Mediterranean diet, which includes large amounts of lean fish, fresh vegetables, and healthy fats (like olive oil and avocados), along with drinking chamomile tea. But it’s the chamomile tea in particular that caught attention as a more robust way to ward off cancer than previously thought.
Scientists conjecture that flavonoids within chamomile, such as apigenin, are behind some of the anti-cancer effects. Apigenin has made waves before as noted here in the pages of Cancer Defeated. This flavonoid is an effective tool in quelling cancer. Besides chamomile, you’ll find it in a number of fruits and vegetables including celery and parsley.
A study by scientists at Ohio State University in 2013, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that apigenins basically reprogram cancer cells so they function like regular cells and die after a fairly short lifespan.
This could make a significant difference in fighting off diseased cells, because one of the challenges with cancer cells is that they’re practically immortal – or at least they live a lot longer than healthy cells do. While healthy cells go through a regular life cycle in your body, cancer cells tend to stick around indefinitely, eventually taking over. But when you consume apigenins, the research indicates cancer cells go through apoptosis (regularly scheduled cell death) in the same way normal cells do.
If these results hold up, apigenins could help stop the spread of breast cancer, among others. Research studies show apigenin molecules bind to 160 different proteins found in our bodies – impressive, since most laboratory-made drugs only target a single molecule.
One of the proteins apigenin binds to is called hnRNPA2. In a healthy-cell scenario, the protein hnRNPA2 would undergo only one type of “splicing.” Most cells undergo splicing, which is important because it triggers the production of messenger RNA (mRNA), which carries the instructions for gene activation.
But in some cancer cell strains, two different forms of splicing take place. Yet when apigenin connects with the hnRNPA2 protein in breast cancer cells, it shifts the splicing process from two forms back to one, meaning cells generally go back to scheduled death. On top of that, it appears that with apigenin in the picture, cancer cells are also more likely to be wiped out by chemotherapy drugs.
This means patients who choose conventional treatments could at least benefit from doing this simple, safe alternative at the same time. I can’t imagine why their doctors would object. It’s not a “magic bullet” — but it may help.
In another study, back in 2011, rats with breast tumors who were treated with apigenin ended up developing fewer tumors and also experienced significant delays in tumor formation.
And in still another study where apigenin was administered, blood vessels that fed cancer tumors shrank and restricted nutrient flow to the tumor cells. The result was that the cancer cells starved and were unable to spread.
Chamomile helps out with more than just cancer…
Chamomile comes with plenty of other health benefits, aside from potentially destroying and preventing chronic disease. For example, chamomile oil is considered soothing to cut or scraped skin, and chamomile-infused water helps wounds heal faster (likely due to the herb’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties). One study even showed chamomile is more effective than corticosteroids at healing wounds.
Chamomile also helps lower blood glucose levels — good news for diabetics. And it raises glycine levels, which helps calm muscle spasms and relieves stress and anxiety.
For most people, chamomile is probably known best for its relaxation benefits. It’s a mild sedative. Many people use it to help them fall asleep. And as a muscle relaxant, it can help soothe an upset stomach. Finally, chamomile can help improve cardiovascular health as well as stimulate the immune system.
Make it a daily habit for best results
The living chamomile plant looks a lot like a daisy. But that pretty flower is a proven staple in herbal remedies around the world, and now we know why.
All you have to do to reap the benefits of chamomile is enjoy a simple cup of tea every day. Remember, chamomile tends to have a calming effect, so it’s often best enjoyed just before bedtime – or perhaps prior to an afternoon nap.
Just keep in mind that the benefits stem from long term use — as long as several decades. This is not a case of “take one now and call me in the morning.” The same is true for many — indeed most — natural nutrients. They require a long-term commitment. A few months will do for most. But taking a vitamin or other nutrient for a few days will probably have no effect unless you’re severely deficient. That does happen. I’ve seen health conditions clear up instantly in a few cases.