DIETARY SPICES IN HEALTH AND DISEASES
All over the world in different cultures, herbs and spices have been used since time immortal as not only dietary additives but also medicine. A review article from The Department of Physiology, All India Institute of Medical Science, New Delhi investigates various studies on spices and their diverse array of natural phytochemicals along with their physiological actions - be it stimulation of the immune system, or modulation of detoxification enzymes, their anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory effect etc. etc., in the review scientific evidence, experimental trials and therapeutic potential are investigated and highlighted. Below is a brief review of some of the information in the article. The full article link is at the bottom of the page.
Chemoprevention (prevents or delays the development of cancer) - some dietary flavines and flavones found in certain spices, herbs, appear to be candidates for anticancer agents. Carotenoids, phenolic compounds and terpenoids: phytochemicals obtained from fruits, vegetables, herbs, medicinal plants have been proven to suppress experimental carcinogenesis (the process wherein healthy cells become cancerous) in various organs.
Curcumin (chemical in turmeric that gives curry a yellow colour) has been reported to possess chemopreventive effects against skin cancer, colon cancer and oral cancer in mice. In a study, curry leaves were fed to rats that had been treated with a known chemical carcinogen DMH, the results indicated that curry leaves have a high potential as a reducer of the toxicity of DMH.
Components in rosemary- carnosol and urosolic acid exhibit antitumorigenic activity. Carnosol can prevent DMBA-induced DNA damage and tumor formation in the rat mammary gland and thus has potential for use as a breast cancer chemopreventive agent. Natural polyphenols found in rosemary have potent antioxidant activities and also anticarcinogenic properties.
Ginger has anti-tumor promotional and antiproliferative effects as well as diverse inhibitory effects on cellular events associated with multi-stage carcinogenesis,
Clove was shown to have chemopreventive potential due to its apoptogenic and anti-proliferative properties
Cumin and black pepper suppress colon carcinogensis. Black pepper exhibited strong total antioxidant activity
Saffron displayed a high antioxidant capacity. Antioxidant activity was also found in cloves, cinnamon, pepper, ginger garlic, mint and onion
Garlic extract was found to inhibit the mutagenicity produced by direct acting mutagens. Asafoetida and turmeric extract as well
curcumin and eugenol were found to inhibit microsomal activation dependent mutagenicity These results indicate that some spices may
ameliorate the effect of environmental mutagens especially present in the food
Anti-inflammatory compounds are found in spices like turmeric and rosemary and green tea. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are associated with a reduced risk for several cancers. Mother nature provides a plentiful supply of natural anti-inflammatory compounds. Components in rosemary (carnosol and urosolic acid) exhibit antitumorigenic (inhibit the formation or growth of tumors) activity. Carnosol can prevent DNA damage and tumor formation in the rat mammary gland and thus has potential for use as a breast cancer chemopreventive agent
Source: Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 2008; 52 (2) : 106–122
LINK TO FULL ARTICLE