Today, the advancements in technology and research have captivated everybody's attention towards complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) along with mainstream cancer therapies and treatments. From mind-body based interventions to alternative medical systems and biologically based therapies, CAM involved many effective modalities to reduce the cancer risk and mainstream treatment-associated side effects.
One of these CAM therapies includes plants and herbs. Plants have a very special role in the management and treatment of certain health problems like fever, skin problems, malaria, digestive issues and many more. Many herbs also possess significant contribution in cancer prevention and treatment.
One of such herbs is Tulsi. Tulsi leaves are the amazing herbal solution of many of your body problems. It provides you immunity, prevents you from cold, cough, and prepares your body to fight against cancer cells. Many scientific pieces of research have also assessed the anticancer activities of this herb. That is the reason, in the list of anti-cancer foods, tulsi held a prominent high rank.
What is Tulsi?
Tulsi plant is a culinary herb renowned with the name 'Holy Basil', ‘Krishna tulsi’ and 'Queen of herbs'. It is the sacred herb of the Indian subcontinent. The name 'Tulsi' signifies 'matchless one'. It is due to the amazing health benefits this herb embellishes with.
It has been 5000 years, this herb is used to heal various problems like fever and skin problems. Also, tulsi leaves reduce your risk of high blood pressure, digestive problems, genitourinary disorders, bronchitis, malaria, and rheumatism. However, its anticancer properties are also not hidden from anyone.
All these benefits are due to the potent nutrients found in this plant. This sacred herb contains various beneficial chemicals, which make them efficient to fight against cancer cells.
Chemical Components of Tulsi
The major chemical present in the leaves are eugenol and methyl eugenol. The essential oil contains sesquiterpene and carvacrol.
Chemicals with Potential Anti-cancer Activity
- The flavonoid, orientin provides protection against harmful radiations by possessing free radical scavenging property.
- Vicenin-2 exhibits anti-angiogenesis, pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative properties.
- Eugenol shows apoptosis action against various tumors and cancer like skin cancer, leukemia, or osteosarcoma.
- Ursolic acid can inhibit tumor progression, tumorigenesis, and angiogenesis.
- With the help of these chemicals, this plant lowers the risk of developing cancer and possesses cancer management actions. It is significantly helpful in the management of various cancers.
Let’s explore Tulsi for different types of cancer
Lung cancer is counted in the most common cancers around the world for many decades. Tulsi is extensively used to treat many lung associated problems in lung cancer patients.
- Evidence based practices show that the plant is used against shortness of breath and cough for patients with lung cancer.
- The ethanolic extract of this plant shows cytotoxigenic and anti-apoptotic effects against A549 cells (a human non-small cell lung cancer cell line).
- It is known to raise the ratio of pro-apoptotic Bax/anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein.
- It Inhibits cell adhesion and invasion along with metastasis.
The skin cancers can be of many types: squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma. Tulsi plants play a significant role in managing various skin cancer associated symptoms.
- The quercetin found in tulsi is a potent chemoprotective component. It exhibits potential antioxidant properties.
- This chemical reduces the cumulative number of papilloma and tumor size.
- This plant also reduces the level of serum enzymes associated with cancer growth, and improves enzyme levels that have a potential role against oxidative stress and superoxide.
It is known as the third most common cancer among women. However, the death rate due to this cancer has been significantly declined, especially in the United States since the mid-20th century. It is due to the increased screening practices which can diagnose the problem at very early stages. .
The American Cancer Society recommends that people with a cervix start cervical cancer screening from the age of 25, and should go through primary human papillomavirus (HPV) testing each 5 years by age of 65.
Tulsi lowers the increased risk of cervical cancer via:
- Carvacrol found in tulsi induced cytotoxicity against this cancer.
- The plant initiates apoptosis in cancer cells by increasing the reactive oxygen species levels in the cancer cells.
- The plant also possesses antioxidant activity which helps to prevent cellular damage.
Oral cancer comes in the sixth position in the list of common malignancies around the world. The current standard treatment of oral cancer involves surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. However, these treatments are associated with many complications like troubling in swallowing, speaking or breathing and distortion of face after surgical treatment or some side effects after chemotherapy.
Herbs can play a significant role in managing this cancer. This plant can be helpful in certain ways to manage oral cancer.
- It is seen that the topical application of tulsi helps to reduce papilloma and squamous cell carcinomas incidence.
- It acts as a cytotoxic agent.
- The plant also shows antiproliferative actions and leads to apoptosis of oral cancer cells.
Breast cancer is a common cancer in women. However, males can also suffer from this problem. Tulsi is also known to reduce the risk of breast cancer. It is also helpful in breast cancer treatment.
- According to cell based cancer research, chemicals found in tulsi plants (luteolin,apigenin and eugenol) fight against human breast cancer cells.
- The leaves of the plant also hinders tumor cell growth, proliferation and migration.
We can protect ourselves and ready our body to fight against infections and cancer cells by adding tulsi in our daily routine. We can take tulsi in many ways.
How to take tulsi in a healthy way?
- It is used in food preparations. The leaves can be used as toppings, in salads or for making pasto and chutneys.
- It can be consumed as a herbal tea or drink. For this, take some tulsi leaves, boil these leaves in one litre water. You can add some ginger as well. Boil till the water remains half. Strain and enjoy your herbal tea. You can add honey or lemon for taste or more health benefits.
- It can be also used in the form of oil or as a topical formulation.