In my last post, I discussed the benefits of phytoestrogens, and how these plant compounds may help to regulate the effects of estrogen. While soy foods are perhaps the best-known phytoestrogens, there are a number of herbs with apparent phytoestrogenic properties that have a long history of use in herbal medicine. Current research has demonstrated the usefulness of these botanicals in protecting breast and prostate health.
In the quest to identify nutritional compounds that potentially influence breast cancer (and other hormonally driven cancers), phytoestrogens are among the best researched. The label “phytoestrogen” has been given to specific compounds in plants and foods that under certain conditions appear to have a modulatory effect on estrogen and other hormone receptors.
Plants contain a diversity of beneficial compounds, including a wide range of phenolic compounds, flavonoids, lignans, and phytosterols. Each phytochemical exerts multiple actions, both alone and in combination within and on target cells, including the epigenome. Abundant data indicates that these compounds act on estrogen receptors; for example, isoflavone and other compounds referred to as phytoestrogens have an ability to inhibit local estrogen synthesis and induce epigenetic changes.1 According to the most recent literature, phytoestrogens have demonstrated positive effects on breast cancer prognosis, including breast cancer recurrence and mortality in survivors of the disease.2
“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.”
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (a favorite of Eli Jones)
In my opinion, one of the greatest physicians of all time—and perhaps the person that has influenced me more than any other in my clinical practice and pursuit of doing all that I can to help those with cancer—was Dr. Eli Jones, an American Eclectic physician. He was a master of knowing the specific actions and indications of each herb, and especially the applications of herbs for cancer.
The basic principles of Eclectic medicine can be distilled to these simple precepts:
- Nature is the great physician who, if permitted and not interfered with, provides for our physical requirements.
- Disease (dis-ease) of whatever nature is caused by a lack of equilibrium (an imbalance), the result of an abnormal condition in the body, or the result of congestion due to poor elimination.
Dr. Jones was a true Eclectic in that he read all medical textbooks of that time, including allopathic, Physiomedical, homeopathic, and of course, Eclectic. He believed in the exploration of every system of medicine, regardless of its origins, to discover and apply the most useful principles for the wellbeing of humanity. He combined his own botanical formulations (internal and topical) with simple Nature Cures such as hydrotherapy, and he also used some homeopathy.
“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
In my post last week on the many benefits of bread, I promised that I would share with you more in-depth information on the particular health benefits of bread. As I discussed in my last post, many people have given up bread in the erroneous belief that grains are unhealthy. Nothing could be further from the truth (unless, of course, you have an allergy to grains).
I enjoy bread and consider it to be an important part of my diet. But I would never consume the refined, processed creations that masquerade as bread in grocery stores and restaurants. There’s no question that those types of bread products are detrimental to your health.
In almost all cultures, bread is considered a staple food. There’s good reason for this—good bread is so nutritious that it’s possible to survive for a long time on merely bread and water. Of course, I don’t recommend a diet of bread and water, but I do believe that whole grains, including bread, are an essential part of a healthy diet.
Bread provides more than physical sustenance. We use the phrase “breaking bread together” to indicate the sharing of a meal with someone. In a spiritual and social sense, bread binds us together in our humanity and offers a sense of community. “For we many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread,” (1 Corinthians 10:17). In the Jewish Passover meal, bread plays an integral role. The Jews were to eat unleavened bread during the Passover feast and then for seven days following as a celebration of the exodus from Egypt. God rained down “bread from heaven” to sustain the nation (Exodus 16:4), referring to it as “manna” (Exodus 16:31).
To achieve optimal health and well-being, we must not only pay attention to how we care for ourselves physically, but we must also attend to our emotional, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. This may involve questioning long-held beliefs and ways of being in the world that no longer serve us.
For example, most of us worry from time to time—and some people worry most of the time. But the reality is that worrying is a futile activity. Worrying about world events, other people’s lives, or even your own life has no effect on outcome. In fact, worrying does nothing except create fear and unhappiness in the precious moments of your life. But interestingly enough, while worrying doesn’t ever improve a situation, cultivating an attitude of happiness and trust can.