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Super Spices for your Health

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super_spicesBlack pepper, cinnamon, cayenne pepper – none of these spices are new or unusual to most people. In fact, these are spices that many of us use on a regular basis, especially black pepper. But did you know that these spices also have many health benefits? Did you know that there is more reason to use these spices than to simply add flavor and spice to a meal?

Spices and herbs are botanically classified as fruits and vegetables. And since they no longer contain the water that makes up a significant part of the fresh produce, spices and herbs offer an even higher level of antioxidants. In addition, spices and herbs also are rich in phytonutrients, such as carotenoids, flavonoids and other phenolics, all of which possess health-promoting properties.

Many spices and herbs appear to have some beneficial effects, but here are the seven super spices with the greatest health-enhancing potential and tips to include them in your meals.

Spice of Life

A touch of spice might be just what you need to minimize the damage of aging — and even offset the impact of diabetes. New research from the University of Georgia finds that antioxidant-rich herbs and spices can block the formation of harmful compounds that are associated with aging and may inhibit tissue damage caused by high levels of blood sugar. A little spice goes quite a long way, as the antioxidants are extremely concentrated, says study coauthor James Hargrove, PhD.

Black Pepper. xn America, black pepper is one of the most commonly used spices. In fact, it is not uncommon for a person to use pepper with every meal – a little on his eggs, a bit on his sandwich and salad, a lot on his steak and corn. Frtunately, as it turns out, this is a good thing. Why? Because black pepper is good for us! Black pepper improves digestion by stimulating the taste buds and thereby alerting the stomach to increase hydrochloric secretion. Black pepper is also an antioxidant, and it has antibacterial effects. But wait – there’s more! You will be very happy to know that the outermost layer of the peppercorn actually helps stimulate the breakdown of fat cells! Black pepper also helps prevent the formation of intestinal gas, promotes urination, and promotes sweating. It is full of manganese, and it also has a good amount of iron and dietary fiber, as well.

Cayenne. See red pepper.

Cinnamon. You may adore the warm, distinctive flavor that cinnamon adds to sweet and savory dishes. But there's much more to this fragrant spice than you ever imagined. Did you know that this ancient spice taken from the inner bark of tropical trees is an antioxidant powerhouse? Cinnamon has one of the highest antioxidant levels of any spice – and even more than many foods. You'll find as many antioxidants in 1 teaspoon of cinnamon as a full cup of pomegranate juice or ½ cup of blueberries. Beyond antioxidants, cinnamon is also rich in natural compounds called polyphenols. These compounds appear to act like insulin in our body and may help regulate blood sugar levels. That's especially good news for people with diabetes.

Cinnamon also has a very healthy dose of manganese, but the health benefits of cinnamon are different than those of black pepper. Cinnamon can help eliminate and prevent the clumping of blood platelets. The scent of cinnamon can boost brain function – in other words, smelling cinnamon can improve your virtual recognition memory, working memory, and more!

Cinnamon can also help stop the growth of bacteria. Some even say that cinnamon can be used as spicy alternative to traditional food preservatives. For people with type 2 diabetes, cinnamon is wonderful – it can help them respond to insulin and thereby normalize their blood sugar levels.

Can lower blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. Aim for one-fourth to one-half teaspoon of cinnamon twice a day.


Cloves are the dried flower buds of the clove tree, an evergreen tree that grows in tropical climates. While cloves are mostly used for culinary purposes today, the health benefits of cloves have been known for centuries.

The Chinese used cloves to get rid of bad breath over 2000 years ago, and it is even said that anyone who had an audience with the Emperor was required to chew on cloves so that their breath was sweet! It was also considered an aphrodisiac in China as well as Persia.

Cloves have powerful medicinal properties. They are stimulating and have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiseptic properties. They are also a natural anesthetic (due to the eugenol oil) which is why they were often used for dental procedures in centuries past and are still used in some cultures to remedy toothache. It is the oil that is derived from the cloves that is so powerful, and this is often used for medicines both topically and internally. This oil contains compound that helps with blood circulation and can stimulate the skin when applied directly to it.

Cloves are a great spice to heal ailments of the digestive system. They are well known for relieving flatulence and can actually help promote good digestion as well as metabolism. They may also help relieve vomiting and diarrhea as well as a host of other digestive disorders.

Cloves have been well known as an all around healing herb and it’s not just digestive problems that cloves are reputed to help with. In fact, they are used in tropical Asia to treat conditions such as scabies, cholera, malaria and tuberculosis. As an antispasmodic it can be applied topically to relieve muscle spasms or in a tea to ease coughing. It can also treat skin problems like styes and sores when applied as an ointment. It is said a paste of milk, salt crystals, and cloves can be a great headache remedy.

Cloves are believed to have other health benefits that aren’t necessarily connected with an immediate illness. For instance, they can make a great mosquito repellant, as well as a moth repellent. Clove studded oranges are often used to repel many kinds of insects in tropical climates. Sucking on cloves may even reduce the craving for alcohol.

Today, the health benefits of cloves are not mentioned much in the Western world, but this ancient spice is still a popular herb with Ayurvedic healers who use it in teas and powders both topically and internally. It is even found in the arsenal of aromatherapy practitioners.

The health benefits of clove oil can be attributed to its antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, aphrodisiac and stimulating properties. The oil is used for treating a variety of health disorders including toothaches, indigestion, cough, asthma, headache, stress and blood impurities.

Clove is an evergreen tree, which produces a flower bud that has numerous medicinal properties. It is often referred as clove bud. Clove bud has a shaft and a head and hence it has the Latin name clavus meaning nail. Clove was extensively used in the ancient Indian and Chinese civilizations and it spread to other parts of the world, including Europe, during the seventh and eight centuries.

Clove is rich in minerals such as calcium, hydrochloric acid, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and vitamin A and vitamin C. The health benefits of clove oil include the following:

•Dental Care: The most prominent use of clove oil is in dental care. The germicidal properties of the oil make it very effective for relieving dental pain, tooth ache, sore gums and mouth ulcers. Clove oil contains the compound eugenol, which has been used in dentistry since numerous years. Gargles with diluted clove oil help in easing the throat. The characteristic smell of clove oil helps removing bad breath. As a result, clove oil is added to numerous dental products and medications, including, mouth washes, and tooth pastes. Dentists also mix clove oil with zinc oxide and prepare a white filling material as a temporary alternative to root canal.
•Infections: Due to its antiseptic properties, clove oil is useful for wound, cuts, scabies, athlete’s foot, fungal infections, bruises, prickly heat, scabies, etc. It can also be used insect bites and stings. Clove oil is very strong in nature and hence should be used in diluted form. Further, it should not be used on sensitive skin.
•Skin Care: Clove oil is often recommended for skin care, especially to acne patients.
•Stress: Clove oil is aphrodisiac in nature and hence serves as an excellent stress reliever. It has a stimulating effect on the mind and removes mental exhaustion and fatigue. When taken internally, in appropriate amounts, it refreshes the mind. Clove oil also induces sleep and is helpful to insomnia patients. It is useful for treating mental problems such as loss of memory, depression and anxiety.
•Headache: Clove oil when mixed with salt, and applied on the forehead, gives a cooling effect and helps in getting relief from headache.
•Respiratory Problems: Clove oil has a cooling and anti inflammatory effect, and thereby clears the nasal passage. This expectorant is useful in various respiratory disorders including coughs, colds, bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis, and tuberculosis. Chewing a clove bud eases sore throats.
•Earache: A mixture of warm clove oil and sesame oil is a good remedy for earaches.
•Indigestion: Clove oil is effective in stomach related problems such as hiccups, indigestion, motion sickness, and flatulence. Hence, clove one of the important spices added in Indian dishes.
•Nausea: Clove oil is helpful in case of nausea and vomiting and is often used for pregnancy related vomiting.
•Blood Circulation: Clove oil is increases your body metabolism by increasing blood circulation and reducing body temperature.
•Blood Purification: Clove oil also helps in purifying the blood.
•Diabetes: Along with blood purification, clove oil also helps in controlling the blood sugar levels and hence is useful to diabetics.
•Immune System: Both clove and clove oil are useful for boosting the immune system. Its antiviral properties and ability to purify blood increases your resistance to diseases.
•Premature Ejaculation: Research has indicated that clove can be useful for treating premature ejaculation. Further research needs to be carried out to confirm these results.
•Cholera: It is believed that clove oil is useful for treating cholera.
•Sty: Clove and clove oil is a very effective home remedy for treating sty. Sty is an inflammation on the eyelash and is a very irritating condition. Sty is not only painful, but also causes difficulty in the proper functioning of the eye.
Other benefits of clove oil include the following:

•Cosmetics: Clove oil is often added in cosmetic creams and lotions. It is a good massage oil providing relief from pain and stress.
•Clove Cigarettes: Usage of clove in making cigarettes is a new trend all over the world. Traditionally, clove was added in cigarettes in Indonesia. Smokers (wrongly) feel that the numerous health benefits of clove would nullify the ill effects of smoking. Flavoring Agent: Along with its digestive properties, clove oil is added in food items due to its flavor. It is added in many Indian dishes, pickles, sauce, spice cakes, etc.
•Soaps: Due to the characteristic aroma, soothing effect and antiseptic properties, clove oil is added in making soaps.
•Perfumes: Clove oil is also used in making perfumes.
Many people believe that clove oil is useful in preventing and treating cancer. However, the American Cancer Society clearly mentions that there is no scientific evidence on the curative properties of clove oil. It is also claimed by many that clove oil is useful in treating viral hepatitis.

One should be careful while using clove oil. Clove oil is strong in nature and hence should be diluted before application.

Clove oil blends well with many essential oils including basil essential oil, rosemary essential oil, rose oil, cinnamon essential oil, grapefruit essential oil, lemon essential oil, nutmeg essential oil, peppermint essential oil, orange essential oil, lavender essential oil, geranium essential oil, etc.

Cumin. Cumin is a seed that has been used since antiquity. It’s health benefits and medicinal uses were well known even then. Today, this seed of a small flowering herb of the parsley family might not be used quite as much in food preparation as it was 5000 years ago, but it’s healing properties are still valued and used in natural and Ayurvedic healing. This traditional herbal remedy has many uses. I is a stimulant as well as a great herb for digestive disorders and even as a antiseptic of sorts. The seeds themselves are rich in iron and are thought to help stimulate the secretion of enzymes from the pancreas which can help absorb nutrients into the system. It has also been shown to boost the power of the liver's ability to detoxify the human body. Recent studies have revealed that cumin seeds might also have anti-carcinogenic properties1. In laboratory tests, this powerful little seed was shown to reduce the risk of stomach and liver tumors in animals. The health benefits of cumin for digestive disorders has been well known throughout history. It can help with flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, nausea, morning sickness, and atonic dyspepsia. In this case, the seeds are boiled in water to make a tea of sorts - 1 teaspoon seeds to 1 glass water. Mix with salt and a teaspoon of coriander leaf juice.

Cumin is also said to help relieve symptoms of the common cold due to it’s antiseptic properties. Again, you’ll want to boil the seeds in a tea and then drink a couple of times a day. If you also have a sore throat then try adding some dry ginger to help soothe it.

Cumin can also be applied topically and is said to be a good salve for boils. Make a black cumin paste by grinding seeds with water and apply to the affected area.

Cumin makes a great tonic for the body even if you don’t have a specific ailment to cure. It is said to increase the heat in the body thus making metabolism more efficient. It is also thought to be a powerful kidney and liver herb and can help boost your immune system. Though the appropriate studies have yet to be conducted, some believe black cumin seeds may even be able to help treat asthma and arthritis.

So the next time you are offered a bowl of chili - go ahead and eat it. You may get something that tastes great along with the many health benefits of cumin.

Garlic. Destroys cancer cells and may disrupt the metabolism of tumor cells, says Karen Collins, RD, nutrition advisor to the American Institute for Cancer Research. "Studies suggest that one or two cloves weekly provide cancer-protective benefits."

There are two main medical ingredients which produce the garlic health benefits: allicin and diallyl sulphides. Allicin, and Diallyl Sulphides. 

Allicin is the most powerful medicinal compound derived from garlic and provides the greatest reputed health benefits. Allicin does not occur in "ordinary" garlic, it is produced when garlic is finely chopped or crushed. The finer the chopping and the more intensive the crushing, the more allicin is generated and the stronger the medicinal effect. The technically minded might be interested in the chemistry of allicin. As well as having antibiotic properties, allicin is an excellent anti-fungal and garlic preparations have been used in folk medicine to treat skin infections such as athlete's foot. Be cautious: too much contact with crushed garlic can result in skin blistering. You should also be aware that a few people are allergic to garlic. Garlic is powerful and needs to be treated with respect - see the warnings page. Allicin starts to degrade immediately after it is produced, so its medical effectiveness decreases over time. Cooking speeds up this degradation and microwaving appears to destroy allicin totally and eliminate any health benefits.

So for the most powerful medicinal effect, crush a little raw garlic and combine with the cooked food shortly before serving. Don't overdo it - too much can produce irritation of and possibly even damage to the digestive tract. Remember too that raw, crushed garlic also has the most powerful flavour!

The diallyl sulphides (sulfides) obtained from garlic are less powerful than allicin but can still reportedly provide some benefits to health.
Diallyl sulphides are also less volatile than allicin. They do not degrade as quickly and, importantly, the health benefits survive cooking. Note that garlic still needs to be chopped or crushed to produce the sulphides - if garlic is cooked whole then it has almost no medicinal value or health benefits.

Diallyl sulphides do not share the antifungal properties of allicin. However they are reportedly good for the blood and circulation in some cases. The sulphides might also help to lower the levels of "bad" cholesterol, hence garlic might help to keep the heart and cardiovascular system healthy.

Diallyl suphides also have a reputation for boosting the immune system.

The garlic sulphides break down in the body within a few hours so for maximum health benefit it is best to have "a little often" as opposed to one large daily dose. 

Garlic's health benefits and medicinal properties have long been known (1). Garlic has long been considered a herbal "wonder drug", with a reputation in folklore for preventing everything from the common cold and flu to the Plague! It has been used extensively in herbal medicine (phytotherapy, sometimes spelt phitotherapy). Raw garlic is used by some to treat the symptoms of acne and there is some evidence that it can assist in managing high cholesterol levels. It can even be effective as a natural mosquito repellent.
In general, a stronger tasting clove of garlic has more sulphur content and hence more medicinal value it's likely to have. Some people have suggested that organically grown garlic tends towards a higher sulphur level and hence greater benefit to health. In my experience it certainly tastes better so I buy organic whenever possible whether or not it's best for my health.

Garlic’s health benefits are substantiated by a wealth of modern day research that confirms its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is also a powerful antioxidant and immune booster with anti-inflammatory properties. Scientific studies reveal benefits for diabetes, cancer and heart disease. It's heart health traits include lowering bad cholesterol and blood pressure, aiding circulation and preventing against stroke.

Garlic’s might is largely due to the sulfur compounds it contains, such as allicin. Garlic also houses vitamin C, B6, selenium, magnesium, potassium, calcium and manganese and flavonoids.

The sulphur compound allicin provides not only many of the notable benefits of garlic, but also its notorious odor. Allicin is formed during the chemistry of chopping, crushing and chewing garlic, the more thorough the milling, the more allicin is created. Allicin has antibiotic, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, and is the reason why garlic has been used for skin infections such as Athletes’s foot, herpes and warts, digestive and lung infections such as diarrhea, coughs and colds, and Candida yeast and other microbes.

Allicin begins to degrade once produced and on cooking, so eating garlic raw and soon after chopping ensures the assimilation of optimum levels.

Garlic also contains diallyl sulphides, which, whilst not anti-fungal like allicin, are good for the blood and circulation, lowering bad cholesterol and boosting the immune system.

Garlic - Natural Cure for Herpes and Common Ailments
Garlic is an all round disease-preventive, and can be used as a natural treatment cure for common ailments such as acne, colds and flu, herpes and wrinkles due to its natural antioxidant and anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.

Crush a clove or two of garlic into lukewarm water and drink twice a day though be careful on an empty stomach if you are sensitive to garlic. This also serves as a natural body detoxifier. If your skin is not over sensitive to garlic it can also be applied directly to acne spots or herpes. I find it very effective as a cure for oral herpes (cold-sores).

I have found that treating herpes, cold sores or genital blisters with raw garlic applied directly onto the skin could be really harmful and lead to third degree burns. You can find much safer and just as efficient herpes treatment options other than topical garlic in Herpes Wise - Get Rid of Herpes Fast .

Here is a free tip for you. Some people just can't stand the smell of garlic but that doesn't mean they shouldn't enjoy garlic health benefits. I know a very good supplement that can deliver allicin only when it  reaches the small intestine. This can make this supplement more potent than raw garlic itself. Indeed, a lot of allicin is lost during digestion.In other words, the later the allicin comes in contact with your digestive tract the better.

Further more, digesting raw garlic can be uneasy and cause unpleasant breath. This problem is partially relieved by delaying the absorption of allicin further down the digestive tract. The garlic supplement I'm referring to is Garlinase Fresh.

Garlic as Anti-Inflammatory
The sulfur compounds in garlic have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting the activity of inflammatory enzymes. Along with vitamin C this can make garlic a protection against the pain associated with arthritis and asthma attacks. Vitamin C also increases body oxygen levels and interferon production which are both good for treating herpes.

Garlic for Cancer Prevention
Population studies have revealed that eating garlic regularly, along with other alliums such as onions chives and scallions, reduces the risk of oesophageal, colon and stomach cancer. This may be due to garlic’s ability to reduce the formation of carcinogenic compounds. Garlic’s sulfur compounds such as allicin and ajeone have been found to stop the growth of various cancers in animal laboratory studies, including skin, stomach, colon, breast and oral cancer. Garlic also contains the powerful antioxidant mineral selenium, known for its anti-cancer properties.

Selenium is used by our bodies to produce glutathione peroxidase. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant. There is preliminary evidence that it may be useful in the management of some cancers, atherosclerosis, diabetes, lung disorders, noise-induced hearing loss, male infertility and to detoxify or prevent toxic bluid-up in the body. It may also have some anti-viral activity and has been used to treat AIDS.

Taking Selenium supplements is often recommended for the treatment and prevention of herpes.

Garlic for the Heart
garlic is renowned for its abilities to lower cholesterol and blood pressure naturally and protect against heart disease and stroke. Garlic has also been found to stimulate the production of nitric oxide in blood vessels aiding their dilation, and assist the body’s ability to dissolve blood clots (fibrinolyisis).

The antioxidant properties of garlic can also protect against cardiovascular disease by inhibiting the oxidation of bad cholesterol which would otherwise build up in artery walls. Further, folate in garlic is known to protect the cardiovascular system.

Garlic for Diabetes
Some of the damage that can result from the degenerative effects of diabetes such as diseases of the kidney, retina and nervous system, may be deterred by garlic. Rats that were given a drug that would induce similar diabetic-effects in the body, namely an increase in blood sugar, cholesterol and damaged fats and a reduction in the body’s antioxidants, experienced fewer negative effects from the drug and an increase in antioxidant levels when given a daily dose of garlic oil.

In conclusion, research has confirmed garlic health benefits against bacteria, fungi, viruses like herpes simplex viruses, inflammation, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol levels.

Some people prefer to take garlic supplements. These pills and capsules have the advantage of avoiding garlic breath.

Modern science has shown that garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic, albeit broad-spectrum rather than targeted. The body does not appear to build up resistance to the garlic, so its positive health benefits continue over time.

Studies (2) have shown that garlic - especially aged garlic - can have a powerful antioxidant effect. Antioxidants can help to protect the body against damaging "free radicals".

Ginger. Ginger is a tropical spice that has a wonderful pungent, citrus flavor that many of us associate with holiday baking. Derived from the gingerroot, this holiday favorite is special for other reasons too. Did you know it has as many antioxidants as a cup of spinach? You may be comforted by the soothing smells of ginger-spiked baked goods, yet you may not know that ginger has a long history of other comforting properties. For centuries, ginger was used as a natural remedy for a variety of conditions, especially soothing distressed stomachs. Now modern medicine is attempting to validate the use of ginger to ease indigestion and reduce pain.

Can decrease motion sickness and nausea; may also relieve pain and swelling associated with arthritis. Doses used in clinical trials range from 500 to 2,000 mg of powdered ginger. (A quarter-size piece of fresh root contains about 1,000 mg.) More than 6,000 mg can cause stomach irritation. Ginger can also hinder blood clotting, so if you're about to have surgery or are taking blood thinners or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor first.

The potential benefits appear to be due to the anti-inflammatory properties of gingerol – one of the active ingredients in ginger. Some studies suggest gingerol may work like certain anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin and ibuprofen) by inhibiting an enzyme that causes inflammation. Research indicates that ginger may offer pain relief for everything from arthritis to nausea and migraines.


Native to the Mediterranean region, marjoram grows primarily in Sicily, and one of its cities, Marjoram, is named after it. The residents of Marjoram hold the belief that marjoram had the power to banish sorrow. In addition, marjoram has sacred associations in the Hindu religion and was found to be of considerable use in the middle Ages, especially to preserve and disinfect meat that was less than fresh.

Because marjoram is considered to have the most fragrant essential oil among all herbs, it is widely used in aromatherapy, and also as a warming and soothing message oil to provide relief for muscular ache. Its healing properties include: fighting asthma; headaches; and soothing the stomach and digestive tract. This soothing herbal flavor can be enjoyed as a tea by sprinkling water over a few sprigs of marjoram.

In addition, the leaf of the marjoram has been used to loosen phlegm. It acts as a decongestant and useful in bronchitis, sinusitis and sinus headaches. Used as a tonic for the nervous system, marjoram is believed to be more calming than oregano, as it is used to soothe the nerves, reduce tension and stress; especially environmental. One of the components in marjoram is the flavonoids which have sedation qualities which help to relieve insomnia, tension headaches and migraines.

Promoting healthy digestion and treating simple gastrointestinal disorders, such as loss of appetite, indigestion, nausea and flatulence is another benefit in using marjoram. Much like the herb peppermint, it is said to soothe minor digestive upsets and colic. The flavonoids may also promote healthy arteries and heart by preventing cholesterol buildup and improving blood circulation. It is also thought to help individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

Containing anti-inflammatory properties, marjoram can be used internally or externally. It alleviates aches and pains and when used externally, aids in the reduction of toothaches, muscular pain, bruises, arthritis, sprains and stiff joints. Used internally, it eases severe stomach cramps, spasms and painful menstruation. Marjoram stimulates perspiration, which also helps to rid the body of toxins through the skin. Moreover, this quality helps in the reduction of fevers, and helps to relieve cold and flu symptoms.

On the culinary side, marjoram makes excellent stuffing for chicken and turkey roasts. It makes an attractive garnish for bean and pea soups, and enhances the flavor of carrot and squash when cooked with it. It also works well with cheese and egg dishes. Marjoram is considered to be one of the rare herbs whose flavor intensifies when dried. It is also used in homemade sausages and meats that are to be cured or smoked. Marjoram also works well in combination with other herbs in spice blends. Marjoram is most definitely a major health benefit. 

The most common ground I can find for the health benefits derived from consumption of marjoram are as a muscle relaxant, and, generally, treatment for stiff and painful joints, arthritis, sprains, bruises and muscle pain.

To derive these benefits the leaves should be ground into a paste, adding hot tea or water, and a little oatmeal for consistency purposes, if need be. Or, simply rub in marjoram oil for relief of muscle aches and sprains. The oil is reputedly also effective for the temporary relief of toothache. Just rub it on to the effected tooth.

One normally authoritative source claims that it may be taken internally in the treatment of bronchial complaints, tension headaches, insomnia, anxiety, minor digestive upsets and painful menstruation. However I understand, from more than one source, that marjoram can be a uterine irritant and should, therefore, be used with caution during menstruation or pregnancy.

In any case, Hippocrates was convinced of its efficacy and included marjoram in his many medical recommendations Apparently, when marjoram is found growing on a grave, it is said that the departed will enjoy a pleasant afterlife.

So, if it doesn't work for you this time around……..

Oregano. Of all the dried herbs, oregano has one of the highest antioxidant levels. Just one teaspoon of dried oregano leaves has as many antioxidants as three ounces of almonds and ½ cup of chopped asparagus.

Rosmarinic acid is the active compound in oregano that appears to have the strong antioxidant activity. Many of the studies on oregano (literally translated, "joy of the mountain") have focused on the antimicrobial properties that help fight the growth of bacteria and parasites. Because of the high antioxidant level of oregano, researchers are continuing to explore the use of oregano in various food applications to inhibit bacterial growth. One lab study examined the antimicrobial effects of oregano on the bacteria associated with ulcers.

A USDA study found that, gram for gram, oregano has the highest antioxidant activity of 27 fresh culinary herbs.

Oregano is high in antioxidant activity, due to a high content of phenolic acids and flavonoids.[5][6] Additionally, oregano has demonstrated antimicrobial activity against food-borne pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes.[5] Both of these characteristics may be useful in both health and food preservation. In the Philippines, oregano (Coleus aromaticus) is not commonly used for cooking but is rather considered as a primarily medicinal plant, useful for relieving headaches and coughs.

Main constituents include carvacrol, thymol, limonene, pinene, ocimene, and caryophyllene. The leaves and flowering stems are strongly antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and mildly tonic. Aqueous extracts, capsules, or oil extracts of oregano are taken by mouth for the treatment of colds, influenza, mild fevers, fungal infections, indigestion, stomach upsets, enteric parasites,[7] and painful menstruation. It is strongly sedative and should not be taken in large doses, though mild teas have a soothing effect and aid restful sleep. Used topically, oregano is one of the best antiseptics because of its high thymol content.[8]

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used oregano as an antiseptic as well as a cure for stomach and respiratory ailments. A Cretan oregano (O. dictamnus) is still used today in Greece to soothe a sore throat.[9]

Oregano has recently been found to have extremely effective properties against methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), showing a higher effectiveness than 18 currently used drugs.[10][11]

Oil of oregano has been found helpful against ear infections.[citation needed]

Practitioners of alternative medicine often recommend Oregano as an herb essential to aid in the recovery of a variety of ailments.

Paprika.Paprika is unusually high in vitamin C. Hungary's Nobel prize-winning Professor Szent Gyorgyi first discovered the vitamin in paprika chile peppers. The capsicum peppers used for paprika contain six to nine times as much vitamin C as tomaoes by weight.

High heat leaches the vitamins from peppers, thus commercially-dried peppers are not as nutritious as those dried naturally in the sun.

As an antibacterial agent and stimulant, paprika can help normalize blood pressure, improve circulation, and increase the production of saliva and stomach acids to aid digestion. Contains capsaicin, whose anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects may lower the risk of cancer (also found in cayenne and red chili peppers). There's no specific recommended dose, but moderation is probably the best way to go.

Red Pepper. Turning up the heat with chile peppers can help you crank up the antioxidants. Capsaicin is the powerful compound in peppers that gives chiles their heat. The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin (and antioxidants!) you'll find. Cayenne or ground red pepper contains the most. Yet all red peppers – including chili powder and the milder paprika – are surprisingly good sources of antioxidants.

If you're trying to eat less, red pepper might help. Some studies have shown that when people added red pepper to their food they ate fewer calories during that meal – and even during the next meal. It seems that capsaicin helps increase satiety, or a feeling of fullness.

Beyond helping you control your appetite, initial findings of some studies indicate that spicing up your meal with cayenne, chili powder and paprika can help boost your metabolism. Even milder, sweet red peppers have been found to increase calorie burning.

Cayenne pepper is a wonderful herb that helps in improving the digestive system and circulatory system. It is used for the treatment of many ailments like indigestion, pain, heart disease, sore throat, toothache...
Cayenne pepper, also known as guinea or bird pepper, is a hot chili pepper, known since long time for its healing properties. It is red in color and used for flavoring food dishes as well as medicinal purposes. The heat and/or medicinal property of cayenne pepper is due to the presence of a chemical compound, called capsaicin. The most commonly cultivated variety of cayenne is Capsicum annum. The term cayenne pepper is used to refer the dried and ground form of cayenne fruits. Let's take a look at the health benefits of cayenne pepper.

Cayenne Pepper: Health Benefits

Cayenne pepper is of high nutritional value, as it contains vitamin A, B complexes and vitamin C. It is also a rich source of carotenoids, organic calcium and potassium. Many people who specialize in herbal medicines claim that cayenne pepper improves the heart health, digestive system and also, the circulatory system. According to them, cayenne pepper is the most valuable herb known till date.

Cayenne pepper has been used for therapeutic purposes since ancient times. It is mentioned in many of the folklores as a therapeutic herb for curing a number of health complications. Recent clinical studies have proved the healing properties of cayenne pepper. For instance, according to the study conducted by the Italian doctors, it was observed that the use of cayenne pepper reduced dyspepsia symptoms for more than half of the patients.

The study was conducted in 30 dyspepsia patients that were divided into two groups; 'the control group' who are prescribed normal treatments and 'the pepper group' who were prescribed 2.5 gm of cayenne pepper per day (taken in three doses before each meal), in addition to their normal treatments. In the fifth week, the symptoms like nausea, fullness, pain and overall score were reduced to almost 60 percent for the red pepper group; whereas, this didn't happen in the case of control group.

Speaking about the digestive system, cayenne pepper plays a major role in repairing the worn out tissues of the stomach and intestine. It aids in absorption of the nutrients and elimination of wastes. It helps in creating sufficient amount of hydrochloric acid by the body, which in turn, enhances the protein assimilation.

Cayenne pepper boosts the heart action and the blood circulation. It has a unique property to enhance the cardiovascular activity, thereby lowering the blood pressure. Hence, it is used as a natural stimulant or an energizer to overcome fatigue and stress. It is claimed that cayenne pepper can stop the heart attack events and/or other medical emergencies. This miracle herb is also used as a pain-reliever and for the treatment of skin irritations and psoriasis.

The list of benefits from cayenne pepper seems to go on and on: it fights inflammation, prevents stomach ulcers, boosts immunity, offers pain relief, has cardiovascular benefits, and helps clear congestion. It seems that no matter your ailment, a dose of cayenne will help you out! Cayenne is also full of vitamin A.

Who knew that making your food taste good could be so good for you? So, go ahead and add a little spice to your meal. Adding a bit of spice to your life may actually help you increase your lifespan!

Rosemary. A cornerstone of Mediterranean cooking, this distinctive, aromatic herb is packed with flavor and antioxidants. Rosemary not only tastes good -- in everything from marinades to mashed potatoes -- it is now being linked to good health. Stops gene mutations that could lead to cancer and may help prevent damage to the blood vessels that raise heart attack risk.

Rosmary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a well-known culinary herb. Dried rosemary leaves are a popular seasoning for food... adding flavour to soups, stews, meat and fish.

Applied to the skin, rosemary essential oil helps strengthen the capillaries and has a rejuvenating effect. For this reason, rosemary is a common ingredient used in many cosmetics, including skin toners, creams, soaps and hair products.

However, beyond being a flavouring-enhancer for certain foods and its use in cosmetics, you may not be aware that rosemary extract has a long history of medicinal uses too. It has been used to treat a wide range of ailments, including stomach upsets, digestive disorders and headaches.

Recent research is now revealing even more benefits attached to this remarkable herb, including its ability to help prevent cancer and age-related skin damage, boost the functioning of the liver and act as a mild diuretic to help reduce swelling.

Two of the most important ingredients in rosemary, which are thought to be largely responsible for many of these therapeutic actions, are caffeic acid and rosemarinic acid - both are potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents.1

These two natural acids are effective at reducing inflammation which may contribute to asthma, liver disease and heart disease.2

Rosemary is proving an important defence against cancer

The antioxidants contained in rosemary help to protect your body's cells from damage by free radicals. They include monoterpenes, phenolic diterpenes and flavonoids, which are renowned for their ability to slow down the production of free radicals.3, 4

It is also a rich source of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), another potent antioxidant, which contributes to its free radical fighting powers further still.5

DNA is your genetic blueprint, and it is particularly prone to injury from free radicals. Left unchecked, this damage can eventually lead to cells proliferating out of control, which greatly increases the risk of cancer.

Scientists from the department of Mutagenesis and Carcinogenesis, Cancer Research Institute of Slovak Academy of Sciences, in the Slovak Republic, have found that rosemary extract can significantly help to protect DNA against free radical damage.6

By blocking oestrogen, rosemary helps prevent breast cancer

It is well known that an imbalance of oestrogen hormones in women can contribute to breast cancer. Several conventional drugs such as Tamoxifen are aimed at blocking the effects of oestrogen to help reduce this risk. However, Tamoxifen can cause a range of unpleasant side effects, including hot flushes, vaginal bleeding, headaches and nausea.

Fortunately, rosemary offers a safe and natural alternative treatment. Dr Zhu and colleagues from the Department of Chemical Biology,

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State University of New Jersey in the US, found that a 2 per cent concentration of rosemary extract given for three weeks was able to significantly inactivate excess oestrogen. Researchers believe that it works by stimulating liver enzymes, which inactivate oestrogen hormones like oestrone and oestradiol.7

Rosemary helps minimise the effects of ageing on your skin

As mentioned earlier, one of the traditional uses of rosemary is as a cosmetic. Recent research findings have now confirmed the skin-protective benefits it possesses.

According to researchers working at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Catania, in Italy, rosemary extract helps protect the individual components of skin cells, which may prevent age-related skin damage such as wrinkles.8

In a follow-up study the Italian researchers found that rosemary extract is able to exert even greater benefits. In particular, it was shown to safeguard a protective protein called HSP70. The role of this protein is to reduce damage caused by stress, free radicals and other toxins on the skin.9

Disarms harmful toxins and flushes them from your body

Another benefit rosemary extract has been shown to possess is an ability to inactivate toxins and then eliminate them from your liver, before they can inflict any serious damage.

French scientists from the National Institute of Agronomic Research in Dijon, found that rosemary extract encouraged detoxifying enzymes - including cytochrome P450, glutathione transferase and quinone reductase - to flush harmful toxins from the liver.10

In effect, rosemary stimulates your liver to work more efficiently, which helps you feel more healthy and energetic.

Rosemary helps combat the effects of water retention

Rosemary also has therapeutic properties as a mild diuretic - making it effective in reducing swollen ankles and bloating. Dr M Halaoui from the department of Biology, University of Fez in Morocco, has studied the effects of rosemary extract's diuretic actions on the kidney.

He found that a daily dose of rosemary extract in liquid form can improve kidney function significantly, increase urine flow, and preserve the essential minerals sodium, potassium and chlorium.11

This is important because conventional diuretics (water tablets) may actually worsen kidney function by speeding up the elimination of these essential minerals from the body.

As an herb rosemary’s health benefits have been known & used for thousands of years by ancient cultures, including the Chinese & Greeks, who used rosemary usually correctly for its health benefits.

Rosemary as an herbal treatment is currently used for headache, indigestion & depression. However, it also has many other uses as outlined below.

Using rosemary as an herbal remedy
Asthma may be relieved by rosemary’s volatile oil which can open breathing passages narrowed by histamine.

Rosemary herb benefits includes preventing food spoilage as the commercial products BHA & BHT. Simply fold crushed rosemary into meat, fish, pasta & potato salads. Of course, rosemary also enhances the flavor of the foods it is mixed into.

You can also use rosemary for body odor that is caused by bacteria or fungus. Simply mix ground rosemary into bath powder and use normally. You can also use rosemary tea as a bath wash.

Rosemary’s health benefits include its effect against infectious bacteria. This also extends to its inhibiting infections from minor cuts. Simply press fresh rosemary leaves onto cut before washing & treating. 

While modern herbalists do not generally recommend rosemary for memory problems like ancient people did, there might still be a role for rosemary in cognitive problems. As a tea or shampoo herb rosemary contains certain compounds that may help inhibit Alzheimer’s . Drink lots of rosemary tea & use shampoos containing rosemary.

Rosemary herb benefits also includes enhancing hair quality & delay baldness. Give it a shot. At worse you’ll come out with very clean hair.

Rosemary has generally simulative properties so it may be a good natural treatment for fatigue. Drink several cups of rosemary tea a day or look for candles that contain rosemary oil.

Scabies is a disturbing condition where mites house themselves under the skin & lay its eggs. This causes infections & lesions. Rosemary health benefits include minimizing pain of scabies by dabbing cooled tea onto affected areas.

Its antispasmodic effects enable it to relax smooth muscle tissue so rosemary is quite good for digestive problems.

Rosemary can also help relieve congestion brought on by colds & flu.

Rosemary also contains powerful antioxidants which are essential for preventing cancer, heart disease & premature aging.

Its antioxidant effects may also help arthritis sufferers especially before disease worsens.

Its antioxidant properties also suggest it may be effective against cataract formation. Drink lots of rosemary tea for that purpose

What to take for best results

The recommended dosage is two 400mg rosemary capsules up to three times a day. 

Sage. Sage is commonly grown herb that is well known for its use in the kitchen. Sage is used to give dishes a unique flavor. Sage has a strong smell and bitter taste. It is native to the Mediterranean area. It is a tall plant with scarce foliage. Sage is a dull green, almost grey color and the leaves are hairy. There are many different varieties of sage, but red sage and white or green sage with broad leaves have been found to hold the best medicinal qualities. Sage is used most often in beverages. Tea is the most popular use for sage and it is also sometimes used in wine. Sage can increase the potency of alcohol. In France, the wine made with sage is also used for medicinal reasons. Sage has also been used in cheese to help improve the flavor.

Sage (Salvia officinalis [Latin]) has many medicinal uses as well. Sage is thought to help keep a person healthy and in some countries elders eat sage everyday as a way to stay healthy. The leaves can be infused or dried and used for medicinal purposes. It has been used to help treat a range of mouth problems, form bleeding gums to slowing the production of saliva. Sage has also been used to help sooth a sore throat. It can be used to help calm the nerves and relieve pain. It is also thought to e able to reduce fever and purify the blood. It is largely credited with the ability to reduce pain of any kind and help the brain function normally.Sage was once used to help preserve meat and over the past 2,000 years or so has been recommended by herbalists to treat just about every known condition, from snakebite to mental illness. In fact, in medieval times the French called the herb toute bonne, which means, "all is well". Modern research has shown that sage, while not a panacea, can help reduce excessive perspiration, digestive problems, sore throats, premenstrual cramps, and high blood sugar.

Sage was once recommended by herbalists has to treat fever, a usage that probably arose from sage's ability to reduce perspiration. Modern research has demonstrated that sage reduces perspiration by as much as 50 percent, and Commission E, the group that evaluates the safety and efficacy of herbs for the German government, approves the use of sage infusions to treat excessive perspiration. Today, there are sage-based natural deodorants sold at most health food stores.

Sage is also an active ingredient in some natural mouthwashes because its tannins are thought to help kill the bacteria that cause gingivitis. Sage has traditionally been used to treat canker sores, bleeding gums, sore throat, tonsillitis, and laryngitis. Recent laboratory studies support the use of sage to guard against infection-it has demonstrated an ability to fight against several infection-causing bacteria. Some herbalists and, in Germany physicians, recommend gargling hot sage to soothe pain from sore throat and tonsillitis.

Like two other culinary herbs, rosemary and thyme, sage helps guard against depletion of the brain's concentration of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is crucial to proper brain function. A combination of ginkgo biloba, sage, and rosemary may help prevent or slow the development of Alzheimer's.

Sage has a long history of use as a treatment for gastrointestinal disorders. It has been shown to help relax muscle spasms in the digestive tract, and is approved by Commission E for treatment of indigestion. One German study has found that drinking a sage infusion reduced blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, but only when they took the infusion on an empty stomach.

Sage is available commercially in liquid leaf extract form; the usual dose is 1 teaspoon three times per day. It's easy to grow and dry your own sage. Better yet, this herb is a perennial, and will come back year after year, although it should be replaced every three to four years or it becomes woody and unproductive. To harvest your own sage leaves, cut the plant down, leaving 4 inches above the ground, then strip and dry the leaves for future medicinal or culinary use.

For a homebrewed sage tea, use 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried leaves per cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes, then strain. Use this infusion as a gargle for sore throat or as a mouthwash for gingivitis. You can also drink up to 3 cups a day to improve digestion and help regulate blood sugar. (Remember that people with diabetes must be under a doctor's care and should consult their doctor before taking medicinal amounts of any herb.) Drinking sage infusions could also help reduce wetness if you perspire a lot.

Very few side effects have been reported from the consumption of sage leaves; however, those using more concentrated forms of this herb, such as tea or extracts, may experience inflammation of the lips and lining of the mouth. This inflammatory response is probably due to a toxic chemical in sage called thujone. In very large amounts, thujone has been shown to cause convulsions. Concentrated sage oil is toxic and its use should be restricted to aromatherapy.

Sage has traditionally been used to promote menstruation, and there are some studies that indicate it may indeed help stimulate uterine contractions; pregnant women should not consume highly concentrated forms of sage, although using it as a culinary spice has not been shown to have this effect.

Dried sage leaf is used as a culinary spice and as a source of sage oil, which is obtained by steam distillation. Traditionally, sage and its oil have been used for the treatment of a wide range of illnesses; the name Salvia derives from the Latin word meaning "healthy" or "to heal" Extracts and teas have been used to treat digestive disorders, as a tonic, and as an antispasmodic. The plant has been used topically as an antiseptic and astringent and to manage excessive sweating.Sage has been used internally as a tea for the treatment of dysmenorrhea, diarrhea, gastritis, and sore throat. The dried leaves have been smoked to treat asthma. Despite these varied uses, there is little evidence that the plant exerts any significant pharmacologic activity. The plant's fragrance is said to suppress fish odor, Sage oil is used as a fragrance in soaps and perfumes. It is a widely used food flavoring, and sage oleoresin is also used in the culinary industry.

Uses of Sage
An ancient herb, Sage is popular as a potent condiment for meat, fish, Mediterranean dishes, English Sage Derby Cheese, and as a basis for sage tea, taken to counteract sweating. Infusion of Sage can used to treat depression, nervous anxiety and liver disorders; homeopathic preparations can be given for circulation and menopausal problems. The leaves are also antiseptic, used in gargles for laryngitis and tonsillitis, and as a mouth freshener and tooth cleanser. It also provides an essential oil which can be used in perfumery.

Thyme. A teaspoon of this versatile herb contains about the same amount of antioxidants as a carrot or a ½ cup chopped tomatoes. Thyme also contains a variety of beneficial compounds called flavonoids that increase the herb's antioxidant capacity and may offer anti-inflammatory benefits.

Throughout history, thyme was believed to have certain medicinal properties and was used to help treat chest and respiratory problems. Now researchers believe thymol and other volatile oils in thyme may be responsible for a range of benefits. Some studies suggest the antioxidants in thyme could offer age-related benefits, such as helping to maintain cognitive function and promote heart health.

Turmeric. Turmeric is a deeply-hued spice found in yellow curry powder that provides much more than color and flavor. It is a concentrated source of antioxidants – on par with strawberries, raspberries and cherries. Even a teaspoon of curry powder, which is a blend of turmeric and other spices, has as many antioxidants as ½ cup of red grapes.

Curcumin, the bright yellow compound in turmeric, has been the focus of several studies. Emerging evidence suggests curcumin may help inhibit the growth of cancer cells, reduce inflammation and safeguard our brain. In preliminary studies, curcumin helped thwart the development of destructive brain plaques. As a result, researchers believe yellow curry may offer the potential to protect against Alzheimer's disease.

Vanilla. Vanilla is one of the oldest and one of the most expensive spices as well as one of the most familiar, but you don’t hear a lot about it’s health benefits. That’s probably because it is more important for its flavoring and aromatic uses.

Among the purported health benefits of vanilla by ancient peoples was that it could act as an aphrodisiac. But it wasn’t just ancient peoples that thought this, in the 1700’s it was recommended by physicians to be drunk as an infusion or tincture for the purposes of male potency. An article written by the German physician in 1762 claimed that 342 impotent men were changed into astonishing lovers from drinking vanilla decoctions.

In modern times, aromatherapy tests were done on different aromas and the one that most men were aroused by was vanilla. There is some controversy over whether this arousal was gastronomic or sexual. Even so, vanillin does have anti-oxidant properties. Yet there are less expensive and more effective means of getting antioxidants (fish oil, omega-3).

While not a lot of testing has been done on vanilla regarding any specific health benefits, it is classed as a vanilloid along with capsaicin contained in chile peppers and eugenol contained in cloves - both of which have numerous medicinal properties and health benefits. Some nutritionists have conjectured that vanilla might be a mild help in preventing cancer1.

On the negative side, persons with Gilbert's Syndrome should avoid consuming vanilla, as many have experienced debilitating effects from its ingestion2.

Yellow Curry. "Curcumin", the active ingredient in turmeric, has recently been found to contain numerous health benefits and immune-boosting power. Acting as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory, curcumin improves circulation, fights bacteria, aids digestion, relieves arthritis, improves cardiovascular function, and even fights skin and breast cancer! To get more curcumin in your diet, simply make a curry - one that calls for fresh or dried turmeric - at least once a week

new study finds that compounds derived from the spices turmeric and pepper could help prevent breast cancer by limiting the growth of stem cells, the small number of cells that fuel a tumor’s growth.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have found that when the dietary compounds curcumin, which is derived from the Indian spice turmeric, and piperine, derived from black peppers, were applied to breast cells in culture, they decreased the number of stem cells while having no effect on normal differentiated cells.

“If we can limit the number of stem cells, we can limit the number of cells with potential to form tumors,” says lead author Madhuri Kakarala, M.D., Ph.D., R.D., clinical lecturer in internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and a research investigator at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

Cancer stem cells are the small number of cells within a tumor that fuel the tumor’s growth. Current chemotherapies do not work against these cells, which is why cancer recurs and spreads. Researchers believe that eliminating the cancer stem cells is key to controlling cancer. In addition, decreasing the number of normal stem cells – unspecialized cells that can give rise to any type of cell in that organ – can decrease the risk of cancer.

In this study, a solution of curcumin and piperine was applied to the cell cultures at the equivalent of about 20 times the potency of what could be consumed through diet. The compounds are available at this potency in a capsule form that could be taken by mouth. (Note: This work has not been tested in patients, and patients are not encouraged to add curcumin or piperine supplements to their diet at this time.)

The researchers applied a series of tests to the cells, looking at markers for breast stem cells and the effects of curcumin and piperine, both alone and combined, on the stem cell levels. They found that piperine enhanced the effects of curcumin, and that the compounds interrupted the self-renewal process that is the hallmark of cancer-initiating stem cells. At the same time, the compounds had no affect on cell differentiation, which is the normal process of cell development.

“This shows that these compounds are not toxic to normal breast tissue,” Kakarala says. “Women at high risk of breast cancer right now can choose to take the drugs tamoxifen or raloxifene for prevention, but most women won’t take these drugs because there is too much toxicity. The concept that dietary compounds can help is attractive, and curcumin and piperine appear to have very low toxicity.”

Curcumin and piperine have been explored by other researchers as a potential cancer treatment. But this paper, published online in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, is the first to suggest these dietary compounds could prevent cancer by targeting stem cells.

In addition, tamoxifen or raloxifene are designed to affect estrogen, which is a factor in most, but not all breast cancers. In fact, the aggressive tumors that tend to occur more often in women with a family history or genetic susceptibility are typically not affected by estrogen. Because curcumin and piperine limit the self renewal of stem cells, they would impact cancers that are not estrogen sensitive as well as those that are.

Researchers are planning an initial Phase I clinical trial to determine what dose of curcumin or piperine can be tolerated in people. The trial is not expected to begin accruing participants until spring.

Breast cancer statistics: 194,280 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 40,610 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society

Additional authors: Dean Brenner, Hasan Korkaya, Connie Cheng, Karim Tazi, Christophe Ginestier, Suling Liu, Gabriel Dontu and Max Wicha, all from U-M

Funding: National Institutes of Health; curcumin and piperine were donated by Sabinsa Co.

Reference: Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, DOI: 10.1007/s10549-009-0612-x

U-M Cancer AnswerLine, 800-865-1125
U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center
Cancer’s Stem Cell Revolution

Last modified on Friday, 11 October 2013 01:18
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