Rosemary, known as a sacred plant in ancient Greece, found to possess anticancer properties

If you thought rosemary’s abilities were limited to adding some flair to chicken and roasted potatoes, think again. Studies have shown that it can be surprisingly beneficial in preventing and reversing cancer, particularly when it comes to breast cancer.

This evergreen herb with its distinctive scent comes from the mint family, and like its cousin oregano, it has plenty to offer in the way of therapeutic uses. It’s a native to the Mediterranean and its use there dates back to 500 B.C., when ancient Greeks and Romans used it as a medicinal herb as well as for cooking. Most of the commercial dried rosemary sold in the U.S. today comes from Spain, France and Morocco, but it’s very easy to grow it yourself if you live in a temperate area – and scientists have found many great reasons why you might want to do so.

Studies have shown that it can stop human leukemia and breast cancer cells from spreading, prevent tumors from growing, and stop cancer-causing agents from forming.

Its anticancer properties can largely be attributed to its high levels of potent antioxidants like rosmarinic acid, carnosic acid, and vitamin E. The carnosol in particular can help detoxify the substances that spur the growth of breast cancer tumors.

According to a 2007 study carried out in Romania, 95 percent of women with stage 3 or 4 breast cancer who consumed a rosemary-rich salad noted a significant reduction in oxidative stress.

It’s particularly useful for the four fifths of women with breast cancer who have the ER-positive variety, which means their cancer cells grow as a response to estrogen. Tamoxifen, which is normally used to block estrogen’s effects in such women, has a host of unpleasant effects like vaginal bleeding, nausea and hot flashes and is even a carcinogen itself, so the idea of using a plant instead is extremely attractive. Research shows rosemary can inactivate hormones naturally by stimulating enzymes in the liver that shut down aggressive types of estrogen.

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