Medicinal Plants as a Cancer-Fighting Tool

Bring Asian research insights to the rest of the world.

Did you know? Certain plants may help us fight cancer. Read on!!

According a report by the National University of Singapore:

“Researchers found the effects in leaves of the bandicoot berry (Leea indica), South African leaf (Vernonia amygdalina), and simpleleaf chastetree (Vitex trifolia). Three other medicinal plants also demonstrated anti-cancer properties. ‘Medicinal plants have been used for the treatment of diverse ailments since ancient times, but their anti-cancer properties have not been well studied,’ says Koh Hwee Ling, associate professor from the National University of Singapore’s pharmacy department. ‘Our findings provide new scientific evidence for the use of traditional herbs for cancer treatment, and pave the way for the development of new therapeutic agents.’ The findings, which appear in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, highlight the importance of conserving these indigenous plants as resources for drug discovery and understanding these natural resources.”

“The experiments involved preparing extracts of fresh, healthy and mature leaves of the seven plants, and testing the extracts with the cell lines of seven different types of cancers—breast, cervical, colon, leukemia, liver, ovarian, and uterine. The team opted to examine leaves as they can regrow without harming the plants—making it a sustainable choice, unlike using the bark or roots. The experiments involved preparing extracts of fresh, healthy and mature leaves of the seven plants, and testing the extracts with the cell lines of seven different types of cancers — breast, cervical, colon, leukemia, liver, ovarian, and uterine. The team opted to examine leaves as they can regrow without harming the plants — making it a sustainable choice, unlike using the bark or roots.”

Click the image to read more.

Medicinal Plants as a Cancer-Fighting Tool
Out of the leaf extracts of the seven plants researchers tested, they found the sabah snake grass (bottom right) had weak effects or no effect against almost all the cell lines they tested. (Credit: NUS)

 

Life Is Too Short to Hold Grudges

Take the quiz. 🙂

Virtually all of us (myself included) have gotten upset enough to hold a grudge — at least for a while. Sometimes, we can’t even remember why a grudge was started. Life is too short hold grudges.

What exactly is a grudge? According to Vocabulary.com:

“Grudge comes from the now dead Middle English word ‘grutch,’ which meant ‘to complain or grumble.’ Someone who bears a grudge might often be grouchy. You can specify a type of grudge: political grudge, personal grudge, etc. You know Grandpa’s been holding a grudge against the neighbors for years, but you have to wonder: How long can he hold that shotgun?”

“If you tend to hold a grudge, you don’t let it go when you feel someone’s insulted or wronged you. I hope you won’t hold a grudge against me for bringing it up.”

As Tim Herrera reports for the New York Times:

“’Holding onto a grudge really is an ineffective strategy for dealing with a life situation that you haven’t been able to master. That’s the reality of it,’ said Dr. Frederic Luskin, founder of the Stanford Forgiveness Project. Whenever you can’t grieve and assimilate what has happened, you hold it in a certain way,’ he said. ‘If it’s bitterness, you hold it with anger. If it’s hopeless, you hold it with despair. But both of those are psycho-physiological responses to an inability to cope, and they both do mental and physical damage.’”

Now, click the image to take a quiz about YOURSELF and grudges.
Life Is Too Short to Hold Grudges
Getty Images

“This quiz helps you figure out how hefty your grudge should be, on a scale of one carat to 10 carats. (This is an excerpt from ‘How to Hold a Grudge,’ by Sophie Hannah, published by Scribner, with additional explanations of each grudge written by Ms. Hannah.)”

 

Stevie Wisz — Role Model as a Courageous Young Athlete

Read about this amazing 21-year-old. In a word, WOW!

Yesterday and today, we highlight two truly inspirational role models. One is 55 years old and battling lung cancer. The other is 21 years old with long-term heart issues. Neither has let their health problems slow them down. Bravo!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Stevie Wisz — Role Model as a Courageous Young Athlete

Stevie Wisz is a 21-year-old who plays on the UCLA women’s softball team. And she has had to battle heart issues virtually her entire life. Nonetheless, this is one highly motivated young woman. Quit or give up is not in her vocabulary.

Stevie’s story is an uplifting one that will also draw a tear from readers. Anyone who does a blanket job criticizing today’s young adults through stereotypes such as lazy and unmotivated, needs to rethink their view.

Here are the highlights of Stevie Wisz’s story, as reported by Wayne Drehs for ESPN:

Early Diagnosis and Surgery

At one year old, “In San Luis Obispo, doctors diagnosed Stevie Wisz with aortic stenosis, the severe narrowing of the aorta as it branches out from the heart. Stevie’s aortic valve was one-sixteenth the size it should have been. With such a narrow passageway, much of the blood her heart was pumping was leaking back into the heart chamber, meaning her heart had to work that much harder to pump blood throughout her body.”

“Wisz would eventually need open-heart surgery to save her life. But the doctors suggested postponing the surgery as long as possible to allow the heart to grow closer to its full size. They would keep an eye on Wisz through regular checkups. Over the next several years, she lived like many other little girls, competing in soccer, basketball and track. In a fourth-grade track meet, she remembers running as hard as she could but finishing a distant last. ‘That was the first time I remember thinking I was different,’ she said.”

“Over time, the blood leaking back into her heart went from a mild problem to moderate to severe. By the summer of 2006, after fourth grade, doctors said it was time for surgery.”

Stevie in 2019

“Now 21, Stevie Wisz has reached a point where her heart is 100 percent reliant on her pacemaker. If the pacemaker stops, she collapses. The leakage in her aorta is again severe. And yet she’s a Division I athlete who every day tries to push her body to its own unique limits. In last year’s Women’s College World Series, she leapt at the fence to rob Florida’s Janell Wheaton of a go-ahead home run. In April, she made a face-first, diving catch on a sinking liner against Cal, preserving a 1-0 UCLA victory. ‘You have to understand,’ Kylee Perez said. ‘Stevie isn’t someone who is just going to give up.’

“Each day that passes this spring, each victory that draws the Bruins one step closer to the Women’s College World Series, brings Wisz’s college playing career closer to an end — and closer to yet another open-heart surgery. She had circled the dates for months now. June 3-5 is the championship series, a destination UCLA has not reached since winning its most recent national championship, in 2010. June 13 is the day Wisz will walk across the Pauley Pavilion stage and receive a bachelor’s degree in biology from UCLA. And then June 21, one week later, she will head into another operating room for another attempt to solve the problem she has fought since that first checkup when she was 1.”

 

STEVIE, WE’RE ROOTING HARD FOR YOU THROUGH YOUR SURGERY AND LONG-TERM HEALTH.

 
Click the image to read more about this INCREDIBLE young woman. She is the epitome of the human spirit — and what we can accomplish if we push ourselves.

Stevie Wisz -- Role Model as a Courageous YoungAthlete
Stevie Wisz’s parents have supported their daughter after her risky decision to play this season. COURTESY WISZ FAMILY. [Stevie’s on the left.]

 

Isabella de la Houssaye — Lung Cancer Role Model

Stage-four lung cancer patient goes full throttle with children.

Today and tomorrow, we highlight two truly inspirational role modelss. One is 55 years old and battling lung cancer. The other is 21 years old with long-term heart issues. Neither has let their health problems slow them down. Bravo!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Isabella de la Houssaye — Lung Cancer Role Model

Isabella de la Houssaye is a stage-four lung cancer survivor who chooses to live life every day. And then some!! She makes the rest of us look like slackers for not doing what we set out to achieve. LOL.

Here are the highlights of her story, as reported by Rebecca Byerly for the New York Times:

“Isabella de la Houssaye raised her five children on adventure. Then came a brutal diagnosis, and a burning desire for a final journey with each one. For two decades, Isabella, 55, an outdoors enthusiast, longtime mountain climber, veteran marathoner, and triathlete, and her husband, David Crane, a top financier in the energy industry, have raised their five children, who all use the surname Crane, on adventure. These excursions, like riding horses from Siberia to the Gobi Desert, often with no one but their mother, led them to extraordinary athletic feats.”

“When Isabella’s lung cancer was diagnosed, in January 2018, she was not sure if she had months or even weeks to live. Bedridden and in excruciating pain with tumors in her pelvis, spine and brain, she qualified for a trial treatment and was prescribed two anticancer drugs that alleviated the pain and blocked the spread of cancer cells. The treatment is usually effective for 18 months, then the patient often deteriorates.”

“As her strength returned last year, she made plans to go on adventures — maybe the final ones — with each of her children, ages 16 to 25. There were lessons she wanted to share with her children about grit, persistence and mindfulness. In April 2018, she hiked more than 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago, a medieval pilgrimage route in Spain, with Oliver. Then, last June, she ran a marathon in Alaska with Cason. In September, she, her husband and three of their children finished an 80-mile ultramarathon in Kazakhstan. A week later, she and her son David completed a full Ironman — a triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile run — in South Korea.”

In January, she and Bella, her third child and only daughter, traveled to Argentina to conquer Aconcagua. Technically, Aconcagua is a relatively easy mountain because it doesn’t require ropes, ice axes, or climbing skills. But it is a two-week climb that requires sleeping in freezing tents while withstanding subzero temperatures and brutal winds. Isabella, significantly weakened by chemotherapy and weighing less than 100 pounds, knew this mountain was going to inflict its pain and push her and her daughter to the edge. That was the point. This trek was an attempt to deliver a few essential lessons to her daughter while she still could, including the acceptance not only of life’s triumphs, but its woes — ‘joy and suffering alike,’ she said.”

Click the image to read more about this AMAZING woman. She is the epitome of the human spirit — and what we can accomplish if we push ourselves.

Isabella de la Houssaye -- Lung Cancer Role Model
Photograph by Max Whittaker

 

Perspectives on Facing Dementia

Best practices to reduce odds of getting dementia

As a 70 year old, one of the scariest words to me is “dementia.” So, how can we deal with it better?

According to the National Institute on Aging:

“Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning — thinking, remembering, and reasoning — and behavioral abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. These functions include memory, language skills, visual perception, problem solving, self-management, and the ability to focus and pay attention. Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change. Dementia ranges in severity from the mildest stage, when it is just beginning to affect a person’s functioning, to the most severe stage, when the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of living.”

This does sound pretty scary, right? BUT:While dementia is more common as people grow older (up to half of all people age 85 or older may have some form of dementia), it is not a normal part of aging. Many people live into their 90s and beyond without any signs of dementia.”

To learn more, visit these resources:

The last of these resources, highlights a recent research study that found:

“In all, nearly half of respondents to the National Poll on Healthy Aging felt they were likely to develop dementia as they aged, and nearly as many worried about this prospect. [The poll asked 1,028 adults ages 50 to 64 a range of brain health questions.] In reality, research suggests that less than 20 percent of people who have reached age 65 will go on to lose cognitive ability from Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, or other conditions.

“Despite the brain-related concerns of so many respondents, only 5 percent of the entire group, and 10 percent of those who said they had a family history of dementia, said they had talked with a health care provider about how to prevent memory problems.”

“The poll shows that a greater percentage of adults in their 50s and early 60s who say they get adequate sleep and exercise, eat healthily, and are active socially at least several times a week felt their memory was just as sharp now as it was when they were younger, compared to those who do not engage in these healthy behaviors as frequently. But those who said their health was fair or poor, or who reported that they didn’t often engage in healthy lifestyle practices, were much more likely to say that their memory had declined since their younger years. In all, 59 percent of poll respondents said their memory was slightly worse than it used to be.”

“For anyone who wants to stay as sharp as possible as they age, the evidence is clear: Focus on your diet, your exercise, your sleep, and your blood pressure. Don’t focus on worrying about what might happen, or the products you can buy that promise to help, but rather focus on what you can do now that research has proven to help.”

Perspectives on Facing Dementia
Credit: Getty Images

 

Getting a Better Night’s Sleep

Sleeping myths!

We’ve written before about the importance of sleeping. [See Are YOU Sleeping Well Enough.] Now, we consider some myths about sleep.

As  Sandee LaMotte writes for CNN:

“What you believe about sleep may be nothing but a pipe dream. Many of us have notions about sleep that have little basis in fact and may even be harmful to our health, according to researchers at NYU Langone Health’s School of Medicine, which conducted a study published in the journal Sleep Health.”

“‘There’s such a link between good sleep and our waking success,” said lead study investigator Rebecca Robbins of NYU Langone Health. ‘And yet we often find ourselves debunking myths, whether it’s to news outlets, friends, family or a patient.’ Robbins and her colleagues combed through 8,000 Web sites to discover what we thought we knew about healthy sleep habits and then presented those beliefs to a hand-picked team of sleep medicine experts. They determined which were myths and then ranked them by degree of falsehood and importance to health.”

 

Click here to learn about 10 very wrong, unhealthy assumptions about sleep.

Using Robotics to Help Those with Severe Disabilities

Advances in robotics are quite helpful.

For those with severe physical disabilities, even simple tasks may be difficult. And that can be depressing. But, companies are making great strides with robotics. These advances have the potential to increase the quality of life. Read below and then view the video.

Here is one example, as discussed by John Toon of Georgia Tech:

“An interface system with augmented reality technology could help people with profound motor impairments operate a humanoid robot to feed themselves and perform routine personal care tasks. Those tasks might include feeding and performing routine personal care tasks such as scratching an itch and applying skin lotion. The web-based interface displays a ‘robot’s eye view’ of surroundings to help users interact with the world through the machine.”

“Described in PLOS ONE, the system could help make sophisticated robots more useful to people who don’t have experience operating complex robotic systems. Study participants interacted with the robot interface using standard assistive computer access technologies—such as eye trackers and head trackers—that they already used to control their personal computers.”

“The paper reports on two studies showing how such ‘robotic body surrogates’ — which can perform tasks similar to those of humans —could improve the quality of life for users. The work could provide a foundation for developing faster and more capable assistive robots.”