The “New” Cures Your Grandmother Knew

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

From Tummy Tea to Hardcore Colon Cancer Prevention

Some of my earliest childhood memories were of my grandfather lying in his easy chair, with wet teabags on his eyes. He swore it got rid of puffiness, and dark circles. And my grandmother was forever sipping from a warm concoction of hot water, honey, lemon and ginger. She swore it did everything from cure colds to ease heartburn.

Their quirky health habits seemed so Old World to me then. A little embarrassing, even.

Now, I’m more embarrassed at how I laughed off their remedies…only to learn more and more as I practice Functional Medicine, how right they were.

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First, my grandfather’s innate insight into antioxidants as anti-inflammatories has been proven in numerous tests. And now, a recent study has elevated the healing possibilities of ginger exponentially. It may soon graduate from a tummy tea…to a hardcore cancer weapon…

Colon cancer is one of the more terrifying cancers, mostly because it’s difficult to find and diagnose until rather late in the game. Which is why finding natural ways to prevent colon cancer is so important.

In a recent study put out by Cancer Prevention Research, scientists found that people who took ginger root supplements experienced a 28% decrease in colon inflammation, an important precursor to colon cancer.

This finding is promising for a few reasons. First, it was a phase II study with human subjects. Second, it lasted only 28 days and showed a significant result – which means to me that ginger could have the required potency to be a real preventative force. And last, they tested the 2g a day of ginger root against a placebo – which rules out the placebo effect.

Now, some health practitioners are positing that what is good for the colon could also be good for the prostate.

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In another study, this one from the British Journal of Nutrition, whole ginger extract was found to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer by 56% on tumors in rats. And another study that used human cells also found that ginger inhibited tumor growth.

While ginger is not toxic, even at higher doses, it can cause mild heartburn, diarrhea and irritation of the mouth. However, taking ginger in capsule form seems to alleviate these side effects.

Sometimes, we wait for studies to confirm our hunches. But in the case of ginger, the benefits have been mounting in the laboratory for years. And to people like my grandmother, who have passed along word of the healing properties of ginger for generations, these studies are merely confirming what they already knew.

While you can certainly add ginger to your arsenal of daily supplements, incorporating it into your everyday meals and beverages (like my grandmother did) is a great place to start.  Cut two one-eighth inch slices off the thick part of the root, steep it in boiling water, and add in a dollop or two of honey for an amazing digestive and anti-nauseant. This brew also helps with general inflammatory issues and joint pain. You can also include two or three pieces of pink pickled ginger parts found in any Asian supermarket, either prior to or after a meal.

For more targeted ginger supplementation, there is a wide variety of dosage forms available…including powder, extracts, tinctures and syrups. The dose will be dependent on what form you take, and is labeled on the bottle’s directions. I recommend starting with the fresh ginger first. Then, if you feel you would benefit from more, moving into one of the various supplement forms.

And while we’re on colon health, here’s a question I get asked in my practice a lot…and the answer…

To Cleanse or Not To Cleanse, That Is The Question

People talk about their colonic sessions the way I used to recount a first date with a great crush. Every moment is epic, memorable…life-changing. They are convinced they will now live forever. After all, when your colon is squeaky clean, how could anything else possibly go wrong?

It’s hard not to jump on the bandwagon. But I urge you to resist nonetheless.

While a colonic may seem like a fast and easy tune-up, I don’t recommend it. The risks are too great, and the benefits are dubious. Besides, call me Old School, but it can’t be healthy when getting a colonic sounds like going out on a first date. Or feels like one.

Instead, trust that your body is programmed to process and eliminate toxins on its own. With a little help from your dietary choices.

Adding cruciferous vegetables and pulpy fruits like apples, pears and peaches is the way to go. These foods will support your liver, enabling it to better bind to and metabolize toxins, and remove them from your system.  And most importantly, the added soluble and insoluble fibers you get by eating your fruits and veggies are critical. They contain the pre-biotics your gut bacteria and creates the critical short-chain fatty acids your colon requires to stay healthy.


  1. Wang WS. Oral Glutamine Is Effective for Preventing Oxaliplatin-Induced Neuropathy in Colorectal Cancer Patients. The Oncologist. 2007;12:312-319.
  2. Boukhettala N. A diet containing whey protein, glutamine, and TGFbeta modulates gut protein metabolism during chemotherapy-induced mucositis in rats. Digestive Diseases and Science. 2010;55:2172-2181.
  3. Lin MF. A randomised controlled trial of the effect of music therapy and verbal relaxation on chemotherapy-induced anxiety. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 2011;20:988-999.

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