Herbs used daily via food, teas, or tinctures can help block cancer formation at many different levels. 

The great thing about herbs is that there is no need to grab the latest, most expensive edition, as the herbs you already have in your garden or local greengrocer are just as powerful, if not more so. Plant medicines date back thousands of years, and both empirical knowledge and modern science support their use in cancer healing and prevention. 


Scientists continue to scramble to find the key to the healing qualities within herbs, hoping for the next pharmaceutical breakthrough. While some pathways are better understood, there is much about these healing plants that remain hidden within the green leaves whispers. 


As millions of dollars are raised worldwide for a cure each year, cancer remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Those in the natural health world understand that it isn’t a one size fits all disease process and continue to nurture the body on all levels. 


If you are currently dealing with cancer, want to prevent reoccurrence or want to live a cancer-free lifestyle, adding herbs as daily tonics can support your goals. You may be surprised that some of your favourite culinary herbs are also cancer fighters, containing many phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.


With records dating back thousands of years, you will be in good company choosing these plant allies daily.




Garlic – The next time someone comments about your breath after enjoying your favourite fresh garlic dressing, share the love and give them some of your cancer-fighting food.

There are thousands of studies on the healing properties of garlic; some include cancer prevention. In one five-year study of 41,387 Iowa women, the food found to have the highest association with a decrease in colon cancer was garlic. 

A Chinese study of five thousand men and women linked a fifty-two per cent reduction in stomach cancers to garlic intake.   

Homemade fresh garlic extract (that’s your garlic and vinegar salad dressing) enhances cancer cell death in several cancers, including melanoma, colon and lung. 


Ginger – whether a hot ginger tea, a cool ginger beer, or candied ginger. Many of us have enjoyed this pungent herb purely for the taste, but ginger has a long history of medicinal use dating back 2500 years. A tonic known for calming digestion, relieving nausea and clearing the lungs, it also contains cancer-fighting compounds. Evidence from in vitro, animal and epidemiological studies suggests that ginger suppresses the growth of many cancers, including skin, ovarian, breast, prostate, pancreatic, gastric, liver and brain.

Ginger can counteract nausea often experienced by those undergoing chemotherapy. 


Rosemary – Who can disagree with the delicious taste of rosemary on baked vegetables? On ANZAC day, we use a sprig of rosemary in the buttonhole as it is a herb related to cognitive function and signifies remembrance. Rosemary and its healing gifts have a history of empirical knowledge. Today, scientists are starting to unpack the mechanisms behind its cancer-fighting actions, attributed partly to the potent antioxidants and the cancer-fighting phytochemical carnosol. Rosemary is linked to the suppression of several cancers, including esophageal, gastric, pancreatic, lung and brain cancers.


For those undergoing modern cancer treatments, rosemary has been shown to reduce chemoresistance and enhance the effect of chemotherapy.


Dandelion root   Well-known as a coffee alternative, dandelion root has a history within traditional medicines models to treat several types of cancer. Like many herbs with solid traditional use, modern science has yet to understand the mode of action, but herbalists have used dandelion for breast, liver and lung cancers. 



Pesto is delicious on about anything, but it isn’t too delicious for cancer cells. Antioxidants and other bioactive compounds in basil leaves show important potential anti-cancer activity regarding cell death, slowing down tumour growth, and especially cell cycle arrest in both in vivo and in vitro studies.


Herbs Robert 

While not culinary deserves mention as it can grow prolifically in your garden without needing a green thumb. Isabel Shipard, a famous Australian herbalist, was a Herb Robert enthusiast, recommending daily tea or eating 4-5 leaves daily to promote healing from cancer. Herb robert helps to oxygenate the body due to containing germanium, an antioxidant that makes oxygen more available to our cells. More oxygen means a more remarkable ability to heal. 


Cancer can be scary and complicated, and there is little doubt that nutrition, lifestyle and health are intimately linked. With increased stress levels and pollutants in both the air and food chain, many of which impact the hormones and biochemical pathways of the body, living a health-affirming lifestyle has never been more essential. 


To combat the onslaught of modern life and reduce your overall risk of cancer, follow the pillars of health as outlined by NHS . There is no magic bullet for this disease process, but taking on a holistic approach, including cancer-fighting herbs, will improve your sense of well-being, recovery, treatment process and prevention. 


Please include at least one of these herbs in your daily regime to get the most out of its cancer-protective gifts. Which herb will you choose today?


Ally Sanchez Herbalist & Nutritionist in the Blue Mountains