Mounting evidence suggests that cancers aren't inevitable. For years upon years studies have looked at human diets based on various regions around the globe to try and determine a relationship between them and lower cancer rates. The Mediterranean diet, the French Paradox (scientists asked why the typical French diet with "bad" foods didn't translate to obesity, cancer and heart disease), the Japanese cuisine...you name it and they tried looking at it. We might say the same about canine diets because there are more questions being asked as we evolve to recognize that fresh foods are far more complex than was once acknowledged. Once phytonutrients in plant matter including the incredibly popular turmeric were talked about, everyone took notice. In fact they're noticing it so much that many are ignoring other spices and nutrients which hold incredible promise. Here's the skinny on some of the magic that is stored in your simple spice jars in the kitchen, and even in raspberries and their seeds.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum): The essential oil it contains has antimicrobial properties, and basil can lower oxidative damage in animal models. How much to feed is unknown, and I will add that basil can have adverse effects at the cellular level as many herbs and spices do. It's a question of balance and understanding the full spectrum of a spice (including the very popular turmeric) I use basil in rotation with other herbs and not in large amounts. A tiny pinch of the dried, or a chopped leaf of the fresh herb as part of the veggie mix in the diet will do.
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is used for its leaves in the spring/summer, and for its seeds in the fall. It may be particularly helpful in detoxifying foreign compounds, including carcinogens. There is evidence that dill promotes drug detoxification mechanisms. The constituents more than doubled the activity of the detoxifying enzyme GST in the liver, and large intestinal mucosa, and more than threefold in the small intestinal mucosa.
How much to give a dog? There is no science to support an answer, so I consider each case individually. Generally though, 1/4 tsp. of the finely chopped raw leaves as part of the daily veggie mix for a 30-40 pound dog.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a member of the Zingiberaceae family (so is turmeric) Inflammation is a significant risk factor for cancer. Ginger has properties that inhibit inflammation as well as working as an anti tumor agent. There are many ways to feed ginger. From an infusion to make ginger tea that can be added to meat broth, or simply to the dogs food, to a bit of finely grated raw ginger, to a pinch of the powdered ginger. I use all of them based on what a dog tolerates and what else may be happening (it's a "hot" spice, so I don't use it without considering the much bigger health picture) In cases where a dog tolerates it well, I like using ginger in some dog treats as well as within food.
Turmeric: This is absorbed very poorly. Piperine (a natural component of black peppercorns increases absorption. Numerous animal studies have shown the potential of this spice against proinflammatory diseases, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and more. Best bet: make what is commonly referred to as golden paste:
1 cup filtered water
1/2 cup organic turmeric
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup coconut oil
Place turmeric in a pan. Add cold water and stir on low heat for about 10 minutes. This makes a thick paste. If it seems too thick, add a little more water. Once you have a paste, add the coconut oil and pepper. Stir well. Once cooled, store in a covered jar in the fridge. Some say it will keep for two weeks. I find that 10 days is a better bet. Turmeric is not tolerated by all dogs, and certainly the black pepper should never be fed to dogs with any type of gastrointestinal problem. Start gently by adding just 1/8 tsp. for small dogs and 1/4 tsp. for medium-large dogs. Increase slowly as tolerated. I have never used more than 1 TBS. per day for very large dogs and of course, much less for the small ones.
Ellagitannins: Dr. Daniel Nixon at the Hollings Cancer Institute studied the health benefits of red raspberries. His work has become nearly legend. Dr. Nixon's published results show that red raspberry ellagitannins prevent destruction of the P53 gene (prevents mutagenic activity in cervical cells) by cancer cells, slows the growth of abnormal cells in the human colon and showed similar results for prostate, breast, skin, pancreatic and esophageal cancers. If that's not enough, they also help to breakdown leukemia cells in people. Ellagitannins protect the body by preventing cells from mutating. The tests at the Hollings Cancer Institute showed that breast and cervical cancer cells began to stop mutating just 3 days after ellegaic acid was introduced. Further, the red raspberry ellagitannins inactivate some cancer-causing chemicals.
Don't be fooled by marketing buzz that doesn't know the difference between ellagic acid and ellagitannins. The bioavailability of ellagic acid from dietary sources has only been confirmed with red raspberries and even then, the type of raspberry matters. Concentration in Meeker raspberry seeds is 8.40 which is greater than the average (8.10) and as it turns out, the seeds are where the greatest portion of ellagitannins reside. Two grams of Meeker raspberry seeds provides the 40 mg of ellagitannins. That's a lot easier and less expensive than one cup of raspberries per day, and let's face it - most dogs can't handle that much fruit. Add a little vitamin E (that's what's in our Antioxidant Booster), and you're ahead of the game.
"Every once in awhile, a dog comes into your life and changes everything." ~ Author Unknown