Cucurbitacin B in the combination with curcumin could serve as a novel, promising approach for human hepatoma.

PMID:  Eur J Pharmacol. 2015 Oct 6. Epub 2015 Oct 6. PMID: 26452516 Abstract Title:  Synergistic effect of cucurbitacin B in combination with curcumin via Enhancing apoptosis induction and reversing multidrug resistance in Human hepatoma cells. Abstract:  Cucurbitacin B is a plant-derived tetracyclic triterpenoid, which has been used for a variety of cancers, especially human hepatoma. Curcumin, isolated from a plant Curcuma longa also has found the anti-tumor property. In the present study, the synergistic effect of cucurbitacin B and curcumin was studied on BEL7402/5-Fu cells in vitro and BEL7402 tumor-bearing mice in vivo. The synergistic anticancer activity of these two compounds involves the two mechanisms. Firstly, curcumin synergistically enhanced the apoptosis of BEL7402/5-Fu cells induced by cucurbitacin B in the optimal mass ratio of 2:1 (cucurbitacin B: curcumin). The mechanism may result from the cell arresting in different phases of cell cycles and the apoptotic change of ultrastructure in BEL7402/5-Fu cells. Secondly, curcumin reversed the multidrug resistance (MDR) caused by cucurbitacin B in the optimized concentration of 67.9μM (25μg/ml). The mechanism was associated with the P-gp reduction, ΔΨm collapse and mitochondrial colocalization in BEL7402/5-Fu cells. The findings were consistent with the changes of the body weight and tumor volume, caspase3 activation and ATP down-regulation in vivo. In conclusion, cucurbitacin B in the combination with curcumin could serve as a novel, promising approach for human hepatoma.


New in the Shop: Organic Spearmint Hydrosol

Many of us here at Mountain Rose Herbs love this time of year when the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds is at its most porous. We have no tricks up our sleeves, but we do have quite a treat for you this week: Organic Spearmint Hydrosol. Grown and steam distilled right here in Cascadia, our Spearmint Hydrosol is sweet and minty, reminiscent of a steaming cup of spearmint tea. This hydrosol is soothing and refreshing, and makes a wonderful toner and cooling spray. It blends well with other mint or aromatic hydrosols and essential oils like rosemary or eucalyptus to make a powerful medicinal combination. Visit the shop to browse our entire selection of steam-distilled organic hydrosols.

Quercetin protects against aluminium induced oxidative stress and promotes mitochondrial biogenesis.

PMID:  Neurotoxicology. 2015 Oct 19. Epub 2015 Oct 19. PMID: 26493151 Abstract Title:  Quercetin protects against aluminium induced oxidative stress and promotes mitochondrial biogenesis via activation of the PGC-1α signaling pathway. Abstract:  The present investigation was carried out to elucidate a possible molecular mechanism related to the protective effect of quercetin administration against aluminium-induced oxidative stress on various mitochondrial respiratory complex subunits with special emphasis on the role of PGC-1α and its downstream targets i.e. NRF-1, NRF-2 and Tfam in mitochondrial biogenesis. Aluminium lactate (10mg/kg b.wt/day) was administered intragastrically to rats, which were pre-treated with quercetin 6h before aluminium (10mg/kg b.wt/day, intragastrically) for 12 weeks. We found a decrease in ROS levels, mitochondrial DNA oxidation and Citrate synthase activity in the Hippocampus (HC) and Corpus striatum (CS) regions of rat brain treated with quercetin. Besides this an increase in the mRNA levels of the mitochondrial encoded subunits- ND1, ND2, ND3, Cytb, COX1, COX3 and ATPase6 along withincreased expression of nuclear encoded subunits COX4, COX5A and COX5B of Electron transport chain (ETC). In quercetin treated group an increase in the mitochondrial DNA copy number and mitochondrial content in both the regions of rat brain was observed. The PGC-1α was up regulated in quercetin treated rats along with NRF-1, NRF-2 and Tfam, which act downstream from PGC-1α. Electron microscopy results revealed a significant decrease in the mitochondrial cross-section area, mitochondrial perimeter length and increase in mitochondrial number in case of quercetin treated rats as compared to aluminium treated ones. Therefore it seems quercetin increases mitochondrial biogenesis and makes it an almost ideal flavanoid to control or limit the damage that has been associated with the defective mitochondrial function seen in many neurodegenerative diseases.

How to Make Soap (With or Without Lye)

How to make soap- with or without lye

How to make soap- with or without lye

Growing up, it never occurred to me that it was possible to make soap at home. I was born in a big city, grew up in another and soap was always a white-colored bar from Ivory that came in a package.

Why Make Soap at Home?

I’d always been crafty, and when I found recipes for soap making in an old-time homemaking book, I was intrigued. At the same time, all those years ago, I was unsure about some of the ingredients that the recipes called for, especially tallow and lye.

In fact, despite my intrigue with homemade soap, it took me a few years to work up the courage to make it, so I just bought handmade soap from a local vendor in the meantime. When I finally attempted to make homemade soap for our family, I was amazed at how simple it was, and how much money it saved!

While the process seems overwhelming at first glance, it is very simple, especially after you’ve done it once. Also, in less than an hour, it is possible to make enough soap for our family for months and months, and I was able to make soap for less than half the cost of buying it, even with organic ingredients.

Can You Make Soap Without Lye?

Often, the biggest concern with soap-making is the lye, and this was one of my biggest concerns as well before I researched it.

Lye comes with its fair share of warnings and with good reason, but that doesn’t mean that the finished soap product is in any way dangerous. The most often asked question on my soap recipes (like my basic slowcooker soap or my charcoal bars) is “can I make soap without lye?” The short answer is no, but the long answer requires a little science…

What is Lye?

Chemically, lye is Sodium Hydroxide, a caustic alkali. It can eat holes in fabric and skin and cause severe reactions with other chemicals. For soap, the crystal form of pure Sodium Hydroxide is used (this is important!) and the lye must be added to water, not the other way around.

Sounds dangerous… right?

Not so fast.

After all, table salt is made up of sodium and chloride, both dangerous on their own but edible once combined.

You Can’t Make Soap Without Lye

Soap by definition is an alkali mixed with fats. When combined, a process called saponification happens, creating soap. This not only allows the liquid and oils to mix (they don’t do this naturally, as you might remember from grade school science class), but also creates the action by which soap has its cleansing properties.

In other words, without Lye, you just have a bucket of chunky, fatty oils floating in water.

The important part is to make sure that the correct amount of Lye is used for the particular soap you make (more on that below) as different oils and fats require different ratios of lye.

Don’t Want to Handle Lye?

If you don’t want to physically touch the lye but still want the experience of making soap, all is not lost. There are ways that you can make and customize your own soap without handling the lye by using a pre-made melt-and-pour soap that has been pre-saponified (in other words, the lye has already been handled).

It is not lye-free, but you won’t have to handle the lye yourself.

This is the brand of melt-and-pour soap that I’ve used before, and it worked really well. You can add scents with essential oils, or add other ingredients like clays, salts, or other add-ins if you want to create a personalized soap. Again, it isn’t lye-free and you haven’t technically “made” the soap but it is a way to have the experience without having to handle the lye (but it is also much less cost effective).

How To Create Your Own Soap (With Lye)

As I explained, though Lye can be dangerous on its own, there is no lye remaining in soap that has been properly made and no reason for concern when using lye appropriately and in the correct ratio for soap making.

If you are ready to tackle the simple process of soap making using lye, here are some good resources to get started:

Soap Making Supplies Needed

Before you begin, it is important to have both a recipe and the necessary ingredients. You can make a custom soap with almost any variety of oils and fats, and a good soap calculator (like this one) will help you know how much of each ingredient you’ll need. The bulk oils I keep on hand for soap making (and general cooking and use) are:

This post explains the difference between making a hot process soap and a cold process soap and gives some specific recipe suggestions.

Once you have a recipe and the necessary oils/fats, you’ll also need to get some pure Lye to use in the saponification process. I had trouble finding it locally, but I was able to order pure lye specifically for soap making here.

I also found these kitchen tools helpful and I keep a specific one of each just for soap making and not for kitchen use:

How to Customize Your Soap

At this point, you can also decide on any add-ins for your soap to customize the color, scent or texture. In the past, I’ve used:

  • Essential oils
  • Dried herbs (for texture or color)- my favorites are dried lavender flowers, chamomile flowers or calendula, though any dried her could be added.
  • Colors– natural color options I’ve tried are spices and plant materials like spirulina, turmeric, cocoa, ground coffee (my favorite), hibiscus, beet root and others.
  • Texture add ins– like dry freshly ground coffee, healing clays, salts, oatmeal or any other ingredient.

Ever made soap? What is your favorite variation?

How to Make Soap (With or Without Lye) originally written by Wellness Mama.

Apigenin was found to be an effective phytoestrogen that strongly inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells, including HER2-positive ones.

PMID:  Acta Naturae. 2015 Jul-Sep;7(3):133-9. PMID: 26483970 Abstract Title:  Apigenin Inhibits Growth of Breast Cancer Cells: The Role of ERα and HER2/neu. Abstract:  Phytoestrogens are a group of plant-derived compounds with an estrogen-like activity. In mammalians, phytoestrogens bind to the estrogen receptor (ER) and participate in the regulation of cell growth and gene transcription. There are several reports of the cytotoxic effects of phytoestrogens in different cancer cell lines. The aim of this study was to measure the phytoestrogen activity against breast cancer cells with different levels of ER expression and to elucidate the molecular pathways regulated by the leader compound. Methods used in the study include immunoblotting, transfection with a luciferase reporter vector, and a MTT test. We demonstrated the absence of a significant difference between ER+ and ER- breast cancer cell lines in their response to cytotoxic stimuli: treatment with high doses of phytoestrogens (apigenin, genistein, quercetin, naringenin) had the same efficiency in ER-positive and ER-negative cells. Incubation of breast cancer cells with apigenin revealed the highest cytotoxicity of this compound; on the contrary, naringenin treatment resulted in a low cytotoxic activity. It was shown that high doses of apigenin (50μM) do not display estrogen-like activity and can suppress ER activation by 17β-estradiol. Cultivation of HER2-positive breast cancer SKBR3 cells in the presence of apigenin resulted in a decrease in HER2/neu expression, accompanied by cleavage of an apoptosis substrate PARP. Therefore, the cytotoxic effects of phytoestrogens are not associated with the steroid receptors of breast cancer cells. Apigenin was found to be the most effective phytoestrogen that strongly inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells, including HER2-positive ones.

Spicy Cacao Chia Pudding


I love my chia puddings and this morning I was looking for something a little different. Normally I make them with mango, banana & coconut, but I was feeling like a little chocolate today. I remembered this recipe from The Sun Kitchen and looked it up! It’s very quick and easy to make and is more filling that just making a vegan chocolate mousse, and it has a nice warmth to it from the cayenne pepper. I make sure I use a good quality cacao powder that is chock full of antioxidants – Power Super Foods Cacao Gold is my favourite. If you are quite sensitive and find the cacao on its own a little stimulating, substitute half the cacao powder with organic carob, and you can also leave out the cayenne if you don’t like hot spices.

Healthy vegan chocolate chia pudding

Spicy Cacao Chia Pudding

Makes 8 x 1/2 cup servings

1/2 cup chia seeds, soaked in 1 cup of water


1/2 cup cashews, soaked for 1 hour


1&1/2 cups of water


1/2 cup cacao powder


1/8 cup raw honey (or 2 Tbsp agave nectar)


2 Tbsp coconut oil


1/2 tsp vanilla pod seeds (or 1&1/2 tsp extract)


1/4 tsp cinnamon


1/8 tsp sea salt


a good pinch or two of cayenne


Blend until creamy. Dish into small clear bowls, refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  Garnish with fresh fruit, flowers etc as desired.

My note: to add in some extra superfood goodness you can stir through some Goji berries before putting the pudding in the fridge!




Cold Brew Coffee Recipe

How to make cold brew coffee

How to make cold brew coffee


“Police work wouldn’t be possible without coffee,” Wallander said.


“No work would be possible without coffee.”


They pondered the importance of coffee in silence.


-Henning Mankell, One Step Behind

For many people (ok, ok, including me), coffee is a favorite morning drink. For me, it has never been about the caffeine, as I like decaf just as much… I just enjoy the aroma and taste of coffee.

I don’t drink it every morning, but when I do, I typically drink it straight out of my favorite french press and blended with some butter, coconut oil and vanilla. Other days, I blend this same concoction into a tea of some kind or just enjoy some plain herbal tea.

Really, there are endless ways to drink coffee…just please- don’t drink the kind that comes in the coffee pods!

Lately, while I’ve been waiting for our weather to realize that it is actually Fall and not still Summer, I’ve been experimenting with cold brew coffee. Cold brew coffee is a huge step up from the iced coffee served in most coffee shops where hot coffee is poured over ice until cold and diluted.

Cold brew coffee, as the name suggests, actually brews the coffee cold, resulting in a less bitter and more aromatic cold coffee. Cold brew coffee is naturally slightly sweeter and incredibly easy to make.

Some people (like my dad) are coffee purists and would never even consider drinking it cold, but if you aren’t part of that group, give cold brew a try!

The only downside to this method is the time it takes (about 12 hours), but with a little advanced planning, you can brew coffee in your sleep (yay for multi-tasking!).

4.8 from 4 reviews
How to Cold Brew Coffee
Cold brew coffee is a method of brewing that uses cold water for the entire process, yielding a less bitter and more aromatic finished product that is not diluted with ice.
Author: Wellness Mama
Recipe type: Drinks
  1. Place the coffee and water in a bowl or pitcher and stir to combine.
  2. Cover and put the bowl/pitcher in the fridge (I use a pitcher like this one that comes with a cover).
  3. Leave for at least 12 hours, or as much as 24.
  4. Strain through a fine mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter (this process will be slow). I strain into a jar and pour a little at a time as I do something else in the kitchen.
  5. This produces a coffee concentrate that can be diluted with water or milk to get the desired taste.

What’s your favorite type of coffee? Ever tried it cold brewed?

Cold Brew Coffee Recipe originally written by Wellness Mama.