I love folk medicine. My mom was the daughter of an itinerant farm worker. So money was scarce as she grew up. Her family relied heavily on natural means to treat illness. And she passed much of that on to me.
She grew up in Oklahoma and Texas, where there’s a large population of Native Americans. As a result, her family used many folk remedies from the Natives. And I had a deep love of the Native culture. So when I find folk remedies from their culture, I get excited — especially when they work so well.
One such remedy was one my mom never knew about, largely because this plant grows in the Eastern U.S. in wet forest and swamp lands (not in the areas of Texas and Oklahoma where she grew up). This particular plant remedy is a bitter berry that can lower blood pressure and blood sugar, and it can fight cancer and heart disease.
Even though the chokeberry or Aronia berry is native to the Eastern U.S. and used in Native American folk medicine, we don’t have a lot of studies on it from this country. Europeans, however, have conducted extensive research on it and found it very useful in fighting these health challenges.
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However, Aronia is finally catching the attention of U.S. researchers. One such study from the U.S. looked at the black chokeberry’s ability to fight colon cancer. The researchers wanted to see how an extract of the berry affected normal colon and colon cancer cells.
The researchers exposed the cells to 50 micrograms of an Aronia extract for 24 hours. The extract caused a 60% growth inhibition of the cancer cells compared to cancer cells they left untreated. The extract didn’t inhibit normal colon cells at all. I suspect the high antioxidant value of Aronia probably boosted the health of the normal cells.
While this is a lab study, it’s very encouraging for anyone who has cancer. Aronia extract can boost your immune system and may fight the cancer at the same time.
Fortunately, Aronia berry extract is available in the U.S. in supplement form. You can find it in many health food stores and on the Internet. If you like to garden and live in an area conducive to the Aronia berry bush, you can plant Aronia berry bushes in your yard. They grow quite large and one bush can produce up to 40 pounds of berries in a season. They’re perfect for jams and cooking. They’re bitter tasting (thus the name chokeberry), but cooking and freezing them will reduce their bitterness.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.
Nutrition and cancer. 2003, v. 46, no. 2, p. 186-196.