Herbs are a foundational root in medicine and health treatments, dating back thousands of years throughout every culture around the world. Modern Western herbalism comes from ancient Egypt. The Greeks developed a comprehensive philosophy of herbal medicine by 100 BCE and the Romans built upon it to create a variety of medical practices, some of which are still used today.



Psychological hardiness is an individual’s resistance to stress, anxiety and depression. It includes the ability to withstand grief and accept the loss of loved ones. Alternative medicine is a more popular term for health and wellness therapies that have typically not been part of conventional Western medical approaches but are often used along with conventional medicinal protocols.  Coping and dealing with stress in a positive manner play a major role in maintaining the balance needed for health and well-being.



Interest in complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing as consumers and health care professionals search for additional ways to treat anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. Some of these remedies include:

St. John’s Wort.  More than 30 studies show it to be effective for treatment of mild forms of depression,…


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increasing risk for CRC. Vitamin D is an essential micronutrient that promotes bone health and immune function, and vitamin D deficiency is associated with a host of adverse health conditions. Dietary sources of vitamin D include salmon, liver, mushrooms and egg yolks, among others. An important source of vitamin D is sunlight exposure, since UVB rays convert (7) -dehydrocholesterol to previtamin D3, which in turn becomes vitamin D3. Vitamin D supplementation in individuals with CRC has been demonstrated to improve survival rates (4). Moreover, in clinical trials, the administration of high doses of vitamin D to persons with metastatic CRC undergoing chemotherapy delays disease progression (7).

Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer death among Kentuckians. Many factors influence colorectal health, some of which include dietary intake and nutritional status. Research shows people who eat red meat and are deficient in vitamin D are at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer, whereas increased intake of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes are associated with decreased colorectal cancer risk.


  1. Gan, T., Sinner, H.F., Walling, S.C., Chen, Q., Huang, B., Tucker, T.C., Patel, J.A., Evers, B.M., and Bhakta, A.S. (2019). Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Colorectal Cancer Screening, Incidence, and Survival in Kentucky. Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 228(4), 342–353.e1.
  2. Cross, A. (2020). Colorectal cancer screening should begin at age 45, says federal panel, following American Cancer Society’s advice of 2 years ago. Kentucky Health News.
  3. American Cancer Society Cancer Statistics Website. (2021). Kentucky Cancer Statistics.
  4. Oregon State University Website. (2020). Colorectal Cancer.
  5. Bastide, N.M., Pierre, F.H.F. and Corpet, D. E. (2011). Heme Iron from Meat and Risk of Colorectal Cancer: A Meta-analysis and Review of the Mechanisms Involved. Cancer Prevention Research (4)2, 177 – 184.
  6. iorito, V., Chiabrando, D., Petrillo, S., Bertino, F. and Tolosano, E. (2020). The Multifaceted Role of Heme in Cancer. Frontiers in Oncology, 9:1540.
  7. Ng, Kimmie. (2019). High-dose Vitamin D shows benefit in patients with advanced colorec- tal cancer. Dana-Faber Cancer Institute Website. News Releases.      


tumor formation in colon cells (4-6). Non-heme iron is found in plant foods such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and leafy greens. To minimize your risk for developing CRC, limit red meat consumption. Choose foods rich in non-heme iron occasionally and opt for lean meats such as poultry, fish and seafood and eggs.

Fiber to the rescue!

Dietary fiber is the parts of plant foods that our bodies cannot digest or absorb, and it plays a key role in reducing colorectal risk. Fiber promotes digestive health and decreases the chance of constipation by increasing the weight, size and softness of stool. Regular bowel movements reduce exposure of the colon and other parts of the digestive tract to potential cancer- causing agents (4). Additionally, the breakdown and fermentation of fiber in the colon by healthy bacteria produces gas and short-chain fatty acids. These short-chain fatty acids have anticancer effects (4). Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes within your meals to meet minimum daily fiber recommendations and to reduce risk of CRC.

Vitamin D and Colorectal Cancer

Aging increases one’s risk for vitamin D deficiency as well as colorectal cancer. Interestingly, both are connected. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with  

Kentucky has the highest incidence and mortality rate of all site cancers, and Kentuckians residing in the Appalachian region, where cancer is a leading cause of death often have worse outcomes1. Focusing on colorectal cancer (CRC) specifically, Kentucky ranks first nationwide for incidence (50 cases per 100,000 people) and fifth for mortality (about 17 deaths per 100,000 people) (1). The Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Program increased screening rates and reduced mortality since its launch (2). Yet CRC remains a leading cause of death for Kentuckians (3). Risk factors for CRC include increasing age as well as a history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and genetics. But what about nutrition? This article will discuss the role of specific nutrients as they relate to CRC risk and development.

Limit Red Meat Consumption

Iron is an essential mineral required for the function of healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen, for energy metabolism and much more. The human body cannot produce iron on its own, so it is important to eat foods that are rich in iron. Red meats such as beef, pork and lamb are examples of iron-rich foods. However, increased consumption of red meat has been linked with increased CRC risk (4-6). Red meat contains more heme iron (the type of iron only found in animal products) than white meats such as poultry and fish. Unbound heme iron has been shown to contribute to the formation of compounds that are known to damage DNA and promote