Fresh Lemon Grass Drink Causes Apoptosis to Cancer Cells

This is an article by Allison Kaplan Sommer 02, April 2006

(apoptosis) noun: a type of cell death in which the cell uses specialized cellular machinery to kill itself; a cell suicide mechanism that enables metazoans to control cell number and eliminate cells that threaten the animal’s survival.


Fresh lemon grass fields in Israel become Mecca for cancer patients


A drink with as little as one gram of lemon grass contains enough citral to prompt cancer cells to commit suicide in the test tube.
Israeli researchers find way to make cancer cells self-destruct -Ben Gurion University
At first, Benny Zabidov, an Israeli agriculturalist who grows greenhouses full of lush spices on a pastoral farm in Kfar Yedidya in the Sharon region, couldn’t understand why so many cancer patients from around the country were showing up on his doorstep asking for fresh lemon grass. It turned out that their doctors had sent them. ‘They had been told to drink eight glasses of hot water with fresh lemon grass steeped in it on the days that they went for their radiation and chemotherapy treatments,’ Zabidov told ISRAEL21c. ‘And this is the place you go to in Israel for fresh lemon grass.’
It all began when researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev discovered last year that the lemon aroma in herbs like lemon grass kills cancer cells in vitro, while leaving healthy cells unharmed. The research team was led by Dr. Rivka Ofir and Prof. Yakov Weinstein, incumbent of the Albert Katz Chair in Cell-Differentiation and Malignant Diseases, from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at BGU.

Citral is the key component that gives the lemony aroma and taste in several herbal plants such as lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), melissa (Melissa officinalis) and verbena (Verbena officinalis.)

According to Ofir, the study found that citral causes cancer cells to ‘commit suicide: using apoptosis, a mechanism called programmed cell death.’ A drink with as little as one gram of lemon grass contains enough citral to prompt the cancer cells to commit suicide in the test tube.

The BGU investigators checked the influence of the citral on cancerous cells by adding them to both cancerous cells and normal cells that were grown in a petri dish. The quantity added in the concentrate was equivalent to the amount contained in a cup of regular tea using one gram of lemon herbs in hot water. While the citral killed the cancerous cells, the normal cells remained unharmed.

The findings were published in the scientific journal Planta Medica, which highlights research on alternative and herbal remedies. Shortly afterwards, the discovery was featured in the popular Israeli press.

Why does it work? Nobody knows for certain, but the BGU scientists have a theory. ‘In each cell in our body, there is a genetic program which causes programmed cell death. When something goes wrong, the cells divide with no control and become cancer cells. In normal cells, when the cell discovers that the control system is not operating correctly – for example, when it recognizes that a cell contains faulty genetic material following cell division – it triggers cell death,’ explains Weinstein. ‘This research may explain the medical benefit of these herbs.’

The success of their research led them to the conclusion that herbs containing citral may be consumed as a preventative measure against certain cancerous cells. As they learned of the BGU findings in the press, many physicians in Israel began to believe that while the research certainly needed to be explored further, in the meantime it would be advisable for their patients, who were looking for any possible tool to fight their condition, to try to harness the cancer-destroying properties of citral.

That’s why Zabidov’s farm – the only major grower of fresh lemon grass in Israel – has become a pilgrimage destination for these patients. Luckily, they found themselves in sympathetic hands. Zabidov greets visitors with a large kettle of aromatic lemon grass tea, a plate of cookies, and a supportive attitude. ‘My father died of cancer, and my wife’s sister died young because of cancer,’ said Zabidov. ‘So I understand what they are dealing with. And I may not know anything about medicine, but I’m a good listener. And so they tell me about their expensive painful treatments and what they’ve been through. I would never tell them to stop being treated, but it’s great that they are exploring alternatives and drinking the lemon grass tea as well.’

Zabidov knew from a young age that agriculture was his calling. At age 14, he enrolled in the Kfar Hayarok Agricultural high school. After his army service, he joined an idealistic group which headed south, in the Arava desert region, to found a new moshav (agricultural settlement) called Tsofar. ‘We were very successful; we raised fruits and vegetables, and,’ he notes with a smile, ‘We raised some very nice children.’

On a trip to Europe in the mid-80s, he began to become interested in herbs. Israel, at the time, was nothing like the trend-conscious cuisine-oriented country it is today, and the only spices being grown commercially were basics like parsley, dill, and coriander. Wandering in the Paris market, looking at the variety of herbs and spices, Zabidov realized that there was a great export potential in this niche. He brought samples back home with him, ‘which was technically illegal,’ he says with a guilty smile, to see how they would grow in his desert greenhouses. Soon, he was growing basil, oregano, tarragon, chives, sage, marjoram and melissa, and mint just to name a few.

His business began to outgrow his desert facilities, and so he decided to move north, settling in the moshav of Kfar Yedidya, an hour and a half north of Tel Aviv. He is now selling ‘several hundred kilos’ of lemon grass per week, and has signed with a distributor to package and put it in health food stores. Zabidov has taken it upon himself to learn more about the properties of citral, and help his customers learn more, and has invited medical experts to his farm to give lectures about how the citral works and why.

He also felt a responsibility to know what to tell his customers about its use. ‘When I realized what was happening, I picked up the phone and called Dr. Weinstein at Ben-Gurion University, because these people were asking me exactly the best way to consume the citral. He said to put the loose grass in hot water, and drink about eight glasses each day.’

Zabidov is pleased by the findings, not simply because it means business for his farm, but because it might influence his own health. Even before the news of its benefits were demonstrated, he and his family had been drinking lemon grass in hot water for years, ‘just because it tastes good.’



Tuesday 24 June 2008 at 6:30 pm 28 comments

How America got its name?

Christopher Columbus was a food lover. When he was sailing, he always had a Hong Kong Chef on board the ship.

One day in 1492, they discovered land seen from a far. All crew and Columbus was exited and trying to name the “new-found-land” while approaching it. They were naming while Columbus rejected all.

This Chef was woken up by all these noise and and walked up the deck while grumbling in Cantonese “係乜嘢來咔?” (hai mat-je lai kaa). This is translated as “What is it?”. And that truely caught Columbus attention, and ask the Chef to repeat. So he did, “係乜嘢來咔?” (hai mat-je lai kaa). Immediately Columbus knew this is the name for the newfoundland. So its named… America.

It’s shocking isn’t it? To know America came from Cantonese.

But don’t ask me the name of the Chef. No one remembered.

Moral of the story: Be the best you can be, only the best are remembered. Columbus and America are remembered but not the Chef. I am sure you can’t name your great-great-grandfather, unless he left you millions. If you want to be remembered, leave a legacy.

Wednesday 18 June 2008 at 8:00 am 2 comments

Celeste Worl Studio

No, I didn’t spell wrongly…

It was a 3-day event that take placed once in 2 years. Where all tribes and natives of America assembled in Juneau to do a cultural show; exhibiting costumes, singing and dancing. Apache is one of the native was there. Anyone interested? Visit Juneau in 2010 June.  


It’s peace time. Yes they have time to make children.  


The head gear is real wolf skin; over there probably the fake is more expensive.   


It was an honour that they taught me how to say hello to each other. They howl. That’s right they use howling as greeting. You need me to do that, “ahh wuuu…”. Satisfied? A word of advise, don’t invite them to your grand parents house, the old folks may think it’s the presence of ghosts.  


I told them a joke. There was a little red indian boy asked his mother, “how did I get my name?” And the mother brought him to the window and explain. “You see.. when a child is born, we (red indians) instantly look out of the window and named them after the first thing we see out of the window” says the mother.

Mother continues to explain to her son, “When your grandfather was born they saw the wind blowing the grass, so he is named ‘Windy Grass’. They saw a bear running across the field when your dad was born, so your dad name is ‘Running Bear’.. Do you understand now, ‘Two Dog Fcuking’?” If you feel offended then don’t look out of the window next time your child is born, ok?   


Mrs. Beh gave it her best shot too.  


They have very nice head gear.  


Any longer, he may never be able to look up, and never be happy.  


See, what I told you.  


This don’t look like a warrior but the wise-man or medicine-man.



Careful, don’t lean down to kiss her from nowhere, it may caused your eye ball.  


This one is wise, he countered back.   


Yes, I agreed, he probably just arrived on his motorcycle wearing a helmet.  


I know he looks worried. His mother may be after her salad bowl.  


Nice, uniformity always looks nice. (by the way the one on the right is on wheel chair)  


No you can’t get them in Nike nor Adidas.  


It’s a celebration for all. I was lucky to be there. Thanks to the organiser.

Saturday 14 June 2008 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Food we had in Alaskan Cruise

Ok, allow me to start by highlighting the word Salmon, it is pronounced, without the L, as sámmən.

I was introduced to salmon, both the fish and the word, when I was in England and was taught the right pronunciation. Still, there are some who laughed at me even though they themselves are saying it wrong.

Doesn’t this resemble life? When those who “don’t know” is trying to stop those who “know” from doing something? Isn’t this painful? Especially when those who “know” lack confidence, their decision and direction would have been changed, hence their health and lifestyle.

Back to food.

We had our Salmon Bake at Skagway. That’s fresh salmon.

They are served with Brown Sugar, Lemon and Butter sauce. Recipe!!!

They are baked with charcoal.

Yes, it’s bacon! 😛

Canadian bacon with mesh potato and some kind of sauce??

My favourite.. some kind of fresh salmon pate with toasted buttered french loaf.

Served at Gala Dinner. Fresh lobster perfectly done.. the best lobster meat I have tasted so far.

Ok. Ok. I admit, that’s not all the dishes we had in the 8 days cruise. I missed out a lot being greedy. So pardon me, ok? But it was so so.. goood.

I had too much that now, when I see salmon, I’ll run away. This will last a while I supposed. Hopefully not too long. 🙂 Still love salmon.

Wednesday 11 June 2008 at 5:40 am Leave a comment

Other things I see in Alaskan Cruise trip











Simple things in life can be beautiful.

Beauty also comes from simple things in life.

Stop missing out on those things in your life.

Then life will be simply beautiful.

Tuesday 10 June 2008 at 9:30 am 3 comments

Alaskan Animals

It’s not as easy as one thought of getting a good shot of animals. Whale watching, for example, it’s time consuming. It’s a test of patience, waiting with no sign or whatsoever, then suddenly popped out from nowhere. If you have a slow cameras (automatic point & shoot), too bad. All you likely to get is the after effect – then subsiding ripples.

I took a boat, pretty costly, very cold and breezy. By the time the whales decided appear, your fingers would have been frozen. But there’s nothing to complain about. If the weather wasn’t cold, the whale would have not been here. It’s part of the game and fun.

Here are a few shots of their tails. They can measured to 15 feet width.

Killer Whale family. (courtesy of picture from May Lee, thanks)

Other animals.. Bald Eagle. Easier to shot them standing then flying.

Shot this picture of the bear while riding an antique train to White Pass (the summit of Skagway). Quick and ready finger is needed.

The close encounter…

They have pussy cat too… 🙂

Tuesday 10 June 2008 at 8:20 am 2 comments

The Cruiser to the Last Frontier – Alaska

One of the newest high tech cruiser from Royal Caribbean Cruise, the Serenade of the Seas.

Boarding this ship at the port of Vancouver.

It has a capacity od over 2,000 passengers.

Has one the latest technologies and able to sail nearest to the glacier.

The main hall at Desk 5 called the Centrum.

Started building in 1999, start cruising at year 2003.

Able to cruise at max speed of 25 nautical knots per hour.

Silhouette of the first sunset of the cruise near Vancouver.


Another sunset.

Okay, these are posted while transiting in Hong Kong. There’s more to come. Tune in soon…

Monday 9 June 2008 at 12:30 pm Leave a comment

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