Turmeric as Spice and Flavorant

  Spices are the plant products or a mixture thereof free from extraneous matter, cultivated, and processed for their aroma, pungency, flavor and fragrance, natural color, and medicinal qualities or otherwise desirable properties. They consist of rhizomes, bulbs, barks, flower buds, stigmata, fruits, seeds, and leaves of plant origin. Spices are food adjuncts, which have been in use for thousands of years, to impart flavor and aroma or piquancy to foods. They are used to prepare culinary dishes and have little or no nutritive value, but they stimulate the appetite, add zest for food, enhance the taste, and delight the gourmet. As there is a need to reduce the fat, salt, and sugar used in food preparation for health reasons, it becomes critical to pay attention to alternative ways to enhance the natural flavors of foods. Value can also be added to meals by enhancing and improving presentation and by using appropriate garnishes. The primary function of a spice in food is to improve its sensory appeal to the consumer. Food presentation is the arrangement of food on a plate, tray, or steam line in a simple appetizing way. This is generally accomplished by imparting its own characteristic color, flavor, aroma, and Read more […]

Toxicology and Clinical Applications of Black Pepper

Toxicology of Black Pepper There are no data available on the acute or chronic toxicologic aspects of pepper and/ or its constituents. Pepper constituents are not used therapeutically in the allopathic system. Pepper has been in use since very early times as a spice and food additive. No health hazard or untoward action may arise in the concentrations used. The total contents of piperine and associated phenolic amides are of the order of 7–9 per cent w/w and that of the volatile oil are 2–4 per cent. At this level the actual doses of the different constituents available from the quantity of pepper powder, oleoresin or extractive used, will be very little to elicit any toxic reactions. Moreover, the pungent taste of piperine and flavour of the volatile oil constituents will themselves serve as a limiting factor for the intake of high doses. No acceptable daily intake (ADI) has been prescribed by the Joint FAO/WHO Experts Committee on Food Additives for piperine and/or the volatile principles. The major untoward action of pepper is the gastric mucosal injury at a dose of 1.5 g/kg food. There are a few reports about the carcinogenic potential of piperine. It enhances the DNA adduct formation, and extract of pepper Read more […]

Pharmacology of Black Pepper

Many spices used in food seasoning have broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. Their antioxidant activity against lipid peroxidation enhances the keeping quality of food. Apart from the use as a popular spice and flavouring substance, black pepper as drug in the Indian and Chinese systems of medicine is well documented. In the Ayurvedic descriptions, pepper is described as katu (pungent), tikta (bitter), usbnaveerya (potency, leading to storing up of energy, easy digestion, diaphoresis, thirst and fatigue), to subdue vatta (all the biological phenomena controlled by CNS and autonomic nervous system) and kapha (implies the function of heat regulation, and also formation of various preservative fluids like mucus, synovia etc. The main functions of kapha is to provide co-ordination of the body system and regularization of all biological activities). Pepper is described as a drug which increases digestive power, improves appetite, cures cold, cough, dyspnoea, diseases of the throat, intermittent fever, colic, dysentery, worms and piles; also useful in tooth ache, pain in liver and muscle, inflammation, leucoderma and epileptic fits. Black pepper is called maricha or marica in Sanskrit, indicating its property to dispel Read more […]

Vaccinium Species

Distribution and Importance of the Plant The genus Vaccinium, from the heath family (Ericaceae), includes a wide range of popular berry species of economic importance, including the American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.), the wild lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.), cultivated highbush and rabbiteye blueberries (V. corymbosum L. and V. ashei Reade), bilberry (V. myrtillus L.) and lingonberry (V. vitis-idaea L.). While these crops are well known throughout the world, in many cases, their individual distributions are quite narrow. Wild lowbush blueberry, for example, is localized in the extreme northeastern United States and maritime provinces of Canada (); bilberry is grown only in a few European countries with an isolated pocket of distribution in the Rocky Mountain region of the USA, and cranberry production, which until recently was confined to the eastern and western coasts of the USA, has recently expanded into higher elevations in South America. The harvested berries are marketed fresh, frozen, and in some cases, sweetened and dried (personal communication, D. Nolte, Decas Cranberry Co.). They are also popular components in bakery items, dried cereals, jams, juices, and numerous related Read more […]

Bioactivity of Basil: Other Activities

Plants belonging to the genus Ocimum exhibit a great deal of different pharmacological activities of which the most important, as concluded by the number of research reports, will be discussed below. The activities to be discussed in more detail are anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating and adaptogenic, anticarcinogenic, hypoglycemic and blood lipid lowering, radioprotective, effect on the CNS, antiulcerogenic, hepatoprotective and the effect on smooth muscle. In addition to these activities a number of other activities are also reported in the literature, such as antioxidant, angioprotective effect, effect on the reproductive behaviour and antiwormal activity. Anti-inflammatory Activity Ocimum sanctum L., popularly known as “Tulsi” in Hindi and “Holy Basil” in English, is a widely known sacred plant of Hindus. Different parts of the plant have been claimed to be valuable in a wide spectrum of diseases. For instance, it is used for the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, pain and fever in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. Ocimum sanctum is now intensively studied in order to prove these activities by pharmacological evidence. A methanol extract and an aqueous suspension of Ocimum sanctum leaves inhibited Read more […]

Oenothera Species (Evening Primrose)

The Plant Species of the genus Oenothera L. (Onagra Miller) from the family Onagraceae are characteristic of America, the homeland of species acclimated in Europe. The American flora has the most numerous representatives; plants of these species can be found in natural localities, or they are grown as decorative plants with white, pink to reddish purple, or mostly bright yellow flowers. A few species are also found in Russia. At present, the genus Oenothera is believed to be distributed throughout the world with the exception of Antarctica. The genus Oenothera is divided into 14 sections. As a result of the creation of hybrid forms, pure single-species populations of this genus are becoming more and more rare. There are two groups of taxonomists, differing in their opinions on its systematics. The total number of Oenothera species is estimated at 123 by American taxonomists, and at 212 by European authors. By 1992, 26 species and permanent hybrids had been found in Poland, grouped in three series: Devriesia (3 species), Oenothera (16 species), and Rugglesia (7 species). The species of the genus in question are herbaceous plants, annual, biennial or perennial, with single leaves, sometimes bipinnated, without Read more […]

Green Tea (Camellia sinensis)

Medical Uses Green tea is used as an antioxidant, for its anticancer effects, and for its effects as a sunscreen protection. Historical Uses Green tea was first used by Buddhists in China and India and during meditation ceremonies in Japan. Traditional Chinese medicine recommends green tea “to prolong life”). Growth This herb comes from a small, native Chinese evergreen tree with green pointy leaves. It is grown primarily in China, India, and Japan. Part Used • Fresh leaves Green tea comes from the fresh leaf, lightly steamed to avoid oxidation of the polyphe-nol components, in contrast to black tea,which is allowed to oxidize. Major Chemical Compounds • Polyphenols 8 to 12 percent • Flavonoids (such as epigallo catechin gallate) • Tannins • Quercetin • Alkaloids (such as caffeine) Green Tea: Clinical Uses Green tea is used as an antioxidant, for its anticancer effects, and for its effects as a sunscreen protection. Mechanism of Action Catechins have an antioxidant role in the prevention of certain cancers. Polyphenols have antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic effects. Green Tea: Dosage Normal consumption in Japan is 3 cups per day with meals. Use 1 teaspoon of green tea leaves Read more […]

Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)

Red Raspberry: Medical Uses Modern use is based on the traditional uses of raspberry for mouth sores, irritated mucous membranes, and diarrhea. It may also inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Historical Uses Raspberry leaves have been used as a folk remedy for mouth sores, irritated mucous membranes, and diarrhea. Herbalists have sometimes called the red raspberry the herb for pregnancy. Growth The raspberry plant is a thorny bush that grows to about 6 feet high. It originated in Europe and Asia and grows in temperate areas. It resembles but should not be confused with the blackberry plant. Parts Used • Leaves • Fruit Major Chemical Compounds • Vitamins A, B, C, and E • Calcium • Phosphorus • Iron • Fragarine • Ellagic acid Red Raspberry: Clinical Uses Modern use is based on the traditional uses of raspberry for mouth sores, irritated mucous membranes, and diarrhea. It may also inhibit the growth of cancer cells. In a survey of Certified Nursing Midwives who used herbal preparations, 63 percent stated that they used red raspberry leaf to stimulate labor. Mechanism of Action Ellagic acid has antimutagenic, anticarcinogenic, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. The Read more […]

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Turmeric: Medical Uses Turmeric inhibits cancer, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and lowers cholesterol levels. It may be used for stomach upset, acne, dermatitis, infections, dandruff, gastritis, gingivitis, herpes, inflammation, sunburn, and psoriasis. Historical Uses Turmeric was used internally to regulate blood sugar in diabetics and to prevent colon cancer. It was applied topically as a paste to reduce canker sores and cold sores. It was also used as a yellow dye for the robes of Buddist monks. Turmeric is also known as Indian saffron or yellow ginger. Crowth A member of the ginger family, turmeric is a perennial plant cultivated in tropical regions of Asia. Part Used • Root Major Chemical Compounds • Curcumin • Volatile oils • Tumerone • Atlantone and zingiberone sugars • Resins • Proteins • Vitamins and minerals. Turmeric: Clinical Uses Turmeric inhibits cancer, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and lowers cholesterol levels. It is approved by the German Commission E and the World Health Organization for dyspepsia. It is also used for acne, dermatitis, infections, dandruff, gastritis, gingivitis, herpes, inflammation, sunburn, and psoriasis. Read more […]

Botanical Treatment Strategies for Herpes: Antiviral Botanicals

The following herbs represent a selection of botanicals used for internal and / or topical antiviral therapy. All have shown some measure of antimicrobial activity in various studies and are a promising area of research for herpes treatment. Specific studies of the effects of herbs on herpes simplex virus are presented in the following. These herbs may be used singly, but more commonly are used by herbal practitioners in combination with other antivirals, or in comprehensive, multiherb, multieffect formulae. Aloe Aloe has long been used by herbalists as a topical healing agent for wounds, burns, irritated skin, and sores. Two studies were conducted by Syed et al. examining the efficacy of topical aloe vera treatments on men experiencing primary outbreaks of genital herpes. In the first study, 120 men were randomized into three parallel groups receiving either 0.5% in hydrophilic cream, aloe vera gel, or placebo three times daily for 2 weeks. The shortest mean duration of healing occurred with aloe vera cream, followed by gel and then placebo with healing times of 4.8 days, 7.0 days, and 14.0 days, respectively. Percentages of cured patients were 70%, 45%, and 7.5%, respectively. In the second study, 60 men were randomized Read more […]