David Winston’s information on the health benefits of Berries
Following is information about the health benefits of berries used in Herbalist & Alchemist’s line of Solid Extracts
Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) – Blueberries increase circulation to the capillaries of the eyes, which results in improved eyesight and reduced oxidation in these tissues. It is useful for preventing diabetic retinopathy as well as treating night blindness, macular degeneration and cataracts. Blueberry concentrate is also beneficial for strengthening all other capillaries, arteries and veins. It can also be used for reducing capillary fragility and permeability in conditions such as varicose veins. An antioxidant/anti-inflammatory, it reduces free radical- caused inflammation and histamine release (allergies). Recent studies in animals have shown that as little as 1/2 cup of Blueberries per day can reduce symptoms of aging (memory loss, cognitive and motor impairment) and may help to prevent cancer, heart disease and arthralgias. Blueberries, like other Vaccinium species (Bilberry, Huckleberry, Cranberry) contain flavonoids such as anthocyanins which are potent antioxidants. Blueberries had the highest antioxidant capacity of 40 fruits and vegetables tested by the USDA. These berries have a powerful ability to protect against free radical damage, inhibit enzymes which may promote cancer, reduce histamine production and act as an anti-inflammatory nutrient to connective tissue.
Apple (Malus pumila) – Apples contain Vitamin A and potassium. They also contain boron, a trace mineral necessary for proper absorption of calcium for healthy bone growth and maintenance. Apple procyanidins inhibit proliferation of animal melanoma cells and human metastatic colon cancer cells in laboratory studies
Cranberry (Vaccinium sp.) Blueberry(Vaccinium sp.) – consumption of cranberries has been shown to both help prevent urinary tract infections and treat active infections by preventing bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall 1, 2 , 3. Blueberries, like other Vaccinium species (Bilberry, Huckleberry, Cranberry) contain flavonoids such as anthocyanins which are potent antioxidants. Blueberries had the highest antioxidant capacity of 40 fruits and vegetables tested by the USDA. These berries have a powerful ability to protect against free radical damage, inhibit enzymes which may promote cancer, reduce histamine production and act as an anti-inflammatory nutrient to connective tissue. Research has shown that proanthocyanidins can induce a deformation in both antibiotic-susceptible and antiobiotic-resistant bacteria, thus rendering them unable to attach to the uroepithelial cells that line the bladder. They also lighten the biofilm that forms on the tissue to support microbial growth 2, 4. Cranberries and blueberries contain high levels of proanthocyanidins and have been shown in numerous clinical trials to reduce the number and severity of urinary tract infections, especially in women and high risk populations 4, 5, 6. Cranberries also acidify the urine, which makes the bladder environment more resistant to infections and aids in the reduction of urinary calculi formation 7. As nutrient-rich foods, both cranberries and blueberries are low in calories, high in Vitamin C and flavonoid content and are a good source of fiber. Blueberries are also provide manganese, which is a trace mineral needed for healthy insulin production and as a synergistic nutrient involved in bone and blood formation 8. The same mechanism responsible for the ability of cranberries and blueberries to be effective in treating urinary tract infections may also be responsible for the fact that these fruits inhibit the adhesion of Helicobacter pylori to the stomach lining 9, 10, 11. H. pylori infection is responsible for the formation of gastric ulcers, gastritis and several types of gastric cancer. Cranberries have also been shown to inhibit the adhesion of Streptococcus mutans, which causes dental plaque and leads to tooth decay 12, 13, 14. The anthocyanins in both fruits are effective antioxidants and reduce reactive oxygen species (ROS) damage caused by environmental and age-related metabolic processes. This makes them useful tools in fighting oxidative disease processes such as degenerative eye disease and atherosclerosis 15. The polyphenols have been shown to be involved in reducing ischemic brain damage and in combating neurodegenerative aging processes 16, 17.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra, ssp. canadensis) – Elderberries are a rich source of antioxidant flavonoids known as oligomeric procyanadins (OPC’s), as well as calcium, potassium, carotenoids, and anti-viral proteins. These edible berries can be taken regularly as a part of the diet to strengthen capillaries, veins, and arteries, as well as connective tissue and the eyes. Elderberry PCO’s enchance circulation, reduce inflammation, and are of benefit for preventing and treating atherosclerosis, degenerative eye and circulatory disease as well as seasonal allergies. People suffering from oxidative diseases such as osteo-arthritis, macular degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease can benefit from the use of this product. The proteins found in Elderberry inhibit viruses (especially influenza), as well as stimulate the immune system. Elderberry is appropriate for treating colds, influenza, Fifth Disease, laryngitis, tonsillitis, and viral bronchitis in adults and children. OPC’s (also known as PCO’s) are profound anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents. They inhibit allergic reactions by stabilizing mast cells and preventing histamine response. They also help to quench reactive oxygen species (ROS), thus preventing oxidative damage and damaging inflammatory processes. Elderberry’s antiviral compounds inhibit viral replication as well as stimulating immune response by stimulating human cytokine production (TNF-a, IL-6, IL-1b, IL-8)
Hawthorn berry(Crataegus monogyna) – Hawthorn has been traditionally used in Europe in to treat hypertension, coronary artery disease, angina and hypercholesteremia. Recent research has shown that a diet rich in polyphenols decreases cardiovascular risk by inhibiting low density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation, which is a primary event in atherosclerosis plaque formation1. Clinical trials using hawthorn in patients with and without prescription hypotensive agents showed a marked decrease in blood pressure as well as a decrease in clinical symptoms of fatigue, dyspnea and lack of vitality2,3,4. Hawthorn is also beneficial to patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction and laboratory studies suggest that this may be due to improvement in the contractility of impaired myocardium5. A review of 9 different clinical trials designed to study the effect of hawthorn in patients with congestive heart failure concluded that “Crataegus is an effective and safe treatment for this indication”6,7. The positive effect of hawthorn on a wide range of cardiac and circulatory conditions demonstrates the ability of this medicinal fruit to deliver plaque-fighting capabilities and improve cardiac tonicity. While many products increase blood circulation by elevating blood pressure, hawthorn is unique in that it increases circulation and simultaneously lowers blood pressure. Hawthorn fruit contains oligomeric procyanidins (OPC’s), which are a class of nutrients in the polyphenol family. The berries also contain rutin (a flavonoid) and triterpene acids such as Vitexin, Crateagolic acid, Vitexin-O-Rhamnoside and Isovitexin. OPC’s and other flavonoids help inhibit angiotensin-converting enzymes, causing vasodilation and hence, improve circulation and blood vessel integrity6. The antioxidants in hawthorn prevent further deterioration and reduce inflammation. Rutin and other flavonoids are thought to rebuild the collagen fibers in the outer layers of the blood vessels, which also strengthens them8. Hawthorn is also used to lower serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels.9
Pomegranate (Punica granatum) – In human clinical trials, pomegranate has been shown to be effective in reducing the microorganisms involved with the development of dental plaque which can lead to gum disease and tooth decay 20. Pomegranate’s ellagitannins inhibit gene expression of androgen-synthesizing hormones and nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB), both of which are involved in tumor cell growth of recurrent prostate cancer 15, 16. This inhibition of angiogenesis may be useful as a chemopreventative or chemotherapeutic agent, especially when combined with conventional treatment 17.
Lycium (Lycium barbarum) – Also known as goji berry or Gou Qi Zi, lycium is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to nourish the Chinese liver and Chinese kidney which are involved with the functions of eyesight, growth, maturation and aging. It is protective to the Western liver and laboratory studies have shown that this may be achieved by the fruit’s ability to stimulate T lymphocyte activation 21. Laboratory studies have demonstrated that the polysaccharides found in lycium reduce the risk of lipid peroxidation accelerated by age-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) and increase total antioxidant capacity (TOAC) and immune function, both of which decline with age and/or disease 4. These same polysaccharides protect muscle fibers in the heart and skeletal muscle by increasing creatine kinase levels 5, 6 and attenuating beta-amyloid (Abeta) toxicity in neurons, which occurs at the onset of Alzheimer’s disease 7-9. Human clinical trials showed that ingestion of lycium increased energy levels, mental acuity and reduced stress 14 .
For specific Bibliography information – go to this Herbalist & Alchemist link.
Author: David Winston (RH) AHG
©2009 Herbal Therapeutics Research Library. All rights reserved
|Disclaimer: The information on historical, ethnobotanical and phytotherapeutic uses of herbs and traditional formulas contained herein is based on the experience and research of the author. It is not intended as a substitute for consulting with your physician or other health care provider. Any attempt to diagnose and treat an illness should be done under the direction of a health care professional. The publisher and author are not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of any of the information discussed. Should you have any questions concerning the appropriateness of any preparation mentioned, the author strongly suggests consulting a professional health care advisor.|