Benefits of Herbs & Spices - A Review
We have circulated an interesting quote amongst our colleagues and partners this last couple of days from Mark Blumenthal (founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council):
"I think there are some botanicals from India that are going to reach a higher level of market acceptance in 2013". Good news if you want to stay healthy. At the same time we saw an interesting scientific review (by Panickar) on health benefits which coincides with this sentiment.
A review by a group at the Diet, Genomics, & Immunology Laboratory (USA) evaluated the evidence available for herbs & spices in potentially improving metabolic syndrome, as well as neuroprotective effects on the brain, and cognitive function in animal and human studies.
Beneficial actions of herbs & spices include:
- Anti-inflammatory & anti-oxidant
- Anti-thrombotic effects
Northern India near the Himalayas: one of the areas where Herbs & Spices including Green Tea are sourced
This review covers the positive functional effects that Herbs & Spices could have on chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and on conditions related to cognitive function.
The major components of herbs & spices are polyphenols. It is suggested by the reseach that the above properties are due to the polyphenols and can modulate metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome with time affects brain and cognitive function. It has been shown that Metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes are also risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and stroke. Moreover, the neuroprotective effects of herbs and spices have been demonstrated and, whether directly or indirectly, such beneficial effects may also contribute to an improvement in cognitive function.
Traditional medicine has leveraged the healt benefits of Herbs & Spices and initially scientific research was lacking. However the beneficial effects from oberservation and anecdotal evidence was very encouraging. Recent interest has increased the understanding and the nutritional effects. Several studies are reviewed in the above article which have examined the cellular and molecular modes of action of the bioactive components of plants such as herbs and spices.
This is good news for those of us who use traditional herbs and spice in our diets to supplement a general healthy lifestyle. Beneficial effects of herbs, spices, and medicinal plants on the metabolic syndrome, brain, and cognitive function look like they have already gained a foothold and traditional medicines such as Ayurveda might be well placed now to consolidate its contribution to health on a global basis.