Review on the Effectiveness of Aloe Vera for Oral Diseases

The succulent leaves of the aloe vera (Aloe vera, Xanthorrhoeaceae) plant have been used medicinally for hundreds of years. The clear gel, or mucilage, found inside the leaves, is well known for having wound-healing, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, and analgesic properties. These attributes could potentially help in treating oral ailments. The aim of this systematic review was to accumulate and assess clinical trials evaluating the effectiveness of aloe vera preparations in treating various oral diseases.

Studies on aloe vera were eligible if they were randomized, controlled, single- or double-blind, cross-sectional, or case-controlled trials published as full papers in English. PubMed (Medline), Scopus, Cochrane Database, Embase, and ScienceDirect were searched from July 1998 to December 2015. Search terms included “herbs,” “Ayurveda,” and “oral mucosa.” The Jadad scale (a scale ranging from 0 to 5, where the higher number indicates higher trial quality) was used to assess quality.

In total, 15 articles met the inclusion criteria. Only six trials achieved a Jadad score of 4/5; the rest scored between 0 and 3. Most studies were carried out in hospital clinics in countries such as Iran, Spain, India, the United States, and Saudi Arabia. Study populations ranged from 20 to 110 patients with clinically diagnosed oral mucosal lesions. Five of the 15 studies focused on patients with oral lichen planus (OLP). Two studies examined efficacy on oral submucous fibrosis (OSMF) in patients. The remaining studies investigated the effects of aloe vera on burning mouth syndrome, radiation-induced mucositis, Candida-associated denture stomatitis, xerostomia, and minor recurrent aphthous/stomatitis. All studies demonstrated a low risk of bias using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool. Blinding bias was low among all studies except one on Candida-associated denture stomatitis. Randomization sequence bias was high in seven studies.

Most studies showed statistically significant results for efficacy of aloe vera in treatment of oral lesions. There were no withdrawals due to adverse effects of aloe vera in any of the clinical trials. This review found aloe vera was most beneficial in patients with OLP. All five studies in patients with OLP demonstrated a low risk of bias and proved aloe vera effectively reduced lesion-associated pain and burning sensation, leading to partial or complete remission of symptoms. Studies conducted in patients with OSMF showed aloe vera to be effective in all stages of OSMF, particularly mild-stage OSMF clinically and early-stage OSMF histopathologically. Pain and burning sensations were significantly reduced in OSMF studies, and other outcome measures (mouth opening, cheek flexibility, tongue protrusion) were promising. The overall quality of OSMF studies was good with low risk of bias. Four trials in patients with aphthous stomatitis were reviewed, consisting of 319 patients. The overall quality of these studies was good. Lesion healing improved and there was significant remission of pain, erythema, and lesion size. Aloe vera was found to be less beneficial in patients with radiation-induced mucositis, as it was not effective in improving tolerance to head and neck radiotherapy, decreasing mucositis, or decreasing soreness; however, quality-of-life measures were improved in the patients receiving aloe vera. In the single Candida study reviewed, aloe vera had an anticandidal oral effect surpassed by that of Triphala, an Ayurvedic combination remedy.

Lack of randomization, lack of double-blinding, and a lack of description for withdrawals, dropouts, and methods to generate the sequence of randomization were all prevalent limitations that excluded trials from this review. The studies included demonstrated aloe vera has a wide spectrum of properties and uses and is a promising agent in treating oral lesions. However, based on this review, aloe vera may be better suited to OLP, OSMF, and aphthous stomatitis lesions versus those induced by radiation or Candida. For aloe vera to be more seriously considered for clinical treatment of oral lesions, future clinical trials should strive to meet more rigorous standards.

Resource:

Nair GR, Naidu GS, Jain S, Nagi R, Makkad RS, Jha A. Clinical effectiveness of aloe vera in the management of oral mucosal diseases – A systematic review. J Clin Diagn Res. August 1, 2016;10(8): ZE01-ZE07. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2016/18142.8222.

 

Artichoke Leaf Extract Shows a Potential Mild Benefit to Those with Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of abnormalities such as hyperlipidemia, hyperglycemia, and obesity, and may lead to the development of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. This condition is also associated with excess reactive oxygen species (ROS), and this redox imbalance is thought to correlate with further problems in metabolic syndrome. Artichoke (Cynara scolymus, Asteraceae) is consumed as a food and used medicinally for gastrointestinal problems. Artichoke leaf extract (ALE) has been shown to have beneficial effects for certain aspects of metabolic syndrome and is reported to have elevated antioxidant capacity. This double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, clinical trial investigated the potential effects of ALE intake on the oxidative stress and diet of patients with metabolic syndrome.

This study took place in Khoy, Iran, from November 2014 to May 2015. Metabolic syndrome was defined for this study as having 3 or more of the following: fasting blood sugar ≥ 100 mg/dL; triglyceride (TG) concentrations ≥ 150 mg/dL; blood pressure ≥ 130/85 mmHg; high-density lipoprotein cholesterol < 40 mg/dL for men or < 50 mg/dL for women; and waist circumference ≥ 95 cm (both men and women). Patients who wished to be in the study and were 20-50 years old were included. Those with systemic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, or Crohn’s disease, or those who, within the past 3 months, were consuming fish oil or antioxidant supplements, were taking pharmaceuticals for lipids or blood pressure or taking corticosteroids, were excluded. Also, those who smoked, were actively trying to lose weight, or had an allergy to artichoke, as well as women who were pregnant, lactating, or menopausal, were excluded.

The primary outcome of the study was any alteration in oxidative stress, with food consumption changes serving as the secondary outcome. The treatment and placebo were provided in tablet form by Dineh Pharmaceutical Company; Qazvin, Iran. ALE was prepared as a water-alcohol extract of leaves, standardized to contain 450 mg of a hydroalcoholic extract of artichoke leaf, with at least 4-5% chlorogenic acid. Placebo tablets contained corn (Zea mays, Poaceae) starch, lactose, and Avicel® (microcrystalline cellulose). Daily dosage was 4 tablets of either ALE (1,800 mg total) or placebo, with 1 tablet taken before breakfast and dinner, and 2 tablets taken before lunch. The total treatment duration was 12 weeks. Unused tablets served as a gauge of compliance. Patients were told not to alter their diet or exercise regimens and to report any adverse side effects.

Physical parameters (body mass index [BMI], weight, and waist circumference) and blood pressure were taken both at baseline and endpoint of the study. Physical activity was measured using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, with results reported as high, moderate, and low, and dietary information was gathered using the software Nutritionist IV (First DataBank; San Bruno, California). Fasting blood was used for quantifying blood parameters; glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase, both antioxidant enzymes, were measured in red blood cells, while total antioxidant capacity, TG, oxidized low-density lipoprotein (ox-LDL), and malondialdehyde concentrations, the latter both markers of oxidative stress, were measured in serum.

From 256 patients with metabolic syndrome, 80 were randomly assigned, with 40 patients in each group. In the ALE group, 7 patients were dropped from the study due to hypothyroidism or protocol violations, and 5 were dropped from the placebo group due to stopping the treatment or protocol violations; 33 patients in the ALE group and 35 in the placebo group finished the study. At baseline, no differences were seen between groups in any of the parameters, with 2 exceptions—in the placebo group, BMI was lower (P = 0.051) and diastolic blood pressure was significantly less (P = 0.030). Ox-LDL concentrations decreased significantly in those consuming ALE as compared with baseline (5,647.42 ± 1,031.93 ng/L vs. 5,914.28 ± 965.28 ng/L, P = 0.030). The decrease in ox-LDL across the study in the ALE group was also significantly greater as compared with that in the placebo group (−4.5% vs. −2.3%, P = 0.033). No other changes or differences in oxidative stress markers or enzymes were noted. No adverse side effects were observed.

The consumption of vitamin E and zinc significantly declined at the end of the study in the placebo group (P < 0.05 for both), and the amount of decrease in zinc consumption in the placebo group was significantly greater than that of the ALE group across the study (P = 0.019). In the ALE group, vitamin C consumption decreased, bordering significance (P = 0.061). Also, the percent decrease in TG concentrations was greater at the end of the study in the ALE group as compared with the placebo group (−17.74% vs. −5.02%, P = 0.010). No other parameters, including physical activity, were different from the study.

In conclusion, ALE consumption reduced ox-LDL as well as TG concentrations, indicating a potentially mild benefit to those with metabolic syndrome. As antioxidant status was unaffected in this study, oxidant status may have been acute or the oxidant stress too moderate to be detected. The authors suggest that the bioactivity observed may be due to compounds in ALE. There were some uneven physical parameters at baseline that may have influenced the outcomes reported here. Other discussed limitations include a short study duration and high amount of tablet consumption. Ideally, future studies will investigate the utility of ALE ingestion as an adjuvant for those with metabolic syndrome. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Resource:

Rezazadeh K, Aliashrafi S, Asghari-Jafarabadi M, Ebrahimi-Mameghani M. Antioxidant response to artichoke leaf extract supplementation in metabolic syndrome: a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial. Clin Nutr. March 23, 2017; [epub ahead of print]. pii: S0261-5614(17)30108-5. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2017.03.017.

Chicory Root

You may know the chicory root as a popular coffee substitute. In fact, it was widely used during the Great Depression and World War II when coffee was in short supply or too expensive. Today, it is used around the world and in the US, particularly in New Orleans, as a natural caffeine-free substitute for coffee. However, it’s much more than a rich drink.

Chicory has a long history as a cleansing medicinal herb. In fact, the ancient Egyptians were known to consume large amounts of chicory to purify the liver and blood. Romans were also known to have used the root to help with blood purification. Medieval monks cultivated the plant, and it is widely used in Europe and the Mediterranean where it natively grows.

Called kasni in the Far East, chicory contains tannin phlobaphenes and several forms of sugar. The seeds have carminative and are useful as a brain tonic and for a headache, asthma, and bilious vomiting.

Chicory Root for Natural Liver Health

Chicory is an acclaimed liver protective and is used to treat hepatic enlargement, fever, vomiting, and abdominal aches. Its primary benefits are that it both protects the liver and supports the breakdown of fats by increasing the flow of bile.

Chicory Root as an Antibacterial & Antifungal

In addition, it has strong antibacterial and antifungal activity–and it is even effective against salmonella. Medicinally, chicory has been used to help address acne, cellulite, constipation, diabetes, eczema, gallstones, gastritis, gout, hepatitis, jaundice, liver stagnation, rheumatism, and urinary ailments.

Chicory Root as a Prebiotic Source

Naturally, inulin (a dietary fiber) can be found in more than 36,000 species of plants, however, chicory root has the greatest concentration. There are many health benefits that inulin, and therefore chicory root can provide. It contains prebiotics, a soluble fiber that people cannot digest that stimulates the growth and/or activity of bacteria in the digestive system. Chicory root has 64.6% prebiotic fiber by weight. Compared to the banana, which has only 1%, it easy to see why it’s considered to be the number one choice for natural prebiotic consumption. You would have to eat roughly one pound of bananas a day to get your recommended daily dose of prebiotics.

The inulin factor contributes a number of other health benefits to chicory root. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Inulin has health benefits similar to those of fiber in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It prevents constipation, helps maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the colon, and lowers blood cholesterol levels.”

Chicory Root as a Food Ingredient

You may be surprised to discover that chicory is often used as an ingredient in common food products. But that’s because of the inulin. The inulin adds fiber without adding unwanted taste or texture. It also has the advantage of having a smooth, creamy feeling in your mouth, like fat. According to Dr. Weil, “Food manufacturers now extract inulin from chicory root and add it to edible products such as yogurt, ice cream, chocolate bars, breakfast bars, salad dressings, and margarine.” Its flavor ranges from bland to subtly sweet (approx. 10% the sweetness of sucrose). It can be used to replace sugar, fat, and flour.

Chicory (Cichorium intybu) is actually a relative of the dandelion and contains both Vitamin C and inulin (not to be confused with insulin). Despite its coffee-like depth and flavor, it does not contain the caffeine so prevalent in traditional coffee beans. Chicory lends itself well to experimentation and can be taken as a tea, mixed into a tonic, or you can try creating your favorite coffee drink with Roasted Chicory as the sole substitute.

chicory coffee

Try these wonderful recipes from our friends at:

https://blog.mountainroseherbs.com/make-roasted-chicory-coffee-recipe

Oregano Oil Health Benefits

Oregano oil is widely known as nature’s potent defense against harmful organisms. Not only is it highly respected within the natural health community, it is also being widely studied within the scientific community for its vast medical uses.

Research designed to examine oregano oil has encompassed many topics. Oregano oil also has extremely high levels of free-radical-fighting antioxidants, agents that protect the body.

Oregano oil may also provide support for indications of common infectious ailments including respiratory problems, skin problems, athlete’s foot, yeast infections and harmful organisms.

Research on Oregano Oil

Studies have shown its usefulness against Candida albicans, Aspergillus mold, staph, vaginal imbalance, Pseudomonas, and listeria. A study from the US Department of Agriculture showed that oregano essential oils presented potent action against Salmonella and E.coli. Other research holds the same, stating that oregano oil is such a powerful agent that it can be used to preserve food. Studies from the Department of Food Science at the University of Tennessee and the University of the Algarve found that similar results for oregano’s power against pathogenic germs.

A recent study from the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Georgetown University Medical Center stated the following in regard to the role of essential oils for infections:

    • “New, safe agents are needed to prevent and overcome severe bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Based on our previous experience and that of others, we postulated that herbal essential oils, such as those of origanum (oregano oil)…offer such possibilities.”

In an article published on Science Daily, oil of oregano was found to be effective in killing Staphylococcus bacteria.

Another study published in the journal, Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology found that oregano oil could lower the negative effects of induced colitis in rats and opens the door to new ideas about its benefit to the colon and liver.

More Health Benefits of Oregano Oil

  • Resistant to redness and swelling
  • Can help relieve congestion
  • Emmenagogue — Oregano oil can aid irregular menstruation and reduce the negative effects of menopause.
  • Calms sensitivities to environmental irritants. Oregano oils produce a sedating effect on the hyper-sensitivity of allergies.
  • Potent anti-oxidant capacity — Through neutralizing free-radicals, oregano oil helps us slow the process of cellular deterioration, thus slowing the process of aging.
  • Rosmarinic acid, a component of oil of oregano, is an antihistamine, and a more powerful antioxidant than vitamin E.
  • Digestive aid — Stimulates the flow of bile in the digestive organs
  • With regular use, oregano oil can help protect us against fungal infections.

Action Against Harmful Organisms

  • A recent study on the activity of multiple essential oils against harmful organisms found that both oregano and thyme oils showed the strongest activity.
  • Inhibition of the growth of enteric organisms. A 6-weeks study on individuals with organisms found that supplementation with 600 mg of oregano oil daily led to a complete disappearance of the harmful organisms. It may also protect us against a wide variety of infiltration within the body, as well as the physical environment. This includes round worms, tape worms, bed bugs, lice, fleas, and mosquitoes.

Oregano oil is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. It is high in the vitamins A C, and E complex, as well as zinc, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese and niacin.

I have used oregano oil for many different things over the years and highly recommend you keep some in your natural medicine cabinet. When researching oil of oregano products to buy, be sure to look at the amount of Carvacrol it contains, and also try to buy organic when possible. Oregatrex™ is the oregano oil product that I personally use and recommend for everyone.

Lung Cleansing Benefits of Oregano

Allergies, asthma, harmful organisms, and even inhalation of various pollutants may cause upper respiratory problems. Symptoms of respiratory problems can include chest congestion, difficulty breathing and irritated nasal or throat passages. If you, or someone you’re close to, has experienced these symptoms, you know they can be very disruptive.

As we enter into the time of year when respiratory ailments are common, it’s important to know that organic oregano is a powerful tool to include in your lung health arsenal. Effective, reliable and safe, organic oregano is naturally rich in carvacrol, flavonoids, and terpenes; all of which are natural decongestants and antihistamines.

Oregano as an Antihistamine

When pollen, dust, mold, chemicals, fungus, and bacteria are invading your body, it releases a chemical called histamine which causes a reaction similar to allergic reactions — nasal congestion, increased mucous production, and sneezing. Histamine reducing herbs like oregano aid in counteracting histamine and may help reduce these reactions.

Oregano also contains rosmarinic acid. An article summarizing a study that examined the ability of the Rosmarinic acid to inhibit allergic irritation appeared in a 2004 edition of Clinical & Experimental Allergy. It was discovered that rosmarinic acid reduces fluid buildup and even swelling during an allergy attack, making it a natural histamine-reducing compound.

Oregano for Cough and Overall Health

The research examined by the ENT Department at the Israel Institute of Technology Medical Center found the therapeutic potential for various aromatic herbs, including oregano. Oregano has direct, positive benefits on the respiratory tract, coughing reflex and nasal passage airflow.

Oregano also contains calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium, vitamins A and C, and niacin. Although these components don’t directly impact upper respiratory problems, all of them are required by the systems within the body, including the immune system. Adequate vitamin and mineral intake is paramount for maintaining a healthy body that can fight off problems, such as upper respiratory issues before they start.

If you suffer from symptoms of respiratory ailments or need to cleanse your lungs on a regular basis, try organic oregano or a lung cleansing formula such as Allertrex®.

What Is Carvacrol?

Carvacrol may not be a widely recognized household name, but its source — oregano, probably is. As it turns out, oregano offers more than a pleasant taste; research has shown that carvacrol, its active ingredient, offers a wide range of health benefits; including protective effects for the liver, antioxidant, activity against harmful organisms, and more. The next 8 facts about carvacrol are sure to make it a known name in your household.

1. Interesting Results Against Cancer Cells

I’m not going to tell you that carvacrol is a cure for cancer but it certainly is demonstrating some interesting activity in preliminary research. When tested against breast cancer cells, it expedited cancer cell death… while being non-toxic. Long Island University researchers reported similar results when putting it up against prostate cancer cells. Actually, carvacrol exhibits the same results regardless of cancer. Lung cancer cells, oral cancer cells, and malignant brain tumors… all have been on the losing end when pitted against carvacrol. Again, it’s important to remember that these reports are exploratory and solution potency was a factor in each experiment; regardless, the potential is exciting.

2. Cleans as Effectively as Chlorine

Produce is often washed before it’s made available for purchase. That’s great… except for the fact that chemicals like chlorine may be used. One study looked to compare the antimicrobial effect of carvacrol to chlorine as a wash for grape tomatoes. For the experiment, grape tomatoes were contaminated with Salmonella and then given a chlorine wash or carvacrol. The solution using carvacrol achieved significant reductions in Salmonella. The researchers also noted the natural solution did not affect nutritional value, antioxidant content, look or taste.

3. Great Against Harmful Organisms

Experiments repeatedly confirm the efficacy of carvacrol against Salmonella, e. Coli, Campylobacter jejuni, and Listeria. It’s had so much success, researchers decided to pit it against an even more serious problem — antibiotic-resistant Salmonella. When tested on Salmonella-infected celery, carvacrol eliminated Salmonella colonies immediately.  It’s believed this action may offer an alternative to keeping food clear of such harmful organisms.

4. Effective Against Candida

Many people are plagued by yeast infections and often times Candida albicans is to blame. They may occur in the mouth, digestive tract, or really anywhere that’s accommodating to fungus. When researchers tested carvacrol against Candida sampled from denture wearers, the results found carvacrol to be very effective; supporting the traditional use of oregano oil as a natural remedy for Candida.

5. Promotes Normal Lipid Levels

The oxidation of LDL cholesterol leads to accumulation along artery walls. The essential oil of oregano was one of several plant oils, which demonstrated protective effects for LDL against copper-induced oxidation. The most pronounced effect was observed with oregano oil and the activity was attributed to carvacrol.

6. Supports Balanced Blood Sugar

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Welfare in the former Soviet bloc country of Georgia approved an herb-based remedy containing carvacrol and other plant compounds as therapeutic support for blood sugar abnormalities. Although the carvacrol used didn’t originate from oregano, trials of this drug reported that it lowered blood sugar without side effects.

7. Fights Systemic Redness and Swelling

Redness and swelling are present with nearly all forms of injury or irritation. Clinical evidence suggests carvacrol may defend against redness and swelling. Tests have shown that it suppresses COX-2 expression, a primary cause of redness. While many plant-based essential oils have this potential, carvacrol is the best in class; research indicates it offers the greatest effectiveness.

8. Amazing Cleansing Abilities… In the Home!

Carvacrol can offer cleansing action outside your body, too. One study examined its effectiveness as a surface cleansing agent. Concentrations of oregano oil reportedly eliminated Listeria biofilms from plastic and stainless steel surfaces, confirming it as a cleaning agent even in non-organic environments.

In my opinion, the best source of carvacrol, easily, is oregano and oregano oil. While oregano can add to the taste of a meal, oregano oil provides the most potent form to encourage the greatest health benefits.

Oregano Oil Benefits to Support Your Health Naturally

Oregano oil is extracted from the oregano plant (Origanum vulgare), a perennial herb from the flowering plant family Lamiaceae. Thanks to its high concentration of antioxidants, carvacrol, and other critical vitamins and nutrients, the health benefits of oregano oil are truly staggering. Oregano oil may support gastrointestinal, respiratory, and skin health. Additionally, its chemical makeup is a powerful force against harmful organisms.

Unlike the dried leaves used in cooking, organic oregano oil provides the health benefits of both the leaf and flower in a few concentrated drops. The potency of oregano oil is due to carvacrol, the compound in the leaves and flowers that are responsible for most of the oregano’s positive health benefits. There are over fifty different types of oregano. Mediterranean varieties of oregano, like those grown in Turkey, usually have the highest amount of carvacrol. These varieties include Origanum heracleoticum and Origanum vulgare, among others.

According to Greek myth, oregano was a beloved and cherished herb of the goddess Aphrodite. She grew it in her garden atop Mount Olympus. Given this history, it’s no surprise that oregano has been studied intensely and its benefits for human health are well known. Below are the top nine you should know about.

1. Calms Lip Blemishes

Many people apply oregano oil to lip blemishes with the belief it will help soothe the area and accelerate healing time. Research is ongoing to pinpoint the validity of this use. Carvacrol may promote resistance against the harmful organisms that cause lip blemishes.

2. Helps with Food Preservation

Spices and herbs, like oregano, have a long history of food preservation and safety. Many types of food, especially raw meat, are a haven for harmful bacteria. Oregano oil may help resist harmful organisms. In one study, a concentrated application of carvacrol slowed the growth of lab cultures or caused them to stop multiplying altogether. Other studies show that essential oils, including oregano, halt the spread of organisms in spoiled fruit juice and aged meat.

3. Soothes Muscle Discomfort

Oregano itself is tremendously soothing and research shows that oregano oil may be helpful for reducing muscle discomfort. In one study, carvacrol was administered orally to mice and measured against opioid-based pain medication. The study concluded that carvacrol offered benefits similar to opioid drugs while being safer.

4. Promotes Intestinal Balance

Maintaining a proper balance of healthy bacteria in your intestines and gut is crucial for supporting good health. A healthy colony of intestinal flora encourages proper digestion and boosts the immune system. Good bacteria also support the immune system and help balance mood. Carvacrol may help promote gut health by creating an appropriate balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria.

5. Eases Bone and Joint Discomfort

Swelling and redness of the joints is an uncomfortable ailment that affects many people. Preliminary studies suggest that carvacrol may offer hope for soothing bones and joints.

6. Resists Harmful Organisms

If you travel to underdeveloped areas of the world, you’ll be exposed to organisms that can wreak havoc on your health. Avoiding the water may be insufficient. Harmful organisms in the natural environment carry a high risk, especially if the body is already in poor health. Research has shown that carvacrol may support the body’s natural response to toxic invaders.

7. Encourages Normal Yeast Balance

Yeast and fungus exist everywhere, even on and in the human body; total eradication is next to impossible. Balance, however, is both desirable and achievable with the help of carvacrol. In a study that examined the use of essential oils as a means to address fungus, carvacrol was among the most effective. Likewise, oregano oil is helpful for promoting balanced candida, a fungus that commonly falls out of balance from poor diet, stress, or antibiotics.

8. Supports Liver Health

Toxins exist in our water, food, and even the air we breathe. The ever-present barrage of toxins in our environment is extraordinary, and the burden it places on the liver is equally mind boggling. Carvacrol may support the normal function of the liver, the body’s primary detoxifying organ.

9. Boosts the Immune System

Gut health, toxins, and lifestyle all play a role in your body’s ability to stay healthy. Oregano oil supports many of the critical factors that ultimately contribute to a strong immune system. In addition to oregano oil’s ability to encourage better gut health, it supplies the body with powerful antioxidants. Eating a healthy diet rich in plants, like oregano encourages a balanced, healthy environment within your body.

Choosing the Right Oregano Oil

If you are looking for the best oregano oil, remember the importance of carvacrol. Global Healing Center has pioneered a new industry standard of high-quality oregano oil with Oregatrex™. It’s a liquid herbal extract that has a minimum carvacrol content of 80% and includes organic peppermint, cayenne, and olive oil. This potent blend supports digestive health and supports the body’s response to harmful organisms.

What About Fresh or Dried Oregano?

Like oregano oil, fresh or dried oregano is packed full of nutritional benefits. Oregano leaf is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, iron, calcium, and potassium. Fresh oregano is loaded with beneficial antioxidants. Oregano blended with other herbs can contain as many or more antioxidants as fruit, berries, and vegetables.

Tips for Growing Oregano

Can’t find the right organic, non-GMO oregano? Then maybe it’s time to grow your own. Like many herbs, it’s easy. With a little bit of work, you’ll be harvesting home-grown oregano in no time.

To start growing oregano, you need some oregano seeds (if you are using cuttings or container plants you can skip these first steps). The variety you should choose depends on your intended use. For a high carvacrol content, Mediterranean varieties are your best bet. Search for the Origanum vulgare variety, which is sometimes referred to as “Greek” oregano. Shop around for a trusted seed supplier who can provide organic, non-GMO seeds. The designation of “heirloom seeds” may assure that the seeds are non-GMO.

Once you have found your seeds, plant this perennial herb in early spring following the last frost of the year. Oregano does best in full sunlight. Check your soil and make sure it’s well drained and has a good mixture of sand, clay, and decaying organic material. If you are not sure if your soil is right, ask a local greenery for compost and fertilizer suggestions.

When your planting location is prepared, it’s time to plant. Place small groups of seeds approximately ¼ inch down and 10 inches apart. Next, cover the seeds with soil and water. Check your plants often. When the soil is dry to the touch, it’s time to water thoroughly.

You may see sprouting after just five days, but exact timing may vary. Oregano leaves will be ready to harvest once the plant reaches about four inches in height, but you may want to wait until they are around eight inches high before taking the leaves. Don’t wait too long to harvest. The best flavors for culinary use come from the leaves before the plant flowers, usually sometime in early July. Instead of taking off individual leaves, harvesting may be done by cutting off whole stems with the leaves still attached.

After harvesting, tie the stems together and hang upside down in a cool, dry environment—preferably indoors—to dry. After 5-7 days, the oregano leaves should be ready. Remove the leaves and store them in an airtight, glass container for up to one year.

10 Uses for Organic Oregano Oil

Hands down, oregano oil is one of the best natural supplements you can get. It’s produced from the perennial herb oregano and loaded with free-radical-crushing antioxidants. A growing body of research has shown that oregano oil offers many positive health benefits and is one of the most potent natural remedies in existence. In particular, there has been a significant evaluation of its effects against harmful organisms; investigations even been made by major pharmaceutical companies. Let’s take a look at why there’s so much interest in oregano oil and its 10 best uses.

What Are the Top 10 Uses for Oregano Oil?

1. Immune System Support

There’s a lot of evidence to show that oregano oil is a powerful tool for the immune system, especially when it encounters outside invaders. One study straight from the United States Department of Agriculture reported that oregano oil has such a strong action against germs that it could easily defeat Salmonella.

These findings were echoed by researchers the Department of Physiology & Biophysics at Georgetown University Medical Center who said, “New, safe agents are needed to…overcome harmful organisms… Based on our previous experience and that of others, we postulated that herbal essential oils, such as those of origanum (oregano oil) offer such possibilities.”

2. Protection Against Harmful Organisms

If you’ve consumed undercooked meat or impure water, or countless other risky actions, harmful organisms are likely to be residing inside of your body. Thankfully, oregano oil is shown to be extremely useful for getting rid of these unwanted invaders. One study examined the relationship between oregano oil and harmful organisms and found that taking 600 mg of oregano oil daily prompted a complete disappearance of harmful organisms in the body.

3. Promotes a Balanced Mood

Studies have found that some compounds in oregano oil, including carvacrol, thymol, and terpinene may positively influence the nervous system and mind. Aromatherapy with oregano oil seems to promote a healthy mood, reduce stress, and inhibit emotional abnormalities.

4. Digestive Aid

I’ve said it a million times—health begins in the gut! Good digestion is absolutely necessary to experience good health. While I recommend using an oxygen-based colon cleanser to clean out your digestive tract, stopping the build-up in the first place needs to be part of the plan, and oregano oil can help. Oregano oil is known to stimulate the flow of bile into the digestive organs, enhancing the digestive process.

5. Menstrual Aid

Irregular, uncomfortable periods and unpleasant effects from menopause are a big problem for many women; one of the best natural remedies is oregano oil. It may actually help support regular menstruation and protect against negative menopause experiences. For women, this is a substantial bonus to the already lengthy list of uses and effects of oregano oil.

6. Supports Graceful Aging

Perhaps the hottest health trend of the past few years is the science of combatting aging. It’s important to understand that aging is largely affected by oxidation and free radicals, which is why antioxidants are so effective. Oregano oil offers a huge amount of antioxidants that can aid in the defense against these aging-accelerators.

7. Allergy Support

If you suffer from allergies and environmental sensitivities, the soothing properties of oregano oil are appealing. Oregano oil can produce a sedating effect on the hypersensitivity of allergies, which ultimately encourages relief. For those wishing to avoid harsh medications, oregano oil may be a natural alternative for curtailing the undesirable effects associated with environmental sensitivities.

8. Weight Loss

In addition to its reputation as a natural immune booster, oregano oil also packs a punch against unwanted body fat. Its main active ingredient, carvacrol, is thought to modulate genes and reduce irritation in white adipose tissue. In one study, when fed a high-fat diet, mice not given carvacrol quickly became obese. In contrast, mice given carvacrol gained significantly less weight and even had lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in their blood.

9. Eases Discomfort

Aches and stiffness can wreak havoc and negatively impact your quality of life. Many people use oil of oregano topically and say that it feels like it goes deep inside their skin to relieve sore joints and muscle discomfort. Simply create a 50/50 mixture of organic oregano oil and organic olive oil and apply topically to the affected area for relief. If you suffer from sore muscles, sports injuries, and backaches, this is one benefit you’ll appreciate.

10. May Help You Feel Better When You Have a Cold

Oregano oil isn’t a cure for the cold, but it can help you feel better. The essential oil can help promote easy breathing, calm a cough, and soothe a sore throat. Many people claim that when they start to feel under the weather, they place 3-6 drops into an empty capsule and take 2-3 times daily before meals. A 5-10 day regimen has been reported as doing wonders.

Supplementing with Oregano Oil

Oregano oil is an absolute must-have item for any medicine cabinet or emergency kit. The array of benefits it offers makes it one of the best all-around supplements you can get. Remember, as with any health product, quality matters tremendously.

Oregatrex™, Global Healing Center’s oregano oil blend, is organic, has an extra virgin olive oil base, and at least 80% carvacrol. It’s also blended with peppermint oil and capsaicin (the compound that gives peppers their heat) for added resistance to harmful organisms.

It’s easy to get started with an organic oregano oil blend like Oregatrex. Simply shake the bottle, place 1-6 drops in a vegetarian capsule (included), and take at the beginning of your meal, 2-3 times daily or as recommended by your physician. Capsaicin is a great ingredient and wonderful substance in its own right, but it is hot, so it’s best to avoid consuming oregano oil liquid directly. Keep it away from your eyes and don’t leave it where children or pets could get into it.

Top 10 Health Benefits of Thyme

There are few things a sprig of thyme won’t make immensely better. This versatile herb blends well with a myriad of flavors and is packed full of health-promoting compounds, vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients.

Thyme belongs to the genus Thymus which is part of the mint family and closely related to oregano—another powerful herb. Native to the Southern Mediterranean regions, this perennial herb is now grown around the world for its culinary and therapeutic uses. While this herb will liven up your cooking, thyme may also help expel harmful organisms from your body and support your mental and physical health.

What Is Thyme?

Thyme is an evergreen herb that blooms with small white, pink, and purple flowers. They hybridize easily and grow quickly in sunny areas with well-drained soil. Thanks to its ease of cultivation and growth, there are over 300 varieties of thyme in existence today. Each variety has unique flavors and applications for cooking, oils, medicines, or decoration. Common thyme (T. vulgaris) and lemon thyme (T. citriodorus) are used for cooking, while Spanish thyme (T. zygis) and creeping thyme (T. serpyllum) are popular in many herbal supplements.

History of Thyme

People’s love and admiration for thyme is nothing new. The recorded history of thyme extends back to ancient Egypt and Rome. Egyptians used thyme as part of their mummification process and Romans ate it before meals and gave it to soldiers as a sign of courage and admiration. In fact, the Latin word for thyme, thymus, means courage and strength. This tradition of giving thyme to soldiers carried on through the middle ages when people in England started using thyme as a cooking herb.

Nutrients in Thyme

Thyme has remained influential over the years in part because of its health benefits, all of which are owed to its diverse profile of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutritional compounds. Thyme is an excellent source of fiber, calcium, iron, manganese, and vitamins A, B6, and C. There are also robust phenols inside the plant—thymol, eugenol, and carvacrol.

Here is the nutritional breakdown of one tablespoon of fresh thyme.

Nutrient Amount
Protein 0.1 g
Fiber 0.3 g
Calcium 10 mg
Copper .01 mg
Manganese .04 mg
Magnesium 4 mg
Iron 0.4 mg
Phosphorus 15 mg
Potassium 5 mg
Riboflavin 17.7 mg
Thiamin 0.117 mg
Riboflavin .01 mg
Zinc .04 mg
Vitamin A .03 mg
Vitamin B6 .008 mg
Vitamin C 3.8 mg
Zinc .04 mg

Top 10 Health Benefits of Thyme

Here is a list of impressive health benefits that have been corroborated by recent studies and research.

1. Resists Harmful Organisms

Thyme contains potent chemical compounds like thymol and carvacrol which are resistant to harmful organisms. Studies have found that thyme promotes fungal balance. Some studies even show compounds found in thyme and oregano oil are helpful as part of a comprehensive strategy for dealing with some types of organisms that are particularly aggressive.

2. Supports Respiratory Health

Respiratory health is important, especially for those with compromised immune systems. Thyme supports normal respiratory health in every season. Studies show that thyme combined with primrose root helps soothe your airways and promote normal lung health.

3. Promotes Heart Health

Blood pressure and cholesterol both play a significant role in heart health. Thyme contains nutrients that support normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

4. Mood Booster

Thyme may help maintain mental wellness. Daily consumption of thyme and oregano oil can influence neurotransmitters and boost your mood. One compound found in thyme oil, carvacrol, when consumed over a seven-day period, positively affected dopamine and serotonin status.

5. Encourages Healthy-looking Skin

For years, nurses wrapped thyme into bandages to help wounds heal. Recent studies confirm that thyme does have the ability to support skin health. One study even noted thyme might contribute to reducing the appearance of wrinkles.

6. Natural Bug Repellent

Thyme is a favorite herb to grow at home. Not only is it convenient for cooking, but it may help keep your home bug free. Thyme acts as a natural repellent for mosquitoes and other pests.

7. Powerful Antioxidant

Thyme is a great source of antioxidants such as apigenin, luteolin, saponins, and tannins. These antioxidant compounds help neutralize free radicals before they can cause harm and oxidative stress. Thyme and iron are often taken together to help keep a better balance and reduce the chances of oxidative stress from occurring.

8. Soothes Occasional Coughs and Sore Throats

For years, thyme has been used to support seasonal wellness. Many studies have validated this use, showing thyme’s ability to help your body get over an occasional cough and sore throat.

9. Promotes Oral Health

Thyme, along with other herbs, can support good oral health. Thyme essential oils can protect against harmful organisms that target the mouth, and help prevent bad breath.

10. Food Safety and Preservation

While thyme is a well-liked addition to many dishes, it can be used for more than taste. Thyme’s resistance to harmful organisms is something that’s been observed and harnessed by large-scale food producers. Thyme essential oil is an effective, natural way to preserve food and increase shelf life.

Thyme Side Effects

Thyme has no documented side effects. The primary concern with using fresh thyme or thyme essential oils is the possibility of having an allergic reaction. Beyond any known allergies, thyme is considered safe and gentle to eat or apply topically.

Adding Thyme to Your Diet

You can grow thyme at home or buy it fresh at most grocery stores and farmer’s markets. Fresh thyme is perfect for making tinctures, teas, or adding to food dishes. Dried thyme is also found in any spice aisle and is an excellent way to keep the herb in your home at all times. Thyme essential oils are also a great way to access the benefits of thyme quickly and easily. Not all essential oils are food grade, but thyme essential oils can be used in a diffuser or applied topically.

You can also take thyme therapeutically to reap its many health benefits. While thyme is great on its own, its nutritional profile and unique properties make it a worthwhile addition to some supplement formulas. Global Healing Center uses the highest quality organic thyme in our revolutionary iron supplement, Iron Fuzion™. Thyme extracts in Iron Fuzion provide nutrients that can help your body absorb and use iron.

Thyme Oil Shows Success in Killing MRSA

Nearly 20 thousand Americans die each year due to complications that stem from Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or better known as MRSA. This “Super Staph” has received a lot of media coverage, and for good reason, it’s scary. A regular Staph infection isn’t remarkably dangerous or difficult to treat. In fact, it’s perfectly normal for a healthy person to have some Staphylococcus bacteria living on their skin or inside their nasal cavity at any given time. The only time it becomes a serious issue is if it’s somehow able to penetrate the skin through an opening such as a cut or a surgical incision, at which point it can require medical attention.

What is MRSA?

MRSA is not regular Staph. It doesn’t respond to the normal treatment methods that work with other species of Staphylococcus bacteria, and because of this, it is much more dangerous. Because of it’s increased tenacity, MRSA is much more likely to eventually work its way below the skin into parts of the body where it can cause serious damage.

Once under the surface, MRSA can quickly contaminate the bloodstream and other systems such as the urinary tract. If left untreated, it can eventually work its way into the heart, lungs and other internal organs, where it can create a life-threatening situation even in otherwise healthy individuals. The overall impact on people with weakened immune functions (such as children and the elderly) can be obviously much more severe.

Staph is a remarkably resilient bacteria. It’s also able to quickly adapt to new antibiotics. In fact, less than half of today’s infections respond to the commonly used antibiotic, methicillin. Hence the name “Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.” Less than 10 percent of the bacteria is believed to still be responsive to traditional penicillin-based antibiotics. These adaptations have forced many doctors to recommend much more powerful and potentially toxic antibiotic drugs to treat infections. That is, until recently…

New Study Offers Surprise Treatment for MRSA

A new study presented in the International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics shows how simple thyme oil could be the solution the medical world has been searching for. A research team at the University of Brighton, East Sussex tested the effects of essential thyme oil on cultivated staphylococcus with great success. Their goal is to now determine its usefulness in actual patients infected with the resistant bacteria in order to develop better long-term treatment options.

Organic Thyme plant

The secret to the success of essential oils in treating MRSA may be the fact that no two batches of oil are exactly the same. The minor variations in plant chemistry are believed to make adaptation more difficult for bacteria. Certain other botanical oils, such as geranium, tea tree, and oregano oil, are also thought to be helpful in fighting resistant Staph. Some researchers theorize that some sort of cocktail treatment may offer the best overall solution to this ongoing problem.

In light of these recent findings, it’s a good idea to stock up on organic oregano oil and thyme oil.

Bitter Melon and Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that affects blood sugar levels and can lead to health issues if not properly managed. Could eating bitter melon be healthful for those looking to manage diabetes?

The bodies of people with diabetes do not produce enough insulin or are not able to use insulin effectively, which leads to there being too much glucose in the blood. Insulin is required so that cells can use it for energy.

A healthful diet and exercise are important for people with diabetes to help them manage their condition. Certain foods can cause blood sugar levels to spike, which is problematic.

In this article, we explore whether the bitter melon is healthful for people looking to manage diabetes. As part of this, we analyze the impact bitter melon may have on blood sugar.

Treating diabetes

bitter melons on a wooden table
Some people with diabetes look to natural treatments, such as bitter melon, to help manage their symptoms.

In type 1 diabetes, high blood sugar is the result of the body not producing enough insulin.

Type 2 diabetes, however, occurs when the body does not respond correctly to insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and people of any age can develop it.

Many people with diabetes manage their condition well and do not experience further health problems. A range of medications and lifestyle changes can help people with diabetes live healthy lives.

However, drug therapies may have some side effects. As such, some people look to try natural treatments that are free of side effects. To make an informed decision about these, it helps to understand the science behind these options.

One such natural treatment method is better melon. Although further research is needed to draw reliable conclusions, some research suggests bitter melon may normalize blood glucose levels.

What is bitter melon?

Bitter melon has many different names, depending on where you are in the world. People all around the world have used it for both food and medicine for centuries.

Rich in vitamins and minerals, bitter melon grows on a vine of the Momordica charantia plant and is the most bitter of all fruits and vegetables.

Bitter melon grows in tropical and subtropical environments and thrives in:

  • South America
  • Asia
  • the Caribbean
  • some parts of Africa

An alternative remedy for centuries, people are said to have used it to manage:

  • colic
  • fevers
  • burns
  • coughs
  • skin conditions
  • childbirth

In parts of Asia and Africa, it has been used to manage symptoms of chicken pox and measles. And researchers from St. Louis University have even found evidence that bitter melon can hinder the growth of breast cancer cells.

How does bitter melon affect people with diabetes?

It is believed that bitter melon could have properties which lower blood sugar levels.

A number of clinical studies have examined the effect bitter melon has on diabetes to see whether it could be an effective treatment for normalizing blood glucose.

Effect on blood sugar levels

Researchers believe bitter melon contains substances that cause decreases in blood glucose and appetite suppression. In this way, it behaves similarly to insulin.

One study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that 2,000 mg daily of bitter melon lowers blood glucose levels considerably in people with type 2 diabetes. The effect was less than taking a 1,000 mg dose of metformin, which is a medicine often prescribed to control blood sugar levels.

Effect on glucose intolerance

Another study from 2008, suggests bitter melon improves glucose intolerance and suppresses blood glucose levels after meal consumption in animal studies.

However, other studies suggest any improvement is insignificant or inclusive.

Effect on hemoglobin A1c levels

Another study aimed to determine whether people with diabetes who took bitter melon supplements could decrease their hemoglobin A1c levels.

A1c levels are the average blood sugar levels over a 2-3 month period. The study looked to see if bitter melon could reduce A1c levels by at least 1 percent over this three-month period.

Two groups of people took part in the study:

  • people recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
  • those with poor glucose control, who had A1c levels from 7 to 9 percent

The participants were advised to take two capsules of bitter melon three times daily.

The results of the study, reported in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, uncovered a less than 0.25 percent decrease in A1c levels in the study group.

The placebo group showed no change. The authors noted that the study size was too small but showed potential for larger studies.

Compared to no treatment

A 2014 report from Nutrition and Diabetes, looked at four studies that compared treatment using bitter melon supplements to no diabetic treatment at all.

The authors of the study found no evidence bitter melon had any significant effects on A1c levels or fasting plasma glucose levels.

They further concluded most of the research to date is inclusive regarding glycemic outcomes. They believed larger sample sizes could better determine bitter melon’s effectiveness as a supplemental treatment for diabetes.

Further research

A 2016 report published in Current Pharmacology Reports similarly looked at several studies related to bitter melon including its effects on diabetes.

The authors did find merit in the theories that bitter melon may have hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) properties.

They also found it may help to reduce the adverse effects of diabetes but felt further study was warranted to come to any real conclusions.

Using bitter melon as a supplemental diabetes treatment

drinking a green juice after exercise
Bitter melon is also available as a juice.

Bitter melon is available in many forms, including as:

  • a fruit
  • a powder
  • an herbal supplement
  • juice

The fruit is available at most Asian grocery stores. Powders, Supplements, and juices are available at health food stores and sold by online retailers.

How much to consume

Anyone considering taking bitter melon alongside their diabetes treatment should consume no more than:

  • 50-100 milliliters daily (or about 2 to 3 ounces spread throughout the day)
  • one small bitter melon per day

Supplements should be taken according to the instructions on the packaging. People should check with their doctors to see if it is safe to include supplements to their treatment plan. This is because supplements may counteract the effects of diabetes medications.

Risks of consuming bitter melon

Excessive consumption of bitter melon may cause stomach troubles, including diarrhea. Another potential adverse effect is extremely low blood sugar.

Children should not take bitter melon as it has been known to cause vomiting and diarrhea. Pregnant women should not consume bitter melon in any form because it has been associated with bleeding, contractions, and miscarriage.

Conclusion

Bitter melon is generally safe for most adults. However, as reported by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, possible side effects caused by long-term use have not been studied.

Whilst there may be some benefits, no double-blind, placebo-controlled study (the gold standard of studies) has proven effectiveness or safety in all people with diabetes. People with diabetes should use bitter melon with caution, due to the associated hypoglycemia risks.

People with diabetes wanting to include bitter melon in their treatment plan should consult with their doctors. They should monitor their blood glucose levels closely because bitter melon may interact with diabetes medications that might reduce blood sugar to dangerous levels.

With more research, however, bitter melon may become a standard treatment for diabetes management.

Flow Injection Mass Spectrometry, Proton Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, and DNA Sequencing Can All Distinguish Black Cohosh from Likely Adulterants

Harnly J, Chen P, Sun J, et al. Comparison of flow injection MS, NMR, and DNA sequencing: methods for identification and authentication of black cohosh (Actaea racemosa). Planta Med. February 2016;82(3):250-262. doi: 10.1055/s-0035-1558113.

Authentication and correct identification of botanicals in dietary supplements are critical for a number of reasons, not the least of which is potential harm from the inclusion of undesirable species. The process of identification may be complicated by material processing, variable preparation methods, and the existence of very similar related species. Current methods for identification of botanicals include morphological identification, DNA sequencing, and phytochemical and metabolic fingerprinting. As black cohosh (Actaea racemosa syn. Cimicifuga racemosa, Ranunculaceae) is a popular medicinal plant, adulteration is increasingly common. This basic research study coupled two methods of phytochemical fingerprinting, flow injection mass spectrometry (FIMS) and proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR), with DNA sequencing to determine how well they could identify different species of Actaea before and after processing.

Root samples from various species of Actaea were procured from American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), Scotts Valley, California; Strategic Sourcing, Inc., Banner Elk, North Carolina; The North Carolina Arboretum Germplasm Repository (TNCAGR), Asheville, North Carolina; National Institutes of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland; and from Chinese commercial sources. Liquids, tablets, and capsules were bought from local stores in Maryland, and additional samples were obtained from the United States Department of Agriculture, Washington D.C. The roots and commercial samples were authenticated using DNA sequencing at AuthenTechnologies LLC; Richmond, California. DNA sequences from the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region and the chloroplast psbA-trnH intergenic spacer, obtained by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Sanger capillary sequencing, were used for authentication by comparing them to the reference sequences. To prepare samples for FIMS, root material, tablets, and contents of capsules were powdered and extracted in 70:30 methanol:water, sonicated, centrifuged, diluted 1:10 with methanol, and filtered. Liquid extracts were combined with 70:30 methanol:water and treated as described above. To prepare for NMR, samples were dissolved in dimethyl sulfoxide-d6 containing 0.47 mM 4,4-dimethyl-4-silapentane-1-sulfonic acid, vortexed, sonicated, and centrifuged.

Each sample was run on FIMS five times, with random sample order each time; most samples were run once for NMR. Raw data were exported into various computer programs for analysis. Data were normalized to unit vector length (this metric incorporates the sum of squares) and analyzed using principal component analysis (PCA, an analysis that displays data based on greatest variation) and four multivariate analysis methods, especially soft independent modeling of class analogy (SIMCA, an analysis based on modeling that fits a model to a single class, which is explained to be useful for authentication). Both methods of analysis were used to assess whether FIMS or NMR could distinguish various Actaea species. Because of the complexity of PCA plots in including all samples, the authors chose to analyze the data from only the following five American species: black cohosh, bugbane (A. cimicifuga), baneberry (A. pachypoda), American bugbane (A. podocarpa), and red baneberry (A. rubra).

In analyses of both FIMS and NMR data, samples of black cohosh generally clustered separately from other species; some analyses portray it as most similar to baneberry, suggesting a close relation, and more distant from other species. One sample of black cohosh was found to occur outside the black cohosh cluster, and one sample of baneberry clustered with black cohosh; repeated analyses starting from new raw material had the same result. Significant phytochemical variation was observed within species; in the FIMS analysis, samples from multiple sites supplied by TNCAGR clustered according to the site of origin. The authors noted that the potential causes of geographically correlated variation include not only genetic differences and environmental influences on the plants but variation in the presence of endophytic fungi, which are suspected of producing some of the secondary compounds in black cohosh. The models for FIMS and NMR were validated using bootstrap analysis, despite the authors’ concern about limited sample size. It was found that FIMS had a sensitivity of 91.4% and NMR had a sensitivity of 91.7%, with specificities of 100% for both. Overall, it was concluded that both FIMS and NMR are appropriate techniques for distinguishing the five species of Actaea, with sensitivity to the phytochemical composition.

For North American samples of multiple species, putative identities according to DNA sequencing were generally consistent with the AHP identification, although sequencing quality problems sometimes precluded identification. The two samples that seemed to be outliers (black cohosh and baneberry) in the FIMS and NMR analyses had DNA sequences consistent with the stated identity. This suggests that the species are biologically complex species with morphological or chemical variations greater than the genetic variations. Very few of the geographically diverse black cohosh samples from TNCAGR, which were subjected to chemical analysis, were included in DNA analyses.

Root samples procured from China were stated to belong to four different species;

nuclear ribosomal DNA (nrDNA) and chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) sequences indicated that the majority of samples, including one purported sample of A. racemosa, were Chinese cimicifuga (A. dahurica) and one was A. brachycarpa, while two contained non-Actaea spp. plant material and another had only fungal DNA amplified. All of these, as well as some North American Actaea spp. samples were said to be “mixtures” according to ITS data, and to some extent according to psbA-trnH data; it appears that this simply means that more than one ITS sequence variant was present in some samples, while other samples may contain hybrid plant material. DNA analysis confirmed that four of the seven capsule supplements purchased locally contained black cohosh, while one contained A. brachycarpa; the other two had no detectable Actaea spp. DNA (one had no DNA and the other had rice [Oryza sativa, Poaceae] DNA or excipient DNA only). Liquid extract supplements were not analyzed with DNA sequencing since they were not expected to contain retrievable DNA. In summary, the FIMS and NMR analyses showed diverse chemical profiles that were different from any of the raw materials tested, which is presumably due to differences in processing and extraction methods or systematic geographical variations. Moreover, the DNA sequencing of roots could be used for identification of Actaea species and also for validating the discrepancies that might arise in the chemical fingerprinting methods.

In conclusion, the three methods outlined here may be useful to aid in authentication of black cohosh in commerce and identify possible adulterants. However, more experimentation and adjustment of methods would be necessary to analyze finished botanical supplements.