Category Archives: Herbs & Spices


Inhibiting the Destructive Effects of arNOX (ENOX3)

The Aging-Related Cell Surface NADH Oxidase (arNOX) enzyme is one in a class of newly-identified ECTO-NOX (external NADH oxidase or ENOX (Ectos is Greek for outside) ) proteins that are located on external cell membranes.  arNOX is also known as ENOX3.

As the cells mitochondria age and produce less energy, arNOX becomes increasingly active.  arNOX is present in all cells tested, and in particular in the serum and saliva as well as the dermis and epidermis of the skin. 

ArNOX activity increases with age between 30 and 50–65 years and generates the destructive superoxide free radical.  arNOX transmits cell surface oxidative changes to surrounding cells and circulating lipoproteins. 

arNOX promotes tissue aging, especially in the vascular walls and the skin and the structural components of the skin’s extracellular matrix, such as collagen and elastin. arNOX is shed from the cell surface and is found in saliva, urine, perspiration, and interstitial fluids that surround the collagen and elastin matrix underlying dermis.

There is a strong correlation with the level of arNOX in the blood or saliva and a persons age.  The older one looks, apparently the more arNOX is in the blood and saliva.  arNOX is inactive in youth and can vary among individuals after age 30.  arNOX activity correlates with age and reaches a maximum at about age 65 in males and 55 in females.

Inhibiting arNOX by exogenous (dietary) natural substances is the only way to lessen and mitigate the destrucitve effects of arNOX.

Inhibiting arNOX activity

There are a number of natural substances that have been shown to inhibit arNOX activity and reduce oxidative damage caused by the superoxide free radical.  The following natural substances are able to inhibit arNOX:

Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Co-enzyme Q, especially CoQ10 is capable of inhibiting arNOX.  1  The generation of superoxide by arNOX proteins is inhibited by Coenzyme Q10 as one basis for an anti-aging benefit of CoQ10 supplementation in human subjects.  arNOX activity was reduced between 25 and 30% by a 3 x 60 mg daily dose Coenzyme Q10 supplementation. Inhibition was the result of Coenzyme Q10 presence. 2

Tyrosol and Hydroxytyrosol

Tyrosol and Hydroxytyrosol are capable of inhibit arNOX activity.  3

Herbes de Provence

Based on the scientific research of James and Dorothy M. Morré, they demonstrated that natural compounds from French culinary seasonings – “Herbes de Provence” inhibit arNOX activity.  4

Herbes de Provence typically comprise:

  • basil (Ocimum basilicum)
  • fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • marjoram (Origanum majorana)
  • oregano (Oreganum vulgare)
  • rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • summer savory (Satureja hortensis)
  • tarragon (or estragon, dragon’s-wort, Artemisia dracunculus)
  • thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

The ratio of these herbs that make up Herbes de Provence vary with personal or regional choice.

Of the herbs listed, the following are particularly active as arNOX inhibitors:

  • basil
  • tarragon (especially French tarragon)
  • rosemary
  • marjoram
  • sage
  • savory (especially summer savory)

Figure 1.  Summer Savory

Summer savory was the herb that had the highest arNOX activity inhibition at 89%.

Figure 2:  arNOX activity % inhibition.  (Source:  U.S. Patent 20120207862 A1)

According to U.S. Patent 20120207862 A1 entitled ORAL INHIBITORS OF AGE-RELATED NADH OXIDASE (arNOX), COMPOSITIONS AND NATURAL SOURCES, by the inventors, D. James Morré, Dorothy M. Morré, Thomas Shelton, components can be incorporated in the following proportions:

  • basil, 0-95%
  • thyme, 0-50%
  • oregano, 0-90%
  • tarragon, 0-95%
  • rosemary, 0-95%
  • lavender, 0-50%
  • sage, 0-95%
  • savory, 0-95%
  • marjoram, 0-95%

The U.S. Patent recommends the following dosages.  By formulating the herbal preparations as sustained-release preparations, 24 h of protection were attained with just two 400-mg capsules/day (one in the morning and one before bedtime) A preferred total daily dose is from about 200 mg to about 600 mg of a combination of herbs and/or natural products as described herein.

Ginkgo biloba Increases Global Cerebral Blood Flow

One of the leading factors of cognitive impairment leading to dementia and eventually Alzheimer’s disease is a condition where there is insufficient blood flow to the brain or an inadequate supply of blood to the brain. 

The condition of reduced blood flow to the brain is called cerebral ischemia or hypoperfusion of the brain.

Hypoperfusion of the brain can severely diminish neurological function and is often the first indication of changes that impact the brain and which precedes structural deterioration of the brain.  1

Researchers published a study in March 2011 that sought to determine if changes in cerebral blood flow could be detected by dynamic susceptibility contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DSC-MRI) in elderly human subjects taking an Extract of Ginkgo biloba (EGb).   2

Image result for ginkgo biloba

Ginko biloba leaves

The test subjects were nine healthy men with a mean age of 61±10 years.  They took 60 mg EGb twice daily for 4 weeks.

Cerebral blood flow (CBF) values were computed before and after EGb, and analyzed at three different levels of spatial resolution, using voxel-based statistical parametric mapping (SPM), and regions of interest in different lobes, and all regions combined.

Test results showed a small CBF increase in the left parietal–occipital region. CBF in individual lobar regions did not show any significant change post-EGb, but all regions combined showed a significant increase of non-normalized CBF after EGb (15% in white and 13% in gray matter, respectively, P≤0.0001).

Researchers concluded that a mild increase in CBF is found in the left parietal–occipital WM after EGb, as well as a small but statistically significant increase in global CBF.

Cover Photo credit: Radu Jianu, Brown University

Sarsaparilla (Smilax Glabra Rhizome) Extract Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth by Promoting Apoptosis

Smilax glabra, commonly known as sarsaparilla or Chinaroot, is a plant species in the genus Smilax.  It is native to China, the Himalayas, and Indochina.  The genus Smilax contains about 300–350 species, and are found in temperate zones, tropics and subtropics worldwide. 

Smilax glabra is the Smilax species that is used in Chinese herbology.  The Chinese name of the plant is 土茯苓, and the pinyan name is Tu fu ling.


Dried Smilax Glabra Rhizome

Smilax glabra is oftentimes confused with two other species of Smilax:

  • Smilax officinalis
  • Smilax aristolochiifolia

Smilax aristolochiifolia is also known as:

  • Gray sarsaparilla
  • Mexican sarsaparilla
  • Sarsaparilla

It is native to Mexico and Central America.  Smilax aristolochiifolia root has a long traditional history of medicinal use.  2  

Smilax glabra contains some interesting active ingredients.  The following Dihydro-flavonol glycosides have been identified in the rhizome of Smilax glabra:   1

  • astilbin
  • neoastilbin
  • isoastilbin
  • neoisoastilbin
  • (2R, 3R)-taxifolin-3′-O-beta-D-pyranoglucoside

The following flavanonol rhamnoside has been identified in the rhizome of Smilax glabra:  

  • smitilbin

Smilax glabra has been studied in vitro and in animal studies (but it has not been studied in clinical trials) as a potent botanical plant in the following areas:

  • anticancer properties  3  4  5 
  • anti-inflammatory  6  7 
  • antioxidant  8  9
  • antiviral  10
  • hepatoprotective  11
  • immunostimulatory  12
  • renoprotective  13 

In a study published in March 2015 in the Journal Cancer Prevention Research, researchers found that Smilax Glabra Rhizome Extract Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth by S Phase Arrest, Apoptosis, and Autophagy via the Redox-Dependent ERK1/2 Pathway.  14

The researchers surmised that Sarsaparilla (Smilax Glabra Rhizome) has growth-inhibitory effects on several cancer cell lines in vitro and in vivo, with little toxicity on normal cells. What was uncertain to the researchers was the underlying functional mechanism of Smilax Glabra Rhizome against several cancer cell lines.

Their study examined the anticancer activity of the supernatant of the water-soluble extract (SW) from sarsaparilla.

Smilax Glabra Rhizome (SW) was shown to markedly inhibit the growth of a broad spectrum of cancer cell lines in the in vitro and in vivo assays. Responsible for SW-induced growth inhibition was any or all of the following:

  • apoptosis
  • autophagy
  • S phase arrest

The researchers concluded:

“Together, our results provide a molecular basis for sarsaparilla as an anticancer agent.”  15

Informational References:

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – Smilax glabra


Tu fu ling (Chinese smilax rhizome)

SUN TEN – Smilax Tu Fu Ling Concentrated Granules 100g S1870 by Baicao

Tu Fu Ling Liquid Extract, Tu Fu Ling, Glabrous Greenbrier (Smilax Glabra) Root Tincture Supplement 2 oz


Sangre de Grado: A Powerful Antioxidant

Sangre de Grado (Peruvian Spanish) or Sangre de Drago (Ecuadorian Spanish) is known by its botantical name as Croton lechleri and  is a species of flowering plant that is native to northwestern South America.  It translates to “Dragon’s Blood”.  The dragon’s blood refers to the trees thick red latex.


Red sap (latex) of Sangre de Grado tree bark

Sangre de Grado includes a number of biologically active chemical substances:

  • Alpha-Calacorene
  • Alpha-Copaene
  • Alpha-Pinene
  • Alpha-Thujene
  • Beta-Caryophyllene
  • Beta-Elemene
  • Betaine
  • Beta-Pinene
  • Borneol
  • Calamenene
  • Camphene
  • Cuparophenol
  • Dimethylcedrusine
  • Dipentene
  • Eugenol
  • Euparophenol
  • Gamma-Terpinene
  • Gamma-Terpineol
  • Lignin
  • Limonene
  • Linalool
  • Methylthymol
  • Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPC)
  • P-Cymene
  • Tannins
  • Taspine
  • Terpinen-4-ol
  • Vanillin

Purported Uses of Sangre de Grado

Taspine is an alkaloid which acts as a potent acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. [1] Taspine has also been found to be a dual topoisomerase inhibitor effective in cells overexpressing drug efflux transporters and induces wide-spread apoptosis in multicellular spheroids. [2]

Taspine promotes early phases of wound healing in a dose-dependent manner with no substantial modification due to its mechanism of action related to its chemotactic properties on fibroblasts. [3]

Taspine has also shown anti-inflammatory potential. [4]

Dimethylcedrusine, another biologically active substance in Sangre de Grado, was shown to inhibit thymidine incorporation, while protecting cells against degradation in a starvation medium. [5]

Sangre de grado exerts anti-viral effects against influenza viruses, parainfluenza viruses, herpes simplex viruses types I and II, hepatitis A virus and hepatitis B virus. [6]

Sangre de grado may also present a complementary and alternative medicine approach for the treatment of fluid loss in watery diarrhea. [7]

Sangre de grado has also been found to induce apoptosis in human gastrointestinal cancer cells. [8]

Antioxidant Activity of Sangre de Grado

Another important health benefit to Sangre de Grado is its potential as a powerful antioxidant herb.

An article published in the Nutrition Journal in 2010 entitled The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide, by Monica H Carlsen, Bente L Halvorsen, Kari Holte, Siv K Bøhn, Steinar Dragland, Laura Sampson, Carol Willey, Haruki Senoo, Yuko Umezono, Chiho Sanada, Ingrid Barikmo, Nega Berhe, Walter C Willett, Katherine M Phillips, David R Jacobs, Jr, and Rune Blomhoff, found that Sange de Grado had the highest antioxidant content of the 59 herbal products tested in the database.

Sange de Grado tested at 2897.1 mmol/100 g, much higher than the next highest herb formula Triphala at 706.25 mmol/100 g.

Other antioxidant rich products are Triphala, Amalaki and Arjuna from India and Goshuyu-tou, a traditional kampo medicine from Japan, with antioxidant values in the range of 132.6 to 706.3 mmol/100 g. [9]


[1] Rollinger, JM; Schuster, D; Baier, E; Ellmerer, EP; Langer, T; Stuppner, H (2006). “Taspine: Bioactivity-guided isolation and molecular ligand-target insight of a potent acetylcholinesterase inhibitor from Magnolia x soulangiana”. Journal of Natural Products 69 (9): 1341–1346. doi:10.1021/np060268p. PMC 3526713. PMID 16989531

[2] Identification of a Novel Topoisomerase Inhibitor Effective in Cells Overexpressing Drug Efflux Transporters

[3] Porras-Reyes, B. H., et al. Enhancement of wound healing by the alkaloid taspine defining mechanism of action. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 203(1):18-25, 1993.

[4] Perdue, G. P., et al. South American plants II: taspine isolation and anti-inflammatory activity. J Pharm Sci. 68(1):124-126, 1979

[5] Isolation of a dihydrobenzofuran lignan from South American dragon’s blood (Croton spp.) as an inhibitor of cell proliferation

[6] Williams, J. E. Review of antiviral and immunomodulating properties of plants of the Peruvian rainforest with a particular emphasis on una de gato and sangre de grado. Alternative Medicine Review. 6(6):567-579, 2001

[7] Fischer, H., et al. A novel extract SB-300 from the stem bark latex of Croton lechleri inhibits CFTR-mediated chloride secretion in human colonic epithelial cells. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 93(2-3):351-357, 2004.

[8] Sangre de grado Croton palanostigma induces apoptosis in human gastrointestinal cancer cells

[9] The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide; Nutr J. 2010; 9: 3. Published online 2010 Jan 22. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-3

Informational References:

The Antioxidant Food Table, Carlsen et al. 2010 (PDF)

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Note: PDF files require a viewer such as the free Adobe Reader


Herb Pharm Dragon’s Blood (Sangre de Drago) Liquid Tree Sap for Digestive Support – 1 Ounce


The Potent Compounds of Salvia militorrhiza (Danshen)

Salvia miltiorrhiza, also known as red sage, Chinese sage, tan shen, or danshen, is a perennial plant in the genus SalviaSalvia miltiorrhiza is native to China and Japan where it grows at 90 to 1,200 m (300 to 3,940 ft) elevation, preferring grassy places in forests, hillsides, and along stream banks. The specific epithet miltiorrhiza means “red ochre root” as can be seen in the photo below:


Salvia militorrhiza BUNGE (Danshen) roots

Scientist have identified over 80 compounds in Danshen, both water soluble and fat soluble:  1  2  3

  • 50 water soluble compounds
    • Salvianolic acid B
    • Danshensu (Salvianolic acid A)
    • Protocatechuic aldehyde
  • 30 fat soluble compounds
    • Tanshinones
      • Tanshinone I
      • Tanshinone IIA 
      • Cryptotanshinone

The two compounds that show the most pharmalogical significance is the Salvianolic acids, Salvianolic acid A (danshensu) and the tanshinones, Tanshinone I and Tashinone IIA.

Salvianolic acid B is a potent antioxidant and has been investigated for its ability to protect against cerebrovascular disorders.  4  5

The Tanshinones (Dihydrotanshinone, tanshinone I, and tanshinone IIA) are currently being investigated for their anti-cancer effects.  6  7

The Table below lists the active compounds that have been studied for their therapeutic benefits in human health with references to various scientific studies for each compound:

Active Compounds in Salvia miltorrhiza Bunge

Compounds in Salvia miltorrhiza Bunge Clinical ApplicationsFunctions and UsesReferences
Cryptotanshinone1. Coronary heart disease and sugar diabetes; 2. Anti-infections; 3. To treat hepatitis and lepra disease.Cryptotanshinone is a major tanshinone isolated from Salvia miltiorrhiza that uses in many different fields. It has a good effection cardiovascular disease resisting fungus, also been effective to inhibit bacterium and diminish inflammation.1 2 3
Danshensu sodium1. Anti-bacterial 2. Anti-atherosclerotic 3. Enhancing immune1. Prevention for cardiac muscle, inhibit platelet aggregation; 2. Prevention for nerve cell and hepatic fibrosis; 3. Anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-atherosclerotic and anticoagulation. Hypolipidemic effect and enhancing immune1 2 3
Danshensu/Salvianic Acid A1. Coronary heart disease 2. Anti-platelet aggregation 3. Protection for heartDanshensu is mainly used as raw material for clearing heat, anti-inflammation, detumescence and increasing coronary flow.1 2 3
Dihydroanshinone1. Antibacterium 2. Antifungal activity 3. Anti-thromboticSome inhibitory effects on Staphylococcus aureus, human-type Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium, leather bacteria etc. Inhibit platelet aggregation, anti-oxidants and expansion of coronary activity. Applied in medicine, healthcare food, food additive1 2 3 4 5 6
Magnesium Lithospermate B1. Anti-oxidative junction 2. Protection for heart 3. Protection for brain 4. Prevention for hepatic fibrosis 5. Anti-aging and anti-tumorPromoting blood circulation and removing blood stasis, Stimulate the menstrual flow and activate the collaterals. It is used for apoplexy and the angina caused by coronary artery disease. Anti-fibrosis of liver. Mainly applied in Medicine, healthcare food, food additive.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Protocatechuic aldehyde1. Anti-inflammation 2. anti-prostaglandin 3. anti-lipid peroxidationIt has a strong effect on antithrombotic, improving the blood circulation and anti-oxidant. Applied in medicine, healthcare food, food additive.1 2 3 4
Salvianolic Acid B1. Anti-oxidative junction 2. Protection for heart 3. Protection for brain 4. Prevention for hepatic fibrosis 5. Anti-aging and anti-tumorPromoting blood circulation and removing blood stasis, Stimulate the menstrual flow and activate the collaterals. It is used to cure apoplexy and the angina caused by coronary artery disease. Anti-fibrosis of liver. Mainly applied in Medicine, healthcare food, food additive.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Sodium tanshinoneⅡA sulfonate1. To ease postpartum pain 2.To remove goreSodium tanshinoneⅡA sulfonate is used to remove blood stasis and relieve pain, promote the flow of blood and stimulate menstrual discharge, expand blood vessels. It has a good effect on abnormal menstruation.1 2 3 4 5 6
Tanshinone I1. To depress pains in bodies 2. Promote the secretion of estrogen 3. Against angina pectoris1.It has a strong inhibition on human strains of Mycobacterium and is for the treatment of acne, and angina pectoris; 2. It is effective on the treatment of hepatitis and lepra disease. Applied in medicine, healthcare food, food additive.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Tanshinone IIA1. To expend vessel 2. Depress blood pressure 3. Anti-thrombotic 4 AntioxidantUsed in medicine, healthcare food, food additive.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Source of Columns 1, 2 and 3 is Xi 'an Honson Biotechnology Co., Ltd.
References provided by


Polypodium leucotomos may reduce the overproduction of Interleukin 6 (IL-6) by up to 100%

Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is an interleukin that acts as both a pro-inflammatory cytokine and an anti-inflammatory myokine.   1   The function of IL-6 is beyond the scope of this article.  Instead, the focus here is the excessive production of IL-6 and its implication in a variety of inflammatory disorders.   2

IL-6 stimulates the inflammatory and auto-immune processes in many diseases such as

  • Alzheimer’s Disease  3
  • Atherosclerosis  4
  • Behçet’s disease  5
  • Depression  6
  • Diabetes  7
  • Multiple myeloma  8
  • Prostate cancer  9
  • Rheumatoid arthritis  10
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus  11

A study published in the May-June 2000 edition of the Journal Anticancer Research, entitled, An extract of the fern Polypodium leucotomos (Difur) modulates Th1/Th2 cytokines balance in vitro and appears to exhibit anti-angiogenic activities in vivo: pathogenic relationships and therapeutic implications, showed that an extract of the fern Polypodium leucotomos (PLE) to partially inhibit the production of cytokines showing a Th1 pattern (IL-2, IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha) in human PHA-stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells.  12

The authors were surprised to find:

“that the production of the inflammatory cytokine IL-6 was completely abolished (100% inhibition) by PLE at all doses tested.”  13

Polypodium leucotomos is also known as and is an epiphytic fern native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas.  An extract of Polypodium leucotomos called Fernblock has proven photoimmunoprotection  properties with oral and topical application.

The extract has extensive preclinical and clinical data supporting its safety and efficacy in protecting against damage caused by solar radiation, and preventing and treating sun-related disorder.  14  15

Informational References:

Industrial Farmaceutica Cantabria. S.A. – Fernblock®


Polypodium Leucotomos Extract 240mg ~ 200 Capsules – No Additives ~ Naturetition Supplements

Polypodium Leucotomos Extract 240mg * 200 Capsules 100 % Natural – by EarhNaturalSupplements

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Maintaining the Integrity of the Blood-Brain Barrier

The blood–brain barrier (BBB) is a highly selective permeability barrier that separates the circulating blood from the brain extracellular fluid (BECF) in the central nervous system (CNS). The blood–brain barrier is formed by capillary endothelial cells, which are connected by tight junctions with an extremely high electrical resistivity.

The BBB is distinct from the quite similar blood–cerebrospinal-fluid barrier, which is a function of the choroidal cells of the choroid plexus, and from the blood–retinal barrier, which can be considered a part of the whole realm of such barriers.

The BBB has several important functions:

  • Protects the brain from “foreign substances” in the blood that may injure the brain
  • Protects the brain from hormones and neurotransmitters in the rest of the body
  • Maintains a constant environment for the brain

The general properties of the BBB include:

  • Large molecules do not pass through the BBB easily
  • Low lipid (fat) soluble molecules do not penetrate into the brain. However, lipid soluble molecules, such as barbituate drugs, rapidly cross through into the brain
  • Molecules that have a high electrical charge are slowed

The BBB can be broken down (permeated) by:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure): high blood pressure opens the BBB.
  • Hyperosmolitity: a high concentration of a substance in the blood can open the BBB.
  • Microwaves: exposure to microwaves can open the BBB.
  • Radiation: exposure to radiation can open the BBB.
  • Infection: exposure to infectious agents can open the BBB.
  • Trauma, Ischemia, Inflammation, Pressure: injury to the brain can open the BBB.

Through extensive study, scientists have found that compounds that are very small and/or fat-soluble, including antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, alcohol, cocaine, and many hormones are able to slip through the endothelial cells that make up the blood-brain barrier without much effort. In contrast, larger molecules, such as glucose or insulin, must be ferried across by proteins. These transporter proteins, located in the brain’s blood vessel walls, selectively snag and pull the desired molecules from the blood into the brain.

When the blood-brain barrier breaks down, as is the case in some brain cancers and brain infections or when tiny ruptures to blood vessels occur, some substances that are normally kept out of the brain gain entry and cause problems for the brain.

Mercury penetrates the blood-brain barrier around the brain, and as little as one part per million can impair this barrier, permitting entry of substances in the blood that would otherwise be excluded.  1

There are a number of natural substances that can be consumed to maintain the integrity of and enhance the blood-brain barrier.  These natural substances are listed in the Table below:

Natural Substances that Maintain the Integrity of and Enhance the Blood-Brain Barrier

CategoryNatural SubstanceReferences
Ginko Biloba2
Anthocyanins (Plants rich in anthocyanins are Vaccinium species, such as blueberry, cranberry, and bilberry; Rubus berries, including black raspberry, red raspberry, and blackberry; blackcurrant, cherry, eggplant peel, black rice, Concord grape, muscadine grape, red cabbage, and violet petals. Red-fleshed peaches and apples contain anthocyanins.)4 5
Vitamin B1 (Vitamin B1 deficiency can lead to break down of BBB)7 8

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Cistanche deserticola May Extend Life Span (At Least in Mice)

Cistanche deserticola is a holoparasitic member of the Orobanchaceae family of plants.  It is primarily found in China’s deserts including the provinces of Gansu, Shaanxi, and Qinghai, and the Autonomous Regions of Xinjiang, Ningxia, and Inner Mongolia.


Cistanche deserticola

Cistanche deserticola has been widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as the herbal medicine called Rou Cong Rong.

In China, it has been used in treating various age-related disorders, including:  1

  • Senile dementia,
  • Impotence
  • Infertility
  • Chronic infection
  • Hematopoietic disorders in the elderly

There are two principal types of compounds isolated as the main active ingredients of Cistanche deserticola:

  • Phenylethanoid glycosides
  • Oligosaccharides

Cistanche deserticola and its extracts have been studied intensively and have been shown to have the following health benefits:

  • Protecting neurons from injury induced by neurotoxins  2
  • Inhibiting carbon tetrachloride induced hepatotoxicity  3
  • Promoting the recovery of bone marrow cells from radiation damage  4
  • Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiaging effects  5

A group of Chinese researchers published a study on January 9, 2014 which demonstrated that Cistanche deserticola possesses significant effects in extending life span and suggest this is achieved by antagonizing immunosenescence.  6

Immunosenescence refers to the gradual deterioration of the immune system brought on by natural age advancement.  Immunosenescence creates the environment for increased susceptibility in the elderly to:  7

  • Infections
  • Cancer
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Autoimmune diseases

In addition to an reduction in the level of immunity that is evident in aging (Immunosenescence), an increase in chronic inflammation is apparent in aging and manifested as increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines, including IL-6, TNF-α, and IL-1β.  8

The most damaging inflammatory cytokines is IL-6.  IL-6 increases with aging and age-related diseases.  9  10  11  As demonstrated in the study, supplementation with Cistanche deserticola was able to reduce peripheral IL-6 concentrations.  12 

The Chinese researchers took eight-month-old male SAM-P8 mice and treated them with oral administrations of Cistanche deserticola for 4 weeks. The researchers stated that:

“The results showed that dietary supplementation of 150 mg/kg and 450 mg/kg of Cistanche deserticola (ECD) could extend the life span measured by Kaplan-Meier survival analysis in dose-dependent manner. Dietary supplementation of SAM-P8 mice for 4 weeks with 100, 500, and 2500 mg/kg of ECD was shown to result in significant increases in both naive T and natural killer cells in blood and spleen cell populations. In contrast, peripheral memory T cells and proinflammatory cytokine, IL-6 in serum, were substantially decreased in the mice that ingested 100 and 500 mg/kg of ECD daily.”  13

The study revealed that the average life span was significantly increased (by 15.4%) in the Cistanche deserticola supplemented mice:  14

  • Control mice averaged about 325 days
  • Cistanche deserticola supplemented mice averaged about 375 days



Figure 1: The effects of extracts of Cistanche deserticola (ECD) on life span of SAM-P8 mice. Eight-month-old male senescence-accelerated mouse/prone 8 (SAM-P8) mice were randomly divided into 4 groups (in each group, ): 3 treatment groups, and a no treatment control group. The nonsenescent substrain (SAM-R1) of mice was used as an experimental control. The food intake of all of animals was monitored throughout the experiment at 3-day intervals. The 3 treatment groups were fed ad libitum on diets supplemented with low (50 mg/kg), medium (150 mg/kg), and high (450 mg/kg) doses of Cistanche deserticola extract (ECD). The two control animal groups were fed with the same diet without ECD supplementation. (a) Kaplan-Meier survival curves of SAM-P8 mice dieted ECD or vehicle control. The Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was conducted using the Log-rank (Mantel-Cox) and Gehan-Breslow-Wilcoxon tests. (b) Histogram of the average life span of the groups of mice. The error bars show that the standard deviation from the mean and statistical significance was carried out using ANOVA analysis followed by post hoc -test. SAM-P8 versus SAM-R1; high dose treated group versus SAM-P8; medium dose treated group versus SAM-P8 (in each group, ).  (Source:  Extracts of Cistanche deserticola Can Antagonize Immunosenescence and Extend Life Span in Senescence-Accelerated Mouse Prone 8 (SAM-P8) Mice, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 601383, 14 pages)

The results and conclusion of the study found the following promising health benefits of Cistanche destericola:  15

  • Induced a significant reversal of age-related immunosenescence alterations
  • Reduction in peripheral and spleen cell populations of naive T cells and NK cells
  • Reduction in redundant memory T cells
  • Suppression of necrosis in peripheral lymphocytes
  • Suppression of the proinflammatory cytokine, IL-6
  • Prolonged the life span of senile SAM-P8 mice


Life Extension Standardized Cistanche Capsules, 30 Count

Swanson Health Products – Cistanche Tubulosa Extract

Life Extension – Immune Senescence Protection Formula™

Rou Cong Rong

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Hibiscus sabdariffa (Roselle) Shows Promise as an Antihypertension Agent

Hibiscus sabdariffa, commonly known as Roselle is a member of the species of Hibiscus.  It is an annual or perennial that is native to West Africa.  The leaves and stems of Roselle are commonly used throughout the world as a tea.

The leaves of Roselle has been used medicinally for centuries and contain a large variety of polyphenols.  The major identified compounds include:  1

  • anthocyanins
  • caffeoylshikimic acid
  • chlorogenic acid
  • chrysanthenin
  • cryptochlorogenic acid
  • daphniphylline
  • delphinidin
  • gossypetin
  • hibiscetine
  • hibiscin
  • kaempferol
  • neochlorogenic acid
  • protocatechuic acid
  • quercetin
  • sabdaretine

Image result for hibiscus sabdariffa

Figure 1.  Dried Hibiscus sabdariffa (used in tea)

Extracts of the calyces of Roselle have demonstrated hypocholesterolemic and antihypertensive properties. The potential mechanisms for Roselle’s antihypertensive effects may be the antioxidant effects of the anthocyanins inhibition of LDL-C oxidation, which impedes atherosclerosis, an important cardiovascular risk factor.   2 

There are five important researched studies that have found consumption of Roselle had antihypertensive effects and were able to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure:

Study 1

A study from February 2010 examined the antihypertensive effects of Hibiscus sabdariffa tisane (hibiscus tea) consumption in humans. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted in 65 pre- and mildly hypertensive adults, age 30–70 y, not taking blood pressure (BP)-lowering medications, with either 3 240-mL servings/d of brewed hibiscus tea or placebo beverage for 6 wk. A standardized method was used to measure BP at baseline and weekly intervals. At 6 wk, hibiscus tea lowered systolic BP (SBP) compared with placebo (−7.2 ± 11.4 vs. −1.3 ± 10.0 mm Hg; P = 0.030). Diastolic BP was also lower, although this change did not differ from placebo (−3.1 ± 7.0 vs. −0.5 ± 7.5 mm Hg; P = 0.160). The change in mean arterial pressure was of borderline significance compared with placebo (−4.5 ± 7.7 vs. −0.8 ± 7.4 mm Hg; P = 0.054). Participants with higher SBP at baseline showed a greater response to hibiscus treatment (r = −0.421 for SBP change; P = 0.010).  3

These results suggest daily consumption of hibiscus tea, in an amount readily incorporated into the diet, lowers BP in pre- and mildly hypertensive adults and may prove an effective component of the dietary changes recommended for people with these conditions. 

Study 2

Previous studies have demonstrated that Hibiscus sabdariffa extracts reduce blood pressure in humans, this study from 2010 demonstrated that this effect is due to angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor activity.  The aim of the current study was to isolate and characterizer the constituents responsible of the ACE activity of the aqueous extract of H. sabdariffa.  Bioassay-guided fractionation of the aqueous extract of dried calyces of H. sabdariffa using preparative reversed-phase HPLC, and the in vitro ACE Inhibition assay, as biological monitor model, were used for the isolation.  The isolated compounds were characterized by spectroscopic methods.  The anthocyanins delphinidin-3-O-sambubioside (1) and cyanidin-3-O-sambubioside (2) were isolated by bioassay-guided purification.  These compounds showed IC(50) values (84.5 and 68.4mug/mL, respectively), which are similar to those obtained by related flavonoid glycosides.  4   Researchers in this study did not find that Roselle was not as strong an ACE inhibitor as pharmaceutical reference drugs.

Study 3

In this study from 2004, researchers compared the antihypertensive effectiveness and tolerability of a standardized extract from Hibiscus sabdariffa with captopril, a controlled and randomized clinical trial was done. Patients from 30 to 80 years old with diagnosed hypertension and without antihypertensive treatment for at least 1 month before were included. The experimental procedure consisted of the administration of an infusion prepared with 10 g of dry calyx from H. sabdariffa on 0.51 water (9.6 mg anthocyanins content), daily before breakfast, or captopril 25 mg twice a day, for 4 weeks. The outcome variables were tolerability, therapeutic effectiveness (diastolic reduction > or = 10 mm Hg) and, in the experimental group, urinary electrolytes modification.

The results showed that H. sabdariffa was able to decrease the systolic blood pressure (BP) from 139.05 to 123.73mm Hg (ANOVA p < 0.03) and the diastolic BP from 90.81 to 79.52mm Hg (ANOVA p < 0.06). At the end of the study, there were no significant differences between the BP detected in both treatment groups (ANOVA p > 0.25).  5

Study 4

This study from 2009 compared the antihypertensive effectiveness of sour tea (ST; Hibiscus sabdariffa) with black tea (BT) infusion in diabetic patients.

Sixty diabetic patients with mild hypertension, without taking antihypertensive or antihyperlipidaemic medicines, were recruited in the study. The patients were randomly allocated to the ST and BT groups and instructed to drink ST and BT infusions two times a day for 1 month. Their blood pressure (BP) was measured on days 0, 15 and 30 of the study. The mean of systolic BP (SBP) in the ST group decreased from 134.4+/-11.8 mm Hg at the beginning of the study to 112.7+/-5.7 mm Hg after 1 month (P-value <0.001), whereas this measure changed from 118.6+/-14.9 to 127.3+/-8.7 mm Hg (P-value=0.002) in the BT group during the same period. The intervention had no statistically significant effect on the mean of diastolic BP (DBP) in either the ST or BT group. The mean pulse pressure (PP) of the patients in the ST group decreased from 52.2+/-12.2 to 34.5+/-9.3 mm Hg (P-value <0.001) during the study, whereas in the BT group, it increased from 41.9+/-11.7 to 47.3+/-9.6 mm Hg (P-value=0.01). In conclusion, consuming ST infusion had positive effects on BP in type II diabetic patients with mild hypertension.  6

Study 5

This study from 2012 investigated the effect of the water extract of the dried calyx of HS and Hibiscus anthocyanins (HAs) on left ventricular myocardial capillary length and surface area in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs). Twelve-week-old male SHRs were divided into eight groups (six rats in each group). Three groups were given three doses; 10%, 15% and 20% of the water extract of HS in lieu of drinking water for 10 consecutive weeks (HS10, HS15 and HS20) with one group kept as control (C). Another three groups were given three doses of the HAs orally at doses of 50, 100 and 200 mg/kg for five consecutive days with one group kept as a control (C). Systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP) blood pressures, as well as heart rate (HR), were measured weekly. After the experimental protocols, the left ventricles (LV) of all rats were obtained. Capillary surface area density and length density were determined by unbiased sterological methods on 3 μm LV tissue samples from perfusion-fixed hearts. HS ingestion significantly reduced SBP, DBP and LV mass in a dose-dependent fashion but did not affect the HR. HS significantly increased surface area and length density of myocardial capillaries by 59%, 65% and 86%, and length density by 57%, 77% and 57%, respectively. Myocyte nuclear volume was significantly decreased in HS-treated rats. There was a decrease (although insignificant) in SBP and DBP with HA ingestion compared with controls. These changes suggest that the observed beneficial effect of HS on high BP in SHRs could be mediated through a reduction in the diffusion distance between capillaries and myocytes, as well as new vessel formation.  7

A published paper from January 2010 concluded that there is insufficient clinical evidence that Roselle can control and lower blood pressure.

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews published an meta-analysis in which they searched for evidence from clinical studies to evaluate the effectiveness of red tea compared with placebo or no treatment in hypertensive patients. They found that there is a lack of evidence from randomised control trials to demonstrate a benefit of Roselle tea in reducing blood pressure. They concluded that rigorous studies need to be done in order to answer this question.  8  

Natural Substances that May Potentially Detoxify Certain Environmental Toxins

Environmental toxins or toxicants are universal and are virtually impossible to avoid anywhere in the world.  There are, of course, more pristine areas of the world than others, but in this day and age your exposure to environmental toxins, to a certain extent, are inevitable.

Having a good understanding of the most prevalent and health damaging environmental toxins is important to maintaining overall health and avoiding possible disease pathologies, especially cancer and neurological disorders. 

There are a number of online resources that can educate you on these environmental toxins.  Four important resources are listed below:

Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program (TEHIP)

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program (TEHIP) evolved from the Toxicology Information Program (TIP) that was established in 1967 at the (NLM) in response to recommendations made in the 1966 report “Handling of Toxicological Information,” prepared by the President’s Science Advisory Committee.

TEHIP maintains a comprehensive web site that provides access to resources produced by it and by other government agencies and organizations. This web site includes links to databases, bibliographies, tutorials, and other scientific and consumer-oriented resources. TEHIP also is responsible for the Toxicology Data Network (TOXNET®), an integrated system of toxicology and environmental health databases that are available free of charge on the web.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), based in Atlanta, Georgia, is a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ATSDR serves the public by using the best science, taking responsive public health actions, and providing trusted health information to prevent harmful exposures and diseases related to toxic substances.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program

TRI is a resource for learning about toxic chemical releases and pollution prevention activities reported by industrial and federal facilities. TRI data support informed decision-making by communities, government agencies, companies, and others.

The Environmental Working Group

The Environmental Working Group’s mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. With breakthrough research and education, we drive consumer choice and civic action. We are a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. 

Despite the fact that there have been hundreds of environmental toxins identified and categorized, this article will only focus on eleven (11) common environmental toxins and examine their various sources and possible disease pathologies that may develop as a result of exposure.  These eleven environmental toxins include:

  • Aluminum
  • Asbestos
  • Benzo[a]pyrene (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon)
  • Bisphenol A (BPA)
  • Chloroform
  • Cyanide
  • Dioxins
  • Formaldehyde
  • Heterocyclic amines
  • Perchlorate
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

The Table below lists the eleven environmental toxins and their sources and possible disease states based on ongoing exposure:

List of Certain Environmental Toxins

ToxinSourcesPotential Diseases
AluminumAluminum is used for beverage cans, pots and pans, airplanes, siding and roofing, and foil. Aluminum is often mixed with small amounts of other metals to form aluminum alloys, which are stronger and harder. Aluminum compounds have many different uses, for example, as alums in water-treatment and alumina in abrasives and furnace linings. They are also found in consumer products such as antacids, astringents, buffered aspirin, food additives, and antiperspirants.Musculoskeletal (Muscles and Skeleton), Neurological (Nervous System), Respiratory (From the Nose to the Lungs)
AsbestosInsulation on floors, ceilings, water pipes and heating ducts from the 1950s to 1970sAsbestos is linked to increased risk of lung cancer, and development of mesothelioma (cancer of the thin lining surrounding the lung (pleural membrane) or abdominal cavity (the peritoneum)) and laryngeal cancer. Cancer may appear 30 to 50 years after exposure.
Bisphenol A (BPA)It is used in making all kinds of plastics and resins, including water bottles and food containers. It is used in hard plastics, food cans, drink cans, receipts, and dental sealants.BPA is an endocrine disruptor linked to breast and prostate cancer.
ChloroformAir, drinking water and food can contain chloroform. Other names for chloroform are trichloromethane and methyl trichloride.Cardiovascular (Heart and Blood Vessels), Developmental (effects during periods when organs are developing) , Hepatic (Liver), Neurological (Nervous System), Renal (Urinary System or Kidneys), Reproductive (Producing Children)
DioxinsDioxins are a group of chemicals formed as unintentional byproducts of industrial processes involving chlorine, such as waste incineration, chemical manufacturing, and pulp and paper bleaching. Dioxins include polychlorinated dibenzo dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzo furans (PCDFs), and the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Exposure is through the ingestion of contaminated foods and, to a lesser extent, dermal contact. Farm-raised salmon. Most farm-raised salmon, which accounts for most of the supply in the United States, are fed meals of ground-up fish that have absorbed PCBs in the environment. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are commonly found in foods of animal origin (meat, dairy, and fish, depending on the country of origin)cancer classification depends on the dioxin: 2,3,7,8-TCDD (Agent Orange) is a known human carcinogen; some other dioxins are probable or possible human carcinogens.
FormaldehydeFormaldehyde can be found in a variety of building and home decoration products (as urea-formaldehyde resins and phenol-formaldehyde resin). It is also used as a preservative and disinfectant.Exposure is through inhalation and dermal contact. Automobile exhaust is the greatest contributor to formaldehyde concentrations in ambient air. Construction materials, furnishings, and cigarettes account for most formaldehyde in indoor air.Formaldehyde has caused nasal cancer in rats after long term exposure; it is linked to leukemia and nasopharygeal cancer in humans. It is a known human carcinogen.
Heterocyclic aminesChemicals that form when meat is cooked at high temperatures (e.g., grilled or broiled)Some heterocyclic amines (HCAs) found in cooked and especially burned meat are known carcinogens. Harmane, a β-carboline alkaloid found in meats, has been shown to have strong neurotoxic characteristics, and in particular, is "highly tremorogenic" (tremor inducing).
PerchlorateThe dominant use of perchlorates are for propellants in rockets. Of specific value is Ammonium perchlorate composite propellant as a component of solid rocket fuel. Low levels of perchlorate have been detected in both drinking water and groundwater in 26 states in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency.Perchlorate is a potent competitive inhibitor of the thyroid sodium-iodide symporter. Some studies suggest that perchlorate has pulmonary toxic effects as well.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbonsThey are products of fossil fuel combustion, particularly petrochemicals, and are a major source of cancer-causing chemicals in polluted air. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form as a result of incomplete combustion of organic compounds: combustion from wood and fuel in residential heating, coal burners, automobiles, diesel-fueled engines, refuse fires, and grilled meats. They are found in coal tar and coal tar pitch, used for roofing and surface coatings. Exposure to these lipophilic substances results from inhalation of polluted air, wood smoke, and tobacco smoke, and ingestion of contaminated food and water. PAHs are reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen. PAHs have been linked to skin, lung, bladder, liver, and stomach cancers in well-established animal model studies. 1

In addition to the conscious avoidance and non-exposure to these eleven environmental toxins, (e.g., non-exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can be avoiding or minimized by not consuming grilled, barbequed or fried meats), there are a number of natural substances that have been researched for their ability to counteract the environmental toxin and/or assist the body in detoxifying the toxin from the body by stimulating the Phase I or II metabolic detoxification system.

The Table below lists those natural substances that may potentially assist in the detoxification of the eleven environmental toxins:

Natural Substance that Detoxify Certain Environmental Substances

ToxinPotential Substances that DetoxifyReference
N-acetylcysteine (NAC)1
Ethylene-Diamine-Tetra-Acetate (EDTA)2
Malic acid6
Citric acid7
Folic acid (folate)8
Vitamin C9
Vitamin E10
Ginko Biloba11
Propolis12  13
Centrophenoxine15  16  17
Bacopa monniera18
Cnidium monnieri19
Green Tea20
Benzo[a]pyrene (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon)
Calcium D-Glucaric Acid22
Vitamin C24
Vitamin E25
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries26
Bisphenol A (BPA)
Sage (Salvia)27
ChloroformN-acetylcysteine (NAC)28
Vitamin A35
Vitamin E36
Chlorella38 39  
Green Tea40
Korean Ginseng41
Wakame seaweed42
Vitamin C44
Vitamin E45
Heterocyclic amines
Caffeic Acid47
Epigallo-Catechin-Gallate (EGCG)49
Chlorophyllin52 53  
Brussels Sprouts57
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
Green Tea62
Vitamin C63
Vitamin E64

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