Researched and Studied Active Constituents in Herbs


With the renewed interest in herbal therapy, scientists are actively researching the constituents in herbs to determine and clarify the roles they play and the benefits they offer. Here are some of the most interesting discoveries.

Gingerol: Gingerol is one of the pungent components of ginger known as a phenyl- alkylketone. Most of the medicinal effects of ginger : which calms the stomach, promotes bile flow, stimulates appetite, and has antibiotic and antioxidant properties - are attributed to the phenylalkylketones. In addition, the chemical structure of gingerol is similar to that of aspirin and may have anti-coagulant effects.

Kutkin: Kutkin is a combination of active herbal constituents-picrosides I, II and III and kutkoside- found in the herb picrorhiza kurroa, which has been used in Ayurveda, an ancient Hindu system of medicine. Kutkin's antioxidant activity has been shown to decrease levels of lipid peroxidases and hydroperoxidases , free radical producing agents , and help facilitate the recovery of SOD, a powerful antioxidant in the liver needed to prevent oxidative damage. Kutkin also possesses potent antibacterial and immunomodulating properties.

Ligustilide: Ligustilide, a compound found in the herb, dong quai, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years in formulas directed at female health. Ligustilide prevents spasms, relaxes blood vessels and reduces blood clotting in peripheral vessels. Because of this, it has a positive effect on the uterus.

Oleuropein: Oleuropein, found in olive leaf, possesses powerful antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antiparasitic properties. Research indicates that these properties are the results of a number of actions, including the ability to interfere with amino acid production which is essential for virus proliferation. In addition, oleuropein exhibits powerful antioxidant properties by preventing free-radical generation and inhibiting oxidation of LDLs (bad cholesterol).

Parthenolide: A component found in the herb feverfew, parthenolide inhibits the release of prostaglandins and the production of histamine. This is believed to reduce inflammation and blood vessel spasms that contribute to the onset of migraine headaches.

Schisandrins: A component found in the herb schisandra, which has long been used in Chinese herbal medicine as a liver protectant and liver stimulant. schisandrins have antioxidant abilities that have been shown to stimulate liver repair and normal liver function and prevent liver damage.

Chevallier, Andrew. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, DK Publishing Inc., New York, NY, 1996.
Flynn, Rebecca, M.S. and Roest, Mark. Your Guide to Standardized Herbal Products, One World Press, Prescott, AZ, 1995.