The medical philosophy advocated here depends on plant-derived foods because of their ability to stimulate the body's self-healing forces.
Plants are one of the kingdoms of living matter and live in symbiotic necessity to other lifeforms.
Human existence in fact, is completely dependent on plants.
They synthesize our food and saturate the air with oxygen.
The powerhouse of the plant cell is the chloroplast.
Chloroplasts are a stack of membrane-like layers that contain the phytochemical, chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll is the green pigment responsible for absorbing light energy from the sun and starting its conversion it into the chemical bonds of sugar. Chloroplasts are the sites where photosynthesis occurs.
Photosynthesis is responsible for the universe of compounds that plants contain, msny of which are powerful antioxidants. Since many diseases begin when free radicals attack and alter membrane receptors, preventing free radical attacks which plant compounds do, prevents disease.
A review of plant biology is provided below to help explain how foods improve health.
The study of plants is called botany. Within botany is a specialized study of phytochemicals and the effects they produce on humans. This branch of botany is called pharmacognosy.
Pharmacognosy is the study of natural drugs and their chemical properties. Pharmacognosy applies the scientific method to the investigation of botanical ingredients.
Scientists separate, isolate and extract botanical compounds in order to analyze and evaluate them individually for their biochemical and medicinal activity. Analysis of this type runs contrary to traditional herbal beliefs. Traditional theories maintain that the value of natural healing lies in the properties of the plant as a whole entity.
Plants don’t synthesize molecules as single, isolated drugs. Instead, plants create a library of compounds or rather multiple libraries of compounds.
Whole plants contain both a plant’s active and inactive or balancing compounds. It is theorized that the balancing compounds moderate the effects of the active agents by binding with alternate membrane receptors that stud the lipid-rich structures of cells.
Drug companies often use botanical isolates as their lead compounds to create new synthetic, patentable drugs. Drugs that are capable of binding or interfering with the binding of one specific type of receptor in the body.
Traditional (Chinese, Ayurveda) medical practitioners advocate the use of a combination of herbs to cure disease or restore balance. Herbs are often given as a tonic (everyday) drink; a daily preventive. They believe that tonics heal the body and increase its resistance to stress. They are probably right.
Roots of Plants
Many of the compounds used in Traditional healing are found in the roots of plants. Together with rhizomes or the underground stems of plants, these cells are buried beneath the earth. These underground cells respond differently from those cells exposed to the sun (leaves).
The roots of plants contain unique compounds. Some of them have restorative power. These creations formed in the earth reverses imbalances when used by the body. Underground herbs confer an increased resistance to stress and illness by enhancing immunity. They also minimizes injuries because they repress inflammation.
These plant compounds incorporate more minerals from the earth into its structure than its sun exposed counterpart. The phytochemicals formed beneath the earth number in the hundreds for a typical plant. In addition, another hundred or so compounds are formed in the leaves of the plant.
Leaves of Plants
The compounds created in the leaves protect humans in many ways.
Since leaves interact with the sun, the compounds that are contained within them are specialized to neutralize the harmful rays of the sun.
These phytochemicals are nature’s antioxidants and provide them with protection from the sun and humans from the ravaging effects of self-generated free radicals.
Other important compounds are found in the fruit of plants.
Fruits of Plants
Fruits are classified as the seed-bearing reproductive organ of flowering plants.
Botanicals have a long history of use.
Although they lack the benefit of clinical trials and double-blind studies that pharmaceutical drugs have, they are safer.
This does not diminish the validity of the healing power herbs or botanicals provide.
Plants not only taste wonderful but their colorful pigments protect us from disease.
All three macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) are synthesized, assembled and stored inside plant cells.
Fruits and berries synthesize simple sugars or small carbohydrates, while grains, grasses and vegetables synthesize the complex ones. The energy that plant’s provide is in the form of macronutrients. Together with their rich supply of micronutrients, makes plants the perfect food.
Colorful plants contain both the nutrient that best fuels exercise, carbohydrate, and the various pigments or phytocompounds that repress inflammation and prevent cell dysfunction. A diet rich in colorful plants thus prevents disease.
Carbohydrates are a series of linked glucose molecules. Their links are formed by weak chemical bonds that are easily broken or hydrolyzed by enzymes.
Fatty acids are synthesized in the more dense seeds, nuts and beans of plants.
Amino acids are synthesized in beans and serve as a good source of protein.
The predominant macronutrient present in each plant (carbohydrate, fat or protein) forms the basis and rationale behind their use.
Legumes (beans), potatoes, and whole grains provide the most fuel but contain less phytochemicals. Legumes however are high in protein, whole grains are rich in B vitamins.
Plants are indispensible to life. They produce oxygen and convert carbon and sunlight into food. Without plants humans would perish. Plants are the staple of every culture’s diet.
The color and variety of plants made them the prime source for the cures developed in the Traditional methods of healing. The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and restorative properties of plants have been used medicinally for thousands of years. Plants owe this power to the small compounds synthesized in their chemical factories. These phytocompounds are created out of the raw material available to the plant and provided to them as part of their environment. Those parts of the plant that grow underground, benefit from a rich soil and create a more complex library of compounds while those exposed to the sun synthesize more colorful ones. These phytocompounds serve as micronutrients in life’s essential processes.
Plants are one of the five kingdoms of living matter. Human existence is dependent on them for food because plants, in one form or another, synthesize their food. The powerhouse of a plant cell is the chloroplast. Chloroplasts are a stack of membrane-like layers that contain the phytochemical chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the green pigment, responsible for absorbing light energy from the sun and starting its conversion it into the chemical bonds of sugar. Chloroplasts are the sites where photosynthesis occurs. Carbon enters the living world from the gas carbon dioxide. CO2 originates as the waste product of aerobic respiration. Aerobic respiration releases the chemical energy of the carbon bonds of glucose and uses it too form high energy compounds like ATP. The light reaction captures energy from the sun and uses it to split hydrogen atoms from water and release molecular oxygen (O2). Oxygen is thus made available to the animal world where it is used to burn glucose inside their cell’s mitochondria. The resulting hydrogen atoms, the solar energy converted to chemical energy, and carbon dioxide (CO2.) combine in the dark reaction to produce the 6-carbon sugar glucose. The carbons of glucose are found in a cyclic form with oxygen occupying one apex of the ring. Glucose is the building block upon which all plant fuels are derived. The light and dark events together make up the photosynthesis. Radiant energy from the sun is captured and used to convert CO2 into organic carbon. Organic carbon becomes incorporated into the sugars formed during photosynthesis. These sugars combine with other compounds to produce a variety of carbohydrates and saponins (glycosides). The richer the content of soil, the more complex the phytochemicals produced and the more they are likely to have medicinal activity. The combination of these organic compounds with minerals result in the multitude of biologically active compounds found in plants. These complex compounds are created in photosynthesis. This process produces a wide variety of molecules, many of which are essential to life. Some of these compounds are not often thought of as having a botanical origin. One example of this are omega-3 fatty acids. This botanical product earns most favored status among the army of supplements. High levels of omega-3 fatty acids are thought to promote molecular conditions that result in a healthy heart and healthy joints. Omega-3 fatty acids are provided in the diet by the skin of cold water fish. But they are actually derived from the photosynthetic activity of plankton, green plants that cold-water fish like salmon, sea bass, tuna, trout and mackerel feed on. Plankton synthesize the fatty acid chains and stores them. It is a good insulator from the cold of the water. In fact, the colder the water, the higher the concentration of omega-3 oils in the plankton and fish. Plants provides the fish with these essential omega-3 fatty acids, which they then use as to maintain body temperature. Plankton are especially high in EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic and docosahexanoic acids).
Plants synthesize a spectrum of phytochemicals. This spectrum or library of compounds explains the diversity of botanical activity.
As a library, plants synthesize multiple versions of any given active chemical or agent. Each one, possessing a unique biological activity. The difference between any two ‘volumes’ in the library is chemically slight. But these small alterations completely alter their binding proclivities based on their miniscule changes in spatial orientation. These variations are often reduced to one or two possible conformations.
These agents or ligands either can or can not bind with a cell receptor. The 0 and 1s of nature, the yin and yang of the universe. The library of compounds in plants provides them with a built-in balance. Spatial variation explains the contradictory and moderating effects of herbs. Moderation is achieved by the binding of alternate receptors. Photosynthesis Plants are one of the five kingdoms of living matter. Human existence is dependent on them for food because plants, in one form or another, synthesize their food. The powerhouse of a plant cell is the chloroplast.
Chloroplasts are a stack of membrane-like layers that contain the phytochemical chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the green pigment, responsible for absorbing light energy from the sun and starting its conversion it into the chemical bonds of sugar. Chloroplasts are the sites where photosynthesis occurs.
Carbon enters the living world from the gas carbon dioxide. CO2 originates as the waste product of aerobic respiration. Aerobic respiration releases the chemical energy of the carbon bonds of glucose and uses it too form high energy compounds like ATP.
The light reaction captures energy from the sun and uses it to split hydrogen atoms from water (H20) and release molecular oxygen (O2) and hydrogen atoms. Oxygen is thus made available to the animal world where it is used to burn glucose inside their cell’s mitochondria.
The hydrogen atoms, together with the converted energy from the sun and carbon dioxide (CO2.) combine in the dark reaction to produce the 6-carbon sugar glucose. The carbons of glucose are found in a cyclic form with oxygen occupying one apex of the ring. Glucose is the building block upon which all plant fuels are derived. The light and dark events together make up the photosynthesis. Radiant energy from the sun is captured and used to convert CO2 into organic carbon.
Organic carbon becomes incorporated into sugars formed during photosynthesis.
These sugars combine with each other and other compounds to produce the variety of carbohydrates and saponins (glycosides) discussed below.
The richer the content of soil, the more complex the phytochemicals produced and the more they are likely to have medicinal activity.
The combination of organic compounds with minerals result in the multitude of biologically active compounds found and produced by plants. Photosynthesis produces a wide variety of molecules, many of which are essential to life.
Some of these compounds are not often thought of as having a botanical origin. One example of this are omega-3 fatty acids. This botanical product earns most favored status among the army of supplements.
High levels of omega-3 fatty acids are thought to promote molecular conditions that result in a healthy heart and healthy joints.
Omega-3 fatty acids are provided in the diet by the skin of cold water fish. But they are actually derived from the photosynthetic activity of plankton, green plants that cold-water fish like salmon, sea bass, tuna, trout and mackerel feed on.
Plankton are the organisms that synthesize the fatty acid chains and then stores them.Fatty acids are a good insulator from the cold of the water. In fact, the colder the water, the higher the concentration of omega-3 oils in the plankton and fish.
Plants provides the fish with these essential omega-3 fatty acids, which they then use as to maintain body temperature.
Plankton are especially high in EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic and docosahexanoic acids).
The thousands of organic compounds synthesized by plants can be grouped into several classes. The portion of the molecule or functional group that interacts with biological compounds defines these classes.
The simplest organic compounds are hydrocarbons that consist solely of hydrogen and carbons. More complex compounds that are derived from hydrocarbons are called alcohols because they contain a hydroxyl or OH group attached to a terminal carbon atom.
Sugars (saccharides) are essentially alcohols linked together to form chains or polysaccharides.
Oxygen that is double bonded to a carbon atom constitutes a carbonyl group (C=O). Organic acids have a terminal carbon atom that shares electrons with both a carbonyl group and a hydroxyl group. This entire unit COOH is referred to as a carboxyl group. Long chain carbon strings with a terminal carboxyl group are known as fatty acids. Fatty acids in nature provide protection and insulation to plant’s cells and are essential to maintain body functions in humans.
Organic compounds that have nitrogen bound to carbon are classified as amines. Compounds that have both an amino group and a carboxyl group are termed amino acids. The acid group of one amino acid can bind with the amino group of another amino acid to form peptide bonds, permitting long strings or polypeptide chains (proteins).
There are many kinds of plants, ranging from tiny mosses to giant sequoias and eucalyptus trees.
All plants share common structures like roots, stems and leaves. Those that produce flowers are known as angiosperms.
Angiosperms produce colorful flowers and fleshy fruit. Gymnosperms on the other hand lack flowers but produce hard seeds and cones.
Flowering plants produce many of Nature’s botanical agents. These botanical factories are reservoirs of unique compounds.
Angiosperms depend on its fruit and flowers to reproduce. Its flowers attract insects who transport pollen from one flower to another. As such they act as the reproductive organ of plants. Angiosperms produce fruit as well as flowers. Fruits are good sources of macronutrients while flowers are valuable for their phytochemicals. Each angiosperm produces a flower made up of an assortment of chemical compounds and colorful structures This library of compounds produces a unique combination of form, color and odor . These to attract animals.They become the vehicles to transport pollen.
Flowering plants produce fruit. All fruit serves the same purpose of providing both a method for seed dissemination and a mechanism by which the seeds are protected.
Fruits are defined as the ripened or matured ovary of a flower. Fleshy and edible fruits are designed to insure that animals eat them. This helps disperse seeds.
Germination depends on the quality of the seed and the environment it is forced to grow in.
Nuts are dried or dehydrated fruits. Seeds and nuts are covered by a hard envelope that is resistant to digestive enzymes. Once the envelope or shell as we call them is removed, the seed can be eaten and digested. The seed and nut contains the embryo and stored food of the fruit.
An angiosperm embryo consists of seed leaves called cotyledons that serve as a reservoir of nutrients.
The coconut is a monocotyledon whose food supply consists of a single reservoir of fats and oils. Other monocots such as grasses store their food also in a single reservoir but is in the form of carbohydrates.
Dicotyledons are made up of two halves. The endosperm contains the carbohydrate store, which provides the nutritive support and energy needed for the growth of the seed. The endosperm is often photosynthetically active. The germinating embryo requires these carbohydrates and fats to develop. Seeds are thus a high caloric food.
Some seeds such as peanuts and soybeans contain significant amounts of protein. Grains such as rice, wheat, barley and corn contain mostly carbohydrates and represent the seeds of fruits from members of the grass family.
The library of compounds present in nuts, seeds and grains provide athletes with a source of fuel, high in phytonutrients. The variety of the fruits and nuts that span the old and new worlds, reveal nature’s preference to produce sweet, moist fruits in warm tropical climates. Temperate regions on the other hand are noted for drier nuts, smaller berries and higher fiber content fruits. In addition, it is commonly believed that spices are derived more from tropical environments while herbs tend to come from temperate regions.
Spices appear to interfere with microbial growth and help cleanse food of pathogens. This trait contributes to the health, longevity and reproductive success of the humans that consume them.
Microbial flora flourishes in warm temperatures, which spurred development of spicy cuisine in hot climates. The use of hot spices by warm weather cultures represses microbial growth and contributes to the cooling process by raising core body temperatures. In addition, other phytochemical compounds found in plants prevent the formation of nitrosamines. Nitrosamines causes cancer. Preventing the formation of carcinogenic compounds is one goal of this program.
Plants help detoxify the body and aids in the elimination of harmful metabolites.
The first organ to emerge from germinating seeds is the root. The roots perform the vital function of absorbing water and nutrients (iron, calcium, vitamins, hormones and amino acids) deposited by decaying matter. In addition, roots anchor plants in the soil and permit them to remain in position to collect the sunlight needed to carry out photosynthesis.
Plant stems provide a framework for branches and leaves to obtain maximal exposure to the sun. Stems of herbs are covered by a thin epidermis and are not protected by a woody bark. Rhizomes are a network of underground stems.
Leaves are the sites of photosynthesis and the production of unique compounds that provide humankind with natural medicine.
Plant Derived Medicines
Fatty acids, volatile oils, alkaloids and saponins are important plant constituents. Since their contribution to a plant’s medicinal potential is based on reaching the target receptor sites in the body, their solubility within membranes is essential.
Membrane permeability, solubility and absorption from the gastrointestinal tract are determined by the chemical structure of the plant compound.
Saponins or plant steroids are among the most commonly encountered medicinal agents found in plants. These compounds when attached to sugar molecules are termed glycosides. Glycosides are usually the pharmacologically active form of the medicinal compound.
Naturally occurring steroid hormones owe their effect to their lipid solubility and ease of passing through membranes. Human steroids possess the ability to bind or cross lipid membranes due to their four-ringed non-polar structure.
Steroids are compounds that contain a backbone of four (tetracyclic) carbon ring structures fused along one side. This is the classic steroid backbone from which a variety of sugars and small chains are draped. The addition of these groups at different sites on the backbone leads to the limited variety of steroidal compounds. Plant sterols are more diverse than their human counterparts, steroids. Yet, their basic structure (5 carbon rings) is very similar to the 4 carbon ring structure of human steroids.
In both sets of compounds, the carbon rings provide an organic matrix that gives them their chemical consistency. It is this consistency that allows steroids and saponins to move through similarly structured materials (membranes).
Plant saponins structurally resemble steroid hormones but are built upon 5 carbon rings instead. This similarity explains why they are capable of causing similar effects. to steroids. They both cross cell membranes without the need of carriers. The additional cyclic group causes them to foam when mixed with water. These minor substitutions represent the only diversity permitted within steroid hormones. As steroids, their lipid solubility allows them access to the nucleus where they interact with DNA to produce their effects.
Traditional Medicine is founded on the use of local plants. Village healers extracted substances from local plants and gave them to their villagers to restore harmony and balance. These plants contain a class of phytochemical known as saponins. Saponins are named due to their tendency to form a lather. Saponins are a plant’s version of a steroid.
Steroids and saponins are both lipid soluble compounds that can cross the lipid rich barrier of membranes. They both bind with membrane receptors, steroid carriers and genes. Each of them is capable of producing effects on various processes. Saponins are lipid structures responsible for the effects of herbs.
Saponins or plant sterols are lipid soluble compounds that like human steroids have the ability to cross cell membranes. Once inside the cell, saponins act like steroids to direct DNA activity. Saponins bind with receptors to form complexes just as human steroid hormones.
The saponin complex, just as the steroid complex, interacts directly with genes (DNA) to produce their intended effects.
Unlike neurotransmitters or metabolic hormones, whose effects are instantaneous, steroids require time to produce their effects. The effects produced by saponins are likewise long term. For example, the use of the herb ginseng in males and dang qui in females provides longevity and resistance to illness only with long term, regular consumption. Some saponins, like those found in ginseng, interact with the adrenal cortex to promote hormonal efficiency. This helps cope with stress and is one of the reasons ginseng is so highly recommended. Plant saponins complexed with sugar molecules are termed glycosides. It is in this form that they are active. Since saponins and their glycosides are found in plants with no known function for the plant, it is believed that the actions of these substances are intended to ward off the plant’s natural predators. In other words, these compounds can be harmful but may also offer unknown medicinal benefits.
A saponin is classified on the basis of its carbohydrate content and its sapogenin or triterpene core core. The activity of any given molecule is dependent on its core structure while selectivity is a function of the sugar alignment as part of the whole complex. The core of a saponin is a structure made up of five carbon rings. A sapogenin’s core is the equivalent of the backbone of a steroid. From the sapogenin core, different sugars are complexed providing the plant with its library of similarly structured compounds. This determines the binding specificity of the molecule. Each member of the library is thus slightly unique and will therefore bind with a different membrane receptor.
Saponins are triterpene glycosides with varying number of sugar side chains. These compounds are synthesized by plants and are the basis for many wonder drugs such as the cardiac glycosides. A plant sterol is built upon its triterpene core. The triterpene and the steroid are remarkably similar in structure and function. Steroid diversity is limited while Saponins or plant steroids exist in a variety of conformations. They are part of nature’s library, a library of diversity.
Diversity in the library occurs by the addition of one or more sugar molecules to the sapogenin core. Plant Alkaloids The second important group of medicinal compounds found in plants are known as alkaloids.
Alkaloids represent a diverse group of cyclic organic compounds that contain nitrogen and exhibit alkaline activity. While steroids are restricted to four attached cyclic groups and saponins limited to a five-ringed structure, alkaloids are capable of assuming many complex combinations. Some alkaloids exert their effect by altering or mimicking natural neurotransmitters.
Alkaloids can thus stimulate or inhibit acetylcholine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine and neuropeptides. They can also interact with their receptors or the enzymes needed for their breakdown or re-formation. Alkaloids that are made of one cyclic carbon ring or aromatic group and contain nitrogen are structurally similar to brain neurotransmitters.
The amino acid tyrosine is the starting point in the formation of some neurotransmitters. Alkaloids are powerful drugs that interfere and alter normal brain activity. Alkaloids are active in the brain because they can pass through the blood-brain barrier, where they bind with neuronal receptors. Brain Chemistry Plant alkaloids, mood altering meds, diet drugs, painkillers, tranquilizers and even chocolate interact in some way with receptors in the brain.
Synapses are gaps between adjoining nerves. On either side of the gap, neurotransmitters are released and bound. Neurotransmitters cross the synaptic cleft to stimulate adjoining nerves. This instance of receptor binding relays the information from one neuron to another by causing the flow of ions thereby creating an electric gradient Neurotransmitters open or close ion channels Synaptic areas of nerves are the target of many drugs. These drugs, called psychotropic drugs work by stimulating or blocking the receptors in the synapse. These drugs structurally resemble the natural ligans and chemically bind with receptors as if they were. Natural transmitters relay information across the synapse. Drugs that prolong the effect of neurotransmitters create a feeling of euphoria.
Altered neurotransmitters produce depression while the accumulation of neuronal debris causes chronic brain diseases (Alzheimer, ALS, Parkinson). Altered receptors lose their selectivity. Receptors either no longer are able to bind with its natural ligans or they bind with different ligands. An excess of receptors characterizes addiction. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) is an amino acid style neurotransmitter.
Serotonin binds with serotonin receptors. Serotonin binding is linked to mood and sleeping patterns. The overall effect of this mood transmitter is to promote relaxation and sleepiness. Serotonin is a calmative transmitter that counters the effects of catecholamines and dopamine. Serotonin production is concentrated within the neurons of the Raphe nuclei of the brain. Serotonin produces its effect via second messenger activity that follows initial binding. Serotonin’s overall effect is inhibition. Serotonin is formed from the precursor amino acid tryptophan.
Tryptophan must cross the blood-brain barrier using what is called the large neutral amino acid transporter. This carrier also transports tyrosine where it is used in the synthesis of catecholamines (epinephrine). Use of this carrier after eating is responsible for the sleepiness that follows eating. Catecholamines are also neurotransmitters. The effect of catecholamines in the brain is stimulatory. Unlike serotonin, catecholamines bind to receptors outside the brain. Here, they are the neurotransmitter of choice for autonomic control. Inside the brain, catecholamines overall effect is stimulation. Catecholamines like epinephrine (adrenaline) are synthesized from the amino acid tyrosine while serotonin is derived from the amino acid tryptophan.
Tryptophan and tyrosine both compete for the receptor site on the ‘neutral amino transporter’ to gain entry to the brain. The effect that ultimately develops (relaxation vs activity) is determined by which precursor (tryptophan or tyrosine) has a higher concentration around the carrier’s receptor. These concentrations are linked to insulin and its ability to remove tryptophan competitors (tyrosine is a competitor) from the blood. Increased tryptophan is the blood, increases the likelihood that the transporter will pair up with tryptophan, leading to higher serotonin levels and the stimulation of serotonin receptors to produce relaxation. That is why certain meals cause sleepiness.
Tryptophan is the most limited amino acid in food. There are certain foods that contain higher amounts and include dairy and soy products, whole grains and beans as well as meat and fish. Increasing the level of serotonin is one of the two ways that psychopharmacological drugs work. They are known as SSRI (serotonin-specific re-uptake inhibitors), which block the serotonin pump from ending serotonin activity. Lack of tryptophan stores in the brain may be responsible for the blackouts suffered during alcohol binges. Tryptophan and supplements to increase GABA concentrations are innovative ideas to help alcoholics quit drinking.
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
Alkaloid compounds can affect the activity of serotonin due to their structural similarity and binding with serotonin receptors. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), a derivative of morning glory seeds, has been used for centuries in carrying out sacred rituals or casting out evil demons. The mechanism of morning glory seeds and LSD’s hallucinatory action is thought to be the result of an interaction between serotonin receptors and the synapses involved in the visual cortex. The visual perceptions not received through the eyes, such as those experienced while dreaming, appear to originate by serotonin stimulation. LSD binding with serotonin receptors accounts for the hallucinatory state that occurs with LSD.
Drugs also operate by binding or interfering with membrane bound receptors. Botanical compounds bind with these receptors to produce their effects. Most plants contain a library of these compounds, each one capable of binding with a different receptor. The effect of these bindings is the result of this combination and not solely the result of the predominate compound. Natural medicine is based on plants. Whole plants produce conflicting and opposing effects. This phenomena is best described as adaptogenic. These plant compounds are a group of medically effective substances that heightened one’s resistance to stress.
Adaptogenic substances produced different effects depending upon the person it was administered to. Adaptogens are substances that promote a non-specific increase in resistance against a variety of stressful conditions.
GABA Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA is synthesized in the brain from the amino acid glutamate. GABA prevents overactivity. Lack of GABA results in anxiety and overactivity. The GABA receptor is composed of five different subunits of proteins (alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon and pi). The substructure of these subunits determines the sensitivity to various addictive compounds. Each subunit has its own receptor site and is specific for the ligans it accepts The subunits are assembled to form a membrane pore through which chloride ions flow when the receptor is bound. GABA receptors bind to drugs like alcohol, benzodiazepines (valium) and barbiturates as well as steroids.
GABA receptor stimulation causes relaxation.
Activities such as movement, memory, reasoning, and respiration are controlled in areas, high in GABA receptors.
This program has emphasized the importance of exercise and colorful carbohydrates in the diet. It argues that the damaging effects of free radicals attacks are the primary cause of most chronic diseases. Most non-infectious diseases are chronic diseases. This includes disorders of lipid and carbohydrate metabolism (atherosclerosis and diabetes) as well as overreaction by the inflammatory system (arthritis) and dysfunction in immunological processes (allergies).
In addition, high blood pressure, cancer, dementia even aging itself can be attributed to free radical attack.
The chronic nature of these diseases indicates that there is an opportunity to prevent their inception or at the least, retard their progress. Since this program requires exercise. it anticipates the free radicals that result from exercise and recommends the right foods and supplements to thwart that danger.
Free radical attack uses a wide and varied set of agents to attack and alter cell structures. Fortunately for humankind nature has showered the earth with a variety of plants that contain a library of naturally occurring antioxidants.
In addition to protecting the plant from the sun, these antioxidants offer protection to humans from the harmful effects of oxidative damage to cells. Doctors recommend the minimal combination of vitamins E and C together with beta-carotene and the trace mineral selenium. This pogram further recommends others embedded in the fibers of colorful foods. These foods include the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, arugula, cabbage and cauliflower) as well as pigmented fruit (grapes, tomatoes and berries) and herbs.
The carotenoids are lipid-soluble antioxidants that are involved in the normal maintenance of mucus membranes and pigments in the eye. Consuming foods rich in carotenoids can lower the risk of colon and bladder cancer. Beta-carotene is the best-known carotene due to its importance as a vitamin A precursor. There are over 600 carotenoid pigments documented and over 50 can be metabolized to active vitamin A. Carotenoids are the primary pigments found in red, yellow, and orange colored plants (fruits and vegetables).
Lycopene is a carotenoid and is the principal pigment found in bright red fruits (tomatoes), spices (paprika) and pink grapefruit. Structurally, lycopene resembles but is a much more powerful antioxidant than beta-carotene. Lycopene however lacks vitamin A activity. Lycopene is considered cancer-preventive. Once lycopene enters the blood it preferentially targets the prostate gland, lungs and eye. Its antioxidant activity is thought to prevent prostate cancer. Lutein is another carotenoid found in pigmented plants. Dark green, leafy vegetables contain a high concentration of this pigment. Lutein is important for eyesight and is preferentially deposited in the macula and the rods of the retina.
Lutein is a yellow pigment that absorbs blue light and may prevent excessive oxidative damage to the eye. Beta-carotene is a precursor of the active form of vitamin A and prevents lipid peroxidation. Beta-carotene lacks the toxicity associated with vitamin A. Beta-carotene is an excellent quencher of singlet oxygen free radicals and is primarily carried in the blood by LDL. Beta-carotene is believed to be a safe supplement and certainly supplements containing 10-12 mg are completely safe. Nevertheless, there have been reports that high doses of beta-carotene among smokers increased their incidence of contracting lung cancer.
Vitamin E is the antioxidant vitamin. Vitamin E are a group of related fat-soluble compounds. They are divided between tocopheherols and tocotrienols.