Traditional Herbs and Antioxidants Reduce Heat Shock Proteins

heat shock proteins and saffron

Photo by Nick Perla

By Case Adams, Naturopath

Heat shock proteins have been linked with the heating up of cells – but certain heat shock proteins are known to accompany periods of stress, inflammation and toxicity according to the research.

Certain heat shock proteins, namely HSP27, HSP65 and HSP70 have been linked specifically to atherosclerosis and metabolic syndrome.

For example, a study of 237 high-cholesterol (hyperlipidemia) patients and 135 healthy volunteers found that the hyperlipidemia patients had higher levels of antibodies to HSP60, HSP65 and HSP70.

Now research is finding that heat shock proteins are reduced by certain traditional herbs and antioxidants.

Saffron decreases heat shock proteins

Research from the Middle East has found that saffron – a traditional herb harvested from the flower of Crocus sativus – has been found to significantly reduce certain heat shock proteins after three months of supplementation.

The researchers measured the antibodies to heat shock proteins 27, HSP60, HSP65 and HSP70 during the treatment of 105 patients with metabolic syndrome. Levels were determined by measuring the antibodies to each type of heat shock protein as higher levels of these HSPs have been linked with greater inflammation and higher risk of metabolic disease. Metabolic syndrome includes higher risks of diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

The researchers randomly divided them into two groups and gave the patients either 100 milligrams per day of saffron or a placebo.

After the three months treatment, the researchers found that antibodies to heat shock proteins 27 and HSP70 were significantly reduced by saffron.

Barberry herb reduces heat shock proteins

In another study, researchers found that the Barberry herb also reduces levels of antibodies to these heat shock proteins. This study tested 106 people with metabolic syndrome. They were given either a placebo or capsules of Barberry herb.

As in the saffron study, the researchers found that antibodies to the heat shock protein 27 was significantly lower among those who took the Barberry herb.

Those who too Barberry also had significant improvements in their C-reactive protein levels and lower LDL-cholesterol levels.

Antioxidants reduce heat shock proteins

The idea that heat shock proteins are reduced by natural strategies was confirmed by a study from the UK’s University of Surrey, which found that diets with greater levels of certain antioxidant nutrients are linked with reduced heat shock proteins.

The researchers tested 238 patients plus 188 control volunteers. They were tested for heat shock proteins and blood levels of antioxidants. The researchers found that antibodies to heat shock proteins 60, 65 and 70 were higher among those with cholesterol issues and heart disease. They also found that those with higher levels of vitamin E and vitamin C had reduced levels of these heat shock protein antibodies.

The bottom line is that there is more to nutrition and herbalism than simple biochemistry. Herbs and antioxidants modulate protein production at the genetic level. The body utilizes antioxidants and herb constituents to improve its management of metabolism from the intelligent aspects of our physiology.


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Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with the elements by surfing, hiking and being a beach bum.

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