Medicinal Herbs are also Great Antioxidants
One of the benefits to using herbal medicines is that they typically come with a common side effect. That is, herbs are tremendous antioxidants. In other words, they neutralize free radicals in significant ways.
This contrasts greatly with pharmaceutical medications, which typically come with a host of negative side effects. Many also harm the liver and reduce our body’s ability to remove free radicals.
Herbs studied as antioxidants
Researchers from India’s NMT Gujarati College of Pharmacy have found that certain botanical herbs – namely Vitis vinifera (grapeseed), Phyllanthus emblica L. (Indian gooseberry), Punica granatum (pomegranate), Cinnamomum cassia (cinnamon), Ginkgo biloba L., and Camellia sinensis (tea), have antioxidant potential that rivals vitamin C, providing synergistic immunity.
The researchers took extracts of each of the herbs, along with other foods and botanicals, and tested them for their antioxidant and immunity abilities by administering 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), superoxide, and nitric oxide free radical scavenging tests. These are the premiere tests used today by biochemical researchers to determine a substances ability to boost immunity and prevent damage from oxidative radicals.
The researchers found that the extracts from the grapeseed, gooseberry, pomegranate, cinnamon, ginkgo and tea had significantly high antioxidant capabilities. They also found that when applied together, the herbs had even greater levels of free radical scavenging ability. Their antioxidant potential was comparable to ascorbic acid – known to have one of the highest free radical scavenging potentials among biochemicals.
The researchers concluded that combining antioxidant herbs provided the greatest potential for disease prevention.
Antioxidant herbs in other research
Other studies have confirmed similar findings for herbs. A 2010 study from Nigeria’s University of Ibadan found that ten popular Nigerian herbs (Psidium guajava, Alstonia boonei, Cassia alata, Newbouldia laevis, Spondias mombin, Globimetula cupulatum, Chromolaena odorata, Securidaca longepedunculata, Ocimum gratissimum, and Morinda lucida) all had significantly high hydroxyl radical scavenging potential – many in the region of ascorbic acid. Using the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical scavenging test, they found that Spondias mombin (yellow mombin) had 8.58 +/- 3.04% free radical scavenging levels. em>Spondias mombin is used in ethnomedicine for inflammation, gastrointestinal issues and even venereal disease.
Damage from oxidative radicals have been attributed as at least part of the cause of a host of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, asthma and many others. Free radical scavengers reduce oxidation. It seems apparent that antioxidant properties should be included in the benefit of many medicinal herbs.
Learn more about antioxidants and their ability to stimulate the immune system:
Jain DP, Pancholi SS, Patel R. Synergistic antioxidant activity of green tea with some herbs. J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2011 Jul;2(3):177-83.
Akinmoladun AC, Obuotor EM, Farombi EO. Evaluation of antioxidant and free radical scavenging capacities of some Nigerian indigenous medicinal plants. J Med Food. 2010 Apr;13(2):444-51.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences. 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 our health around. As I drove home that night, I realized this knowledge should be available 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.”