Icariin as A Testosterone Mimetic

Icariin is a flavonoid found in the tissues of the Epimedium species of plants. Icariin in the form of whole Epimedium plant tissue is used in traditional medicine as a treatment for reproductive problems. However, it is also thought to have an anti-fatigue effect, and may also improve the efficiency of the liver and the immune system. In animal experiments icariin is also able to increase the weight of the pituitary, testes and epididymis, suggesting that it may have significant hormonal effects. In experiments involving rats, icariin has been shown to improve the condition of the reproductive organs and increase circulating levels of testosterone. There was also evidence from studies that icariin may promote bone formation. Therefore icariin may have testosterone mimetic properties as the effects seen matched those of improved testosterone levels. However, it is unclear how these effects may occur or whether the effect would translate into improved exercise performance. 

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Zhang, Z. B. and Yang, Q. T. 2006. The testosterone mimetic properties of icariin. Asian Journal of Andrology. 8(5): 601-605
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Inositol for Anxiety

Inositol is a nutrient that is classed as a dietary phenol. When consumed inositol is used for a number of purposes including the synthesis of phosphoinositides in cell membranes which help with cell communication and cell structure. Inositol is also converted into phosphatidylinositol, which is important as an intracellular second messenger. Evidence suggests that dietary administration of inositol can cause a reduction in anxiety after administration in the diet and this has been evidenced in animal experiments. Lithium is an antidepressant that may work by altering inositol metabolism in the central nervous system. In humans an antidepressant effect for inositol was found at 12 mg daily over four weeks using a double blind study. Another study administered 18 mg per day of inositol and found a significant reduction in obsessive compulsive disorder, a form of anxiety. Therefore evidence from human and animal studies suggess that inositol may have a significant mood elevating effect when administered as part of a healthy diet. 

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Cohen, H., Kotler, M., Kaplan, Z., Matar, M. A., Kofman, O. and Belmaker, R. H. 1997. Inositol has behavioral effects with adaptation after chronic administration. Journal of Neural Transmission. 104(2): 299-305
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Inositol as a Treatment for Anxiety and Depression

Inositol is a nutrient that is incorporated into cell membranes as part of the phosphoinositides. Phosphoinositides are involved in the communication of information across and within the cell membrane, and also function in cytoskeletal organisation and membrane dynamics, which suggests that inositol may be an important requirement in the diet for effective cell membrane function. Evidence suggests that dietary inositol is able to regulate mood. In animal experiments, when rats are exposed to chronic stress under experimental conditions, inositol is able to attenuate the mood changes that occur in the rats. Inositol may be useful against depression and anxiety related disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder and panic disorders. However, as would be expected, inositol may only be effective if the diet is already deficient, or if the inositol intake is not enough to correctly regulate phosphoinositide levels in cell membranes. Those with optimal levels of phosphoinositides may not benefit from additional intakes in the diet. 

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Kofman, O., Einat, H., Cohen, H., Tenne, H. and Shoshana, C. 2000. The anxiolytic effect of chronic inositol depends on the baseline level of anxiety. Journal of Neural Transmission.  107(2). 241-253
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Fire Weed (Epilobium angustifolium) as a Food

A number of wild plants show good potential as food sources because they are so abundant and grow rapidly and in a wide range of locations. Fire Weed (Epilobium angustifolium) shows potential as a food source for this reason. Most often found in hedgerows and in deciduous forests in the northern hemisphere, fire weed is edible in its entirety including roots, stems, leaves and flowers. The dried plant can be used to make tea and the roots are a rich source of carbohydrate, stored as starch by the plant. In some parts of  Esdtern Europe, fire weed is used as a food source with reports of its consumption in Latvia, North Karelia, Ukraine, Estonia and Finland. The tea can be made from the flower of the plant, and these are generally collected and dried. The flower may provide antioxidants and other nutrients, but are unlikely to provide any energy. Therefore although fire weed has the potential to be used as an edible plant, its consumption appears to be limited to parts of Eastern Europe by small numbers of individuals. 

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Kalle, R., Belichenko, O., Kuznetsova, N., Kolosova, V., Prakofjewa, J., Stryamets, N., Mattalia, G., Sarka, P., Simanova, A., Pruse, B., Mezaka, I. and Sõukand, R. 2020. Gaining momentum: Popularization of Epilobium angustifolium as food and recreational tea on the Eastern edge of Europe. Appetite. 150: 104638
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Edible Marine Seaweeds: Part 4

Seaweeds can bioaccumulate heavy metals and other toxins if they grow in polluted areas and this has to be taken into consideration if they are to be used as a source of food. There have been reports of excessively high iodine intakes in some populations that consume large quantities of seaweed, such as those in parts of Japan, but this is rare and is balanced by the good nutrition that seaweeds can provide. As always everything in the diet should be in balance and this is an important consideration for all food sources including seaweed. Arsenic has been identified as a heavy metal that can readily accumulate in seaweeds and this can have negative effects because it can displace other minerals from their binding sites on transporters and enzymes, and this may have detrimental effects on metabolism. Cadmium, aluminium, manganese, chromium and nickel may also bioaccumulate in seaweed and these too can be problematic depending on the form present, the amount consumed and the concentration within the tissues.  

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Kumar, M. S. and Sharma, S. A. 2021. Toxicological effects of marine seaweeds: A cautious insight for human consumption. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 61(3): 500-521
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Edible Marine Seaweeds: Part 3

Seaweeds contain a number of phytochemicals that may play an important role in protecting from cardiovascular disease. Some of these phytochemicals are peptides that may interfere with the development of cardiovascular disease through reductions in blood pressure. Seaweeds are also rich in antioxidants such as carotenoids and these may also have cardioprotective effects through anti-inflammatory mechanisms. The fibre in seaweeds, such as pectin and guar gum, are thought to possess cholesterol lowering properties, which may reflect their anti-obesity and cardioprotective mechanisms. β-sitosterol and fucosterol in seaweed may also have cholesterol lowering properties. Brown seaweeds contain the carotenoid fucoxanthin and polyphenolic compound phloroglucinol which are thought to possess anti-cancer effects. However, much of the work on the effects of these compounds has been done in cell culture and so the real world effects of the compounds are not so clear. 

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Kumar, M. S. and Sharma, S. A. 2021. Toxicological effects of marine seaweeds: A cautious insight for human consumption. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 61(3): 500-521
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Edible Marine Seaweeds: Part 2

Ulva is an edible seaweed that has blade-like appendages and belongs to the Chlorophyta group of seaweeds. The common name for Ulva is sea lettuce. Ulva can be consumed raw and its dry weight contains about 25 % protein, making it an excellent source of amino acids. Ulva is also high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, iodine and zinc. Ascophyllum nodosum commonly known as egg wrack has been shown to benefit insulin levels in animals. This may relate to the high fibre content of the seaweed. Ascophyllum nodosum contains a similar level of minerals to Ulva. Another seaweed that may regulate the action of insulin is Undaria pinnatifida, which has been shown to possess beneficial effects on blood glucose levels in animals. Some seaweeds such as Hematococcus pluvialis are excellent sources of antioxidants, and in the case of Haematococcus pluvialis, there are high levels of the carotenoid astaxanthin in the tissues of the seaweed. This may explain its significant anti-inflammatory effects in animals. 

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RdB

Kumar, M. S. and Sharma, S. A. 2021. Toxicological effects of marine seaweeds: A cautious insight for human consumption. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 61(3): 500-521
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Edible Marine Seaweeds: Part 1

Seaweed is an excellent source of nutrients for humans and animals, and many of the compounds in seaweed are bioactive. Seaweeds belong to the algal group of plants and the cells within seaweed synthesise a number of biochemically useful nutrients including amino acids, terpenoids, acetogenins, alkaloids, chlorophyll, carotenoids, xanthophylls, saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids, halogenated compounds, vitamins K, B, A, as well as alginate, proteoglycans, laminarin, fucoidan, carrageenan and galactosyl glycerol. Evidence suggests that the nutrition of seaweeds makes them useful as antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral treatment. Nearly 50 % of the dry weight of seaweed is protein. Porphyra is an invaluable seaweed crop that contains high amounts of vitamin C, protein and trace minerals. The polysaccharides (porphyrin), polyphenols, proteins, chlorophyll and carotenoid content of porphyra may explain the beneficial health effects it possesses in humans and animals.  

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RdB

Kumar, M. S. and Sharma, S. A. 2021. Toxicological effects of marine seaweeds: A cautious insight for human consumption. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 61(3): 500-521
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Exercise and Spirulina: Effects on Anxiety

Stress is a major cause of mood disorders including anxiety and depression. Effective lifestyle and nutritional strategies that can manage or reduce stress are therefore seen as being beneficial to the prevention or treatment of stress. Spirulina platensis is a cyanobacteria that is freeze dried and made into a nutritional supplement due to its high nutriative capacity. Evidence suggests that consuming nutritionally dense foods such as spirulina may be beneficial and help overcome mood disorders, particularly when combined with exercise. In one study researchers exposed adolescent rats to stress and this caused them to significantly increase anxious behaviour in adulthood. However, if rats were administered spirulina and allowed to exercise, the anxious behaviour was significantly attenuated in later life. Therefore correct nutritional and lifestyle adjustments during adolescent years may play a significant role on mood during adulthood, and these changes may significantly improve the quality of life of the individual. 

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Moradi-Kor, N., Dadkhah, M., Ghanbari, A., Rashidipour, H., Bandegi, A. R., Barati, M., Kokhaei, P. and Rashidy-Pour, A. 2020. Protective Effects of Spirulina platensis, Voluntary Exercise and Environmental Interventions Against Adolescent Stress-Induced Anxiety and Depressive-Like Symptoms, Oxidative Stress and Alterations of BDNF and 5HT-3 Receptors of the Prefrontal Cortex in Female Rats. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 16: 1777
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Spirulina as an Anxiolytic

Spirulina platensis is a microscopic filamentous cyanobacterium which is commonly called a blue green algae. Spirulina can be dried and used as a food, and when it is consumed is a good source of certain nutrients. Around 50 to 70 % of the dry weight of spirulina is protein and it also contains high levels of vitamin B12, β-carotene, vitamin E, copper, magnesium, zinc, potassium and iron. Spirulina is high in antioxidants including the compound p-phycocyanin and this may provide spirulina with health effects, and in particular the effects of spirulina on mood disorders has been investigated. In one study, researchers administered Spirulina platensis to mice and then exposed the animals to experimental stress. The results of the study showed that the mice were significantly protected from detrimental mood changes by the spirulina, and in particular showed significantly less anxious behaviour. Evidence therefore suggests that spirulina may have mood elevating effects in animals, although it is unclear why this may be. 

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Neekhra, S., Jain, V., Jain, P., Jain, S., Jain, S. A., Garg, N. K., Jain, A. and Jain. A. 2014. Assessment of anxiolytic potential of Spirulina platensis. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research. Vol. 5(9): 4067-4071
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