Dacryodes edulis: Mood Elevator

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Ginseng and Depression

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The Three Best Ways To Improve Vitamin D Status

Vitamin D is important because it is converted to the hormone 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the liver. The 25-hydroxyvitamin D is then further converted to 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D in the kidney, and this form is also hormonally active. The active firms of vitamin D regulate cell metabolism and have important health effects, and so maintaining adequate vitamin D is pivotal to health. The best way to improve vitamin D status is through sunlight exposure. However, this is not always possible for various reasons. If sunlight exposure is not available, supplements are perhaps the next best alternative, as they are cheap, and doses can be controlled and modified. Dietary sources of vitamin D are limited, but mushrooms can be a great source of vitamin D if they are exposed to sunlight. Mushrooms generate vitamin D in a similar way to our own skin cells although the form of vitamin D is slightly less bioavailable. The mushrooms can then be frozen to allow preservation of the vitamin D for times when it is needed.

mushrooms vitamin d

Exposing mushrooms to ultraviolet light can generate significant amounts of vitamin D in the mushrooms.

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RdB

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Fruit and Vegetables: Fresh, Frozen or Tinned?

Fruit and vegetables are high quality healthy foods. Eating more plant foods in the form of fruits and vegetables can significantly improve health, and may in particular protect from cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other modern Western lifestyle diseases. Eating fruit and vegetables fresh is often considered the best way to consume them, but this is not always the case. Some frozen fruit and vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh produce, so long as the freezing process was not delayed after harvest. Frozen fruit and vegetables also have a longer shelf life than fresh alternatives, and thus retain their nutrition longer. Tinned fruit and vegetables are likely the least nutritious option, but even so, tinned fruit and vegetables can provide significant health effects. In particular, tinned legumes appear to possess all the health effects of dried legumes, but without the difficulty associated with preparation. Increasing intake of fresh, frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables should therefore be encouraged.

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RdB

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Dairy: A Source of Slow Release Carbohydrate

Dairy food is associated with good health. In particular, consumption of dairy foods such as milk and yoghurt are associated with lower body weights. It is not fully understood why dairy foods may be so healthy, but one possibility is the fact that they allow the carbohydrate they contain to be released into the blood only slowly. The carbohydrate in dairy is present as the sugar lactose. Lactose is a disaccharide and is made up of one molecule of galactose joined to one molecule of glucose. this slows the absorption of the sugar as the bond holding the sugars together must be broken before absorption can occur. In addition, dairy foods tend to be held in the stomach during digestion, due to the presence of casein protein which can curdle and slow stomach emptying rates. This whole process slows the rate at which the lactose can get to the small intestine, it’s only location for absorption. Overall, the lactose from dairy is slowly absorbed and this may give dairy advantageous blood sugar stabilising effects.

dairy

As well as slowing the absorption of the lactose from within the dairy products, dairy can also slow the absorption of carbohydrate from within other foods eaten at the same time as the dairy. This may be a secondary benefit of dairy products in relation to blood sugar.

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RdB

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Ocimum Gratissimum Essential Oil

Ocimum gratissimum is a herb with central nervous system effects. These effects are not fully understood, but appear to give leaf extracts of the herb sedative, relaxant, anxiolytic and antidepressant effects. It is thought that the essential oil of the plant is the component that may provide these effects, as it has been shown to contain a number of phytochemicals that are able to interact with the central nervous system in animals. Studies have investigated the effects of the essential oil of Ocimum gratissimum on mice to determine if sedative, anxiolytic or antidepressant effects can be conferred to the animals through inhalation. In this regard the behaviour of the mice changed to indicate the essential oil produced significant sedative, anxiolytic and antidepressant effects. In addition, the main chemical constituent of the essential oil was shown to be thymol (around 65 % of the oil). Thymol may therefore be the component that gives Ocimum gratissimum essential oil its central nervous system effects.

ocimum gratissium anxiety depression mood

The chemical structure of thymol. Thymol in the essential oil of Ocimum gratissimum may explain its sedative, anxiolytic and antidepressant effects on animals. Image from By NEUROtiker – Own work, Public Domain, https:// commons.wikimedia.org/ w/ index.php?curid=3223796.

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RdB

Tankam, J. M. and Ito, M. 2014. Sedative, anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects of inhalation of the essential oil of Ocimum gratissimum L. from Cameroon in mice. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry. 2(5): 1-9
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Ocimum gratissimum: A Herb With Antioxidants

Ocimum gratissimum is a herb that is used in traditional medicine for its antimicrobial activity. A number of studies suggest that the herb also possesses central nervous system effects, and in this regard may have anxiolytic effects. Chemical analysis of leaf extracts of the herb have shown that it possesses a number of phytochemicals with antioxidant capacity. In particular, Ocimum gratissimum is high in flavonoids, and flavonoids have consistently been shown to protect from anxiety. Studies that have tested the antioxidant capacity of leaf extracts of Ocimum gratissimum have shown that its ability to scavenge free radicals is high. The high antioxidant potential of the herb may explain some of its central nervous system effects, particularly its anxiolytic effects. Anxiety is known to be caused in part by free radical damage to brain cells. By providing antioxidants that quench these free radicals, Ocimum gratissimum may inhibit the damaging effects of the free radicals, that are thought to be generated by the presence of stress.

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RdB

Akinmoladun, A. C., Ibukun, E. O., Afor, E., Obuotor, E. M. and Farombi, E. O. 2007. Phytochemical constituent and antioxidant activity of extract from the leaves of Ocimum gratissimum. Scientific Research and Essays. 2(5): 163-166
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Silver (Ag)

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Two Herbal Remedies for Sleep

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Ocimum gratissimum: Anxiolytic Herb?

Ocimum gratissimum is more commonly called African basil or clove basil. The plant is found in parts of Africa and South and Central America and is a member of the Lamiaceae or mint family. A number of plants from this family are known to have medicinal effects and be used in traditional medicine. Ocimum gratissimum contains a phytochemical called eugenol, which has been shown to possess antibacterial effects. However, the herb can be used to treat a number of central nervous system disorders, and in this regard has received attention for its ability to prevent anxiety. In animal studies involving mice, administration of Ocimum gratissimum have been shown to decrease anxious behaviour when the animals are exposed to experimental stress. In addition, extracts of the plant have been shown to possess anti-convulsant effects in the mice. These findings suggest that Ocimum gratissimum may affect the central nervous system in animals, and this may provide beneficial effects against seizures and anxiety. It is thought that the essential oil of the plant may be responsible for these effects.

ocimum grattisimum

A number of phytochemicals have been identified in the essential oil from the leaves Ocimum gratissimum. These include the monoterpene eugenol, that is thought to be the main volatile constituent. Also present are the monoterpenes cineole, β-pinene, cis-Ocimene, trans-Ocimene, camphor and methyl eugenol, and the sesquiterpenes caryophyllene and germacrene-D. Thymol, and a number of xanthones and lactones are also present. Image is ocimum gratissimum. Image from: By Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0, https:// commons.wikimedia.org/ w/index.php? curid=6123697.

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RdB

Okoli, C. O., Ezike, A. C., Agwagah, O. C. and Akah, P. A. 2010. Anticonvulsant and anxiolytic evaluation of leaf extracts of Ocimum gratissimum, a culinary herb. Pharmacognosy Research. 2(1): 36-40
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