Role of Herbs and Spices in Health Enhancement

spices
 

What are Herbs & Spices?

spices
spices

Any part of plant like leaves, root, bud, flower, stigma when incorporated in cooking is labeled as herbs or, spices at large. They have a long history of culinary heritage. Traditionally employed as flavor enhancing agents while cooking meat, gravy, vegetable or, desserts; medicinal role of these herbs & spices has attracted attention of medical researchers due to natural healing their healing properties.

Health benefits of Herbs & Spices?

Before going into details of Mechanisms and the resultant health benefits of herbs & spices, it is helpful to understand how the particular health benefits are achieved. What are the biologically active components which elicit a medicinal response within human body.

The most active component of Herbs & Spices is a group of Phytochemicals known as Polyphenols. Five major classes of dietary         polyphenols are,

  • Phenolic Acids
  • Flavonoids
  • Lignans
  • Coumarins and,
  • Tannins

Common polyphenol rich foods ( aka. Super-foods) are dark chocolate, blue & red berries, ginger, broccoli and grape but what differentiates herbs from these foods is the concentration of active ingredient in that particular food item. Herbs & Spices have been assessed in both dried and natural formulations for the concentration of bioactive component and it is established to be well higher than present in super-foods mentioned earlier.

Health benefits of commonly used Herbs & Spices can be attributed to following inherent properties,

1) Anti-inflammatory action

  • Cloves, Cinnamon and nutmeg are shown to act as an anti-inflammatory agent by suppressing release of pro-inflammatory substances like hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and Tumour Necrosis Factor-α which further inhibits Interleukin-8 (IL-8) release from peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs).
  • Another mechanism which imparts anti-inflammatory properties to herbs is inhibition of enzyme cyclo-oxegenase-2 (COX-2) and activation of enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). COX-2 is the same enzyme which is blocked by medicines like Aspirin and Ibuprofen, to relieve active inflammation and chronic inflammatory diseases are associated with free radical superoxide, which is dismutated by the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD).

2) Antioxidant Action

An optimum balance of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS) is essential for cell membrane integrity and protein and nucleic acids functioning. Disruption of this balance can trigger a wide range of diseases due to cell death and early ageing.

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has laid down several levels of evidence for analyzing association of a particular effect with a bioactive component. There is level III-3 evidence for direct reduction of cholesterol up to 9% with consumption of half to one clove of garlic. This is particularly significant because low-density lipoprotein cholesterol play a major role in etiology of Atherosclerosis.

Moreover, there is level III-1 evidence establishing efficacy of garlic as an anti-clotting and blood pressure reducing ( up to 5.5% reduction in systolic blood pressure) agent.

These effects of herbs & spices are due to their capacity to reduce oxidative stress.

3) Anti-Cancer Action

Culinary Herbs & Spices alter gut micro-flora, which is essential for prevention of gut inflammation and prevention of pre-cancerous lesions. Polyphenols have shown to be a promising agent in prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer. Further studies have concluded into association of active ingredients of these herbs with suppression of carcinogen bioactivation, which directly modifies tumor behavior and ensures better prognosis.

4) Antibiotic Action

Comprehensive research into parallel studies, comparing cloves and garlic extracts with common antibiotics against gram-negative bacteria has yielded surprising results. These herbs are shown to possess bactericidal properties against common bacteria causing diarrhea (E.Coli), Typhoid fever (S.Typhi) and Cholera (V.Cholerae)

5) Other Benefits of dietary Herbs & Spices

  • There is level I and II evidence establishing association of dietary spices with enhancement of psychological and cognitive function in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
  • Ginseng has significant effects on curing hyperglycemia associated with type-II diabetes mellitus.
  • Turmeric (Coumarin derivates) is used by medical practitioners across globe to aid treatment of Hypothyroidism and Graves’ disease.
  • Herbs offer a better alternative to taste altering agents like salt, sugar and saturated fats. Spices make food more appetizing and digestible.

Current challenges in establishing role of Herbs & Spices in health enhancement?

Almost all methods aimed at determining medicinal properties of Herbs & spices rely on methods developed to study pharmacological agents. These agents are small molecular weight and they are administered in most concentrated formulations. This differs them from spices which are consumed in combination with food, which is itself a culturally and socially diverse entity.

Future research is to be aimed at tackling this particular limitation of study practices.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17022438/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2771684/figure/F2/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4227268/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26158684
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2771684/

The top causes and effects of man-made Earthquakes

 

The United States geological survey has reported this year that 7 million people live in places with unstable terrain in their hazard maps, whereby such places are prone to induced tremors. These places include: Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Alabama and Arkansas.

CAUSES

When some the below human activities are carried out in such places, earthquakes may occur. Such human activities include:

  1. Building of a dam

When a dam is being dug, the valley behind it is usually filled with mass of debris obtained in the process. This leads to increased stress on the crust beneath and since the weight of water is higher than that of air, the load on the crust increases and this triggers earthquake.

A lot of researches indicate that a third of the man-made earthquakes result from dam construction. In the year 2008, the scientist raised a claim that the earthquake that occurred in China at that time might have been caused by the construction of 3 dams, although there was no absolute evidence.

  1. Construction of very large buildings

The larger the building, the higher the weight of that building. Some of the largest buildings in the world have been suspected to be a cause of man-made earthquakes due to the weight they apply on the earth’s crust. For example, in the year 2005 a geologist claimed that the tallest building then, that is the Taipei 101, was triggering earthquakes in a fault in Taiwan.

  1. Increased coal extraction

This was mostly practiced in the United States because coal was used as a source of energy by more than 50% of the population mostly from the year  2008.There were many coal mines. Generally, Coal mining leads to change in mass of a given region because during coal extraction, water is also extracted and this leads to either increase in earthquakes increase or reduction. Dr, Christian Klose of Columbia University suggests that most of the human-caused earthquakes in 2006 were caused by mining operations.

  1. Oil and gas extraction

The effect in this is the wastewater disposal wells in the oil and gas firms. When the fluids are pumped into the deep wells, they put a lot of pressure on the faults instead of lubricating them and thus driving the walls apart. This leads to relief of stockpiled tectonic pressure in form of an earthquake.

Induced seismicity
Induced seismicity

EFFECTS OF EARTHQUAKES

Economical effect. Recently, the U.S geological survey released information on human-made earthquakes triggered by wastewater injection linked with the oil and gas extraction. Earthquake insurance will continue to hike in the zones affected by the induced seismicity due to the increased likelihood of destruction of property by earthquakes in such areas. This information may affect both the small and large business firms.

Earthquakes threaten human life. Earthquakes may lead to deaths and loss of property. This has mostly experienced in the earthquake prone areas. This has claimed the life of both young and old.

Earthquakes do great damage to buildings, railways, dams, pipelines and many other structures. Earthquakes can also trigger landslides, mudflows and also cause alteration in the groundwater flow.

Reclining Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)

 

When practicing supine, the individual lies supine on the floor with legs strongly extended. A folded blanket should be used to support the head if the head does not rest comfortably. The performer should then exhale and bend the left knee while the thigh is drawn into the torso. The thigh is hugged to the belly while the front of the right thigh is heavily pressed onto the floor, pushing actively through the right heel. a loop is strapped around the arch of the left foot and the strap is hold with both hands. The performer should then inhale and straighten the knee while the left heel is pressed up toward the ceiling. Continue reading “Reclining Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)”

Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

 

When performing the pose, the performer should first exhale while lowering the back torso towards the floor. Both hands are used to spread the back of the pelvis. The upper buttocks and the lower back are released through the tailbone. The torso is brought to the floor while supporting the head and the neck on a blanket roll. The topmost thighs are gripped with hands and the inner thighs are rotated externally. Both hands are slide along the thighs from the hips towards the knees while widening the outer knees away from the hips. Continue reading “Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)”

Legs up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

 

Height and the distance of support from the wall should first be determined before performing the pose. Support should be lower and placed farther away from the floor .higher support can be used if the performer is more flexible. The distance from the wall depends on the performer’s height. The performer should sit sideways, with the right side being against the wall. The performer should exhale and swing the legs up onto the wall. The shoulders and head are lightly placed onto the floor. The sitting bones should drip down into the space that is between the wall and the support. The knees are bent and the feet pressed into the wall. Continue reading “Legs up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)”

Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana)

 

Reclining Hero pose is also referred to as Supta Virasana. It is considered to be an intermediate level pose. The pose is slightly difficult and it is the reason why the pose is not popular. When performing the pose, both hands are placed by the sides. The performer should then exhale and lean backwards towards the floor. Weight is taken on to the hands followed by the elbows and forearms. When leaning on elbows, both hands are placed at the back. The performer should then push the body towards tailbone so as to release the lower back and the buttocks. The posture is held for about 30 seconds up to I minute. Continue reading “Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana)”

Corpse Pose (Savasana)

 

When practicing Savasana, the body should be placed in a place that is neutral One should sit on the floor with her knees bent. The feet should be on the floor and one should also lean back onto her forearms. The pelvis should be lifted slightly off the floor. Using both of your hands, the back of the pelvis should be pushed toward the tailbone then, one should return the pelvis to the floor. While inhaling, extend the right leg, then the left leg. While softening the groins, release both of your legs. You will notice that your legs are angled evenly to the mid line of your torso. You should then narrow the front pelvis and soften the lower back. Using both of your hands, lift the base of the skull away and release it toward the tailbone. Continue reading “Corpse Pose (Savasana)”

Supported Shoulder stand (salamba Sarvangasana)

 

Take two blankets measuring one foot by two feet. Fold the blankets into rectangles and stack each on top of the other. Let the upper arms stay in place if you don’t have the sticky mat. Lie on the blankets with your head on the floor and your shoulders being supported. Bend your knees and lay your arms on the floor then push your feet away from the floor. Continue lifting by curling the pelvis away from the floor. Your knees should come towards your face. Continue reading “Supported Shoulder stand (salamba Sarvangasana)”

Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)

 

Pad your forearms and head with a folded blanket. Lace your fingers and set the forearms on the floor while kneeling. Elbows should be at the width of the shoulder. Press inner wrists into the floor and roll the upper arms outward. One should snuggle the back of his or her head against the clasped hands if he or she is beginning to practice. Lift the knees off the floor and inhale. Walk your feet closer to your elbows. The shoulder blades should be firm against your back. Your feet should be lifted away from the floor. Continue reading “Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)”

Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)

 

Handstand refers to supporting the body when it is inverted vertically and both hands used for balancing. Adho Mukha Vrksasana is also referred to as (Download-Facing Dog pose) .When one is practicing handstand, he or she should make sure that, there are no items hanged on the wall. Make sure your fingertips are two inch away from the wall. Turn your index fingers out slightly, when your shoulders are tight. You can also arrange them parallel to each other. Continue reading “Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)”