Herbal Medicine comes from the Plant Kingdom which arises from the Soil. The human body according to the Good Book Bible also comes from the Soil and goes back to the Soil when you die. The Soil or the Earth we are living on provides everything the Human Body needs to survive including the Food we eat every day, our health needs, our clothing, and the roof over our heads.
Plants are living things just like Human Beings. Plants absorb Carbon Dioxide and produce Oxygen whilst Human beings take in the Oxygen and produce Carbon Dioxide needed for the plant Kingdom and the Circle continues in perpetuity. When the Last plant dies, the last man dies goes the saying.
God the almighty in his own Wisdom, who created both man and plant has stated categorically in the Bible that Eats from the plant and use the plant to heal your diseases.
Plants already placed in the soil by God grow from the Soil, and as they grow they meet hostile environmental conditions including; Viruses, Bacteria, Parasites, Fungal, and excessive Oxygen as their own by-products. The plant produces Primary Metabolites which are Carbohydrates, Fats, and oil, and Proteins and these are the Food for Man to eat and survive.
In order for Plant to survive in hostile environmental conditions, they produce secondary Metabolites call Phytochemicals which has Antioxidant, Antiviral, Antifungal, Antibacterial, Antiparasitic, and many other Anti- properties.
Incidentally, Man also lives in the same hostile environmental conditions plagued with Viruses, Bacteria, Fungal, Parasites, and Free Radicals in the system which causes Cancer and many other disease conditions and endocrine disorders in the Human body. These are what cause almost all Mankind ailments and suffering. The Phytochemicals produced by the plants are perfect solutions to Mankind’s ailments and suffering.
Much of early medicine relied on the prescription of specific plants and herbs for healing, a practice still supported by contemporary research.
Naturally occurring compounds, known as phytochemicals (Phyto means plant in Greek) are thought to be largely responsible for the protective health benefits of these plant-based foods and beverages, beyond those conferred by their vitamin and mineral contents.
These phytochemicals, which are part of a large and varied group of chemical compounds, also are responsible for the color, flavor, and odor of plant foods, such as blueberries’ dark hue, tomatoes, pepper, broccoli’s bitter taste, and garlic’s pungent odor. Research strongly suggests that consuming foods rich in phytochemicals provides health benefits, but not enough information exists to make specific recommendations for phytochemical intake.
Phytochemicals also referred to as phytonutrients, are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, beans, herbs, spices, nuts, and seeds and are classified according to their chemical structures and functional properties. Phytochemicals include compounds such as salicylates, phytosterols, saponins, glucosinolates, polyphenols, protease inhibitors, monoterpenes, phytoestrogens, sulfides, terpenes, lectins, Alkaloids, Tannins, flavonoids, and many more.
As mentioned, research on specific phytochemicals in foods and their effects on disease risk is limited, but there’s enough evidence—mostly from looking at the association between foods rich in phytochemicals and disease risk—to strongly suggest that consuming foods and beverages rich in these compounds may help prevent disease. However, it isn’t known whether the health benefits are the result of individual phytochemicals, the interaction of various phytochemicals, the fiber content of plant foods, or the interaction of phytochemicals and the vitamins and minerals found in the same foods.
There’s evidence to suggest that consuming foods rich in phytochemicals may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. One meta-analysis found that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption from fewer than three to more than five servings per day was associated with a 17% reduction in risk. Another meta-analysis suggested that the risk of coronary heart disease would decrease by 4% for each portion per day of fruits and vegetables added to the diet.
There’s a wide range of benefits associated with the phytochemical content of these foods and beverages, including lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, increasing HDL cholesterol while decreasing LDL oxidation, dilating blood vessels, and decreasing the tendency of the blood to form clots. Cocoa was found to improve endothelial function by dilating blood vessels; it was more effective among those older than the age 50.
A meta-analysis and a systematic examination of prospective cohort studies and randomized controlled trials found that an average of 2.5 to five servings of whole grains per day was associated with a 21% lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared with consuming fewer than 0.2 servings per day.
The range of phytochemicals, including anthocyanins, phytosterols, phenolic acids, lignans, and carotenoids, that are present in wheat, rye, oats, rice, and other grains is believed to contribute to these cardioprotective effects.
The consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean diet that emphasize these foods, have been associated with a reduced risk of several types of cancer, including breast, lung, and colon.
A systematic review of 25 prospective studies found that an increase of three servings per day of whole grains was associated with a 17% lower risk of colorectal cancer. But not all studies on fruit, vegetable, and whole-grain consumption have found the same reduction in risk.
The consumption of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower has been associated with a decreased risk of prostate, lung, breast, and colon cancers.
Type 2 Diabetes
Research suggests that phytochemical-rich foods may directly decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, most likely by reducing inflammation and improving insulin sensitivity, and indirectly by preventing weight gain, the most important risk factor of the disease. Some studies have found that a reduced risk was strongest with the consumption of green leafy vegetables, which are rich sources of phytochemicals.
Phytochemicals may provide protection against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Research has suggested that phytochemicals such as capsaicin (found in red pepper), curcumin (found in the spice turmeric), epigallocatechin gallate (catechin in tea known as EGCG), and resveratrol (found in grapes, wine, and peanuts) may have neuroprotective effects.
Flavonoids in general are thought to help reverse age-related declines in cognitive function by increasing the number of connections among neurons and improving blood flow to the brain, which protects vulnerable neurons and enhances the functioning of existing neurons. The consumption of flavonoid-rich foods such as berries and cocoa throughout life may hold the potential to limit, prevent, or reverse the normal or abnormal deterioration in cognitive function in the aging brain.
Mechanism of Action
Researchers have found that phytochemicals have the potential to stimulate the immune system, prevent toxic substances in the diet from becoming carcinogenic, reduce inflammation, prevent DNA damage and aid DNA repair, reduce oxidative damage to cells, slow the growth rate of cancer cells, trigger damaged cells to self-destruct (apoptosis) before they can reproduce, help regulate intracellular signaling of hormones and gene expression, and activate insulin receptors.
In addition, there likely are health effects of phytochemicals that researchers haven’t yet recognized.
Much laboratory research has focused on the antioxidant function of phytochemicals. However, their antioxidant activity is reduced in the body during metabolism, and the levels present in blood and tissue are fleeting and quite low.
For many of the phytochemicals in food, their antioxidant effects on cell signaling and gene expression may be more important for health benefits than direct antioxidant activity, effects that can be seen even with low concentrations of phytochemicals in plasma and tissues.
In addition to being rich sources of phytochemicals, plant foods also are sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals whose mechanisms have been more clearly elucidated. But identifying which individual compounds are responsible for the benefits associated with phytochemical-rich foods is difficult, if not impossible, because of the interactions that occur with vitamins, minerals, and fiber as well as among the phytochemicals themselves.
The unique combination of these compounds may be the key to reduced disease risk, but that formula hasn’t yet been identified and tested.
Factors That Affect Metabolism
The bioavailability of phytochemicals varies greatly and can range from less than 0.03% of what’s consumed (certain flavonols) to 50% (isoflavones). While the evidence is limited regarding how phytochemicals are stored, research suggests there are no long-term stores of polyphenols in the body.
Aside from inherent differences in the bioavailability of these compounds, absorption also is affected by the gut microflora and individuals’ genetic makeup, both of which vary greatly. In addition, processing, such as steaming, drying, freezing, and boiling, can reduce the levels of some phytochemicals found in the final food product.
Source: Ghana Web