Culinary product: Potential therapeutic agents Friends, you would all appreciate, that there has been a lot of advancement in medicinal research and therapeutic techniques, but along with these advancements, there has also been an upsurge of adverse reactions, drug interactions, relapses etc. There is now an increasingly felt need to develop alternative therapeutics with minimal or no side effects. Does this mean that we should also go back to the basics, which our ancestors developed over the centuries? The answer to this question is an obvious YES. One such ancient treasure of knowledge is "Ayurveda", developed and perfected in India over the centuries since time immemorial. "Ayurveda" is a Sanskrit word, conjoined from two words - 'Ayush', which means life, and 'Veda', which means knowledge. The most fascinating aspect of Ayurveda is that it is all-encompassing, i.e. it uses almost all healing techniques like lifestyle regimen, yoga, aroma, meditation, gems, amulets, surgery, diet, astrology, color and herbs in treating patients. But in this modern era nothing is accepted without logical approach or scientific evidences. Traditional knowledge still needs to be tested on the parameters of modern medicine and scientific evidence before being accepted for modern-day therapies on a large scale. Not only herbs but also so many culinary products have been scientifically proved of their therapeutic potential. Culinary herbs are the fresh or dried leaves of herbaceous plants that are used as a food flavoring. There are literally hundreds of plants that can be grown for this purpose. Some of the more popular commercially grown herbs include cilantro (Coriandrum sativum), chives (Allium schoenoprasum), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Ajwain (Trachyspermum copticum), Asafoetida (Ferula assafoetida), Cinnamon, true or Ceylon (Cinnamomum verum, C. zeylanicum), Basil (Ocimum basilicum). Given below is the information on medicinal uses of some of the culinary herbs: 01 Coriander (Coriandrum sativum): Coriander, like many spices, contains antioxidants, which can delay or prevent the spoilage of food seasoned with this spice. A study found both the leaves and seed to contain antioxidants, but the leaves were found to have a stronger effect. Chemicals derived from coriander leaves were found to have antibacterial activity against Salmonella choleraesuis, and this activity was found to be caused in part by these chemicals acting as nonionic surfactants.  Coriander has been used as a folk medicine for the relief of anxiety and insomnia in Iran. Experiments in mice support its use as an anxiolytic. Coriander seeds are used in traditional Indian medicine as a diuretic by boiling equal amounts of coriander seeds and cumin seeds, then cooling and consuming the resulting liquid.  In holistic and traditional medicine, it is used as a carminative and as a digestive aid.  Coriander has been documented as a traditional treatment for diabetes. A study on mice found that coriander extract had both insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity. Coriander seeds were found in a study on rats to have a significant hypolipidemic effect, resulting in lowering of levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides, and increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein. This effect appeared to be caused by increasing synthesis of bile by the liver and increasing the breakdown of cholesterol into other compounds. Coriander can produce an allergic reaction in some people.  02 Chives (Allium schoenoprasum): The medical properties of chives are similar to those of garlic, but weaker; the faint effects in comparison with garlic are probably the main reason for its limited use as a medicinal herb. Containing numerous organosulfur compounds such as allyl sulfides and alkyl sulfoxides, chives are reported to have a beneficial effect on the circulatory system. As chives are usually served in small amounts and never as the main dish, negative effects are rarely encountered, although digestive problems may occur following over-consumption. Chives are also rich in vitamins A and C, contain trace amounts of sulfur, and are rich in calcium and iron. 03 Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): Fennel contains anethole, which can explain some of its medical effects: it, or its polymers, act as phytoestrogens. Fennel can be made into a syrup to treat babies with colic (formerly thought to be due to digestive upset), but long term ingestion of fennel preparations by babies is a known cause of thelarche. In the Indian subcontinent, fennel seeds are also eaten raw, sometimes with some sweetener, as it is said to improve eyesight. Ancient Romans regarded fennel as the herb of sight. Root extracts were often used in tonics to clear cloudy eyes. Extracts of fennel seed have been shown in animal studies to have a potential use in the treatment of glaucoma. Some people use fennel as a diuretic, and it may be an effective diuretic and a potential drug for treatment of hypertension. There are historical anecdotes that fennel is a galactogogue, improving the milk supply of a breastfeeding mother. This use, although not supported by direct evidence, is sometimes justified by the fact that fennel is a source of phytoestrogens, which promote growth of breast tissue. However, normal lactation does not involve growth of breast tissue. There is a single case report of fennel tea ingested by a breastfeeding mother resulting in neurotoxicity for the newborn child. 04 Ajwain (Trachyspermum copticum) It is also traditionally known as a digestive aid, a relief for abdominal discomfort due to indigestion and an antiseptic. In southern parts of India, dry ajwain seeds are powdered and soaked in milk, which is then filtered and fed to babies. Many assume it relieves colic in babies, and for children it also improves digestion and appetite. Ajwain can be used as digestive mixture in large animals. In the northern part of India, it is often consumed after a heavy meal. 05 Asafoetida (Ferula assafoetida ): Fighting flu - Asafoetida was used in 1918 to fight the Spanish influenza pandemic. Scientists at the Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan report that the roots of Asafoetida produces natural antiviral drug compounds that kill the swine flu virus, H1N1. In an article published in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Natural Products, the researchers said the compounds "may serve as promising lead components for new drug development" against this type of flu. Digestion - In Thailand, and India it is used to aid digestion and is smeared on the abdomen in an alcohol or water tincture known as mahahing. Aasthma and bronchitis - It is also said to be helpful in cases of asthma and bronchitis. A folk tradition remedy for children's colds: it is mixed into a pungent-smelling paste and hung in a bag around the afflicted child's neck. Antimicrobial - Asafoetida has broad uses in traditional medicine as an antimicrobial, with well documented uses for treating chronic bronchitis and whooping cough, as well as reducing flatulence. Contraceptive/abortifacient - Asafoetida has also been reported to have contraceptive/abortifacient activity, and is related (and considered an inferior substitute to) the ancient Ferula species Silphium. Antiepileptic - Asafoetida oleo-gum-resin has been reported to be antiepileptic in classical Unani, as well as ethnobotanical literature. Balancing the vata - In Ayurveda, asafoetida is considered to be one of the best spices for balancing the vata dosha. 06 Basil (Ocimum basilicum):They are used for their medicinal properties in Ayurveda, the traditional medicinal system of India and Siddha medicine, a traditional Tamil system of medicine. They are also used as popular drinks in Southeast Asia . 07 Cinnamon, true or Ceylon (Cinnamomum verum, C. zeylanicum): In medicine it acts like other volatile oils and once had a reputation as a cure for colds. It has also been used to treat diarrhea and other problems of the digestive system. Cinnamon is high in antioxidant activity. The essential oil of cinnamon also has antimicrobial properties, which can aid in the preservation of certain foods. Cinnamon could have some pharmacological effects in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance. The plant material used in the study was mostly from Chinese cinnamon  Recent studies in phytochemistry have indicated that cinnamtannin B1 isolated from C. verum bears possible therapeutic effect on type 2 diabetes, with the exception of the postmenopausal patients studied on C. Cassia. Cinnamon has traditionally been used to treat toothache and fight bad breath and its regular use is believed to stave off common cold and aid digestion. Pharmacological experiments suggest that the cinnamon-derived dietary factor cinnamic aldehyde (cinnamaldehyde) activates the Nrf2-dependent antioxidant response in human epithelial colon cells and may therefore represent an experimental chemopreventive dietary factor targeting colorectal carcinogenesis. Recent research documents anti-melanoma activity of cinnamic aldehyde observed in cell culture and a mouse model of human melanoma. Regularly drinking tea made from the bark of Sri Lanka cinnamon could be beneficial to oxidative stress related illness in humans, as the plant part contains significant antioxidant potential. The next blog shall contain information on more of such culinary product and their medicinal uses. Selected Resources 1. "A Closer Look at Ayurvedic Medicine". Focus on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Bethesda, MD: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), US National Institutes of Health (NIH)) XII (4). Fall 2005/Winter 2006. http://nccam.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2006_winter/ayurveda.htm. 2. Culinary Herbs, HO-74 (University of Kentucky, 2005) http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ho/ho74/ho74. pdf 3. Helle Wangensteen, Anne Berit Samuelsen, Karl Egil Malterud, "Antioxidant activity in extracts from coriander", Food Chemistry, Vol. 88, No. 2, pp. 293-297, Nov. 2004. 4. Isao Kubo et. al., "Antibacterial Activity of Coriander Volatile Compounds against Salmonella choleraesuis", J. Agric. Food Chem., 2004, 52 (11), pp 3329-3332 5. Emamghoreishi M, Khasaki M, Aazam MF (2005). "Coriandrum sativum: evaluation of its anxiolytic effect in the elevated plus-maze". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (3): 365-370. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2004.06.022. PMID 15619553. 6. Dawakhana, H (2007). "Coriander: Cure from the Kitchen". hashmi.com. http://www.hashmi.com/coriander.html. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 7. "Coriander". PDRHealth. Archived from the original on 2007-06-01. http://web.archive.org/web/20070601175355/http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_.... Retrieved 2007-07-18. 8. "Herbs for the Prairies:Coriander". Saskatchewan Herb and Spice Association. Archived from the original on 2007-08-18. http://web.archive.org/web/20070818114016/http://paridss.usask.ca/specia.... Retrieved 2007-07-18. 9. Alison M. Gray, Peter R. Flat, "Insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity of the traditional anti-diabetic plant Coriandrum sativum (coriander)", British Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 81, pp. 203-209, (1999) 10. V. Chithra and S. Leelamma, "Hypolipidemic effect of coriander seeds (Coriandrum sativum): mechanism of action", Plant Foods for Human Nutrition (Formerly Qualitas Plantarum), Vol. 51, No. 2, pp. 167-172, June, 1997. 11. EboO DG , Bridts Ch, Mertens MH, Stevens WJ (16 April 2006). "Coriander anaphylaxis in A spice grinder with undetected occupational allergy". Acta Clinica Belgica 61 (3): 152-156. PMID 16881566. http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=17926832. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 12. Suhonen, Raimo et al.; Keskinen, H; Bjorksten, F; Vaheri, E; Zitting, A (1979). "Allergy to Coriander A Case Report". Allergy 34 (5): 327-330. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2008.11.006. PMID 546248 13. Burdock, George A (1996). Encyclopedia of Food & Color Additives. Boca Raton: CRC Press. pp. 87, 95-96. ISBN 0849394120. 14. Chive Talkin', by Winston J. Craig, Ph. D, from Vibrantlife.com, accessed on May 31, 2009 15. Chives, from "Sally's place", accessed on May 31, 2009 16. http://www.organicgardeningpractices.com/garlicchives.php Organic Gardening 17. Fennel and anise as estrogenic agents, J. Ethnopharmacology PMID 6999244 18. Turkyilmaz Z, Karabulut R, Sonmez K, Can Basaklar A (November 2008). "A striking and frequent cause of premature thelarche in children: Foeniculum vulgare". J. Pediatr. Surg. 43 (11): 2109-11. doi:10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2008.07.027. PMID 18970951. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0022-3468(08)00650-7. 19. Agarwal R, Gupta SK, Agrawal SS, Srivastava S, Saxena R (2008). "Oculohypotensive effects of foeniculum vulgare in experimental models of glaucoma". Indian J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 52 (1): 77-83. PMID 18831355. 20. Wright CI, Van-Buren L, Kroner CI, Koning MM (October 2007). "Herbal medicines as diuretics: a review of the scientific evidence". J Ethnopharmacol 114 (1): 1-31. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2007.07.023. PMID 17804183. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0378-8741(07)00366-2. 21. El Bardai S, Lyoussi B, Wibo M, Morel N (May 2001). "Pharmacological evidence of hypotensive activity of Marrubium vulgare and Foeniculum vulgare in spontaneously hypertensive rat". Clin. Exp. Hypertens. 23 (4): 329-43. doi:10.1081/CEH-100102671. PMID 11349824. 22. John K. Crellin, Jane Philpott, A. L. Tommie Bass (1989). A Reference Guide to Medicinal Plants: Herbal Medicine Past and Present. Duke University Press. ISBN 9780822310198. http://books.google.com/?id=0JaqB07uTx4C. pages 207-208 23. Anne P. Mark (2000). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Breastfeeding. Alpha Books. ISBN 0028639480. http://books.google.com/?id=s5RSGLuMnnEC&pg=PA142. page 142 24. Rosti L, Nardini A, Bettinelli ME, Rosti D (June 1994). "Toxic effects of a herbal tea mixture in two newborns". Acta Paediatr. 83 (6): 683. doi:10.1111/j.1651-2227.1994.tb13115.x. PMID 7919774. 25. Hill, Tony. (2004) "Ajwain" in The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices: Seasonings for the Global Kitchen. Wiley. p. 21-23. ISBN 978-0471214236.) 26. Lee, CL; Chia-Lin Lee, Lien-Chai Chiang, Li-Hung Cheng, Chih-Chuang Liaw, Mohamed H. Abd El-Razek, Fang-Rong Chang, Yang-Chang Wu (August 19, 2009 (Web)). "Influenza A (H1N1) Antiviral and Cytotoxic Agents from Ferula assa-foetida". Journal of Natural Products xxx (xx): 1568-72. doi:10.1021/np900158f. PMID 19691312. 27. Ancient Chinese Remedy May Work for Flu http://www.livescience.com/health/090910-flu-remedy.html http://www.thaitanthai.com/product_info.php/cPath/46/products_id/491 28. Srinivasan, K.(2005)'Role of Spices Beyond Food Flavoring: Nutraceuticals with Multiple Health Effects',Food Reviews International,21:2,167 -- 188 29. Riddle, John M. 1992. Contraception and abortion from the ancient world to the Renaissance. Harvard University Press p. 28 and references therein. 30. Traditional Systems of Medicine By Abdin, M Z Abdin, Y P Abrol. Published 2006 Alpha Science Int'l Ltd. ISBN 81-7319-707-5 31. The Ayurvedic Cookbook by Amadea Morningstar with Urmila Desai, Lotus Light, 1991, pg. 74,. ISBN 978-0-914955-06-1. 32. J. JANICK (ED.), JAMES E. SIMON, MARIO R. MORALES, WINTHROP B. PHIPPEN, ROBERTO FONTES VIEIRA, AND ZHIGANG HAO, "Basil: A Source of Aroma Compounds and a Popular Culinary and Ornamental Herb", reprinted from: Perspectives on new crops and new uses (1999), ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA, ISBN 978-0-9615027-0-6. 33. Felter, Harvey. "Cinnamomum.--Cinnamon.". http://www.henriettesherbal.com/eclectic/kings/cinnamomum.html. Retrieved 2007-05-01[unreliable source?] 34. Shan B, Cai YZ, Sun M, Corke H (October 2005). "Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents". J. Agric. Food Chem. 53 (20): 7749-59. doi:10.1021/jf051513y. PMID 16190627. 35. Mancini-Filho J, Van-Koiij A, Mancini DA, Cozzolino FF, Torres RP (December 1998). "Antioxidant activity of cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum, Breyne) extracts". Boll Chim Farm 137 (11): 443-7. PMID 10077878. 36. Lopez P, Sanchez C, Batlle R, Nerin C (August 2005). "Solid- and vapor-phase antimicrobial activities of six essential oils: susceptibility of selected foodborne bacterial and fungal strains". J. Agric. Food Chem. 53 (17): 6939-46. doi:10.1021/jf050709v. PMID 16104824. 37. George Mateljan Foundation, Cinnamon, ground. "Research: Thalido...". http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=68. Retrieved 2007-05-01 38. Khan A, Safdar M, Ali Khan MM, Khattak KN, Anderson RA (December 2003). "Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes". Diabetes Care 26 (12): 3215-8. doi:10.2337/diacare.26.12.3215. PMID 14633804. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=14633804. 39. Verspohl, Eugen J. et al.; Bauer, K; Neddermann, E (2005). "Antidiabetic effect of Cinnamomum cassia and Cinnamomum zeylanicum In vivo and In vitro". Phytotherapy Research 19 (3): 203-206. doi:10.1002/ptr.1643. PMID 15934022. 40. Taher, Muhammad et al.. "A proanthocyanidin from Cinnamomum zeylanicum stimulates phosphorylation of insullin receptor in 3T3-L1 adipocyties" (PDF). http://eprints.utm.my/3661/1/JTJun44F%5B5%5D_FADZILAH_ADIBAH.pdf. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 41. Vanschoonbeek, Kristof et al.. "Cinnamon Supplementation Does Not Improve Glycemic Control in Postmenopausal Type 2 Diabetes Patients". http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/abstract/136/4/977. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 42. Alice Hart-Davis (16 January 2007). "Chillies Are the Spice of Life". http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/803646/chillies_are_the_spice_of_lif.... Retrieved 2007-12-17. 43. Wondrak GT, Villeneuve NF, Lamore SD, Bause AS, Jiang T, Zhang DD (May 2010). "The Cinnamon-Derived Dietary Factor Cinnamic Aldehyde Activates the Nrf2-Dependent Antioxidant Response in Human Epithelial Colon Cells". Molecules 15 (5): 3338-55. doi:10.3390/molecules15053338. PMID 20657484. http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/15/5/3338/. 44. Cabello CM, Bair WB, Lamore SD, Ley S, Bause AS, Azimian S, Wondrak GT (January 2009). "The cinnamon-derived Michael acceptor cinnamic aldehyde impairs melanoma cell proliferation, invasiveness, and tumor growth". Free Radic. Biol. Med. 46 (2): 220-231. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2008.10.025. PMID 19000754. 45. Ranjbar, Akram et al.. "Antioxidative stress potential of Cinnamomum zeylanicum in humans: a comparative cross-sectional clinical study". doi:10.2217/14750708.3.1.113. http://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/abs/10.2217/14750708.3.1.113. Retrieved 2008-05-11.