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Prescription 2016: Supplement with Spices

September 8, 2016 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

In modern times, culinary herbs and spices have primarily been relegated to the role of flavor enhancers. Want to liven up chicken or pork? Add some fresh garlic and rosemary sprigs. Tired of the same old oatmeal in the morning? Try a pinch of freshly ground cinnamon and nutmeg to the mix. And, the skillful use of dill, sage or thyme can make all the difference when preparing seafood or vegetable dishes. But, what’s often missed is that common herbs and spices can be as healthy as they are tasty.

The July 2016 issue of the journal, Planta Medica features a stellar review by Professor Jurg Gertsch on the (largely ignored) health benefits of phytochemical-rich herbs and spices. In it, he describes the “Metabolic Plant Feedback Hypothesis”. The theory postulates that even small amounts of culinary herbs and spices can reduce cardiometabolic and inflammatory processes which are known to contribute to various contemporary ills, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. According to Gertsch, the phytochemicals found in these traditional “supplements” assist the body in dealing with relatively recent dietary staples such as starchy foods. Other research supports this outlook and takes it even further by suggesting that herbs and spices may be responsible for some of the health benefits associated with traditional diets such the Mediterranean and Okinawan diets.

What’s really exciting is the wide ranging potential of cooking with more spice. Recent publications in the medical literature reveal that phytochemicals contained in culinary seasonings may: a) support brain health by reducing neuro-inflammation; b) promote cardiovascular health by aiding circulatory function after meals; c) improve working memory in those with slightly elevated blood sugar aka pre-diabetes; d) “enhance bone formation and inhibit bone resorption through their antioxidant capacity, including anti-inflammatory actions”. As if that wasn’t enough, a study appearing in the August 2015 edition of the British Medical Journal revealed a 14% lower all-cause mortality risk in adults who consumed spicy food 6-7 times a week in comparison to less than once weekly.

In closing I want to highlight three important points. Numerous studies have found that adding more herbs and spices to the average diet tends to encourage other dietary improvements, such as eating more vegetables, while reducing the amount of excess salt and unhealthy fats. This appears to be a sensory exchange: more flavor = less need to fat-load or over-salt food. Additionally, cooking with spices can actually make foods better for you by decreasing the amounts of unhealthy cooking byproducts such as lipid peroxides. Having said all this, there is one cautionary note to bear in mind. Herbs and spices need to be selected carefully. I suggest investing in organic varieties that are sold by conscientious farmers and reputable brands. There are countless reports of common herbs and spices that contain potentially harmful fungal toxins, heavy metals and pesticides. Responsible manufacturers test their products to ensure that the levels of each of these are non-existent or below the level of concern.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Study 1 – The Metabolic Plant Feedback Hypothesis: How Plant Secondary (link)

Study 2 – Characteristics and Health Benefits of Phytochemicals (link)

Study 3 – Spices for Prevention and Treatment of Cancer (link)

Study 4 – Sauces, Spices, and Condiments: Definitions, Potential Benefits, (link)

Study 5 – The Health Benefits of Selected Culinary Herbs and Spices (link)

Study 6 – Healthy Aging Diets Other Than the Mediterranean: A Focus on the (link)

Study 7 – Dietary Phytochemicals and Neuro-Inflammaging: from Mechanistic (link)

Study 8 – Chlorogenic Acid and Mental Diseases: From Chemistry to Medicine (link)

Study 9 – Sinapic Acid and Its Derivatives as Medicine in Oxidative Stress-Induced (link)

Study 10 – A Single Consumption of Curry Improved Postprandial Endothelial … (link)

Study 11 – Decrease of Postprandial Endothelial Dysfunction by Spice Mix Added (link)

Study 12 – Cinnamon Users with Prediabetes Have Better Fasting Working Memory (link)

Study 13 – Flavonoid Intake and Bone Health (link)

Study 14 – Consumption of Spicy Foods and Total and Cause Specific Mortality (link)

Study 15 – Spice MyPlate: Nutrition Education Focusing Upon Spices and Herbs (link)

Study 16 – Addition of a Plain or Herb-Flavored Reduced-Fat Dip is Associated ... (link)

Study 17 – Effects of a Community-Based Salt Reduction Program in a Regional (link)

Study 18 – Effects of a Behavioral Intervention That Emphasizes Spices and Herbs ... (link)

Study 19 – The Influence of Herbs, Spices, and Regular Sausage and Chicken (link)

Study 20 – Influence of Herbs and Spices on Overall Liking of Reduced Fat Food ... (link)

Study 21 – Turmeric and Black Pepper Spices Decrease Lipid Peroxidation in Meat (link)

Study 22 – Oregano Essential Oil as an Antimicrobial and Antioxidant Additive ... (link)

Study 23 – Mycotoxins, Pesticides and Toxic Metals in Commercial Spices & Herbs (link)

Study 24 – Heavy Metals in Aromatic Spices by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass ... (link)

Study 25 – Determination of Aflatoxin B1 Levels in Organic Spices and Herbs ... (link)

Phytochemicals in Spices May Protect Against Dietary Carbohydrates

Source: Planta Med 2016; 82(11/12): 920-929 (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Bone and Joint Health, Food and Drink

16 Comments & Updates to “Prescription 2016: Supplement with Spices”

  1. JP Says:

    Updated 09/08/16:


    Nutr Res. 2015 Jun;35(6):461-73.

    Dietary amelioration of Helicobacter infection.

    We review herein the basis for using dietary components to treat and/or prevent Helicobacter pylori infection, with emphasis on (a) work reported in the last decade, (b) dietary components for which there is mechanism-based plausibility, and (c) components for which clinical results on H pylori amelioration are available. There is evidence that a diet-based treatment may reduce the levels and/or the virulence of H pylori colonization without completely eradicating the organism in treated individuals. This concept was endorsed a decade ago by the participants in a small international consensus conference held in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, and interest in such a diet-based approach has increased dramatically since then. This approach is attractive in terms of cost, treatment, tolerability, and cultural acceptability. This review, therefore, highlights specific foods, food components, and food products, grouped as follows: bee products (eg, honey and propolis); probiotics; dairy products; vegetables; fruits; oils; essential oils; and herbs, spices, and other plants. A discussion of the small number of clinical studies that are available is supplemented by supportive in vitro and animal studies. This very large body of in vitro and preclinical evidence must now be followed up with rationally designed, unambiguous human trials.

    Be well!


  2. JP Says:

    Updated 09/08/16:


    J Complement Integr Med. 2016 Jun 1;13(2):97-122.

    Phytochemistry and gastrointestinal benefits of the medicinal spice, Capsicum annuum L. (Chilli): a review.

    Dietary spices and their active constituents provide various beneficial effects on the gastrointestinal system by variety of mechanisms such as influence of gastric emptying, stimulation of gastrointestinal defense and absorption, stimulation of salivary, intestinal, hepatic, and pancreatic secretions. Capsicum annuum (Solanaceae), commonly known as chilli, is a medicinal spice used in various Indian traditional systems of medicine and it has been acknowledged to treat various health ailments. Therapeutic potential of chilli and capsaicin were well documented; however, they act as double-edged sword in many physiological circumstances. In traditional medicine chilli has been used against various gastrointestinal complains such as dyspepsia, loss of appetite, gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastric ulcer, and so on. In chilli, more than 200 constituents have been identified and some of its active constituents play numerous beneficial roles in various gastrointestinal disorders such as stimulation of digestion and gastromucosal defense, reduction of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms, inhibition of gastrointestinal pathogens, ulceration and cancers, regulation of gastrointestinal secretions and absorptions. However, further studies are warranted to determine the dose ceiling limit of chilli and its active constituents for their utilization as gastroprotective agents. This review summarizes the phytochemistry and various gastrointestinal benefits of chilli and its various active constituents.

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Updated 09/08/16:

    Poult Sci. 2015 Jun;94(6):1419-30.

    Botanical alternatives to antibiotics for use in organic poultry production.

    The development of antibiotic resistant pathogens has resulted from the use of sub-therapeutic concentrations of antibiotics delivered in poultry feed. Furthermore, there are a number of consumer concerns regarding the use of antibiotics in food animals including residue contamination of poultry products and antibiotic resistant bacterial pathogens. These issues have resulted in recommendations to reduce the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in livestock in the United States. Unlike conventional production, organic systems are not permitted to use antibiotics. Thus, both conventional and organic poultry production need alternative methods to improve growth and performance of poultry. Herbs, spices, and various other plant extracts are being evaluated as alternatives to antibiotics and some do have growth promoting effects, antimicrobial properties, and other health-related benefits. This review aims to provide an overview of herbs, spices, and plant extracts, currently defined as phytobiotics as potential feed additives.

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    Updated 09/08/16:


    Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(9):875-86.

    Black pepper and health claims: a comprehensive treatise.

    For millennia, spices have been an integral part of human diets and commerce. Recently, the widespread recognition of diet-health linkages bolsters their dietary importance. The bioactive components present in them are of considerable significance owing to their therapeutic potential against various ailments. They provide physiological benefits or prevent chronic ailment in addition to the fundamental nutrition and often included in the category of functional foods. Black pepper (Piper Nigrum L.) is an important healthy food owing to its antioxidant, antimicrobial potential and gastro-protective modules. Black pepper, with piperine as an active ingredient, holds rich phytochemistry that also includes volatile oil, oleoresins, and alkaloids. More recently, cell-culture studies and animal modeling predicted the role of black pepper against number of maladies. The free-radical scavenging activity of black pepper and its active ingredients might be helpful in chemoprevention and controlling progression of tumor growth. Additionally, the key alkaloid components of Piper Nigrum, that is, piperine assist in cognitive brain functioning, boost nutrient’s absorption and improve gastrointestinal functionality. In this comprehensive treatise, efforts are made to elucidate the antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, gastro-protective, and antidepressant activities of black pepper. Moreover, the synergistic interaction of black pepper with different drugs and nutrients is the limelight of the manuscript. However, the aforementioned health-promoting benefits associated with black pepper are proven in animal modeling. Thus, there is a need to conduct controlled randomized trials in human subjects, cohort studies, and meta-analyses. Such future studies would be helpful in recommending its application in diet-based regimens to prevent various ailments.

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:

    Updated 09/08/16:


    Clin Nutr Res. 2015 Oct;4(4):209-15.

    Anti-carcinogenic and Anti-bacterial Properties of Selected Spices: Implications in Oral Health.

    “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, as said by the father of medicine, Hippocrates in 431 B.C. Nature has provided us with a variety of treatment modalities in the form of food. For the first 5,000 years of civilization, humans relied on herbs and foods for medicine. Only in the past 60 years have we forgotten our medicinal “roots” in favor of patented medicines. While pharmaceutical ingredients have their value, we should not overlook the well-documented, non-toxic and inexpensive healing properties of food. As an individual we consume food several times a day without a complete understanding of its innate qualities. As part of a daily diet, food plays a significant role in helping our bodies function at their best. There are hundreds of extremely nutritious foods, but the items in this article do more than providing healthy nutrients. Many of them consist of ingredients with hidden pharmaceutical qualities ranging from anti-inflammatory to anti-carcinogenic agent. They not only boost our innate immunity but also act as an adjunct to medicines for specific treatment. Prevention and management of symptoms can often be improved significantly through the foods we consume regularly. This paper overviews these beneficial traits of food ingredients, consumed on a daily basis, in various oral diseases.

    Be well!


  6. Nigel Chua Says:

    Ooh, I love garlic (mince, or powder, or whole) and the occasional ginger with my meals.

    Garlic goes well with everything – rice, mushroom saute, pasta, noodles – anything. Just don’t like the after effects of smell =D

  7. JP Says:

    Hi Nigel,

    Here are a few links that may interest you:



    Appetite. 2016 Feb 1;97:8-15.

    Consumption of garlic positively affects hedonic perception of axillary body odour.

    Beneficial health properties of garlic, as well as its most common adverse effect – distinctive breath odour – are well-known. In contrast, analogous research on the effect of garlic on axillary odour is currently missing. Here, in three studies varying in the amount and nature of garlic provided (raw garlic in study 1 and 2, garlic capsules in study 3), we tested the effect of garlic consumption on the quality of axillary odour. A balanced within-subject experimental design was used. In total, 42 male odour donors were allocated to either a “garlic” or “non-garlic” condition, after which they wore axillary pads for 12 h to collect body odour. One week later, the conditions were reversed. Odour samples were then judged for their pleasantness, attractiveness, masculinity and intensity by 82 women. We found no significant differences in ratings of any characteristics in study 1. However, the odour of donors after an increased garlic dosage was assessed as significantly more pleasant, attractive and less intense (study 2), and more attractive and less intense in study 3. Our results indicate that garlic consumption may have positive effects on perceived body odour hedonicity, perhaps due to its health effects (e.g., antioxidant properties, antimicrobial activity).

    Be well!


  8. JP Says:

    Updated 10/25/16:


    Curr Pharm Des. 2016 Oct 21.

    Spices: Therapeutic Potential In Cardiovascular Health.

    BACKGROUND: Dietary factors play a key role in the development as well as prevention of certain human diseases, including cardiovascular diseases. Currently there has been an increase in global interest to identify medicinal plants that are pharmacologically effective and have low or no side effects for use in preventive medicine. Culinary herbs and spices are an important part of human nutrition in all the cultures of the world. There is a growing amount of literature concerning the potential benefits of these herbs and spices from a health perspective especially in conferring protection against cardiovascular diseases.

    OBJECTIVE: The objective of this review is to provide information on the recent scientific findings on some common spices that have a distinct place in folk medicine in several of the Asian countries as well as on their traditional uses for the role they can play in the management of heart diseases and which may be useful in defining cost effective and inexpensive interventions for the prevention and control of CVDs.

    METHOD: Systematic literature searches were carried out and the available information on various medicinal plants traditionally used for cardiovascular disorders was collected via electronic search (using Pubmed, SciFinder, Scirus, GoogleScholar, JCCC@INSTIRC and Web of Science) and a library search for articles published in peer-reviewed journals. No restrictions regarding the language of publication were imposed.

    RESULTS: This article highlights the recent scientific findings on four common spices viz. Greater cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.), Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.), Turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) and Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe), for the role they can play in the management of heart diseases. Although they have been used by many cultures since ancient times and have been known to exhibit several medicinal properties, current research shows that they can also be effectively used for the prevention and control of CVDs.

    CONCLUSION: Although scientific evidences supporting the benefits of spices in maintaining a healthy heart are available, more complete information is needed about the actual exposures to these dietary components that are required to bring about a response. The innumerable actions of spices that have been shown in in vitro experiments need to be demonstrated in more systematic, well-designed animal model studies. More rigorous clinical trials at the normally consumed levels are needed to determine long-term benefits as well as to assess adverse effects if any at higher concentrations, especially if consumed over longer periods. Once these extensive studies are carried out, it will be easy to define the appropriate intervention strategies utilizing these commonly used spices for achieving the maximum benefits on cardiovascular health without producing any ill-effects.

    Be well!


  9. JP Says:

    Updated 11/03/16:


    Food Technol Biotechnol. 2015 Dec;53(4):454-462.

    Improved Properties and Microbiological Safety of Novel Cottage Cheese Containing Spices.

    The study focuses on developing novel cottage cheese containing spices with acceptable sensory properties, increased biological value and extended shelf life. Thirty types of cheese with added fresh or dried parsley, dill, pepper, garlic and rosemary were produced. Characterisation of phenolic compounds, antioxidant capacity and antibacterial activity of spices and cheese samples were evaluated. The cheese containing fresh pepper and fresh and dried herbs showed excellent sensory properties, with the best results obtained with fresh sweet red pepper. Dry rosemary had the highest antioxidant and antibacterial activity due to high mass fractions of caffeic and rosmarinic acids as well as high mass fractions of flavones and phenolic diterpenes. The plant extracts examined in vitro and in situ effectively reduce numbers of foodborne pathogens like Salmonella typhimurium, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Listeria monocytogenes, and therefore have potential as natural preservatives and antioxidants.

    Be well!


  10. JP Says:

    Updated 01/14/16:


    PLoS One. 2017 Jan 9;12(1):e0169876.

    The Association of Hot Red Chili Pepper Consumption and Mortality: A Large Population-Based Cohort Study.

    The evidence base for the health effects of spice consumption is insufficient, with only one large population-based study and no reports from Europe or North America. Our objective was to analyze the association between consumption of hot red chili peppers and mortality, using a population-based prospective cohort from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) III, a representative sample of US noninstitutionalized adults, in which participants were surveyed from 1988 to 1994. The frequency of hot red chili pepper consumption was measured in 16,179 participants at least 18 years of age. Total and cause-specific mortality were the main outcome measures. During 273,877 person-years of follow-up (median 18.9 years), a total of 4,946 deaths were observed. Total mortality for participants who consumed hot red chili peppers was 21.6% compared to 33.6% for those who did not (absolute risk reduction of 12%; relative risk of 0.64). Adjusted for demographic, lifestyle, and clinical characteristics, the hazard ratio was 0.87 (P = 0.01; 95% Confidence Interval 0.77, 0.97). Consumption of hot red chili peppers was associated with a 13% reduction in the instantaneous hazard of death. Similar, but statistically nonsignificant trends were seen for deaths from vascular disease, but not from other causes. In this large population-based prospective study, the consumption of hot red chili pepper was associated with reduced mortality. Hot red chili peppers may be a beneficial component of the diet.

    Be well!


  11. JP Says:

    Updated 04/03/17:


    Int J Obes (Lond). 2017 Mar 31.

    Chilli consumption and the incidence of overweight and obesity in a Chinese adult population.

    BACKGROUND: The frequency of spicy food intake has recently been associated with a reduced risk of mortality in the Chinese population. This study aimed to prospectively examine the association between chilli intake and the incidence of overweight/obesity in a Chinese adult population.

    METHODS: Adults aged 20-75 years in the China Health and Nutrition Survey were followed between 1991 and 2011. Dietary data were collected during home visits using a 3-day food record in 1991, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2011. Cox regression was used in the analysis. Overweight/obesity was defined as BMI ⩾25 kg/m2.

    RESULTS: 12 970 adults were followed for a median of 9 years. During 126 884 person years of follow-up, 3203 subjects developed overweight/obesity. The absolute incidence rate of overweight/obesity was 26.4, 22.3, 24.4, and 20.5 per 1000 person years among those who consumed no chilli or 1-20, 20.1-50, ⩾50.1 g/day respectively. Chilli consumption was therefore inversely associated with the incidence of overweight/obesity. After adjusting for age, gender, energy and fat intake, smoking, alcohol drinking and physical activity, those whose cumulative average chilli intake was 0, 1-20, 20.1-50 and ⩾50.1 g/day had a hazard ratio (HR) for overweight/obesity of 1.00, 0.81(95%CI 0.73-0.89), 0.77(0.69-0.86) and 0.73(0.63-0.84) (p for trend <0.001) respectively. There was no interaction between chilli intake and gender, income, education and residence (urban/rural) in relation to the risk of overweight/obesity.

    CONCLUSIONS: Chilli intake is inversely associated with the risk of becoming overweight/obese in Chinese adults.

    Be well!


  12. JP Says:

    Updated 07/06/17:


    J Food Sci. 2017 Jul 5.

    Prebiotic Potential and Chemical Composition of Seven Culinary Spice Extracts.

    The objective of this study was to investigate prebiotic potential, chemical composition, and antioxidant capacity of spice extracts. Seven culinary spices including black pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, ginger, Mediterranean oregano, rosemary, and turmeric were extracted with boiling water. Major chemical constituents were characterized by RP-HPLC-DAD method and antioxidant capacity was determined by measuring colorimetrically the extent to scavenge ABTS radical cations. Effects of spice extracts on the viability of 88 anaerobic and facultative isolates from intestinal microbiota were determined by using Brucella agar plates containing serial dilutions of extracts. A total of 14 phenolic compounds, a piperine, cinnamic acid, and cinnamaldehyde were identified and quantitated. Spice extracts exhibited high antioxidant capacity that correlated with the total amount of major chemicals. All spice extracts, with the exception of turmeric, enhanced the growth of Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp. All spices exhibited inhibitory activity against selected Ruminococcus species. Cinnamon, oregano, and rosemary were active against selected Fusobacterium strains and cinnamon, rosemary, and turmeric were active against selected Clostridium spp. Some spices displayed prebiotic-like activity by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and suppressing the growth of pathogenic bacteria, suggesting their potential role in the regulation of intestinal microbiota and the enhancement of gastrointestinal health. The identification and quantification of spice-specific phytochemicals provided insight into the potential influence of these chemicals on the gut microbial communities and activities. Future research on the connections between spice-induced changes in gut microbiota and host metabolism and disease preventive effect in animal models and humans is needed.

    Be well!


  13. JP Says:

    Updated 08/19/17:


    Foods. 2017 Aug 18;6(8).

    Spices in a Product Affect Emotions: A Study with an Extruded Snack Product †.

    Food commonly is associated with emotion. The study was designed to determine if a spice blend (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves) high in antioxidants can evoke changes in consumer emotions. This was an exploratory study to determine the effects of these four spices on emotions. Three extruded, dry snack products containing 0, 4, or a 5% spice blend were tested. One day of hedonic and just-about-right evaluations (n = 100), followed by three days of emotion testing were conducted. A human clinical trial (n = 10), using the control and the 4% samples, measured total antioxidant capacity and blood glucose levels. The emotion “Satisfied” increased significantly in the 5% blend, showing an effect of a higher spice content. The 4% blend was significantly higher in total antioxidant capacity than the baseline, but blood glucose levels were not significantly different.

    Be well!


  14. JP Says:

    Updated 12/29/17:


    BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Dec 28;17(1):550.

    Evaluation of pharmacodynamic properties and safety of Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) in healthy adults: a phase I clinical trial.

    BACKGROUND: Cinnamon is considered as a treatment for many ailments in native medicine. Evidence suggests that Cinnamomum zeylanicum (CZ) has anti-microbial, anti-parasitic, anti-oxidant, blood glucose lowering properties and beneficial cardiovascular effects. The present study aims to evaluate Pharmacodynamic properties and safety of CZ in healthy adults using a Phase I Clinical Trial.

    METHODS: This phase I clinical trial was conducted at the Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Thirty healthy adults were recruited for the study, conducted for a period of 3 months, with the dose of CZ (water extract) increased at monthly intervals (85 mg, 250 mg and 500 mg). Data collection was carried out at baseline and during each monthly follow up visit. Anthropometric, clinical and biochemical assessments were done at baseline and during follow up. Adverse effects and drug compliance was also evaluated.

    RESULTS: Twenty eight subjects completed the three months follow up. Mean age was 38.8 ± 10.4 years and 50% were males. There were no significant changes in the anthropometric parameters during the three months follow up. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure reduced significant during the 1st month and this reduction was sustained throughout follow up. Full blood count, renal function tests, liver function tests, fasting blood glucose, HDL-c, VLDL-d and triglycerides remained within the normal range without any significant alteration during the 3 months. A significant reduction in the TC (p < 0.05) and LDL-c (p < 0.001) was noted at the end of the 3 months follow up period. There were no serious adverse effects (including hypersensitivity) noted. In two participants dyspepsia necessitated the discontinuation of study participation. Drug compliance was between 85 and 95% during the study period. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first phase I clinical trial in health adults evaluating efficacy and safety of CZ. Our results demonstrate no significant side effects and toxicity of CZ, including hepatotoxicity and anti-coagulation properties. CZ demonstrated beneficial anti-hyperlipidaemic and blood pressure lowering effects among healthy adults. Further studies with larger samples and longer durations may be able to elucidate other side effects and better describe the pharmacodynamic properties. Be well! JP

  15. JP Says:

    Updated 1/31/18:


    Hypertension. 2017 Dec;70(6):1291-1299.

    Enjoyment of Spicy Flavor Enhances Central Salty-Taste Perception and Reduces Salt Intake and Blood Pressure.

    High salt intake is a major risk factor for hypertension and is associated with cardiovascular events. Most countries exhibit a traditionally high salt intake; thus, identification of an optimal strategy for salt reduction at the population level may have a major impact on public health. In this multicenter, random-order, double-blind observational and interventional study, subjects with a high spice preference had a lower salt intake and blood pressure than subjects who disliked spicy food. The enjoyment of spicy flavor enhanced salt sensitivity and reduced salt preference. Salt intake and salt preference were related to the regional metabolic activity in the insula and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) of participants. Administration of capsaicin-the major spicy component of chili pepper-enhanced the insula and OFC metabolic activity in response to high-salt stimuli, which reversed the salt intensity-dependent differences in the metabolism of the insula and OFC. In animal study, OFC activity was closely associated with salt preference, and salty-taste information processed in the OFC was affected in the presence of capsaicin. Thus, interventions related to this region may alter the salt preference in mice through fiber fluorometry and optogenetic techniques. In conclusion, enjoyment of spicy foods may significantly reduce individual salt preference, daily salt intake, and blood pressure by modifying the neural processing of salty taste in the brain. Application of spicy flavor may be a promising behavioral intervention for reducing high salt intake and blood pressure.

    Be well!


  16. JP Says:

    Updated 2/18/18:


    Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2018 Feb;30:24-28.

    Effects of Rosmarinus officinalis L. on memory performance, anxiety, depression, and sleep quality in university students: A randomized clinical trial.

    OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of oral rosemary on memory performance, anxiety, depression, and sleep quality in university students.

    METHODS: In this double-blinded randomized controlled trial, the 68 participating students randomly received 500 mg rosemary and placebo twice daily for one month. Prospective and retrospective memory performance, depression, anxiety and sleep quality of the students were measured using Prospective and Retrospective Memory Questionnaire, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Inventory at baseline and after one month.

    RESULTS: The scores of all the scales and subscales except the sleep latency and sleep duration components of Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Inventory were significantly decreased in the rosemary group in comparison with the control group after one month.

    CONCLUSIONS: Rosemary as a traditional herb could be used to boost prospective and retrospective memory, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve sleep quality in university students.

    Be well!


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