Molecules for Health

Molecules for Health – Instead of Chemicals Preventing Health

These are the chemical compounds that make up essential oils. These molecules can be toxic or nourishing to the body. We discuss which can be toxic and the benefits of the nourishing molecules. Mother Jai professionally blends essential oils for their safe use everyday.

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What Do Essential Oils Consist Of?

All substances can be broken down into an array of molecules and atoms, and essential oils are no different. Each essential oil can be broken down into an array of different natural chemical constituents.

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Many of our modern medicines are a result of analyzing the natural chemical constituents of raw botanicals and distilled essential oils. Common aspirin is one example. White Willow Bark, used over 2,000 years ago by Hippocrates to ease headaches and other muscular pains, contains a natural anti-inflammatory identified in the nineteenth century as salicin. Salicin is a cousin to salicylic/acetylsalicylic acid, more commonly known as aspirin. White Willow Bark is still routinely used by herbalists to more naturally relieve pain and inflammation.

After the analysis and discovery of the benefits of the effective components in essential oils or raw botanicals, chemists routinely isolate these constituents for use in modern medicines. Chemists then derive ways to more inexpensively synthesize these constituents.

Essential Oil Constituents

In general, pure essential oils can be subdivided into two distinct groups of chemical constituents; the hydrocarbons which are made up almost exclusively of terpenes (monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and diterpenes), and the oxygenated compounds which are mainly esters, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols, phenols, and oxides.

Terpenes Hydrocarbons:

Terpenes – inhibit the accumulation of toxins and help discharge existing toxins from the liver and kidneys.

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  • Sesquiterpenes are antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. They work as a liver and gland stimulant and contain caryophyllene and valencene. Research from the universities of Berlin and Vienna show increased oxygenation around the pineal and pituitary glands. Further research has shown that sesquiterpenes have the ability to surpass the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain tissue. other sesquiterpenes, like chamazulene and farnesol, are very high in anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial activity. Chamazulene may be found in chamomile, tansy, and yarrow.
  • Farnesene is anti-viral in action.
  • Limonene has strong anti-viral properties and has been found in 90% of the citrus oils.
  • Pinene has strong antiseptic properties and may be found in high proportions in the conifer oils such as pine, fir, spruce, and juniper.
  • Other terpenes include camphene, cadinene, cedrene, dipentene, phellandrene, terpinene, sabinene, and myrcene.

Oxygenated compounds:

Esters – are the compounds resulting from the reaction of an alcohol with an acid (known as esterification). Esters are very common and are found in a large number of essential oils. They are anti-fungal, calming and relaxing.

  • Linalyl acetate may be found in bergamot, Clary sage, and lavender
  • Geraniol acetate may be found in sweet marjoram.
  • Other esters include bornyl acetate, eugenol acetate, and lavendulyl acetate.

Aldehydes – are highly reactive and characterized by the group C-H-O (Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen). In general, they are anti-infectious with a sedative effect on the central nervous system. They can be quite irritating when applied topically (citral being one example), but may have a profound calming effect when inhaled.

  • Citral is very common with a distinctive antiseptic action. It also has an anti-viral application as with melissa oil when applied topically on herpes simplex.
  • Citronellal is also very common and has the same lemony scent as citral. Along with citral and neral, citronellas may be found in the oils of melissa, lemongrass, lemon, mandarin, lemon-scented eucalyptus, and citronella.
  • Elements of aldehydes have also been found in lavender and myrrh. Other aldehydes include benzaldehyde, cinnamic aldehyde, cuminic aldehyde, and perillaldehyde.

Ketones – are sometimes mucolytic and neuro-toxic when isolated from other constituents. However, all recorded toxic effects come from laboratory testing on guinea pigs and rats. No documented cases exist where oils with a high concentration of ketones (such as mugwort, tansy, sage, and wormwood) have ever caused a toxic effect on a human being. Also, large amounts of these oils would have to be consumed for them to result in a toxic neurological effect. Ketones stimulate cell regeneration, promote the formation of tissue, and liquefy mucous. They are helpful with such conditions as dry asthma, colds, flu and dry cough and are largely found in oils used for the upper respiratory system, such as hyssop, Clary sage, and sage.

  • Thujone is one of the most toxic members of the ketone family. It can be an irritant and upsetting to the central nervous system and may be neuro-toxic when taken internally as in the banned drink Absinthe. Although it may be inhaled to relieve respiratory distress and my stimulate the immune system, it should only be administered by an educated and professional aromatherapist.
  • Jasmone (found in jasmine) and fenchone (found in fennel) are both non-toxic.
  • Other ketones include camphor, carvone, menthone, methyl nonyl ketone, and pinacamphone.

Alcohols – are commonly recognized for their antiseptic and anti-viral activities. They create an uplifting quality and are regarded as non-toxic.

  1. Terpene Alcohols stimulate the immune system, work as a diuretic and a general tonic, and are anti-bacterial as well. These oils have good antiseptic, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties with very few side effects such as skin irritation or toxicity and have an uplifting energizing effect.
  2. Linalol can help relieve discomfort. It may be found in rosewood and lavender.
  3. Citronellol may be found in rose, lemon, eucalyptus, geranium, and others.
  4. Geraniol may be found in geranium as well as palmarosa.
  5. Farnesol may be found in chamommile. It is also good for the mucous.
  6. Other terpene alcohols include borneol, menthol, nerol, terpineol, (which Dr. Gattefosse considered to be a decongestant), vetiverol, benzyl alcohol, and cedrol.
  7. Sesquiterpene Alcohols are anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-mycotic, and ulcer-protective (preventative). These alcohols are not commonly found in essential oils, but when found, like bisabolol in German chamomile, have great properties, which include liver and glandular stimulant, anti-allergen and anti-inflammatory.
  8. Bisabolol is one of the the strongest sesquiterpene alcohols. It may be found in chamomile oils where it also functions well as a fixative.
  9. Other oils that contain sesquiterpene alcohols are sandalwood (a-santalol) as well as ginger, patchouli, vetiver, carrot seed, everlasting and valerian.

Phenols – are responsible for the fragrance of an oil. They are antiseptic, anti-bacterial, and strongly stimulating but can also be quite caustic to the skin. They contain high levels of oxygenating molecules and have anioxidant properties.

  • Eugenol may be found in clove and cinnamon oil.
  • Thymol is found in thyme and may not be as caustic as other phenols.
  • Carvacrol may be found in oregano and savory. Researchers believe it may possibly contain some anti-cancerous properties.
  • Others in the phenol family include methyl eugenol, methyl chavicol anethole, safrole, myristicin, and apiol.

Oxides – According to The American Heritage™ Dictionary of the English Language, an oxide is “a binary compound of an element or a radical with oxygen”.

  • Cineol (or eucalyptol) is by far the most important member of the family and virtually exists in a class of its own. It is anesthetic, antiseptic, and works as an expectorant. Cineol is well known as the principal constituent of eucalyptus oil. It may also be found in rosemary, cinnamon, melissa, basil, and ravensara.
  • Other oxides include linalol oxide, ascaridol, bisabolol oxide, and bisabolone oxide.

Lactones and coumarins – contain an ester group integrated into a carbon ring system and coumarins are also types of lactones. There are similarities between the actions of lactones, coumarins and ketones since they also have some neurotoxic effects and can cause skin sensitizing and irritation. Yet the sesquiterpene lactone, called helenalin found in arnica oil, seems to be responsible for the anti-inflammatory action of arnica oil. The amount of lactones and coumarins normally found in essential oils is very low, and does not pose a huge problem. Lactones also have great mucus moving and expectorant properties and for this reason elecampane is often used in the treatment of bronchitis and chest complaints. Some coumarins, like furocoumarin – bergaptene – found in bergamot oil are severely skin UV sensitive and should be used with great care should you be exposed to sunlight.

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All pure essential oils have some anti-bacterial properties. They increase the production of white blood cells, which help fight infectious illnesses. It is through these properties that aromatic herbs have been esteemed so highly throughout the ages and so widely used during the onsets of malaria, typhoid, and of course, the epidemic plagues during the 16th century. Research has found that people who consistently use pure essential oils have a higher level of resistance to illnesses, colds, flues, and diseases than the average person. Further indications show that such individuals, after contracting a cold, flu, or other illness, will recover 60-70 percent faster than those who do not use essential oils.

Pain Relief – 2oz Bottle

References:

  1. http://aip.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1063/1.4958484
  2. http://essentialoils.co.za/components.htm
  3. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chroma.2003.11.093
  4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ifset.2011.03.001
  5. http://www.mdpi.com/2077-0472/5/1/48/htm
  6. https://doi.org/10.1002/ffj.1829
  7. https://www.abundanthealth4u.com/Essential_Oils_Constituents_s/41.htm
  8. https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/chemical-composition-essential-oil-characterization-and-antimicrobialactivity-of-carum-copticum-2376-1318-1000139.php?aid=74155
  9. http://www.microbiologyresearch.org/docserver/fulltext/jmm/61/2/252_jmm036988.pdf?expires=1512736482&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=1B7496172C5E6DC2D709AF048EE2BEB3
  10. http://www.jinan.edu.lb/pages/en/chemical-composition-of-essential-oil
  11. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/(SICI)1099-1573(1998)12:1+%3CS117::AID-PTR269%3E3.0.CO;2-2/abstract
  12. http://www.ijddr.in/drug-development/43-antibacterial-activity-and-chemical-composition-of-essential-oils-of-ten-aromatic-plants-against-selected-bacteria.php?aid=5156
  13. http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/2/11/165
  14. https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/catalog/aromatherapy/essential-oils?gclid=CjwKCAiAjanRBRByEiwAKGyjZSQwgB2vRffGIeSPhyj7_G0z4FO8ja4GaQPRTNlkHWbETqXlHAaQaRoCDwQQAvD_BwE
  15. http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0102-695X2016000100023
  16. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0102695X15001817
  17. https://www.aromaweb.com/articles/essentialoilqualitypurity04.asp
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133837/
  19. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/221926513_Study_of_the_Chemical_Composition_of_Essential_Oils_by_Gas_Chromatography
  20. https://www.nhrorganicoils.com/frame.php?page=info_21

May Chang

 Litsea cubeba foliage and flowers. Photo taken on Anma Mountain (鞍馬山), Da Xue Shan Forest Recreation Area (大雪山森林遊樂區), Tzuyu Village, Hoping HsiangTaichung CountyTaiwan, with a Nikon D200 digital camera.

May Chang (Litsea cubeba)

May chang (Litsea cubeba), often referred to “mountain pepper” for the fruit’s resemblance to a pepper, is a kind of citrus that grows in China. It has a bright, lemony aroma and, like other citrus oils, offers uplifting and cleansing benefits. It is a wonderful addition to the collection of any essential oil user.

This shrub is native to China and areas of Southeast Asia. The essential oil is extracted through distillation from the small fruits that are grown on tress featuring white or pale yellow flowers. The flowers have a lemony aroma similar to the aroma of the essential oil.

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Bright, lemony, and energizing, it is most commonly known for its usefulness in dealing with skin problems. This oil has uplifting properties, and it has a strong effect on promoting mental and physical well-being.

Blends Well With: Bergamot, Citronella, Clove Bud, Geranium Egyptian, Ginger Root CO2, Grapefruit Pink, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Marjoram Sweet, Orange Sweet, Petitgrain and Rosemary 1,8-Cineole.

Benefits of May Chang Essential Oil

  • In massage treatments, May Chang can act as a digestive and liver tonic, particularly useful in abdominal massage.
  • May Chang can also help to clear the head and refresh the mind and spirit, soothing and restoring frayed nerves.
  • When used in a diffuser, this oil has uplifting qualities. It is known for lowering blood pressure and relieving stress without causing drowsiness. It can also promote overall physical and mental well-being.
  • May Chang has natural insect repellent qualities. It can be blended into body lotion, shampoo, or liquid body wash to help repel mosquitoes. Adding a couple drops to a candle and placing it outdoors will help keep pests away.
  • This oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties making it popular for use in skin care products. It is useful for preventing the growth of bacteria that can cause acne. Some people use it to treat eczema and similar skin conditions.
  • As an astringent, it is used to eliminate excess skin oil and shrink enlarged pores. It may also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help clear up skin irritation. Users should always dilute the oil before applying it to the skin. This skin tonic is said to leave skin feeling silky-smooth and refreshed.
  • This oil is known to have a stimulant action on the digestive system and can even help in case of poor appetite. The blend of May Chang oil and a carrier oil is perfect for massage over the stomach to improve digestive tract function.
  • Combined with a carrier oil on throat, chest, neck and back provides instant relief from respiratory infections. This essential oil even helps in quieting down coughs and improving cold too.

Cautions

To avoid the risk of various safety issues, we recommend a maximum dilution of 0.8% for topical applications. Possible drug interactions. 

Recipes

May Chang Toner 

Ingredients:
8 drops Aura Cacia May Chang Essential Oil
10 drops Aura Cacia Tea Tree Essential Oil
2 fluid ounces witch hazel
2-ounce Aura Cacia Amber Glass Mist Bottle 

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Directions:
In bottle, combine oils and witch hazel. Replace lid, shake until well blended, then mist face, avoiding eyes. 

References:

  1. https://www.planttherapy.com/may-chang-essential-oil
  2. https://www.epainassist.com/articles/uses-of-may-chang-essential-oil
  3. https://plantessentials.com.au/blogs/news/81438913-exploring-the-health-benefits-and-uses-of-may-chang-essential-oil
  4. https://lumitylife.co.uk/pages/oil-ingredient-may-chang
  5. https://www.tisserand.com/aromatherapy/may-chang-ethically-harvested-pure-essential-oil-9ml/
  6. https://www.aromaweb.eu/product/organic-may-chang-essential-oil-litsea-cubeba-10ml/

Marjoram Leaf

Marjoram (Origanum majorana)

Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is a somewhat cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub with sweet pine and citrus flavors. In some Middle Eastern countries, marjoram is synonymous with oregano, and there the names sweet marjoram and knotted marjoram are used to distinguish it from other plants of the genus Origanum. It is also called pot marjoram, although this name is also used for other cultivated species of Origanum.

Find it in Mother Jai’s Cold & Flu Tea, shop below.

OTHER NAME(S): Essence de Marjolaine, Garden Marjoram, Gartenmajoran, Huile de Marjolaine, Knotted Marjoram, Maggiorana, Majoran, Majorana Aetheroleum Oil, Majorana Herb, Majorana hortensis, Majorana majorana, Marjolaine, Marjolaine des Jardins, Marjolaine Ordinaire, Marjolein, Marjoram Essential Oil, Marjoram Oil, Marubaka, Marwa, Mejorana, Mejram, Origan des Jardins, Origan Marjolaine, Origanum majorana, Sweet Marjoram.

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It is commonly used for runny nose, coughs, colds, infections, and various digestion problems, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these or any other uses. In foods, marjoram herb and oil are used as flavorings. In manufacturing, the oil is used as a fragrance in soaps, cosmetics, lotions, and perfumes.

Don’t confuse it with winter marjoram or oregano (Origanum vulgare), which is also referred to as wild marjoram.

BENEFITS OF MARJORAM

Asthma. Early research shows that taking 2 drops of the essential oil daily along with asthma medication for 3 months might improve lung function in people with asthma better than taking asthma medication alone.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects: When added to your food, it can help reduce your risk of developing inflammatory reactions. It can help with conditions such as asthma, fever, muscle aches, sinus headaches and migraines.

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Improved Digestive Function: When used to make tea, this herb can help improve your digestion by improving your appetite and increasing the production of digestive enzymes that help break down food. In addition, marjoram tea can help alleviate common digestive disorders such as flatulence, constipation, diarrhea and stomach cramps.

Improved Heart Health: it can help improve your overall cardiovascular health by maintaining normal blood pressure levels, which lowers your risk of hypertension. It’s also known for helping reduce the buildup of cholesterol in your arteries, which can prevent heart disease.

Painful menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Early research suggests that massaging a cream containing lavender, clary sage, and marjoram essential oils to the abdomen may reduce pain in some women with painful menstrual cramps. The effect of marjoram essential oil alone on menstrual cramps is unclear.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Early research suggests that drinking the tea might improve some chemical markers of PCOS, but overall it does not seem to improve body weight, blood sugar, or levels of certain hormones in women with PCOS.

Protection Against Common Illnesses: it contains various compounds that have effective antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. As such, it can help reduce your risk of diseases such as the common cold, measles, mumps, influenza, food poisoning and various staph infections.

Therapeutic Benefits: in its essential oil form, can help uplift your mood and improve your psychological well-being. It can be used to help relieve insomnia and reduce stress and anxiety.

BENEFITS OF MARJORAM ESSENTIAL OIL

Collected by steam distillation of the fresh flowering tops. Marjoram oil happens to be popular among aromatherapy enthusiasts, and is known for providing a warm, spicy, woody and camphoraceous scent that can provide a vast array of benefits, such as:

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Analgesic: Helps alleviate pain related to colds, fevers, inflammation and headache.

Antiseptic: Applying the essential oil on wounds can help prevent them from becoming infected and developing tetanus.

Antibacterial: Helps kill bacteria that may cause various skin and digestive infections.

Carminative: Can help solve digestive problems such as flatulence by relaxing the muscles in the abdominal region.

Diuretic: Can help increase your frequency and quantity of urination, thereby helping improve your ability to eject excess water and harmful toxins from your body.

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USES FOR MARJORAM LEAF

Marinades: Upgrade the taste of your marinated meat and fish dishes by adding it to the marinade.

Roasted meats: it can add an herbal aroma to roasted meats, such as chicken.

Sautéed vegetables: Side dishes such as sautéed vegetables become more flavorful with a dash of marjoram.

Soups: It gives vegetable soups more flavor.

Teas: in medicinal amounts for short periods of time to alleviate symptoms of cold and flu

DOSAGE

The typical oral dose of marjoram is one to two cups of the tea daily. Prepare the tea by steeping one to two teaspoons of the flower or leaf in one cup of boiling water for five minutes, and then strain. Marjoram can also be used as a poultice or mouthwash; consult with your physician for appropriate concentrations.

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Child Dosage: Children should avoid it in amounts larger than those typically used in culinary applications.

SIDE EFFECTS & SAFETY

Marjoram is LIKELY SAFE in food amounts and POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth in medicinal amounts for short periods of time.

It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when used long-term. There is some concern that marjoram could harm the liver and kidneys or cause cancer if used long-term.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE to use marjoram in medicinal amounts if you are pregnant. It might start your period, and that could threaten the pregnancy. Not enough is known about the safety of using it in medicinal amounts if you are breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Do not give marjoram to children in medicinal amounts. It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for them.

Bleeding disorders: Taking medicinal amounts of marjoram might slow clotting and increase the chances of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Allergy to basil, hyssop, lavender, mint, oregano, and sage: it can cause allergic reactions in people allergic to these plants and other members of the Lamiaceae family of plants.

Surgery: Taking medicinal amounts of marjoram might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using marjoram medicinally at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Lithium interacts with MARJORAM: it might have an effect like a water pill or “diuretic.” Taking marjoram might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.

RECIPES

Spicy Roast Chicken With Tomatoes and Marjoram

Ingredients:

  • 24 ounces of cherry tomatoes (about 4 cups), stemmed
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of dried crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. of chopped fresh marjoram
  • 4 pasture-raised chicken breast halves with ribs
  • Himalayan salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Toss the tomatoes, coconut oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and 1 tablespoon of marjoram in a large bowl.
  3. Place the chicken slices on a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Pour the mixture over the chickens, while arranging the tomatoes in a single layer on a sheet around the chickens.
  5. Sprinkle the chicken slices generously with salt and pepper.
  6. Roast until the chicken slices are cooked through and the tomatoes are blistered, for about 35 minutes.
  7. Transfer the chickens to plates.
  8. Spoon the tomatoes and juices over.
  9. Sprinkle the plates with the remaining 1 tablespoon of marjoram and serve.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marjoram
  2. https://www.planttherapy.com/marjoram-sweet-essential-oil?v=256
  3. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-563/marjoram
  4. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/721189/ORIGANUM_MAJORANA_%28SWEET_MARJORAM%29_LEAF_OIL/
  5. https://www.britannica.com/plant/marjoram
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/marjoram
  7. http://www.ejpmr.com/admin/assets/article_issue/1454479607.pdf
  8. https://articles.mercola.com/herbs-spices/marjoram.aspx
  9. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/292161091_Origanum_majorana_L_-Phyto-pharmacological_review
  10. https://plantvillage.psu.edu/topics/marjoram/infos
  11. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/CropOp/en/herbs/culinary/orega.html
  12. https://www.oils4life.co.uk/5ml-Marjoram-ORGANICessential-oil-Sweet-Origanum-Majorana-Leaf-Oil
  13. https://www.aromaweb.com/essential-oils/marjoram-oil.asp
  14. https://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/herbs/marjoram/
  15. http://www.lindbergnutrition.com/ns/DisplayMonograph.asp?StoreID=1c7a08050b8f4419bffba945004ca5d1&DocID=bottomline-marjoram
  16. https://gobotany.newenglandwild.org/species/origanum/majorana/
  17. http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=d828
  18. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Marjoram+leaf+(Origanum+majorana)&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30217790
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30210537
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30205180
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30138756
  23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29747749

Flax Seed

Flax Seed & Flax Seed Oil (Linum usitatissimum)

This is the seed of the flax plant, which is believed to have originated in Egypt. It was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flax seed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it. Flax seed oil comes from cold pressed flax seeds. The most common folk or traditional use is as a laxative; it is also used for hot flashes and breast pain.

Flax seed oil has different folk or traditional uses, including arthritis. Both the seed and seed oil have been used for high cholesterol levels and in an effort to prevent cancer. Whole or crushed flax seed can be mixed with water or juice and taken by mouth. The oil is available in liquid and capsule forms. The seed contains lignans (phytoestrogens, or plant estrogens), while flax seed oil preparations lack lignans.

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Benefits of Consuming Flax

Flax seed contains soluble fiber, like that found in oat bran, and may have a laxative effect. Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.

Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flax contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.

Several studies have suggested that diets rich in flax seed omega-3s help prevent hardening of the arteries and keep plaque from being deposited in the arteries partly by keeping white blood cells from sticking to the blood vessels’ inner linings. Lignans in it have been shown to reduce atherosclerotic plaque buildup by up to 75%.

Because plant omega-3s may also play a role in maintaining the heart’s natural rhythm, they may be useful in treating arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and heart failure. More research is needed on this.

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Eating these daily may also help your cholesterol levels. The level of LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the bloodstream has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. A study of menopausal women showed a decrease in LDL level after the women ate 4 tablespoons each day for a year. Fitzpatrick says the cholesterol-lowering effects of it are the result of the combined benefits of the omega-3 ALA, fiber, and lignans.

Preliminary research also suggests that daily intake of the lignans in may modestly improve blood sugar (as measured by hemoglobin A1c blood tests in adults with type 2 diabetes).

Some studies suggest that alpha-linolenic acid may benefit people with heart disease

Precautions

Flax seed, like any supplemental fiber source, should be taken with plenty of water; otherwise, it could worsen constipation or, in rare cases, even cause intestinal blockage.

The fiber may lower the body’s ability to absorb medications that are taken by mouth. It should not be taken at the same time as any conventional oral medications or other dietary supplements.

Licorice Root

By The original uploader was Jeansef at French Wikipedia. – Transferred from fr.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2772919

Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Common Names:  licorice root, licorice, liquorice, sweet root, gan cao, gan-zao, Chinese licorice

Latin Name: Glycyrrhiza glabra, Glycyrrhiza uralensis

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Liquorice (British English) or licorice (American English) is the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra from which a sweet flavor can be extracted. The liquorice plant is an herbaceous perennial legume native to southern Europe and parts of Asia, such as India. It is not botanically related to anise, star anise, or fennel, which are sources of similar flavoring compounds. Liquorice flavors are used as candies or sweeteners, particularly in some European and Middle Eastern countries.

Found in Mother Jai’s Heartburn Relief Tea, order yours below.

History of Licorice

The word “liquorice” is derived (via the Old French licoresse) from the Greek γλυκύρριζα (glukurrhiza), meaning “sweet root”, from γλυκύς (glukus), “sweet” and ῥίζα (rhiza), “root”, the name provided by Dioscorides. It is usually spelled “liquorice” in Commonwealth usage, but “licorice” in the United States.

It is one of the most widely used herbs worldwide and is the single most used herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine today. It was used by the Egyptians as a flavoring for a drink called Mai-sus, and large quantities were found in the tomb of King Tut for his trip into the afterlife. Pliny the Elder recommended it to clear the voice and alleviate thirst and hunger.

Dioscides, when traveling with Alexander the Great, recommended that his troops carry and use it to help with stamina for long marches, as well as for thirst in areas of drought. In the Middle Ages it was taken to alleviate the negative effects of highly spicy or overcooked food.

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It was also used for flavoring tobacco, and as a foaming agent in fire extinguishers and beer. In a recent survey of Western medical herbalists, licorice ranked as the 10th most important herb used in clinical practice.

G. glabra from Koehler’s Medicinal-Plants

An astonishing number of Chinese herbal formulas (over 5,000) use it to sweeten teas and to “harmonize” contrasting herbs. Its first documented use dates back to the time of the great Chinese herbal master Zhang Zhong Zhing, about 190 AD, but it was certainly used for many centuries prior to this.

In 1914 the Chicago Licorice Company began to sell Black Vines, the first in a very long line of licorice based modern candies.

Chemical Composition

The scent of this root comes from a complex and variable combination of compounds, of which anethole is up to 3% of total volatiles. Much of the sweetness in liquorice comes from glycyrrhizin, which has a sweet taste, 30–50 times the sweetness of sugar. The sweetness is very different from sugar, being less instant, tart, and lasting longer. The isoflavene glabrene and the isoflavane glabridin, found in the roots of liquorice, are phytoestrogens.

Medicinal Uses of Licorice Root

The chemicals contained in licorice are thought to decrease swelling, thin mucus secretions, decrease cough, and increase the chemicals in our body that heal ulcers.

It can be taken by mouth for various digestive system complaints including stomach ulcers, heartburn, colic, and ongoing inflammation of the lining of the stomach (chronic gastritis).

Some people take licorice by mouth for sore throat, bronchitis, cough, and infections caused by bacteria or viruses.

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Licorice is also taken by mouth for Addison’s disease, a type of diabetes caused by a hormone deficiency (diabetes insipidus), menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), liver disorders, malaria, tuberculosis, high potassium levels in the blood, food poisoning, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a condition in which there is too much muscle tone (hypertonia), abscesses, recovery after surgery, rash, high cholesterol.

It is recommended to treat respiratory problems. Taking licorice as an oral supplement can help the body produce healthy mucus. Increasing phlegm production may seem counter intuitive to a healthy bronchial system. However, the opposite is true. The production of clean, healthy phlegm keeps the respiratory system functioning without old, sticky mucus clogging it.

Licorice is sometimes taken by mouth along with the herbs Panax ginseng and Bupleurum falcatum to improve the function of the adrenal glands, especially in people who have taken steroid drugs long-term. Steroids tend to suppress the activity of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands produce important hormones that regulate the body’s response to stress.

Licorice is also taken by mouth in combination with peony to increase fertility in women with a hormonal disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome, to treat people with abnormal levels of a hormone prolactin, for muscle cramps, and to reduce cancer pain. In combination with other herbs, licorice is also used to treat prostate cancer and the skin disorder known as eczema. Licorice is also taken in combination with andrographis, Siberian ginseng, and schisandra to treat familial Mediterranean fever. This hereditary condition is characterized by recurrent and painful swelling in the chest, stomach, or joints. A formulation containing licorice root along with slippery elm bark, lactulose, and oat bran has been used for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Some people use licorice as a shampoo to reduce oiliness in their hair. It is also applied as a gel for itchy, inflamed skin (eczema), as a solution to stop bleeding, as a patch in the mouth or as a gargle for canker sores, as a cream for psoriasis, weight loss, or a skin condition characterized by brown spots (melisma), as a gargle for recovery after surgery, and as a paste for dental plaque.

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Licorice is used intravenously (by IV) to treat hepatitis B and C, as well as mouth sores (lichen planus) in people with hepatitis C.

Recovery after surgery. Research suggests that sucking on a single lozenge containing licorice (Sualin, Hamdard Pharma, India) beginning 30 minutes before having a tube inserted through the mouth into the trachea reduces cough following surgery by about 50%. Also, gargling with a licorice fluid before intubation reduces complications when the breathing tube is removed.

Bleeding. Early research suggests that applying a specific product containing alpinia, licorice, thyme, stinging nettle, and common grape vine (Ankaferd Blood Stopper, Mefar Ilaç Sanayi A.S., Istanbul, Turkey) to the skin reduces bleeding during surgery, but does not reduce time in surgery. Another early study suggests that applying the same product after dental surgery reduces bleeding.

Hepatitis. There is some evidence that certain components in licorice might be effective in treating hepatitis B and hepatitis C when given intravenously (by IV). Early research shows that using a specific IV product (Stronger Neominophagen C, Minophagen Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd) seems to reduce death by about 50%. However, the studies involved too few patients to draw firm conclusions.

High cholesterol. Early research suggests that taking licorice root extract daily for 1 month reduces total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in people with high cholesterol.

High potassium levels. Some research suggests that certain components in licorice decrease potassium levels in people with diabetes or kidney problems.

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Hot flashes during menopause. Some early research shows that taking licorice root extract can reduce the number and intensity of hot flashes in menopausal women. But other early research shows that taking licorice root extract does not significantly reduce the number or intensity of hot flashes.

Muscle cramps. Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing licorice and peony (Shakuyaku-kanzo-to) might reduce muscle cramps in people with liver disease (hepatic cirrhosis) or in people undergoing treatment for kidney failure (hemodialysis).

Liver disease not associated with alcohol use (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease). Early research suggests that taking 2 grams of licorice root extract daily for 2 months reduces test markers of liver injury in patients with liver disease not caused by drinking alcohol.

Pain. Early research suggests that taking a combination of licorice root and peony root with Taiwanese tonic vegetable soup containing lily bulb, lotus seed, and jujube fruit reduces pain in cancer patients.

Psoriasis. Early evidence suggests that applying a cream containing licorice and milk to the skin for 4 weeks does not reduce the amount of standard therapy needed, but does seem to improve skin peeling in patients with psoriasis.

Weight loss. There is conflicting information about the use of licorice for weight loss. Licorice seems to reduce body fat. However, it causes water retention that can offset any change in body weight.Other research suggests that taking a specific licorice product (Glavonoid) daily for 8 weeks has no effect on weight or body fat.

Caution Must Be Taken with Licorice Root

Liquorice extracts have been used in herbalism and traditional medicine. Excessive consumption of liquorice (more than 2 mg/kg/day of pure glycyrrhizinic acid, a liquorice component) may result in adverse effects, such as hypokalemia, increased blood pressure, and muscle weakness.

The United States Food and Drug Administration believes that foods containing liquorice and its derivatives (including glycyrrhizin) are safe if not consumed excessively. Other jurisdictions have suggested no more than 100 mg to 200 mg of glycyrrhizin per day, the equivalent of about 70 to 150 g (2.5 to 5.3 oz) of liquorice. Liquorice should not be used during pregnancy.

An increase in intake of liquorice can cause many toxic effects. Hyper-mineralocorticosteroid syndrome can occur when the body retains sodium, loses potassium altering biochemical and hormonal activities. Some of these activities include lower aldosterone level, decline of the renin-angiotensin system and increased levels of the atrial natriuretic hormone in order to compensate the variations in homoeostasis.

Some other symptoms of toxicity include electrolyte imbalance, edema, increased blood pressure, weight gain, heart problems, and weakness. Individuals will experience certain symptoms based on the severity of toxicity. Some other complaints include fatigue, shortness of breath, renal failure, and paralysis.

By Pharaoh han – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30860013

Dosage and Forms

Liquid extract: Licorice extract is the most commonly found form of licorice. It’s used as a commercial sweetener in candies and beverages. Licorice extract consumption by an individual should not exceed 30 mg/mL of glycyrrhizic acid. Ingesting more could cause unwanted side effects.

Powder: Health food stores and online specialty retailers sell licorice powder. Combined with a gel base, it can become a topical ointment that clears the skin. In its powder form, licorice is especially helpful in treating eczema and acne. You can also pour the powder into vegetable capsules and ingest them orally. The recommended dosage of licorice root is less than 75 milligrams per day, according to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

Tea: Licorice plant leaves, dried and crushed into a tea, have become popular. You can purchase these teas at supermarkets and health food stores. Teas are used to promote digestive, respiratory, and adrenal gland health. When you see herbal teas for “bronchial wellness” and “cleanse and detox,” they usually contain forms of licorice. The popular throat remedy known as Throat Coat tea is a combination of marshmallow root, licorice root, and elm bark. It’s not recommended that people ingest more than 8 ounces of licorice tea per day.

DGL: licorice with glycyrrhizin removed, which is a safer form. DGL should contain no more than 2 percent glycyrrhizin. This form is recommended for gastrointestinal symptoms as long-term intake may be needed. DGL is available in chewable tablets, capsules, tea, and powder. Consume no more than 5 grams of DGL per day.

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