The Phytochemical Miracle

"If any man can name...all the properties of mint, he must know how many fish swim in the Indian Ocean.”---12th century Wilafried of Strabo, Benedictine Monk


What is phytotherapy?

Phytotherapy is the study and use of extracts from natural origin as medicines or health-promoting agents.  Its roots trace all the way back to the beginning of time, and are still standing strong in much of the world today.  The use of medicinal plants to heal and restore balance is phenomenal!

Plants hold truly amazing healing properties and some of the most exciting research is being done around how plants can act to naturally balance hormones. As we learn more about the underlying mechanisms of phytotherapy, science has been able to increase its effectiveness, while maintaining the gentle side effect profile herbal remedies are known for.

When you look at the numbers, it’s clear that the majority of the world’s population today relies on botanical medicine and a plant-based diet for survival. But in this country there continues to be so much fear around efficacy, safety, and regulation. People need and deserve more information on this subject. So Embellir takes a closer look at phytotherapy and how it can gently and effectively restore health and hormonal balance.

Traditional phytotherapy is often used as synonym for herbalism and regarded as "alternative medicine" by much of Western medicine, although effects of many substances found in plants have scientific evidence.

It’s not surprising that the study of plants for medicinal purposes led to what we now know as pharmaceuticals. Most of the drugs conventional practitioners prescribe today have roots in the plant world. The difference is that pharmaceutical companies change the chemical structure of the compound not only to specialize and magnify its actions, but also to patent the medication and sell it as their unique product. Since plants found in nature can be used and sold by everyone, phytotherapy is more accessible to the general world. It is also, in most cases, much gentler on our bodies than pharmaceutical medications.

What I like about phytotherapy is that it’s used to prevent health concerns as well as treat them — which to my mind is much more in line with a functional approach to healing. Sadly, conventional medicine has moved into the dangerous habit of treating symptoms as they arise instead of looking at an individual’s whole health picture.  Phytotherapy uses cell signaling to affect our bodies early on in the processes of disease and imbalance, which is ultimately far less disruptive to the system. For this reason the results often last longer. What’s particularly fascinating is the way phytotherapy works in conjunction with the endocrine system.

So many people are afraid to try herbal remedies because they’re uncertain about safety. They think that because a pharmaceutical drug has been studied in a laboratory, regulated by the FDA and prescribed by a doctor, it has to be safe. But the truth is that conventional medicine is responsible for 255,000 deaths per year in the United States, and almost half of those are from adverse reactions to prescription drugs.

Don’t get me wrong, modern medicine has saved millions of lives. But there are so many ways to heal our bodies naturally and with fewer side effects, especially when we take a closer look at the plant world.  So, please do not rule out plant therapy as a way to heal and be whole again.

Resource: Journal of Longevity Research 1996 Vol.2/No.5

Phytonutrient or "phytochemical" simply refers to natural, plant-derived chemicals such as flavonoids found in fruits and vegetables; gingerols found in ginger root; and chlorophyll found in chorella, alfalfa, and barley greens.  Isothiocyanate sulforaphane found in leafy vegetable such as broccoli, kale, and cabbage; lycopene, a carotenoid, found in tomatoes; and curcumin found in tumeric.

Medical research into these powerful plant extracts is uncovering a wealth of health benefits, including the reduction of the risk of cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and other conditions that rob us of quality of life and lead to premature aging and death.

Phytochemicals demonstrate a wide range of important medicinal qualities, including antioxidant, anti-carcinogen, and antitumer activity, as well as the ability to help lower cholesterol, maintain normal blood pressure, and lessen the risk of heart disease.  Some help protect the live from toxins, aid in reversing memory and hearing loss, and are beneficial to those suffering from bronchial problems and allergies.

Gingerols (ginger root)
are the biologically active chemicals found in ginger root and display a wide range of beneficial activities for human health.  They possess strong antioxidant properties, naturally protects the stomach, ward off ulcers, an effective anti-microbial for sores and wounds, help with the pain of migraine headaches, elimination of cholesterol, and help with the pain and swelling of arthritis.  Plus, they are most commonly known for their ability to significantly reduce the symptoms of motion sickness.

Isothiocyanate sulforaphane
is reported to help protect the human body against cancer.  Sulforaphanes help to detoxify carcinogens, flushing them out of the body, and isothiocyanates help to slow down the body's metabolism of compounds that trigger mutations leading to cancer.  According to a report in the Science Journal, people who plenty of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, radishes, and cabbage are must less likely to develop colon cancer.

the tomato pigment, lycopene, a member of the carotenoid family, demonstrates similar properties to beta-carotene, including antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, and antitumor activity, as well as nutritional value.  It is reportedly a more effective free radical scavenger than beta-carotene.

tumeric has antioxidant, anti-mutagen, antitumor, antifungal, anti-carcinogenic, and bacteriostatic effects.  It is beneficial for sprains and swellings, diabetic wounds, arthritis, rheumatism, and sinusitis.

is the green-colored material of plants and helps to transform light energy into chemical energy through photosynthesis, which is the manufacture of carbohydrates from water and carbon dioxide in the presence of light.  Chlorophyll is used to improve wounds, skin ulcers, burns, anemia, and the elimination of odor from ulcerated areas.

Flavonoids (hespirin, eriocitrin, pectin, naringen, rutin, ginkgo, quercetin)
found in fruits and vegetables and beverages like tea and wine are natural antioxidants that have a strong impact on human health.  They are antiallergenic, anti-asthmatic, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and have been shown to help maintain normal blood pressure and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in elderly men.

Other Phytonutrient-rich foods are...
garlic and onions (powerful antibiotics); Licorice (glycyrrhizins--helps protect the liver); ginkgo biloba (terpenes and flavonoids--help to improve circulation and short-term memory loss; grape seed and pine bark extracts (bioflavonoid proanthocyanidins--guard against cancer and inhibit tumors; hawthorn berry extract (lactones--helpful in the many aspects of heart diseases; rosemary extract (carnosic acid and carnosol--powerful antioxidants and anti-carcinogens; and wheat sprouts & barley greens (SOD stimulators superoxide dismutase—anti-mutagenic and antioxidative activity.