Anthocyanin Antioxidants Just The Faqs

We’ve been reading a lot in magazines and newspapers about antioxidant plant foods, including berries like blueberries and cranberries, and we keep seeing the word anthocyanins.

What are anthocyanins?

Anthocyanins (Etymology: Greek. anthos = Flower, kyneos = purple) are water-soluble pigments reflecting the red to blue range of the visible spectrum. The colour depends on the acidity of the surrounding medium.

Anthocyanins exist only in plants with bright colors in everything from flower petals to autumn leaves and edible fruits or vegetables. Chemical identification studies reveal that there are as many as 600 unique anthocyanins in nature.

How are anthocyanins synthesized in the plant?

Here’s a brief botany summary. Anthocyanins are formed from chemical raw materials in the plant, using the amino acid phenylalanine, or another chemical called malonyl coenzyme A. These two substrates join to form the base material for anthocyanins called chalcones” that lead to the production of anthocyanins after a series of enzyme steps.

The parent material of anthocyanins is a group of similar structures named anthocyanidins” or proanthocyanidins” which contain no sugar molecules. When sugars become attached, an anthocyanin glycoside is formed, taking the characteristic shape of anthocyanins.

When first isolated by chemists, many anthocyanins were named after the colorful flowers from which they were extracted, such as petunidin (petunia), rosinidin (rose) and peonidin (peonies).

The large class of antioxidant cyanidins is also anthocyanins all these compounds belong to the group of compounds called flavonoids within the super-family of antioxidants named phenolics or polyphenols.

What is the purpose of anthocyanins in a plant?

Anthocyanins exist mainly to preserve the regeneration of the plant. In flowers, the colorful anthocyanins of petals attract pollinators whereas in fruits, like brightly colored berries, they reside in the skin to attract animals that eat the fruit and later disperse the seeds in their droppings. This is nature’s efficient way of symbiosis between a plant and feeding animal.

Anthocyanins also serve a protective role much like a sunscreen” by absorbing the ultraviolet light that plants face from constant sun exposure.

This “sunscreen” function is thought to be the reason why many deciduous plants turn red in autumn. When green chlorophylls break down, and as leaves begin to dehydrate and die, anthocyanins shield the remaining leaf tissues while the plant moves nutrients back into the stems and vascular system of the tree.

How do people benefit from anthocyanins and what plant foods contain them?

In berry research particularly, anthocyanins have been shown to possess strong antioxidant qualities that guard cells of the fruit pulp and seeds from reactive oxygen species (free radicals”) formed during normal plant metabolism and exposure to ultraviolet light.

When people eat anthocyanin-rich foods, we obtain the benefit of these antioxidant qualities, giving us the same capacity for combating the damaging free radicals.

Among plant foods providing the richest sources of anthocyanins are blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, red currants and cherries (up to 400 mg in every 100 gram serving) and Concord grapes (as high as 750 mg/100 grams). Two of the richest sources of anthocyanins in berries are in the black raspberry and tropical palmberry (or acai).

A good rule of thumb is this: dark blue, purple or black fruits that easily stain your fingers (or thumb) during picking are great sources of anthocyanins.

Non-berry plant foods rich in anthocyanins include brightly colored (bluish) vegetables like the purple cabbage and eggplant. White plant foods like banana, pear and potato do not contain significant levels of anthocyanins.

Are there known health values of eating anthocyanin-rich foods?

Medical research has been examining potential health or anti-disease benefits of having anthocyanin-enriched plant foods like berries included in the regular human diet.

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Moxibustion: The Chinese Ancient Fire Acupuncture Therapy

Care to know the hottest alternative medicine technique? Literally speaking, Moxibustion happens to be the hottest healing tradition in East Asia. Perhaps you are curious why it’s regarded as the hottest therapeutic procedure in the region. Now let me share some interesting facts that can shed light on your curiosity. Here some must-know particulars about this hot oriental therapy.

What is Moxibustion? Based on its etymology, the word literally means burning of mugwort. The mugwort itself is stuffed with healthy compounds such as coumarin, flavonoids, and terpene that are useful in fighting degenerative diseases. In Oriental Asian tradition, it is believed that burning the herb at the right acupuncture spot can promote physical healing. Generated heat, along with the essential elements of the plant, stimulates normal blood flow thereby stabilizing the circulatory system.

Where did it originate? Although Moxibustion has been practiced in East Asia for years, Traditional Chinese Medicine deserves the credit for the introduction and development of the alternative medicine. This technique originated in the Northern part of China. Most likely, it has been used by the locals to treat certain illnesses and diseases brought about by extremely cold climate in the region. That explains the need to introduce essential healing elements using heat. Later on, the method has been employed in neighbouring countries such as Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Tibet, and Vietnam.

How is it done? The process entails burning of mugwort herb on relevant acupuncture spots to promote thorough blood circulation. Since the procedure is risky, it should only be administered by trained professionals. Otherwise, you might need another treatment for serious skin burn. There are various techniques utilized to perform Moxibustion that may fall under direct or indirect skin heating procedure. Either way, rest assured that your body can get a share of the herb’s special healing properties.

Direct Moxibustion is done by burning the cone-shaped moxa directly onto the skin. The procedure is obviously painful especially the scarring technique that does not make use of topical pastes to mitigate the pain. As a result, the subject ends up suffering from blisters, scars, and skin burns. Some practitioners prefer the use of skin shields, though. Popularly known as the non-scarring method, this alternative is definitely less painful. To mitigate the pain, it utilizes skin shielding medium like ginger slice or topical paste. Just make sure you can bear the consequential pain in deciding whether you should go for scarring or non-scarring treatment.

Indirect Moxibustion promotes skin wellness apart from the healing effects of moxa. Therapists introduced Indirect Moxibustion to prevent any sort of skin damage. The process makes use of lighted moxa stick placed an inch or two away from the skin. Another indirect heating method is the needle moxa technique in which lighted moxa is placed on the free end of an acupuncture needle pierced into skin. If you are up for controlled indirect heating, the moxa stick commonly used in China shall do the tricks. Otherwise, you’ll be better off using the popular moxa needles in Japan.

Of course the therapeutic effect of moxa is available for everyone’s relief! However, it is not advisable for people suffering from diabetes, respiratory problems, pain intolerance, and the like. You have to consult health professionals before going through Moxibustion treatment.

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