Widely used in the food industry as a gelling or thickening agent, the use of carrageenan as a food additive has been heavily discussed. In this blog Dr. Nibber will summarize what carrageenan is and will review some of the controversial and unfounded negative health effects of this food additive. What is Carrageenan? Extracted from edible seaweed, carrageenans comprise a family of sulphated polysaccharides. Due to their structure, carrageenans are highly flexible, have large molecular weights, and strong binding capabilities, making them excellent gelling and stabilizing agents. Despite having no nutritional value, carrageenans provide an excellent alternative to gelatin, as
There are so many powerful herbal extracts at our disposal with mounting scientific research supporting their benefits. What really makes herbs standout over pharmaceutical options is that they usually have a multifaceted mechanism of action. Turmeric perhaps, is the best example because it is both a powerful antioxidant while simultaneously having anti-inflammatory herbal properties. I am always on the lookout for these types of “super herbs”. Because many are already well-known (resveratrol, green tea etc.) so I get really excited when I discover a new one to add to my clinical repertoire. I pride myself on having a good grasp on the botanical clinical research, so I was by the large volume of scientific literature supporting Tinospora cordifolia. Let’s take a closer look at this lesser known super-herb.
Tinospora cordifolia (also known as Guduchi and Heart-leaved moonseed) is an herbaceous vine indigenous to the tropical areas of India, China, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. It has a long history a natural remedy in India, where it has been used to treat colds, fever, diabetes, ulcers, headache, digestive disorders, and throat infections. Its medicinal properties can be attributed to constituents such as terpenes, glycosides, alkaloids, steroids and flavonoids. Along with its curative properties, this plant is nutritionally beneficial, containing essential minerals such as: copper, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and manganese.
It has been used effectively used as a treatment for allergic rhinitis, reducing cold symptoms, such as a stuffy or runny nose. Recently, the plant has generated interest from researchers across the globe because of its reported medicinal properties.
From: Dhama et al. Medicinal and Beneficial Health Applications of Tinospora cordifolia (Guduchi): A Miraculous Herb Countering Various Diseases/Disorders and its Immunomodulatory Effects. Recent Pat Endocr Metab Immune Drug Discov. 2017;10(2):96-111.
These three benefits in particular stood out to me:
Immune balancer and allergy reduction: One of the most promising effects of Tinospora is as an immune-modulator. Numerous animal studied have shown that it can balance the immune response, making it valuable to help deal with chronic infections, neoplastic and allergic (TH2 dominant) conditions.
Allergy rates are increasing every year, because our immune systems are becoming less and less tolerant of foreign substances. Tinospora has a unique ability to improve allergy symptoms. In one study, 71 patients with allergic rhinitis (AR) were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or 300 mg standardized Tinospora cordifolia extract (TC) three times per day for eight weeks. With TC treatment 100% relief was reported from sneezing in 83% patients, in 69% from nasal discharge, in 61% from nasal obstruction and in 71% from nasal itching. There were also increase in total white blood cell count and decrease in the eosinophil (allergy immune cells) and neutrophil count. The difference between TC and placebo group was significant. Another human study also found there were significant improvement in the AR symptoms of sneezing, nasal obstruction, nasal discharge, pruritus, and inner nasal swelling in the TC treated group after just 15 and 30 days.
Anti-stress: We all know how much of a negative factor stress is on our health, so the fact Tinospora has adaptogenic effects and enhances physical performance makes it such a useful botanical for almost anyone. One human clinical trial showed that taking Tinospora suppressed the over activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which is chronically upregulated in constant low-grade stress.
Safety and drug interactions: Evidence shows this plant is safe to use with other drugs. One study found that Tinospora effects cytochrome enzymes in the liver, which are responsible for the elimination of medications. In clinical studies looking at allergy relief, there were no side effects found after taking a high dose of Tinospora.
In addition to these functions, its other traditional and researched benefits include:
- Anti-oxidant (enhances superoxide dismutase and glutathione production)
- anti-hyperglycemic (lowers blood sugar)
- antihyperlipidemic (lowers cholesterol)
- hepatoprotective (liver protective)
- cardiovascular protective
- osteoprotective (protects against bone breakdown)
- adaptogenic agent (helps deal with stress)
- analgesic (anti-pain) and anti-inflammatory
- antipyretic (lowers fever)
- thrombolytic agent (reduces blood clots)
- Promotes health growth of cells
So who can benefit from taking Tinospora? The short answer is almost everyone! Just like green tea or turmeric the vast number of beneficial effects make Tinospora the ideal herb for our high paced, hyper-allergic, and pro-inflammatory world.
Dhama et al. Medicinal and Beneficial Health Applications of Tinospora cordifolia (Guduchi): A Miraculous Herb Countering Various Diseases/Disorders and its Immunomodulatory Effects. Recent Pat Endocr Metab Immune Drug Discov. 2017;10(2):96-111.
Badar, V. A., V. R. Thawani, P. T. Wakode, M. P. Shrivastava, K. J. Gharpure, L. L. Hingorani, and R. M. Khiyani. “Efficacy of Tinospora cordifolia in allergic rhinitis.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 96, no. 3 (2005): 445-449.
Thawani VR, Badar VA, Gharpure KJ, Wakode PT, Hingorani LL. Short term effect of Tinospora cordifolia in allergic rhinitis. The Antiseptic . 2006 April;103(4&P):229 -32.
Salve et al. Effect of Tinospora cordifolia on physical and cardiovascular performance induced by physical stress in healthy human volunteers. Ayu. 2015 Jul-Sep;36(3):265-70. doi: 10.4103/0974-8520.182751.
Bahadur et al. Metabolism-mediated interaction potential of standardized extract of Tinospora cordifolia through rat and human liver microsomes. Indian J Pharmacol 2016; 48(5): 576