5 Best DIY Hair Growth Mask Recipes

In this article, I will look at the science behind DIY hair growth mask recipes. You might be surprised to learn that research into natural products like onions, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and essential oils have shown their potential to boost hair health. You will also be able to try out some of the best homemade hair masks for hair growth.

#1 – Simple Homemade Hair Growth Oil Mask

This is an effective homemade hair mask that contains various oils that provide nourishment for your hair and encourages hair growth. Many natural oils are also a good source of fatty acids that have antimicrobial properties to soothe an itchy scalp. Fatty acids are also great for hair because they provide deep hydration and prevent split ends.

The first hair mask for hair growth contains castor oil, rosemary essential oil and peppermint oil.

Reasons why this simple DIY hair growth treatment works

Castor oil. Adding castor oil to your hair growth oil mask will not only help to give you great looking hair but will assist in reducing thinning hair. The Journal of Ethnopharmacology reported that castor oil contains properties that inhibit prostaglandin D2. This is an important way to help prevent androgenic alopecia and hair loss.1

Also, studies have shown that castor oil has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. So, a castor oil hair mask may also help reduce an itchy scalp and dandruff because of its fatty acid content.2

Rosemary oil. A DIY hair mask containing rosemary essential oil helps to stimulate hair growth. The journal SKINMed published a study showing that rosemary oil was just as effective as minoxidil (a registered pharmaceutical for hair loss) in treating hair loss. In fact, there were fewer side effects like scalp itching with the rosemary oil treatment.3

According to the journal Phytotherapy Research, rosemary extracts promote hair growth because they inhibit certain hormones that are associated with alopecia and hair loss.4

Peppermint oil. This hair growth recipe also contains peppermint oil to make hair grow faster. A study published in the journal Toxicological Research found that peppermint oil significantly increases hair thickness and the number of hair follicles. This results in thicker hair because peppermint oil stimulates hair growth.5

How to make a simple oil mask for hair growth

This hair growth treatment also contains avocado oil, which is one of the best oils for your hair because it is rich in vitamins A and E and antioxidants. It helps to repair damaged hair, prevents split ends and strengthens the hair.
• Mix 1 tbsp. castor oil, 1 tbsp. avocado oil, 2-3 drops peppermint oil, and 2-3 drops rosemary oil.

• Apply the DIY hair mask to your scalp and massage into your scalp for a few minutes to promote blood circulation.

• Leave for 2-3 hours to help improve the condition of your hair and stimulate hair growth.

• Wash out with your favorite natural shampoo.

• Apply the mask once or twice a week to help your hair grow faster and thicker.

You can boost the effectiveness of this hair growth recipe by ingesting pumpkin seed oil. According to the journal Evidence-Based Complementary Medicine, supplementing your diet with pumpkin seed oil can boost hair growth.

The study showed that men who took 400 mg pumpkin seed oil per day experienced faster hair growth than those who didn’t. The researchers concluded that pumpkin seed oil could be an alternative treatment for hair loss.6

#2 – Coconut Oil Hair Growth Mask

Virgin coconut oil has many benefits for your hair. It easily penetrates hair strands to provide deep-down nourishment for your hair and prevent hair loss. When used together with other essential oils, a DIY coconut oil hair growth mask can help boost the health of your scalp and hair.

Reasons why natural hair mask with coconut oil works

Coconut oil. A report published in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine mentions that coconut oil has been used for centuries to create a concoction for promoting hair growth. According to the Journal of Cosmetic Science, coconut oil can be used to repair damaged hair and reduce protein loss. Scientists found that coconut oil had remarkable properties that boost hair health. Coconut oil was effective on undamaged and damaged hair and can be used as a pre-wash natural hair mask.7

Tea tree oil. The antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil can help to kill off fungi that lead to itchy scalps and dandruff. The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reported that 5% tea tree oil shampoo can be used to improve the symptoms of dandruff and oily hair.8

Other studies have shown that tea tree oil can help to boost the effectiveness of pharmaceutical hair-loss products. For example, using a few drops of tea tree oil with minoxidil helps to promote hair growth in men with alopecia. Tea tree oil helps to prevent the spread of infectious organisms on the scalp.9

Tea tree oil is also good for treating scalp conditions that can affect hair growth. For example, the Cleveland Clinic reports that inflammation around the hair follicle hinders growth and can result in weaker strands of hair.13 The American Journal of Clinical Dermatology reported that fungal infections caused by the Malassezia fungi can result in hair shedding and bald patches. 14

How to make a homemade coconut oil hair growth mask
• Mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil with 1 tbsp. virgin coconut oil.

• Massage small amounts of the coconut oil hair mask to your scalp to stimulate blood circulation.

• Repeat step 2 until your whole scalp is covered.

• Leave for at least 30 minutes to nourish your hair and kill off any fungal infections.

• Wash your hair as normal.

• Apply the coconut oil and tea tree oil DIY hair growth treatment 1-2 times a week to help reduce hair frizz and get thicker hair.

The homemade coconut oil hair mask with tea tree oil is perfect if your hair loss is caused by fungal infections like seborrheic dermatitis, ringworm, or inflamed hair follicles.

To use a coconut oil hair mask to combat the signs of male-pattern baldness or alopecia, substitute the tea tree oil for 2-3 drops of rosemary oil or peppermint oil.

#3 – DIY Onion Juice Hair Growth Mask

Although onion juice doesn’t sound very appetizing, onions contain many beneficial properties for hair growth. The sulfur content of onions helps to stimulate hair follicles and onion juice for your hair is also useful in keeping scalp fungal infections at bay.

In this DIY hair growth recipe, honey can be added to help mask the smell of onions and also provide deep nourishment to your hair strands. This is especially useful to boost hair growth if you have sensitive skin on your scalp.

Reasons why onion hair masks work for hair growth

Onions. Research into the hair-growth properties of onions has found that it can help treat the symptoms of alopecia and male pattern baldness. The Journal of Dermatology reported that juice from onions was applied to the scalp of adults showing signs of baldness. Onion juice was applied 2 times a day for 2 months. After 4 weeks hair growth was already observed in the group using onion juice.10

Honey. You can also add honey to this natural hair mask for growth because honey to help nourish your scalp and keep it free from infection. A study from 2016 found that honey can help treat a number of dermatological issues. Among the medicinal uses for honey on the skin are treating symptoms of dermatitis and fungal infections – both of which can affect hair growth.11

How to make your own DIY hair growth mask with onion juice
• Peel and chop 2 medium onions and extract the juice in a food processor or juicer.

• Apply the natural onion hair mask to your scalp and gently massage your scalp to allow the mask to get into your hair follicles.

• Leave for at least 15 minutes (longer if you can tolerate the smell) to help treat the symptoms of hair loss.

• Rinse off and shampoo as normal.

• Repeat daily for best results and to help make your hair grow thicker.

If you have sensitive skin you can mix 1 tbsp. raw honey with ¼ cup of onion juice and apply as above. You can also use this recipe as a DIY overnight hair mask. All you have to do is put a shower cap on your head while you sleep. However it is recommended to start from a shorter period of time and gradually increase it to make sure you don’t develop any skin sensitivity.

Alternatively, you can substitute honey with aloe vera to help improve the texture and thickness of your hair. Aloe vera contains many beneficial nutrients for your hair that include vitamins A, C, and E, anti-inflammatory properties, and antiseptic activity.

#4 – Garlic Infused Oil Recipe for Hair Growth

Garlic can help to stimulate hair growth because it gets rid of scalp infections and also boosts blood circulation. Garlic is an effective natural ingredient for hair growth because it contains sulfur and selenium that strengthens the hair.

Reasons why natural hair mask with garlic infused oil works

Garlic. Research into the beneficial properties of garlic that boost hair growth has shown that it can help reduce signs of baldness. A small study from 2007 found that that topical application of 5% garlic gel to areas where hair loss had taken place led to hair regrowth in the previously bald areas of the scalp, reduction in size of bald patches, and higher hair count numbers.12

How to make a garlic oil mask to promote hair growth

This hair growth recipe should be prepared in advance to allow the strength of the garlic to infuse in the olive oil. For every tablespoon of olive oil, you will need to use one garlic clove.
• Peel and mince 5 garlic cloves and soak them in 5 tablespoons of warm (not hot) olive oil.

• When the garlic oil infusion has cooled, transfer to a sealable glass jar and store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

• Strain the minced garlic from the oil into another jar.

• Apply one tablespoon of garlic oil to your scalp and massage the mixture so it covers your whole scalp.

• Leave the garlic oil hair infusion to go to work for at least 20 minutes.

• Wash your hair as normal to rinse out the oil.

• Use 2 times a week to help stimulate new hair growth and keep your scalp healthy.

It’s important to remember that this garlic oil infusion is different from garlic essential oil. Garlic essential oil is very strong and can cause serious skin irritation if used as a hair salve and if not properly diluted. Please use garlic-infused oil and NOT garlic essential oil when treating your scalp. You should also always keep the proportions of 1 clove for 1 tablespoon because garlic can cause scalp irritation.

If you want, you can add a few drops of rosemary oil or peppermint oil to the garlic hair growth mask to boost its effectiveness. Use 2-3 drops essential oil for every tablespoon and only add to the infusion when it has cooled.

#5 – Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner for Hair Growth

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a great all-around hair treatment to keep your scalp free from germs and give your hair an amazing shine. For example, apple cider vinegar destroys scalp fungi that are often the root cause of dandruff and itchy scalps.

How apple cider vinegar conditioner boosts hair health

Applying apple cider vinegar as an after-wash conditioner will also help treat the symptoms of inflammatory scalp conditions like folliculitis, impetigo, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, and ringworm.

For example, the journal Annals of Dermatology reported that the acidic nature of vinegar helps to treat symptoms of dermatitis and eczema.12 Although there are no studies linking apple cider vinegar to better hair growth, its antimicrobial properties can help keep your scalp healthy.

Also, apple cider vinegar may help hair grow better because it is a natural exfoliator. This means that applying apple cider vinegar to your hair helps to unclog dead skin cells and prevents skin infections from developing.

You will also find that using apple cider vinegar as a leave-in conditioner will leave your hair looking healthy with luster and help reduce split ends.

If you want to use apple cider vinegar as a natural conditioner to promote healthy hair growth, you should add a few drops of rosemary oil or peppermint oil to the homemade hair growth recipe and mix well before applying to your scalp and hair.

Please remember to avoid getting the ACV rinse into your eyes as it will sting.

How to make your own conditioner recipe for hair growth
• In a spray bottle mix two tablespoons apple cider vinegar with one cup water (use the same ratio if you prepare a larger quantity).

• For each cup of diluted ACV solution you can add 10-15 drops of rosemary or peppermint essential oil. Shake well.

• Shampoo your hair as normal then spray the natural hair growth conditioner on your hair and massage into your scalp.

• Leave for 5 minutes to allow the apple cider vinegar condition your hair and give it shine.

• Rinse your hair with warm water and dry as normal.

With this natural hair growth recipe, you don’t need to apply an extra conditioner to your hair because apple cider vinegar will help get rid of frizz. The strong smell of apple cider vinegar will disappear when your hair dries. Repeat this treatment once or twice a week.

Source: Healthy and Natural World

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Can Polyphenols Serve as Prebiotics?

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/herbs-botanicals/can-polyphenols-serve-prebiotics

Here’s a quick round of word association: I say “prebiotic” and you think…“Fiber,” right? If that was your choice, you’re not alone. Nor are you without reason: In 2006, FDA guidance1 not only reinforced the prevailing definition of prebiotics as “nondigestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon”—that is, “fiber”—but singled out oligosaccharides as “commonly used” prebiotics, to boot. So it’s not surprising that when most of us think about what feeds our friendly intestinal flora, we think of fiber.

Now, however, emerging research suggests that this definition may in fact be too narrow. In short, it’s possible that some probiotic bacteria may receive aid and comfort from compounds that don’t fall under the historically fibrous prebiotic rubric. Case in point: polyphenols, which “are being recognized for their prebiotic potential in addition to their wider range of health benefits,” says Shaheen Majeed, president worldwide, Sabinsa (East Windsor, NJ).

Though evidence for polyphenols’ prebiotic potential remains nascent, the possibility it holds for synbiotic formulation deserves attention. So those in the know are keeping their eyes on polyphenols and the prebiotic science surrounding them. As Majeed says, “These effects are real, and polyphenols are here to make a difference in the prebiotic category.”

Polyphenolic Protection

It’s not as if polyphenols didn’t already deserve our love. These naturally occurring antioxidant phytochemicals—more than 8,000 of which have been identified in sources ranging from fruits and vegetables to tea, wine, chocolate, and olive oil—are the second-most abundant compounds in plants, trailing only carbohydrates.

As a class, they comprise stilbenes, lignans, phenolic acids, and flavonoids, and they exist, more or less, to protect their plant parents. But over the years, says Majeed, “research has suggested that polyphenols play a vital role in promoting our vitality and optimal health and wellness,” too, along with those of plants.

According to researchers, polyphenols’ bill of human health particulars runs from cardiovascular benefits, possible cancer prevention, and metabolic and blood sugar balance, to cognitive support, joint and bone health, weight management, a healthy inflammatory response, and—new to the list—optimal gut health.

Fiber Fundamentals

That’s a change of pace, as gut health had primarily been the province of probiotic bacteria and the prebiotic fibers that feed them. And that makes sense, because a preponderance of evidence affirms that probiotic bacteria are instrumental to a well-functioning gastrointestinal tract, and that prebiotic fiber encourages their proliferation.

“These bacteria are important as they may have several beneficial effects on the host, especially in terms of improving digestion and the effectiveness and intrinsic strength of the immune system,” says Stephen Lukawski, BA, MEd, global sales and marketing consultant, product development and partner, Fruit d’Or Nutraceuticals (Villeroy, QC, Canada). “Preliminary research has also demonstrated potential effects of probiotic bacteria on the absorption of calcium and other minerals, bowel acidity, and inflammatory bowel disease.”

As for the fibers that fuel them, those with the highest profiles as prebiotics include inulin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), guar gum, and resistant starch. And the high profile these specific prebiotic ingredients enjoy, Majeed notes, is thanks in no small part to the “leverage given by FDA” in its aforementioned 2006 guidance on what a prebiotic is.

New Compound on the Block

“However,” Majeed continues, “over the years, newer ingredients have caught the attention of the industry, owing to their prebiotic benefits.” In fact, the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics in 2016 updated its definition and scope of prebiotics to encompass non-carbohydrate ingredients, Majeed notes.

And that’s where polyphenols come in. “Several studies have demonstrated that polyphenols play an important role in improving gut health by boosting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestine,” Majeed says. And whereas poor absorbability is often a drawback for a nutritional ingredient, the poor absorbability of polyphenols “becomes an advantage, as far their prebiotic positioning is concerned,” Majeed adds.

So how do polyphenols perform prebiotically? Their effectiveness, Majeed says, “is suggested to be due to their ability to stimulate the growth of beneficial microbiota while inhibiting that of pathogenic strains, and to their anti-adhesion activity against harmful pathogens. Overall, they’re believed to confer positive benefits by modulating gut microecology.”

Here Comes Cranberry

And while researchers have focused mainly on the flavone, flavonol, anthocyanidin, and catechin polyphenols found in fruits, vegetables, red wine, and green tea, Lukawski says it’s time for these compounds to “move over, as here comes cranberry, and it’s showing prebiotic benefits in the gut.”

To wit, a Sabinsa-sponsored study2 published in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology compared the prebiotic effect of Fruit d’Or’s proprietary Cran Naturelle cranberry seed powder versus FOS fiber on Sabinsa’s L-(+)-lactic acid–producing Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856 probiotic preparation, marketed as LactoSpore.

The study’s results showed an increase in the viable B. coagulans MTCC 5856 count when the cranberry seed powder served as the sole nutrition source—demonstrating that the bacteria can actually ferment it. Additionally, under anaerobic conditions the cranberry seed powder inhibited growth of undesirable E. coli ATCC 25922 while supporting B. coagulans MTCC 5856 growth—suggesting that it contributes to a gastrointestinal environment favorable to the healthful probiotic. Finally, in vitro gastric acid and pancreatic enzyme digestibility tests showed that the cranberry seed powder resists gastric acid even better than FOS, though its non-digestibility to pancreatic enzymes equaled that of FOS, the companies say.

“It seems that the cranberry seed acts as a natural food source,” Lukawski says. And it’s not unreasonable to suspect that it would do so. The powder contains 20%-25% pure protein, 50% fiber, and, Lukawski continues, “all the essential amino acids. It’s also standardized to contain a minimum of 3% insoluble proanthocyanidin content. It seems to be the fuel the probiotics need to feed from, as it provides the carbon, nitrogen, and amino acids necessary to stimulate the strain’s hardiness and growth.” No wonder he calls the powder “a superfood for various probiotic strains.”

Cranberry Caveats

Along with previously published literature, this new study, Majeed says, “is encouraging and certainly expands the concept of prebiotics beyond non-digestible oligosaccharides to include polyphenols as attractive alternatives.” It also adds to a body of evidence suggesting that polyphenols’ health benefits are based on their microbial use—and on the metabolites thus produced—rather than on the parent molecules themselves.

“However,” Majeed concedes, “in comparison to oligosaccharides, the number of studies done on polyphenols is limited and, hence, more research is needed to ascertain their prebiotic potential.” So product developers and ingredient suppliers should exercise the usual caution when promoting polyphenols as prebiotics.

“Like any other synbiotic preparation,” Majeed says, “products including polyphenols as a prebiotic source would require the same level of checklist for the formulators to follow.” That means clean-labels demands still apply, “and when it comes to claims and use levels, companies should have enough research data to back those levels and claims,” he says. “More importantly, formulators should design products that meet customers’ expectations in delivery format, ease of delivery, benefits, and more.”

To Market, To Market

Some are already doing just that—starting with Sabinsa. Its LactoCran is a synbiotic preparation combining LactoSpore with Fruit d’Or’s Cran Naturelle cranberry seed powder, and Majeed believes it’s “well positioned to break through in the synbiotic market.”

Lukawski is also bullish on the prospects for the cranberry juice that his own company launched. Called Sun Cran Naturelle, it combines Fruit d’Or’s cranberry polyphenols with Taiyo International’s (Minneapolis) galactomannan-based guar fiber ingredient, marketed as Sunfiber. “When combined with the cranberry juice,” Lukawski says, “we’re now able to deliver a dual-function product for support of a healthy urinary tract and gut health. No one has ever done this combination, and we’re the first to market.” A study exploring its anti-adhesion properties is underway at Rutgers University, Lukawski adds, with results expected “sometime in April.”

Finally, he mentions a collaboration between his company and the International Agriculture Group (Mooresville, NC)—producers of NuBana, a resistant starch extracted from green bananas. “Green banana is a natural prebiotic fiber with scientifically proven benefits surrounding its resistant starch,” Lukawski says. “When formulated with our cranberry seed powder, it becomes a superfood prebiotic that provides a combination of protein, fiber, and amino acids.”

Sabinsa is even combining its B. coagulans probiotics with the cranberry-banana ingredient to create what Lukawski calls “a LactoCranBana brand that’s ideal for use in nutrition bars, yogurts, smoothies, shakes, and other dairy products.” He anticipates its availability in early summer.

With all this to look forward to, it’s no wonder Lukawski is “excited for the future of the prebiotic opportunities for polyphenols,” he says. “When combining polyphenol prebiotics with probiotics, we’re entering a whole new space and category.”


FDA Draft Guidance. “Guidance for Industry on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Products and Their Regulation by the Food and Drug Administration.” www.fda.gov/downloads/RegulatoryInformation/Guidances/UCM145405.pdf. December 2006.
Majeed M et al., “Cranberry seed fibre: a promising prebiotic fibre and its fermentation by the probiotic Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856,” International Journal of Food Science and Technology. Published online February 17, 2018.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/herbs-botanicals/can-polyphenols-serve-prebiotics

Source: Nutritional Outlook Magazine

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Disrupted body clock risks mental health issues

People who have their body clock disrupted by being awake at night risk developing mood disorders and depression.

That is the finding from a study of more than 90,000 people by scientists at the University of Glasgow.

The scientists examined people’s circadian rhythms, which control functions such as sleep patterns, immune systems and the release of hormones, to measure daily rest-activity rhythms, also known as relative amplitude.

People with lower relative amplitude were at greater risk of mental health problems such as depression and bipolar disorder.

They are also likely to feel less happy and more lonely, the study found.

Dr Laura Lyall, the study’s lead author, said the team had found a “robust association” between disruption of circadian rhythms and mood disorders.

“Previous studies have identified associations between disrupted circadian rhythms and poor mental health, but these were on relatively small samples.”

Daniel Smith, senior author of the paper, told The Times that using mobile phones late at night, waking in the early hours to make a cup of tea are among the things that affect sleep.

He said that a 10pm cut-off would give the average adult time to wind down before switching off the lights and going to sleep.

“But it’s not just what you do at night,” he said, “it’s what you do during the day – trying to be active during the day and inactive in darkness,” he said.

“Especially in the winter, making sure you get out in the morning in the fresh air is just as important in getting a good night’s sleep as not being on your mobile phone.”

Regarding the study, he said: “The next step will be to identify the mechanisms by which genetic and environmental causes of circadian disruption interact to increase an individual’s risk of depression and bipolar disorder.

More from UK

“This is important globally because more and more people are living in urban environments that are known to increase risk of circadian disruption and, by extension, adverse mental health outcomes.”

The study is published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

Source: Sky News

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Part One: Hildegard of Bingen

Part One: Hildegard of Bingen shows Philippa “the liberating power of Christianity for women”

She forcefully corrected the Emperor, prolifically composed celebrated music and founded scientific natural history in Germany.

How can this shining light and Saint from the ‘dark ages’ be so little known and appreciated by Roman Catholics?

Dr Philippa Martyr says Hildegard has received wider appreciation in recent decades.

Dr Martyr is an Australian academic, historian and writer who isn’t afraid of being described as a Catholic feminist. She is familiar with the Diocese of Parramatta, having made a retreat at the Tyburn Priory in Riverstone and lectured in western Sydney.

“The first thing you usually find out about Hildegard of Bingen is that she’s been adopted by a range of different feminist and gnostic movements,” Dr Martyr told Catholic Outlook.

“It’s tempting to see her through the secular feminist lens of a powerful woman in a man’s Church, but I’ve always felt that this approach was very limited,” she said.

Hildegard’s herbal medicine, musical compositions, visions and writings garner her a wide spectrum of admirers today, as she had in the Middle Ages.

Her writings were renowned in their own right and merited inclusion in the Patrologia Latina, as one of the great minds of the Church, along with the Church Fathers.

Her work includes the Scivias, ‘Know the Ways of the Lord’, which details her theological visions in three parts. The first part details Creation and the Fall. The second part describes salvation through Christ, the Church and the sacraments. The third part is about the second coming of Christ.

In appreciation of her brilliance, Pope Hadrian IV and then Pope Alexander III invited her on a preaching tour of Cologne, Trier, Liege, Mainz, Metz, Bamberg and Wurzburg.

The main streams of Hildegard’s thought are her insights into the nature of God, God in nature and her visions of the Kingdom.

Some snippets of Hildegard’s writing on these themes demonstrates her elevated and symbolic style:

“Man contains in himself the likeness of heaven and earth. In what way? He has a circle, which contains his clarity, breath and reason, as the sky has its lights, air and birds; and he has a receptacle containing humidity, germination and birth, as the earth contains fertility, fruition and animals.” What is this? O human, you are wholly in every creature, and you forget your Creator; you are subject to Him as was ordained, and you go against His commands?” (Scivias, Book 2,2)

“And when the Gospel of peace had been recited and the offering to be consecrated had been placed upon the altar, and the priest sang the praise of Almighty God, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts,” which began the mystery of the sacred rites, Heaven was suddenly opened and a fiery and inestimable brilliance descended over that offering and irradiated it completely with light, as the sun illumines anything its rays shine through. And, thus illuminating it, the brilliance bore it on high into the secret places of Heaven and then replaced it on the altar, as a person draws in a breath and lets it out again; and thus the offering was made true flesh and true blood, although in human sight it looked like bread and wine.” (Scivias, Vision 6)

Paradoxically, Dr Martyr says the first thing Hildegard of Bingen taught her is “that she is not remotely extraordinary”.

“That she was a woman in charge of a monastery was completely normal for the medieval period. There was a whole network of abbesses and prioresses and female religious superiors all across Europe, owning property, running large businesses, managing spiritual questions, giving advice, writing books, and generally being heard (often loudly) in the medieval Church,” she said.

More: The Institute for Mission’s online resource eBooks include A Companion to Hildegard of Bingen (Brill’s Companions to the Christian Tradition)

Source: Catholic Outlook

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Just living close to livestock might lower allergy risk

(Reuters Health) – Exposure to farms seems to reduce the risk of allergy sensitivity, even among adults, and living close to a livestock farm in particular might curb common allergies, a Dutch study suggests.

Based on more than 2,400 adults in the Netherlands, researchers found that people who lived within 327 meters (1,073 feet) of a farm, but were not farmers themselves, were about 21 percent less likely to experience a range of allergies compared to those living 500 m (1,640 ft) away or more.

The results were similar when researchers looked specifically at proximity to cattle or pig farms, though not for poultry farms. The apparent protection was also seen among people without allergy symptoms, but whose blood test showed a tendency to have an immune reaction associated with common allergies, food allergies, asthma and eczema.

“For 20 years, a large number of studies have shown that allergies are less prevalent in farmers and farmers’ children,” said senior study author Lidwien Smit of Utrecht University.

“Farming is actually one of the few environmental exposures consistently linked to respiratory allergies,” she told Reuters Health by email. “It’s important because the number of people affected by respiratory allergies has sharply increased over the last few decades.”

From the study participants’ blood samples, the research team measured allergy antibodies to house dust mites, grass, cats and dogs. They used geographic and weather data to determine the distance of each person’s home from neighboring farms, the number and types of animals on those farms, and to estimate fine dust emissions from each farm.

About 30 percent of participants had allergies, mostly to grass and house dust mites, and about a third had lived on a farm during childhood. The research team also analyzed the number of years the participants lived in their current house.

“You could argue that selective migration might play a role, that is, less healthy people move away to more urbanized areas,” Smit said. “However, we didn’t find this, which strengthens the idea that environmental exposures are responsible for the protective effect.”

The apparent protection tied to living close to a farm was strongest for those who lived near pig or cattle farms, as well as those who grew up on a farm, the study team reports in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The study doesn’t prove whether or how exposure to farms might reduce allergic sensitivity. Smit said the researchers are continuing to explore whether the rich diversity of microbes carried on wind-borne dust from farms might play a role in modulating the immune responses of non-farming neighbors.

“Most allergy studies focus on finding new ways to treat symptoms,” said Grethe Elholm of Aarhus University in Denmark, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“It is also important to keep drawing attention to some of the apparent negative effects of Westernized lifestyle with its current fixation on cleanliness,” Elholm said in an email. “Farms may be considered dirty and smelly, but they might actually be doing our immune system a favor.”

In the United States, researchers are also focused on the house dust mite, which is the most common allergen worldwide, and how dust, pets and allergens in the home build immunity early in life.

“If you’re growing up in an environment devoid of all exposures to animals and allergens, your risk of developing allergic disease tends to be higher,” said Dr. Alexander Adami of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to live near a farm or go visit one,” Adami said in a telephone interview. “Go play outside, get a pet or expose yourself to new environments.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2K9faym Occupational and Environmental Medicine, online April 30, 2018.

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Liver damage: Eating THIS spice can form protective barrier around the liver

KEEP sprinkling the nutmeg on those cappuccinos as the spice can help prevent liver damage, according to a study today. The ingredient commonly added to pies and other foods already has superfood status for its ability to treat a range of ailments from toothache to asthma to heart disease in various cultures across the world.

But the latest research adds the spice’s ability to form a protective barrier around the liver to its long list of healing properties.

Scientists from universities led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences tested nutmeg on mice to see how it helped the liver and other organs as it has long been used in various forms of Chinese medicine.

It found a dose of nutmeg restored compounds such as lipids and acylcarnitines to healthy levels by modulating a gene called the PPARA, the peroxisome prolifererator-activated receptor alpha.

When this gene was removed in the experiments, the researchers found that the nutmeg extract was unable to prevent damage to the liver.

It is believed the secret is a specific compound found in nutmeg called myrislignan which modulates the PPARA receptor, said the study team, which included universities in Beijing and Maryland, USA.

In Chinese medicine, nutmeg is used to treat many forms of pain from rheumatism and infections to toothache and asthma.

More scientific research in recent years shows the spice, which comes from the Myristica fragrans tree in Indonesia, has been beneficial in fighting heart tissue damage and hyperglycemia.

The world consumers 9,000 tones of nutmeg a year, said the study in the specialised publication The Journal of Proteome Research.

It reported: “Nutmeg is a traditional Chinese medicine used to treat gastrointestinal diseases.

“This data demonstrates that nutmeg alleviates TAA (thiocetamide) liver injury through the modulation of PPARA and that the lignan compounds in nutmeg partly contributed to this action.”

Source: Daily Express

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Why Is Organic Stevia So Difficult to Achieve?

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/herbs-botanicals/why-organic-stevia-so-difficult-achieve

Even as consumer demand for organic products grows at double-digit rates, per latest USDA estimates, challenges remain for sourcing organic stevia, for various reasons. Suppliers say that it is difficult, for instance, to find an appropriate and affordable supply of organic ethanol, which is used in organic-stevia extraction.

Another challenge is finding stevia ingredients that are truly pesticide-free, says Margaret Gomes, director of marketing for supplier NP Nutra (Gardena, CA). She notes that it is difficult to grow stevia without the use of pesticides. Recently, however, her company announced it has added an organic stevia P.E. 90% ingredient to its offerings.

NP Nutra’s ingredient is certified organic, Gomes says, but the company does not rely on the word of manufacturing partners that their raw materials are organic. Oftentimes, she says, the company has found that even ingredients that raw-material suppliers pass off as certified organic are not truly organic grade.

“Because it is not easy to grow stevia leaves without the use of pesticides, not that many companies offer organic stevia that is free of pesticide residues,” Gomes says. “We have had many instances where we have tested products with all the organic certifications, yet there have been issues, particularly with pesticide residues over the 0.01 ppm limit.”

For this reason, Gomes says, NP Nutra always lot tests all of its organic stevia itself through its Triple-T Verification Program—a program introduced last year that includes a battery of pesticide and contaminant tests—in order to ensure compliance with organic regulations. “NP Nutra doesn’t rely on the supplier certifications to validate our organic products; we test them ourselves,” she says.

The Triple-T program also includes strict vendor-qualification protocols, including on-site audits, and ingredient traceability via transaction certificates. Gomes says that finding a quality raw-material supplier is a difficult task and that NP Nutra was fortunate to find its organic stevia supplier. “We currently source our organic stevia from China,” Gomes says. “After sourcing and testing stevia samples from different countries, we found that our existing manufacturing partner is the only one that has all the required quality procedures in place. We are currently evaluating a secondary manufacturing partner from another country as well.”

In order to grow the organic stevia supply, she says, suppliers are forging partnerships with stevia leaf farmers and working with stevia farming associations for support. For now, Gomes says, “It appears…that supply of organic stevia will not catch up with demand for a few more years.”

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/herbs-botanicals/why-organic-stevia-so-difficult-achieve

Minor Stevia Extracts Like Reb M and Reb D Are in High Demand. How Can Stevia Suppliers Scale Up Supply?

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/herbs-botanicals/minor-stevia-extracts-reb-m-and-reb-d-are-high-demand-how-can-stevia-suppliers-scale-supply

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) has made great global strides in just a decade as a zero-calorie food and beverage sweetener. In March, stevia supplier PureCircle (Chicago), together with market researcher Mintel, reported that the worldwide number of foods and beverages launched with stevia grew by more than 10% in 2017 over 2016, with 3500 such products launched in 2017 alone. Overall, they estimated, stevia is now present in more than 16,000 food and beverage products across the globe. Also, as stevia use grows, this plant-based sweetener is taking market share from other high-intensity, low-calorie sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium. In 2017, Mintel said, stevia was more widely used than aspartame in foods and beverages containing high-intensity sweeteners.

The drive toward stevia is the direct result of growing global concerns about obesity and diabetes prevalence, and a subsequent effort to reduce sugar consumption among consumers young and old. Mintel noted that the number of stevia-containing food and beverages launched specifically for young children grew a whopping 16% between 2016 and 2017.

Whether it’s in beverages, snacks, dairy products, or confectionery, the opportunities for stevia are ripe—and ripening further as suppliers improve the taste of their stevia ingredients.

Some suppliers are now working on producing greater quantities of the stevia leaf’s minor steviol glycosides, like rebaudiosides M and D, which are said to taste more sugar-like compared to the more common steviol glycoside rebaudioside A. (Some Reb A sweeteners are said to have a bitter, or licorice-like, aftertaste.)

Unfortunately, minor glycosides like Reb M and Reb D are still in smaller supply compared to a major glycoside like Reb A. This is chiefly because there is a much smaller quantity of these minor glycosides in the stevia leaf compared to a glycoside like Reb A.

For suppliers, the question right now is how best to increase access to glycosides like Reb M and D. Some believe the answer is still rooted in stevia leaf extraction—namely, gradually breeding stevia leaves that yield higher percentages of the minor glycosides. (As discussed later, some companies are also further enzymatically treating their stevia leaf extracts to improve taste.) This kind of plant breeding takes time, however, and, as one can imagine, significant scale-up of these glycosides within the leaf can take years, often decades, to achieve.

On the other hand, one company, Cargill (Minneapolis), has finally come to market with a stevia ingredient it’s been developing for years—one that does not involve traditional leaf extraction at all. Dubbed EverSweet, this Reb M and Reb D sweetener is produced using fermentation. (Cargill worked with fermentation ingredient specialist Evolva in Reinach, Switzerland, to produce EverSweet.) While EverSweet is not extracted from the stevia leaf, that is exactly the point, the companies would say. EverSweet’s Reb M and Reb D glycosides can be produced through fermentation alone (in fermentation tanks), meaning one does not have to rely on plant breeding, agricultural farming, or on land and water use to make it.

Opinions remain mixed on the best way to scale up production of Reb M and Reb D. For instance, the companies that remain committed to the notion of leaf-based stevia say that adhering to leaf-based extraction, as opposed to fermentation, is key to preserving stevia’s biggest selling point: the fact that it is a natural, zero-calorie plant-based sweetener. (Other major zero-calorie sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium cannot say the same.)

But, in the face of growing demand for these minor glycosides, is it truly possible, through traditional leaf extraction, to sufficiently increase supply and to do so in a timely manner? Or, will more food and beverage makers seek ingredients like Cargill’s EverSweet that are produced using alternative methods?

Why Reb M and Reb D?

First, let’s review again why minor glycosides like Reb M and Reb D are so darned desirable.

Listen to how ingredient supplier Ingredion (Westchester, IL) describes the Bestevia brand of Reb M and Reb D ingredients it supplies. Bestevia Reb M, launched in 2017, “is 300 times sweetener than sugar and offers a sweet taste experience that is very sugar-like,” says Afrouz Naeini, senior marketing manager, sweetness and beverage, Ingredion. “The clean sweetness, coupled with the lack of bitter aftertaste that is typically associated with stevia sweeteners, enables formulators to replace up to 100% sugar in their product design using a naturally based stevia sweetener.” (Ingredion distributes the Bestevia line on behalf of the ingredients’ developer SweeGen, which is located in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA.)

Bestevia Reb D offers similar benefits, says Kurt Callaghan, marketing manager, global sweetness innovation, Ingredion. “Reb D has a cleaner taste than traditional stevia sweeteners, and sensory mapping shows that Reb D has a sweetness time intensity closer to sucrose than other stevia products,” he says.

Because steviol glycosides like Reb M and Reb D taste more like sugar, formulators can more easily use them to replace a greater amount of sugar—and cut more calories in the process—without negatively impacting product taste. The glycosides’ better taste also reduces the necessity of using taste modulators, points out Katherina Pueller, director, natural sweetener business, SweeGen. “By using Bestevia Reb M and Reb D with that clean, sugar-like taste in their applications, formulators save cost on bitter-maskers,” Pueller says. And because these glycosides are 200-300 times sweeter than sugar, even “small amounts have a huge impact” on sweetening, she says.

Benefits like these are why Reb M and Reb D have come to the fore, say Ingredion and SweeGen. (Last November, the companies jointly announced that Bestevia Reb D received a “no objections” Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) response from FDA, clearing its use in U.S. foods and beverages.)

In order to get consumers to permanently switch to lower-sugar foods and beverages, formulators must ensure that these products don’t sacrifice taste. As such, it would not be surprising if companies that are already engaged in formulating with stevia—including CPG giants like The Coca-Cola Co., Kraft Heinz, Nestlé, Groupe Danone, and PepsiCo—increasingly demand greater supplies of better-tasting steviol glycosides.

Starting with the Leaf

Currently, suppliers have different ways of producing Reb M and Reb D. Some suppliers start with stevia leaf extraction and further employ the use of enzymes to refine taste.

Of the Bestevia process, SweeGen’s Pueller says, “Our Reb M and Reb D are produced by a proprietary bioconversion process. Starting with extracts from the stevia leaf, we use enzymes as processing aids to increase the amount of the preferred, best-tasting components. Our bioconversion process is unique and enables us to produce Reb M and Reb D in great quantities.”

In short, she says, “We combine nature, science, and bioengineering to produce sustainable products.”

FDA’s recent “no objections” GRAS letter for Bestevia Reb D describes the process even more specifically: “The process uses a non-pathogenic and non-toxicogenic strain of Pichia pastoris (derived from P. pastoris ATCC 20864) expressing a uridine-5’-diphospho-(UDP) glucosyltransferase that catalyzes the conversion of rebaudioside A to rebaudioside D and a sucrose synthase that catalyzes the conversion of UDP to UDP-glucose.”

PureCircle also uses enzymes to produce some of its stevia ingredients. In a 2016 Nutritional Outlook interview, Faith Son, PureCircle’s vice president of marketing and innovation, described the process the company uses for some of its ingredients this way: “Within our portfolio, we also have leaf-based ingredients that are glycosylated,” she said. “These ingredients start with a traditional stevia leaf extract that’s purified to 95%, and with the use of natural enzymes, add glucose or other sugar molecules to improve taste. We are very transparent about how these products are made and how they differ from our other leaf-based product.”

For this article, she adds, “As the industry-leading innovator and supplier of great-tasting stevia ingredients for the global food and beverage industries, we have a responsibility to understand the various alternative technologies used to produce stevia ingredients. We have specific products we offer which leverage glycosylation, which is processed similar to traditional stevia leaf extracts, as it all begins with the stevia leaf.”

Companies extracting stevia from the leaf say that improving the taste of stevia sweeteners begins with breeding leaves that contain higher amounts of minor glycosides like Reb M and Reb D. Several of the stevia suppliers we interviewed for this article are now focused on 1) breeding leaves with higher contents of Reb M and Reb D, and 2) increasing acreage of these improved leaves.

In February, for instance, PureCircle announced plans to significantly increase its acreage of StarLeaf, PureCircle’s proprietary stevia plant developed through its PureCircle Agronomy Program and its expertise in traditional cross-breeding. The company says StarLeaf “yields roughly 20 times more of the newest and best-tasting stevia leaf sweeteners than conventional stevia varieties.” Son specifies that StarLeaf provides higher concentrations of Reb M and Reb D, along with some other rare glycosides. It also contains Reb A.

A lot of the StarLeaf scale-up is happening in North Carolina, where lands once used to grow tobacco are now being used to grow StarLeaf. Sweet Green Fields (Bellingham, WA) is another stevia supplier who has grown stevia in North Carolina.

Son says PureCircle’s agricultural partnerships are providing economic opportunities to farmers in the area. “We discovered that the skillset for growing tobacco translates extremely well to growing stevia,” she says. “North Carolina also has the soil and climate conditions conducive to growing stevia plants. We are also able to provide North Carolina’s tobacco farmers with new economic opportunities due to the declining demand for tobacco.”

In a press release, PureCircle stated, “Expanding the planting and use of [our] proprietary StarLeaf stevia leaf will enable the company to meet the increasing demand of [the] food and beverage industries for the best-tasting—and most sugar-like—zero-calorie stevia sweeteners.”

Son says PureCircle’s long-term plan is to convert all of its stevia crop to StarLeaf. The conversion process is happening in stages. The company said it plans to plant 16,000 tons of StarLeaf this year and estimated that 80% of the stevia plants it uses this year will be StarLeaf; by next year, it said, this percentage could be as high as 90%.

In a press release announcing the new StarLeaf plantings, James Foxton, PureCircle’s vice president of agriculture operations, said, “We look forward to providing food and beverage companies access to the most sugar-like content from the leaf, at a scale which has never before been possible.”

Other stevia suppliers are also focusing on agronomy improvements to produce more of the minor glycosides. Elaine Yu, president of stevia and monk fruit supplier Layn USA Inc. (Newport Beach, CA), says her company has an innovation center in Shanghai “focused on increasing the yield of exotic steviol glycosides like Reb C and Reb D.”

In February, two companies, natural-sweeteners supplier GLG Life Tech Corp. (GLG; Richmond, BC, Canada) and ingredients firm Archer Daniels Midland (ADM; Decatur, IL), jointly announced the debut of their new Reb M ingredient, which is produced from GLG’s proprietary Dream Sweetener stevia leaf. They said this leaf is “exceptionally high” in Reb M, in addition to containing Reb A and Reb D. Brian Meadows, GLG’s president, says this is the first time the company is supplying a Reb M ingredient.

GLG and ADM take care to point out that this new Reb M product line is physically extracted from the stevia leaf and produced without the use of fermentation or enzymatic processing. A press release from the companies states: “Other competing products in the market use chemical treatments or are produced using fermentation processes that employ non-natural, bioengineered fermentation organisms and enzymes.” The companies say that because their ingredients do not use fermentation or enzymatic processing, they give formulators greater leeway to use them in countries “that otherwise do not permit use of stevia extracts when produced using bioconversion or fermentation methods.” In addition, they say, “Because there are no enzyme enrichment or fermentation techniques employed in the production of GLG’s Reb M product line, they are also clean-label ingredients, an added benefit to formulators looking to meet the growing demand for clean and clear labels…”

Meadows provides a quick overview of the process GLG went through to develop the Dream Sweetener leaf. “GLG developed its high–Reb M Dream Sweetener seedling over the past five years,” he says. The company first publicly announced it had created a high–Reb M seedling back in 2015. That seedling contained 4% Reb M as a percentage of total steviol glycosides. “Historically, stevia seedlings contained less than 1% of Reb M as a percentage of total steviol glycosides,” Meadows says. For comparison, he says, “This high–Reb M seedling was a 1000% increase in Reb M compared to the levels contained in GLG’s Reb A seedlings.”

A year later, in 2016, GLG announced an improved version of the seedling, one that contains 8% Reb M as a percentage of total steviol glycosides. In 2017, GLG began planting this 8%–Reb M seedling, and it now serves as the source of the new Reb M ingredient GLG and ADM are selling commercially.

Meadows says GLG’s goal is to continue increasing the percentage of Reb M in the leaf. “GLG is focusing on developing even higher concentrations of Reb M in the Dream Sweetener leaf and has two agricultural programs focusing on achieving this.” He says the company is also working with “a leading agricultural university” to increase Reb M yields. Last year, the research partnership achieved a “major breakthrough”: seedlings that contain more than 50% Reb M as a percentage of total steviol glycosides, he says. GLG may commercialize this new variety in the future, Meadows says, and also plans to increase the amount of Dream Sweetener leaves it grows.

Breeding Takes Time

Agronomy advancements via traditional plant breeding don’t happen overnight. Dean Francis, CEO of supplier Sweet Green Fields, says his company has been “naturally breeding [its] stevia varieties to improve yields and the taste for over a decade.”

He briefly touches on some of the breeding challenges suppliers can encounter. For instance, he says, “It’s known that a variety that shows a high content of steviol glycosides or strong resistance to diseases in one region may not be able to perform equally well if it is grown in another region.”

Farmers also grow these leaves at the mercy of Mother Nature. In its press release announcing the scale-up of StarLeaf, PureCircle cautioned that, “as with any agricultural crop,” the scale-up of StarLeaf plantings is “subject to various conditions such as weather.”

Enter EverSweet

Cargill says that its EverSweet sweetener sidesteps agricultural challenges because it doesn’t rely on land use and plant breeding to produce. Instead, through fermentation, the company says it can quickly scale up production of Reb M and Reb D.

EverSweet’s development did not happen overnight; on the contrary, Cargill and Evolva have been refining its production process for years. Finally, this March, the companies announced that the ingredient is officially in commercial production.

EverSweet contains the glycosides Reb M and Reb D. Mandy Kennedy, Cargill’s senior marketing manager, describes EverSweet’s advantages: “Only a tiny fraction (less than 1%) of these sweetest steviol glycosides, Reb D and Reb M, are found in the stevia leaf. With such small quantities available in the plant, it would require significant land use and produce too much waste”—meaning, any unused parts of the leaf—“to be commercially or environmentally viable.”

She concludes, “Producing them through fermentation is an inherently more sustainable and cost-efficient way to make the best-tasting steviol glycosides available in sufficient quantities in the mass market.” Fermentation, the firm says, means there is “flexibility to expand [EverSweet’s production] rapidly and cost-effectively.” Cargill says supply is also consistent; by taking place in fermentation tanks, EverSweet’s production isn’t affected by variables that impact traditional agriculture, like poor weather.

Kennedy describes EverSweet’s process thusly: “We feed dextrose (a simple sugar made from corn) to the yeast during the fermentation process. The yeast produces two of the sweetest steviol glycosides found in the leaf, Reb D and Reb M. We separate the yeast from the Reb D and Reb M compounds during the purification process.”

Cargill emphasizes that it does not propose EverSweet as a complete replacer of leaf-based stevia ingredients. In fact, the company still offers and continues to grow its own portfolio of leaf-derived stevia ingredients, including its ViaTech line. The company also continues to work on breeding improved stevia leaves—and, in fact, Kennedy points out that Cargill’s expertise in growing canola crops also informs the company’s best practices for breeding stevia plants.

Instead of replacing leaf-based stevia, Kennedy says, “EverSweet is meant to open new market opportunities where stevia leaf extract does not play today. Our new sweetener will give consumers more options for great-tasting, reduced- and zero-calorie products.”

At the Natural Products Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA, in March, Kennedy said the market could even see products launching with EverSweet in the next year or two. She added that, like with stevia sweeteners in general, beverages are often an easier place to start because, unlike with food products, formulators do not have to worry as much about the bulking properties and texture that are lost when replacing sugar with a high-intensity sweetener like stevia.

The EverSweet launch was postponed initially, chiefly because Cargill and Evolva needed to further improve the process’s glycoside yields and cost parameters, Kennedy told Nutritional Outlook at Natural Products Expo West. “Over time, we’ve increased the efficiency of the yeast turning basic sugars into steviol glycosides, as well as improved the efficiency of the purification step. This has allowed us to produce EverSweet sweetener cost-efficiently.”

Now, she says, “Cargill has achieved a suitable scale and cost-efficient supply of the sweetest steviol glycosides, Reb D and Reb M, through fermentation.”

Exploring All Avenues

Moving forward, Cargill’s stevia portfolio looks like it will comprise a combination of leaf-based stevia ingredients and stevia ingredients produced through alternative means.

Other industry leaders are also evaluating their own production processes. In April, PureCircle published a press statement noting that, in addition to focusing on extracting higher amounts of Reb M and Reb D from StarLeaf, the company is also exploring other avenues in an attempt to produce more of those glycosides.

In the statement, the company said it “now has two ways” of producing Reb D and Reb M. It said: “PureCircle continues to produce Reb D and Reb M by extracting them from its proprietary StarLeaf plants. But now it can also produce Reb D and Reb M in much greater scale, directly using the more abundant Reb A in the production process. The Reb D and Reb M produced from the two processes are from the stevia leaf and are identical in great taste.” Carolyn Clark, PureCircle’s director of global marketing, says that the details of the process involving Reb A are proprietary, but adds, “The most important takeaway is all the Reb M and D we produce are from the stevia plant and are identical in great taste.”

In its public statement, the company further noted that more consumer brands are “already using PureCircle’s Reb D and Reb M in their products” and that “PureCircle’s expansion in production of Reb D and Reb M will increase the supply of these stevia sweeteners with the most sugar-like taste.” The company said it’s already begun “ramping up” production of Reb D and Reb M, with PureCircle CEO Maga Malsagov stating that “large-scale volumes are now available at attractive prices.”

“That will help the beverage and food companies get access to an ingredient they need, as they continue to respond to their consumers’ desires for more zero- and low-calorie products using plant-based sweeteners,” the company added.

To Market, To Market

As stevia suppliers introduce different types of Reb M and Reb D sweeteners, in the end, formulators—and, possibly, well-informed end-use customers—will determine which type is right for them. Each has its advantages.

For instance, Sweet Green Fields’ Francis says, “In the long term, it is likely that stevia sweeteners produced by fermentation and/or bioconversion may be lower cost versus traditional stevia extracts.” However, he says, “although bioconversion starts with the stevia leaf and converts to a targeted glycoside, fermentation is a completely different process” and that “to produce a stevia glycoside from fermentation does not even use stevia leaf whatsoever.”

Meanwhile, Kennedy says that EverSweet gives formulators who may have had trouble sourcing Reb M and Reb D another option. “What we’d been hearing from formulators is, ‘I really want to get my hands on Reb M or Reb D, but I can’t track any down from leaf,” Kennedy said at Natural Products Expo West. These formulators might now try EverSweet instead.

Companies also have another option for improving stevia-sweetener taste, which is to formulate with a blend of glycosides, both major and minor. As Layn’s Yu says, “Today, we are seeing more and more CPG companies combining multiple steviol glycosides because the combination provides a better customized sweet solution.”

Many stevia suppliers agree that blends are a good answer. This includes blends with various glycosides as well as with other kinds of sweeteners.

At Natural Products Expo West, for instance, Kennedy said that while EverSweet can serve as the sole sweetener in some product applications, “I think we’re going to see combinations with EverSweet”—such as those marrying EverSweet and leaf-derived stevia ingredients. Products containing both could be labeled as containing both “stevia leaf extract” and “steviol glycosides” (from EverSweet), she said.

“We have research that shows that when you combine stevia leaf extract with steviol glycosides on a label, there’s an overall improvement in purchase intent and the overall halo of healthfulness,” she added. Other Cargill sweetening ingredients, such as chicory root fiber, can also pair with stevia.

GLG/ADM point out that their high–Reb M ingredient “blends well with other sweeteners, such as monk fruit and sugar alcohols, to create balanced sweetness.”

As for PureCircle, Son says, “Through all of our research at the application level, we’ve found that a combination approach—blends of glycosides—is often what is most successful.”

She continues: “We have learned there is tremendous advantages to using the entirety of the stevia leaf in formulations. When blends of the individual stevia ingredients come together, they produce certain taste synergies, which can result in improved taste performance and negate the need for masking agents.”

Blends are also likely necessary, frankly, while suppliers work on optimizing Reb M and Reb D’s production and cost in use. Son says, “As we scale, these ingredients are going to become more readily available for use by companies operating globally or on a smaller scale.” In the meantime, she emphasizes, “We believe it is important to look at how combinations of various steviol glycosides can provide synergies and the most sugar-like taste within various applications. Often, it is blends of stevia ingredients which yield superior taste performance compared to single-ingredient solutions.”

And, lest we forget: applications expertise is also key. A supplier’s ability to pair the right type of glycoside and sweetener blend with the right type of product application in order to maximize efficacy as a sugar replacer is invaluable. Stevia suppliers with expertise offering specific sweetening solutions tailored to specific types of products, whether it be dairy products, beverages, or others, will find themselves a step ahead of the competition.

From Minor to Major

Within the stevia leaf is a world of sweetening possibilities waiting to be discovered. As stevia suppliers tap into the leaf’s next generation of steviol glycosides, they will continue teasing out better-tasting glycosides and figuring out ways to produce these glycosides at commercial scale. In short, one day, these minor glycosides could be major.

Son describes PureCircle’s dreams for the future stevia market, and it sounds like the dreams of many a stevia supplier. “Our vision has always been to create a global mass market for a natural-origin sweetener, and to make it affordable for global brands. The key to doing this is to increase the global supply of the very best-tasting stevia ingredients.”

If suppliers can figure out how to scale up supply of these glycosides in a way that’s successful in the market, there’s no telling how far stevia can go.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/herbs-botanicals/minor-stevia-extracts-reb-m-and-reb-d-are-high-demand-how-can-stevia-suppliers-scale-supply

Source: Nutritional Outlook

The post Why Is Organic Stevia So Difficult to Achieve? appeared first on Herbs and Helpers.


Astragalus- An Ancient Chinese Wonder Herb

Astragalus membranaceus or astragalus root is a homegrown or herbal supplement that is stacked with a punch for your wellbeing.

A homegrown cure, astragalus belongs to the pea family, and it’s been utilized for actually a large number of years in countries like China to heal and mend in therapeutic sciences.

Astounding benefits of astragalus root

The medicinal benefits of astragalus usually derive from its roots which are used in dried forms. Astragalus has been utilized by experts of conventional Chinese medication for centuries. It has an adjusting impact on the different body functions. Let us discuss some of these benefits

Astragalus for the health of the heart

The mixes and chemical substances found in the astragalus root are known as saponins. These substances secure and fortify the heart by keeping veins from sticking together.

These purging chemicals additionally prevent the development of plaque on the walls of arteries to ensure the proper stream of blood. These properties influence the root to work like fiber for the blood, keeping veins open and clear and maintains proper circulation of blood.

Astragalus is likewise supposed to help rectify heart arrhythmia and enhance general cardiovascular functions.

Astragalus to regulate and manage blood pressure

Various elements add to the root’s assumed capacity to manage the BP. The astragalus root is said to help to get relief from shortness of breath and to ease pains in chest.

Moreover, the plant prevents the water and salt retention and helps to prevent the formation of clots in the arteries and veins. It might even control the cholesterol levels.

Astragalus likewise advances vasodilation which is the vital relaxation of the smooth muscles around blood vessel platelets. This basic administrative process is another part of expanding the blood stream and assuaging hypertension.

Astragalus helps to boost the system of immunity

The main reason individuals have been going crazy over astragalus is a result of its capacities to super-charge and re-charge the system of immunity. Flavonoids, cancer prevention agent chemicals, are only one of the dynamic chemicals that are found in the root.

The polysaccharides present in the root support the synthesis of white platelets and help to increase T-cells activity. They even advance generation of interferon which is a basic chemical substance for delivering fundamental proteins.

The outcome is that the root extraordinarily builds a man’s capacity to fend off viral diseases and bacterial contamination, including growth and HIV.

In China, Astragalus is given to the patients of cancer to enhance and boost the immunity after radiation, drug or any medical treatment.

Furthermore, in the US, Astragalus supplements that contain restoratively dynamic substances including a polysaccharide (derived from Astragalus) have been present at research institutions for cancer research to speed recuperation of tumor patients by empowering their resistant framework.

Astragalus helps to reverse the process of aging

Some early investigations and researchers propose that the herb may help animate the development of telomeres. Telomeres are the closures/ends of DNA strands on chromosomes which secure it against decay.

This implies they help decrease the probability of the shortening of DNA strand that occurs because of replication. As a man becomes aged, they lose the capacity to make new telomeres due to the breaking down of DNA.

This is vital, in light of the fact that it’s this harm and shortening from the replication that advances you to grow older. Basically, astragalus root is estimated to moderate, and potentially turn around or reverse the process of aging in an individual.

Astragalus for sexual health

Generally endorsed in Chinese medicine for the treatment of male infertility. Astragalus has now been logically demonstrated to build up the sperm motility in an examination directed by the Institutes of Traditional Medicine and Clinical Medicine.

It is tremendously helpful for male hormones, by adjusting glucose levels it can improve the levels of growth hormones and testosterone.

Astragalus to treat flu and cold
Due to the antiviral abilities of astragalus, it has for quite some time been utilized to treat normal flu and colds. It normally combines with different herbs like angelica, ginseng, and licorice.

Similarly, as with numerous other remedies for cold, it appears to work better when sound and healthy people utilize the supplement frequently to keep away the disease before it happens.

A dose of astragalus before the winter months may avoid or diminish the instances of colds and upper respiratory sicknesses people will have all through the season.

Astragalus to reduce the adverse effects of chemotherapy

One research recommends that giving intravenous astragalus (by IV) or utilizing Chinese homegrown blends containing astragalus may lessen vomiting, vertigo, nausea, loose bowels, and suppressed bone marrow (a reduction in the cells that give resistance or immunity ) that is related with chemotherapy medications.

Astragalus helps to regulate and prevent diabetes and diseases associated with diabetes

Astragalus has been contemplated logically as an antidiabetic. Studies demonstrate its capacity to relieve the resistance of insulin and naturally treat diabetes.

Stacking of certain chemical substances like flavonoids, saponins, and polysaccharides all are powerful in treating and managing type 1 and 2 diabetes.

These substances help to build up the insulin affectability, ensure the protection of pancreatic beta cells (the cells in the pancreas that deliver and releasing of insulin) and furthermore go about as anti-inflammatory agents in regions associated with the symptoms of diabetes.

Kidney malady in diabetics is additionally a typical issue and astragalus has been utilized to treat kidney ailment for a long time.

Current investigations in animals and humans have indicated that astragalus can slow down the advancement of kidney issues in diabetics and helps to protect the renal functions and systems.

Doses and way to prepare astragalus root

Astragalus root in sliced form regularly uses to make soups, stocks or teas. The average measurement of dose changes from about 2 to 30 grams. Although larger dosages seem, by all accounts, to be protected, 8-15 per day is by all accounts more sensible.

Some warnings and precautionary measures to use astragalus root

Breast feeding mothers and pregnant ladies

There is very insufficient information about the astragalus safety in people during breast feeding and pregnancy.

Anyhow, some examinations in animals recommend that astragalus can be poisonous to the fetus and mother. So, it is suggested to stay safe by avoiding its dosage during pregnancy or during the time span of breast feeding.

Do not use during auto-immune diseases

Auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus or other auto-immune disorders, it is not safe to use astragalus root. Astragalus may make the system of immunity more dynamic and active.

Eventually, it could aggravate the indications of auto-immune diseases. So, just keep away yourself from utilizing the astragalus in case you have any of these conditions.

Interaction with drugs

Astragalus root seems to interact with certain immunosuppressant drugs and medicines and reduce their affectability.

Source: Reports Healthcare

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Black rhinos return to Zakouma National Park in Chad

The NGO African Parks and its partners in South Africa and Chad reintroduced six black rhinos to Zakouma National Park on May 4.
Chad’s oldest national park had not had rhinos since the early 1970s, when they were wiped out by hunting.

After a brief acclimation period in transitional bomas, or enclosures, the rhinos will be released into a protected sanctuary in the park.

Around 5,000 black rhinos remain on the African continent, and poaching for their horns, used in traditional Asian medicine, continues to be a threat to their survival as a species.
Zakouma National Park in Chad is now home to six black rhinos, the new set of residents reminiscent of an earlier time for the Central African country’s oldest national park.

“[Friday’s] reintroduction is an important contribution to the long-term conservation of rhinos in Africa, and also to the enrichment of Chad’s natural heritage,” Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks, said in a statement.

African Parks, an NGO that runs parks and protected areas in nine countries, worked with government agencies in South Africa and Chad to ferry two male and four female black rhinoceroses (Diceros bicornis) on a 4,800-kilometer (3,000-mile) airborne journey from Addo National Park in South Africa.

A black rhino is released into a boma in Zakouma National Park in Chad. Image by Kyle de Nobrega/African Parks.

Hunting had wiped out Zakouma’s black rhinos by the early 1970s. Today, rampant poaching across the rhino’s African range to meet the demand for rhino horn in traditional medicine markets in Asia threatens both of the continent’s rhino species. The IUCN lists black rhinos as Critically Endangered and white rhinos as Near Threatened (Ceratotherium simum) species. On May 2, poachers killed three black rhinos — including a calf — at Meru National Park in Kenya, and South Africa, where 80 percent of African rhinos live, lost more than 1,000 rhinos 2017.

“The rhinoceros has survived on this planet for millennia, but with fewer than 25,000 remaining due to the insatiable demand for their horns, they are more affiliated with the prospect of extinction than with survival,” Fearnhead said.

Only about 5,000 black rhinos remain, represented by three subspecies. Now, Chad is one of 11 countries that have wild African rhinos.

After their arrival on May 4 in Zakouma, the six rhinos stepped out of their transport containers into enclosures called bomas that African Parks says will help them gain their footing in their new home. Once they’ve acclimated, after perhaps a few days or weeks, the team will release the rhinos into “an intensively protected sanctuary within the national park,” the organization said.

Since taking over management of the park in 2010, African Parks said it has worked to bolster law enforcement capabilities and improve local livelihoods resulting in “the effective elimination of poaching and the recovery of wildlife populations” in Zakouma. Chad’s Ambassador to South Africa credited those changes for making it possible to bring rhinos back to his country.

“It is a mark of the strength of our partnership with African Parks and the transformation of Zakouma in to a secure sanctuary that we are now able to bring rhinos back to Chad where they will receive enduring protection,” Sagour Youssouf Mahamat Itno said in the statement.

Once the rhinos leave their transitional bomas, they’ll have a team of rangers tasked with keeping them safe, and park staff will also monitor their security from the air, African Parks said.

The 3,049-square-kilometer (1,177-square-mile) national park is part of the Greater Zakouma Ecosystem, which is larger than Belgium. The park is home to lions (Panthera leo), Kordofan giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis antiquorum) and a growing herd of elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis). Sagour pointed out that the addition of rhinos to Zakouma could help Chad’s economy, one of the world’s least developed at 186 out of 188 countries, according to 2015 data complied in the UN’s Human Development Index.

“We are resolved to create a secure and prosperous future for wildlife and people, so that generations of Chadians can experience the benefits of healthy and intact natural landscapes,” Sagour said. “[The rhinos’] reintroduction signifies an important advancement in the restoration of the park, furthering its potential as a conservation area to contribute through tourism to local economies and social development.”

This story first appeared on Mongabay

Source: South Africa Today – Environment

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One glass of antioxidant-rich red wine a day slashes men’s risk of prostate cancer by more than 10% – but Chardonnay has the opposite effect, study finds

Glass of red wine a day reduces the risk by 12%, however, white raises it by 26%

Red wine contains 10 times more antioxidants, which may explain the findings

Same antioxidants have previously been linked to a reduced blood-clotting risk

Experts say men can lower their risk by not smoking or eating too much red meat

Prostate cancer affects more than 47,000 new men in the UK every year

Drinking one glass of red wine a day slashes men’s risk of prostate cancer by around 12 per cent, new research suggests.

Yet, moderate consumption of white wine, such as Chardonnay, raises the risk of the disease by 26 per cent, a study found.

Red wine contains around 10 times more polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, than white, which may explain the findings, according to the researchers.

Lead author Professor Shahrokh Shariat, from the University of Vienna, said: ‘It has already been shown that polyphenols, which are predominantly found in red wine, can have a protective effect in other diseases and other types of cancer.’

Prostate cancer affects more than 47,000 new men in the UK every year.


Drinking wine may protect teeth by destroying bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease, research suggested in February 2018.

Despite many dentists warning booze’s acidic content can damage teeth, a study suggests antioxidants in wine significantly prevent bacteria that cause plaque, cavities and periodontal disease from sticking to gums.

When these bacteria enter the bloodstream, they can trigger a chain reaction that has been linked to heart disease and cancer.

The latest discovery may lead to the development of ‘wine-inspired’ toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain such antioxidants, according to the researchers from the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid.

Gum disease affects around three in every four adults in the UK, with symptoms including sore, bleeding gums during brushing.

Study author Dr Victoria Moreno-Arribas said: ‘Oral cells normally constitute a physical barrier that prevents infections.

‘But bacterial adhesion to host tissues constitutes a key step in the infectious process.’

Results further suggest antioxidants in red wine are more effective than commercially-available grape-seed and red-wine extracts at preventing plaque-causing bacteria from sticking to lab-grown cells in modeled gum tissue.

When digested in the mouth, these antioxidants are thought to produce molecules that may benefit oral health.

Combining the antioxidants with the oral probiotic Streptococcus dentisani further boosts dental health.

Antioxidants in red wine may prevent prostate cancer

Professor Shariat adds men should not be concerned over their moderate white-wine consumption providing they avoid other prostate-cancer risk factors, such as smoking and an excessive red-meat intake.

He believes the antioxidants in red wine may one day be used to help prevent prostate cancer.

The European Food Authority has previously stated that polyphenol-rich olive oil prevents blood cells clotting and reduces people’s risk of diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity.

How the research was carried out

The researchers analysed 18 studies that investigated the effect of drinking wine of any colour on men’s prostate-cancer risk.

Overall, the study review included around 611,000 patients.

One glass of wine a day was defined as moderate consumption.

The findings were published in the journal Clinical Epidemiology.

‘We would not recommend anyone changes their drinking habits’

Speaking of the findings, Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Prostate Cancer UK said: ‘It is not advisable to make any concrete conclusions about the link between drinking wine and prostate-cancer risk based on this study and we would not recommend that anyone changes their drinking habits based on these results alone.

‘Instead it’s important that all men maintain a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and limited alcohol consumption, and familiarise themselves with the three known risk factors for prostate cancer – being over the age of 50, having a family history of the disease, and black ethnicity.

‘Any man who falls into one or more of these groups should discuss his risk with his GP.’

Just two glasses of wine reduces sleep quality by nearly 40%

This comes after research released earlier this month suggested just two glasses of wine reduces people’s quality of sleep by nearly 40 per cent.

Heavy alcohol consumption, which these researchers defined as two drinks a night in women and three in men, reduces people’s quality of shut eye by 39.2 per cent, a study found.

Previous research suggests alcohol causes people to spend less time in deep, restful sleep and more time in the rapid eye movement stage, which is when dreams occur.

Results imply young people suffer the effects of alcohol more than their older counterparts.

Study co-author Professor Tero Myllymäki, from the Tampere University of Technology, Finland, said: ‘When you’re physically active, or younger, it’s easy, natural even, to feel like you’re invincible.

‘However, the evidence shows that despite being young and active you’re still susceptible to the negative effects of alcohol on recovery when you are asleep.’

Source: Daily Mail

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