LongLifepedia - Glossary

5-HTP

5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) present in high concentrations in griffonia (see Griffonia simplicifolia), is a precursor of serotonin, a neurotransmitter with important physiological functions.

In fact, serotonin is a widely acknowledged regulator of mood, sleep, pain and motor, aggressive, dietary and sexual behaviour.

Recent studies suggest that Griffonia seeds might increase serotonin levels in the brain.

Griffonia has been successfully used for depression, insomnia and all conditions presenting serotonin deficiency.

Griffonia also regulates appetite, thus favouring weight loss in obese subjects. Beneficial effects have also been observed for fibromyalgia and migraine.

This natural relaxing agent can, therefore, help to alleviate insomnia by inducing normal sleep. It is an effective remedy for headache, and helps to control comfort eating and dietary disorders.

Açai

Açai is a Euterpe (E. oleracea) palm tree that prevalently grows in the rainforests of Central and South America.

The flesh and skin of the açai fruit are rich in anthocyanidins, proanthocyanidins (see Bioflavonoids) and fatty acids, and constitute a moderate source of vitamin C and carotenoids.

In vitro studies on animal models indicate that açai has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

The antioxidant action is ensured by the high concentration of polyphenols, compounds that protect the cell from oxidative damage.

The US measuring method of the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of foodstuffs ranks açai as 10-30-fold more powerful than red wine.

Anthocyanins present in açai have LDL cholesterol-reducing and vasoprotective properties that are useful for venous and circulatory disorders and, generally, for all problems associated with frail capillaries.

Its important anti-atherogenic activity was particularly observed by several epidemiological studies (the French Paradox) that associated high consumption of anthocyanins with a reduction in mortality rates caused by cardiovascular diseases.

Useful for body weight and blood glucose control, in animal models açai showed to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Acerola

Acerola (Malpighia glabra L.) is a wild plant that grows in tropical and subtropical areas of Central and North America.

The fruit, which is also called “Barbados Cherry”, is rich in nutrients and phytonutrients, particularly flavonoids, such as rutin and hesperidin, but the use of acerola is based on its high concentration of vitamin C (see Vitamin C). In fact, this important vitamin provides powerful antioxidant protection and has several functions.

It participates in collagen synthesis, favours iron absorption, is involved in the metabolism of certain neurotransmitters and of histamine, and in the synthesis and release of prostaglandins.

Its demand increases in case of sports activities, stress, smoking and prolonged intake of medicines and oral contraceptives.

It is particularly indicated as prevention and therapy for infections, common colds, allergies, anaemia and frail capillaries.

With its high content of vitamin C, acerola is used to produce food supplements and to fortify foodstuffs. It is also involved in tissue synthesis and maintenance, such as, for instance, the formation of bones, teeth and skin.

Vitamin C supplementation is very important as this vitamin is highly sensitive to destruction when exposed to high temperatures, long storage periods, relatively low humidity levels, cold and light, which can impoverish foodstuffs of their content of this important vitamin.

Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALC)

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC) is a compound that is essential for brain and nerve cell energy metabolism.

Indeed, ALC can easily penetrate the blood-brain barrier to enhance cellular function in the brain.

Precisely, it can slow down cell deterioration subsequent to acute stress or ageing, which cause ALC concentrations in the brain to diminish.

Indicated to meet the body's high demand in case of intensive physical training, ALC boosts vitality and energy also for intellectual activity.

Recent studies indicate that ALC is essential for hippocampal function, particularly for efficient short and long-term memory.

But data concerning diabetic neuropathy pain are also interesting. It seems that this substance can relieve pain, besides contributing to the generation of nerve fibre.

Acetyl-11-Keto-Beta-Boswellic Acid (AKBA)

AKBA (acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid) is the term that groups the names of pentacyclic triterpene acids, the main active constituents of the terpenoid fraction of boswellia (see Boswellia serrata) resin.

Agaricus

Agaricus (Agaricus blazei Murril), “Himematsutake” in Japanese, is a typical Brazilian mushroom that is widely cultivated in Japan.

This large edible mushroom is extensively used for mycotherapy, especially for immune system function and as immune system modulator, as antitumoral agent and adjuvant for chemotherapy.

In addition, it is indicated for metabolic syndrome and as a hepatoprotector.

Scientific literature on the possible applications of Agaricus for human health is extensive, with interesting findings for tumours, infections, allergies, asthma and inflammatory disorders, particularly due to the presence of β-glucans and specific polysaccharides.

Alfalfa

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a leguminous native plant of the Middle Eastern area. Today it is widely grown especially as forage.

Besides its rich composition, which includes minerals, vitamins, amino acids and flavonoids, this plant contains several “non-nutrient” components that have health-promoting effects on the human body.

Researchers have identified some active compounds, phytoestrogens.

These compounds seem to prevent symptoms related to menopause (its effect on hot flashes has been tested in many studies) and to cardiovascular diseases, with an improvement in bone metabolism and anti-neoplastic potential.

Aloe

Native plant of North Africa, Aloe (Aloe Barbadensis Mill.) has anti-inflammatory and cicatrising properties.

The leaf is the part of the plant that is used. The juice or gel is extracted from it.

For its anti-inflammatory action, Aloe is used for gastrointestinal disorders and as a laxative.

For its emollient and anti-inflammatory effect, it is topically used as gel to protect and sooth the skin, particularly in case of acne.

Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)

Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for cell membrane integrity. The main sources of this fatty acid are seeds (particularly linseed), hazelnut, cereal and legumes.

Alpha-Linolenic Acid is the precursor of two other important fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The body converts ALA into EPA and DHA; therefore, its deficiency can impair the levels of these two important fatty acids, which are essential for the proper lipid metabolism process and for anti-inflammatory effects.

Moreover, intake of alpha linolenic acid is related to a low incidence of arterial hypertension.

Amylase

Amylase is a group of enzymes that degrade polysaccharide molecules formed by starch and glycogen. They are distinguished into alpha and beta amylase: the former is found in both animals and plants (in animals, it is produced in the salivary glands and in the pancreas); instead, beta amylase is typical of plants. Amylases are crucial for all human body functions (digestion, nutrition, hepatic function).

Artichoke

Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is a perennial plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. It has been used for centuries to control several liver and bile duct disorders.

It is rich in organic acids (caffeoylquinic acids, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid), cynarin, tannins, mucillage, vitamins, enzymes, iron, manganese and inulin.

Besides its bitter taste, modern research has observed its hepatoprotective, antioxidant, cholesterol reducing, anti-bacterial and diuretic action, suggesting several applications for the extract from its leaves.

It also has beneficial effects on functional dyspeptic conditions, whose symptoms it improves, particularly nausea, flatulence, abdominal pain and cramps.

Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng)

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also called “Indian ginseng”, is an ayurvedic plant of the Solanaceae family. It is native of India, Eastern Asia and the Mediterranean basin.

Among the 23 species of the Withania genus, only W. somnifera seems to have therapeutic effects.

Withanolides (see Withanolides), especially present in the roots and berries, have many health-promoting effects.

Their mainly have adaptogenic, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating, antitumoral and antioxidant actions.

Traditionally used as an aphrodisiac, hepatic restorative and general anti-inflammatory agent, Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic agent that is indicated for anxiety, neurological and cognitive disorders.

Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid (see Carotenoid) extracted from the microalga Haematococcus pluvialis. Recent studies report its powerful antioxidant action that, in some cases, is stronger that vitamin E and beta-carotene.

This pigment is mostly indicated as protection for skin, eyes, cardiovascular and immune systems.

Some studies report that Astaxanthin is more effective than beta-carotene and lutein for the prevention of UV-induced lipid photo-oxidation. It is also considered an excellent photoprotector for oral skin. In fact, research reports that Astaxanthin improves the conditions of all layers of skin.

Moreover, this carotenoid is capable of penetrating the blood-brain barrier and, like lutein, of depositing in the retina. It has been observed that retinal photoreceptors of animals fed with Astaxanthin are less damaged by UV light and recover more rapidly than those of animals who do not take Astaxanthin.

In the sports sector, this carotenoid increases muscle endurance, reduces lactic acid and prevents muscle atrophy.

Astragalus

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus ) is a native plant of Mongolia that is widely found in China, Siberia and Korea.

Besides its restorative and adaptogenic properties, Astragalus has a preventive action against viral diseases and influenza syndromes. It is an effective adjuvant for the immune system.

The root of this plant is used for its high content of polysaccharides with a prevalently glycosidic structure, which are attributed the immunostimulating, anti-viral and antioxidant activities.

The anti-viral action of Astragalus is particularly evident. Certain studies have reported its efficacy for the common cold, both as prevention and remedy, because it reduces the duration and severity of symptoms.

The cardiotonic action, which in some studies on humans has obtained results for angina, is interesting.

The beneficial effect observed for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), improvements in memory functions and the anti-fatigue effect associated with the increase in energy metabolism are particularly useful.

Auricularia (Kikurage)

Auricularia (Auricularia auricula-judae) is an edible medicinal mushroom of the Basidiomycota family. It is basically found in China, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia.

Moreover, besides its high nutritional value, Auricularia is rich in β-D-glucans, polysaccharides that are effective both in humans and in animals.

This mushroom mainly has antioxidant and antitumoral actions, though its most widely acknowledged traits are the capacity to favour cardiovascular well-being by reducing triglyceride and cholesterol levels, and its anticoagulant and anti-thrombotic effects.

B Group Vitamins

B Group Vitamins are water soluble and have many functions that help to maintain overall health. In fact, their presence is required for nervous, immune and digestive system function, for heart and muscle function, and for the production of new blood cells.

Moreover, B vitamins also intervene in lipid, carbohydrate and protein metabolism, in growth and cellular reproduction processes. They also have protective effects on DNA and on the liver.

Many B Group Vitamins have metabolic pathways that are interwoven and interact synergistically among them. Hence the frequent indication to take the vitamin complex instead of the single vitamins of this group.

Bacopa

Bacopa monnieri, also called brahmi, is a perennial herb that is used by Ayurvedic medicine.

In humans the administration of Bacopa improves verbal learning, memory consolidation and information processing speed.

Bacopa seems able to directly target the hippocampus, a crucial organ for memory fixation in the long-term memory.

Some studies on children report an increase in the IQ (Intelligence Quotient) score and an overall improvement in cognitive functions following its intake.

The plant also has anti-anxiety, anti-stress and sedative effects.

Bee Propolis

Bee propolis is a substance produced by bees. It is made up of wax, resins, essential oils and pollen, which the bees collect from the buds and bark of various tress to line and protect the hive.

The action of Bee Propolis is prevalently produced by the essential oil, organic acids and polyphenolic substances.

Bee Propolis has a valid action on influenza and parainfluenza strains (influenza A and B, parainfluenza 1, 2 and 3, Adenovirus and others), Rhinovirus, Corona virus and Herpes virus, probably for its capacity to prevent penetration of the virus into the cell and/or inhibit its replication cycle.

Bee Propolis has obtained excellent results for gingival and oral inflammation, with a significant drop in the Streptococcus mutans population (a bacterium that causes caries) already 60 minutes after administration.

Other studies indicate Bee Propolis as a natural remedy for parodontopathies, stomatitis, glossitis, Candida albicans, aphtha, thrush and halitosis.

Bee Propolis also has an anaesthetic action. This property has long been known and widely used.

Beta-carotene

Beta-Carotene is the most active and quantitatively most important carotenoid present in nature. Its main functions include: skin and eye protection, antioxidant and cardioprotective action.

The basic difference between vitamin A and Beta-Carotene is that the latter is not toxic. One Beta-Carotene molecule can eliminate up to 1,000 molecules of singlet oxygen, and its antioxidant action can hinder vitamin C oxidation.

The scavenger activity of free radicals also enhances the immune system’s response. In fact, supplementation of this carotenoid can improve the action of certain immune function markers (NK cells, lymphocytes T and B).

Beta-Carotene supplementation prepares the skin for tanning, favouring and enhancing the protective action of sunscreens during exposure to the sun. It also reduces the risk of developing rashes and sunburn, especially in subjects with pale sensitive skin, protecting the skin and slowing down the appearance of wrinkles.

Beta-Carotene protects the eyes, particularly the retina and the macula, from oxidative damage caused by ageing and by exposure to external agents. It reduces the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataract, and maintains good visual capacity.

Betaine

Betaine is an essential compound for many metabolic processes. It mainly has a detox action. Catalogued as "lipotropic factor", Betaine is a nutritional factor with a hepatic protective function. Moreover, it donates methyl groups (3 per molecule) to DNA, which loses them during the normal cellular ageing process.

Bifidobacteria

Bifidobacteria are lactic bacteria, whose presence is essential to maintain intestinal health.

These bacteria favour the restoration of intestinal ecoflora by preventing the formation of putrefaction, flatulence and vaginal infections caused by yeast, reducing episodes of constipation.

Bifidobacteria hinder the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria and stimulate the body’s immune defences.

Bilberry

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) is a native shrub of the northern regions of Europe and of North America. The berries of this plant contain anthocyanosides, substances that have a protective action on eyesight and venous tone.

The main activity of anthocyanosides is to regulate microcirculation by increasing microvessel wall resistance and reducing its permeability.

These substances are adjuvants to promote eyesight, even night-time vision.

Bioflavonoids

Flavonoids are a subclass of the large family of polyphenols, which comprises ca. 5,000 molecules. Among polyphenols, flavonoids are the most common phenols that are widely distributed with more than 4,000 compounds.

Flavonoids are, in turn, divided into various families:

Flavons
Flavonols (rutin, quercetin)
Isoflavons (daidzein, genistein, glycitein)
Flavanons (hesperetin, naringenin)
Anthocyanidins
Flavanols (catechin, epigallocatechin, epigallocatechin gallate, proanthocianydin OPC)

These antioxidant molecules have various effects on human health. In fact, they seem to prevent cardiovascular diseases (atherosclerosis), tumours, osteoporosis, allergies, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.

Biotin

Biotin is a water soluble vitamin that is commonly used in the cosmetic industry for its important role in fatty acid synthesis and in branched chain amino acid metabolism.

There are several correlations between Biotin deficiency and skin and skin adnexa disorders (skin, hair, nails).

In fact, the deficiency of this vitamin is related to the manifestation of seborrhoeic dermatitis, falling hair, dry skin and skin rashes.

Particularly, its deficiency is associated with skin diseases, such as seborrhoeic conditions of the infant, scalp seborrhoea and rash on the buttocks (skin is one of the organs with the highest concentration of this vitamin).

Moreover, it seems that Biotin deficiency can cause early falling of hair, and also premature greying and balding.

Additional data suggest that Biotin can improve nail texture and thickness, reducing frailness and the tendency to break, making the nails harder and stronger.

Birch

Birch leaves (Betula pendula) are rich in hyperoside, a flavonoid with diuretic and anti-inflammatory effects.

Birch leaf extract favours drainage of body fluids without altering the quantity of minerals present in our body, stimulating and accelerating the normal micturition processes.

Birch stimulates microcirculation and can, therefore, reduce swelling especially in the lower limbs, preventing the onset of varicose capillaries and veins.

As a result of its anti-inflammatory properties, it is particularly useful to prevent cellulite blemishes and urinary system infections.

Black garlic

Black Garlic (Allium sativum L.), or fermented garlic, is produced by a fermentation and extraction process that yields a darker and less aromatic powder than fresh garlic extract.

Black Garlic is rich in highly stable water soluble compounds (see S-allyl-cysteine), S-allyl-mercaptocysteine and saponins), polyphenols (10-fold more than the extract of fresh bulbs) and only small amounts of allicin and of other typical sulphurated compounds of fresh garlic. They are degraded during the fermentation process.

Due to its particular processing method, Black Garlic has a greater antioxidant activity, compared to standard extracts.

Blackcurrant Oil

Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum L.) is a plant that grows spontaneously in Northern, Central and Eastern Europe. Its oily seeds subjected to cold extraction yield a large amount of gamma-linolenic acid (see GLA) .

The activity of this omega-6 essential fatty acid is mainly anti-inflammatory and is used in certain dermatological diseases (atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, hives), in the prevention of atherosclerosis, in arterial hypertension and in premenstrual syndrome.

Borage Seed Oil

Borage (Borrago officinalis) is a native plant of North Africa, that later spread to the Mediterranean area.

Borage Seed Oil is rich in GLA (see Gamma-linolenic acid), an essential omega-6 fatty acid.

GLA is mainly an anti-inflammatory agent that is used in certain dermatological diseases (atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, hives),in the prevention of atherosclerosis, in premenstrual syndrome and in many inflammatory conditions.

Boron

Boron is an essential micronutrient for the growth of many plants. It is present in low concentrations in both animal and human tissue.

Wine is particularly rich in this element but Boron can also be found in apple, avocado, citrus fruit, tomato, plum, soy, honey and dates.

Hence, the highest content of Boron is found in plants. Indeed, a vegetarian diet can be considered useful for an excellent supply of this substance.

This element seems implied in mineral metabolism because it affects the metabolic activity of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin D, with beneficial effects on bone and joint tissue.

Boron deficiency is associated with an increased risk of bone demineralisation, particularly in post-menopausal women. It might also play some role in arthritis.

Boswellia

Boswellia (Boswellia serrata) is a plant, whose habitat is in Indian and Chinese hilly regions.

Gum resin, obtained from an incision on the bark, contains boswellic acids, active ingredients that modulate inflammatory processes. Particularly, the terpenoid fraction of Boswellia’s resin contains AKBA (see Acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid).

AKBA’s anti-phlogistic action is exploited to reduce pain and swelling in rheumatic diseases (knee arthrosis, rheumatoid arthritis), in inflammatory intestinal conditions (ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease), liver diseases and asthma.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) are three essential amino acids – isoleucine, valine, leucine – with important plastic functions. They are required for overall protein turnover.

BCAAs are excellent anti-catabolic agents, which means that they prevent loss of muscle tissue and help to diminish recovery times.

To this end their use is indicated to enhance the intensity and duration of sports training, and to avoid the risk of overtraining syndrome.

Recent studies indicate that the intake of BCAA can contribute to reduce fatigue in the central nervous system during long-term physical exercise.

They can be useful for almost all sports disciplines.

Brewer’s Yeast

Brewer’s Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is made up of colonies of a unicellular yeast that is naturally found on the skin of certain fruits and in the must of beer obtained from fermentation.

Since it is rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes, Brewer’s Yeast has excellent nutritional properties.

Its consumption is indicated to favour the health of skin and hair, and in case of fatigue and lack of appetite.

Broccoli

The Brassica (or Cruciferous) genus includes several vegetables, such as broccoli, all types of cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

Recent epidemiological studies have observed inverse relations between the consumption of vegetables that belong to the Brassica family and the risk of developing cancer, particularly in the lungs, gastrointestinal tract and prostate.

Broccoli (Brassica oleracea) are a rich source of sulphoraphane, a powerful antioxidant compound, and of glucosinolates. The detoxifying action performed by these compounds is particularly interesting.

In fact, sulphoraphane is an extremely powerful inducer of certain detoxifying enzymes, like GST (glutathione s-transferase), QR (quinone reductase) and UPD (glucuronyl transferase) that convert toxins into water soluble products, which can be easily eliminated by the body. This reduces the quantity of circulating toxins that can be harmful for the cells.

Bromelain

Bromelain, a substance extracted from the pineapple stem (Ananas comosus), is a rich mixture of proteolytic enzymes that can digest 1,000-fold its weight in proteins in just a few minutes.

Taken far from meals, it also has an anti-inflammatory action that can be useful for many inflammatory conditions, such as bronchitis, sinusitis, swollen joints, postoperative oedema and thrombophlebitis.

Bromelain is also used as a remedy for minor injuries and sports injuries (bruising, sprains, muscle tears, haematomas, lacerations, abrasions), and also for more serious injuries (lumbar pain, fractures, minor surgery). It is an effective analgesic for arthrosis, knee arthrosis and osteoarthrosis, as it reduces joint swelling and pain.

Taken far from meals, Bromelain can attenuate cellulite and poor circulation, with beneficial effects on weight loss.

Brown Alga

Kelp (Fucus vesiculosus) is a brown marine alga that belongs to the Laminaria genus. It grows near the rocky coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean.

This alga is especially used for its high content of iodine (see), both inorganic iodine and protein-bound iodine, or as a component of iodinated amino acids.

Kelp is a genuine concentrate of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. It increases cellular exchange, favours the elimination of toxins and activates the body’s metabolism.

Burdock

Burdock (Arctium lappa) is a herbaceous plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. Its roots have long been used by folk medicine as a remedy for some skin disorders, such as acne, and to favour body detox processes.

Burdock roots especially contain inulin, essential oil, resin, mucilage, vitamins and minerals (phosphorus, potassium, iron and chromium).

Burdock root particularly has an antiseptic and anti-bacterial action on the skin (due to the effect of arctiopicrin, a natural antibiotic that is active against Gram positive bacteria and fungi). It is especially useful as adjuvant therapy for skin rashes and pimples.

Some studies also report a reduction in sebum on the scalp after the intake of Burdock.

The high inulin content favours growth of Bifidobacterium in the colon. This saprophyte is essential for the balance of intestinal bacterial flora.

Burdock also has a diuretic effect and favours blood and liver detox processes.

Caffeine

Caffeine is the main component of coffee (but also of tea, yerba mate, guarana and other plants). It is a widely used psychoactive substance. Its appropriate administration can contribute towards weight loss and strengthen psychophysical decline and memory loss.

Many studies report that caffeine is involved in cardiovascular, nervous and endocrine system regulation. It is easily absorbed by the intestine; hence, its metabolism is decidedly faster than other stimulants. The intake of caffeine has several excitatory effects on baseline metabolism. It allows greater calorie consumption during the day.

Calcium

Calcium is an essential macronutrient for the human body.

More than 99% of calcium present in the body is located in bones and teeth, where it interacts with other minerals, such as phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and sodium, which participate in the bone construction process. Bones are the major reserve of Calcium. Only 1% of the mineral is found in blood and other fluids.

Calcium is daily released by bones for nerve transmission and muscle contraction.

The presence of vitamin D is essential for optimal use of Calcium

The main functions of Calcium include:

blood: it stimulates the formation of blood and is necessary for the conversion of prothrombin into thrombin;
skeletal: it is the main component of bones;
neuromuscular: it regulates nerve excitability and contraction;
endocrine: it regulates thyroid and pituitary hormone release;
metabolic: it participates in phosphorous metabolism;
cellular: it regulates membrane permeability and participates in cellular multiplication and differentiation;
circulatory: it has vasoconstrictive effects.

Caper

Caper (Capparis spinosa) is a perennial shrub native of North-Eastern Mediterranean areas. It grows spontaneously on rocks and walls of the Mediterranean coast.

Caper contains a high percentage of flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin) and hydroxycinnamic acid.

Recent studies indicate that the dry extract of Caper buds improves the body’s response to allergic reactions.

Caprylic Acid

Caprylic Acid is a fatty acid that is produced by the body in small amounts. Its dietary sources are butter, coconut oil and other plant-based fatty substances.

Caprylic Acid seems to have anti-fungal properties, and it can be useful in case of excessive growth of Candida albicans. In fact, Caprylic Acid interferes with the growth and replication of the mycete candida.

Carotenoids

Today we know of more than 600 types of carotenoids, a class of pigments isolated from plants, algae and certain fungi and bacteria. Carotenoids are also present in many animals (shrimp, salmon, lobster, egg yolk) who are unable to synthesise them; hence the need for their dietary intake.

Carotenoids cause the red, orange, pink and yellow pigments. In fact, they are used as natural, non-toxic colouring for the preparation of beverages, sweets, cosmetics and many other products.

Only twenty of all the Carotenoids are present in human tissue and plasma, the main ones being beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin. About fifty of them are precursors of vitamin A.

Considered the best biological markers of fruit and vegetables, Carotenoids have a powerful antioxidant action that has been the focus of health research in recent years. Especially some of them, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, are effective against certain types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, senile macular degeneration, cataract and photosensitivity conditions.

A preventive protective action has also been observed in the prevention of damage caused by UV radiation, in the reduction of cholesterol levels and of oxidative stress, and in the enhanced immune system’s response.

Cellulase

Cellulase is a family of enzymes that degrade cellulose and soften fibre, enhancing its digestibility.

Charcoal

Plant Charcoal is a powder that is obtained from combustion of various types of timber.

Its main property is to physically bind several substances and gases, reducing their gastric and intestinal development, thus contributing to reduce excessive flatulence after meals.

Its activation process further increases its porosity and surface, enhancing the absorbent action.

An effective antagonist of meteorism, flatulence, burping and halitosis, active Charcoal is effective in all conditions that need gas absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.

Moreover, active Charcoal is a valid adjuvant remedy for diarrhoea in infants or for traveller’s diarrhoea.

With its high absorbent capacity, which has also been acknowledged by the US FDA (Federal Drug Administration), activated Charcoal is indicated for food intoxication or drug poisoning because it inhibits the harmful actions of these substances and their intestinal absorption.

Chaste Tree (vitex)

Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) is a well known therapeutic agent for several conditions mainly related to female reproduction processes. Extensively used in the past both by Anglo-American and European tradition, today Chaste Tree’s many properties have been confirmed. The extracts of this plant (titrated in aucubin and agnuside) have beneficial effects in controlling premenstrual syndrome symptoms (depression, headache, anxiety, fluid retention), dysphoric premenstrual disorder, latent hyperprolactinaemia, irregular menstruations and pre-menopausalsymptoms.

The effects are usually visible after a few months of supplementation.

Studies have also reported that, unlike other plants that are usually indicated for female disorders, Chaste Tree does not contain substances that resemble female hormones and which partly imitate their action.

Chaste Tree mainly has a dopaminergic action on the hypophysis with subsequent inhibition of prolactin release, the hormone, whose levels naturally increase in pregnancy to stimulate the production of milk. In fact, some symptoms associated with menstruations might be partly caused by the onset of abnormal prolactin levels.

Chia Oil

Salvia hispanica, also called chia, is a plant, whose oily seeds have been consumed by indigenous peoples of Central America since ancient times. One a spontaneously growing plant in Mexico and Guatemala, Chia was used by the Aztecs for religious ceremonies. When the Conquistadores landed in South America, they destroyed all the cultivations and Chia was almost extinct. Later, considering the amazing beneficial nutritional properties of this plant’s seeds, it was reintroduced both in Europe and in Asia.

In fact, Chia Seed Oil is a plant source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA) that is converted in our body into EPA and DHA omega-3 polyunsaturated acids, with an important protective effect on the cardiovascular system.

Chitosan

The main source of Chitosan in nature is chitin, a substance that is present in the exoskeleton of marine crustaceans. It can also be found in the cell wall of many mushrooms.

The discovery of this substance’s lipid absorbing effects and of its potential contribution towards weight loss, which was later confirmed by studies on humans, dates back to 1970.

The particular electrochemical reactivity of Chitosan can promote the formation of a mesh-like structure that captures fat.

In the stomach and intestine this activity makes Chitosan bind fat taken with diet. The trapped fat travels along the food channel without undergoing transformations (hence, without providing calories), and is finally eliminated with stools.

This action has beneficial effects on body weight control, and even reduces cholesterol levels in plasma.

Chlorella

Chlorella (Chlorella vulgaris) is a unicellular alga with a rich composition. It is considered an important functional food and source of nutrients.

In fact, Chlorella is made up of 55-67% of proteins, 1-4% of chlorophyll, 9-18% of dietary fibre and several minerals and vitamins.

With its rapid growth rate and important nutritional properties, Chlorella is widely used as a food supplement.

Chlorella extracts have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumoral and antimicrobial effects.

Chlorella has obtained results in reducing blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels. It also favours detox programmes and improves immune system functions.

It promotes the elimination of toxic substances from the body (uranium, mercury, cadmium, hydrocarbons, etc.), and has an effective hepatoprotective action against non-alcoholic liver steatosis.

Chloride

Chloride is a chemical element that belongs to the halogen group. In the form of chloride anion (Cl−) it is a component of many compounds that are present in nature. In fact, in nature Chloride is only found combined in the form of chloride ion. The most common compound of Chloride is sodium chloride.

Chloride plays an important role in the hydrochloric acid production process. Indicated for proper digestive processes. In addition, by cooperating with other minerals, it contributes to eliminate toxic substances.

Chlorogenic Acid

Chlorogenic Acids are compounds present in green coffee (see) common coffee prior to toasting, and also in many other plant-based foodstuffs (yerba mate, tomato, aubergine, potato, peach, pear, plum, apple).

Chlorogenic Acids are the focus of considerable interest in the nutritional sector.

Recent studies report that these compounds reduce intestinal absorption of sugar and speed up the metabolism, accelerating the natural process with which our body burns accumulated fats.

With their antioxidant action, Chlorogenic Acids increase nitric oxide bioavailability, thus favouring improvements in endothelial disorders and vascular hypertrophy.

Anti-hypertensive effects are also documented after the administration of Chlorogenic Acids.

Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll is a green pigment that is naturally present in the chloroplasts of green plant cells. In the presence of light, it favours energy production via the photosynthesis process.

Chlorophyll present in plants is poorly assimilated by our body because it is deactivated and destroyed by the stomach’s digestive enzymes and acidic pH. This problem is solved by subjecting Chlorophyll to cold extraction from the plant matrix. Then, lipid residue are removed and constituents, such as copper, sodium and potassium, are partly condensated.

The final outcome is chlorophyllin, which is more bioavailable than Chlorophyll, and which has an antioxidant and deodorant action. It is effective in case of excessive perspiration and body odour.

Choline

Choline is an essential nutrient with vitamin-like activity that modulates important biological cellular processes, as it is a structural element of phospholipid membranes that are vital for brain development.

Choline is a lipotropic factor, which means that it belongs to the group of nutritional factors that have a bioprotective action on hepatic function – along with inositol, methionine, betaine – and which actively participate in the liver detox process.

Choline is one of the major sources of methyl group donors in human diet, and can be used in many ways, including therapy for non-alcoholic hepatic steatosis and high blood levels of homocysteine, a risk factor for atherosclerosis.

It helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases, and is required during pregnancy to prevent complications, such as neural tube defects (NTD). It is also useful to improve cognitive functions and memory, and seems to be involved in mitigating the symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and certain types of dementia.

Chondroitin Sulphate

Chondroitin Sulphate is a highly hydrated, gelatinous and viscous substance that is naturally present in human bone cartilage, where it forms the basic substance of the extracellular matrix of connective tissue, but also of bone tissue, cornea, skin, arterial walls, tendons and ligaments.

Another important function of Chondroitin Sulphate is to attract water, maintaining and controlling osmotic pressure in cartilage. Hence, besides favouring hydration of this important tissue, Chondroitin Sulphate favours its elasticity and flexibility.

Chondroitin Sulphate has an analgesic action and increases motor activity. It is used for joint pain, trauma and inflammatory conditions of the joints.

Chromium

Chromium picolinate is an organic form of chromium, an essential micronutrient for the body.

In human nutrition, Chromium is used as a food supplement for carbohydrate metabolism disorders with poor glucose tolerance and low insulin activity, to lose body weight and prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.

Recently its administration has obtained interesting results regarding control of hunger pangs, even associated with depression.

Cimicifuga

Cimicifuga (Cimicifuga racemosa) is a perennial plant that is native of North America. It was used in the past for its sedative properties and to alleviate certain gynaecological disorders.

Recent clinical studies report convincing results about the therapeutic use of Cimicifuga root for menopausal disorders (hot flashes, perspiration, sleep disorders, depression), for which significant improvements have been recorded.

Moreover, the administration of Cimicifuga alleviates symptoms presented by women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and dysmenorrhoea by targeting the neuromuscular system of the female reproductive system.

Cimicifuga has mild blood pressure reducing and blood cholesterol reducing effects.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum Blume.) is a native tree of Sri Lanka and India.

The trunk and the branches of the plant are used, deprived of the outermost and superficial layers. The dried cinnamon bark contains essential oil, ca. 90% of which is made up of cinnamic aldehyde.

Cinnamon has an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effect. It favours digestive processes and gastric evacuation.

It also regulates the appetite stimulus and protects the stomach from damage caused by hyperacidity. The plant has been traditionally considered an anti-spasmodic, carminative, anti-diarrhoeic and anti-parasite remedy.

Additional studies have reported its antioxidant and fever abating action, and Helicobacter pylori inhibition.

There is recent scientific evidence of the blood glucose reducing effect of cinnamon, caused by a polyphenol (MHCP) that activates its receptors by imitating the action of insulin and working synergistically with it.

Clover Isoflavones

Isoflavones are natural phytoestrogens with antioxidant and oestrogen-like actions. Studies report that they improve symptoms associated with menopause. They are present in high concentrations in red clover flowers (Trifolium pratense L.), a herbaceous plant that is common throughout the world.

Isoflavones act as oestrogens and, therefore, effectively reduce typical menopausal symptoms. Isoflavones present in red clover are easily digested, and recent studies confirm their efficacy as an anti-ageing substance.

Coconut Oil

The coconut palm (Cocus nucifera) is a native fruit tree of tropical Eastern regions. It is common in Asia, Central and South America and Africa.

The oil extracted from its fruit is rich in medium chain fatty acids (MCT), with a prevalence of lauric acid (45%).

Some effects of Coconut Oil, such as its antioxidant activity, which is comparable to that of vitamin E, and the anti-inflammatory action, are partly due to the presence of MCT. Besides the antimicrobial action, these acids have a prevalently energising and metabolism stimulating function.

Cod Liver Oil

Cod Liver Oil is a naturally rich source of vitamins A and D, fat soluble nutrients that are essential for growth and maintenance of the body’s essential structures.

In fact, these vitamins are essential for the body’s growth and development, particularly in children.

Moreover, Cod Liver Oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for cardiovascular system health, as a result of the capacity to reduce blood lipid levels.

Vitamin A is necessary for eyesight, growth, reproduction, cellular proliferation and differentiation, and also for immune system integrity.

Especially vitamin A deficiency determines a reduction in twilight vision.

Moreover, with its epithelium protecting function, it establishes the composition of cell membranes, favouring the penetration into the cell of certain substances, and hindering that of others.

Vitamin D is synthesised in the skin by effect of the sun’s UV radiations, and it has the duty of regulating calcium metabolism and ossification processes, synergistically with the parathyroid hormone.

Even a marginal, deficiency of this hormone can cause muscle weakness and enhance the predisposition for infections.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 (or ubidecarenone) is a cofactor that has a primary role in cellular energy metabolism.

An essential constituent of the mitochondrial respiratory chain, Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant that inhibits lipid peroxidation.

Low plasma levels of Coenzyme Q10 are associated with forms of cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease), in which the role of Coenzyme Q10 seems closely related to reduced antioxidant activity.

Coenzyme Q10 is an anti-ageing substance that reduces events caused by natural senile decline. It is also used in dermatology to improve skin elasticity and smoothness.

Recent data indicate that the intake of statins inhibits Coenzyme Q10 synthesis. Hence, its supplementation is recommended in this case.

Some studies report the beneficial effects of Coenzyme Q10 supplementation for angina, arterial hypertension, migraine and CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome).

Collagen

Collagen is the main protein of connective tissue. It is present in all cells of pluricellular organisms. It conveys structural and elastic properties to bones, tendons, cartilage and skin.

Type II Collagen is mostly present in hyaline cartilage (synovial joints, sternum, respiratory system). Its specific configuration endows it with particular elastic properties.

In fact, this type of Collagen can either increase or diminish the volume of hyaline cartilage based on the degree of compression to which it is subjected.

With this property, Collagen type II generally targets cartilage, tendon and connective tissue trophism, favouring their efficiency and function.

On the skin, collagen ensures a firm and elastic dermis.

Colostrum

Colostrum is a yellow viscous fluid, with low water and lactose content, that female mammals start producing at the end of pregnancy, as a result of neuroendocrine stimuli.

The main functions of this compound are activation of the immune system, tissue repair and stimulation of the production of particular enzymes.

Due to its rich concentration of immune, hormonal and growth factors, Colostrum is a valid adjuvant for the immune system, for those who practice sports, for intestinal disorders, and for a general protective action on gastric mucous tissue.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (ALA) is an omega-6 fatty acid with interesting biological actions.

CLA is present, though in low concentrations, in many foodstuffs because it derives from a biohydrogenation process in the stomach of ruminants. Hence it is found in dairy products (whole milk, butter, cheese, yoghurt), and in the meat of ruminants (ovines and bovines).

The physiological effects of CLA include an impact on body composition. The fat body mass reducing effect has been confirmed in overweight subjects, with favourable repercussions on the adipose tissue/muscle tissue ratio.

Evident reductions in plasma cholesterol levels have also been observed.

Copper

Copper is a micronutrient that is part of many enzymes.

Its presence is required for the energy metabolism. In addition, it participates in cellular respiration, intervenes in haemoglobin synthesis with iron, in keratinisation processes, and in the pigmentation of hair and skin, besides affecting cardiac function.

Coprinus (sasakure hitoyotake)

Coprinus (Coprinus comatus) is an edible mushroom that is widely used for culinary creations. It belongs to the class of Basidiomycota, Agaricaceae family, and is common in manured fields and countryside trails.

This mushroom especially helps to control blood glucose levels in diabetes type 2. It also has antitumoral, immunomodulating and antioxidant actions. Coprinus is one of the few mushrooms, whose potential therapeutic effects were discovered in Europe and not in China.

Also known by the name of “ink mushroom”, with the presence of β(1,3-16)-D-glucans, Coprinus has immunomodulating, blood glucose lowering, blood lipid lowering, antitumoral and antibacterial effects.

Coral Calcium

Calcium in coral is is a carbon-based molecule that is classified as calcium carbonate.

However, there is a considerable difference between Coral Calcium, which is organic, and inorganic calcium carbonate.

In fact, the porosity of Coral Calcium (43%) exceeds that of calcium carbonate, and this endows Coral Calcium with specific physical and chemical characteristics.

Porosity favours the dissolution of a larger number of minerals when water is filtered through coral, allowing extraction of higher concentrations of substances present in water.

Collecting coral is not a hazard for the marine ecosystem because it is collected from coral fields situated above sea level, far from the coral reef.

It is collected following strict rules that favour environmental protection, ensuring quality and the absence of toxic metals and of other pollutants.

Cordyceps (Tochukaso)

Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) is a rare mushroom that belongs to traditional Chinese medicine. It has long been used for its health-promoting properties.

Current data concern important antitumoral, anti-metastasis, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, blood glucose lowering and hepatoprotective effects.

Restorative agent to boost energy, Cordyceps is also traditionally indicated for certain sexual disorders (loss of sex drive, impotency) and for renal and respiratory disorders (exercise dyspnoea, altitude adaptation).

Cranberry

Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpum Aiton) is a native North American plant, where it has long been used for phytotherapy.

Berries are the part of the plant that is used. Besides being rich in vitamin C, they have a high content of polyphenols, antioxidant compounds that can prevent the onset of many diseases.

Scientific research confirms that Cranberry is a useful adjuvant to prevent urinary infections. It has anti-infection properties, which it manifests by preventing the adhesion of harmful bacteria to bladder walls.

Creatine

Creatine is an essential amino acid derivative for energy metabolism. It is synthesised from the amino acids glycine, arginine and methionine. In muscles, one fourth of creatine is present as free creatine, and three fourths as phosphocreatine.

Phosphocreatine is a pool of reserve energy that can be rapidly used to restore the ATP content of muscles.

An ergogenic effect of creatine has been observed in intensive strength and sprint training.

Dietary creatine is mainly present in meats, while there are only traces in plants.

Curcuma

Curcuma (Curcuma longa) is a perennial plant of the Zinziberaceae family. It is extensively cultivated in India, Asia, China and other countries that have a tropical climate.

This plant has a long-standing tradition as spice and curative herb in both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, especially as anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective agent.

It contains an important active ingredient, curcumin (see), a yellow antioxidant substance, which possesses the main pharmacological properties. Curcumin is also used as natural food colouring (E100).

Curcumin

Curcumin is the active ingredient contained in curcuma (see Curcuma longa), which several studies have found to possess a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action.

It is widely known that prolonged inflammatory states can cause several chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, arthritis, pancreatitis, metabolic, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, and certain types of cancer. As documented by many studies, Curcumin promises to become a complete therapeutic agent.

D-Mannose

D-Mannose is a sugar that is extracted from plants, and which seems to act as a natural antibiotic.

In recent years the use of this sugar has obtained promising results for urinary system infections. Studies are in progress to defined its role in reducing symptoms of interstitial cystitis.

D-Mannose is a natural and safe alternative for pharmacological therapies that eradicate the bacterium Escherichia coli, which accounts for 90% of urinary system infections and infectious cystitis.

With its chemical structure, D-Mannose adheres to E. coli more tenaciously than how E. coli adheres to uroepithelial bladder cells.

Hence, the output of urine when there are sufficient levels of D-Mannose becomes a simple and effective therapy for bacterial cystitis.

D-Ribose

D-Ribose is a sugar that is present in all cells, where it is essential for cellular homeostasis as it intervenes in several energy-related, metabolic and plastic reactions.

Considered an energising agent for muscle tissue, it is useful for overtraining, but also for cardiac function (it underpins normal cardiac muscle function).

Some experimental studies indicate this sugar’s capacity to boost cellular energy synthesis. Hence its use for CFS (chronic fatigue syndrom) and fibromyalgia.

Damiana

Damiana (Turnera diffusa), also called Mexican tea is a native shrub of the tropical and southern tropical regions of America, Africa and Madagascar.

Since ancient times the Mayas used this plant as a remedy against dizziness, loss of balance, asthma and as an aphrodisiac. It was also used in preparations against headache and in cases of overwork and general tiredness.

Damiana has always been a general restorative for the body. It is effective for stress, depression and anxiety, and has an unquestionable psychoactive action on the nervous and hormonal system.

With its stimulant action on the nervous system, Damiana could be a restorative stimulant for sexual function both in men and women.

Dandelion

Taraxacum officinale, also known by the common name "dandelion", is a herbaceous plant that is common throughout the world.

Containing the glucoside inulin, it has hepatoprotective, bitter-restorative, diuretic and detox actions, and can be used for poor hepatic function, jaundice and poor diuresis.

With its diuretic effect, Dandelion is indicated to prevent fluid retention and as a detox agent for the body.

The elimination of fluids improves oedema that characterises fluid ritention, with beneficial effects for cellulite.

Dandelion root favours the elimination of waste from the body. It targets both the liver and the gallbladder, increasing bile secretion and diuresis.

The elimination of toxins contributes to maintain the body’s overall well-being, preventing the aggression of pollutants and of hazardous agents.

Devil’s Claw

Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is a native South African plant. Its secondary roots have long been used by traditional medicine. Today this plant is extensively used as a natural anti-inflammatory agent and pain relieving remedy.

Extensive data confirm that its administration improves pain, stiffness and function in degenerative rheumatic disorders, besides diminishing the need for medicines. Good results have been obtained for knee osteoarthritis.

According to some authors, pain relieving therapy with Devil’s Claw might require a minimum intake period of 3-4 months at a dosage of at least 50 mg/day of Harpagoside for optimal effects.

The therapeutic action of Devil’s Claw seems mostly due to the presence of Harpagoside (see), a glycoside that inhibits inflammation mediators.

Devil’s Claw is indicated for all chronic inflammatory processes in the joints and for backache as a result of the anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-rheumatic effects.

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)

The acronym DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid contained in fish oil.

This nutrient is essential for nervous and cardiovascular system health.

In addition, its presence is necessary for proper visual function and for normal foetal development during pregnancy. Along with EPA, it has beneficial effects on dyslipidaemia and is, therefore, a valid agent against atherosclerotic and inflammatory processes.

Dietary fibre

Dietary Fibre is a plant-based substance with an important regulating action in the body, as an adjuvant for intestinal activity.

The intake of dietary fibre has many beneficial effects for maintenance of the status of health and disease prevention. With the exception of certain therapeutic conditions, fibre should be supplied by the normal diet. In addition to fibre, fruit, vegetables, legumes and wholegrain wheat and cereal provide micronutrients and non-nutritious substances that are essential components of a wholesome diet.

Plant-based foodstuffs can also contain non-nutritious components (e.g., antioxidants and phytoestrogens) with important implications for health. A diet rich in fibre has low energy density, low fat content and high volume. It is also rich in micronutrients. All these factors have beneficial effects on health.

A diet rich in fibre can have a significant impact on prevention and therapy for obesity (for the satiating effect), cardiovascular diseases (particularly with a drop in cholesterol levels), diabetes type 2, constipation and diverticulosis. Dietary fibre too has an important protective effect against the onset of certain neoplasms, particularly cancer of the rectum.

Dioscorea

Dioscorea (Dioscorea composita Hemsl.) is a native plant of Mexico that is widely present in South America. The genus Dioscorea includes ca. 600 species, some of which are used by the pharmaceutical industry for their sapogenin content, as precursors of corticosteroids and of sexual hormones (oestrogen, progestin and androgen) starting from diosgenin

Diosgenin can be considered an excellent female hormone regulator, which is especially useful for menopausal symptoms(hot flashes and perspiration), osteoporosis and premenstrual syndrome(PMS). Combined with other phytoestrogens (e.g., chaste tree, borage), it can prevent dysmenorrhoea in polycystic ovary syndrome.

Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis)

Angelica sinensis, also known as dong quai is a plant that is extensively used by Chinese pharmacopoeia. It is considered a female restorative energising agent par excellence.

Native of the south western regions of China (Shansi, Shantung, Chihili), over the centuries this plant has been traditionally used for its many beneficial properties, especially for female reproductive system disorders, such as dysmenorrhoea, irregular menstruations and menorrhagia.

The beneficial action exercised by Angelica seems basically due to volatile compounds of its root, particularly ligustilide.

The root of Angelica reduces certain symptoms related to premenstrual syndrome, particularly inflammation and uterine spasms.

The anti-inflammatory action seems to cause relaxation of uterine wall muscles, thus normalising muscle contractions and spasms.

The restorative action of Angelica sinensis is also indicated for irregular menstruations as it stimulates menstruations, particularly in the period subsequent to intake of the contraceptive pill.

Moreover, the anti-inflammatory action seems to alleviate certain menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, headache and vaginal dryness.

Echinacea

The most widely known species of the genus Echinacea are purpurea, angustifolia and pallida. Despite the unquestionable differences, they all have a basic affinity in terms of chemical composition.

In fact, Echinacea performs various actions, though all of them stimulate the immune system. In fact, with the presence of many active ingredients, particularly echinacoside (polyphenolic fraction), Echinacea also has a concomitant disinfectant, anti-inflammatory and immunostimulating action.

Several studies and experiments have been conducted on the use of this plant in clinical practice with highly satisfactory results. It is used for its immunostimulating properties for the common cold, sore throat, the flu and other infectious conditions.

Its administration seems to be most effective during the acute phase of the disease, rather than as prevention.

Echinacea can reduce the number of respiratory system infections; precisely, it reduced the incidence of colds in subjects who took it.

Egg Proteins

Proteins are essential for the body’s growth and development. Besides providing energy, they are necessary for the production of hormones, antibodies, enzymes and muscle tissue.

Proteins present in egg albumen are nutritionally interesting for their protein content with high biological value.

The consumption of Egg Proteins is indicated for those who practice intensive sports activities and for those with low protein assimilation.

Eleutherococcus

Eleutherococcus (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a native plant of temperate-cold areas in the Far East. It is also inaccurately called Siberian ginseng (in fact, it does not belong to the Ginseng species), and has adaptogenic, immunostimulating and restorative properties, with beneficial effects on memory and cognitive performance.

Rich in compounds, such as saponosides (eleuterosides A, B, E and others that are being currently identified), Eleutherococcus enhances resistance to fatigue and psychophysical well-being.

For its adaptogenic activity, it is a useful adjuvant that favours the body’s capacity to face stress, especially resistance to fatigue and cold; it also improves sports performance.

For its stress modulating capacity, Eleutherococcus increases the capacity to adapt to adverse conditions, improving mental performance and quality of work in conditions of stress and in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

It also has an immunostimulating action that makes this plant a useful option to prevent the incidence of influenza syndromes, and acute and chronic respiratory diseases.

Ellagic Acid

Ellagic acid is a phenolic compound that is found in strawberry, blackcurrant, hazelnut, mango and pomegranate (see).

Many studies have observed this substance’s remarkable antioxidant action.

Particularly, positive effects have been observed on the cardiovascular system (a reduction in blood pressure and in lipoprotein oxidation) with attenuation of atherosclerotic processes.

Ellagic Acid seems to interfere with certain mechanisms that are involved in tumour initiation and growth. Data are encouraging, but still being verified, about effects on prostate cancer and other types of tumours.

This compound is being increasingly investigated for its potential capacity to reduce obesity and attenuate metabolic complications.

EPA

The acronym EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 (see) fatty acid present in high concentrations in fish oil.

Along with DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), it has beneficial effects on dyslipidaemia and is, therefore, a valid agent against atherosclerotic and inflammatory processes.

Epigallocatechin-Gallate (EGCG)

Interesting data has surfaced in recent decades regarding green tea (tea before it is subjected to fermentation processes that cause oxidation of active ingredients), especially about Epigallocatechin-Gallate (EGCG), active ingredients that have several beneficial effects.

Besides cardiovascular protection and the anti-neoplastic action, EGCG has slimming effects with lipolytic and thermogenic effects. We must not forget the protective antioxidant action that manifests on theskin by improving elasticity and reducing rough skin.

The American Medical Association (the largest American medical association) states that the intake of green tea (see) can diminish cholesterol levels, arterial hypertension and the risk of stroke, particularly in humans. Always in the USA, the National Cancer Institute reports a powerful antioxidant action of green tea against certain types of cancer.

Evening Primrose Oil

Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) is a native plant of North America, that is common in Europe today.

Evening Primrose Oil is rich in GLA (see Gamma-linolenic acid), an essential omega-6 fatty acid.

GLA is mainly an anti-inflammatory agent that is used in certain dermatological diseases (atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, hives),in the prevention of atherosclerosis, in premenstrual syndrome and in many inflammatory conditions.

Fennel

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.) is a typical plant of the Mediterranean area. Its fruits are rich in essential oil, the active ingredient that is used by phytotherapy. It has a restorative digestive action, and is used in case of dyspepsia and digestive disorders.

Fennel is indicated for intestinal meteorism, burping and flatulence.

Fenugreek

Phytotherapy uses the seeds, of the Ayurvedic medicinal plant Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L). The seeds are rich in galactomannans, a particular type of soluble fibre.

Galactomannans improve the glycaemic response and glycaemic index, besides having beneficial effects on body weight control because, as fibre, they curb appetite by increasing volume and slowing down gastric absorption of food.

Fenugreek can also be used for gastroesophageal reflux and a burning sensation in the stomach.

Feverfew

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is a perennial plant of the Composite family. Native of Northern Europe, it is also common in Australia and North America.

The main constituents are sesquiterpene lactones, including, by importance, parthenolide, an essential compound for the therapeutic properties of this plant.

Feverfew has long been used as a remedy for migraine and fever.

The traditional use, confirmed by recent studies, indicates the substance for various types of headache, inflammatory conditions and menstrual disorders.

Field Gromwell

Field Gromwell (Buglossoides arvensis) is a weed of the Boraginaceae family. It has recently been the focus of nutritional studies because its seeds have a high content of an important polyunsaturated fatty acid, stearidonic acid,an essential precursor for the biosynthesis of EPA (eicosapentaenoic) and DHA (docosahexaenoic) fatty acids.

It must be said that the consumption of these two fatty acids is associated with health-promoting effects for the cardiovascular, neurological and ocular systems, and is useful for inflammatory diseases.

Fo-ti

Polygonum multiflorum is a perennial plant with tuberous root that belongs to the Polygonaceae family.

Polygonum is very popular in Chinese medicine, and is mainly used to support the reproductive system, enhance sexual vitality and regularise the menstrual cycle. It also has a diuretic and detox action in the liver.

Folic Acid

Folic Acid is a water soluble vitamin that is used for supplements or fortified foodstuffs because it is stable to heat and oxidation, and is highly bioavailable. The optimal intake of this important vitamin is particularly important for growth and cellular reproduction processes.

The most common manifestations of Folic Acid deficiency include megaloblastic anaemia; moreover, its demand increases during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

In fact, there is recent evidence that regular intake of at least 0.4 mg of Folic Acid on a daily basis helps to prevent the main neural tube defects (NTD) in neonates (the risk of developing these diseases drops by 70% after the intake of Folic Acid).

Folic Acid is also important to reduce homocysteine levels. High concentrations of this amino acid are associated with an increased incidence of cardiovascular diseases.

Moreover, correct intake of Folic Acid is essential to reduce the onset of depressive disorders and to improve cognitive performance, especially in elderly subjects.

Fructooligosaccharides (F.O.S.)

F.O.S. (fructooligosaccharides) are mainly soluble fibre, whose intake is important to stimulate growth and the activity of beneficial microorganisms for the intestine.

Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA)

The acronym GLA stands for Gamma Linolenic Acid, an essential omega-6 fatty acid.

GLA is mainly an anti-inflammatory agent that is used for certain dermatological diseases (atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, hives), for the prevention of atherosclerosis and for many inflammatory conditions.

Ganoderma (reishi)

Ganoderma (Ganoderma lucidum), also called reishi, is a mushroom that is native of China and is common in Japan and Korea.

Its use in traditional medicine dates back to more than 3,000 years. It is probably the mushroom that is most studied for mycotherapy.

Ganoderma, appreciated for its restorative action and effects on longevity (it is called “the mushroom of immortality”), has important therapeutic applications as immunomodulating, blood glucose lowering and anti-viral agent.

Extensively used by traditional Chinese medicine to favour a calm status and meditation practices, Ganoderma is well known for enhancing well-being and vitality.

Today we know that this large mushroom has several health-promoting properties: anti-allergic, antioxidant, antitumoral, anti-viral, cardiotonic, anti-androgenic and hepatoprotective.

However, most results with Ganoderma concern its beneficial cardiovascular and neurological action. Hepatoprotective and gastroprotective, anti-asthma and analgesic effects have also been observed.

Garcinia

Garcinia (Garcinia cambogia) is a native plant of India that is widely used by Ayurvedic medicine.

The most important active ingredient of Garcinia, present in high concentrations on the skin of the fruit, is hydroxycitric acid (HCA), a substance that promotes anorexia and is blandly lipid reducing. It effectively reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

The mechanism involved in the anorexia promoting effect entails direct stimulus on the hypothalamic nucleus of satiety.

This activity is associated with the capacity to inhibit lipogenesis, a process that reduces the production of lipid molecules in the body, with evident results on the loss of body weight.

A study conducted on obese patients treated with HCA revealed a mean weight loss of 5 kg after 2 months of treatment, accompanied by a drop in the craving for sugar and in appetite.

Garlic

Garlic (Allium sativum L.) is a plant of the Liliaceae family. Its bulb is used for its high content of sulphurated active ingredients.

Alliin: the most important component, is transformed by a chemical reaction into allicin, a pharmacologically active substance.

Garlic seems able to reduce several factors that are decisive for the genesis and progress of atherosclerosis:

cholesterol: reduces total and LDL cholesterol, and increases HDL cholesterol;
triglycerides: reduces triglyceride levels and fibrinogen concentration;
blood pressure: reduces blood pressure;
fibrinolysis: increases fibrinolysis;
platelet aggregation: inhibits platelet aggregation and reduces plasma viscosity.

The results obtained by many clinical trials indicate that garlic can prevent atherosclerosis and cause regression of atherosclerotic plaques.

Its use is particularly indicated for common colds, considering its antimicrobial and immunostimulating activity.

Ginger

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a tropical plant, whose rhizome is used as a spice and flavour enhancer for foodstuffs and beverages for its digestive, diuretic and anti-bacterial properties.

Modern phytotherapy indicates the Ginger rhizome for disorders associated with dyspepsia (burning sensation, flatulence, burping).

It is also used to control vomiting and nausea, particularly in subjects who experience car, sea and air sickness.

The active ingredients that underpin these activities are gingerol (see), substances that endow Ginger with its pungent flavour.

Gingerol

Gingerol is the active ingredient of ginger (see Zingiber officinale), which it endows with the typical pungent taste. It is known for stimulating digestion and circulation, diuretic effects and anti-bacterial properties.

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba, also called tree of life, is a very old plant that is famous worldwide for its beneficial properties.

Many studies have provided evidence of the efficacy of ginkgo to improve venous, arterial and cerebral circulation.

Its use is indicated to enhance mental performance (memory, concentration) and for various circulatory disorders.

This Chinese plant contains certain components, ginkgo-flavon glycosides (see), which are pharmacologically important because they improve certain conditions of cerebrovascular failure.

The positive effects of Ginkgo on headache can be associated with an improvement in neuronal metabolism as a result of the stimulation of cerebral blood flow.

Ginkgo extract can be indicated in case of migraine combined with vascular disorders, for its vasodilatory action in the brain.

Ginkgo-Flavon Glycosides

Ginkgo-Flavon Glycosides are compounds that are present in high percentages in ginkgo biloba leaves, which have important health-promoting properties. Particularly, it seems that these glycosides have neuroprotective actions with anti-inflammatory, free radical scavenger effects. They inhibit thrombosis and antagonise the platelet activating factor (PAF).

Ginseng

Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng) is a plant with adaptogenic properties, whose roots are traditionally used as a restorative (yang) to improve overall psychophysical conditions.

Ginseng is indicated as a remedy for asthenia, to enhance physical and cognitive performance, and to favour immune system function.

Ginsenosides, the most studied active ingredients of this plant’s roots, have both central nervous system stimulating and inhibiting effects. They modify cardiovascular tone and increase humoral and cell-mediated immunity.

The results of several clinical trials indicate the efficacy of Ginseng for erectile dysfunction.

In some studies Ginseng optimises alertness and psychophysical status, improving arithmetic calculation skills, logical deduction, attention and reaction time, reducing tiredness.

Some studies report that Panax has an immunomodulating action that affects the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis.

Ginsenosides

Ginsenosides are a group of saponins that are present in the ginseng (Panax ginseng) root, of which they are the most important bioactive components.

Almost 50 ginsenosides have been isolated from P. ginseng (white and red), and they have many pharmacological and clinical uses.

Improvements have been observed on stress, diabetes, inflammatory conditions, immune system, cardiovascular system and central nervous system.

Also indicated for learning and memory disorders, and for neurodegenerative diseases, these substances have a dual effect on central nervous system stimulation and sedation.

Glucomannan

Glucomannan (Amorphophallus konjac) is a native plant of Central Asia that is widely cultivated in Japan. Tuber, which has a very high fibre content, inhibits lipid absorption, particularly of cholesterol.

By increasing the viscosity of the food bolus, glucomannan diminishes the absorption of fats consumed, thus providing natural calorie restriction for weight loss programmes, also as a result of the satiating action.

In case of constipation, dietary fibre mainly normalises intestinal activity and avoids laxative abuse. Glucomannan performs these actions. In fact, the viscous gel reaches the intestine where it stimulates peristalsis, favouring evacuation of soft hydrated stools.

In subjects with chronic constipation, the intake of Glucomannan increases the frequency of stool evacuation. Moreover, this dietary fibre favours normalisation of cholesterol, triglyceride and blood glucose values.

Glucosamine

Gucosamine is one of the most abundantly present water soluble amino monosaccharides in the human body. It is also present in the exoskeleton of crustaceans and arthropods, and in the cell walls of mushrooms. It is present in abundant quantities in joint cartilage, since it is a constituent of glycosaminoglicans (GAG), in cartilage matrix and in synovial fluid.

Many scientific studies report that its supplementation is important to support joint function, with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has an excellent safety profile. Furthermore, a recent dermatological study found that glucosamine is a potential tool to prevent and fight skin ageing.

Glutamic Acid

Glutamic Acid is an amino acid that metabolises sugars and fats, increases blood sugar levels and stimulates the liver to elevate blood glutathione levels.

It is of primary importance for cerebral metabolism, and is used as an excitatory neurotransmitter.

It conveys potassium through the blood-brain barrier and absorbs ammonia when forming L-glutamine. This is the brain’s only way of eliminating this toxic compound.

Goji

Goji (Lycium barbarum) is a native plant of Tibet that is common in many Asian countries.

The berries of this shrub, that for more than 2000 years have been used by traditional Chinese medicine as a yang restorative, have recently been found to possess interesting therapeutic properties.

Rich in polysaccharides (Lycium Barbarum Polysaccharides) and carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, Goji has an important antioxidant activity, which underpins the immunomodulating, neuroprotective and ocular protective activity.

In some studies on humans, Goji improved general well-being, neurological performance and gastric function with positive effects on body weight (slimmer waistline).

Gotu Kola

Centella asiatica is a native plant of Pakistan and India. It is also called Gotu Kola, which means “plant of longevity”.

In the United States it is used for its restorative and energising properties, while Indian folk medicine considers it a stimulant of intellectual skills and an effective remedy for certain skin diseases.

With its vasoprotective and diuretic action, Gotu Kola, which is often combined with other medicinal plants, is used for peripheral venous failure, significantly improving symptoms, especially oedema in the lower limbs.

It is also used for cellulite as it restores blood vessel elasticity, thus limiting leakage of fluids that, by stagnating, cause the inflammatory conditions, which underpin collagen hyperproduction.

Besides this function, it is also a diuretic that by favouring the elimination of excess water and salts, prevents water retention.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi), a well known and habitually consumed citrus fruit, is rich in vitamin C, potassium, iron and flavonoids. It has antioxidantproperties.

It stimulates the lymphatic system by facilitating the elimination of excess fluids, favouring microcirculation function and body detox.

Particularly, Grapefruit seeds are rich in naringine, hesperidine and quercetin, compounds with evident antioxidant and antimicrobial action.

Graviola (Soursop)

Graviola (Annona muricata) is an evergreen plant of the Annonaceae family. Mainly present in tropical and subtropical regions, it is widely cultivated in Africa, South America and South East Asia, particularly in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Its fruit can weigh even 2.5 kg, and it is traditionally used to favour intestinal transit. In fact, tribal medicine has exploited the therapeutic properties of the fruit, using it to prevent worms and parasites, to abate fever and as an astringent in case of diarrhoea. These effects are validated by scientific evidence.

With its many compounds and phytoconstituents (minerals, alkaloids, acetogenins, coumarin, flavonoids, glycosides, essential oils), the Graviola fruit has a remarkable antioxidant activity, and can provide essential nutrients to the human body.

Green Coffee

Chlorogenic acids are compounds that are present in Green Coffee (common coffee prior to toasting).

Chlorogenic acids are the focus of considerable interest in the nutritional sector.

In fact, recent studies report that chlorogenic acid reduces intestinal absorption of sugar and speed up the metabolism, accelerating the natural process with which our body burns accumulated fats.

With its antioxidant action, chlorogenic acid increases nitric oxide bioavailability, thus favouring improvements in endothelial disorders and vascular hypertrophy.

Anti-hypertensive effects have also been documented.

Green Tea

Green Tea, obtained from the dried leaves of Camellia sinensis, is the common tea that has been cultivated for millennia in the East, and is consumed worldwide. It is called “green” because its leaves are not subjected to fermentation and, therefore, they preserve their original colour.

It must be said that fermentation of the leaf causes oxidation of polyphenols (the most interesting components of the plant).

According to recent studies, the various pharmacological properties of Green Tea extract are due to the main polyphenolic components: catechins, epicatechins (EC), epigallo catechins (EGC), epicatechin gallate (ECG) and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

Studies conducted in recent years have focused on the many biological activities of these substances, whose dietary intake provides anti-free radical and anti-ageing protection.

Epidemiological studies have analysed the association between consumption of tea and the onset of cardiovascular diseases. Recent studies indicate that polyphenols contained in Green Tea protect LDL cholesterol, preventing its peroxidation. Consumption of Green Tea has been inversely associated with the development of coronary atherosclerosis.

Furthermore, with the capacity to stimulate combustion of reserve fats, Green Tea is considered a valid adjuvant for body weight loss programmes.

Griffonia

Griffonia (Griffonia simplicifolia) is a leguminous plant native of sub-Saharan African regions. It is especially found in Western African areas, such as Ghana, Ivory Coats and Togo. The leaves and flowers are green, while the seeds are flat, round and black. It easily adapts to various climatic conditions, and mainly grows along the coast.

Branches and roots are traditionally used as sticks for chewing, the leaves favour skin cicatrisation and are used for enema, renal and bladder disorders.

The seeds have a very rich composition. In fact, they contain polyphenols, antioxidants, fatty acids, alpha and gamma tocopherol and many minerals (manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, phosphorus). But the most studied active ingredient is 5-hyroxytryptophan (see 5-HTP), a serotonin precursor called “good mood neurotransmitter”, which is involved in mood, sleep and appetite regulation.

Grifola (maitake)

Grifola (Grifola frondosa), also known by the Japanese name maitake, is an edible mushroom that has been used since ancient times in Japan and China, and which, like other medicinal mushrooms, contains glucans (β-1,3 e β-1,6).

In laboratory tests and studies on humans, Grifola extract stimulates immune system cells and factors.

In animals it slowed down the growth of certain types of cancer and lowered blood glucose levels. The data available infer that it controls diabetes type 2, reduces cholesterol levels and blood pressure, has an immunostimulating action and body weight loss effects.

There are also interesting findings about the use of this mushroom for polycystic ovary syndrome.

Guar Gum

Guar Gum is obtained by grinding Cyamopsis tetragonoloba, a leguminous plant typical of India and Pakistan, where the seeds of this plant are traditionally part of the local diet.

C. tetragonoloba is rich in proteins and fibre. Studies have documented its capacity to reduce the intestinal transit time of food and, therefore, to diminish intestinal assimilation of sugar and lipids, besides a detox action.

Guarana

Guarana (Paullinia cupana) is a climbing shrub that is common in the western basin of the Amazon River. Its restorative, energising and stimulating properties are appreciated worldwide.

The seeds are the part of the plant that are used. They are shelled and left to macerate in water, dried, roasted and ground. The paste obtained is then smoked and ready for use.

Guarana is a plant rich in purin bases, particularly caffeine, an important xanthin alkaloid that is also present in coffee, cola, tea and yerba mate. It especially targets the central nervous system (CNS), respiratory system and renal function.

Guarana’s action is similar to that of coffee, compared to which it has a higher content of tannin and caffeine (2-5-fold higher). According to calculation, guarana’s stimulation period is two-fold that of coffee or tea.

It is indicated as diuretic for body weight loss programmes and also as cardiotonic agent. It also stimulates the CNS in case of psychophysical fatigue.

Guggul

Guggul (see Commiphora mukul) is a plant that belongs to the Ayurvedic tradition. Incision of the trunk yields a gum resin rich in guggulsterones, which have a beneficial effect on lipid metabolism, particularly on cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Gymnema

Gymnema (Gimnema sylvestre) is a plant that is widely used by Ayurvedic medicine. It belongs to the family of Asclepiadaceae, and is also called “devourer of sugar”. Studies report that the leaves of this plant have certain health-promoting effects that are useful for poor digestion, diabetes type 2 and high blood cholesterol levels.

The phytoconstituents that suppress sweet taste sensitivity are triterpene saponins, such as gymnemic acids, gymnesaponins and gurmarin.

Gymnema has positive effects on glucose homeostasis and on control of sugar cravings. Gymnema leaf extracts are used to reduce body weight, cholesterol and triglycerides.

Gymnemic Acid

Gymnemic Acid is the main constituent of gymnema (Gimnema sylvestre), a common plant in the Middle East and in India. This compound, which has high concentrations in gymnema leaves, has many pharmacological properties, including the capacity to suppress sweet taste sensitivity, inhibit intestinal absorption of glucose, reduce plasma glucose levels, reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels and body weight.

Harpagoside

Devil’s Claw (see Harpagophytum procumbens) contains three iridoid glycosides, harpagoside, harpagide and procumbide, which cause the analgesic and fever abating effects of Devil’s Claw. However, the most studied active ingredient is unquestionably Harpagoside, whose concentrations in secondary tubers (0.1-3%) is two-fold its levels in the primary root, while it is only present in traces in the leaves.

Hence, the secondary roots are collected with the utmost care not to damage the primary root, which is essential for the plant’s survival.

Several studies have evaluated the anti-inflammatory, general analgesic and anti-rheumatic efficacy of Devil’s Claw for tendinitis, cervical pain, rheumatoid arthritis, backache and osteoarthritis.

The Cochrane database confirms the short-term improvement in pain with daily doses of Devil’s Claw standardised at 50-100 mg of Harpagoside.

Hawthorn

Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha Medicus) is a shrub that belongs to the Rosaceae family, with a long history as cardiac tonic.

In fact, it is especially used for mild cardiac failure, coronary artery failure and mild forms of myocardial failure. Hawthorn favours myocardial and coronary vessel perfusion.

Its most interesting active ingredients that have beneficial effects on the cardiocirculatory system include some flavonoids, like hyperoside and vitexin.

Hawthorn seems to act synergistically with vasodilatatory medicines, and to enhance the actions of medicines for cardiac failure, arterial hypertension, angina and arrhythmia.

It is particularly indicated for tachycardia, palpitations associated with menopause, arrhythmias, arterial hypertension, anxiety, restlessness and insomnia.

Hericium (yamabushitake)

Hericium (Hericium erinaceus), also called lion’s mane, and in Japanese Yamabushitake, is an edible mushroom with interesting pharmacological properties. The main effects of Hericium concern the capacity to induce neuronal differentiation and to favour the survival of neurons. In vivo and in animal models it has a therapeutic potential for Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative conditions. Hericium has antioxidant, lipid lowering, antimicrobial, anti-ageing, immunomodulating and antitumoral actions. Studies suggest that anti-angiogenic and anti-inflammatory effects of Hericium erinaceus can contribute to its antitumoral action. The protective action on gastric mucosa is also interesting. It is effective for gastritis and gastric ulcers as as stimulator of epithelia.

Hesperidin

Hesperidin belongs to a vast family of bioflavonoids (see), components that are present in many types of fruit and vegetables.

Like quercetin and rutin, hesperidin has beneficial effects on blood circulation. In fact, by increasing capillary resistance and regulating their permeability, this flavonoid has a vasoprotective and venotonic action.

Hops

Hops (Humulus lupulus) is a well known plant, whose female inflorescences, which are rich in flavonoids (xanthohumol ) are used to produce beer.

Studies conducted in recent years suggest that the huge potential of xanthohumol (see) as important antioxidant and as phytoestrogen can alleviate menopausal symptoms, such as vasomotor disorders and sex drive.

Currently xanthohumol has shown, in vitro, the capacity to inhibit inflammatory processes, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, diabetes and many tumour cellular lines.

Horsetail

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is a plant that is mostly mentioned in western pharmacopoeia.

The active ingredients, especially made up of inorganic salts (silicon and potassium) are extracted from horsetail stems that are collected in summer.

Horsetail is considered an excellent diuretic and mineralising agent for the concentration of silicon, a non-metal mineral present in plants, animals and most living beings.

In the human body silicon is mainly concentrated in connective tissue (bone and tendons), and participates in bone calcification processes, facilitating calcium build up. It also intervenes in the formation of connective tissue, thus contributing to maintain cartilage and skin adnexa intact (skin, hair and nails), strengthening them and endowing them with elasticity and hydration.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglican that is present in all human connective tissues, including the skin. It is essential for the formation of the collagen matrix and of elastic fibres, and for maintaining proper skin hydration.

This compound endows the skin with particular properties of resistance and tone, favouring the flattening of wrinkles, remodelling the facial contour and thinning perioral wrinkles (“smoker’s” wrinkles).

Hyaluronic Acid is naturally present in the extracellular skin matrix, and its concentration increases up to the age of 30 years. Its progressive reduction is later observed, right up to its complete absence in subjects aged 60 or more years.

Hyaluronic Acid is also recommended for its protective action on joints, in which it slows down progressive deterioration of joint mobility and function.

Recent laboratory tests have observed that Hyaluronic Acid, which seems to have a natural affinity for joint tissues, has anti-inflammatory properties.

Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA)

Hydroxycitric Acid (HCA), which is especially present in a tropical plant, garcinia (see Garcinia cambogia), is widely used for the formulation of food supplements intended to favour body weight loss and control obesity.

The action of HCA seems bound to the regulation of serotonin levels, which are directly involved in increasing lipid oxidation and in reducing lipogenesis. Moreover, it also regulates blood glucose absorption.

Hypericum

Hypericum (Hypericum perforatum) is a perennial herbaceous plant that is widely present, and called St. John’s Wort.

The part used is made up of the flowering tops containing hypericin, hyperforin and flavonoids.

The dosage of Hypericum is based on the concomitant presence of hypericin and hyperforin. These active ingredients, which have important biological activities, target neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine, as documented by scientific literature.

The main use of this plant is for depressive syndromes, for which many positive results have been recorded in recent years.

Especially hypericin is an active ingredient with a remarkable antidepressant and sedative action. It is used for mild and moderate depression, anxiety disorders and sleep disorders.

Studies indicate that the dry extract of the flowering tops of this plant have the same efficacy as common antidepressants, with important side effects.

The results obtained indicate improvements in sleep disorders, fatigue, mood and headache in mild to moderate depressive syndromes.

Hypericum is successfully used to alleviate psychological and physical symptoms of menopause, improving the quality of life.

Hypericum extract also reduces the craving for alcohol, and could be a potential therapeutic adjuvant for treatment of alcohol abuse.

Inositol (myo-inositol)

Inositol, also known as vitamin B7, is a pseudovitamin with important effects on lipid and cholesterol metabolism.

In fact, with its lipotropic properties, it participates in the liver detox process, regulating bile flow and cholesterol synthesis.

Moreover, some recent clinical studies report that the administration of Inositol has obtained positive effects for depression and anxiety.

This pseudovitamin has many potential roles in the maintenance of human health, and it has been extensively studied for endocrine disorders, such as metabolic and disorders and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

It is not an essential nutrient; however, its balance is associated with several chronic diseases, and its administration has been tested for diabetes, renal failure, respiratory distress syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

Additional data underpin the use of Inositol for metabolic syndrome in post-menopausal women, and suggest its intake for conditions, such as thyroid disease and nephropathy.

Inulin

Inulin is a carbohydrate that belongs to the fructan family. It is present in at least 36,000 plants, the most common of which are chicory, wheat, onion, garlic, banana, artichoke, asparagus and leek. Since it is resistant to digestion in the gastrointestinal tract, it reaches the intestine basically intact, where it is fermented by bacteria. Hence it can be classified as soluble dietary fibre.

Inulin has very interesting nutraceutical properties. Firstly, it improves intestinal function and is, therefore, used for constipation. Beneficial effects have also been observed for inflammatory intestinal disorders (ulcerative colitis).

Inulin intake is effective to control blood glucose levels and, generally, for cardiometabolic risk (reduction in cholesterol and triglyceride levels). Moreover, like all fibre, it contributes to body weight loss.

Iodine

Iodine, a component of thyroid hormones, is essential for growth and neuromuscular function. Foodstuffs that have the highest content of this micronutrient are algae (see Kelp) and marine fish.

70-80% of the body’s Iodine is concentrated in the thyroid. The increased intake of Iodine determines an increase in the production of thyroid hormones and, therefore, an increase in baseline metabolism, a factor that stimulates the body to burn its fat reserves.

According to recent data, Iodine consumption is diminishing in western countries, and forms of deficiency have been noticed in certain population groups (pregnant women and women of childbearing age).

Iron

Iron (Fe) is a micronutrient, whose main function centres on carrying oxygen in the blood to the whole body.

In fact, the major part of iron is present in haemoglobin (65% of the body’s iron).

Its deficiency is quite common, especially if we consider certain population groups that are most at risk, such as pregnant women, adolescents, the elderly and, generally, women of childbearing age, because they are exposed to loss of iron with menstruations. An increased demand of this element has also been observed in athletes, particularly in female athletes.

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum Siebold & Zucc.) is a perennial invasive herbaceous plant that belongs to the Polygonaceae family. The root of this plant is rich in resveratrol (see), a non-flavonoid polyphenolic compound that has several health-promoting properties.

Kelp

Kelp (Fucus vesiculosus) is a brown marine alga that belongs to the Laminaria genus. It grows near the rocky coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean.

This alga is especially used for its high content of iodine (see), both inorganic iodine and protein-bound iodine, or as a component of iodinated amino acids.

Kelp is a genuine concentrate of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. It increases cellular exchange, favours the elimination of toxins and activates the body’s metabolism.

Krill

Krill (Euphausia superba) is a small shrimp-like crustacean that is ca. 10 mm long.

Present in all oceans, particularly in the cold waters of the Antarctic, Krill feeds on plankton, highly nourishing aquatic animal and plant organisms.

Krill Oil is rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the form of phospholipids, mainly as phosphatidyl choline.

The intake of Krill Oil is effective against cardiovascular risk, especially because it reduces blood levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, and increases HDL cholesterol.

It has reduced visceral fat in studies on animals.

L-alanine

Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is present in both animal and plant proteins. Our body is capable of synthesising it.

Alanin is involved in glucose energy metabolism. In fact, it is useful for intensive physical exercise to meet the energy demand. Hence, its intake is suggested either before or during physical exercise, especially for disciplines that require a large amount of glucose to face the prolonged effort.

L-arginine

Arginine is a conditionally essential amino acid that is present in all life forms.

The body is usually able to produce sufficient quantities, but supplementation becomes essential in case of stress, traumas, certain genetic disorders and in children.

Arginine participates in muscle metabolism, collagen synthesis and in the release of certain hormones. It contributes to regulate the immune system and is involved in male fertility.

Arginine is a powerful immunomodulating, anti-stress and adaptogenic agent that is indicated for all conditions of fatigue, asthenia and post-infectious or post-traumatic immunodepression.

Arginine supplementation improves tolerance to physical exercise and quality of life in patients with congestive heart failure, angina and intermittent limping.

Many studies report a reduction in blood pressure in certain experimental forms of arterial hypertension.

Arginine is required for the production of NO (nitric oxide), whose important functions mainly concern vasodilation and the transmission of nerve impulses.

This amino acid improves body composition, reducing the body fat mass and waistline.

In humans arginine improves the erectile response and is effective in 80% of cases that need an increase in circulation to optimise sexual function.

L-Aspartic Acid

Aspartic Acid is a non-essential amino acid that is present in both animal and plant proteins. It is an important excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It can be used for high blood levels of ammonia and for hepatic intoxication but it is especially a natural source of energy for the body. In fact, amino acids are essential for muscle function, as they renew and increase muscle tissue proteins.

L-carnitine

L-Carnitine is a non-essential amino acid that is present in high concentrations in muscle tissue.

It is essential for proper lipid metabolism, and performs important functions in the muscular, skeletal and cardiovascular systems, which are highly sensitive to this amino acid’s efficiency.

It has a particular cardiovascular protective action with tested reduction in levels of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, lipoprotein a (Lp(a)), blood glucose and angina symptoms.

L-Carnitine improves sports performance, with a protective effect against muscle damage from stress, and a positive effect on recovery after physical exercise.

It has a preventive action on the increase in abdominal adiposity and in the build up of fat in the lower limbs, and favours weight loss when it is used combined with a calorie restriction programme and moderate physical exercise. Its deficiency is also associated with male fertility problems.

L-carnosine

Carnosine is a non-protein nitrogen compound of meat that can be found not only in skeletal muscles but also in other excitable tissue.

The main functions of Carnosine concern the buffer effect of pH, metal chelation, antioxidant capacity and protection from advanced glycation and lipoxidation products. In this regard, the therapeutic potential of Carnosine supplementation has been tested in many diseases involved with ischaemic or oxidative stress.

Promising preclinical and clinical results have been obtained for certain diseases, such as diabetes type 2 and its complications, ocular diseases, ageing and neurological disorders.

Its intake is also useful for athletes because it increases performance of high intensity physical exercise.

L-Cysteine

Cysteine is a sulphurated amino acid, which means that it contains sulphur. It is involved in the body’s defence mechanisms.

Its presence is essential for synthesis of the amino acid glutathione, a powerful free radical scavenger.

Particularly, along with cystine, cysteine seems to favour cellular exchange, acting on the structure and flexibility of skin tissues.

L-Cystine

Cystine is an amino acid that helps to maintain epithelial tissue health, and to favour tissue cicatrisation.

Particularly, along with cysteine, Cystine favours cellular exchange, acting on the structure and flexibility of skin tissues.

L-Glutamine

Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that is present in high concentrations in muscles, where it has plastic functions.

Its reserves are essential to maintain adequate muscle mass, as it is necessary for the synthesis of non-essential amino acids.

Recent scientific research has observed this amino acid’s particularly effective immunoprotective activity in case of infections and inflammatory conditions.

Glutamine is also involved in the gastrointestinal and hepatic system by preserving the health of these systems.

L-Glutathione

Glutathione is a sulphurated molecule formed by three amino acids (cysteine, glycine, glutamate), with a basically antioxidant function, and also detoxifying and immune system boosting effects.

Glutathione helps the body to resist several situations of toxic stress.

In fact, cells use Glutathione to bind toxins and other compounds that are foreign to the body. This immediately limits the power of toxic agents and speeds up their removal, releasing the body ofenvironmental pollutants, toxic metals, medicines and other hazardous substances. Unfortunately, its levels are inclined to diminish with age, favouring unpleasant health problems.

Glutathione has a protective action also on the skin, preventing skin ageing and epidermal damage induced by excessive exposure to sunlight.

A liver detox action and ocular protective action have also been observed.

L-Glyicine

Glycine is the simplest ordinary amino acid. Many studies document that it contributes to increase muscle growth by working synergistically with other amino acids, such as glutamine and niacin. In other cases it is effective, always combined with other amino acids, for physical recovery after training.

L-Histidine

Histidine is an essential amino acid that is present in animal and plant proteins. It has to be taken with the diet as the body does not product it.

Histidine is necessary for tissue growth and repair, and it protects tissues from damage caused by exposure to heavy metal radiations.

Histidine works synergistically with other amino acids that strengthen muscles, and which have an important role in the inflammation process.

L-Isoleucine

Isoleucine is an essential amino acid that has to be taken with the diet as the body does not product it. It is an essential adjuvant for protein synthesis and energy production during physical activity. Moreover, isoleucine favours recover after physical exercise, preventing physical and mental fatigue.

L-Leucine

Leucine belongs to a complex chain of amino acids that strengthen muscles, create new skin cells and obtain natural energy deposits. When it is combined with other amino acids, this substance becomes an excellent supplement for body builders, athletes and people who want to lose excess weight, or simply as a supply of additional energy.

L-Lysine

Lysine is an essential amino acid that is part of all protein structures.

Its presence is required to favour growth, tissue repair and the synthesis of many antibodies, hormones and enzymes.

According to some clinical studies, the intake of this amino acid can reduce the incidence of lesions caused by labial herpes.

L-Methionine

Methionine is an essential sulphurated amino acid, whose main sources are meat, milk, fish and eggs.This amino acid has a considerable antioxidant activity that can neutralise excessive production of free radicals.

It also belongs to the so-called "lipotropic factors", nutritional ingredients that have a protective effect on hepatic function.

L-Ornithine

Ornithine is a non-essential amino acid, precursor of other amino acids, such as citrulline, proline and glutamic acid.

It participates in the urea cycle, has a stimulating action on the hypophysis, favours fat metabolism and amino acid transport to cells, and promotes hepatic function.

L-Phenylalanine

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that intervenes in several biochemical processes involved in the synthesis of certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, noradrenaline and adrenaline.

Recent scientific literature reports that the use of phenylalanine has provided good results in improving mood in depressed subjects and in appetite control.

Certain data suggest its possible use in dermatology as adjuvant for vitiligo therapy.

L-Proline

Proline is a non-essential amino acid that is the main constituent of collagen, bones, cartilage and connective tissues. It contributes to form muscle tissue once again and to ensure adequate cardiac muscle function.

L-Serine

Serine is a non-essential amino acid that the body synthesises from other amino acids. Its main function is to favour creatine synthesis and to contribute to the cellular production of energy, in order to supply muscles and liver with energy and calorie reserves.

L-Taurine

Taurine is an important sulphurated amino acid for nervous system and muscle regulation. It has a primary role in growth and development.

It is a final product of L-cysteine metabolism, and is the main free intracellular amino acid in many human and animal tissues. It is present in high concentrations in the heart and brain.

This amino acid has antioxidant and membrane stabilising effects that prevent lipid peroxidation.

Taurine is also involved in the pre-natal and post-natal development of the central nervous system and of the visual system.

Studies report that Taurine supports cardiovascular function with detoxifying effects. It also has cholesterol and blood pressure lowering properties.

L-Threonine

Threonine is an essential amino acid that is present in animal and plant proteins. It has to be taken with the diet as the body does not product it.

Its main function is to favour creatine, cystine, cysteine, carnitine, taurine, lecithin, vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), choline and adrenaline synthesis. It also helps the liver to eliminate waste.

L-Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is present in animal and plant proteins. It has to be taken with the diet as the body does not produce it.

It is directly involved in muscle growth and can raise serotonin and melatonin levels in the brain.

Studies suggest that by facilitating the supply of serotonin, tryptophan can be an effective anti-depressant.

L-Tyrosine

Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid in its free form. Along with phenylalanine, it participates in the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Hence, its adequate intake is required for thyroid activity.

By regulating cerebral functions and the production of neurotransmitters, tyrosine reduces hunger pangs and boosts psychophysical energy.

Used to regulate mood, increase mental lucidity after sleep deprivation and as appetite inhibitor, tyrosine is a promising agent to improve cognitive health and mood, and to control stressful conditions.

L-Valine

Valine is an essential amino acid that is present in animal and plant proteins. It has to be taken with the diet as the body does not produce it.

Valine improves the overall health of the body and athletic performance by immediately providing energy for both liver and muscles.

Lactase

Lactose intolerance is caused by the inability to produce lactase (the enzyme that allows to breakdown lactose into galactose and glucose).

The inability to digest lactose leads to symptoms, such as flatulence, meteorism, abdominal cramps, tiredness and weight loss.

The problem of lactase deficiency due to low consumption of milk and dairy products is not only related to intestinal symptoms but can also have repercussions on nutritional intake of calcium, an essential mineral for proper development and bone trophism.

Fungal lactase is produced by controlled fermentation of the fungus Aspergillus oryzae and characterised by the capacity to hydrolyse lactose in a broad temperature and pH spectrum.

Lactobacilli

Lactobacilli are microorganisms, whose presence is essential for the balance of intestinal microflora.

Among Lactobacilli, Lactobacillus acidophilus is the strain that prevails in the human intestine. Its presence hinders the harmful action of pathogens that are daily introduced into the body.

Supplementation of L. acidophilus is indicated for many conditions, such as prolonged use of medicines, vaginal and genitourinary infections, digestive, intestinal and dermatological disorders.

According to many clinical studies, the intake of Lactobacilli has the following effects:

• restores the balance of intestinal flora;
• reduces lactose intolerance;
• favours the production of B group vitamins;
• improves the immune system’s response;
• favours body detox from harmful substances.

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perennial herbaceous plant that is common in all countries of the Mediterranean basin, and in Central and Eastern Europe.

Recent studies report the sedative, spasmolytic, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties of rosmarinic acid, the most important active ingredient of Lemon Balm.

Lemon Balm is recommended as a bland sedative for sleep disorders and to attenuate nervous symptoms, such as excitability, anxiety and stress.

For the anxiolytic and mood modulating actions observed by pharmacological and clinical studies, Lemon Balm is administered as a dry extract titrated at min. 2% of rosmarinic acid, at the dose of 8 mg/kg/day divided into 2 administrations far from meals.

Some studies have observed a clear increase in attention and a reduction in restlessness, without loss of either memory or concentration.

Lemon Balm can improve the negative effects of stress by inducing states of calm and alertness.

It has a spasmolytic action on smooth muscle in the digestive tract and can, therefore, be used for states of anxiety with visceral somatisation and gastroenteric disorders (colitis, dyspepsia).

Lentinula (shitake)

Lentinula (Lentinula edodes), also called shitake, is a nutritionally rich mushroom with proteins, vitamins and minerals. Studies report its lipid lowering, blood glucose lowering, anti-viral and hepatoprotective effects.

This mushroom has also been studied for its beneficial effects on oral health. Indeed, it is effective against pathogens that cause caries, gengivitis and periodontitis.

Experimental data report potential antioxidant and antitumoral effects of lentinula extracts.

It is deemed that polysaccharides, β(1,3-1,6)-D-glucans, present in the mushroom are responsible for Lentinula’s interesting properties.

With the natural presence of trealose, a sugar whose content is high in Lentinula, this mushroom stimulates the formation of beneficial bacteria for the colon.

Lespedeza

Lespedeza (Lespedeza capitata) is a native American plant of the Leguminous family. The most interesting active ingredients extracted from the leaves of this plant are flavonoids, which have a drainingaction that is longer than other flavonoids.

Besides preventing fluid retention, Lespedeza promotes the body’s physiological detox processes.

Linseed Oil

Linseed Oil is one of the richest sources of alpha-linolenic acid (see ALA), that is essential for cell membrane integrity.

Alpha-linolenic acid has an essential role in the body, as it is the precursor of two other important fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

The body converts alpha-linolenic acid into EPA and DHA; therefore, its deficiency can impair the levels of these two important fatty acids, which are essential for proper cardiovascular metabolism due to their anti-inflammatory effects. Their beneficial effects also concern cerebral and visual function.

Moreover, intake of alpha-linolenic acid is related to a low incidence of arterial hypertension.

Lipase

Lipase is a group of enzymes that determine triglyceride hydrolysis.

There are two main types, which act in the digestive system: pancreatic lipase and enteric lipase, whose actions are implemented in subsequent stages.

Necessary for the digestion of fats, gastric lipases hydrolyse fats, preparing them to be broken down in the intestine by pancreatic lipase.

Lipoic Acid

Alpha Lipoic Acid or thioctic acid is an antioxidant compound that is important for the metabolism of most living beings.

It participates as a cofactor in the body’s main cellular energy producing reactions, and its particular characteristic is the capacity to be an active antioxidant, both in aqueous environments (cytoplasm) and in lipid ones (cell membrane). Hence, it is more effective against a large number of free radicals.

Alpha Lipoic Acid can strengthen and extend the antioxidant action of vitamins E and C, and of other essential nutrients.

Lipoic Acid converts sugar into energy, with beneficial effects on blood glucose levels and on glycation, precisely on the process through which proteins react with excess glucose, causing diabetic complications.

By stimulating insulin activity, Lipoic Acid enhances glucose absorption (approx. 50%). In fact, it has been used in Germany for more than thirty years for its secondary effects on diabetes (diabetic neuropathy).

The efficacy of Alpha Lipoic Acid in clinical practice has been assessed by many clinical trials on patients with various forms of neuropathy, such as diabetic neuropathy and lumbar sciatic pain.
There is also evidence that it is useful for patients with carpal tunnel syndrome as it improves night-time symptoms and allows to postpone surgery.
Alpha Lipoic Acid is involved in chronic pain with a specific anti-inflammatory action, which manifests especially as neuropathic clinical efficacy.

In addition, Alpha Lipoic Acid has effects on obesity, blood glucose levels, metabolic syndrome and arterial hypertension. There is evidence that it improves endothelial function, pro-inflammatory conditions that present greater susceptibility to the development of chronic pain.

In cases of obesity, it facilitates body weight loss by stimulating energy metabolism and inhibiting appetite control centres.

Liquorice

Liquorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is a known remedy against many disorders, particularly of the gastrointestinal system, including aerophagia, constipation, slow digestion and gastroduodenal ulcers.

Its laxative and detox effect can help to control body weight.

Lutein

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids (see) that are predominant in leafy green plants (broccoli, spinach, cabbage and Brussels sprouts).

These compounds act as a pair of sunglasses, filtering harmful blue light radiations, called HEV wave lengths, high energy visible light, associated with many forms of optical damage.

The antioxidant action of these pigments, which mainly takes place in ocular photoreceptors, hinders oxidative processes that can occur in the eye, protecting eyesight and preserving ocular function and acuity in the long-term.

Lutein and zeaxanthin protect against senile macular degeneration, helping to block the harmful effects of UV radiation and the possible damage it can cause to the retina.

It has also been observed that the intake of lutein and zeaxanthin - the only macular pigments present in the lens – has beneficial effects in case of cataract, particularly improving visual performance, visual acuity and reducing sensitivity to light. Hence, the intake of these two pigments with food is an important nutritional protection for the ocular system.

Moreover, their intake improves skin hydration, lipid content and elasticity, besides reducing lipid peroxidation and increasing photoprotective activity.

Lycopene

Lycopene is a carotenoid that is extensively present in nature, and its main source is tomato.

Lycopene is considered the carotenoid with the most powerful antioxidant activity, a role it plays by preventing cellular ageing, inflammatory conditions and all pathological conditions subsequent to oxidative processes.

Many epidemiological studies indicate its preventive action against certain types of cancer (oesophagus, lungs and gastrointestinal tract), and more evidently against prostate cancer.

Recent studies also report a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular diseases in case of high plasma concentrations of Lycopene.

Moreover, as all carotenoids, Lycopene protects the skin from the harmful effects of UV light. It is indicated to prevent burns and photoageing.

Maca

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is an annual plant of the Brassicaceae family that grows spontaneously in the Peruvian mountains.

Its root is traditionally used to enhance fertility and sexual performance both in men (erectile dysfunction) and in women, and to alleviate menopausal symptoms.

Maca seems to have some effect on sexual performance, at times influencing hormone levels and favouring their synthesis.

In certain studies, Maca increased sperm volume, number and motility in men, while in women it seems to have a trophic action on vaginal dryness.

This plant also increases nitric oxide activity and anti-viral action against influenza virus A and B.

For its restorative-energising action it is indicated for stress, chronic fatigue and poor concentration.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is present in high amounts in the human body where it performs several essential functions.

Besides being a necessary cofactor for the activity of many enzymes, Magnesium participates in cellular respiration, nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction,and strengthens the body’s defences.

It seems that Magnesium will have an increasingly important role in the prevention of many health disorders.

In fact, its adequate nutritional intake is involved in cardiovascular, bone and nervous system health. It also improves the balance of lipid parameters and alleviates the effects of ageing.

Manganese

Manganese is a micronutrient that is a component of many enzymes, and activates others.

It participates in the formation of connective tissue, bones, blood coagulation factors and glucose regulation factors, and is required for the synthesis of certain neurotransmitters.

It also preserves the cell from oxidative stress, and has a protective action on cartilage and joints.

In humans, the tissues and organs that are richest in this micronutrient are bones, liver, kidneys and pancreas.

The following effects have been observed in animals with Manganese deficiency: reduced reproductive capacity, delayed growth, disorders in cartilage and bone formation, poor tolerance to glucose and reduced secretion of insulin.

Manganese deficiency causes abnormal skeletal development in many animal species. In fact, this micronutrient is required for the synthesis of proteoglycans, proteins that are necessary for the formation of bone and cartilage, towards which it has a protective action.

Manganese has a positive effect also for osteoporosis and premenstrual syndrome.

Mangosteen

Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is a tropical plant that contains significant amounts of certain phytochemical classes, such as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (see OPC), catechins, polysaccharides and sterols. It also has xanthones, polyphenols that have been extensively discussed since 1855, the year when the first of them was isolated, Mangosteen.

Many studies conducted on the therapeutic value of this fruit have underscored its interesting potential action.

Particularly, the anti-inflammatory effect that can inhibit the activity of COX 1 and 2 and of carcinogens, besides having an anti-bacterial action, have been the focus of considerable attention.

Mangosteen xanthones have an important ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) action that contributes to maintain cardiovascular health.

Mangosteen extract inhibits histamine release and prostaglandin E-2 synthesis. Both are important factors to control allergies.

Marine Fish Oil

Marine Fish Oil, particularly from mackerel, salmon, sardine and herring, is rich in EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) omega-3 fatty acids.

These nutrients have beneficial effects in reducing triglycerides, blood pressure, platelet aggregation and blood viscosity. Hence, it provides effective cardiovascular protection.

Besides this action, Marine Fish Oil has a powerful anti-inflammatory action that is indicated for allergic and autoimmune conditions.

Maritime Pine

The bark of the Maritime Pine (Pinus massaniana Lamb) is an important source of oligomeric proanthocyanidins (see OPC), flavonoid compounds with antioxidant action that have many therapeutic properties.

OPCs belong to a class of biologically active and bioavailable polyphenolic compounds that have obtained many pharmacological and clinical results. They are specifically indicated both as prevention and therapy for cardiovascular diseases.

In fact, the antioxidant action of OPCs is more powerful than that of vitamins C, E and beta-carotene, with a vasoprotective action that is superior to that of other polyphenols present in nature. Moreover, OPCs favour the activity of antioxidant enzymes, such as S.O.D., catalase and glutathione.

OPCs are also indicated for all allergic conditions (hay fever, allergies) because they inhibit histamine release from mastocytes.

Melatonin

Melatonin is an essential compound for the body. Its antioxidant activity has beneficial effects on the immune and nervous system.

Particularly, as a result of its capacity to regulate the sleep-wake cycle, Melatonin is one of the most effective and safe sleep inducers on the market today.

It is also used to prevent symptoms subsequent to jet-lag syndrome (a sick feeling that might occur after transcontinental flights) and for some gastrointestinal disorders, such as gastroesophageal reflux.

Methylsulphonylmethane (MSM)

MSM is the acronym for Methylsulphonylmethane, a sulphurous organic compound that contains about 35% of elemental bioavailable sulphur.

Studies carried out on this substance reveal an anti-inflammatory activity that can reduce pain associated with inflammation, particularly joint pain.

Also effective for pain and muscle cramps, sulphur is used for food allergies and intolerances as it can increase the body’s defences.

Always due to the presence of sulphur, which is a constituent of keratin, MSM supports the structural integrity of hair, skin and nails.

Moreover, MSM participates in the production of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, and inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory mediators that can cause inflammatory states in the body, even in hair follicles.

Milk Proteins

Milk Proteins, particularly whey proteins (lactoalbumins), are a protein source with the highest biological value and protein efficiency ratio (PER).

Serum proteins are used for aerobic exercise and to build muscle mass.

Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum Gaertn) is mainly known for its restorative action on the liver and bile ducts.

The fruit contains silymarin, a blend of flavonolignans (silybin, silydianin, silycristin), which are attributed the main therapeutic activities.

Silymarin increases hepatic cell resistance to the absorption of toxins, favouring the regeneration of new cells in the liver.

Some data suggest that silymarin has a direct effect on hepatic cholesterol metabolism, inhibiting its biosynthesis.

With its hepatoprotective action, Milk Thistle is indicated for all types of liver diseases. The immunomodulating, antioxidant and restorative effects are worthy of mention.

Molybdenum

Molybdenum (Mb) is a micronutrient concentrated in particular hepatic cells. This element participates in the many activities of the enzyme, (xanthin-oxidase, aldehyde-oxidase, sulphyte-oxidase), through which it affects iron metabolism and cytochrome C activity.

Monacolin K

Monachlin K is a substance produced through fermentation of common rice (see Oryza sativa) with Monascus purpureus, a yeast that endows rice grains with the typical red colour. The chemical structure and pharmacological action of Monacolin K are the same as those of lovastatin, a well known compound that is used for its cholesterol-reducing properties.

In fact, Monacolin L, like lovastatin, inhibits HMG-CoA reductase enzyme activity and, subsequently, cholesterol synthesis in the body.

Moringa

Moringa (Moringa oleifera) is a native plant of India (Himalaya), and grows in tropical and subtropical regions.

The leaves and seeds are rich in elements with high nutritional value, such as vitamins (A, B, C, D, E), minerals (potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron), amino acids, fatty acids, antioxidants (flavonoids, phenols and carotenoids).

Moringa was called “miracle tree” for its many health-promoting properties. Particularly, scientific evidence underpins the therapeutic potential for high blood glucose levels and dyslipidaemia, conditions regarding which it has obtained encouraging results.

Mucopolysaccharides

Mucopolysaccharides are structural and protective polysaccharides that are also called glycosaminoglycans (GAG), formed from glucosamine (see).

Mucopolysaccharides are generally associated with other proteins to form more complex molecules, proteoglycans. The most important and abundant mucopolysaccharides in the animal kingdom are chondroitin sulphate (see), hyaluronic acid (see) and heparin.

Muira puama

Muira Puama (Ptychopetalum olacoides Benth) is a native plant of Amazonia. Its roots are traditionally used by native populations for their restorative and aphrodisiac effects and for various disorders.

Studies conducted on subjects with low sex drive and erectile deficiency have reported improvements in this disorder in a considerable percentage of subjects following the intake of Muira Puama.

Myrrh

Myrrhis an oily gum resinthat is isolated from shrubs or small trees native of North-Eastern Africa and of South-Western Asia, especially from Commiphora myrrha Engl. It is produced by many plants but, generally, all myrrh resins have astringent properties on mucous tissues and antimicrobial effects.

Myrrh is particularly an excellent remedy for pharyngitis, tonsillitis and gengivitis.

N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC)

NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine) is derived from L-cysteine, a non-essential sulphurated amino acid, compared to which NAC is more stable and more bioavailable.

Since the 1960s it has been marketed as a medicine and used, even by inhalation, to treat airway diseases.

NAC is mainly used to treat respiratory diseases, such as acute and chronic bronchitis presenting excessive production of viscous mucus.

But the latest studies suggest other uses for this antioxidant substance that have yielded positive results, though they need to be further explored.

Extensive data concern mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder), addictions (pathological gambling, nicotine, cocaine and cannabis consumption), schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Parkinson’s disease and nephropathy.

Nettle

Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a perennial herbaceous plant native of Eurasia. Today it grows in all temperate regions.

The dried roots and rhizomes contain compounds with interesting physiological actions, such as beta-sitosterol, daucosterol, scopoletin, lignans and flavonoids.

Nettle extract is indicated for benign prostate disorders, particularly for prostatic congestion and subsequent micturition disorders, and also in case of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH),either initial or in stages I-II.

Many studies have observed that Nettle reduces irritative symptoms and complications associated with BPH with its anti-phlogistic and anti-proliferative effects.

Even combined with other herbs (e.g., Serenoa repens), Nettle has obtained good results as a remedy for BPH and as diuretic.

Niacin

Niacin, also called vitamin B3 or PP, is a water soluble compound made up of nicotinic acid.

Besides being an excellent vasodilator, Niacin improves lipid metabolism, can be useful to maintain adequate cholesterol levels and can favour hepatic detox processes.

Deficiencies of this nutrient have also been associated with the manifestation of certain neurological disorders.

Nicotinamide Adenin Dinucleotide Reduced (NADH)

NADH (nicotinamide-adenin-dinucleotide reduced) is a coenzyme that participates in cellular energy production processes.

The administration of this coenzyme has produced satisfactory results for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), memory loss and poor resistance to fatigue.

Noni

Noni (Morinda citrifolia) is one of the most important plants of traditional Polynesian medicine. Used for centuries as a remedy for many health disorders, today it is indicated to boost immune defences due to its capacity to improve antibody function.

The powerful antioxidant action of M. citrifolia has been observed, caused by its rich composition of protective compounds (beta-carotene, terpenoids, alkaloids, beta-sitosterols and polyphenols). It is 2.8-fold the effect of vitamin C.

The plant’s extract also has a central analgesic activity, which suggests possible sedative, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and antibacterial activities.

Octacosanol

Octacosanol belongs to the group of polycosanols, substances obtained by extraction from cereal.

Some studies conducted on polycosanols have underscored their capacity to reduce excessively high levels of blood cholesterol that, in some cases, are higher than that of medicines.

Among polycosanols, octacosanol increases resistance to fatigue, with a greater use of oxygen, and improves muscle trophism.

Oleuroperin

Active ingredient contained in high concentrations in olive (see Olea europaea) leaf with antioxidant, blood pressure reducing, blood glucose lowering, blood cholesterol lowering, anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective action.

Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPC)

OPCs (oligomeric proanthocyanidins ) belong to the class of bioflavonoids (see), plant polyphenols that are common in nature, and which are present in high concentrations in berries, red grape (see) and maritime pine bark (see).

They have an important antioxidant action and protect blood vessels.

Olive Leaf

Olive (Olea europea) belongs to the Oleaceae family, which includes plant species distributed in all temperate and tropical regions of the world.

Olive leaves have recently been the focus of interest for their content of a substance called oleuropein (see). This polyphenol has promising effects for arterial hypertension, hyperlipidaemia and diabetes.

With its antioxidant action, oleuropein has an important cardiometabolic protective effect. Moreover, in vivo it has an antimicrobial action against bacteria, yeast and fungi.

Omega-3

Omega-3 are essential fatty acids because the body is unable to synthesise their precursor, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which must, therefore, be taken with the diet.

Marine fish are their main source, particularly anchovy, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardine, sturgeon, trout and tuna, which are especially rich in EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) omega-3 fatty acids. Plant sources, such as hazelnut, linseed and soy oil are, instead, rich in ALA.

Many studies conducted in recent decades have reported that these fatty acids can protect the cardiovascular system and have a positive influence on lipid metabolism, reducing the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. There is also considerable scientific evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can modulate the inflammatory response. This has provided encouraging results in many autoimmune, skin and psychiatric disorders, and allergies.

Omega-6

Omega-6 are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids because the body is unable to synthesise their precursor, linoleic acid, which must, therefore, be taken with the diet.

The beneficial effects associated with the intake of omega-6 are: prevention of lipid imbalances and atherosclerosis. Good results were also obtained in certain dermatological disorders (dermatitis, acne, psoriasis), and were considered the outcome of their capacity to modulate the immune system with their anti-inflammatory action.

Omega-9

Oleic acid is an omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid (it has a one carbon/carbon double bond on the ninth carbon atom from the last carbon atom of the chain, called omega). One of the richest sources of oleic acid is olive oil.

Oleic acid has beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system with antioxidant properties that are useful to maintain normal levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood, with an evident blood pressure lowering action.

Orthosiphon

Orthosiphon (Orthosiphon stamineus), also called Java Tea, is a native plant of Southern Asia.

The leaves have a high content of sesquiterpenes, triterpene saponins and flavones, among which sinensetin stands out for its importance.

Orthosiphon has a diuretic action that is indicated for all forms of fluid retention, even forbacterial and inflammatory conditions of the descending urinary tract and gravel.

Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA)

Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is a natural lipid; particularly, it is a fatty acid amide that, according to recent clinical evidence, presents analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Its activity and mechanism of action were studied and described by Nobel Prize Winner Rita Levi Montalcini in 1993.

This substance is naturally produced in the body in response to neuronal stimuli: the molecule binds specific receptors, including PPAR-α, an important regulator of inflammatory processes. Moreover, PEA inhibits the release of pro-inflammatory mediators by mastocytes, immune cells that are involved in the onset and development of neuropathic pain.

Recent clinical studies have reported the efficacy of various types of pain and inflammatory conditions, including neurological and osteoarticular pain.

Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5)

Pantothenic Acid is a water soluble B group vitamin that is widely present in foodstuffs.

It is involved both in the degradation of sugar, fats and proteins for energy production in the body, and in the synthesis of fatty acids, cholesterol and thyroid hormones.

Often called “anti-stress vitamin”, vitamin B5 supports the activity of adrenal glands and improves the capacity to manage stressful situations.

Some data suggest that Pantothenic Acid reduces total and LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Certain preliminary studies have used Pantothenic Acid on subjects with acne, with a good degree of efficacy (reduction in facial injuries and in the inflamed area).

Some studies on animals presenting Pantothenic Acid deficiency observed skin inflammation and greying fur, underscoring the importance of this vitamin’s supplementation.

Papaya

The Papaya fruit, a tropical plant native of the Caribbean, also called "melon tree", is an excellent source of minerals and vitamins (particularly of beta-carotene and vitamin C).

It also contains a proteolytic enzyme, papain, with digestive and anti-inflammatory properties. Papain was recently found to possess antioxidant and immunostimulating effects that make it a precious resource to fight free radicals.

Para-Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA)

In nature PABA (Para-Aminobenzoic Acid) is found combined with folic acid, and is involved in the assimilation of Pantothenic Acid, whose action it enhances.

Indicated for the health of skin and skin adnexa, its deficiency is associated with early greying of hair.

Parsley

A much appreciated and famous herb of Mediterranean cuisine, Parsley (Petroselium crispum) has characteristics that make it a precious ally for our health. This herb is rich in minerals, fibre and protein. It also has beneficial properties that favour detox processes. It is indicated to relieve menstrual pain.

Passiflora

Passiflora is the plant of the passion fruit, a widely used ingredient in beverages and cocktails. This plant is famous for its calming action, and is one of the most recommended phytotherapeutic remedies for nervous system disorders. It contains flavonoids, such as vitexin (see), which target the central nervous system, especially the area that controls movements and sleep centres. Its sedative and anxiolytic properties make Passiflora an effective remedy for sleep-related problems.

Pau d’arco

Pau d'arco (Tabebuia avallanedae) is a common tree in South American forests, particularly in Peru and Argentina.

The first constituent isolated from the Tabebuia bark was lapachol, a naphthoquinone that has a considerable antioxidant action. The properties of lapachol include anti-viral, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and immunostimulant actions.

Pectin

Pectin is a water soluble fibre that is obtained from the cell walls of certain fruits and vegetables, especially oranges and apples. It is widely used to produce jams.

Pectin has beneficial properties that favour regular intestinal transit, delay intestinal absorption of sugar, reduce the glycaemic index and reduce cholesterol levels, besides nourishing “good” intestinal bacteria.

Phaseolamin

Phaseolamin is the purified dry extract of the white bean (Phaseolus vugaris).

This substance makes it easy to reduce the absorption of starch taken with the diet (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes), inhibiting the enzyme alpha amylase.

It can be useful for weight loss programmes.

Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid that is naturally present in cell membranes, where it has an important morphofunctional role. It particularly stimulates cerebral activities, especially cognitive skills.

Phosphatidylserine promotes all functions that depend on the cell membrane and modulates the production of acetylcholine and dopamine, crucial neurotransmitters for learning and memory processes.

Many recent clinical trials conducted on subjects with Alzheimer’s disease in Europe and in the USA have reported that phosphatidylserine improves cognitive functions, memory and recollections, mood, participation and social interests.

Phosphatidylserine reduces the release of cortisol, a hormone whose production is associated with excessive muscle catabolism after intensive physical exercise.

Another effect of cortisol observed in the sports sector is a reduction in symptoms of overtraining syndrome. Moreover, recent studies have shown that excessive and prolonged production of cortisol, as occurs during conditions of chronic stress, can cause memory loss.

Hence, supplementation of phosphatidylserine can have beneficial effects in all stressful conditions, improving behavioural and cognitive symptoms.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is important for calcium absorption and energy production. It also contributes to enhance memory. Phosphorus favours assimilation of vitamins in the body.

Pilosella

Pilosella (Hieracium pilosella) is a bitter herb with typical yellow flowers. It grows especially in European mountain regions.

Pilosella extracts have a powerful diuretic effect and are used for cellulite blemishes, swelling and oedema in the lower limbs and fluid retention.

It has a very high content of flavonoids, coumarine and triterpenes, which favour the elimination of uric acids, whose increase is often associated with dietary excesses.

Pilosella stimulates the production and excretion of bile, favouring hepatic and body detox, in a broad sense.The antiseptic action of umbelliferone, a coumarin with antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, effectively prevents urinary system infections.

Piperine

Piperine is the main alkaloid of pepper (Piper nigrum), the substance that conveys its hot flavour.

This substance has several properties, especially a thermogenic action that explains its use for body weight control diets. Moreover, it is often associated with other compounds to enhance absorption and bioavailability. Piperine favours digestion and is effective on the digestive system by accelerating intestinal transit time.

Pleurotus (Hiratake)

An edible mushroom native of subtropical areas, Pleurotus (Pleurotus ostreatus) has important nutritional content.

The capacity to regulate the immune system and fat concentrations in blood are some of the beneficial biological effects of compounds present on the cells walls of mushrooms, β(1,3-1,6)-D-glucans.

In fact, Pleurotus reduces lipid levels, especially cholesterol, thus suggesting its protective action against atherosclerotic processes.

With its antioxidant action, the consumption of Pleurotus favours longevity, as indicated by experimental models.

Polycosanols

Polycosanols are a group of substances (the main ones being octacosanol, triacosanol, tetracosanol and hexacosanol) obtained by extraction from cereal.

Some studies conducted on polycosanols have underscored their capacity to reduce excessively high levels of LDL cholesterol.

Among Polycosanols, octacosanol increases resistance to fatigue, with a greater use of oxygen, and improves muscle trophism.

Polyphenols

Polyphenols include a large variety of compounds present in plant-based foodstuffs, which present evident antioxidant properties.

Many potential health-promoting effects have recently been observed as a result of the intake of polyphenols with food, thus revealing that these compounds can strengthen endogenous antioxidant and detox defences.

Epidemiological studies indicate a close correlation between long-term consumption of plant-based foodstuffs containing polyphenols and protection against the development of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and degenerative diseases.

Polyporus (Chorei Maitake)

Polyporus (Polyporus umbellatus) is a saprophyte mushroom with a long-standing tradition as diuretic that favours urine production.

Polyphenols contained in Polyporus have immunostimulating, antitumoral and anti-viral actions.

A promising adjuvant effect was recently observed during chemotherapy. In fact, in China it is marketed as a remedy for cancer.

Moreover, some steroids with cytotoxic action against tumour cell lines have been isolated.

Polyporus has yielded results as hepatoprotector, particularly in cases of hepatitis B.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a plant that belongs to the Punicaceae family, native of Western Asia.

The typical acidic flavoured red fruits contain powerful polyphenolic antioxidants, ellagitannins, including punicalagins and ellagic acid. The latter has a strong anti-mutagenic activity that contrasts the genetic mutation, which precedes the development of tumours.

The synergistic combination of these phytonutrients distinguishes pomegranate as a powerful natural antioxidant.

Ellagitannins are complex compounds that can release high amounts of ellagic acid, a substance with several protective properties.

Clinical and in vivo studies have reported the positive effects of ellagic acid present in Pomegranate, as they favour cardiovascular health by preventing arterial hypertension, platelet aggregation and LDL and HDL lipoprotein oxidation.

Poria (Bukuryo)

Poria (Poria cocos) is a medicinal mushroom that is used in traditional Chinese medicine for its antioxidant, diuretic, sedative and restorative effects.

This mushroom develops a resistant structure, the sclerotium (Fu ling), to face unfavourable environmental conditions.

There is evidence of the anti-inflammatory, immunostimulating, antitumoral and anti-hyperglycaemic effects of polysaccharides (β(1,3-1,6)-D-glucans).

There are interesting findings for depression, improved memory, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Potassium

Potassium is one of the minerals that is most present in the human body, with 98% in intracellular fluids.

This mineral has important functions in the body: it participates inacid-base balance, cellular energy production, protein synthesis and muscle, skeletal and, especially, cardiac contraction.

Potassium controls cardiac rhythm and muscle tone. It closely interacts with sodium. Potassium increases renal excretion of sodium, contributing to reduce blood pressure; conversely, a loss of potassium increases sodium retention, causing oedema and increasing blood pressure values.

Potassium elimination can be caused by an unbalanced diet and by prolonged use of diuretics, by the consumption of salted foodstuffs, by cortisone therapies and by clinical conditions, such as diabetes, arterial hypertension, colon and liver diseases, and in case of disorders, such asdiarrhoea and vomiting.

The intake of potassium can favour the reduction of blood pressure and also has beneficial repercussions on cardiovascular protection.

Potassium deficiency symptoms include weakness and muscle fatigue that certainly also affect sports performance.

Protease

Protease, called peptidase, are enzymes involved in protein digestion. They hydrolyse peptide bonds that link the various protein chains.

Overall, these enzymes are essential for food protein digestion. These proteins are broken down into molecular fragments that are small enough to allow their absorption.

Proteins

Proteins are macromolecules made up of amino acid chains mutually bound by a peptide bond. They are essential to ensure proper function of all cells, both animal and plant cells. They are essential for the body’s function; indeed, muscles alone contain 65% of proteins. These molecules are found in all biological tissues, and intervene at various levels of the genetic heritage and in the production of hormones and enzymes.

Psyllium (ispaghula)

Psyllium (Plantago psyllium) is a native plant of the Mediterranean basin and Middle East. It especially grows in partly sandy soil.

Psyllium seeds are rich in mucilage, whose main effect concerns the laxative action that favours intestinal well-being. It is indicated both for constipation and diarrhoea.

A proper supply of soluble fibres, such as those of Psyllium, has many health-promoting effects. It is useful for body weight control and to reduce cholesterol, triglyceride and blood glucose levels.

Psyllium also seems effective for irritable colon syndrome and inflammatory intestinal diseases. It also has a protective effect on the development of colon cancer.

Pumpkin Seed oil

Many studies have reported that Pumpkin Seed Oil extracted from Cucurbita pepo or Cucurbita maxima, effectively controls benign prostate hypertrophy, which is useful for obstructive and irritative syndromes of the urinary system.

Pyridoxal-5’-Phosphate (P-5-P)

Pyridoxine or vitamin B6 is a B group water soluble vitamin.

The term vitamin B6 includes three compounds, pyridoxine, pyridoxal and pyridoxamine. All three can be transformed through enzymatic processes into pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P), the biologically active form of this vitamin.

This compound is essential for nucleic acid and protein metabolism. It favours the activity of more than 60 enzymes, is essential for cellular proliferation and red blood cell production.

Moreover, it has a nervous system regulating action through its effect on various minerals and neurotransmitters.

The optimal intake of this important vitamin is particularly important for women who take oral contraceptives, experience premenstrual tension and microcytic anaemia.

Quercetin

Quercetin belongs to the flavonoid (see Bioflavonoids) family, compounds with an evident antioxidant action. This flavonoid is the most extensively studied. It has provided excellent results in the treatment of cellular permeability, the tendency to develop ecchymoses, haemorrhoids, varicose veins and all cases of venous failure.

Moreover, this flavonoid is an antioxidant that prevents allergies, cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer.

Ray Fish Cartilage

The ray fish (Leucoraja erinacea) has a cartilage structure rich in chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine sulphate.

These two substances are the structural building blocks of glycosaminoglycans and of other macromolecules that form the extracellular matrix of connective tissue.

Red Clover

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) is a common perennial plant that is cultivated as forage. It is a traditional remedy for many skin disorders. In recent years it has been studied for its content of phytoestrogens, isoflavones.

Soy and Red Clover are rich sources of isoflavones, a subgroup of phyroestrogens that includes daidzein, formononetin (precursor of daidzein), genistein and biocanin (precursor of genistein).

The action of these compounds is protective especially for menopausal disorders, particularly dyslipidaemia and cardiovascular disorders, and for the development of certain types of hormone-dependent tumours.

Recent studies have provided evidence that Trifolium pratense activates nitric acid (NO) synthesis, with all the related positive effects (improved immune system defences, cardioprotection, enhanced erectile response and muscle mass response).

Red Grape, seeds

Red Grape Seed extract (Vitis vinifera) is a rich source of oligomeric proanthocyanidins (see OPC), flavonoid compounds with antioxidant action that have many therapeutic properties.

OPCs belong to a class of biologically active and bioavailable polyphenolic compounds that have obtained many pharmacological and clinical results. They are specifically indicated both as prevention and therapy for cardiovascular diseases.

In fact, the antioxidant action of OPCs is more powerful than that of vitamins C, E and beta-carotene. Moreover, these flavonoids favour the activity of important enzymes, such as S.O.D., catalase and glutathione.

Recent epidemiological studies suggest that red grape polyphenols have a protective effect in cases of chronic atherosclerotic deterioration and of ischaemic heart disease.

OPCs are also indicated for all allergic conditions (hay fever, allergies) for their capacity to inhibit histamine release from mastocytes.

Red Rice

Used in Asian cuisine and in traditional eastern medicine, Red Rice (Oryza sativa) obtained by fermentation of rice, contains many active substances. Among these, modern nutraceuticals make use of monacolin K (see), which is chemically identical to lovastatin. It has an important cholesterol reducing function.

A study on the effect of the administration of Red Rice to almost 5,000 subjects for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases reported a reduction in the incidence of non-fatal myocardial infarction and in mortality caused by coronary artery diseases, revascularisation of coronary arteries and a drop in the total mortality rate of patients with a history of myocardial infarction and moderate hypercholesterolaemia.

Not only does Red Rice improve lipid metabolism but it seems to have anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and hypotensive actions.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol, a stylbenic compound derived from the root of the plant Polygonum cuspidatum, is an important constituent of traditional Japanese and Chinese medicine.

Resveratrol has a broad spectrum of biological effects, including the capacity to imitate the action of oestrogens.

This flavonoid, with antioxidant and cardioprotective action, has been effective in many studies for climacteric and post-menopausal syndrome, with beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, bones and neurological system.

Besides its antioxidant action, Resveratrol also reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

It also has an evident anti-viral action that is effective for various forms of influenza.

Rhodiola

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) is an adaptogenic plant with multi-target effects on various levels of regulation of the cell’s response to stress.

Rhodiola is rich in many components, but rosavin is the one generally used as a landmark for standardisation. The extracts of this plant enhance resistance to physical, chemical and biological stress.

Rhodiola improves sleep and mood, and prevents altitude sickness with its anti-stress and antidepressant properties. Many effects of this plant are due to its capacity to modulate the levels and activity of catecholamines, serotonin and dopamine. By stimulating lipase, Rhodiola extract favours mobilisation of fat deposited in adipose tissue. It also seems a promising adjuvant for nicotine addiction.

Rose Hips

Rose Hips (Rosa canina) is a wild plant that is extensively used for phytotherapy. In fact, its fruit (faux fruit) is very rich in vitamin C (see), whose concentrations can be 50-100-fold higher than those in citrus fruits.

Dog Hips is indicated to prevent common colds, low immune system defences, and stressful and inflammatory conditions.

There is also clinical evidence of its moderate capacity to alleviate inflammatory processes in the joints, particularly in cases of osteoarthritis. The results observed confirm the reduction in typical symptoms (morning stiffness, pain, inflammation) and the use of medicines.

Rosemary

A popular and much appreciated herb, Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) is typical of the Mediterranean area and is mainly used for culinary purposes.

Rosemary is famous for the intense scent of its essential oil, which contains the beneficial active ingredients. Rich in flavonoids, it is an excellent restorative, antiseptic, antioxidant and digestive agent that favours diuresisand normalises sebaceous secretion in the scalp.

Royal Jelly

Royal Jelly is a whitish creamy substance secreted by the salivary glands of worker bees. Its composition is complex, and consists of a blend of proteins, sugars, lipids and variable quantities of minerals, vitamins, pheromones and elements that have not been identified as yet.

Lipids are its most characterising fraction, comprising HDA (10-hydroxydecenoic acid), the most typical acid of Royal Jelly.

Its many vitamins include B1, B2, B3, B6, with a predominance of pantothenic acid and, to a lesser degree, vitamins A, B12, C, D and E. It also contains calcium, copper, iron, phosphorus, potassium, silicon and sulphur.

Royal Jelly has always been considered a restorative par excellence that is useful to supply energy to the body.

The high content of B group vitamins required for growth, nervous and immune system health, and to improve appetite and digestion indicate Royal Jelly for weakness, various deficiencies or physical and mental fatigue.

Royal Jelly is considered a stimulant that facilitates cellular metabolism, strengthens immune defences and resistance to intensive exercise. It is an adaptogenic substance that enhances the body’s adaptation to external stimuli.

Clinical trials on humans report that the administration of Royal Jelly had a protective effect on skin adnexa (a reduction in nail frailness and falling hair). Good results were also obtained for facial and scalp seborrhoea.

Ruscus

Ruscus (Ruscus aculeatus), also called butcher’s broom, is a perennial plant, native of Central and Southern Europe and of South Western Asia.

The rhizome of this plant is rich in saponins that have a vasoconstrictive and anti-inflammatory action, which is indicated for circulatory disorders of the lower limbs (heaviness, micro-varicose veins, superficial veins) and localised swelling (ankles, feet, legs).

Rutin

Rutin is a flavonoid present in rue leaves, citrus fruits, buckwheat and other plants, with important biological properties.

With its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action, rue reduces capillary frailness and improves venous tone with beneficial effects for cardiovascular health.

This flavonoid has neuroprotective and anti-ageing potential.

Rutin is indicated for vascular disorders, frail capillaries, haematomas and haemorrhoids.

With its ability to affect permeability andcapillary frailness, it can have a protective effect on the skin, reducing the formation of telangiectasias and couperose.

For its effect on the cellular membrane, rue can be considered a natural diuretic, a useful remedy for water retention and cellulite.

S-Allyl-Cysteine

S-Allyl Cysteine is a precursor of alliin contained in garlic. It is a water-soluble sulphurated compound that is odourless and stable, a cysteine derivative. It is easily absorbed by the intestine and rapidly deposited in tissues, such as kidneys, liver, lungs and brain. It features excellent antioxidant properties, with beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system.

Saffron

Saffron is a precious spice that is obtained from the stigmas of Crocus sativus flowers, a bulbous plant that belongs to the Iridaceae family.

The stigma of the saffron flower contains three main metabolites: crocin (which gives the colour), picrocrocin (that causes the bitter taste), and safranal, a volatile oil that conveys the typical scent of Saffron. Recent studies report several health-related uses for this spice, particularly for weight control and neurological protection.

Some data suggest a cardiometabolic protective activity due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. Some studies report a positive effect on dyslipidaemia, diabetes and blood pressure. Saffron also has a free radical scavenger, anti-mutagenic and immunomodulating action.

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa)

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a dwarf palm native of south-eastern regions of the United States and of certain Mediterranean areas.

Saw Palmetto is indicated for benign prostate hypertrophy and irritative or obstructive syndromes of the urinary system. Saw Palmetto improves urinary flow speed and reduces nicturia. Beta-sitosterols contained in the fruits of this plant improve urological symptoms calculated with the IPSS questionnaire ( objective urinary symptoms assessment questionnaire) and urodynamic methods, such as Qmax (uroflowmetry) and PVR (post-void residual urine test).

Scutellaria

Scutellaria (Scutellaria latiflora) is a permanent herbaceous plant that grows in Asia, Siberia and America. Indigenous Americans exploited the curative effects of its anti-inflammatory actions on the respiratory and gastrointestinal system.

The active ingredient of this plant is in its roots, which are rich in flavonoids and phytosterols. Scutellaria has important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions, besides sedative and relaxing effects, and its use is recommended for insomnia and anxiety.

Selenium

Selenium is an essential micronutrient for the human body. Its role, which manifests by preventing the build up of free radicals in the body, mainly concerns cellular protection. Cellular lesions caused by free radicals underpin ageing processes and the formation of tumours.

Selenium favours cardiovascular function, boosts the immune system and is involved in the integrity of skin and mucous tissue.

Selenium also helps to maintain male genital functions, especially combined with other antioxidants.

The thyroid is the organ with the highest selenium levels. Some clinical studies report that this micronutrient has beneficial effects on certain thyroid disorders.

Selenium’s action is synergistic with that of antioxidants, such as vitamins E or C.

Silica

Silica is a source of silicon (silicon dioxide), a non-metal mineral present in plants (see Horsetail), animals and most living beings.

In the human body it is mainly concentrated in connective tissue (bones and tendons).

Silicon intervenes in bone calcification processes by facilitating calcium deposit. It is also involved in the formation of connective tissue, thus contributing to maintain joint cartilage and skin adnexa (skin, hair and nails) intact.

Silymarin

The term Silymarin refers to a blend of flavolignans formed by silybin, silycristin and silydianin. They have rather high concentrations in milk thistle (see Silybum marianum) with an excellent antioxidant effect. There is clinical evidence of protective properties for the liver, as it mainly acts as regulator of hepatocyte cell membrane permeability and as stimulant of hepatic regeneration.

Soy Isoflavones

Soy (Glycine max) is a leguminous plant native of Asia that in recent years has been widely appreciated for its important effects on human health.

Soy seeds contain non-steroidal natural substances, isoflavones, which can improve typical menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, vaginal dryness, high blood cholesterol levels, overweight).

Moreover, isoflavones increase bone mineral content and are used for osteoporosis therapy.

Many studies concern the reduction in the risk of developing certain types of tumour (prostate, breast, lungs, intestine).

Soy Lecithin

Lecithin is a phospholipid that is present in soy and in some plant oils. Its main metabolic activity is to protect cell membrane function.

Lecithin has a positive effect on cholesterol and lipid metabolism. It strengthens the nervous system and protects hepatic function.

Soy Proteins

The protein content of soy is high (38-40%), and so is the quality of the protein. Lysine, leucine and phyenylalanine are abundant among the essential amino acids of soy proteins, while the percentage of sulphurated amino acids is rather low, as in all legumes.

Isolated Soy Proteins, obtained by protein extraction and development processes have a high protein content with nutritional value resembling that of milk proteins.

Moreover, isolated Soy Proteins contain high percentages of fibre. They are free of cholesterol and fatty acids, and meet the needs of those who practice sports, of vegetarians, and of subjects with milk intolerance, protein allergies or other components present in foods of animal origin.

Spirulina

Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis or Spirulina platensis) is a greenish cyan monocellular algae that has many applications in the field of biotechnology and medical sciences.

It was recently found to have anti-viral and immunostimulating actions that have yielded encouraging results.

Rich in minerals and in the most important micronutrients, Spirulina is an excellent food supplement for body weight control, detox diets and protein deficiencies.

As adjuvant for body weight control, Spirulina has two mechanisms of action: the first is maintenance of adequate blood glucose levels, which prolong the sensation of satiety;

the second concerns the amino acid content, particularly the presence of phenylalanine and tyrosine, amino acids that affect appetite-regulating mechanisms, favouring weight loss and improving tolerance to dietary programmes.

Sunflower Lecithin

Lecithin is a phospholipid that is present in soy and in some plant oils. Its main metabolic activity is to protect cell membrane function.

Lecithin has a positive effect on cholesterol and lipid metabolism. It strengthens the nervous system and protects hepatic function.

Lecithin from sunflower oil (Heliantus annuus) can be used as an alternative to soy by subjects who are intolerant and/or allergic.

Superoxide Dismutase (S.O.D)

Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) is an enzyme that has an important antioxidant function practically on all cells exposed to oxygen.

Its antioxidant activity enhances the function of all systems, particularly the hepatic and immune system.

Recent studies report that SOD has a protective action against oxidative damage caused by UV radiation, especially in subjects with sensitive skin.

SOD has a surprising capacity to reduce facial wrinkles and scars, favouring healing processes.

Its use is indicated for burns and hyperpigmentation, considering its anti-inflammatory action that makes it effective against UV radiation.

SOD regulates the formation of collagen and elastin to ensure a compactskin that is strong, smooth and elastic.

Thyme

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a typical herb of the Mediterranean area, mainly used for culinary creations.

Since ancient times the plant has been used for its antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, anthelmentic and digestive properties. Indicated for cough for its balsamic and fluidifying action.

Tribulus

Tribulus terrestris is a common plant in East Asian countries.

In India and China its medicinal use dates back to 5000 years, with a long-standing tradition particularly as aphrodisiac.

The main constituents of Tribulus terrestris are saponins, which are deemed to increase endogenous production of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, luteinising hormone (LH), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydropiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-S).

This Ayurvedic remedy enhances the efficacy and overall sensation of well-being. It has been used as therapy for certain sexual dysfunctions both in men and women.

Uncaria (Cat’s Claw)

Uncaria tomentosa also called “cat’s claw” is a typical South American plant, whose bark is rich in important active ingredients.

The most important of these being alkaloids (that have manifested immunostimulating, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral actions in many studies), glycosides of quinic acid and the polyphenolic fraction.

The use of Uncaria bark can be traced back to traditional Amazonian folk medicine, especially for chronic inflammatory diseases, wounds, ulcers and general inflammatory processes.

Scientific studies have confirmed its anti-inflammatory action, and underscore the immunostimulating, immunomodulating and antioxidant effect of its bark.

Uncaria is an effective phytotherapeutic remedy for chronic inflammatory diseases of the respiratory system.

Clinical studies conducted on this plant have reported that it stimulates the action of lymphocytes and macrophages. Administration of the bark has also obtained good results for Herpes virus infections, favouring the reduction in lesions and inducing an improvement in the infectious condition.

Uva-ursi

Uva-ursi (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) is a plant that was traditionally used for descending urinary tract infections, due to its anti-inflammatory action.

For its efficacy as a diuretic, it is also indicated to prevent fluid retention.

Valerenic Acid

Valerenic Acid is a sesquiterpene that is present in valerian (see Valeriana officinalis), a native plant of Europe and Asia, which has always been cultivated for medicinal purposes. It is presumed that Valerenic Acid present in its essential oil is the cause of the anxiolytic and sedative effects of this plant, besides presenting a myorelaxant and spasmolytic action.

Valerian

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is a native plant of Europe and Asia, which has always been cultivated for medicinal purposes.

Its roots, which are rich in sesquiterpenes, particularly valerenic acid, have a sedative, hypnotic and myorelaxant action.

The anxiolytic and sedative effects of Valerian that according to some researchers are caused by the synergistic action of phytocompounds, rather than by a single active ingredient, are well known.Valerian obtains a statistically significant improvement in the quality of sleep, attenuating states of anxiety and agitation.

Valerian has an anti-spasmodic action that, considering its relaxing effect on smooth muscle and on certain central nervous system centres, is useful for disorders, such as dysmenorrhoea and restless leg syndrome. It was also used as adjuvant for weaning from benzodiazepines.

It can help to reduce psychosomatic disorders, palpitations and hot flashes associated with menopause, anxiety, migraine, digestive disorders and neuralgia, in a broad sense.

Vegetal Proteins

Proteins have an essential structural function for the body’s growth and development. They contribute to the growth and maintenance of the body’s muscle mass and are necessary to improve bone health.

The combination of vegetal proteins and soluble fibre can be an excellent strategy for weight loss diets and for vegetarian/vegan diets.

Vegetal Sterols (phytosterols)

Sterols are substances that chemically resemble cholesterol, and are mainly found in plant oils.

They belong to the same family as cholesterol but compete with it for receptors and/or intestinal absorption, and can reduce its absorption and, subsequent blood levels.

Many recent clinical studies have reported that these substances reduce plasma concentrations of total cholesterol.

Hence, in 2003 the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) authorised the words “reduces the risk of coronary artery diseases” on labels of products containing phytosterols.

Sterols cause a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol), without, however, impairing the levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, whose main source is found in animal tissues, while plant tissues contain carotenoids (see), which are converted into vitamin A in the body.

This important vitamin builds up in the liver, eyes, brain, intestine, testicles, kidneys, lungs and skin.

Vitamin A is required for vision, growth, immune system and skin integrity. Its deficiency in the body is particularly related to poor twilight vision and skin disorders.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

Vitamin B1, or thiamine, is a water soluble vitamin that is scarcely synthesised in the human body.

It has an essential role for energy metabolism and for nerve impulse conduction.

Vitamin B1 deficiency symptoms include asthenia, irritability, depression, poor concentration and poor muscle performance.

Thiamine favours growth, appetite and digestion, and is essential for nervous system health and for nerve, muscle and heart function.

Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)

Vitamin B12 or cyanocobalamin is a B group water soluble vitamin.

Its main role in humans is to maintain nervous system integrity and proper red blood cell production.

The deficiency of this vitamin is often accompanied by a folate deficiency.

Recent studies report that the combination of vitamins B12, B6 and folic acid has a protective effect on the cardiovascular system. Vegetarians and vegans might need to increase its consumption because vegetarianism and veganism often fail to meet the individual demand for this vitamin, thus creating dangerous deficiency states.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is a B group vitamin. Like all vitamins in this group, it is water soluble and, therefore, the body eliminates it rapidly. B2 participates in many functions: it favours energy metabolism and the nervous system, protects eyesight and skin, and has other important functions, such as protecting cells from oxidative stress and reducing tiredness and fatigue.

Riboflavin participates in many essential cellular functions for energy production and for proper sugar, fat and protein metabolism.

Other manifestations of its deficiency in the body include ocular disorders and alterations concerning skin and mucous tissue.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine is a B group water soluble vitamin.

It is essential for nucleic acid and protein metabolism. It favours the activity of more than 60 enzymes, and is essential for red blood cell production.

Moreover, it has a nervous system regulating action as a result of its effect on minerals and neurotransmitters.

The optimal dosage of this important vitamin is particularly important for women who take oral contraceptives, experience premenstrual tension and microcytic anaemia.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is an essential water soluble vitamin for humans because our body is unable to produce it.

This important vitamin provides powerful antioxidant protection and has several functions. In fact, It participates in collagen synthesis, favours iron absorption, is involved in themetabolism of certain neurotransmitters and of histamine, and in the synthesis and release of prostaglandins.

Its demand increases in case of sports activities, stress, smoking and prolonged intake of medicines and oral contraceptives.

It is particularly indicated as prevention and therapy for infections, common colds, allergies, anaemia and frail capillaries.

Vitamin D

The main forms of vitamin D are vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), which derives from ergosterol and is present in plants, and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), synthesised by animals. They are chemically very similar. Indeed, the two forms have the same activity in humans; hence the use of the term "vitamin D" to indicate both forms.

Vitamin D is an essential fat soluble nutrient for the proper development of bone tissues and for excellent neuromuscular function.

Its main physiological function is to favour the absorption of calcium and phosphorus through intestinal mucosa, thus enabling bone calcification.

It is also important to ensure proper muscle and nerve function, blood coagulation and energy use, as it is an essential factor for mineral homeostasis.

Vitamin D deficiency is favoured by poor sun exposure. A particular control mechanism on the skin prevents its excessive synthesis, producing active metabolites.

It is a prevention factor for osteoporosis and also an antioxidant and immunomodulating agent.

Its deficiency has been observed in certain types of cancer and in insulin resistance.

Besides poor exposure to sunlight, hypovitaminosis can develop as a result of particular diets (strictly vegetarian diets or allergies to milk and its derivatives), hepatic or renal diseases, the use of medicines that accelerate vitamin D consumption and malabsorption disorders.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin with an important antioxidant function in the body. In fact, it is

the main lipid phase antioxidant nutrient.

Its action is indicated for the prevention of cardiovascular, neurological and immune system diseases, with a protective effect on cellular ageing and an important detox action to remove toxic agents (cigarette smoke, environmental pollutants, nitrosamines, heavy metals).

Vitamin E has a synergistic action with selenium.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that is also called "anti-haemorrhagic vitamin" because it favours the synthesis of certain essential proteins for the blood coagulation process.

Considering this property, it is indicated for haemorrhagic syndromes and because it can fix calcium in bone tissue for osteoporosis prevention.

Vitexin

Vitexin is a flavonoid (see Bioflavonoids) that is a natural spasmolytic, sedative and anxiolytic agent. Its various effects result from interactions with certain important enzymes. This compound is contained in various plants, including passiflora (see) and hawthorn (see).

Watercress

Watercress (Nasturtium officinale R. Brown) is a spontaneous plant that grows in shaded areas and along waterways, in partly submerged land and marshland.

Appreciated as food, it is eaten fresh in salads, and has been known by ancient herbal traditions for its diuretic and detox properties.

Wheat Germ Oil

Wheat Germ Oil (Triticum aestivum L.) is one of the main elements of the wheat grain.

The oil extracted has always been a great ally of health and a natural source rich in vitamin E, polyunsaturated fatty acids and carotenoids.

Wheat Germ Oil is a nourishing substance with remarkable properties. It meets the demand of subjects performing intensive physical exercise, exhausting or stressful work, and of subjects exposed to unfavourable temperature conditions (excessive cold/heat).

The antioxidant effect of this compound has a protective action on cell membranes against the aggression of free radicals. It is particularly useful to prevent cellular oxidation, especially in the cardiocirculatory system.

Moreover, this action can prevent early skin ageing resulting from exposure to harmful agents, such as excessive exposure to sunlight, atmospheric pollution and cigarette smoking.

White Willow

White Willow (Salix alba) is a common anti-rheumatic and fever abating remedy. Its bark is rich in salicin, phytotherapeutic precursor of aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), though all phenolic glycosides of White Willow have similar physiological and pharmacological effects.

Salicin has analgesic and anti-inflammatory actions by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, important substances for the mediation of pain, inflammation and fever.

An important fact is that salicin does not cause gastric lesions, unlike acetylsalicylic acid.

Recent clinical studies have reported the efficacy of administering the dry extract of White Willow bark to control acute and chronic rheumatic disorders, for inflammatory pain and headache.

Withanolides

Withanolides are lactone steroids that are present in ashwagandha (see Withania somnifera). These compounds have potential nootropic effects that might be useful for neurological diseases, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, it seems that Withanolides protect cells by reducing the ageing rate with a two-fold increase in longevity.

However, it is most widely used for anxiety, and for neurological and cognitive disorders.

Studies report that ashwagandha affects psychomotor performance, suggesting anti-stress and anti-fatigue effects.

Xanthohumol

Xanthohumol (XN) is a flavonoid contained in hops (see Humulus lupulus), and is one of the main ingredients of beer. It has an important antioxidant action, and studies are still exploring its possible clinical applications.

A particular feature of Xanthohumol concerns its action of inhibiting tumorigenesis. In fact, some experimental studies report that the minor components of beer can have anti-mutagenic effects. Xanthohumol is the most studied of all these components.

Experimental methods are now being defined to increase its concentration in beer.

Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids (see) that are predominant in leafy green plants (broccoli, spinach, cabbage and Brussels sprouts).

These compounds act as a pair of sunglasses, filtering harmful blue light radiations, called HEV wave lengths, high energy visible light, associated with many forms of optical damage.

The antioxidant action of these pigments, which mainly takes place in ocular photoreceptors, hinders oxidative processes that can occur in the eye, protecting eyesight and preserving ocular function and acuity in the long-term.

Lutein and zeaxanthin protect against senile macular degeneration, helping to block the harmful effects of UV radiation and the possible damage it can cause to the retina.

It has also been observed that the intake of lutein and zeaxanthin - the only macular pigments present in the lens – has beneficial effects in case of cataract, particularly improving visual performance, visual acuity and reducing sensitivity to light. Hence, the intake of these two pigments with food is an important nutritional protection for the ocular system.

Moreover, their intake improves skin hydration, lipid content and elasticity, besides reducing lipid peroxidation and increasing photoprotective activity.

Zinc

Zinc is an antioxidant micronutrient that is involved in the formation of many enzymes that catalyse important reactions in the body.

The deficiency of this important element can impair growth, cause defects in wound cicatrisation, susceptibility to infections and skin disorders.

Its dietary intake is an excellent way of protecting the immune, skin and male genital system.

The body contains 2-4 g of zinc, most of which is concentrated in bones (78%), skin, the prostate gland and ocular tissue.

Zinc is an essential micronutrient for immune system. In fact, its deficiency reduces the formation of T cells and depressed humoral and cell-mediated immunity, reducing resistance to infectious diseases. Its supplementation has reduced the incidence of respiratory system infections; hence, it is essential for prevention of the common cold.

Zinc deficiency can cause various degrees of skin disorders (ca. 20% of this element is concentrated in the skin).

This mineral is indicated for poor tissue and ulcer repair, frail nails, acne, rashes and falling hair.

According to recent data, zinc can be considered a new prevention and therapeutic agent for senile macular degeneration, the most severe cause of loss of eyesight in the western world.