Sambucus nigra L

Sambucus nigra L. is a plant of European origin and popularly known as elder, elderberry, black elder, European elder, European elderberry, and European black elderberry.

Nature’s Laboratory is proud to supply this herb which has pharmacological multipotential for healthcare management. We provide elderberry as whole and have developed elderberry tincture as one of our products. When the entire world was passing through the covid-19 pandemic, the research and quality department of Nature’s laboratory was successful in designing and developing a popular and potent syrup containing elderberry along with other beneficial herbs, honey and propolis.

Biological Source

Sambucus nigra L belongs to the family Adoxaceae. It is described in the pharmacopoeia of several countries. 

Background and Historical uses of Sambucus nigra L

The black elder tree has been a popular plant from ancient times. Russians believe that the elder tree drives away evil spirits and takes away fevers. Hanging elder branches on doors and windows is believed to drive away witches and evils. In traditional medicine, elder fruits and flowers are the parts most often known for their medicinal value.

The traditional use of elderberry goes back to ancient times. Traditional medicinal uses of elderberry against colds, as a laxative, as a diaphoretic and as a diuretic have been documented in scientific literature and several handbooks such as Madaus (1938), Grieve (1931), Bisset and Wichtl (2001) and Wichtl (2004).

S. nigra has been used for thousands of years by people all over the world[1]. The consumption of its flowers has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA, revised as of April 1, 2020) and the Commission E of the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices approved its use for the treatment of viral infections (Ulbricht et al., 2014).

Its flowers and berries have been used in folk medicine to treat feverish conditions, coughing, nasal congestion, and influenza, in addition to its popular use as an anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and diuretic agent[2].

Black elderberry is an extremely accessible and abundant plant, native to the Northern hemisphere. Its seeds are spread rapidly by birds and other animals to colonize forest edges and disturbed areas and are nowadays diffused in various habitats including subtropical regions of Asia, North Africa, and North America.

Sambucus nigra flowers
Sambucus nigra flowers
Sambucus nigra whole
Sambucus nigra whole

Macroscopical Details

Sambucus nigra is a small tree or shrub, 1–8 m tall having a strong odour. The bark is brownish in colour, with longitudinal fractures and deep grooves. The leaves are opposite, imparipinnate, with 5–7 elliptic–lanceolate, dentate leaflets. The inflorescence is an umbel with many milky-white flowers. The fruit is a shiny black purple, subspherical drupe. The plant is found in woods, clearings, and hedges from sea level to mountainous elevations[3].

Phytochemical Details

The chemical composition of Sambucus nigra is rich and depends on different factors, such as cultivar, location, ripening stage and climatic conditions. All parts of this plant (flower, bark, leaf and fruits) are rich sources of dietary phytochemicals, such as carbohydrates, lipids, terpenoids, flavonoids, phenolic acids, alkaloids, etc.  In respect of carbohydrates, elderberry berries contain 7.86–11.50% of total sugar and 2.8–8.55% of reducing sugars. Carbohydrates found in Sambucus nigra fruit also include dietary fibre pectin, pectic acid, protopectin, Ca-pectate and cellulose[4]. Elderberry is a source of whole protein – its content is 2.7–2.9% in berries, 2.5% in flowers and 3.3% in leaves[5]. This protein includes sixteen amino acids, nine of which are essential; the total content of the essential amino acids is approx. 9% in flowers and 11.5% in leaves. Glutamic acid, aspargic acid and alanine have been reported as the dominant amino acids. Fats are accumulated mostly in elderberry seeds (fat content: 22.4%) and seed flour (fat content: 15.9%). The major fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids, which constitute 75.15% and 21.54% of total fatty acids in seeds and seed flour, respectively, whereas monounsaturated fatty acids (14.21% and 4.21%) and saturated fatty acids (10.64% and 4.81%) make up a significantly smaller share. 

All parts of the elderberry contain cyanogenic glycosides[6], the most abundant of which are sambunigrin and prunasin. Furthermore, elderberry contains m-hydroxy substituted glycosides, such as zierin and holocalin[7]. These compounds are potentially toxic and life-threatening, because they can be hydrolysed resulting in the release of cyanide[8]. However, they occur primarily in unripe berries and are degraded during heat treatment[9]. The highest amounts of sambunigrin are present in elder leaves (27.68–209.61 µg/g), lower amounts have been reported in flowers (1.23–18.88 µg/g), whereas berries contain the lowest amounts of this compound (0.08–0.77 µg/g). It was also found that the content of sambunigrin in elderberry changes depending on the growing altitude. The highest content of sambunigrin was recorded on a hilltop (1048 and 1077 m), which had lower temperatures and higher solar radiation as compared to other altitudes studied (209–858 m)[10]. The elder flowers are a composition of free aglycones (Kaempferol, quercetin), flavonol glycosides (astragalin, isoquercitrin, rutin), phenolic compounds (chlorogenic acids), sterols, triterpenes (α-, β-amyrin), triterpene acids (ursolic acid, oleanolic acid), free fatty acids, alkanes, tannins, mucilage and sugar. 

Prunasin on the left, Sambunigrin on the right

Medicinal Uses

Antiviral Potential

Common cold and flu are caused by common respiratory viral pathogens. The antiviral activities of elder berries and elder flowers are related to flavonoid contents. The antiviral effects of pure flavonoids were confirmed against herpes simplex virus type1[11], para-influenza, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus[12]. The clinical trials confirmed the efficacy of elder berries in the treatment of clinical symptoms of flu and common cold (Zakay-Rones et al. 19952004; Tiralongo et al. 2016; Kong 2009). Elder berries extract was found to be more effective against influenza A virus than influenza B type[13]. Elderberry extract significantly reduced the cold duration and its severity in patients with flu and flu like diseases. The mechanism responsible for the antiviral activity of elderberry in the treatment of flu and colds is its immune-modulatory effect. The immune-modulatory effects of elderberries are related to anthocyanin content. The immune-modulatory effects of elderberry extracts are associated with cytokines production (cyanidin-3-glucoside and cyanidin-3-sambubioside), phagocytes activation and its immigration to inflamed tissues[14].

Black elder is an important medicinal plant in Germany, where its flowers are used as a diaphoretic agent for feverish common colds (Bradley 1992). Black elder flowers are used for the treatment of scarlatina, also known as Scarlet Fever (a red, bumpy rash that typically covers the body) and fever[15]

Infectious Bronchitis Inhibitor

Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) is a pathogenic chicken coronavirus. Currently, vaccination against IBV is only partially protective; therefore, better preventions and treatments are needed.  Ethanolic extract of S. nigra berries have shown significant inhibition of infectious bronchitis virus at an early point during replication, by damaging its membrane[16]

Elderflowers have been used in traditional medicines for the management of inflammation and skin disorders, it has the potential to ameliorate skin photoaging and inflammation. It has also been used as for the management of colds, fevers and other respiratory disturbances[17].

Consumption of elderberry extract has also been suggested for people with diabetic osteoporosis for improving their lipid profile and reducing atherogenic risk and hyperglycemia[18]. Elderberry anthocyanins can be efficient against atherosclerosis and Helicobacter pylori, a noxious pathogen responsible for various gastrointestinal disorders including duodenal ulcers and gastric cancer[19] . There is evidence for the applicability of black elderberry for the treatment of obesity. Elderberry flowers can be used both for prevention and therapy of a wide array of diseases due to their immunomodulatory anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, antimicrobial and antiviral activities[20].


[1]. Rychlik I, Varghese M, Weissner W, Windsor RC, Wortley J. An evidence-based systematic review of elderberry and elderflower (Sambucus nigra) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. J Diet Suppl. 2014 Mar;11(1):80-120.

[2] . Młynarczyk K, Walkowiak-Tomczak D, Łysiak GP. Bioactive properties of Sambucus nigra L. as a functional ingredient for food and pharmaceutical industry. J Funct Foods. 2018 Jan; 40:377-390.

[3]. Atkinson, M.D. and Atkinson, E. (2002), Sambucus nigra L. Journal of Ecology, 90: 895-923.

[4]. Diviš P., Pořízka J., Vespalcová M., Matějíček A., Kaplan J. Elemental composition of fruits from    different black elder (Sambucus nigra L.) cultivars grown in The Czech Republic. Journal of Elementology. 2015;20(3):549–557. 

[5]. Kislichenko V.S., Vel’ma V.V. Amino-acid composition of flowers, leaves and extract of Sambucus nigra flowers. Chemistry of Natural Compounds. 2006;42(1):125–126

[6]. DellaGreca M., Fiorentino A., Monaco P., Previtera L., Simonet A.M. Cyanogenic glycosides from Sambucus nigraNatural Product Letters. 2000; 14:175–182.

[7]. Jensen S.R., Nielsen B.J. Cyanogenic glucosides in Sambucus nigra L. Acta Chemica Scandinavica. 1973; 27:2661–2662. 

[8]. Bromley J., Hughes B.G.M., Leong D.C.S., Buckley N.A. Life-threatening interaction between complementary medicines: Cyanide toxicity following ingestion of amygdalin and vitamin C. Annals of Pharmacotherapy. 2005; 39:1566–1569

[9]. Williamson E., Driver S., Baxter K. Pharmaceutical Press; London: 2009. Stockley’s herbal medicines interactions. A guide to the interactions of herbal medicines, dietary supplements, and nutraceuticals with conventional medicines.

[10]. Senica M., Stampar F., Veberic R., Mikulic-Petkovsek M. The higher the better? Differences in phenolics and cyanogenic glycosides in Sambucus nigra leaves, flowers, and berries from different altitudes. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 2016.

[11]. Mahmood N, Pizza C, Aquino R, De Tommasi N, Piacente S, Colman S, Burke A, Hay AJ (1993) Inhibition of HIV infection by flavanoids. Antiviral Res 22(2–3):189–199.

[12]. Nagai T, Miyaichi Y, Tomimori T, Suzuki Y, Yamada H (1992) In vivo anti-influenza virus activity of plant flavonoids possessing inhibitory activity for influenza virus sialidase. Antiviral Res 19(3):207–217.

[13]. Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J (2004) Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res 32(2):132–140.

[14]. Janeway CAJ, Travers P, Walport M, Shlomchik MJ (2001) Immunobiology: the immune system in health and disease. Garland Science, New York.

[15]. Kaur K, Kaur R, Kaur H, Kaur S (2014) A comprehensive review: Sambucus nigra. Linn Biolife 2(3):941–948.

[16]. Chen, C., Zuckerman, D.M., Brantley, S. et al. Sambucus nigra extracts inhibit infectious bronchitis virus at an early point during replication. BMC Vet Res 10, 24 (2014). 

[17]. Vlachojannis JE, Cameron M, Chrubasik S. A systematic review on the sambuci fructus effect and efficacy profiles. Phytother Res. 2010 Jan;24(1):1-8.

[18]. Kolesarova A, Baldovska S, Kohut L, Sirotkin AV. Black Elder and Its Constituents: Molecular Mechanisms of Action Associated with Female Reproduction. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland). 2022 Feb;15(2):239

[19].  Zafra-Stone S., Yasmin T., Bagchi M., Chatterjee A., Vinson J.A., Bagchi D. Berry anthocyanins as novel antioxidants in human health and disease prevention. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2007; 51:675–683. 

[20]. Andrzej Sidor, Anna Gramza- Michałowska. Advanced research on the antioxidant and health benefit of elderberry (Sambucus nigra) in food – a review, Journal of Functional Foods

Herbal Apothecary Celebrates 10th Birthday of Local Community Health Project The Dispensary, Whitby

Herbal Apothecary is a stockist of natural health supplements to The Dispensary not-for-profit health shop, Whitby and is delighted that the beneficial properties of these products are available to their local community.

Herbal Apothecary’s parent company, Nature’s Laboratory, provides financial and skills support to The Dispensary as part of its ethos to support health in the community.

The Dispensary is 10!

We hear below from one of The Dispensary’s directors Lucy Kaya.

The Dispensary health shop came into life at 6 Hunter Street, Whitby, in a tiny ground floor room, with a community library on the first floor. Our major impulses were to help people take back responsibility for their own health and to build community.

In our time it is a challenge to listen to our own bodies and intuition, we have become separated from the deep instinctive knowledge that we have and very often look to others for the answers. Of course, there is a time and place to seek further help, but many times we have the resolution to our ailments within ourselves if we can recognise this and act accordingly.

We offered people a chance to join our community for free, to receive a 5% dividend on anything they bought and receive mail outs from us about events and activities we were organising or initiatives we felt they may be interested in. We were integral to planning and putting on the first Whitby Winterfest, a celebration of community at Christmas, with stalls, activities, performances and much more. We also facilitated regular health related initiatives such as meditation sessions, movement therapy and Biomusica sessions.

The impulse propelling the idea forward was very important, that is, to try to balance out the way we live and look after ourselves, each other, our environment and other sentient beings. We were not setting out to put economic viability at the forefront of what we did. We set out to try and help people to take back responsibility for their own health and to see that although at present money is a significant factor in most of our lives, it has become the most important and weighty issue for many, to the detriment of relationships, spiritual happiness and for many, physical health. We are part of Threes Company, an initiative which seeks to balance the social, economic and cultural elements of organisations, to rebalance their health.

On 8th December 2012 David Bellamy, now sadly passed away, launched The Dispensary at a community event in The Coliseum venue in Whitby. We arranged for local practitioners to give ten-minute talks in different realms of promoting whole health, such as counselling, reflexology, bee medicines, medical herbalism in addition to poetry, crafts, movement therapy and many more. These talks can be found on The Dispensary website. We sold good food and health products and let people know about our Dispensary initiative. The day was a great success, where we met many local and not so local people and chatted about our and their ideas concerning health, what it means and where we were headed.

 In 2016 a larger shop on Skinner Street, a busier street nearby, became available and we were fortunate to be able to move there. It was quite a leap of faith, as at the time, we had some valuable and very much appreciated help but no permanent addition to our team of two.

The move made our shop and community library much more accessible, as it was in a larger space on ground level. The premises at number 25 Skinner Street had been the photographic studio of the famous Victorian photographer Frank Meadow Sutcliffe and we felt it was a special space imbued with a great deal of history. In our larger space we were able to offer a more varied range. LOVE became our byword – Local Organic Vegan or Vegetarian and Ethical wherever possible.

We settled into our new place and welcomed members of the community in, people helped in different ways and became part of our community, one person came every day and registered all our community library books online so that anyone can look on our Dispensary website and search to see if we have a book available and if they are a member, they can borrow it free of charge. We very much appreciated the community of people that grew up and shared in our initiative. We made soup every lunchtime and invited anyone who was around and wanted to, to join us for soup and bread,

In 2019 we opened the Breaking Bread Community Bakery, a joint initiative with Esk Valley Camphill Community, providing good hand baked bread to our community. We arranged the shop space so that we could move everything to the sides very easily and put chairs out for evening events and in this way, we hosted events which included meditation courses, musical celebrations, talks by a Tibetan Buddhist monk, talks on nutritional health, courses on raw food and fermentation, vegan food tasting days and more. We’ve also supported local causes such as raising awareness and funds for a local child desperately in need of a stem cell donor.

We were also able to focus on our passion for animal welfare and founded the local Whitby support group for Compassion in World Farming, Whitby Compassionate Food. We hosted information days and petitions and took information and fund-raising stalls to local events raising awareness of the vital work that Compassion in World Farming does to end live export of animals and end the factory farming of animals. We use our prominent place on a busy street to get the message out there and mail out on these issues to our members. We have also recently become involved in working with Crustacean Compassion, an award-winning organisation which campaigns for the humane treatment of decapod crustaceans, which include animals such as crabs and lobsters, and have been raising awareness of the suffering of these creatures and campaigning for their inclusion in animal welfare legislation which would offer them the protection they deserve.

When the pandemic struck, we were one of the few shops in Whitby classed as essential, as we sold food and health products and so with the help of wonderful volunteers, we stayed open throughout the entire pandemic, through every lock-down. It was through these times that we truly saw the benefit of what had grown through The Dispensary- a community initiative, there in times of need. People could come in and see a friendly human face in a world that had become frightening and isolating. Many had tears and felt reassured of our shop as a sign of stability and contact in a world that had turned on its head. Our bakers kept on baking, our volunteers kept on delivering to those who couldn’t get to the shop, and we witnessed at first hand a realisation of what matters, real community, kindness, not just to each other, but to our environment and every sentient being. As restrictions eased, we hoped that the realisations we first witnessed would not be lost in the rush to get “back to normal”, that we would perceive the harm we do to animals and nature and take greater care.

In the Autumn of 2021, with the financial support of local natural health business, Nature’s Laboratory, we welcomed Zoe to our team as shop manager and more recently we also welcomed Alice and a new volunteer, Andy to our team.

Nature’s Laboratory, as part of their ethos to help support local community based health, also provides some IT and marketing support to The Dispensary.

And now, 10 years on from that small beginning in Hunter Street, we have much to celebrate. In addition to our shop, community library and bakery, we are looking forward to planning events and developing more initiatives such as access to alternative therapies, workshops in crafts, singing, gardening etc. and would love to hear your views on these, you can fill in a questionnaire on our website from 10th December. We are relaunching our website and online shop and would love your feedback. Whether a new or familiar face, everyone is welcome to come and help us to celebrate our 10th birthday on Saturday 10th December 10-5 at 25 Skinner Street, where there will be free healthy goody bags courtesy of Nature’s Laboratory, a free raffle for a lovely healthy hamper and a very warm welcome.

Our lasting hope is that we will remember now, more than ever, that we have an innate wisdom regarding our own health, that we will ask questions, and once we know the answers, we will take back responsibility for our own health.

Common Cause Community Interest Company, which is not for profit, runs The Dispensary. The Dispensary is a community health initiative based at 25 Skinner Street , Whitby, which includes a health shop, community library and Breaking Bread Bakery , a jointly run community bakery with Esk Valley Camphill Community.

World Diabetes Day – 14th November

How can Propolis and Herbs help with Diabetes?

14 November was the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin along with Charles Best in 1922.  This day is known as World Diabetes Day (WDD), it became an official United Nations Day in 2006.

Diabetes is a huge health issue. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) 2021 atlas approximately 537 million adults (20-79 years) are living with diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. There are 2 main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes – is where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes – is where the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells do not react to insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is much more common than type 1.

The amount of sugar in the blood is controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. People with diabetes type 2 can help manage this through healthy eating, regular exercise and achieving a healthy body weight.

My Interest in Diabetes

A little about my background and interest in diabetes:

When growing up, I witnessed the use of herbs and spices as part of healthy eating or home remedies for many small days to day health issues. This affected me very positively in the way I thought about and approached healthcare, an approach that continued when a few older members of my family were diagnosed with diabetes. As part of my professional education, I have been studying and understanding herbs and other natural products for various chronic illnesses. As part of my doctoral research, I have worked exclusively in exploring many scientific dimensions of the herb Gudmar (sweet killer, G. Sylvester) for diabetes. I have also studied many antidiabetic herbs and natural products.

Gymnema sylvestre

Nature’s Laboratory Team & Our Herbal and Propolis Products

As part of a team at Nature’s Laboratory working on developing natural products for better healthcare, I believe it is crucial to discuss how herbs and propolis can help support health.

Preventing and controlling diabetes needs a disciplined and consistent effort. Diet plays an important role in the prevention and control of diabetes. Some spices, herbs and natural products have consistently been proved as major key players in lowering blood sugar levels and improve blood glucose metabolism.

We at Nature’s laboratory consistently strive to develop and manufacture high quality herbs/ herbal products, products from the beehive and other natural products, many of which have been shown to help in the regulation of glucose and insulin in addition to helping with secondary complications associated with diabetes. Let’s have a look at some of our herbs:

Fenugreek

Trigonella foenum-graecum Linn. family Fabaceae, is a unique medicinal plant used for several centuries for its broad-spectrum efficacy. The various parts of this plant are used as an herb, food, spice, and in traditional medicine. Fenugreek has been proved as an efficient antidiabetic and several longer-term clinical trials have shown reductions in fasting and post-prandial glucose levels and glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c). [International Journal of Functional Nutrition 1.1 (2020): 2.]

Cinnamon

Cinnamomum zeylanicum is amongst the world’s oldest and most frequently consumed spices and is used as an herbal remedy. Cinnamon has been proved to be responsible for increasing metabolism of glucose by improving intestinal absorption of glucose and increasing peripheral uptake of glucose. [Advances in Applied Science Research, 2011, 2 (4):440-450]

Gudmar

The Indian Ayurveda describes several herbs for the management and treatment of diabetes mellitus among which Gymnema sylvestre (Asclepiadaceae) is recognised as a potential antidiabetic herbal drug which has the capability of simultaneously regenerating β-cell and stimulating insulin secretion. [Chem Biol Interact. 2016 Feb 5; 245:30-8].

Shatavari

Asparagus racemosus extract has been reported as exerting stimulatory action on insulin secretion, mediated through physiological pathways. [Molecules,2022 27(13), 1-58.]

Apart from the above mentioned, we, at Nature’s Laboratory work with the following herbs which have been shown to have a supportive role in relation to diabetes:

Tinospora Cordifolia, Withania somnifera, Aloe barbadensis miller, Ocimum sanctum, Curcuma longa, Zingiber officinale, Berberis vulgaris, Azadirachta indica, and Glycyrrhiza glabra. [Molecules,2022 27(13), 1-58.]

Apart from herbs and herbal products Nature’s Laboratory has extensive experience of research and developing products with propolis. Propolis is a resinous material collected by the Apis mellifera bee from leaf buds and cracks in the bark of various plants. Propolis contains a variety of chemical compounds, including polyphenols, flavonoids, amino acids, vitamins. Propolis from various parts of the world has been explored for its antidiabetic potential and it showed activity by reducing blood sugar levels [Phytother Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):1554-61], acting as an antioxidant which ultimately improved the defence mechanism in diabetes and has also been found to be a protector of beta cells of the pancreas (which is involved in production of insulin in the body). [J Family Community Med. 2011 Sep-Dec; 18(3): 152–154.]

Consult your health care practitioner for advice on how herbs and propolis can be used to support your health, alongside a healthier lifestyle such as a balanced diet, weight control and exercise.

Written by Bhagyashree Kamble PhD.

Curcuma longa

Curcuma longa, commonly known as turmeric or as Haridra in Ayurvedic medicine, is a perennial herb which has a very long history of medicinal use, dating back nearly 4000 years. It is also used as a culinary spice and as a beauty agent.

We at Nature’s Laboratory provide rhizomes of Curcuma longa, root powder of Curcuma longa and curcuma root powder incorporated into capsules.

Curcuma longa roots and powder

Biological Source: Curcuma longa which belongs to the family of Zingiberaceae, (Ginger) commonly known as turmeric is a herbal medicine traditionally used as a spice in Indian food.

Background & Uses of Curcuma longa

Curcuma longa, also known as turmeric or Haridra (in Ayurvedic medicine) , is used in Southeast Asia not only as a principal spice but also as a component in religious ceremonies. Because of its brilliant yellow colour, turmeric is also known as “Indian saffron.” The genus Curcuma has been employed for many years due to its medicinal applications; it is composed of approximately 133 species worldwide. Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years as a major part of Ayurvedic medicine. Native to southwest India it also grows in Africa, especially in Nigeria and South Africa. Turmeric was probably cultivated at first as a dye and then became valued as a condiment as well as for cosmetic purposes.

Turmeric has been the household spice for diverse cuisines in all parts of India for many centuries. Generally, the rhizome powder of turmeric is used as a spice all over India but only a few people are aware of its therapeutic properties. . Turmeric is also an auspicious beauty agent, applied daily on the forehead by Hindu females.

Macroscopical Details: Curcuma longa (turmeric) is a perennial herb with a small stem and large oblong leaves with oval, elliptical, or pyriform rhizomes, occasionally branchy and brownish yellow. Curcuma longa, perennial herb up to 1.0 m in height; stout, fleshy, main rhizome nearly ovoid (about 3 cm in diameter and 4 cm long). Lateral rhizome slightly bent (2–6cm), flesh orange in colour; large leaves lanceolate, uniformly green, up to 50cm long and 7–25cm wide; apex acute and caudate with tapering base, petiole, and sheath sparsely to densely pubescent.

Phytochemical Details

Turmeric powder contains approximately 11.4% water, 7.8% protein, 9.9% fat and 64.9% carbohydrate in addition to minerals (Ca, Mg, Fe) and vitamins (vit. E,) and about 2 to 7% essential oil. Curcuma longa contains curcuminoids of which approximately 5% is curcumin plus two other compounds, demethoxy-curcumin (DMC), and bis-demethoxy curcumin (BDMC), (curcumin represents 75–90% of these curcuminoids.) In general, the fresh rhizomes of turmeric are richer in curcuminoids compared to the dry and hardened rhizomes. The main curcuminoid in Curcuma species is curcumin, which is the most studied and active component of turmeric and which exerts a broad range of pharmacological activities. Curcumin is a low molecular weight (368.37 g/mol) polyphenolic compound with a melting temperature of approximately 183℃. Due to its hydrophobic nature, curcumin is poorly soluble in water. However, its solubility is improved slightly in basic conditions. Curcumin is readily soluble in organic solvents, including ethanol, methanol, isopropanol, acetone, and dimethyl sulfoxide; however, it shows moderate solubility in hexane, cyclohexane, tetrahydrofuran, and dioxane.

Phytoconstituents of Curcumin

Medicinal Uses

Anti-inflammatory Potential: Curcumin is a very strong but safe anti-inflammatory agent and has a rich history as an anti-inflammatory agent in traditional Asian medicine. Curcumin has been shown to inhibit several different molecules involved in inflammation including phospholipase, lipooxygenase, COX-2, leukotrienes, thromboxane, prostaglandins, nitric oxide, collagenase, elastase, hyaluronidase, MCP-1, interferon-inducible protein, tumour necrosis factor, and interleukin-12[1]. It can suppress the acute and chronic inflammation. Curcumin can reduce inflammation by lowering histamine levels and possibly by increasing the production of natural cortisone by the adrenal glands[2]. Its anti-inflammatory properties may also be attributed to its ability to inhibit biosynthesis of inflammatory prostaglandins from arachidonic acid and neutrophil function during inflammatory states[3].

Immunomodulatory Effect: Several preclinical and clinical trials have revealed immunomodulatory actions of curcumin, which arise from its effects on immune cells and mediators involved in the immune response (e.g., various T-lymphocyte subsets and dendritic cells, as well as different inflammatory cytokines). At low doses curcumin can also enhance antibody responses, implicating that curcumin’s beneficial effects in treating chronic diseases (arthritis, allergy, asthma, atherosclerosis, heart disease, AD, diabetes, and cancer) may be partly due to modulation of the immune system[4].

Respiratory Disorder Treatment: The fresh juice of the rhizome is given in bronchitis. In the case of rhinitis or cough boil Haridra (turmeric) in milk and can be administered orally. In the case of catarrhal cough, sore throat, and throat infection decoction of the rhizome is used as a gargle and a piece of rhizome is slightly burnt and given for chewing[5].

Antimicrobial Activity: Turmeric’s antimicrobial activity can be attributed to a wide range of phytochemicals, such as tannins, alkaloids, phenols, steroids, flavonoids, phlorotannin, cardiac glycosides, terpenoids, triterpenes, saponins. Aqueous extract of turmeric has shown the inhibition of Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhi and Staphylococcus aureus[6]. 

Antioxidant Activity: Free radicals due to oxidative stress have been reported as the main cause of many chronic illnesses, an antioxidant agent can eliminate these. Curcuma longa rhizomes and its compounds curcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin have been evaluated for their antioxidant potential. Curcumin protects cells in the body from free radical damage by lowering their oxygen content. Demethoxycurcumin and bisdemethoxycurcumin are less effective than pure curcumin for scavenging superoxide anion[7]

Inhibition of HIV proteases: Curcumin exhibits some inhibitions of HIV proteases, where hydroxy groups on phenyl rings are apparently essential for inhibitory activity[8].

Further medicinal uses of turmeric:

Turmeric has a broad- spectrum action with certain effects and is beneficial for long term and daily usage.

Turmeric is regarded highly for its use in many diseases like diabetes & some skin diseases, for which it has been used over many years due to its multiple pharmacological activities.

Turmeric is enriched with many useful phytoconstituents which are responsible for its efficacy. Curcumin is one such phytoconstituent, a nutraceutical substance with numerous pharmacological activities proven experimentally and clinically[9].


[1]. Chainani N (2003) Safety and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Curcumin: A Component of Turmeric (Curcuma longa). J Altern Complement Med 9: 161-168.

[2]. Zhao F, Gong Y, Hu Y, Lu M, Wang J, Dong J, et al. Curcumin and its major metabolites

inhibit the inflammatory response induced by lipopolysaccharide: translocation of nuclear factor-κB as potential target. Mol Med Rep 2015; 3079:3087_93.

[3]. Mukhopadhyay A, Basu N, Ghatak N, Gujral PK. Anti-inflammatory, and irritant activities of curcumin analogues in rats. Agents Actions 1982;12(4):508_15.

[4] Jagetia, G.C., Aggarwal, B.B. “Spicing Up” of the Immune System by Curcumin. J Clin Immunol 27, 19–35 (2007).

[5]. Pandey GS (2002) Dravyaguna Vijnana 2ndedition. Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi, India 1: 737-746.

[6]. Seyedeh Maryam Hosseinikhah, Fatemeh Gheybi, Seyedeh Alia Moosavian, Mohammad-Ali Shahbazi, Mahmoud Reza Jaafari, Mika Sillanpää, Prashant Kesharwani, Seyedeh Hoda Alavizadeh, Amirhossein Sahebkar. (2022) Role of exosomes in tumour growth, chemoresistance and immunity: state-of-the-artJournal of Drug Targeting, pages 1-19.

[7]. Kter, J.; Hossain, M. A.; Takara, K.; ZahorulIslam, M.; Hou, D.-X. Antioxidant Activity of Different Species and Varieties of Turmeric (Curcuma Spp): Isolation of Active Compounds. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. Part C: Toxicol. Pharmacol. 2019, 215, 9–17.

[8]. Tokawa H, Shi Q, Akiyama T, Morris-Natschke SL, Lee KH. Recent advances in the investigation of curcuminoids. Chin Med. 2008 Sep 17; 3:11.

[9]. Krup V, Prakash LH, Harini A (2013) Pharmacological Activities of Turmeric (Curcuma longa linn): A Review. J Homeop Ayurv Med 2:133.

Guaranteed Flavonoid Level (GFL) – BeeVital’s Quality Mark

One of the big challenges consumers face when shopping for propolis supplements is a lack of standardisation. With our Guaranteed Flavonoid Level (GFL) standard, BeeVital aims to solve this problem.

Flavonoids are the key component of propolis. Plant and tree resins are packed with flavonoids, which are naturally occurring chemicals supporting the tree’s health. Bees use these resins to produce propolis, which in turn contains high concentrations of flavonoids. Flavonoids, along with other compounds called phenols, are what make propolis a powerful natural medicine.

Propolis helps with various health issues, including:

At BeeVital we want to give consumers all the information they need to make an informed choice about the natural health products they buy. Quantifying the flavonoid levels in our products is a key part of this. This is why we established the GFL standard.

Propolis is a Natural Antibiotic
Our Range of Propolis Products

Independent Verification

BeeVital is an organisation with research at its heart. We have an in-house laboratory with a comprehensive range of tools and equipment and highly qualified staff. However, in order to be as transparent as possible we use a third-party lab for flavonoid analysis.

Intertek are based in Germany. They provide laboratory analysis for food and health brands. One of their areas of expertise is bee products, which is why we trust Intertek to undertake our flavonoid analysis.
We believe that by using an independent lab it gives consumers the reassurance that the analysis of our product is objective and open to scrutiny.

Transparency

Many brands hide behind their figures without publishing their data in full. At BeeVital we have chosen to make our research and analysis public. This means any claims we make can be easily checked.

We also make it easy for consumers to make sense of our Guaranteed Flavonoid Level figures. Our flavonoid levels correspond to those found in a single capsule. Other manufacturers aren’t so up-front, making it difficult for consumers to directly compare products from different brands.

Finally, we publish our analysis documentation, provided by Intertek, in full on our website. If you’d like to see the data which validates our claims, you can do so by visiting https://beevitalpropolis.com/gfl/.

GFL Propolis Capsules Now Available

Our pots of 60, 120 and 300 Propolis Capsules are now all labelled with their flavonoid levels. Supporting data is published on our website.

Currently, our capsules are rated at 30mg/capsule – which is 4x more than another leading brand who publish similar statements in the UK!

Guaranteed Flavonoid Level - BeeVital's Quality Guarantee

We are excited to be planning a roll out of our GFL standard across the rest of our Propolis range throughout 2023.

Why is Guaranteed Flavonoid Level Important?

Propolis is a natural medicine for the 21st century, but consumers need to feel confident about using it. Quantifying the flavonoid levels provides multiple benefits:

  • It gives consumers clarity about what they’re buying
  • It enables comparison between products and brands
  • It holds companies accountable for the quality of their products
  • It enables consumers to manage their dose effectively

‘Our GFL (Guaranteed Flavonoid Level) standard sets BeeVital apart from the competition. It demonstrates our commitment to quality and enables consumers to compare our products with others’. My hope is that our GFL standard gives consumers confidence to try Propolis and experience first-hand how effective it can be.

Jack Barber, Managing Director of Nature’s Laboratory Limited

About BeeVital

BeeVital was established in 2002 by leading Propolis expert, James Fearnley. Over the last 20 years our team has spearheaded Propolis research, in partnership with leading universities. In particular we have looked at how propolis can help solve the problem of antibiotic resistance.

James has contributed to over 30 research papers on Propolis and is the founder of the International Propolis Research Group (IPRG). He is also the author of two books on the subject of Propolis:

BeeVital is part of Nature’s Laboratory Limited, a pioneering natural health company based in North Yorkshire. We’re committed to the future of natural medicines and the creation of healthy organisations.

Alongside BeeVital we also run Herbal Apothecary, a leading manufacturer and supplier of herbal medicines, and Sweet Cecily’s, which manufactures natural skincare.

For more information, please visit our websites:

Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea is the name of a genus of flowering plants in the daisy family. They are native to North America where they grow in prairies and open, wooded areas . The word “echinacea” comes from the Greek word “echinos”, which means “sea urchin” or “hedgehog”. It has probably got this name from the prickly spikes found on the flower head. Echinacea purpurea has a long history of medicinal use for a variety of conditions, particularly infections, and today echinacea products are among the best-selling herbal preparations in several countries in the world.

Organic Echninacea

Here at Nature’s Laboratory produce various products using Echinacea purpurea plant parts such as, Echinacea purpurea organic root tincture, root fluid extract, root cut and capsules.

Biological Source

Echinacea purpurea (L.) (purple coneflower), a perennial herbaceous flowering plant is the most popular variety of echinacea used in Western countries , belonging to the Asteraceae (Compositae) family.

Background and Uses of Echinacea purpurea

An extensive literature survey revealed that Echinacea purpurea has a long history of traditional use for a wide range of diseases particularly colds and other respiratory tract infections, in addition to simulating the immune system. Many traditional uses of echinacea have been validated by scientific research. It is one of the most important herbal medicine species, containing a huge number of phytochemical compounds within it and possessing several pharmacological properties.

Macroscopical Details

Echinacea plants are resilient and drought resistant, but they grow slowly . The plant is either glaucous (waxy) and smooth, or sometimes hairy, usually with coarse hairs. The leaves are petiolate (stalked) below, becoming sessile (stalkless) and smaller above, and are prominently 3-5 veined, either ovate, lanceolate, elliptical, and coarsely toothed or entire. The Echinacea genus is characterized by spiny flowering heads, with an elevated receptacle which forms the “cone”. The roots are cylindrical, brownish grey on the exterior and white on the interior . Stems are erect, stout, branched, hirsute or glabrous (smooth) 60– 180 cm high: basal leaves ovate to ovate-lanceolate, acute, coarsely, or sharply serrate. The aerial stem is branching and has rough hairs and reddish-brown patches, giving it the appearance of a bush. It produces a rosette of leaves during the first year of cultivation and blooms only in the second year .

Phytochemical Details

It is generally thought that no single constituent or group of constituents is responsible for the activities of echinacea. Rather, several groups of constituents (the alkamides, caffeic acid derivatives, polysaccharides, and alkenes (such as polyenes) appear to contribute to activity. Aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea contain alkamides; caffeic acid esters, mainly cichoric acid; polysaccharides; polyacetylenes, whereas echinacoside is not present. Aerial parts of echinacea have also been reported to contain a phenolic acid called caftaric acid . Echinacoside is a main phenolic compound, but the fact that it is not present does not affect the activity of Echinacea. The volatile oil from the aerial parts of E. purpurea contains borneol, bornyl acetate, germacrene D, caryophyllene and other components.

Chemical Compounds in Echinacea purpurea

Medicinal Uses

Cold and Flu Relief

Echinacea purpurea is taken orally used as an antiviral, and immunostimulant. It is commonly used for the prevention of colds and other respiratory tract infections. It is frequently found in combination preparations with other vitamins, herbs, and minerals.

Immunomodulatory Effect

There are multiple reports indicating immunological effects of a wide range of echinacea preparations, comprising different species, plant parts and types of extract. Echinacea purpurea appeared to activate non‐specific cellular and humoral immunity and complement the immune system. The species was found to stimulate the immune system by means of increasing the production and activation of leukocytes, lymphocytes, monocytes, and cytokines.

Antiviral Potential

Reports describe that aqueous fraction of the stems, leaves, and flowers of Echinacea purpurea possess potent anti‐viral activity against herpes simplex virus and influenza virus. This activity was found to be attributed to the polysaccharide and cichoric acid components. Research carried out in vitro and clinical studies suggest that medicines containing Echinacea purpurea can effectively protect against infections with a variety of respiratory viruses, including coronaviruses.

Antioxidant Activity

Echinacea purpurea root is a natural source of antioxidants. Chicoric acid is the most abundant phenolic component in the root and petiole of E. purpurea. These antioxidant and antibacterial compounds can help the immunological system of the body to function better.

Antimicrobial Activity

In addition to well-known widespread use of echinacea in reducing the symptoms of colds and flu, Echinacea is traditionally employed to treat fungal and bacterial infections. However, to date the mechanism of antimicrobial activity of Echinacea extracts has not been reported clearly. Echinacea purpurea extract was screened by an agar well-diffusion method against many microorganisms: Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Aspergillus niger. The results showed that the extract showed a considerable growth inhibition on Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae while no growth inhibition zones were observed only for Aspergillus niger.

References

[1]. Flora of North America, Narrow-leaved purple coneflower, blacksamson echinacea, Echinacea angustifolia de Candolle in A. P. de Candolle and A. L. P. P. de Candolle, Prodr. 5: 554. 1836.

[2]. Vaverkova, Stefania, Mistríková, Ingrid, and Vaverková, Štefánia. “Morphology and Anatomy of Echinacea Purpurea, E. Angustifolia, E. Pallida and Parthenium Integrifolium.” Biologia 62.1 (2007): 2-5. Web.

[3]. A. Manayi, Vazirian, M. , and Saeidnia, S. , “Echinacea purpurea: Pharmacology, Phytochemistry and Analysis Methods”Pharmacognosy Reviews, vol. 9, no. 17, pp. 63-72, 2015.

[4]. Awang D.V.C. & Kindack D.G. 1991. Herbal medicine: Echinacea. Can. Pharm. J. 124: 512–516.

[5]. Mistríková, I.; Vaverková, Š. Morphology and anatomy of Echinacea purpurea, E. angustifolia, E. pallida and Parthenium integrifolium. Biologia 2007, 62, 2–5.

[6]. McGregor, R. The taxonomy of the genus Echinacea (Compositae). University of Kansas. Sci. Bull. 1968, 48, 113–142.

[7]. Maggini, V., De Leo, M., Granchi, C. et al. The influence of Echinacea purpurea leaf microbiota on chicoric acid level. Sci Rep 9, 10897 (2019).

[8]. European Scientific Co-operative on Phytotherapy (2003) ESCOP monographs, 2nd edn. European Scientific Co-operative on Phytotherapy, Exeter.

[9]. Binns, S.E.; Hudson, J.; Merali, S.; Arnason, J.T. Antiviral Activity of Characterized Extracts from Echinacea spp. (Heliantheae:Asteraceae) against Herpes simplex Virus (HSV-I). Planta Medica 2002, 68, 780–783.

[10] Shu‐Yi Yin, Wen‐Hsin Wang, Pei‐Hsueh Wang, Kandan Aravindaram, Pei‐Ing Hwang, Han‐Ming Wu, Ning‐Sun Yang Yin. Stimulatory effect of Echinacea purpurea extract on the trafficking activity of mouse dendritic cells: revealed by genomic and proteomic analyses. BMC Genomics, 11: 2010, 612.

[11]. Linda S. Kim, Robert F. Waters ND and Peter M. Burkholder MD. Immunological Activity of Larch Arabinogalactan and Echinacea: A Preliminary, Randomized, Double‐blind, Placebo‐controlled Trial. Alternative Medicine Review, 7(2): 2002, 138‐149.

[12]. Selvarani Vimalanathan, Linda Kang, Virginie Treyvaud Amiguet, John Livesey, J. Thor Arnason & Jim Hudson (2005) Echinacea purpurea. Aerial Parts Contain Multiple Antiviral Compounds, Pharmaceutical Biology, 43:9, 740-745.

[13]. Monique Aucoin, Kieran Cooley, Paul Richard Saunders, Jenny Carè, Dennis Anheyer, Daen N. Medina, Valentina Cardozo, Daniella Remy, Nicole Hannan, Anna Garber. Adv Integr Med. 2020 Dec; 7(4): 203–217. 

[1]. Juki´c, H.; Habeš, S.; Aldži´c, A,  Durgo, K.; Kosalec. I. Antioxidant and prooxidant activities of phenolic compounds of the extracts of Echinacea purpurea (L.). Bull. Chem. Technol. Bosnia Herzeg. 2015, 44, 43–52. [1]. P Stanisavljević, S Stojièević, D Velièković , V Veljković , M Lazic. The antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of Echinacea purpurea L. methanolic extracts. Planta Med 2007; 73 P_145.

Herbal Apothecary and BeeVital Sponsor NIMH ‘Power of Plants Festival’ 2022

Together with BeeVital, Herbal Apothecary are delighted to be sponsoring the National Institute of Medical Herbalists ‘Power of Plants Festival‘ which is taking place in Fawley, Buckinghamshire, from 1st – 3rd July 2022.

The event is bringing together practitioners, producers and the general public for 3 days packed full of all things herbal. This is an ‘outdoor’ event – with camping provided on-site for those who wish to sleep under canvas, as well as campfires, evening entertainment and great food and drink.

What’s Happening

Friday 1st July

10:30 – Site opens to campers to set-up

12:00 – Festival opens

2:00 – The Power of Plants in Practice: Melinda McDougall is joined by Hannah Charman, Becs Griffiths and Robyn Soma to discuss the different ways that they harness the power of plants in their practices

3:30 – New Member Woodland Ceremony: Join us in our wonderful woodland to welcome some of our new members to their herbal family

4:30 – Steve Kippax talks about his approach to self maintenance and empowering patients to make better health choices

5:00 – Joe Nasr shares his experience of using aromatic waters in practice

Evening entertainment comes from the fabulous Lucky Cat

Saturday 2nd July

10:00 – Martin Powell (Main Tent) talks about medicinal mushrooms, focusing on what the different types of mushroom material are and what they mean clinically – using Reishi as an example

10:00 – Alex Laird (Forest Tent) explains why food IS medicine

10:30 – Jo Webster and The Peach team (Demo Tent) run a live vegetable ferment workshop. Learn about the importance of gut health and make your own vegetable ferment to take home. Spaces are limited, so please sign up in advance

11:30 – Rebecca Lazarou (Main Tent) presents ‘The history of herbalism, the science of herbalism, research in herbalism and the future of herbalism (and why our time has come again!)’

12:00 – Kate Parker (Forest Tent), one of our Registered Junior Herbalist Club Course Leaders, discusses why practitioners should look into becoming a JHC Leader

1:30 – Helen Kearney of Betonica leads a herb walk around the festival site (meet by the main gate)

2:30 – India Elyn (Forest Tent) shares some perspectives from her book ‘Honouring the Loss’

2:30 – Kate Parker and some of our students (Demo Tent) run a Junior Herbalist Club lesson on Lavender, for children of all ages!

3:00 – Amaia Dadachanji (Main Tent) explores the landscape of grief and longing within the wilds of plant kin listening and healing in her session ‘The Wild Beyond and The Tenderness of Grief’

3:00 – Marie Reilly (Forest Tent) talk about her approach to ‘Herbal Medicine and Reproductive Health’

4:00 – Carole Guyett (Forest Tent) explores the use of herbal medicine in pregnancy

5:00 – Anne McIntyre (Main Tent) reflects on how the process of updating her book re-opened her eyes to the possibilities of healing with flowers

Our evening entertainment comes from the Miss Jones Trio

Sunday 3rd July

10:00 – Hananja Brice-Ytsma (Main Tent) discusses herbal approaches to menopause

10:00 – Marcos Patchett (Demo Tent) explores the Secret Life of Chocolate in an interactive cacao session

11:00 – Natasha Richardson (Main Tent) shares her insights on ‘How medical objects changed the female body’

11:00 – Nat Mady of Hackney Herbal (Demo Tent) talks about growing and harvesting herbs

12:00 – Elisabeth Brooke (Demo Tent) leads a magival herbalism workshop. Places are limited so please sign up in advance

1:30 – The Power of Plants in Practice: Robyn Soma talks with Anne McIntyre, Beatriz Linhares and Steve Taylor, exploring the ways that different traditions harness the power of plants

The Festival will close by 3pm to allow time to break camp and travel home

Our Role

As well as running a stall, Jack, Fin and Shankar will be at the festival for the full weekend. We’ll be on hand to answer questions – we’re really looking forward to meeting existing customers and other manufacturers.

We also have an opportunity to present to the attendees on each day of the festival, in one of the big tents which are being used for the talks and workshops. It’d be great to see as many people there as possible, we’ll be sharing some important information about our business.

Look out for us in our black t-shirts – we can’t wait to see you!

Tickets Still Available

Tickets are still available for the event via the NIMH website.

Asparagus racemosus / Shatavari (Mother healer Rasayana botanical)

‘Rasayana’ is a specialized section of Ayurveda, which mainly deals with the preservation and promotion of health. In Ayurveda the word ‘Rasayana’ literally means the path that ‘Rasa’ takes (‘Rasa’: plasma; Ayana: path). Hence any medicine that improves the quality of ‘Rasa’ (‘Rasayana’) should strengthen or promote the health of all tissues of the body.

One of the key rasayana we work with at Nature’s Laboratory is ‘Shatavari’ (Asparagus racemosus).

Biological Source

Asparagus racemosus which is also called Shatavari, is a widely occurring medicinal plant belonging to the family of Liliaceae.

Background and uses of Shatavari

Shatavari is a well- known and valuable female-revitalising herb, whose name may be translated as “100 spouses”, implying its ability to increase fertility and vitality in women. In Ayurveda, this amazing herb is known as the “Queen of herbs”, because it is said to promote love and devotion. It is very effective in boosting female fertility and is traditionally used by women for overall health and vitality, to promote lactation, and as an aphrodisiac. Shatavari’s beneficial effect on women during their reproductive life is well established. It is widely used as a drug for conception and during lactation.

This wonderful healer has long-standing history and can also be found recommended in Ayurvedic texts for the prevention and treatment of gastric ulcers and dyspepsia.

This herb is found abundantly in subtropical and tropical zones such as Asia, Australia, and Africa.

a), c) Roots of Asparagus racemosus, b) Whole herb of Asparagus racemosus

Macroscopical Details

A. racemosus is a woody climber growing to 1-2 m in height. The leaves are small like pine needles, flowers are white and have small spikes. The flowers are arranged in clusters from an axil. There are 2-6, short, simple, few or many flowered racemes (flower clusters), 2.5 –8cm long which are either solitary or more often in crowded bundles of 3 or more. Root stock is stout and short, bears numerous considerably long, spindle- shaped succulent tuberous roots. The roots are perennial, fascicled (growing in a bundle), smooth, and the colour varies from creamish white to dark brown. The stem is scandent (having a climbing habit) twining, armed with strong straight or recurved spines at the nodes and woody when mature. Branchlets are angular.

Phytochemical Details

The major bioactive constituents of Asparagus are a group of steroidal saponins known as shatavarins (a saponin is a bitter tasting organic chemical).

Shatavarin I to IV and sarsapogenins (a sarsapogenin is a steroidal sapogenin) are present in roots, leaves, and fruits of Asparagus species.

Shatavarin I is the major glycoside with 3-glucose and rhamnose moieties (parts of molecules) attached to sarsapogenin. This plant also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, E, folic acid and traces of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and cobalt. Other primary chemical constituents of Asparagus are essential oils, asparagine, arginine, tyrosine, flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin, and rutin), resin, and tannin.

Phytochemicals of Asparagus racemosus

Medicinal Uses of Shatavari

Galactagogue

There are several reports suggesting the potential of Shatavari to promote milk secretion in lactating mothers who have symptoms of deficient lactation, with positive effects on the hormone prolactin. A probable reason for this galactogogue effect could be the presence of steroidal saponins in this plant.[1]

Gastrointestinal Effects

The powdered dried root of Shatavariis used in Ayurveda for dyspepsia. Oral administration of powdered dried root of Shatavari has been found to promote gastric emptying in healthy volunteers. Its action is reported to be comparable with that of the synthetic dopamine antagonist metoclopramide[2]

In Ayurveda, Shatavari has also been mentioned for the treatment of ulcerative disorders of the stomach and Parinama Sula, a clinical entity akin to duodenal ulcer diseases. The juice of fresh root of A. racemosus has been shown to have definite curative effect in patients who have duodenal ulcers[3].

It has been suggested that Shatavari may heal ulcers by potentiating defensive factors. Plausible mechanisms for this may be that it may prolong the life span of mucosal cells, increase the secretion and viscosity of mucus, and strengthen the mucosal barrier and thus reduces H+ ion back diffusion into the mucosa. Shatavari may form a complex with mucus or other substances at the base of the ulcer which may protect the ulcer from the corrosive and proteolytic effects of acid-pepsin. It may have cytoprotective action like that of prostaglandins. It might also act to deactivate and bind pepsin or bile salts[4].

Diarrhoea has long been recognized as one of the most important health problems faced globally particularly by the population of developing countries. Each year millions of deaths are reported globally due to this sickness. Many studies have reported that ethanol and aqueous extracts of Shatavari roots exhibited significant anti-diarrhoeal activity against castor oil induced diarrhoea, referenced in Ayurvedic texts such as Sushruta Samhita and Sharangdhar Samhita[5].

Additional beneficial properties of Shatavari

This mother healer herb also possesses anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antidiabetic, antioxidant[6] potential. It has also been reported for its antidepressant, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective[7] and insulin secretory potential[8].


[1]. Gupta M, Shaw B. A Double-Blind Randomized Clinical Trial for Evaluation of Galactogogue Activity of Asparagus racemosus Willd. Iran J Pharm Res. 2011;10(1):167-172.

[2] . Dalvi SS, Nadkarni PM, Gupta KC. Effect of Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) on gastric emptying time in normal healthy volunteers. J Postgrad Med 1990; 36:91-4.

[3]. Kishore P, Pandey PN, Pandey SN, Dash S. Treatment of duodenal ulcer with Asparagus racemosus Linn. J Res Indian Med Yog Homeo 1980; 15:409-15

[4]. Singh KP, Singh RH. Clinical trial on Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus Willd.) in duodenal ulcer disease. J Res Ay Sid 1986; 7:91-100

[5]. N. Venkatesan, V. Thiyagarajan, S. Narayanan, A. Arul, S. Raja and S.G. Kumar, T. Rajarajan, J.B. Perianayagam. Anti-diarrhoeal potential of Asparagus racemosus wild root extracts in laboratory animals. J Pharm Pharm Sci 2005; 25;8(1): 39-46.

[6]. Acharya SR, Acharya NS, Bhangale JO, Shah SK, Pandya SS. Antioxidant and hepatoprotective action of Asparagus racemosus Willd. root extracts. Indian J Exp Biol. 2012;50(11):795-801.

[7]. Kalaivani Selvaraj, Girija Sivakumar, Vishnu Priya Veeraraghavan4, Vijaya S Dandannavar, Geetha Royapuram Veeraraghavan, Gayathri Rengasamy. Asparagus Racemosus- A Review. Sys Rev Pharm. 2019;10(1):87-89.

[8]. J M A Hannan, Lamin Marenah, Liaquat Ali, Begum Rokeya , Peter R Flatt and Yasser H Abdel-Wahab. Insulin secretory actions of extracts of Asparagus racemosus root in perfused pancreas, isolated islets and clonal pancreatic b-cells. Journal of Endocrinology. 2007; 192, 159–168.

Introducing Dr. Bhagyashree Kamble

Bhagyashree was born, grew up, and studied in the ancient city of Pune, India, – a ‘city of culture and history.’  She was the eldest child in a middle-class family. Bhagyashree explains that Pune is often compared to Harvard in the USA in terms of its education and culture. She describes how students who have studied in Pune invariably want to return and settle there.

Bhagyashree Kamble PhD

Her father always inculcated how important education is for her growth and development. Her grandmother was a maths teacher, and her mother was her first teacher, teaching her English using the phonics system. She then attended Huzurpaga High School for Girls, a 200-year-old school whose name means ‘where royalty keep their horses.’ It was the first Indian-run school to offer education to girls to the level of matriculation. She studied in her mother-tongue, Marathi.

As a child Bhagyashree always wanted to be a medical doctor, contributing towards the health of humankind and those in need in her own country. However, her life took a different path, she is not a medical doctor, but she does work that helps humanity.

Following graduating with her bachelor’s degree, in pharmaceutical science, Bhagyashree was awarded a post-graduate diploma in alternative medicine. She was offered a post in a Multi-National Company in Mumbai, a job she didn’t take as she didn’t feel it helped her on the right path. Instead, she stayed at her family home and for a year prepared for her entrance exam for a master’s programme in the field of Pharmacognosy. During her master’s programme she worked with a gynaecologist who used herbalism within her practice.

Following her master’s degree Bhagyashree started to work as a lecturer for undergraduate students in the university of Pune, but after 18 months she realised that this too was not increasing her knowledge and the greater picture she was seeking.

Bhagyashree began to apply for doctoral positions, and she had an opportunity to work with someone she describes as “a very wonderful person” who was a mentor for her doctoral research. Bhagyashree was this mentor’s first student, and he gave her the liberty of thinking, designing, and executing her research ideas. Her PhD. looked at the development, standardisation, and quality control of the herb-drug interaction of Gymnema Sylvestre.

Joining the doctoral programme was Bhagyashree’s dream, though the first two years were very hard due to a lack of funding. However, eventually she secured fellowship funding from the Government of India University Grant Commission. Meanwhile she was involved in mentoring and teaching graduate and post- graduate students from various states of India and from other countries such as Sudan, Iran, Nepal, Malaysia, and African countries.

Post Ph D. Bhagyashree worked as an Assistant Professor at the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research (India) an institute which is highly regarded and affiliated with the Indian Government.

She has worked for several years in herbal research and has been successful in presenting her research work at various national and international platforms.

Bhagyashree married and has two daughters. She left her job as Assistant Professor in 2017 and came to the UK, where she now works as Senior Researcher with Nature’s Laboratory Ltd as part of a KTP (Knowledge Transfer Partnership) in conjunction with Bradford University.

Propolis: The answer to antibiotic resistance?

From a press release we published on 23rd November 2021

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) have recently published data which shows a reduction in antibiotic-resistant bloodstream infections. But they warn that this drop is likely to be temporary, the result of reduced social mixing and enhanced hand hygiene due to the COVID pandemic. A company in Yorkshire think they’ve identified a solution to the problem of antibiotic resistance. Research conducted in conjunction with Leeds Beckett University demonstrates that propolis, a natural substance produced by honey bees, has been shown to increase the susceptibility of resistant bacteria to drugs which have become ineffective.

Antibiotic Resistance has been named as one of the biggest threats to human health by WHO

UKHSA have suggested that as we head to winter, cold symptoms will be on the increase and may be more prevalent than in recent years. Antibiotics should not be used to treat these symptoms. Overuse or misuse of these antibiotics leads to accelerated antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria no longer respond to treatment. This can lead to very serious complications and hospitalisation. For the last several years the trend in antibiotic resistance has been consistently upward. This is because taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria to become resistant. Consequently, it has been reported as one of the most severe threats to public health by the World Health Organization.

What can be done to boost immunity and prevent antibiotic resistance? Nature’s Laboratory, based in Whitby, think the answer is to be found in propolis. Propolis is a sticky substance created by honey bees from tree and plant resins combined with wax. The bees use it to keep the hive free from infection – it’s a kind of external immune system. Propolis has been used as a medicine by humans for thousands of years. Its antimicrobial activity against different bacteria, yeasts, viruses, and parasites is well documented and interest around its healing properties is growing around the globe.

Nature’s Laboratory have been at the forefront of research into propolis for the last 30 years. Now, in conjunction with Leeds Beckett University, they have been able to demonstrate that using propolis in conjunction with antibiotics is able to tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance. The evidence suggests that taking propolis and antibiotics together significantly increases the susceptibility of resistant bacteria to antibiotics which have become ineffective.

James Fearnley, CEO of Nature’s Laboratory and propolis expert, said:

“This research is tremendously exciting. We’re hopeful that very soon we’ll have irrefutable evidence which demonstrates the power of propolis to heal, both in conjunction with pharmaceutical drugs as a stand-alone remedy. Propolis has remarkable immune-boosting, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties – I’m delighted that we now have the evidence to show this.”

James Fearnley, CEO of Nature’s Laboratory

Companies like Nature’s Laboratory are working on innovative solutions to complex healthcare issues. As the wintry weather arrives, it’s vital that consumers make informed decisions about their own healthcare. Taking antibiotics can lead to resistant bacteria, resulting in dangerous complications. Propolis is a natural medicine which supports the body’s natural immune system, strengthening your ability to fight bacterial and viral infection.

For more information about propolis, please visit www.beevitalpropolis.com.

James Fearnley, the founder and CEO of Natures Laboratory Ltd has been researching the use of medicinal use of propolis for over 30 years. He has contributed to 30+ peer review research articles about propolis and has written two books:

He founded the Apiceutical Research Centre 11 years ago which stimulated the first international conferences on Propolis in Human and Bee Health at University of Strathclyde in 2016.

He founded the International Propolis Research Group in 2016 now at 150 strong community of academics researching propolis worldwide. In May this year the IPRG hosted an international conference “Propolis: Medicine for our Time?” which attracted over 400 attendees listening to 38 presentations about the multiple use of propolis including clinical research into the use of propolis in treating COVID and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection. Fearnley has conducted research showing that propolis is effective against MRSA.

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