"Quercetin, a plant pigment is a potent antioxidant flavonoid and more specifically a flavonol, found mostly in onions, grapes, berries, cherries, broccoli, and citrus fruits." (26)
Other herbs or foods with anti-viral effects against SARS-CoV-2:
Other phytonutrients including quercetin which is found in citrus peel, also can help inhibit production or activity of the inflammatory NLRP3 inflammasome which has been found to be elevated during more severe COVID19 illness. Sulfarophane (broccoli, etc), resveratrol (grape skins, etc), EGCG (green tea, pomegranate peel), curcumin (turmeric/curry powder), gensenoside (ginseng), emodin (aloe vera gel), mangiferin (mango) and genipin (from a fruit used as a Traditional Chinese Medicinal) are also phytonutrients that may reduce activity or production of NLRP3 inflammasomes. (17*)
Increasing activity of a protein called p53 seems to help inhibit the production or activity of the NLRP3 inflammasome. Phytonutrients and nutrients that may promote p53 activity also include zinc, artemisinin (wormwood herb), goldenseal (berberine, also found in a few other herbs), Black seed oil (Nigella sativa), ginger (6-gingerol), feverfew, chamomile, and cordyceps mushrooms. (18*)** Replication of human coronaviruses and the SARS-CoV-1,(2003 strain) virus has been found to be inhibited by p53 and have also been found to cause the production of an additional protein that leads to breakdown of the p53 protein which may help explain the dysfunction of immune function in more severe infections. (21*, 22*)**
Inactivating the NLRP3 inflammasome seems to have anti-inflammatory benefits (17) that may help prevent age related changes. It is an area of research being pursued for pharmaceutical development. (11*)** Sleep masks/pitch blackness during sleep, with the alarm clock and light leaking in the window covered, could help your body inactivate the NLRP3 inflammasome on a nightly basis with no ongoing copay. **(See the post Bitter Taste Receptors... for references 11*, 17*, 18*, 21*, 22*)
Flavonoids are beneficial to health in many ways:
Flavonoids are found in: edible fruit and vegetable peels, berries, cherries, purple grapes, capers, onions, asparagus, spices, parsley, thyme, oregano, chicory; citrus fruits, soy, tea, cocoa, red wine, walnuts. (Medina-Remón 2014)
- (Pandey 2009)
Lignans are similar to plant fiber within our diet, and aid the growth of beneficial bacteria within our microbiome. "In particular, gut bacterial metabolism is able to convert dietary lignans into therapeutically relevant polyphenols (i.e., enterolignans), such as enterolactone and enterodiol. Enterolignans are characterized by various biologic activities, including tissue-specific estrogen receptor activation, together with anti-inflammatory and apoptotic effects." (Senizza 2020)
Lignans are found in: sesame seeds or oil, olive oil, avocado, flaxseed, cashew nuts, rye, cloud berry. (Senizza 2020)
"Pre-harvest and post-harvest factors (e.g. plant genotype, food processing, storage) dramatically affect the flavonoid content of food . Estimates of polyphenol intake vary widely, but average intake is likely ∼900 mg/day [4•]. Mean flavonoid intake varies from 60 to 600 mg/day among different dietary patterns [4•]. Green tea, fruits, vegetables, pulses, and nuts contribute significantly to polyphenol intake [4•]." (Pei et al 2020)
Terpenes are fragrant chemicals that help protect plants from being eaten by being strong in flavor. In small amounts they can add flavor and medicinal benefits to food. Aromas of different herbs, flowers and trees may have a predominate terpene or a few but many odors include a complex mixture of terpenes.
Different forms of the terpene can give the chemical a different scent and varying amounts can also make a large difference for some. Pinene has alpha and beta forms with the alpha pinine having the more characteristic odor of pine trees.
Pinene also may provide anti-anxiety calming effects. It is found in pine species and other evergreens such as Juniper, cedar, and rosemary. Walking in a forest may leave people relaxed from the humid and terpene rich air found in a wooded area. Forest bathing refers to time spent in forests for healing benefits - figuratively bathing in the aromatic forest air while you walk or sit and relax.
Kitchen herbs with pinene include black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, lavender, mint, basil, lovage and lemons. ((4, etc) 10) which probably means limes, grapefruit, Bergamot orange, which is a small citrus fruit used for flavoring. They would also contain other terpenes. Fragrance often includes a mix of aromatic chemicals and seems to be a marker for healthy nutrients.
Limonene is found in citrus fruit, and herbs including caraway and dill. It can have a calming effect. Beta-caryophyllene is found in oregano, cinnamon, and black pepper and also may have a calming effect. Myrcene is found in bay leaves and hops and can have a sleepy and pain killing effect.
Rosemary tea is traditionally used as a tea used for arthritis pain and may help with anxiety, concentration and memory, (28), possibly due to the terpene cineol. Cedar tea is a drink used by some indigenous American groups and is thought to help prevent colds. (26) Pinene is also found in the evergreen resin drops called Mastic gum, which are chewed like chewing gum, but with natural pine flavor from the terpenes.
List of some plants/herbs that contain alpha or beta pinene:
Some of the plants that contain or produce α-pinene, β-pinene, or both are:
Other terpenes also are found in foods and have medicinal or relaxing benefits. Vanilla is a calming aroma or food ingredient. It contains the terpene vanillin which activates TRPV ion channels..
Beta-caryophyllene is found in oregano, cinnamon, and black pepper, all fairly strong spices that you would use in small amounts. It has an anti-inflammatory effect and may help reduce pain as well as promote relaxation. (27) It acts as a non-psychoactive activator of the CB2 receptors. Cannabinoid type two receptors are found throughout the body more than in brain cells where CB1 receptors are more common. Both types can affect pain, movement, learning, and mood.
Terpenes and other aromatic chemicals are frequently medicinal because they can activate bitter taste receptors within the body that perform functions other than sending taste signals to the brain.
Terpenes also make our cleaning products smell good, & maybe mood uplifting!
Limonene adds the lemony fragrance to citrus and is the tart tanginess of the outer peel of limes, lemons or oranges. The limonene can be concentrated from peels and used as an essential oil for human cooking, adding flavor and aroma, or other bath product type of uses, or industrial uses, such as in kitchen cleansers to add a pleasant odor, and help with sanitizing and cutting grease. (44) Pine is also used. They may also be adding a mood boost possibly - feel good while cleaning, literally.
Health solutions may exist in terpenes.
Aromatic terpenes, such as 1-8-cineole, may be an affordable and effective solution for protecting against Alzheimer’s dementia which may aid health overall rather than leading to other problems.
Eucalyptus oil and fennel seeds, and the herb rosemary, are sources of 1-8-cineole. Eucalyptus oil is used in aromatherapy and in topical body lotions but it is not usually used in food.
Fennel seeds are an edible seed that is traditionally eaten dried, raw or toasted, and served as an after dinner breath freshener and digestive aid in India and other areas. Just a pinch or two, a spoonful or less, is flavorful and takes a while to chew. So we are not eating a large quantity as an after dinner mint, more of an after dinner mint. They are crunchy and taste like licorice, or a cross between licorice and mint. Fennel seeds may also help with appetite and weight control and show some benefit for protecting against osteoporosis.
Animal based research with an essential oil containing 1-8-cineole found that it may have sedative and mental health, antipsychotic effects. (58)
Traditionally the herb rosemary, has been associated with learning and memory and research with 1-8-cineole supports the use for brain health. (59) The essential oil rosemary, containing 1-8-cineole and pinene, was given as aromatherapy in an animal based model of Alzheimer’s dementia. It did seem to help the animals with short term memory. They improved seemingly, and plasma levels of 1-8-cineole did increase after the essential oil vapor was given to the animals. (60)
So aromatherapy, inhaling small amounts of essential oils, is a way to get terpenes besides eating food sources like rosemary or fennel seeds. The walk in the eucalyptus forest could be providing you with a healing dose of 1-8-cineole and other terpenes.
Fragrances are usually a combination of several or many aromatic chemicals and many of them are anti-inflammatory as that is a function they serve in plants.
Our immune system has to protect us from a wide range of threats and therefore there are many types of cells and chemicals involved. Chronic illness or allergy symptoms sometimes can be due to one of the types of immune cells becoming over active. Excess activity of immune cells can lead to too many inflammatory chemicals and too much oxidative stress chemicals all needing antioxidants to be reduced electrically to a nontoxic or less toxic form.
Think of it as rust perhaps, iron exposed to oxygen will turn into reddish flakes - it was oxidized. In our body I don't know if oxidize iron looks reddish but it can be harmful to cells. During an infection the body will shift iron out of hemoglobin where it is at more risk to pathogens, into storage as ferritin or free iron. Cell storage can become overfull and the excess iron leads to death of the cell.
Vitamin C and other antioxidants in our diet help our body cope with the daily load of oxidative stress chemicals from metabolism or the increased amount created during an infection. We can make our own antioxidants too but we need nutrients to perform chemical reactions and the signaling chemicals to tell the body that that is what needs to happen. The modulating plant phytonutrients can help promote the needed amount of a signaling chemical - not too much so there is overactivity or too little so the body isn't getting enough function happening.
More detail about immune modulators and phytonutrients is included in a book draft excerpt, which is focused on the herb wormwood, Artemisia capillaris - medicinal herb used for malaria, Wormwood or Yin chen hao in Chinese. (33) The excerpt also highlights how a whole herb extract/tea may provide more benefits than a single chemical extract.
Ten grams, a heaping spoonful of the herb wormwood, is used as a malaria preventive in regions with the risk is severe. It is made into tea and drunk daily or regularly during mosquito season. The whole herb may have more anti-inflammatory benefits than the artemisinin alone. Artemisinin is useful as an iron chelator and anti-parasitic that also may help with autoimmune conditions or cancer. Infected or cancerous cells tend to be iron rich and anti-malarial medications tend to seek out iron rich cells.
The book draft is Tipping the Clock toward Health: Foods and other strategies to help tip circadian biology away from inflammation and toward health. (leanpub) While it is incomplete in my planned chapters, many of the nutrition focused chapters are helpful. The phytonutrients that help promote the Nrf2 gene and protein and anti-inflammatory chemical pathways, are also helping inhibit the inflammatory NfKb pathways. Circadian biology is an either or choice, in part because the chemical reactions have to take turns sharing cellular proteins that are in a limited supply. We can't do both inflammatory and un-inflammatory chemistry at the same time - roughly. So why not choose relaxation?
Time for some tea - and a nice steamy cup of healthy phytonutrients.
Phytonutrients add color and flavor to food in addition to the wonderful aroma of the terpenes. Many of the phytonutrients also help promote more anti-inflammatory chemical reactions within our bodies.
The Nrf2 gene encodes a protein that promotes increased production of our own antioxidants which help reduce the inflammatory oxidation chemicals produced during metabolism. Other actions of the protein and gene increase immune function.
Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. It is not intended to provide individual guidance. Please seek a health care provider for individualized health care guidance.
Jennifer Depew, R.D.
Copyright © 2020 Jennifer Depew, R - All Rights Reserved.
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