Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Herbs Provide Fuel For the Body To Build It Stronger And Healthier

Herbs have been used for a long time as foods to heal disease in our human society. It can be estimated that herbs have been used by humans for at least 15,000 years, with animals using the herbs as medicine for much longer. They, fortunately, had the instinct to search and find the herb they need when it is needed, while our animals of today are limited by fences. Many veterinarians claim that horses will go out and look for a plant that will be helpful to get them to get rid of a parasite when they have it. This plant is called Wormwood. A lot of the first herb uses were actually learned from observing and ill animal and watching it go out and get a plant. Man then followed and ate the plant himself.

The Indians in South American discovered that the Pau d’Arco tree possesses a lot of medicinal ability in the inner back by observing that the inner bark repelled the insects that flooded other trees in the rain forest. The Indians also found a bush that is found in a certain canyon increased their eyesight, so they named it Eyebright. Similarly, the Arizona Apache and Pima Indians found that if they took a twig of the Chaparral bush and heated it and placed it in or next to a tooth hoe, the pain and infection were relieved.

Because of the above, it can be inferred that man has been using herbs for an extremely long time. This is important, especially when taking it to comparison just how short-term the use of chemicals has been. There is no doubt to anyone that chemical use over a long period of time causes a negative effect on the human body. It seems extremely odd that the scientific community prefers their scientific laboratory experiments with chemicals over 4,000 to 5,000 years of herb use. It seems as if someone would see the inadequacy of trying to find a medicine in laboratories by working with animals over a period of months versus the use of herbs by humans in their natural habitat for thousands of years.

Chemicals are not food for the human body as they have all sorts of negative effects including unwanted immune responses which cause inflammation. They do not provide any nutritional affects. Herbs, on the other hand, are foods that fuel the human body, nourishing it and also cleansing it so that it may be energized. Additionally, these herbs have a lot of unknown positive effects. This seems so simple that some wonder how anyone in a professional status could see the truths in prescribing a drug for their spouse or client. A lot of times it is suggested that patients ask their doctors if they would prescribe the same drug or surgery for their wife or children. We need to become aware of the responsibility we have to our bodies.

Many herbs have Glyconutrients and polysaccharides that can feed the immune system. These Glyconutrients or polysaccharides are simple sugars that provide raw materials for the body to build its self better and stronger. Every cell in the body is wrapped with instructions. When the immune system come in contact with each cell, it determines whether its friend or foe. Herbs can help the body build its self better.

Those people who ask if they will become dependant on an herb are thinking of the herbs as a drug instead of food. Although we are dependant on food, it is better to eat food that has been proven to help our body, rather than one which will poison it. Herbs are foods that have proven elements involved which will provide a positive effect on our body. Each specific herb can provide a specific need to our body.

Soluble Fiber such as Guar Gum Promotes a Healthy Colon

Guar gum is what is known as a soluble fiber, and it is well known that it promotes a healthy colon. You will not find soluble fiber in what you believe to be 'high fiber foods', yet it is a very important part of your diet, particularly if you have problems with your colon such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or even colon cancer.

Traditional high fiber foods, such as bran, leafy vegetables and cereals, contain insoluble fiber that mechanically act as an aid to digestion and the movement of your food through your gastrointestinal system. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, is found in what are more commonly regarded as starchy foods, although unlike starch, the chemical bonds that attach the various sugar molecules together cannot be broken by the acids and enzymes used by your gastric system to digest them.

They thus pass through the body undigested, in the same way as insoluble fibers, and so contribute to the mechanical system upon which the peristaltic pumping motion of the intestine depends. Because it is not digested, soluble fiber contains practically no calories since it does not contribute to the metabolism of your body. Fiber imparts many benefits in addition to enabling your intestine peristalsis to move your food through your digestive system.

For a start they don't contribute to your nutrition, either negatively or positively, but provide bulk to what you eat and provide help to your bowel movements by giving the intestinal muscles something to bite on. One of the benefits of such foods is their effect on your blood sugar and preventing the onset of diabetes. They can also help you to avoid obesity through providing virtually calorie-free bulk to your meals. Some fibers can bind chemically to toxins and certain fats, and can clean out your colon. So what's the benefit of soluble fiber over the insoluble type, and where does guar gum enter the equation?

Basically, soluble fiber is water soluble while insoluble fiber is not. Insoluble fiber is contained in cereals, beans and peas, fruits and in fact anything that doesn't dissolve in water, even when acted upon by that concentrated hydrochloric acid that is the basis of your digestive juices. Soluble fiber can help to prolonging the time that your stomach acids and enzymes spend in digesting your food. Soluble fiber is reported as conferring many health benefits, and guar gum and pectin are two of its major forms.

Guar gum is obtained from the guar bean, indigenous to India and Pakistan, but also grown in the USA, China Africa and Australia. The bean is edible to humans, and also used as cattle feed and fertilizer. TO obtain the gum, the seeds are dehusked and milled, and the gum is a whitish powder, not gummy as you might believe. However, when dissolved in water it gels when it comes into contact with calcium or borax.

It is effective as a laxative, due to the bulk it forms when dissolved in water, and can relieve not only constipation, but is also an effective treatment for IBS, Crohn's disease, colitis and other conditions of the lower digestive tract. Because it enables the colon to eject toxins and other undesirable waste products much more rapidly, guar gum is good for the health of your colon, and absorbs not only toxins but also undesirable bacteria.

Guar gum is what is known as thermogenic: it helps your body to burn fat by converting it to energy, with a resulting increase in your body heat. Not only that, but because it contains very little calorie content, it can bulk up a meal, help to make you feel satisfied and lower the glycemic index of your meal. It is used in many types of weight loss products and diets, although its uncontrolled use can be dangerous due to the potential blockage of your esophagus through insufficient fluid intake. For that single reason you are unable to purchase guar gum in non-prescriptive weight loss products.

Another of the benefits of soluble fiber, and guar gum in particular, is that it accelerates the absorption of calcium in the colon. Since calcium is normally absorbed in the small intestine, as opposed to the colon, this is good news for those seeking to lose weight. The reason for that is that the dairy products which traditionally contain most calcium tend to be high in calories, and guar gum enables you to get your RDA of calcium from a diet lower in these products by maximizing the calcium extraction and absorption right through the intestinal tract, and not only in the small intestine.

It has also been found to improve your tolerance to glucose. One of the problems that diabetics have is that sugars are absorbed mainly in the small intestine, whereas guar gum also enables it to be absorbed in the colon. Therefore, while the overall absorption level remains constant, there are no peaks and troughs since the absorption is constant through the entire intestinal tract rather than all the demand being in the small intestine. There is therefore less of a demand for insulin at certain times after a meal, so that the overall level of blood insulin can be reduced.

Guar gum is used as a delivery medium for certain drugs. Where it is desirable for a drug to be released into the colon as opposed to any other part of the gastrointestinal tract, this is the ideal substance. Guar gum can be degraded, if not digested, by anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that live in the absence of oxygen). Certain drugs can be attached to the guar gum molecule, and after consumption will pass unchanged through the stomach, duodenum and small intestine.

However, when it reaches the colon, the anaerobic bacteria that populate the large intestine degrade the gum, and release the drug molecules into the colon where they are needed. There are a number of delivery techniques in addition to using the gum itself, including using derivatives of guar gum, using a combination of the gum and other polymers and also multiparticulate delivery techniques.

Partially hydrolyzed guar gum also seems to increase the population of your bowel with friendly bacteria, or probiotics, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. These can help to prevent or reduce the symptoms of many bowel conditions, and probiotic drinks taken with guar gum can be extremely beneficial to people suffering the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and other similar disorders of the lower intestinal tract.

So if you have a disorder of your lower intestine or colon, try a soluble fiber such as guar gum as a natural treatment, and where appropriate also take that with a probiotic. Most people find that their symptoms improve and in many cases they disappear altogether.

Folic Acid, The News Keeps Getting Better

National press has recently taken an interest in the benefits of folic acid, with coverage increasing throughout the media. Folic acid, a B vitamin and other folates helps the body to form red blood cells and aids in the formation of genetic material within every body cell. Folic acid also helps to prevent birth defects. Proponents of dietary supplements have encouraged the use of folic acid by women who are of the child-bearing age for a long time.

The public is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of this nutrient to prenatal development. In a survey done by U.S. Health and Human Services in 2007, about 40% of all women surveyed reported the daily consumption of a supplement that contained folic acid, while about 42% of women surveyed reported that folic acid is the most important vitamin for women of child-bearing age. This study also found that awareness of the benefits differed by age group. Younger women were the least likely to know about the benefits of folic acid, and therefore, were the least likely to consume folic acid. These younger women were also more likely to hear about folic acid from a magazine or newspaper or school or college, rather than their health-care provider.

On the contrary, the women who aged 25-34 and 35-47 were much more likely to hear about folic acid and its benefits from their health-care provider. Because of these results, the U.S. Health and Human Services considers it vital to increase young person education and awareness. Folic acid has long been known to help prevent birth defects. Recent research on folic acid shows that it may also help in preventing premature births, boost baby weights, prevent preeclampsia, reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and even cut male smokers’ stroke risk.

Folate is determined from the term “foliage,” and is a member of the B vitamin family where it can be primarily found in dark leafy green vegetables, legumes, citrus fruits, beets, meat, and wheat germ. Folic acid does not occur in nature and cannot be found in unfortified foods. It is not an active form of the B-vitamin. However, it is the most common form of folate used is supplements and in fortified food products due to the fact that it is highly bioavailable and chemically stable. It is also readily reduced to tetrahydrofolate, which is the active coenzyme form of folate. One study, comparing folic acid from orange juice and folic acid from a supplement showed that the supplement had a better absorption rate than the fortified orange juice.

Although folic acid is not generally associated with side effects, there have been some clinical reports that high level of folic acid can mask a deficiency of vitamin B-12. However, a deficiency of B-12 is very uncommon and it has been determined that only amounts about 3000 – 4000 micrograms per day of folic acid for extended periods of time may have this masking effect, which can in turn be eliminated by supplementing with a few micrograms of B-12. For more information about folic acid and its benefits to your body, contact your local health food retailer.

Energize the Body Mentally And Physically With Natural Guarana And More

Guarana comes from the Amazon basin, and has been used by the natives of the Amazon rain forest to treat conditions such as diarrhea, arthritis, fatigue and even to reduce hunger. It is, in fact, a climbing plant of the Sapondacaea family, although it is the fruit for which it best known. Each contains a single seed that contains around five times the amount of caffeine of a similarly sized coffee bean.

An interesting piece of trivia is that the reason why such seeds are rich in caffeine is that the substance is poisonous to certain pathogens that would otherwise attack the berry. The same is - true of all seeds that contain caffeine: it is a means of self-defense. Obviously it is an effective defense since the berries appear to relatively immune to such common plant diseases.

Guarana is named after the Guarani tribe of South America, and the language is spoken by many in the area around Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil, and also parts of Argentina. In fact over 67% of Paraguayans speak the language. There is a myth that when child of the Guarana village was killed by an evil god, a more benevolent deity planted the child's left eye in the forest and the right eye in the village. The left eye gave rise to the wild form of the plant, and the right eye the cultivated form.

This likely came about because of the appearance of the fruit when it is split open: it has the appearance of eyeballs. However, what is true is that Guaranis made tea from the seeds, and also a bread known as guarana bread by mashing the powder into a dough and shaping it into a cylindrical bread. It is dry roasted and milled to a fine powder, also known as Brazilian cocoa, but it has never quite managed to compete commercially against the coffee! However, it has its local adherents to whom it is a staple drink.

However, back to the health benefits of the seed. They were recognized as early as the 17th century when Father Felip Betendorf introduced it into Western civilization, but over the centuries since then it has been found that even in spite of the caffeine content it has been demonstrated to have brain-boosting properties and able to increase tasks requiring mental attention. It is certainly known to be an energizer, and able to give a boost to your brain when you really need it. So why should this be, and how does it do this?

The flavor is a bit like chocolate, hence its nickname of Brazilian cocoa, and has been approved by the FDA as a food additive. Extracts from the berry have been shown to possess strong antioxidant properties, and also act as bactericides and fungicide, few of which can be put down the caffeine content. In fact the seed has been proposed for use in the food industry as a natural antioxidant and preservative and as stated below, that is more acceptable to people than synthetic chemicals.

This is probably in response to the fact that synthetic antioxidants are in decline whereas the natural antioxidants such as vitamins, C and E and the various tocopherols and carotenoids are increasing in prominence due to them being more readily accepted by the consumer than the synthetics such as butylhydroxytoluene(BHT). These antioxidants are commonly used as food preservatives, in that they slow down the oxidation of foodstuffs, and people are increasingly feeling that natural products are preferable for this application than synthetic.

Guarana seeds have been found to be exceptionally high in proanthocyanadins with powerful antioxidant properties. They are fatal to free radicals and help to prevent cardiac disease and to improve cellular activity. They also display antimicrobial and antifungal activity. Chemically, they consist of up to 60% starch, pectins, saponins, proteins, and the aforementioned caffeine (3% - 5%). The guarana paste can contain up to 7% caffeine that can be dangerous to those with cardiac problems.

Guarana also contains tannins at levels of up to 12%, including catechin and some proanthocyanadins. The astringency of these tannins represents a problem to their use in the beverage and food industry, although the substance is regarded as safe by the FDA. They have little if any nutritional value and can react with alkaloid and proteins to form unwanted complexes. Were it not for tannins guarana would be more acceptable to the food industry.

However, it is for their energy-boosting properties that the guarana berries and seeds are most prized by many. The fact they it has been traditionally used as a stimulant and aphrodisiac indicates that there is something behind these claims. Studies on mice, hamsters and other animals have supported these effects. It has been found to posses the two desirable properties (to some) of stimulating the nervous system and curbing the appetite.

Consequently, it is used in diet and weight loss pills, and also to maintain high energy levels. In fact weight loss pills are used by many people to maintain their energy levels while not eating. This is a definite bonus to those that want to lose weight, but dislike the lethargy that a strict diet can cause.

There is a downside to that of course, and that is insomnia and an increased heartbeat, and also nervousness and feeling 'on edge'. Once people stop using guarana they suffer withdrawal symptoms such as nervousness, irritability and headaches.

The upshot is that it is basically the high caffeine content of guarana that allows its use as a stimulant that can boost not only energy, but also reduce appetite and act as an effective weight loss supplement. However, used excessively it can lead to nervousness and while it is included as an ingredient in many foods and drinks, you should be careful when using it as an energizing supplement if you have any heart problems at all.

Otherwise, guarana is used to energize the body naturally, and is not only very commonly used for this purpose in South America, but also increasingly so in the USA and elsewhere with some very good results.

Improving Sexual Performance Naturally

Nowadays, sex seems to be everywhere except where it counts, in the bedrooms and love lives of married Americans. We see it on TV, in magazines, in the books we read, in the movies we watch, and even in the music we listen to. Estimates of 15 to 20 percent of the 113 million married Americans are not having sex, and many of those that are say that it’s not as enjoyable as it was in the past, or they’re not having enough of it. The interesting part of this is that the very same thing is happening to husbands and wives in Paris, London, Lisbon, and Madrid. Research has proven that couples who live in Western civilized countries are much more likely to be unhappy than those living elsewhere in the world. It is believed that married couples living in Brazil, Beijing, and Tibet have access to powerful plant medicines that keep their sexual relationships healthy and happy.

Many plants and herbs have been found all over the world that really does improve orgasms in women and erections in men, making sex satisfying for both parties involved. These plants really do help by working with your body’s innate mechanisms for healthy sex. A man needs an erect penis that remains firm through foreplay and into intercourse so that he is able to experience a pleasurable ejaculation when he and his partner are ready. Similarly, a woman needs to feel desire and the feeling of being desired for her to achieve her orgasm. There are many plants which will help men and women obtain these necessities of sex and you will be able to know if the herbal plant you’ve purchased is actually doing its job.

Because most women put their family’s needs before their own, it has led to a large quantity of very tired moms and wives. These life demands impair sexual performance in men also. Work stressors, family demands, and home maintenance often result in fatigue and lack of energy, leaving no energy left to devote to sex. Two supplements, Maca and Rhodiola Rosea, reduce sexual fatigue in women and men who are too tired to make love. Maca, which is grown in Peru, has been prescribed by physicians to men with low libido and diminished erectile function and has shown excellent results. Researchers have recently studied Maca and discovered that two compounds, macamides and macaenes, are responsible for improved sexual stamina and help men and women obtain more frequent and powerful orgasms. Rhodiola Rosea, grown in the highest mountains of Europe and Asia, was once used by early Siberians to boost strength and stamina. After using it, they realized that they not only had more energy, but also had more sexual stamina. Rhodiola helps us to adapt to changes in life and the stresses of every day life. Hormones, produced by our body when we are stressed, are necessary in cases of trauma or childbirth. Stress caused by work, family, or personal struggles can cause fatigue, added weight gain, poor metabolism, and impaired sexual hormone. Rhodiola makes sure that we get the hormones when they are needed, in order to protect our health, and give us more energy, vitality, and better sex.

As a woman enters perimenopause, the years where she is still menstruating despite the fluctuating estrogen levels, she often feels a decrease in desire for sex. Because estrogen is the hormone that drives a woman’s reproductive system, as it starts to decrease, the sex drive decreases also. Traditional medicine has some answers to help those women in perimenopause and menopause as well. Ashwagandha, is also an adaptogen, like Rhodiola, and has powerful sex-enhancing powers. It has been helping women enhance their desire for sex for many years. Catuaba, a tree that grows in the Brazilian Amazon, stimulates sexual desire and is used worldwide today by women who desire passionate sex. Eleuthero, often called Siberian ginseng, has been used by tribal people for over 2,000 years to eliminate sexual fatigue. It, also, is an adaptogen, and invigorates sexual function.

For men, it is often their equipment that lets them down, with the inability to get an erection hard enough or keep it long enough to satisfy their partners and themselves. Unlike women, who can fake an orgasm, men have to perform every single time they have sex. Horny Goat Weed, Yohimbe, and Panax ginseng can help with these problems. Horny Goat Weed has been used for thousands of years in restoring sexual fire, treating impotence, and increasing production of semen. Research has proven that horny goat weed has activities similar to those of androgen, which are sex hormones that stimulate desire in men. Yohimbe, nature’s Viagra, helps men to attain a firm erection by stimulating engorged vessels within the penis and nerves of the lower spine. Panax ginseng stimulates the central nervous system, invigorates the brain, increases resistance to stress and fatigue, and sharpens the mind. It is also used by many men to enhance libido and sexual vitality and has been proven to help with problems of erectile dysfunction. To make sure you get the most for your money when purchasing these products, make sure the supplement you are considering is from a well-respected manufacturer, the herbs are standardized, and that the extracts are concentrated for optimal benefit. Men who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, thyroid disease, prostate problems, or other illnesses should use caution when selecting any health supplement. This same advice applies to women who are pregnant or nursing. Always remember to keep your doctor informed about the supplements you are using, especially if you’re also taking prescription drugs.

The easiest way to naturally enhance your sex life is to practice. Studies have shown that couples in the Amazon rainforest, as well as those in New York City, have better sex lives if they make it priority. Men who smoke need to quite because research has shown that more than 20 cigarettes daily causes a 60 percent higher risk for erectile dysfunction, as compared to those who never smoked. This is because smoking decreases blood flow and makes it difficult for men to obtain an erection. Since sex is a visual and tactile endeavor, visually stimulating images can arouse even the most tired people. Just remember that sex always has consequences and improving your sex life does not eliminate the requirement to practice it responsibly. You must be sure to consider the consequences of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Horny Goat weed, Maca, and other herbs can be found at your friendly internet health food store.

Bioidentical Hormones: An Alternative to Premarin

Chances are, if you have required medication therapy for your menopause, you were given a prescription for Premarin or a similar ‘conjugated estrogen’ product. Premarin is a synthetic estrogen made from the urine of pregnant horses. Other conjugated estrogen products like Enjuvia and Cenestin, are made synthetically from plant sources.

The problem with conjugated estrogen products like Premarin is that it not only contains human-like hormones, they may also contain other hormones that are unlike human estrogens, like horse hormones. Many medical experts question if our bodies really know what to do with these equine estrogens. It is thought that some of the ill effects sometimes experienced by women taking Premarin, such as migraine and fatigue, are caused by these horse hormones.

There has for some time now been an alternative to traditional synthetic hormones like Premarin called 'bioidentical hormones'. Bioidentical hormones have been around for many years. However, up until now, they have not been widely advertised or promoted by the medical community. This is a shame as many women are finding relief from their menopause symptoms without the possible ill effects of Premarin. Times are changing though. The medical community may be seeing the potential benefits of bioidentical hormones. The American Medical Association (AMA) has just vowed to make patients and physicians “more aware of the safety and efficacy of bioidentical hormone compounds.”

Bioidentical hormones are hormones that are ‘identical’ to human estrogen hormones on a molecular basis. These hormones are typically isolated from natural sources such as soy beans and yams, but are modified so that they are just like the human hormone. There are a couple of commercial bioidentical products available. These include Ogen, Ortho-Est, Estrace, Estraderm and Prometrium. Ogen and Ortho-Est are crystallized forms of a single human estrogen. Estrace is a single hormone estradiol. Estraderm is estradiol in a patch. Prometrium is a bioidentical form of progesterone. Bioidentical hormones can also be compounded by specialty pharmacies called ‘compounding pharmacies’. Compounding pharmacies are pharmacies that will ‘compound’ (‘prepare’ or ‘mix’) the medication according to your doctor’s order. These types of pharmacies can compound formulations that are not commercially available. Bioidentical hormones are typically ordered under the names ‘Triest’ or ‘Biest’. Triest is a combination of all 3 human estrogens; estradiol, estrone, and estriol. Biest is a combination of two of these hormones; estriol and estradiol. These formulations are nice because they contain two or three of the 3 human estrogens. The doses of these hormones can also be better tailored to the patient since the pharmacy can compound anything according to the doctor’s order.

‘Bioidentical’ and ‘natural’ estrogens should not be confused. Bioidentical hormones are ‘identical’ to the actual human hormone, whereas ‘natural’ hormones typically are not. Natural hormones usually refer to plant-based ‘phytoestrogens’ which are not the same as human estrogens. Sometimes these natural hormones can be converted into bioidentical hormones, but in their normal plant form, they are not bioidentical. Sometimes herbs like black cohosh and red clover are referred to as ‘natural hormones’. Personally, I do not recommend these herbs as their effectiveness is questionable and black cohosh has been associated with liver toxicity.

Up until now, compounded bioidentical estrogen products were not overseen by the FDA. This has changed as now, the FDA will conduct surveys for purity and dosage accuracy and require compounding pharmacies to complete mandatory reporting on these products. For the consumer, this is potentially good news as it will help ensure the quality of such compounded products. They are also requiring these compounding pharmacies to keep track of the reported adverse events (‘unwanted effects’) of these products.

If your symptoms are not really that troublesome, you may not require hormone therapy. If you and your doctor decide that you would benefit from hormone therapy, you may want to consider a bioidentical hormone product vs. a synthetic one. Whether you choose a bioidentical product that is commercially available or one that is compounded is up to you. One advantage of choosing a compounded bioidentical product is the dose can be customized for you. As with any other medication, it is important to use the smallest, effective amount of the hormone that will provide you symptom relief. To find a compounding pharmacy near you, you can look in the Yellow pages under ‘Pharmacies, compounding’ or ask your local retail pharmacy where you might find one.

Expensive Antioxidants: These Fruit Juices are Not for the Frugal

Would you pay for a bottle of juice? This may sound crazy but many people will pay a pretty penny for a bottle of juice if it promises things like ‘longevity’ and ‘cancer-free living’. These fruit juices have taken the health food market by storm. In fact, there are so many of them on the market now, keeping them straight can be a little confusing. Many of these juices make claims that are not backed by any really good evidence. For this reason, most of these juice manufacturers rely on testimonials from people who claim the juice has helped or cured an ailment they had.

Read on to figure out how to sort through these fancy fruits:

Mangosteen is an Asian fruit. The juice it makes is marketed under names such as XanGo, Mangoxan and Thai-Go. Most of these brands contain mangosteen juice mixed with other juices. The producers of this juice claim that this juice is an extraordinary antioxidant. This antioxidant effect may be contributed to the xanthones found in the juice. Xanthones are compounds that have antioxidant properties.2 It has also been purported to strengthen the immune system, support good respiratory health and aid joint function. It also claims to contribute to a healthy intestinal tract.1 The juice’s possible benefits in the GI tract are thought to be due the tannins present in the juice. Tannins are thought to have a sort of astringent affect on the intestinal walls, which may help reduce diarrhea.2 Although the manufacturers make some great claims, there is no real evidence available that show that this juice benefits any specific health condition. There are currently no known drug interactions or side effects documented for mangosteen. This of course does not mean there aren’t any. It only means that none have been documented yet.

Acai, pronounced ah-sah-yee, is a fruit that grows in South America. The juice is marketed under such product names as MonaVie, Sambazon and Bossa Nova. The producer of this juice claims that this juice has a low glycemic index (meaning it does not contain many pure sugars that will spike your blood sugar) and that there is no other fruit available that has as much antioxidant power.3 There has been some evidence that shows that acai juice may have activity against leukemia cells, however, there is no good evidence that this juice is good for any other disease or condition.

Pomegranate juice is available as a pure juice or mixed with other juices. Pom Wonderful, a popular brand of this juice, claims that this juice is full of antioxidants and may help with such conditions as cancer, heart health and may have anti-aging properties. Unlike many other health supplements on the market, there are some preliminary studies on pomegranate juice that show promising results with regard to these claims. For examples, some data suggests that this juice may slow the progression of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It is thought that pomegranate juice helps accomplish this by preventing the formation of plaques that can cause arteries to clog. It is also thought that it helps dilate the blood vessels. Because of its effects on blood vessels, it has been thought that pomegranate juice might also prevent erectile dysfunction.
It is also thought that pomegranate juice may help reduce cholesterol by reducing the body’s ability to make cholesterol in the liver. Pomegranate juice has also been shown to reduce blood pressure by reducing the activity of an enzyme called ACE in the body.
Finally, there may be evidence from animal studies that pomegranate juice inhibits the growth of cancer cells in prostate and breast cancer.
Many of the potential benefits of pomegranate juice are thought to be due to its high polyphenol content. Polyphenols are antioxidants. Pomegranate juice is thought to have as much as three times the polyphenol content of red wine, blueberries or green tea.
Drug interactions and side effects for pomegranate juice are not all known, however, people who take blood pressure medications should use caution when drinking pomegranate juice or eating the fruit. Although not well documented, taking blood pressure medications with this juice may cause extremely low blood pressure which can lead to fainting, heart problems or worse. It also appears that pomegranate juices inhibit many of the same enzymes in the system that grapefruit juice does. This means that you should check with your doctor or pharmacist before drinking these juices with certain other medications, such as those that use the CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 enzymes in the body. Drinking the juice with these medications may cause levels of the medication to change in the body. This juice has also been shown to cause allergic reactions, even in people who have taken it for many years. 2 It is important if you experience any symptoms of a serious reaction such as a rash or swelling of the tongue or throat, that you stop eating/drinking the pomegranate and seek medical attention immediately.

This plant with beautiful red berries grows in China. It has many other names such as Chinese Boxthorn, Chinese Wolfberry, Di Gu Pi, Gou Qi, Ning Xia Gou Qi and Barberry Matrimony Vine. It is usually mixed with other juices. The manufacturer of this juice claims that this juice promotes longevity and may help lower cholesterol in the body. Goji also contains many nutrients like beta-carotene, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Despite these claims and the fact that it contains these nutrients, there is no compelling evidence that Goji helps with any particular condition.
As for side effects, few are reported. It is recommended that pregnant women do not consume Goji as it has been shown to have mild uterine stimulant properties. Goji may cause some drug interactions with those drugs that use the CYP2C9 enzyme in the body (ask your doctor of pharmacist if you are taking any of these medications). Patients taking warfarin (Coumadin®) should be especially careful.

Sea Buckthorn
Some products like Thai-Go combine sea buckthorn with other juices. Weleda is an example of a brand that markets pure sea buckthorn juice. These juices contain many nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C and E.2 It is also thought to contain beneficial fatty oils. It is said that sea buckthorn can lower cholesterol, help heal gastric ulcers, reduce cancer cell growth, promote wound healing and help prevent blood clots.2,4 These all sound well and good, however, there is no real evidence that sea buckthorn can accomplish any of these claims. There are no reports of serious side effects from sea buckthorn.

Morinda (Noni)
This is often referred to as ‘Noni Juice’. The manufacturers claim that this juice can boost the immune system, increase energy and act as an antioxidant.5 There is preliminary data from animal studies that this substance may be useful in the future for treating conditions like cancer, HIV, pain, and infections.2 This does not mean that it is safe and/or effective in humans, however. In fact there is no reliable data in humans as of yet to show that Noni is effective for any human condition. One should also be cautious in that there have been cases of possible liver damage from the use of Noni. One patient even required a liver transplant.2 Patients who take acetaminophen (Tylenol®) should be especially careful. Noni also contains high levels of potassium. For this reason patients who take medications that can increase potassium levels should be careful as well as too much potassium in the body can cause serious side effects like heart arrhythmias (check with your doctor or pharmacist). Patient with kidney problems should also be careful as these patients are prone to having higher blood potassium levels anyway. As with any other supplement that has unknown effects, pregnant women should not drink Noni juice.

The Bottom Line
Most of these juices do not have any compelling evidence that show that they do what they claim. Most of the claims put forth by these manufacturers are backed not by studies, but by testimonials of people who have used them that claim extraordinary results. All in all, most of these juices (with the exception of Noni) do not appear to have any harmful side effects so consuming them will probably not hurt, however, it is important to remember juices can be high in calories and that consuming too much of any juice can thwart weight loss or weight maintenance plans if one is not careful. Unknown drug interactions is also a potential problem with these juices. Pregnant women should avoid these juices as side effects for these substances has not been clearly established.

1. XanGo juice. (Accessed January 2, 2007).
2. Jellin JM, Gregory PJ, Batz F, et al. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. (Accessed January 2, 2007).
3. Bossa Nova acai juice. (access January 2, 2007).
4. Li T. Product development of sea buckthorn. In: Janick J, Whipkey A, Eds. Trends in new crops and new uses. Alexandria, VA: ASHS Press, 2002:393-8.
5. Tahitian Noni Juice. (Accessed January 2, 2007).