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July 14, 2008


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Something worth mentioning is that it looks like Buckwheat honey is the only honey that has been well studied for children’s could and cough. There are some good reasons why researchers are using buckwheat honey: It is darker and has more antioxidant properties (from phenolics, peptides, organic acids, enzymes, Maillard reaction products and possibly other minor components) than other honeys. There is a Web site that does a good job of bringing together the scientific research on this. There it has a lot of links directly referencing well-respected scientific articles. Check out http://www.honeydontcough.com


It might be a little off the topic, but I came across this article and found it quite interesting. The Chinese herb Elsholtzia rugulosa has been recently discovered to have two more glycosides, maltol 6'-O-beta-D-apiofuranosyl-beta-D-glucopyranoside and maltol 6'-O-(5-O-p-coumaroyl)-beta-D-apiofuranosyl-beta-D-glucopyranoside (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18404347?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum). I wonder if these two have any contributions to its antiviral effect.

There are few plants out there that have antiviral properties. For example, extracts of Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s wort) have antiviral effects against HIV, hepatitis and other diseases. However, its use is limited due to the interactions with other drugs and herbs/supplements. (http://www.intmedpress.com/Journal%20Management/display.cfm?viewinfo=3F74516309504A2F1B441B00401A641526542A285845171F074401400D31545E1A0C11464F275232551A155E1602110648545E07104209330C52)

Chemicals that are found in wasabi have been portrayed to possess antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. They may also retard platelet aggregation and protect against cancer. This agent has also been observed for its anticoagulant effects. For instance, it was illustrated that the essential oils prepared from the leaves, rhizomes, petioles and roots of the wasabi plant inhibit platelet aggregation. The study revealed that the effects were immediate, whereas aspirin would need 30 minutes to produce an effect. Alternatively, the potency of wasabi was only 1/10th of aspirin, but further research is being conducted.

When I read about studies of long-existing plants providing significant healing properties, I wonder if we are going to be forever re-inventing the wheel. It is my understanding that indigenous healers throughout the ages have discovered (probably through trial and error, although regrettably using real humans as test subjects) the value and properties of hundreds, maybe even thousands of plants, that populate the various regions of the world. In our current era, so many of these findings are either ignored or rediscovered. I don’t know the history of the particular plants of this study, but I can easily imagine that this is not the first time that "medicine men" have learned of their healing ability.

What troubles me is that so many of these "talented" plants are not being protected and groomed to benefit the whole of society. Does it seem exaggerated to say that modern medicine is still catching up to ancient medical knowledge of nature’s bounty? Instead of looking to create some synthetic healing capability, why aren't we treasuring and exploring the possibilities of what we are already blessed with?

It would be helpful to know if there are any downsides to these anti-viral plants. Do they fall into that category of herbs that have been used to treat illnesses in times before modern medicine? Would a visit to the "wise" woman or man in earlier eras have resulted in treatments with these Japanese and Chinese plants? What is the history of their use in healing the sick? It would be interesting to note these facts and if that information is what spearheaded the current scientific trials.

Not only is wasabi known to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and blood-thinning properties, but it also possesses anti-microbial characteristics. As a result of this newfound anti-microbial property, research was conducted in Japan. Nonetheless, after confirmation of this characteristic, it was actually added to some formulations of Japanese toothpaste to prevent tooth decay!

Now a days, people are researching everything. Viral infection sometimes is very difficult to treat. Soon or later, all of the antibiotics will not able to kill those viruses due to resistances. Researchers are working very hard to find better antibiotics and treatments, especially for HIV infection.

Excitingly, wasabi has not only anti-viral properties, but it also helps prevent tumor metastases. A study claimed that 6-(methylsulfinyl)hexyl isothiocyanate (6-MITC), a constituent from wasabi root, appeared to reduce metastasized lung foci in pulmonary melanoma cells of B16-BL6 mouse (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16647224?ordinalpos=5&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum). Moreover, none of the tested objects showed signs of toxicity from 6 MITC.

To read more about the health benefits of real wasabi (Wasabia japonica), please go to www.wasabia.com

Molly, even horseradish may have some medicinal properties. So maybe the fake wasabi can be therapeutic, if not as an anti-viral, then as something else. I’m always skeptical about anti-viral claims, and nothing in these articles changed my mind — way too preliminary at this point.

I was reading a Newsweek article, and apparently, wasabi is now a topping for hot dogs, popcorn and salad at a California-based company, Wasabi Watusi. This company is also planning on formulating wasabi-flavored cheese! The company was actually named after the facial contortion your nose makes after tasting this potent Japanese plant.

I have found something a little off the topic. Wasabi, which we usually eat along with sushi here in America, is not entirely derived from Washabia japonica. Since the real ingredient is relatively expensive, what is supposed to be American wasabi is a combination of horseradish, mustard seed and green food coloring. You can read more at this link http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/news/ng.asp?id=73408-biocell-technology-wasabia-japonica-i-sabi

What is the duration of the treatment? How does this herb work? Maybe this herb can relieve flu symptoms, but I don’t know about influenza viruses (types A, B and C).

The antiviral properties of various alternative therapies are indeed interesting. I wonder if these therapies need to be consumed long term in order to have an effect. I would also be curious as to whether the use of these herbs in immunocompromised individuals, who may be more susceptible to getting the flu, carries any risk. For example, wasabi is associated with several potential interactions with drugs and other herbs. It may increase the bleeding risk, inhibit COX-1 enzyme activity, affect bone metabolism and interact with agents broken down by the liver. As with all natural therapies, caution is warranted, especially in higher-risk populations.

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