I love sharing my passion for botany with readers. Plants are the original base for many, if not most modern medicines.
The wild is full of plants—this is a well-known fact. But did you know that many modern-day remedies derive from plants based in nature? Here, I detail some highlights of a few of my favorite beneficial and medicinal berries and supplements from different parts of the world.
Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) is one of my favourite botanicals. It's well-known for its high vitamin C content, the highest naturally occurring source of vitamin C in the plant kingdom (Inoue et al, 2008), but camu camu is so much more. It's really rich in polyphenols, quercetin, resveratrol, leucine, valine and serine. These are all naturally occurring in camu camu. They are also a good source of iron, potassium, calcium and phosphorous (Akter et al, 2011).
Camu camu shows promise for preventing cardiovascular issues and cancers due to the mentioned high levels of phytochemicals. Camu camu is a breakthrough fruit.
Cat's claw, or Uncaria tomentosa, is actually an Amazonian vine. Traditionally, the vine is consumed as a tea and used as an anti-inflammatory.
Cat's claw contains epicatechins (Snow et al, 2019). Epicatechins are a brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is a complicated phrase. What that really means is that's got the ability to encourage neurogenesis, which is building new cells.
There is evidence that cat's claw can boost your immune system, relieve symptoms of osteoporosis and arthritis.
Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) is a plant that's got wonderful studies behind it on cognition (Aguiar and Borowski 2013), and its ability to break down amyloid plaque. In one study of mice that already had severe amyloid plaque that the body the brain creates this inflammatory response, and then it will secrete and build this amyloid plaque to protect itself, which is clearly counterproductive.
Bacopa can help eliminate amyloid plaque, according to some studies. In the one study with the mice, it showed that it actually dissolved—60% of that went away.
It contains many antioxidants and can increase the rate of visual learning. It has also been toted as a potential preventer for anxiety and stress, as well as helpful for decreasing ADHD symptoms.
Cinnamon and Cacao
Both cinnamon and cacao are underappreciated for their therapeutic value. Cinnamon contains epicatechins as well as cinnamaldehyde. Both have been shown to untangle tau tangles, which is one factor that can challenge brain function. Tau tangles are where the neurons and the neural fibers get wound up and aren't efficient anymore, thus affecting recall and memory in the form of Alzheimer's disease.
Cinnamon has been shown to actually break down tau tangles (Momtaz et al 2017). Cacao is a very potent anti-inflammatory, but it also has the ability to increase circulation and microcirculation in the brain.
Cacao not only increases circulation, but it has the ability to protect existing brain cells. It slows down the apoptotic function, where brain cells would naturally die; it protects the healthy brain cells by lengthening their lifespan.
When hit with a machete, the Dragon's Blood (Dracaena cinnabari) tree bleeds just like blood. When you dry the red sap that comes out it contains proanthocyanins. Anthocyanins are potent antioxidants that help to control and maintain a healthy brain function. There are many other health benefits tied to Dragon's Blood as well, such as ulcer control.
In today's world, Dragon's Blood is used as a natural caffeine substitute and has a bolstering ingredient for green teas.
Pau D 'Arco
People who are really into herbs and understand botanicals will probably ask "Why is Pau D 'Arco in a brain formula?“ The simple answer to that is because data shows the involvement of candida, specifically the Candida albicans yeast, in deteriorating brain function.
Candida yeast is very prevalent in the population now because of the overuse of antibiotics. where you're taking away the bacteria that would keep the yeast in check. And so, now the yeast really colonizes and flourishes and that goes systemic.
It's important to note that limited scientific evidence exists for the use of Pau D'Arco. It's suggested that Pau D'Arco can help with weight loss and inflammation.
Aguiar, Sebastian and Borowski, Thomas. 2013. Neuropharmacological Review of the Nootropic Herb Bacopa monnieri. Rejuvenation Research.
Akter, Sorifa, Oh, Sejong, Eun, Jong-Bang, Ahmed, Maruf. 2011. Nutritional compositions and health promoting phytochemicals of camu-camu (myrciaria dubia) fruit: A review. Food Research International.
Inoue, Teruo, Komoda, Hiroshi, Uchida, Toshihiko, and Node, Koichi. 2008. Tropical fruit camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. Journal of Cardiology.
Momtaz, S., Hassani, S., Khan, F., Ziaee, M., & Abdollahi, M. (2018). Cinnamon, a promising prospect towards Alzheimer’s disease. Pharmacological research, 130, 241-258.
Snow, A.D., Castillo, G.M., Nguyen, B.P. et al. The Amazon rain forest plant Uncaria tomentosa (cat’s claw) and its specific proanthocyanidin constituents are potent inhibitors and reducers of both brain plaques and tangles. Sci Rep 9, 561 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-38645-0
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.