Botanical Nutrition

by Rob Seeman official blogger of the health food movement


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Discover blue magic (for your tea and your body) : Butterfly Pea flower tea

Butterfly-Pea-Flower-tea---TFMAhh the magic of nature.  It is truly everywhere we look, if we are looking with the right vision. Is it not?

There are many kinds of amazing and colorful flowers that are made into herbal teas; but one stands alone as a truly unique specimen – until recently rarely seen in the US – and that is Butterfly Pea Flower tea.

The Butterfly Pea flower (Clitoria ternatea) is native to many South Asian countries, including Thailand, Malaysia and Burma.  It has a number of very interesting properties – including its wide range use as a traditional medicinal herb in the Ayurvedic tradition. Medicine Hunter Chris Kilham tells us that in Ayurveda it is considered to be something that “ameliorates the wrath of the god of karma,” as well as a pleasant and commonly enjoyed herbal tea.

One of the most instantly apparent novel things about the tea has earned it the nickname the “color changing tea” – because of just that! Depending on the pH of a solution, whether it is very acid or alkaline, a tea made from the flowers of Butterfly pea can change very much in color.  When extracted in purified water it is a rich blue, then by simply adding lemon juice (with a very acidic pH) we can see the tea make a dramatic shift to bright purple!

The novelty of its vibrant blue (and various other hues) color aside, Butterfly Pea Flower tea has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine.  It is also increasingly being validated by modern scientific exploration.  The plant pigments that make it colorful also make it highly antioxidant, with a higher ORAC value than many plants.  However, the magic doesn’t just stop there.

A 2008 article in the Journal of Pharmacology found that it has been “used for centuries as a memory enhancer, nootropic, antistress, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant, tranquilizing and sedative agent.”  Researchers also concluded that its extracts “possess a wide range of pharmacological activities including antimicrobial, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, diuretic, local anesthetic, antidiabetic, insecticidal, blood platelet aggregation-inhibiting and for use as a vascular smooth muscle relaxing properties.”

Dr Al Sears has written about the herb, called Bunga telang in Bali, and its use in traditional Bali herbal medicine for memory, for eye problems, and even for serious diseases like cancer. It is one of the only plants that contains a chemical called cyclotides. Researchers in the journal Oncology Letters have even researched cyclotides from Butterfly Pea flower tea against certain kinds of drug-resistant lung cancer.

Much more than just a color-changing novelty used in cocktails or food (although that is pretty nifty huh?) behind that magic BLUE color we find that Butterfly Pea Flower tea may have some impressive benefits for the body – and the mind.

In India, scientists have demonstrated that treatment with just 100 mg. of Butterfly Pea flower extract can increase acetyl-choline. The researchers stated “increase in ACh content in their hippocampus may be the neurochemical basis for their improved learning and memory.” Acetyl choline is an essential neurotransmitter and a major factor in central nervous system functioning.


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Moringa : Super Foods Best Kept Secret

Have you heard of Moringa, known as ‘the Miracle Tree’? If not, you’re not alone – but this may be a super food you really want to look into.  Known as the “miracle tree”, it may be one of the best kept secrets in health food in the US – but its impact has been felt all around the world.

Moringa

The plant, latin binomial Moringa oleifera, is native to India, and is now grown on many continents.

The Food Movement began importing Moringa in 2011, and since that time demand and presence in the US natural marketplace has steadily grown.  One of the reasons for this is that of all the ‘green foods’ one can choose as a supplement – Moringa has some really unique phytochemical benefits beyond the usual suspects of chlorophyll and vitamins.  The leaves provide a source of complete protein, and are an unusually rich source of nutrition.

A 2017 review in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine concluded ” ..due to its high nutritional value and several medicinal properties, this tree may act as a nutritional and medical alternative for socially neglected populations.”

moringa facts

Another review in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that “A rapidly growing number of published studies have shown that aqueous, hydroalcohol, or alcohol extracts of M. oleifera leaves possess a wide range of additional biological activities including antioxidant, tissue protective (liver, kidneys, heart, testes, and lungs), analgesic, antiulcer, antihypertensive, radioprotective, and immunomodulatory actions. A wide variety of polyphenols and phenolic acids as well as flavonoids, glucosinolates, and possibly alkaloids is believed to be responsible for the observed effects. ”

Due to these unique properties it has been labeled “the miracle tree” and groups like Trees for Life have planted millions of the plant across starvation-ravaged African nations.  In addition to providing nutrition and medicine from the leaves and pods, the seeds of the Moringa tree can also be used to purify brackish water and are recommended for such purposes by the World Health Organization.

The Food Movement has sought to combine these benefits – the unique health-giving properties of the tree – along with the beneficial social and environmental impact; by selling organic Moringa in the US to raise money for groups like Trees for Life.  Whether your interest is in Moringa’s ability to combat hunger and lack of clean drinking water on a global scale; or if you’re just looking for health benefits for yourself – Moringa can be a true miracle.

 


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Moringa documentary drives home ‘The Miracle Tree’s contribution to hunger relief

When I think of ‘food medicine’ (and the arbitrary distinction between what is ‘food’ and ‘medicine’ in the West, as opposed to in the East) I often think of Moringa.  You may know of it because of its reputation as a high source of vitamins and minerals. In fact the freeze-dried biodynamic Medicatrix Moringa has as much Calcium gram for gram as many Calcium isolated supplements such as Calcium Carbonate! Yet it is in a whole plant form and arguably more beneficial, if only because of the broad range of phytonutrients a whole plant can offer.

The video below drives home an important aspect of the plant – its role in alleviating hunger and other afflictions in Africa and other parts of the world.  While the West suffers from diseases of excess, mother Africa still struggles with the fundamentals of survival.  Moringa may be part of the solution for both. Watch the video if you get the chance and support our friends at Trees of Life. Tell them the food movement sent you!


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Plant-based Diet Maintains Strong Direction in Natural Products

The health food business is undoubtedly rooted in the idea of a plant-based diet.  While dietary fads come and go; the general consensus that industrialized society (in the convenience era) is missing out on needed botanical nutrition seems to remain constant.  On this, it seems, even vegans and paleo-caveman-diet folks can agree.  The world of super food plants is just too expansive, and remarkably beneficial, not to make these nutritional storehouses more widely available.

It should be no surprise, then, that we see the most top-notch companies in the industry ramping up their offerings of completely plant-based products.  Nordic Naturals unveiled a nice line extension of vegan/vegetarian products at Natural Products Expo East, including the Vitamin D3 Vegan, GLA liquid, Algae Omega, and Baby DHA Vegetarian.  The top-selling Omega 3 company is built upon their vertically-integrated fish oil operations (being one of the first and most thoroughly ‘green’ companies in the category) but their purely vegetarian products are sure to command the respect of the discerning consumer.

Foods like Jem’s Almond Butters which incorporate super foods, also add a ‘gourmet’ aspect to the realm of the raw foods consumers (in their many forms).  I also enjoyed the Artisana nut butters unveiled at NPEE which went even further with Goji Milk Thistle botanical foods, Phytoplankton sea nutrition and other nutritional taste treat  The more we can incorporate these botanical foods into our food products, they more benefit these products will provide to our bodies.  After all, isn’t a better strategy to entice ourselves with a good-tasting healing diet than to pound ourselves into submission with handfuls of pills?

Pills I say to you that your days are numbered.  As more and more we all look to plants as a source of not just healing, but daily nourishment, the more we will be able to promote and preserve good health in all of us.

Another product not just for vegans and vegetarians (though wildly popular with that group as well) is Green Foods Company’s True Vitality.  This is seriously one of the best values in plant-based protein shakes, actually offering 1000 mg of plant-based DHA per serving.  At around $30, this is a seriously good value for every home.

The company brought cereal grasses to forefront in the marketplace, making truly digestible green food products a reality. True Vitality is an amazing extension of that offering 8 billion of active probiotics per serving, as well as the impressive botanical goodnes It also comes in Chocolate, Vanilla and Unflavored.