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Like ‘superfood’, ‘wonderplant’ is a term you might have come across from time to time, referring to a plant perceived to have myriad benefits for human health.
So, here at Tonic Health, we thought we’d introduce you to a few of these wonderplants – including what they are, and the evidence of their positive health and wellness implications.
We recently wrote in-depth about turmeric here on the Tonic Health blog, pointing to various health effects that have been observed from the four thousand years of use of this orange-coloured spice derived from the turmeric plant.
As we explained in that blog post, central to turmeric’s reputation as a nutritional powerhouse is the compound responsible for that deep orange hue – curcumin.
It is thought that curcumin and other chemicals in turmeric may help to lessen inflammation, making them potentially useful for conditions – such as osteoarthritis – that involve pain and swelling.
Other conditions that it has been suggested turmeric may be effective for, range from hay fever and depression to digestive disorders and respiratory infections.
Further great news is that it isn’t that difficult to introduce turmeric to your diet; you can purchase the fresh root and grate it yourself, or instead purchase a jar of the ground spice. It has quite a mild taste, which lends itself well to being sprinkled on a salad or even used to make a latte or curry.
You’ve probably heard a fair bit about the health-boosting credentials of green tea. There’s one particular type of green tea, though, that has been causing a lot of fuss in recent years, turning up in shots, lattes, smoothies and even ice cream: matcha.
Much of the reason for this lies in the fact that while the production of brewed green tea entails infusing tea leaves in water before discarding them, matcha is made by grinding the tea leaves themselves into a bright green powder.
Drink matcha, then, and you’ll be consuming the entire tea leaves, with all of their antioxidants, instead of getting the benefit of only some of their nutrients.
Matcha is especially strongly associated with Japan, where it has been grown for centuries. But many in the West have taken particular notice of matcha lately on account of such potential health benefits as the prevention of liver damage, the enhancement of attention and memory, and even possibly the inhibition of cancer cells’ growth.
With every new cold and flu season, it seems that fresh focus is thrown upon the merits of this dark purple berry for supporting immunity and lessening cold and flu symptoms.
This year, of course, there is the additional complexity of the pandemic. At this point, it is important to emphasise that no research studies have yet been published evaluating what effects – if any – elderberry may have for COVID-19.
However, this commonly used medicinal plant – native to Europe – has an exceedingly long-lived status as a ‘wonderplant’, with even the ancient Egyptians having used it to heal burns and enhance their complexions.
Much research since then has beefed up the scientific case for upping one’s consumption of elderberry. One such study of 60 people with influenza-like symptoms discovered that participants taking 15ml of elderberry syrup four times a day showed an improvement in symptoms several days earlier – on average – than those in the control group.
Furthermore, if you’re wondering about the prospects of greater immune support with elderberry in your diet, you might be interested in knowing that elderberry polyphenols were found to increase the number of white blood cells in rats, thereby supporting their immune defence.
The above are just some of the many indicators of these wonderplants’ impact in preventing and lessening the effects of a broad range of conditions. That, in turn, is a sign that their reputations for helping to ensure good health remain well-founded.
Many of us probably have an instinctive sense of what we think the immune system...