Nature and technology
Patented by Prodeco Pharma, Biosterine is a phytocompound with unique and innovative features
OCIMUM SANCTUM (Tulsi)
Tulsi, a “holy” herb
Tulsi, holy basil (Ocimum sanctum), is one of most sacred plants to the Indians today, as it used to be for the Aryans, inhabitants of ancient India. Known for its health and preventive properties, Tulsi has fascinated and captured the imagination of man since times preceding the Rigveda (book of eternal knowledge), dating back to 5000 BC. Modern research, combined with centuries of intimate devotion to and study of Tulsi, in both good and bad health conditions, seeks recognition for this component, one of the best herbs in Nature, so that it can spread globally to the benefit of humanity. Currently little known in the Western world, in the near future Tulsi will certainly turn out to be a main player in the expanding field of supplements and herbal health remedies.
Chemical and botanical characteristics
Botanists have given Tulsi (holy basil) the Latin name of Ocimum sanctum. In Latin, Ocimum means “fragrant labiate”; sanctum means “holy”. More recently, Ocimum sanctum has also been called Ocimum tenuiflorum, meaning “basel with small flowers”. Ocimum belongs to the Labiatae/Lamiaceae mint family.
Tulsi grows as a bushy plant reaching over a metre in height and its fragrant leaves can smell of peppermint, cloves, liquorice or lemon, as well as having its own distinctive aroma. Tulsi is commonly cultivated in the Indian lowlands, as well as in private gardens across India and an ideal growth requires particular attention and heat. In terms of chemical constituents, Tulsi contains alkaloids, grease, carbohydrates, proteins, glycosides, phenols, saponins, tannins and terpenes. The functional principles of Tulsi are mostly terpenes and volatile phenols: eugenol (main pharmacological component), methyleugenol, methylether, caryophyllene, terpinen-4-ol, decyl aldehyde, selinene, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, camphene, carvarcol, rosmarinic acid, terpen ursolic acid, giuvocimene I e II, thymol, rimol, camphor, xanthomicrol, caffeate, myrcenol and nerol. Despite the fact that many people find it has an energizing and strengthening effect, it actually does not contain any caffeine or other stimulants. Tulsi possesses a high nutritional value, as it provides vitamin A (carotene 2,5 mg/100g of fresh leaves), vitamin C (ascorbic acid, 85mg/100g) and minerals (e.g.: calcium from 0,6 to 3,5mg/100 g), all in organic form and easily absorbable.
Daily intake of 1 gram of dried Tulsi leaves provides about 8,5 mg of natural vitamin C. This is more active than synthetic vitamin C, as its absorption is much higher; in fact, bioavailability of natural vitamin C is noticeably higher compared to its synthetic equivalent.
Our Tulsi: efficacy and safety
Optimal cultivation methods, harvesting, storage and packaging all contribute in maximizing the medicinal value of plants. The efficacy and power of herbs depends on the soil, on the climate and on the harvesting period, since the quantity of biologically active components and other chemical constituents vary according to these factors. Today, however, there is a great demand of medicinal herbs for large populations, making it necessary to cultivate these herbs in various places.
Cultivation, drying and storage. Our Tulsi is cultivated in several farms located in rural areas that are free from environmental pollution, employing organic cultivation methods that avoid the use of artificial herbicides or pesticides, as well as synthetic chemical fertilizers. Techniques used for drying herbs are also important: too much sunlight or heat cause a loss of essential oils and other important substances of medical value. The Tulsi that Prodeco employs is stored with great care to ensure that its health properties are preserved. Fungi and bacteria can easily infect plants stored in damp, dusty rooms: this not only results in loss of the plants’ medicinal and nutritional power but they also risk becoming harmful. For the optimal preservation and packing of our Tulsi, storage rooms must meet the following requirements: they must be clean, dry, moderately warm, well ventilated and away from direct sunlight.
The safety margin of a drug or a medicinal herb measures the difference between the quantity of herb necessary to produce the desired effect and the dose that is likely to cause dangerous side effects: the greater the difference, the more safe is the herb.
Tulsi contains many bioactive substances, vitamins and minerals that help normalize the body’s functions, harmonizing where there is unbalance (formation/preservation of energy and tissue respiration, neurological system and neuro-hormones, hydro/electrolytic system). Tulsi is also employed to improve the efficacy of many herbal preparations.
Beneficial effects of Tulsi
Several publications of scientific studies carried out by different laboratories and institutes have confirmed that Tulsi claims a long list of beneficial effects on health due to the following properties:
- antistress, adaptogen and resistance promoter;
- beneficial effects on the central nervous system;
- antioxidant action;
• antimicrobial activity against bacteria, viruses and fungi;
• insecticide and insect repellent;
• anti-inflammatory and antipyretic action;
• anti-asthmatic and beneficial for the respiratory tract;
• immunomodulatory activity;
• reduces high blood pressure;
• positive action against cholesterol;
• anticoagulant and & antithrombotic;
• protective and curative action in case of gastric ulcers;
• beneficial in case of diabetes mellitus;
Further beneficial effects thanks to the following properties:
• analgesic action;
• antispasmodic action;
• higher tolerance to anoxia;
• preventive action in case of post-surgery peritoneal adhesions;
• hepatic protection.
The “salvific” herb
Salvia officinalis is the scientific name for a plant most commonly referred to as sage. It is one of the 1000 species of the genus Sage (extremely rich in species, both annual and perennial, used for food supply, for therapeutic purposes or simply for ornamental use) and belongs to the family of the Labiatae. It is native to the Mediterranean area and is widespread in countries with a mild climate; in Italy it can easily be found growing wild and is also commonly grown in vegetable gardens, as well. It prefers calcareous, rocky soils that are dry and sunny.
Sage is a small evergreen, much ramified shrub, with a woody, quadrangular trunk. The leaves are simple, opposite, oval or lanceolate, petiolate with a typical green-greyish colour; their glands are rich in volatile and aromatic essential oils, conferring an intense, characteristic smell. Blossoming takes place in spring, with an inflorescence in dense spikes formed by violet-blue flowers, their asymmetrical aspect typical of the Lamiaceae family, upper lip straight and three-lobe lower lip.
Its fruits form at the base of the flowers and contain minuscule, dark brown ovoid seeds. Nowadays its leaves are collected at the beginning of the flowering season, occurring in May – June, and are used to prepare herbal teas, decoctions o other preparations, mainly for their astringent, slightly antiseptic, hypoglycemic and stomachic therapeutic effects.
Sage has been known since ancient times: Egyptians, Greeks and Romans already appreciated its properties and during the Middle Ages the herb was considered as a panacea capable of healing all ailments. The name “sage” itself seems to witness its virtues, acknowledged centuries ago: in fact, the name “Salvia” coined by the ancient Romans comes from Latin and has the same root as the words meaning “to save” (salvus= healthy, saved) and “salus” (salus = salvation, but also good health), that indicate the virtues of the herb as a curative plant.
In addition, this plant, regarded as the miraculous herb par excellence, was named “Salvia salvatrix” , that is to say “Salvia that saves” (“Salvia salvatrix naturae conciliatrix”) at the Medical School of Salerno (southern Italy), one of the most popular medical schools during the Middle Age, considered the repository of ancient medical science: they said it brought relief to the nerves, acted as an antidote against poison, cured from paralysis and guaranteed a long and decent old age: “cur moriatur homo cui salvia crescit in horto?” (“Why on earth should somebody die if he grows sage in his garden?”).
The plant has always been appreciated for the virtues of its properties: it is no coincidence that the Swedish biologist and naturalist Linnaeus (father of the two-member nomenclature for the systemic classification of plants and animals), gave the plant the name “officinalis” around the mid-eighteenth century. The countless medicinal virtues of the plant have long been extolled, to the point that in Holland it became a profitable object of trade owing to is renowned virtues and it was exchanged with Chinese tea coming from oriental markets.
Denial of all such sensational virtues, however, came in the 19th century in the book “Istoria delle piante medicate” (History of medical plants) by P. Sangiorgio, in which the author abruptly confined the famous drug to the kitchen: “… claims made by barbaric medicine about the leaves of this plant are most unbelievable… It must be said, however, that sage has well defended itself from such slanders because now it is confined to the kitchen, to flavour dishes and little birds”. At any rate, today many of the several medicinal properties that had already been attributed to the plant in the past have been confirmed by recent scientific studies.
The plant contains 1 – 2,8% of essential oil, of which the main component is represented by thujone (alfa and beta-thujone), making up about around 35 – 60%; the remaining part of oil consists in terpenic substances (cineol, borneol, bornyl acetate, alfa and beta pinene, salvene, camphor, linalyl acetate, thujone, apart from other minor quantities of mono and sesquiterpenes). It is during the hot summer months that the plant produces greater quantities of essential oil; the high percentage of thujones, which are ketones with a neurotic action, make internal use recommended on medical prescription only; in fact, high doses can cause sialorrhea (hyper-salivation), vomiting and convulsions.
Apart from oil, the plant is particularly rich in polyphenolic compounds – over 160 have been identified, some of which are to be found only in this type of plant: in particular, rosmarinic, caffeic, chlorogenic, labiatic acid. Tannins, with their important astringent and antiseptic action, are well represented; bitter substances of terpenes (salvene, its methyl ether picrosalvene (= carnosol) and carnosic acid; flavonoids (5 – methoxy salvigenine and other flavones) responsible, together with phenolic acids, for the choleretic and spasmolytic action; they are also antiseptic and antioxidant; triterpenes (oleanolic acid and its derivatives). Other elements also present are: enzymes, peroxidase, oxydoreductases, vitamins B1 and C, mucilages, saponins, resins and estrogenic substances. And finally: oxalic, malic and phosphoric acid, asparagine, etc.
Beneficial effects of sage
Despite the fact that sage is well known for its aromatic properties and is widely used to season meat and add a special flavour to dishes in general, we must not forget that above all it is a plant rich in components with extraordinary medicinal properties. Limiting its use solely for its aromatic properties would mean depriving ourselves of a phytocomplex that is a source of useful active ingredients for our health, considering its much valued qualities:
- antimicrobial action
- digestive properties
- anti -inflammatory action
- hypoglycemic function
- pharmacological activity on the nervous system (sedative, hypnotic, analgesic action; relaxes skeletal muscles, enhances memory, anticonvulsive, neuroprotective).
Recent investigations have led to a further extension of the list of therapeutic properties of sage, thanks to studies conducted on man that have shown the beneficial effects in cases of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as its efficacy in inhibiting abstinence syndrome from ethanol and from morphine; finally, it has also proved to be beneficial in cases of hallucinations from disorders affecting the central nervous system.
Rosmarinic acid is a phenolic compound, a caffeic acid deritivative identified for the first time in rosmarin (Rosmarinus officinalis), which gives it its name. Remarkably widespread in nature, it is the main constituent of the phytocompound of plants belonging to the Labiatae family (including rosmarin, as well); it synthesizes as a metabolite with a defensive function, with a peak during flowering. Medicinal properties of plant extracts from the Labiatae family, naturally rich in rosmarinic acid, are well known and have been confirmed.
To mention a few examples, Salvia officinalis contains high quantities of rosmarinic acid and, typically in south European countries, it is used as a choleretic, antiseptic, astringent agent and to lower the level of blood glucose. In India, rosmarinic acid contained in Hyptis verticillata is used against gastrointestinal disorders and to treat eye affections. In Indonesia and in South East Asia, Orthisiphon aristatus, which also belongs to the Labiatae and contains a high concentration of rosmarinic acid, is known for its diuretic properties and is useful to fight bacterial infections. Not to mention other uses of Labiatae plants, among which Perilla frutescens, with conspicuous antiallergic and anti-inflammatory properties; Melissa officinalis and Prunella vulgaris, with acknowledged antiviral properties and the antiseptic Peppermint. Countless studies have verified and confirmed that the action of these plant extracts is mainly due to the presence of rosmarinic acid in the phytocompound.
Rosmarinic acid is 20% soluble in water and only 0,2% in vegetable oil. The presence of two phenolic rings in its structure confers remarkable properties, making it protective against free anti-radicals and antioxidant. In terms of bioavailability, it proves to be absorbable at both skin level and following oral administration. In fact, it has been proven that following dermal application of rosmarinic acid contained in a water/oil emulsion, bioavailability reaches 60%.
Because of this particular feature, together with its conspicuous anti-inflammatory properties, it is considered a promising natural anti-inflammatory for topical use. In case of oral administration, studies have shown that rosmarinic acid is absorbed at intestinal level; concentrations of rosmarinic acid and its metabolites are, in fact, to be found in both blood and urine (from ½ an hour to 8 hours in the blood after intake; from 8 to 18 hours in urine). In vivo studies have highlighted that after oral intake concentrations of rosmarinic acid are traceable in the whole organism, including the brain, proving that the substance is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier.
Rosmarinic acid has been approved by:
FDA: Revision of US21 Code of Federal Regulation, sections 101.22 and 182.20
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency): GRAS lists 3001 and 2992
CEE: 88/388/ECC e 88/344/ECC list 1 number 406.
Beneficial effects of rosmarinic acid
The considerable, growing scientific interest towards rosmarinic acid has sparked off investigation to prove its properties and potential for application. Numerous studies carried out have confirmed the usefulness of plant extracts known for their high concentration of rosmarinic acid and have validated the inclusion of this specific functional in health products aimed at many diverse fields of application. The properties that this compound can therefore claim are:
- protection for the nervous system
- antidepressant and anxiolytic
- hepatoprotective and hepatopurifier
The importance of the phytocomplex
As is by now surely clear, rosmarinic acid proves to be an extraordinary functional principle with multiple beneficial properties. As a main component present in many Labiatae, its action is not only effective but also safer if used harmonically combined with other components naturally present in plant extracts containing it.
It should therefore not be isolated from the phytocomplex to which it belongs; on the contrary, best results are when it is left to act in synergy with all the other functional ingredients, meaning both active principles present in the phytocomplex and secondary metabolites that, although not carrying out a direct health-related action, support and modulate the activity of the actual functional principles. So the use of rosmarinic acid means not only exploiting its incredible beneficial health properties but considering it as part of a harmonic, dynamic whole contained in the phytocomplex, always bearing in mind that the effects of a medicinal plant are never obtained using isolated active ingredients only.