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Explore the active constituents found on herbs!

Active Constituents!



Aescin is a saponin present in Horse chestnut used for its medicinal properties in many herbal remedies. One of the most important properties of aescin is its ability to constrict blood vessels (astringent property), making them less leaky and reducing this way swelling [6], increasing also venous tone [7]. This vasoconstriction property is similar to that one we saw in tannins present in wine and Witch hazel.

WARNING!: Horse chestnut is not edible. 



Alkaloids are one of the many possible types of active constituents found in herbs and plants. They are very powerful active constituents and very reactive, with also a very high biological activity.

Probably one of the most famous alkaloids is morphine, for its medical uses and powerful properties. Other less known but also very important alkaloids are serotonin, a powerful neurotransmitter, and tryptophan, an essential amino acid, and by essential we mean those ones our body can't produce itself, that helps regulating child growth, and is essential for the production of melatonin and serotonin. Image: Morguefile.



Anthocyanins are the most abundant type of flavonoid [1] and they are responsible for the blue or purple color present in blueberries, cherries, grapes, blackberries and many others fruits [2]. Actually a little bit more than 500 anthocyanins have been found [3] in different herbs, plants and natural sources.

In pomegranate for example anthocyanins are the only fatty acid that is believed to play an important role in the health benefits exerted by this fruit (apart from the polyphenolic content found on it and more specifically punicalagins, punicalins, gallagic acid, and ellagic acid that act as powerful antioxidants).



Apigenin is a natural flavonoid found in many herbs and fruits, as for example Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis). Other apigenin food sources include apples, celery and also some spices as oregano, tarragon, cilantro, basil, parsley, onions, oranges, tea, chamomile and wheat sprouts. Other apigenin herbs as endives and cloves have also a considerable amount of this active constituent.

Recent studies on different types of flavonoids and the benefits of a high dietary intake of fruits and vegetables suggest that the intake of fruits and vegetables rich in certain types of flavonoids, mainly apigenin, epigallocatechin gallate, delphinidin and genistein appear to be associated with a lower incidence and risk of cancer [9].



Carvacrol also known as cymophenol, (C6H3CH3(OH)(C3H7)); Present in Thymus vulgaris, Carum copticum, origanum and oregano essential oils [3], Carvacrol is a monoterpenic phenol that has been referenced in several clinical trials and scientific research studies as a powerful antibacterial agent against pathogenic fungi, yeast and bacteria as well as human, animal and plant pathogenic microorganisms including drug-resistant and biofilm forming microorganisms [1,2].

As in the case of Thymol, carvacrol has also exerted certain anti-cancer properties, among others against human hepatoma HepG2 cells [3]. In a study, carvacrol inhibited HepG2 cell growth by inducing apoptosis, exerting an anti-tumor effect that was not known yet.



Chalcones are natural phenols [7] that have an important antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties[7].

Chalcones are also responsible for the yellow pigmentation of petals and anthers [8] in certain flowers as Petunia on its early stages, but converted to colorless flavanones late on [10]. This type of flavonoids are less frequent, and they occurrence in nature is not so common, only about 24 different types of chalcones are known to occur in nature [9].

Warning: Some of these chalcones, as for example Flavokawain B found in Kava, an herb commonly used to treat mild anxiety, insomnia, and muscle fatigue, reported to have certain hepatotoxicity that may affect persons using Kava extracts to treat those affections, reason for which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European authorities have decided to restrict sales of kava-containing products. 



Ferulic acid is an organic compound found in many herbs and plants, and is also the active constituent with most proven anti-inflammatory and immunostimulatory effects that we can find in Dong quai root extracts. Ferulic acid can also be found in coffee, apples, oranges and as part of the herbs cell walls. It has been said that ferulic acid can exert certain anti-tumor properties against breast cancer and liver cancer.



Kaempferol is a type of flavonoid, a flavonol, found on natural sources as apples, broccoli, Witch hazel, tea, kenaf, cabbage, kale, beans, endive, leek, tomato, strawberries and grapes, as well as in herbs and plants frequently used in herbal remedies and traditional medicine (e.g. Ginkgo biloba, Tilia spp, Equisetum spp, Moringa oleifera, Sophora japonica and propolis).

It has been scientifically proven that the consumption of foods rich in kaempferol may reduce the risk of developing health problems such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Among the properties of Kaempferol we can mention its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-oxidant, anticancer, cardioprotective, neuroprotective, anti-diabetic, anti-osteoporotic, estrogenic/antiestrogenic, anxiolytic, analgesic and antiallergic activities [1].



Pectin is a complex carbohydrate, a heteropolysaccharide found in citrus fruits, specially on citrus peels, where the content of pectins can reach up to 30%. Other fruits rich in pectin are carrots, oranges, apples and apricots(1).



Polyphenols are active constituents of many well known herbs and plants, some of them use in traditional herbal remedies, known to interact on different ways against carcinogenesis, tumor cell proliferation, apoptosis, metastasis and inflammation. They also exert powerful antioxidant properties. In olives polyphenols contribute to give a bitter taste to olives and act also as astringents.



Quercetin is a flavonol, a type of flavonoid with very powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties found in many fruits as apple, green and black tea, onions, leaves, vegetables and even grains, but really known to be the flavonoid contained on apple peal.

Quercetin is also naturally available in red wine and in some fruits and vegetables present in the Mediterranean diet [7]. It has a direct influence in the colour of the herbs, fruits and plants rich in this flavonoid. Due to the above-mention antioxidant function it is also believed to help preventing cancer.



Saponins are natural compounds found in many plants and herbs [1]. There are three types different types of saponins classified depending on the genin present on them, which are Steroid glycosides, Triterpene glycosides and Steroid alkaloid glycosides.

Saponins have a very characteristic bitter taste, similar to tannins in wine and which may be familiar to those of you who have tried some of the herbs rich in saponins as calendula, asparagus (Asparagus officinalis), alfalfa (Medicago sativa) or burdock.

Saponins display a broad spectrum of pharmacological and biological activity, and have been used as feed additives with beneficial properties [2], some of which may include depression effects on the central nervous system as well as a vasodilator action [4] similar to the one produced by ginseng intake.

Some reported antifungal actions may be able to suppress some pathogenic fungi [5]. For some plants and herbs saponins are the only defence to protect against insect attacks, being able to also inhibit mould [6]



Thymol (2-isopropyl-5-methylphenol, IPMP); This aromatic monoterpene is responsible for the distinctive and strong flavour of thyme, thymol is known to exert powerful antiseptic and antioxidative [1] properties.

It is believed that thymol played an important role on ancient Egipt embalming techniques and was mainly one of the reasons why thyme was so effectively used for embalming in that ancient culture. In spite its antiseptique properties, thymol has also exerted certain anti-cancer properties against certain melanoma cell lines, thymol showed moderate cytotoxicity but not an antimelanogenic effect on B16-F10 melanoma cells [1].



Vitamin A is very important, not only for our hair health but also as part of our regular daily intake of vitamins and minerals.

The role of vitamin A is crucial when we talk about hair health. Vitamin A also helps with other functions in our bodies, as i.e. it increases also our capabilities to learn and memorize.

In spite vitamin A is quite important it's not 'the most important' vitamin for our hair, but it's important to understand its role.

Excess of vitamin A is said to be detrimental for our hair health, as it may cause hair loss. Aliments rich on vitamin A are fat cheese, spinach, apricots, lettuce, parsley, butte, and many others.



Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): Vitamin B5 is known for its benefits for the health of our hair, this has been scientifically proven.

If you increase your intake of those aliments you may decrease your chances to loose your hair, or at least it will not be as drastically lost as it would be with a diet poor in vitamin B5 aliments. Additionally the lack or deficiency of vitamin B5 can cause other problems as fatigue and overall weakness.

Some studies suggest the link between the lack of Pantothenic acid and the incidence of acne vulgaris in factors that are superior to the hormonal ones.