Please welcome Ayesha to Super Botanic’s blog! Ayesha is a certified Nutritional Therapist (mBANT) (rCNHC) and skin expert who like us has a passion for herbs. Ayesha offers support women who struggle with acne and eczema to rebalance their bodies and regain their wellbeing through her online service Nutrition by Ayesha.
Herbal medicine has become increasingly popular for many years now. The major use of herbal medicine is for health promotion and therapy for chronic, as opposed to life threatening conditions. However, usage of traditional remedies increases when conventional medicine is ineffective in the treatment of diseases. Herbs are known for their scent, flavour and most importantly their therapeutic properties and used mainly for the maintenance and improvement of overall health.
As a huge lover of herbs, I wanted to discuss three of my favourite herbs: Matcha, Amla and Saffron.
What is matcha?
Matcha is a type of green tea made by taking young tea leaves and grinding them into a bright green powder making it completely nutrient dense. What is different about the green tea leaves used to produce Matcha, is that is grows on green tea plants that are covered with cloth about three weeks before the harvest. This prevents the leaves from exposure to the sun. It is known that matcha tea contains 137 times more antioxidants than regularly brewed green tea and 1 cup of Matcha tea is equivalent to 10 cups of regularly brewed green tea. The taste of matcha is determined by the number of amino acids in the powder. Matcha made of younger leaves has a sweeter and more intense taste than those containing older leaves, which are harvested later in the year. With matcha you will be drinking the whole tea leaves therefore its numerous health benefits explain why this is such an amazing herb that we all need to add to our daily routine.
Health benefits of Matcha;
· It is packed with antioxidants including the powerful EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) (1)
· Boots metabolism and burns calories (2)
· Detoxifies liver and intestines effectively and naturally (3)
· Contains L Theanine which helps to calm the mind and relax the body (4)
· Is rich in fibre and chlorophyll which can replenish the blood (5) and may reduce constipation
· Enhances mood and aids in concentration (6)
· Provides Vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium
· Can strengthen immune system (7) and prevent and treat certain forms of cancer.
· Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar (8)
My matcha latte recipe:
1 cup of dairy free milk of choice
1/2 tsp of organic matcha powder
1/2 tsp of moringa powder
1 tsp coconut sugar
1/2 tsp coconut oil
Add all the ingredients to a pan, heat for 5 minutes, stir and enjoy! Tip: you can also use a hot chocolate maker to make this.
What is amla?
Amla also known as “Indian Gooseberry” is used as a rejuvenator in Ayurveda. It is also called Emblica Officinalis. Amla is a natural rich source of energy and extremely abundant in vitamin C. It enhances physical and mental health and helps to rejuvenate the body by increasing immunity, improving eyesight and enhancing memory.
Health benefits of Amla
· Helps fight against the common cold (9)
· Helps to lower cholesterol levels and helps to maintain HDL levels (10)
· Aids weight loss, controls obesity, and helps those who suffer with diabetes and cardiovascular issues (11)
· Can improve digestive function as it stimulates secretion of digestive juices therefore aiding better absorption of nutrients.
· Excellent anti-inflammatory properties and studies have shown the effectiveness of Amla extract for hay fever, arthritis, osteoporosis, joint pain and cancer (12)
· Supports blood sugar regulation (13)
· Helps with skin regeneration and can help fight against the signs of ageing (14)
· Excellent stimulator for hair growth and helps to combat premature greying (15)
Amla is readily available as either a powder form which can be added to tea, drinks, or smoothies. It is also available as a powder filled capsule form which is great for on the go. Lastly it is found in many hair care products as an oil to aid hair growth. However, the fruit itself is rare to find but commonly found in places like India or Asia.
Saffron is a spice that comes from the crocus sativas plant. When the crocus blooms, it has purple petals, yellow stamen and three dark orange stigma. These three threadlike strands are plucked and dried to produce the spice saffron. It is shown to be expensive because it mainly harvested by hand, and it can take 75,000 crocus flowers to produce a single pound of dried saffron.
Saffron has a strong aroma and a beautiful colour and acts a natural sedative and expectorant. It is rich source of antioxidants and contains the following compounds: crocin, crocetin, kemperanol and safranal. As per studies, they protect your cells against both free radicals and oxidative stress. (16)
Health benefits of Saffron:
1. Powerful antioxidant
2. Treats depressive symptoms and improves mood
3. Contains cancer fighting properties whereby it can help neutralise destructive free radicals (17) chronic inflammation
4. Reduces PMS symptoms which manifest before the onset of a menstrual period, and it can be shown that 30mg of daily intake of saffron is more effective than the placebo treatment (18)
5. Reduces appetite and enhances weight loss
6. Can improve skin texture, tone, pigmentation and scarring
Ways to use saffron:
Saffron is known as the king of spices owing to its uniqueness. Although it is the most expensive spice, a little goes a long way. You may not require more than a pinch to impart flavour to your recipes. There are some aspects to be mindful of when buying and consuming saffron:
· Check for quality of saffron.
· Superior quality is always a bunch of long red, bright strands with orange tendrils and a trumpet-shaped flute on the end.
· Avoid powdered saffron as its usually mixed with many fillers.
· The colour of the saffron doesn’t change if you dip it in water or milk.
· It has a pungent and musty taste with a sweet flavour fragrance.
These are valid points when looking for a good quality pure saffron. It is most used in Persian and Indian Cooking, but also can be infused into milk and tea for added beneficial flavour.
At Super Botanic we also love Saffron and have added Affron® (a patented and clinically proven (8+ studies) saffron extract) to our Ashwagandha KSM-66 to really create the ultimate calming combo.
1. Kochman, J. et al 2020. Health Benefits and Chemical Composition of Matcha Green Tea: A Review. Molecules, 26(1), p.8
2. Hursel, R. et al 2009. Effects of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance. A meta-analysis. Appetite, 52(3), p.838.
3. Balder, H. et al 2006. Heme and Chlorophyll Intake and Risk of Colorectal Cancer in the Netherlands Cohort Study. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 15(4), pp.717-725.
4. Gomez-Ramirez, M. et al 2007. The Deployment of Intersensory Selective Attention. Clinical Neuropharmacology, 30(1), pp.25-38.
5. Schwalfenberg, G., 2012. The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health?. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2012, pp.1-7.
6. Park, S. et al 2011. A Combination of Green Tea Extract and l-Theanine Improves Memory and Attention in Subjects with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study. Journal of Medicinal Food, 14(4), pp.334-343.
7. Morris, H. et al 2007. Immunostimulant activity of an enzymatic protein hydrolysate from green microalga Chlorella vulgaris on undernourished mice. Enzyme and Microbial Technology, 40(3), pp.456-460.
8. Zheng, X. et al 2011. Green tea intake lowers fasting serum total and LDL cholesterol in adults: a meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 94(2), pp.601-610.
9. Poltanov, E et al 2009. Chemical and antioxidant evaluation of Indian gooseberry (emblica officinalis gaertn., syn. phyllanthus emblica L.) supplements. Phytotherapy Research, 23(9), pp.1309-1315.
10. Upadya, H. et al 2019. A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled, multicenter clinical trial to assess the efficacy and safety of Emblica officinalis extract in patients with dyslipidemia. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 19(1).
11. Nazish, I. and Ansari, S., 2017. Emblica officinalis – Anti-obesity activity. Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, 15(2).
12. Wang, C. et al 2016. Anti-inflammatory Effects of Phyllanthus emblica L on Benzopyrene-Induced Precancerous Lung Lesion by Regulating the IL-1β/miR-101/Lin28B Signaling Pathway. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 16(4), pp.505-515.
13. Sharma, P. et al 2020. In silico screening of potential antidiabetic phytochemicals from Phyllanthus emblica against therapeutic targets of type 2 diabetes. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 248, p.112268.
14. Fujii, T. et al 2008. Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn.) extract promotes procollagen production and inhibits matrix metalloproteinase-1 in human skin fibroblasts. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 119(1), pp.53-57.
15. Yu, J. et al 2017. Preclinical and Clinical Studies Demonstrate That the Proprietary Herbal Extract DA-5512 Effectively Stimulates Hair Growth and Promotes Hair Health. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2017, pp.1-11.
16. Moshiri, M et al, 2014. Clinical Applications of Saffron (Crocus sativus) and its Constituents: A Review. Drug Research, 65(06), pp.287-295.
17. Khansari, et al 2009. Chronic Inflammation and Oxidative Stress as a Major Cause of Age- Related Diseases and Cancer. Recent Patents on Inflammation & Allergy Drug Discovery, 3(1), pp.73-80.
18. Lopresti, A. and Drummond, P., 2014. Saffron (Crocus sativus) for depression: a systematic review of clinical studies and examination of underlying antidepressant mechanisms of action. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 29(6), pp.517-527.