Finding new uses for 'old' herbs like hops, rose hip and rhubarb, could lead to market success, attendees at SupplySide West heard yesterday.
New science into the potential health benefits of 'established' herbals and botanicals suggests a bright future for a variety of preparations, Mark Blumenthal from the American Botanical Council told over 100 attendees in Las Vegas.
In what was an overview, and not an endorsement, of the science behind a range of herbals and botanicals, Blumenthal told NutraIngredients.com that finding "new uses for old herbs" is "very hot" for the industry.
During his review, Blumenthal said that the science was preliminary but very suggestive for select herbals and botanicals, including corn leaves for mood and depression, a yeast fermentate for immune health, Danish rose hip for bone health, and hops for inflammation.
If further research adds to these preliminary studies, these established classics could see another string added to their bow of potential health benefits.
Many of the herbals and botanicals identified by Blumenthal are proprietary ingredients, and the science included at least one clinical trial, published or unpublished, suggesting activity or efficacy.
The Danish rose hip powder, not an extract but a powdered form of a specific species of rose hip, shows potential for bone health, he said, with seven published and unpublished clinical trials suggesting a role for reducing swelling and pain associated with osteoarthritis. Indeed, a new study is said to be in press using the proprietary herbal, marketed as i-flex (or Herbal Vital, or Litozin) by Langeland.
"Rose-hip is a traditional food," said Blumenthal. "There have been no compalints on safety, but will people take a five gram per day dose?"
Also highlighted was an extract from non-GMO corn leaves (Maizinol, Unigen), which can reportedly alter mood and ease mild-to-moderate depression, according to a report in Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology. This is due to the presence of a melatonin analogue in the leaves.
Another herbal to keep an eye on is Embria's EpiCor yeast fermentate for immune health. Workers in an animal feed factory exposed to high levels of the yeast fermentate were observed to have lower medical claims than average. Further study has reportedly revealed anti-inflammatory properties and a reduction in the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections.
Next year could see the arrival of Phytostrol N-ERr731 (Muller-Goppingen, Germany), a rhubarb root extract, in the US market, said Blumenthal. Two trials that produced three published reports showed a reduction in menopause symptoms such as anxiety. The herbal has been commercially available in Germany since 1993, with introduction into the US, based on a successful NDI process, expected for 2008.
Blumenthal also noted that there is suggestive evidence that extracts from hops could play a role in reducing inflammation. Ten published trials, with a further seven under review, point to a potential role for the proprietary herbals Luduxin and Tetrase for the management of joint health and inflammation, respectively, he said.
Blumenthal said that his presentation did not represent an endorsement by the ABC of the preparations and their potential health benefits, or of the science reported.
He also highlighted that more research was necessary to further substantiate these preliminary results.