Botanical Research Highlights

By Maged Sharaf, PhD, American Herbal Products Association | January 4, 2017

The following is a summary of recent research on botanicals and plant compounds.

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), Silver Spring, MD, regularly reviews scientific literature for new research that may be useful to the herbal products and dietary supplement industries. The following are some recent articles published in peer-reviewed journals.
Resveratrol for type 2 diabetes with chronic periodontitis
This double-blind study looked at the impact of resveratrol supplementation and non-surgical periodontal treatment on blood glucose, insulin, insulin resistance, triglycerides, and periodontal markers in patients with type 2 diabetes and periodontal disease. The mean serum levels of fasting insulin and insulin resistance were significantly lower in the intervention group compared with the control group.
The Impact of Resveratrol Supplementation on Blood Glucose, Insulin, Insulin Resistance, Triglyceride, and Periodontal Markers in Type 2 Diabetic Patients with Chronic Periodontitis. Phytotherapy Research. Nov. 3, 2016
Chemical profile of leaves of 19 artichoke cultivars
Total phenolic, flavonoid, and sesquiterpene lactone content, as well as radical scavenging and antioxidant capacity, were determined in leaves of 19 artichoke cultivars. The phenolic profile of leaf extracts from different cultivars was widely diverse.
Phenolic Compounds and Sesquiterpene Lactones Profile in Leaves of Nineteen Artichoke Cultivars. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Oct. 28, 2016
Estrogenic activity of hyperforin
This free article documented that hyperforin of St. John’s wort showed in vitro estrogenic and cell proliferation activities, which were stimulated via the estrogen receptor. Compared to 17β-estradiol, hyperforin activities were significantly lower.
Estrogenic Activity of Hyperforin in MCF-7 Human Breast Cancer Cells Transfected with Estrogen Receptor. Planta Medica. July 2016
Magnetic microbead affinity selection screening
A magnetic microbead affinity selection screening (MagMASS) procedure was developed and validated for the identification of natural 15-lipoxygenase inhibitors in botanical extracts. The method was used to screen methanol extracts of North American prairie plants. Quercitrin was identified in the extract of Proserpinaca palustris as the source of activity. Quercitrin is a known 15-lipoxygenase inhibitor. MagMASS utilizes target proteins immobilized on magnetic beads for rapid bioaffinity isolation of ligands from complex mixtures.
Magnetic Microbead Affinity Selection Screening (MagMASS) of Botanical Extracts for Inhibitors of 15-Lipoxygenase. Journal of Natural Products. Nov. 1, 2016
Soy and gut microbiota: Interaction and implication for human health
This review summarized current knowledge of the effects of soy foods and soy components on gut microbiota population and composition. The authors concluded that “in general, both animal and human studies have shown that consumption of soy foods can increase the levels of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli and alter the ratio between Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. These changes in microbiota are consistent with reported reductions in pathogenic bacteria populations in the gut, thereby lowering the risk of diseases and leading to beneficial effects on human health.”    
Soy and Gut Microbiota: Interaction and Implication for Human Health. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Oct. 31, 2016
EFSA novel, traditional food guidance
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published two guidance documents on novel food and traditional food from third countries to help ensure that these foods are safe before risk managers decide whether they can be marketed in Europe. The regulation is effective January 2018 and introduces a centralized assessment and authorization procedure.
Guidance on the Preparation and Presentation of the Notification and Application for Authorisation of Traditional Foods from Third Countries in the Context of Regulation (EU) 2015/2283. European Food Safety Authority Journal. Nov. 10, 2016
Monacolin K from red yeast rice reduces LDL-C
In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, participants consumed 3 mg monacolin K and 200 μg folic acid per day. A significant reduction of low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C), total cholesterol, and homocysteine was observed after 12 weeks. No significant changes were exhibited in the placebo group. No intolerances or serious adverse events were observed.   
Low Daily Dose of 3 mg Monacolin K from RYR Reduces the Concentration of LDL-C in a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Intervention. Nutrition Research. October 2016
Determination of withanolides in Withania somnifera 
An LC method was developed and single-laboratory validated for analyzing Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) raw material (root) and dried extracts for withanolide content, including withanoside IV, withanoside V, withaferin A, 12-deoxywithastromonolide, withanolide A, and withanolide B. The method was reviewed by the AOAC Expert Review Panel on Dietary Supplements and approved for First Action Official Method status.
Determination of Withanolides in Withania somnifera by Liquid Chromatography: Single-Laboratory Validation, First Action 2015.17. Journal of AOAC International. November-December 2016
Mechanisms of Ophiocordyceps sinensis pharmacological activities
This review summarized the pharmacological activities of the components of Ophiocordyceps sinensis and their putative mechanisms of actions. The authors compared cultured mycelial products to wild-harvested.
The Mechanisms of Pharmacological Activities of Ophiocordyceps sinensis Fungi. Phytotherapy Research. October 2016

Maged Sharaf, PhD
American Herbal Products Association (AHPA)

Maged Sharaf, PhD, is the chief science officer of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the national trade association with a focus primarily on herbs and herbal products. AHPA’s membership represents U.S. and international growers, processors, manufacturers, marketers and institutes specializing in botanicals and herbal products. Before AHPA, Dr. Sharaf was the director, Foods, Dietary Supplements and Herbal Medicines at the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP). Before USP he was pharmacy associate professor and has preceding experience conducting bioanalytical assay development and validation, and human bioequivalence studies in support of the pharmaceutical industry; and quality control and manufacturing of pharmaceutical dosage forms. He can be reached at 301-588-1171; E-mail:; Website:

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