Last Updated on August 6, 2020
Antioxidants are great when fighting candida yeast overgrowth. Here are 11 great antioxidants that you should incorporate in your diet.
1. White Tea
Green tea has long since been appreciated as an effective antioxidant, but in more recent years it would seem that white tea is becoming even more well recognized for its health benefits.
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There is however no secret to the benefits of white tea because it is not a special or new variety discovered to contain additional phytochemicals. White tea is exactly the same strain as both green and black teas (Camellia sinesis) but it is simply picked at an earlier or immature stage of development.
Yet the superior properties of white tea are not simply attributed to the fact that it’s picked at an earlier stage of growth but also because the younger leaf needs much less processing than its more mature counterparts. And these are at least 2 factors which are thought to assist in it retaining a much higher level of polyphenols.
A third factor contributing to its superior health effects relate to how it is processed compared to other teas. For example, when it comes to black tea the leaves of the shrub are not only fermented but this process can take as long as a month to complete. To produce green tea the leaves are dried and this process takes a few days. But when it comes to the young white tea the leaves are not only steamed but this is done immediately after harvesting. This means that white tea has a much higher proportion of antioxidants than either black or green not only because it is steamed but also because the compounds in the leaves have a very limited time in which to oxidize and lose their medicinal value.
Because white tea has a much higher number of antioxidants this results in fewer free radicals within the body and the end result is a win-win situation all round. Although much of the research which exists focuses on the ability of white tea to kill cancer cells, what we do know about antioxidants is that they reduce cell damage all round and this is why white tea is being strongly promoted as not only a fatigue reducer but also for its potential to limit age damage to the skin.
2. Shiitake Mushroom
Although in the Western world we are accustomed to using mushrooms for culinary purposes, Asian and exotic fungi have long since been utilized in a variety of ways as traditional medicine. Yet it is only now that science is investigating how and why these common foods have beneficial effects and much of the emerging research supports the fact that fungi have numerous and varied medicinal benefits. Of all the exotic fungi investigated one of the most studied is that of the Shiitake mushroom.
Although much of the recent research undertaken has investigated the effects of mushrooms relating to their ability to both prevent and reverse various forms of cancer, Shiitake mushrooms have been studied in respect of their ability to improve the strength of the immune system and correspondingly reducing inflammation which is often caused by the immune system itself. A small, but significant study published in 2015 examined the effects of eating one 4 ounce serving of Shittake mushrooms per day for four weeks on people aged between 21 and 41. The results showed striking improvements in both immune and inflammatory responses and this, it has to be remembered, was achieved not in sick adults or the elderly but in people who were thought to be free from illness or aging 1.
By strengthening the immune system and reducing inflammatory responses the overall health of those ingesting Shiitake mushrooms could be much improved and suggestions were made that this could be achieved by eating the equivalent of only one Shiitake per day and thus it may well maintain health rather than simply helping to restore health when we become ill.
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3. Goji Berries
Goji Berries (Lycium barbarum) were initially marketed to the Western world as a superfood and although some people subsequently questioned their efficacy emerging research has more than restored their status in providing potential health and medicinal benefits.
One of the most active elements in Goji berries are lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBPs) and it is this aspect which has initiated much of the interest from the medical and scientific communities. There are suggestions that LBPs may be effective in an extremely broad range of conditions ranging from cancer to diabetes and through to improving general well-being on a day-to-day basis.
Although we might discuss ‘well-being’ as a broad yet indistinct concept, there are numerous biochemical processes which go toward enhancing or conversely inhibiting this overall feeling.When we talk of our well-being what we really mean is that we are functioning at optimum levels on both a physical and emotional level and often, even when it comes to emotional optimization, it is our physical well-being that influences this.
Well-being is in fact a response to how well we are functioning both emotionally and physically and when it comes to Goji berries it would seem that the LBPs it contains have been suggested to significantly improve both physical conditions and those more closely accepted has having psychological impact such as Alzheimer’s.
There is now a lot of research in existence which shows that Goji berries and the influence of LBPs in particular are worthy of further investigation. This clinical update reveals that studies have shown it to have positive influences on everything from liver function to glaucoma and, of course, it is thought to enhance that feeling of general ‘well-being.’ 2
4. Reishi Mushrooms
When it comes to Reishi mushrooms much of the research which has been undertaken focuses on one particular active compound contained within the fungi and the compound in question is ganoderma. Although ganoderma has underpinned many studies examining the effects on a diverse range of ailments, one which stands out is the ability to reduce fatigue in patients undergoing specific treatments for cancer. Because most studies are performed on animals or in the laboratory, their potential for success in the human form can sometimes be debatable. However in this case the extract was given to patients in a real life situation and it provided significant positive results 3.
Of course the implications of ganoderma relieving the symptoms of fatigue in a wide variety of situations is now open to further investigation.
Yet when it comes to complimentary treatments and medicines it is nature that provides the recipe for success and often this does not tally with the workings of modern science. More often than not in an effort to identify why and how a natural compound is successful, scientists will analyze the components, isolate what they believe to be the most powerful compound and examine the effects. Yet Reishi, as with all natural treatments, is not a compound in isolation. In fact the quote by Artistotle, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ could perhaps reflect this scenario more accurately than any other.
It has long since been recognized that even though there may be a significantly powerful element in a natural treatment, this alone, even when given in large quantities, will not produce the effects that all the parts do when working together. Of course, it will often take scientists many decades to not only establish how and why each individual compound works and interacts with another, but simply to isolate and identify them!
Astragalus is an herb which in Asian medicine comes under the category of an adaptogen. This means the compound has the ability not to target a specific condition, but to provide the body with access to its store of phytochemicals which will bring it back to a state of harmony or homeostatis. Adaptogens assist the body in dealing with the 3 main types of stressors it may face which are biological, chemical and physical. In doing so the compound should normalize the states and it should achieve this by exerting or influencing only the affected areas of the body. This means your body should only use the amount of the compound it needs but also that it should not cause significant side-effects. This is contrary to modern drugs where you will often hear that side-effects are to be expected. This is because modern drugs act on more than one part of the body whether it needs it or not. Contemporary medications will have effects even if you are fully fit.
Astragalus is recorded as having many beneficial effects, however as an adaptogen it can also be used in a protective capacity to assist the body in resisting stressors and therefore preventing illnesses from arising.
Most of the research performed using this particular herb has either been in a laboratory or used in patients suffering from life-threatening conditions and undertaking aggressive treatments. The research has not been performed to establish whether or not the herb can stop, slow or reverse the condition itself but usually used to establish if it can mitigate the symptoms arising from the treatments. In some cases, such as in chemotherapy treatments, patients have experienced relief and particularly from the fatigue which normally occurs. One study however, undertaken in 2002, looked specifically at whether it reduced fatigue in athletes and concluded that it did increase oxygen uptake, increase its utility and therefore reduced fatigue 4. Although there are many different varieties of astragalus the one used in medications uses the latin name, Astragalus membranaceus (Huang qi) and it is this variety that potential purchasers should keep an eye out for.
6. Licorice (Liquorice)
Licorice has been a traditional treatment for numerous medical conditions for many, many centuries. Few people however realize that in its more natural forms it is also used topically to aid wound healing. More recently licorice has been the subject of some concerns when it is provided in its whole form because of suspected side effects, however most of the licorice you buy in supplement form is the deglycyrrhizinated version which is not thought to produce the same problems.
Research into the medicinal properties is ongoing however licorice is thought to help with the common cold, acid reflux and has been proven to aid the reduction of phlegm in respect of various breathing problems as it acts as an expectorant.
More recently licorice has been studied not in respect of maintaining health but with regard to its potential as a weight loss aid. One study performed in 2003 found that even in people who were healthy taking a regular amount of commercial preparation licorice every day for for 2 months reduced body fat mass despite body mass index remaining static 5.
It is not recommended that commercial preparation licorice is consumed every day to directly target weight loss, but it may be useful to consume small amounts of extract as an aid to maintaining healthy weight levels.
Clearly the many traditional uses of licorice both as a topical application and ingestible treatment are now being found by science to have some substance. It remains to be seen exactly how, what most in contemporary society know as a candy, can be proven to help with the diverse range of conditions it has historically been shown to relieve.
Cordyceps is a fungi although not one we would immediately recognize. It is in fact parasitic and forms after invading the body of an insect or occasionally, another fungi. There are many species of cordyceps and not only do the majority have some historical use in treating disease, but many have undergone scientific study and their phytochemical compounds have been used to treat disease in contemporary medicine.
The drugs which have been developed from various pharmacological properties provided by different strains of cordyceps have been used not only in cases where organ rejection has been a possibility but also in respect of multiple sclerosis and renal failure.
One area which has received extensive interest from the scientific community particularly in Asia, has been the positive influence of cordyceps on hyposexuality or low libido. Such has been the significant effects that since the late 1980s dozens of experiments have been performed and they continue to this time 6.
However like astragalus, cordyceps is considered to be an adaptogen and this could well be the reason for the fungi reporting positive or significant results when used to ascertain its effectiveness against such a diverse range of conditions. As we know adaptogens normalize the metabolism and assist in it resisting the physical stressors which result in illness. When it comes to its adaptogenic capabilities cordyceps is noted for having 2 principle properties: firstly it increases oxygen capacity and secondly it increases something known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which provides fuel for all the cells in the body. When this happens then we have enough energy to keep our bodies performing in the way we expect them to 7.
So, when it comes to cordyceps being proven to increase energy levels then there certainly is the research to support not only that this does happen, but why.
8. Schizandra Berry
This herbal supplement had essentially been hidden from the West up until recent decades. Most studies undertaken which assessed its efficacy as an adaptogen were performed in Russia when it was closed to the rest of the world. Since Russia opened up its doors these studies revealed it had been proven significantly effective in treating an extensive range of conditions and diseases.
The pharmacological properties of schizandra berry are far too extensive to go into any detail here, however it has been proven to have benefits in respect of smooth muscle function, which are muscles which function automatically rather than consciously for example those involved in circulatory function such as venous muscles. It has also been shown to be beneficial in providing the body with protection from specific stressors including:
- Aspectic inflammation
- Heat shock
- Heavy metal toxicity
- Skin burn
As with other adaptogens it appears to increase oxygen levels allowing better breathing control and function under emotional and physical stressors and also improves metabolic functioning in healthy individuals8.
More recently a study indicated that this particular phytochemical was able to assist in reducing muscle atrophy and particularly the levels of acidity which are associated with degenerative muscle conditions. This finding is of sufficient significance to suggest that the pharmacological properties of schizandra berry have the potential to assist with conditions and situations which produce detrimental effects on muscle function. The implications of course are not simply assigned to areas of illness but could also be of benefit to those who participate in athletics or are simply looking to improve general well-being of muscles on a daily basis9.
9. Silymarin – Milk Thistle
Silibin is the primary active constituent contained within silymarin which in itself is an extract of Milk Thistle seeds. Although it is deemed to have many pharmacological properties the one which has achieved the most notoriety concerns itself with liver function. The drug has been tested on a variety of conditions associated with the liver including hepatitis whether viral or induced and cirrhosis. The findings vary but overall there is still enough interest in the beneficial properties of this herbal treatment to ensure that research study are not only extensive but are still on-going.
Other areas where silymarin has been studied relate to nasal symptoms arising from allergic reactions, as an antioxidant and particularly in respect of certain toxicity situations. It has also been used to increase fertility, to mitigate diabetic neuropathy and positively affect sugar absorption in diabetics. It was also indicated in reducing cholesterol levels when given with standard contemporary medications. Silymarin has also been used for osteoarthritis and, when applied topically, as a treatment for skin damaged through irradiation.
Other uses which silymarin is suggested to help include heartburn, neurodegenerative disorders and even menopausal symptoms. Silymarin has even been shown to provide some benefits to patients suffering from obsessive compulsive disorders although these have not yet been proven to outweigh the benefits of contemporary medications. It is though suggested that further research is performed on all these conditions to establish firm conclusions with regard to the benefit silymarin may provide whether alone or in conjunction with prescribed treatments.
However there can be little doubt that silymarin has been successful in providing relief from the symptoms arising from a broad range of conditions even if is has not yet been proven to resolve the cause of such conditions or reverse their effects totally. In most cases many people taking silymarin do so as a preventative and to maintain optimal health.
10. Chinese Skullcap
As an herbal treatment Chinese skullcap has been used for centuries to treat a broad range of ailments. It has now been accepted that Chinese skullcap does have proven medicinal benefits particularly when it comes to the flavonoid compounds contained within it and providing both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities. However scientists are currently unable to explain how these are manufactured within the plant and to explain exactly how they work. Very recently though further advances have been made with the Chinese skullcap in respect of anti-cancer properties. The plant, and in particular two flavones it contains, wogonin and baicalin, appear to be capable of killing cancer cells but leave healthy cells undamaged due to their lacking an -OH (hydroxyl) group.
Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) which is known in China as Huang Qin, was, as recently as April 2016, discovered to produce flavones different to other plants because the enzymes which are normally involved are some which are not only previously unidentified but they are actually produced by a building block called chrysin which was also previously unknown. This means that the plant acts on different metabolic pathways to other plant based flavones and so can provide a reason as to why it is effective 10.
By establishing just how this particular herbal root differs in its structure comparative to other phytochemical treatments, it is possible that the gateway has been opened for more intensive investigation into the medicinal benefits of it. And, although traditionally and anecdotally Chinese skullcap has been noted as a distinctive treatment for conditions such as fevers, liver and lung diseases, it may well prove that in the future it can be used to treat illnesses which arise as a direct result of cancerous growths.
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11. Maitake Mushroom Extract
Maitake are a fungi originating in Japan but which are now cultivated in both the US and Europe. They are sometimes alternatively known as the Dancing Mushroom or Hen of the Woods.
The botanical name for the Maitake is Grifola frondosa and either the whole extract or compounds isolated from it have been used to research potential efficacy in a variety of conditions. Although many of the studies concerned were carried out in the laboratory there are indications that the fungi may assist in a variety of conditions. These include tests which indicate that the mushroom induces apoptosis or celll death in certain cancer cells and also that it has the potential to stimulate the immune system. Maitake has also been shown to lower blood sugar levels, a process known as a hypoglycemic effect, which indicates it may be helpful in assisting to manage diabetic conditions.
However Maitake is possibly most well known for the results arising from a research study performed on patients suffering from breast cancer which showed that the fungi could stimulate the immune system and help the body to fight the condition.
There is no doubt that the Maitake is worthy of further research when it comes to cancer fighting properties, as in laboratory experiments the results of which were published in 2009, showed that when a particular compound PDF (proteoglucan D-fraction) was used in conjunction with an established contemporary drug, the results showed that significant apoptosis in bladder cancer cells11.
Maitake has also been examined in respect of the antioxidants it contains which indicate it is a good source of compounds which will fight oxidative stress and so induce healthy cell development.
1. Xiaoshuang Dai, Joy M. Stanilka, Cheryl A. Rowe, Elizabethe A. Esteves, Carmelo Nieves, Samuel J. Spaiser, Mary C. Christman, Bobbi Langkamp-Henken, Susan S. Percival. ConsumingLentinula edodes(Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2015; 1 DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2014.950391