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HerbSprout Microbiome Blog -


Herbsprout is a webblog and podcast dedicated to sharing the health benefits of herbs, food, innovations, and our gut microbiome. Herbsprout seeks to bridge the vast chasm dividing the mainstream medical community, alternative medicine, and Asian medicine, especially of China (TCM), India (Ayurveda), and Japan (eJim & Kampo).

Chinese herbs ginseng and coicis seed relieve ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome

Coicix seed Coicix seed
Natural products play an important role in the improvement of gastrointestinal tract function. Several Chinese medicine products such as Red Ginseng and Semen Coicis were found to relieve the symptoms of ulcerative colitis (UC). After Red Ginseng and Semen Coicis treatment in rats, the structure of gut microbiota was altered, which may be beneficial for promoting the growth of probiotics, such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, and for inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria. It is a Chinese medicine (TCM) and a nourishing food in China for the treatment of warts, chapped skin, rheumatism, neuralgia, inflammatory, and neoplastic diseases. Allay, or Coix seeds, Chinese pearl barley, pearl barley, semen coicis, yokuinin, 薏 苡仁 (yì yǐ rén), and 薏米 (yì mǐ), belongs to the family Gramineae.

In a double-blind, randomized clinical trial containing 54 patients, it was revealed that the combination of herbal medicine (Gwakhyangjeonggisan, GJS) and probiotics (Duolac7S, DUO) alleviated the symptoms of diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (D-IBS) by changing the composition of gut microbiota. Beneficial intestinal microbe counts, including Bifidobacterium brevis, Bifidobacterium lactis, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Lactobacillus acidophilus, were synergistically enhanced by GJS combined with DUO, suggesting that a combined treatment of herbal medicine and probiotics might provide a promising implication for clinical treatment of D-IBS. GJS consists of 13 common crude herbs containing the ingredients naringin, hesperidin, thymol, honokiol and magnolol (source: State Key Laboratory of Natural Medicines, Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Carcinogenesis and Intervention, Department of Basic Medicine, School of Basic Medicine and Clinical Pharmacy, China Pharmaceutical University, 24 Tongjiaxiang, Nanjing 210009, China).

Of course, there is also the "stress factor". We produce cortisol when we are stressed, affecting every system in our body, especially the gut-brain axis (for more information about the impact of stress on the gut, see
#herbs #herbalmedicine #plantnutrition #health #spices #diet #gutmicrobiome #bacteria #healthinnovation #chinesemedicine #easternmedicine #healthtech #stressfactor #gutbrainaxis

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How do butyrate producing foods support mental health, longevity?

Foods that support butyrate pr... Foods that support butyrate production, a type of short chain fatty acid, include whole grains, raspberries, pears, apples, green peas, broccoli, and turnip greens.
A January 22, 2020 article in Science Magazine reports that a healthy mix of microbes in our gut can prevent many diseases better than our own genes can, and can even indicate risk of dying in the next 15 years.

The Science Magazine cited a review by Samuel Minot, a microbiome researcher at Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He and his team analyzed 47 studies on collective genomes of gut microbes and their relationship with 13 common diseases. They compared these studies with 24 genome-wide association (GWA) studies dealing with human genomes and found that genetic signature of gut microbes was 20% more effective at "discriminating between a healthy and ill person" (source: see ).

A November 17, 2019 article in the New Atlas, reported a separate study that fecal transplants (in effect "microbial transplant") from young mice to older mice showed new neurons being produced called neurogenesis, a key to slowing aging. While testing in mice does not necessarily translate to the same results in humans, it is a significant factor suggesting possible solutions. The study found a greater volume of microbes produced short chain fatty acid called butyrate.

“We’ve found that microbes collected from an old mouse have the capacity to support neural growth in a younger mouse,” explains Sven Pettersson, lead on the research team from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore in the New Atlas article.

A January 06 2020 article in Neuroscience News says a study by a University of Kentucky consortium found similar results of tests for stroke victims. Researchers found that short chain fatty acids additive to the drinking water of mice showed better stroke recovery. (See ).

So much attention has been given to the influence of gut microbiomes on our mental health just in the past few weeks. These are a sampling of them.

While Pettersson acknowledges that further research is required, it suggests that healthy aging remedies such as herbs and good prebiotic and probiotic foods that enhance butyrate production can support longevity, and healthy living into our twilight years. To bring it home, examples of foods that support butyrate production include whole grains, raspberries, pears, apples, green peas, broccoli, and turnip greens.
#herbs #herbalmedicine #plantnutrition #health #spices #diet #gutmicrobiome #bacteria #healthinnovation #genomics #DNA #SCFA #butyrate #healthtech

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Want to live long? Try the "Okinawa Diet", better yet "Ogimi Diet"

Ogimi Village Ogimi Village The "Ogimi diet" The "Ogimi diet"
Never underestimate the potential contributions of small town living. From Jackson Wyoming a town of 9,577 people to Ogimi, Japan a village of just 3,000, great strides in brain health and longevity are happening organically. A January 18 article in Fortune magazine drew attention to a small lab, the nonprofit Brain Chemistry Labs in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where 65-year-old ethnobotanist Paul Cox believes he’s come up with a treatment that might prevent Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, and other neurodegenerative diseases. He called it “Serine Dipity”, referring to the L-Serine amino acid critical to the central nervous system.

L-serine is a naturally occurring dietary amino acid that supports healthy neurological function as we age. It is a neuroprotective agent. It is abundant in soy protein products, sweet potatoes, eggs, some seaweed, raw veal, lima beans, peanuts, eggs, wheat germ. L-serine is said to play an important role in helping to promote and maintain neurological health. It synthesizes protein fatty acid, methylates RNA and DNA, aids "nervous system function, muscle growth, healthy metabolism, cell proliferation and much more," according to a February 12, 2019 report by Swanson Vitamins' Lindsey Toth (see

Here's where Ogimi Village comes in. Let's have a look at the eating habits of the world's longest living humans in the Japanese Ogimi village of Okinawa. According to Wikipedia, several population studies conclude that Ogimi village in northwest Okinawa, has the most longevity index in the world with a great percent quantity over 100 years old. Their high consumption of L-Serine intensive foods is noteworthy. Let's just dub it the "Ogimi Diet". Villagers of the indigenous Japanese Ogimi (of Okinawa) diet has unique elements based on marine algae and soy, both containing large quantities of L-serine.

Test results further reinforce the role of L-serine on our mental and physical health. An FDA approved clinical trial of patients taking L-serine at 5 and 15 g/day had a 22% reduction in the rate of functional decline, while those at 30 g/day of L-serine experienced an 85% reduction in functional decline by the slope of ALSFRS (the functional rating scale of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). Furthermore, the total L-serine content of the Ogimi diet for women over the age of 70 is in excess of 8 g/day. This is about 6 g/day above the daily L-serine intake (2.53 g/day) from all sources consumed by women in the USA (source: Paul Alan Cox and James S. Metcalf, Brain Chemistry Labs, Institute for Ethnomedicine).

Below is a ranked frequency of consumption of the 25 top food items in the Ogimi diet compared to rank content mg/g of L-serine:

Overall rank Item --- Ogimi name --- Median --- SER rank --- Serine (mg/100 g):
1 Citrus depressa juice
(a green citrus lemon native to Okinawa & Taiwan) Kugani 1 15 162.7*
2 Oryza sativa Gohan (a form of Japanese long rice) 2 19 128.1
3 Momordica charantia Goya
(a bitter melon from a tropical and subtropical vine) 5 21 64.0
4 Tofu (coagulation soy milk, bean curd) Tofu 6 1 2351.5
5 Undaria pinnatifida
(species of edible seaweed, sea vegetable) Wakame 8 5 771.4
6 Saccharina japonica (type of kelp) Kombu 9 10 391.5
7 Glycine max (immature soybean) Edamame 9 3 1670.3
8 Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato) Beneimo 10 8 480.0
9 Ulva lactuca (sea lettuce) Aasa 10 17 138.8
10 Artemisia princeps (mugwort, wormwood) Fuchiba 12 4 805.3

In summary, it is generally advantageous to consume Tofu and Edamame over rice, which is the case for Ogimi villagers in relation to its fellow Japanese. Most importantly, consumming a rich diversity of marine algae is ideal. However, as said earlier in this blog, traditionally western diet items also contain substantial amounts of L-serine. So if you don't like tofu or seaweed, no need to fret. Potatoes, eggs, lima beans will also keep you serene on the serine scale.

The same L-serine amino acid that year over year is creating the world’s highest per capita concentration of centenarians is the same amino acid driving innovations in brain research led by the likes of Jackson Wyoming's Paul Cox and Brain Chemistry Labs.
#herbs #herbalmedicine #plantnutrition #health #spices #diet #gutmicrobiome #bacteria #healthinnovation #easternmedicine #japanesemedicine #Ogimidiet #Okinawadiet #healthtech

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Microbial strain gives Japanese Sushi-eating advantage

Microbial strain gives Japanes...
Japanese consume large amounts of raw fish and seaweed, in the form of sushi and nori. It is healthy for them partly due to a partnership with a seafaring bacteria friend found in their gut. Japanese gut bacteria aren’t just limited to the genes that they inherit from their ancestors. Bacteria native to the natural world can be introduced to our gut. Once ingested, individual bacteria can swap genes quite easily, both internal gut bacteria and externally introduced bacteria. This ‘horizontal gene transfer’ means that bacteria have an entire kingdom of genes, ripe for exchange. In the world’s oceans – a marine bacterium called Zobellia galactanivorans was introduced to the Japanese gut through consuming seaweed.

Zobellia is a seaweed-eater. It lives on, and digests, several species including those used to make nori. Nori, or seaweed, is commonly used in Japanese meals, in miso soup, sushi wrapping, for example. When you consume these algae with sushi and miso, marine bacteria is also consumed, and Zobellia is consumed. Zobellia mingles with our existing gut microbiota, "including those that allow them to break down the carbohydrates of their marine meals", according to research by the University of Victoria. The gut bacteria suddenly gained the ability to exploit an extra source of energy and those that retained their genetic loans prospered. This process is known as horizontal gene transfer. Six strains of of the human gut Bacteroides plebeius had been discovered that possess an unique gene from the aforementioned porphyran-breaking enzyme, all of them coming from the bowels of Japanese people.

See article for more information,
#herbs #herbalmedicine #plantnutrition #health #spices #diet #gutmicrobiome #bacteria #healthinnovation #datascience #ai #healthtech

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Deep sea vents hold building blocks of life, health, mining

Deep sea vents hold building b...
A January 13, 2020 article by (quoting a study in Limnology and Oceanography), reported that hydrothermal vent systems, hot, mineral-rich waters support a vast microbial ecosystem at the base of the food chain. They enable rich genetic diversity among the microbes, believed by many to hold key anti-cancer and other biotechnology applications, according to Julie Huber, a scientist from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and co-author of the study.

Hydrothermal systems are also vulnerable to disturbance and slow to recover. The problem is these same environments are also rich in mineral resources coveted by the mining industry, including metals like zinc, cobalt and rare earth elements. The thermal systems are ideal environments for the creation of massive polymetallic sulfide deposits, ferromanganese nodules, and cobalt crusts.

Furthermore, the hydrothermal systems support chemosynthesis, where "energy from inorganic chemical reactions is used to convert dissolved carbon dioxide into the organic molecules (sugars, fats, proteins, etc.) that are the building blocks of life," according to the study. This environment fuels abundant chemosynthesis‐driven microbial life. Endosymbionts (e.g., tube worms, mussels, and clams) and grazing microbial mats (e.g., Rimicaris shrimp) are a few examples.

For more information about the study, see

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Is strong Beer, the best probiotic? (in moderation)

Is strong Beer, the best probio...
According to December 03, 2019 report by a professor at Amsterdam University, strong beers can be “very, very healthy” for gut health when consumed in moderation. The key word here is "moderation", as excessive drinking can be very damaging to your gut and overall health.

Professor Eric Lassen’s research revealed that strong Belgian beers like Hoegaarden, Westmalle Tripel, and Echt Kriekenbier have more probiotics than their weaker counterparts. The research found that strong beers that go through two fermentation cycles, unlike most beers, has more of a "specific type of probiotic yeast that kills disease-causing bacteria in the gut."

There actually is a local company, Fermented Brewing Company, (FBC) which offers twice fermented beer in its bottle conditioned Saison brand. FBC is located in Hood River not far from Seattle and Portland along the Columbia River. Stop by their tasting room for a try! (
#microbiome #guthealth #alcohol #drinking #liverdisease #liverdamage #gutbacteria

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Honeysuckle - Chinese remedy for common cold and more

Honeysuckle - Chinese remedy...
The leaves and flower of honeysuckle have been used for several thousand years as a traditional Chinese medicine. It has been a challenge to discriminate between the variations of honeysuckle herbs, such as Lonicerae japonicae flos and Lonicera japonica thunb, according to a report published September 23, 2019 (see reference below). The leaves and dried flower buds of Lonicera japonica Thunb, also called Japanese honeysuckle or jīn yín huā has been widely used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat flu- like symptoms such as cough, fever, sore throat, and influenza infection. Tests have shown that Lonicerae japonicae flos exhibits a broader antimicrobial spectrum, more powerful antibacterial activity, and inhibition of drug-resistant bacteria. Pharmacologic studies have confirmed the bacteria and antibacterial effects of Lonicerae japonicae flos, says the study.

The following can be extracted from Lonicerae japonicae flos - water extract, alcohol extract, polysaccharide, and volatile oil. These ingredients can "extensively inhibit Gram-negative bacteria and Gram-positive bacteria including Streptococcus haemolyticus, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella Typhi, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Salmonella paratyphi, Vibrio cholerae, oral pathogens, Diplococcus intracellularis, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis," according to a study by the Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences (see article "Lonicerae Japonicae Flos and Lonicerae Flos: A Systematic Pharmacology Review", by Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, No.16, Dongzhimen Nei Nanxiao Road, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100700, China; Department of Drug and Cosmetics Registration, China Food and Drug Administration, Xuanwumen Xidajie, Beijing 100053, China;

The testing method used for determining the content of a key active ingredient, secologanic acid, was established using Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) (see article, "A Simple, Rapid, and Practical Method for Distinguishing Lonicerae Japonicae Flos from Lonicerae Flos"; by Fang Zhang, Pengliang Shi, Hongyan Liu, Yongqing Zhang 1,Xiao Yu, Jing Li and Gaobin Pu; College of Pharmacy, Shandong University of Traditional Chinese medicine, Jinan 250355, China). Using HPLC makes it simple, fast, accurate, and cost effective to identify the different variations of Lonicerae Flos.

#herbs #herbalmedicine #plantnutrition #health #spices #diet #gutmicrobiome #bacteria #healthinnovation #datascience #ai #artificialintelligence #machinelearning #mindbody #healthtech #chinesemedicine #easternmedicine #naturopathichealth

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How the gut microbiome affects the brain


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A little history on the origins of Ayurveda

Dr. Vivek Shanbhag of Bastyr University explains that between 1,000 to 700 B.C. Ashrams gathered people together in India to discuss topics of the day such as health issues. Attendees of these open forums facilitated exchange of acquired knowledge; for example, about herbs and foods that help with certain health conditions. Out of these Ashrams evolved two main schools relating to health care, Atreya and Dhanvantari. Atreya became the school of physicians and Dhanvantari, the school of surgeons. Traditions such as chanting of mantras were gradually replaced by scientific thinking and solutions.

Veda means acquired knowledge and data research, which accumulated over thousands of years in India from the general Ashram meetings, according to Bastyr University's Professor of Ayurvedic Health Dr. Vivek Shanbhag.

The original text of Ayurveda are the trio - Charak Sambita, Sushrat Sambita, and Ashtang Hridaya Sambita.

Ayurveda achieved by pursuing these Four Goals of Life:

1. DHARMA - vocation, your calling, reaching your inner object of life
2. ARTHA - creating your resources, prosperity, attainment of outer objects, right possessionsof life
3. KAMA - enjoyment, achieving, fulfilling basic desires, emotional mind
4. MOKSHA - total freedom, not attached to anything, liberation from the limits of the other goals; infinite possibilities

Source: Dr. Vivek Shanbhag, Bastyr University, Ayurvedic Health Advisor Program, Kenmore, WA.
#herbs #herbalmedicine #plantnutrition #health #spices #diet #gutmicrobiome #bacteria #healthinnovation #datascience #ai #artificialintelligence #machinelearning #mindbody #healthtech #ayurveda #India

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Indian Ayurvedic Health defined

Indian Ayurvedic Health defined
Ayurveda is an over 3,000 year old health program originating in India. Ayurveda begins with fundamental principles centered around maintaining good health. These are described in the three doshas - Vata, Pitta, Kapha and the 4 goals of Ayurveda. I will explain the 4 goals in the next blog entry to be published in a few days.

Veda means acquired knowledge and data research, which accumulated over thousands of years in India from general meetings called Ashrams, according to Bastyr University's Professor of Ayurvedic Health Dr. Vivek Shanbhag.

Possibly the most effective way to accurately and clearly explain the three doshas of Ayurveda are Dr. Shanbhag's association of Ayurveda to computing. Ayurveda is your tools and means to achieve your four goals of life. He describes the three doshas as follows:

VATA is like data entry.
PITTA is the processing of that data.
KAPHA is the storing and recall of the data.

VATA is the sensory intake, communications and transport of data and the elements, air and ether.
PITTA is the transformation, digesting, processing and metabolizing of the data and the elements, fire and water.
KAPHA is the storing, growth, and memorizing of the data and the elements; water and earth.

Everyone wants to increase happiness and comfort.
Everyone wants to decrease their pain and suffering. The status of our health is a key contributor to these basic life goals.
#herbs #herbalmedicine #plantnutrition #health #sertonin #thehappychemical #neurotransmitters #spices #diet #gutmicrobiome #bacteria #healthinnovation #datascience #ai #artificialintelligence #machinelearning #mindbody #healthtech #ayurveda #India

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