By Jordan Rubin
At Ancient Nutrition, we are passionate about ingredients. In fact, we take meticulous care to source, handle and cultivate some of the most exciting real foods in the world.
We have so many dynamic ingredients that range from seeds, botanical herbs and spices, vegetable and fruit juices, functional fungi and powerful probiotics— all with their own story to tell.
We couldn’t possibly share them all, at least not in this issue. But we did pick 10 of our very favorites to go along with our 10 promises, because when it comes to your health—we, at Ancient Nutrition, care about what you care about!
SCHISANDRA (Schisandrachinensis) is a super fruit native to China and the eastern United States. Also referred to as Wu Wei Zi, meaning “ five flavored berry” due to the fact that it elicits all five flavors: sweet, sour, salty, bitty and umami (pungent). In 2697 B.C. Schisandra was classified as a superior Adaptogenic plant in Traditional Chinese Herbalism as it is said to balance all bodily systems while calming the heart and quieting the spirit. Schisandra boosts the overall health value of foods it is paired with, and is abundant in Vitamins C and E, manganese, and phosphorous.
LION’S MANE (Hericium erinaceus), also known as Hedgehog Mushroom, or Japanese Yamabushitake, is a fungus native to North America, Europe and Asia, and has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Herbalism for digestive support. It gets its name from the white cascading tendrils that resemble that of a lion’s mane. This “superfood for the brain” is a key ingredient to support brain and nervous system health.
ASTRAGALUS (Astragalus spp.), native to Mongolia and China, is one of oldest plants used traditionally in Chinese herbalism. Astragalus is typically grown under high atmospheric pressure at extreme altitudes and conditions. This adaptogenic herb is generally used to enhance and balance bodily functions and contains a wide array of constituents including more than 40 saponins, several flavonoids and multiple trace minerals.
BACOPA (Bacopa monnieri) is native to the subtropical regions of Southern India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America. While it usually grows in lowlands, Bacopa also grows in higher altitudes in Nepal at 2200-2900 feet. This aquatic plant, known as “Water Hyssop” due to its similar appearance to Hyssop, is commonly found in freshwater aquariums and around ponds in warmer climates.
Bacopa is also called Brahmi which means “expands consciousness” due to its ability to calm mental turbulence and support brain health. Preparations are made from the whole dried plant, including the root, stem, leaf, flower, and fruit. The crushed leaves are known for their ‘lemon’ scent. Bacopa supports production of serotonin and brain cell activity, and contains flavonoids, amino acids, and saponins.
REISHI (Ganoderma lucidum) is also known as Ling Zhi—which means “supernatrual herb”—symbolizing success, well-being, divine power, and longevity. This mushroom has been the subject of Chinese culture and art for thousands of years and is prized in Asia for its wide-ranging attributes. You can find reishi mushrooms growing on decaying tree stumps across East Asia and North America. They come in six colors, but it’s the red variety that’s linked to traditional herbalism.
One of the oldest mushrooms to have been used in Traditional Chinese Herbalism, Reishi is known as a five-star adaptogen, signifying its supreme ability to support and promote health and vitality. Reishi is best known to help the body maintain and restore balance. The three major bioactive constituents in Ganoderma are polysaccharides, peptidoglycans, and triterpenes.
MILK THISTLE (Silybum marianum), native to the Mediterranean region and naturalized throughout North America, Europe and Asia, is used in Traditional Chinese Herbalism to support the liver and promote bile flow. German physicians in the 19th century also regarded Milk Thistle as one of the most effective herbals to support liver and blood health, as well as for intestinal cleansing.
The purple flowering heads may be eaten, tasting similar to the artichoke. Once the spines are removed, the leaves can be eaten as greens. The seeds are mainly dried for use in herbal formulas. Even the roots can be consumed raw, boiled or steamed. Milk Thistle is rich in flavonoids (silymarin) and gamma linoleum acid.
POMEGRANATE (Punica granatum), or the “fruit of many seeds”, is native to Persia (modern day Iran). A wildly popular superfood with a long history tracing back to biblical times, one of the seven sacred varieties of plants mentioned in the Bible, the pomegranate is said to have 613 seeds – one for each of the Bible’s 613 commandments.
Considered among the healthiest fruits on the planet, pomegranate is a symbol of hope, prosperity & abundance. Pomegranate is rich in Vitamin C, pantothenic acid, potassium, flavonoids, and potent natural antioxidant phenols such as ellagitannins, and a beneficial compound found only in pomegranate, punicalagin. The source of the many health benefits of Pomegranate is found inside the arils, in a small white seed that contains punicic acid—a powerful form of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
CINNAMON (Cinnamomum cassia) is an Evergreen tree native to Southern China and used for medicinal and culinary purposes for more than 4,000 years. Cinnamon has been heralded since the beginning of human history; in the Bible, cinnamon is mentioned several times, in the books of Exodus and Proverbs. Ancient cultures of India and China used cinnamon liberally, while the use of Cinnamon in Ancient Egypt is apparent, even found in the drawings in pyramids. In Greece and Rome Cinnamon was used to support digestion. Considered among the highest spices in antioxidant activity and a rich source of potassium, Cinnamon is also abundant in calcium, iron, Vitamin A, and flavonoid phenolic antioxidants.
SIBERIAN GINSENG (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is native to the Taiga Region of the Far East. Revered in China for more than 2,000 years and the most common form of use of this plant was as a wine usually mixed with other herbs as a tonic. The root and berry are included in many traditional formulas for supporting energy and cognitive function.
The Russians studied Siberian Ginseng extensively in the 1960s and were encouraged by the root’s influence on performance in the areas of concentration, coordination and endurance that they made Eleuthero research classified and closely guarded. This superior adaptogen is helpful for immune support, especially for those under stressful conditions due to the eleutherosides and polysaccharide content.
TURMERIC (Curcuma longa) has been used in India for centuries as a digestive and beauty aid, culinary spice, dye, and a component of religious ceremonies. In Ayurveda, Turmeric represents life, purity and prosperity. India produces nearly the world’s entire Turmeric crop and consumes 80% of it. Turmeric was traditionally called ‘Indian saffron’ since its deep yellow-orange color is similar to that of the prized saffron.
Turmeric contains magnesium, silicon, iron, manganese, niacin, potassium, selenium, sodium, Vitamins C & E, and several carotenoids; Turmeric also increases levels of the enzyme glutathione S-transferase (GST) in the body, which is essential in supporting healthy detoxification.
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