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Home > Newsletters > December 2008 > Antioxidant Activity of 45 Chinese Herbs and the Relationship with their TCM Characteristics

Antioxidant Activity of 45 Chinese Herbs and the Relationship with their TCM Characteristics

A study of 45 Chinese herbs that regulate blood circulation were analyzed for antioxidant activity using the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) assay. The ORAC assay is a test used for measuring antioxidant levels in foods. In a recent publication, a close relationship between in vitro antioxidant activity and classification of Chinese herbs as yin or yang was determined. The 45 Chinese herbs in this study could be assigned the traditional characteristics of natures (cold, cool, hot, and warm), flavors (pungent, sweet, sour, bitter, and salty) and functions (arresting bleeding, promoting blood flow to relieve stasis, nourishing blood, and clearing heat from the blood). These characteristics are generalized according to the theory of yin and yang.

The study found that there was no significant correlation between ORAC values and the natures or functions of the herbs. However, there was a significant relationship between the flavors and the ORAC values. Bitter and sour herbs had the highest ORAC values; pungent and sweet herbs had the lowest. The other flavors had ORAC values falling somewhere in between. Flavors also correspond with the yin/yang relationship. High antioxidant herbs were identified as

Ji Xue Teng (Spatholobus suberectus vine) - (1990 micromol TE/g),
Di Yu (Sanguisorba officinalis root) - (1940 micromol TE/g)
Xian He Cao (Agrimonia pilosa herb) - (1440 micromol TE/g)
Liu Ji Nu (Artemisia anomala herb) (1400 micromol TE/g)
Dan Shen (Salvia miltiorrhiza root) - (1320 micromol TE/g)
He Ye (Nelembo nucifera leaf) - (1300 micromol TE/g)

Antioxidant capacity appears to correlate with the flavors of herbs identified within the formal TCM classification system and may be a useful guide in describing their utility and biochemical mechanism of action.

Source: Liao H, et al. Department of Pharmacy, Shanxi Provincial People's Hospital, 99 Shuangtasi Street, Taiyuan, Shanxi 030012, China. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2007 Jun 11.
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December 2008
Volume 6, Number 12

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