Medicinally, Asia is a continent of blessed roots. The Chinese and Japanese most especially, are very intentional with their herbs and seeds as food. They also successfully brought these seeds, like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat into the culinary world. These things have a strong medical significance about which the majority of people are ignorant. To prove, scientists recently recorded the autophagy properties of a traditional liquor, made from a herbal seed. Just as Ann Wigmore said, “the food you eat, can be the safest and most powerful form of medicine…”
Liquor, you say?
The Chinese buckwheat liquor is a traditional drink made from various herbal medicinal extracts. This buckwheat liquor is already known to decrease antioxidants in mice and its anti diabetic properties. Its contents also have an antibacterial effect, for which it is used as traditional Chinese medicine. However, sometime last month, The Antioxidants magazine reported how the contents of this liquor singly, or collaborate to induce autophagy.
Autophagy is a cellular process in which damaged or unnecessary proteins are removed. The more productive this process, the more effective the cell would function. Autophagy plays an important role in cancer cells and Alzheimer’s disease. This process disrupts tumorigenesis and prevents cell death in cancerous cells. Autophagy carries out the generation and metabolism of b-amyloid, also the assembly of tau. Any disruption in these processes would help keep Alzheimer’s disease at bay.
A Japanese who led the team, Sumiko Ikari, said they thought more about the antibacterial effects of this liquor and checked its autophagy abilities. They tested this by applying buckwheat extract on skin epithelial cells and liver cells. Reacting to this extract, these cells produced autophagosomes at a higher rate( these are structures that carry out autophagy). The cells also disrupted the function of proteins that regulate autophagy, thereby promoting autophagy.
In the quest of finding the major components responsible for autophagy, the researchers found quercetin. This component, even when singled out has the same effect as the extract. Most importantly, they both carry out autophagy in liver cells, by a process called aggrephagy.
Aggrephagy is an autophagy process, whereby proteins are selectively degraded by macroautophagy. Autophagy occurs either by proteasomes or lysosomes. But for each degrading content to work, there are certain conditions to be met. These conditions select the proteins to be degraded for a particular factor. This selection process and the selected proteins that would be degraded by macroautophagy is called aggrephagy.
Researchers have started the development of autophagy-inducing drugs to cure Alzheimer’s disease. This discovery can help hasten this process. The major autophagy contents can also be used as a preventive or early prescription for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Quercetin and buckwheat extract can also be used to treat patients with alcoholic liver disease. They can be used to treat most diseases involving protein aggregation in cells.
From time memorial, the most effective treatments are those involving natural ingredients. The results from treating diseases involving protein aggregation, like cancer, with these findings would be more positive than what we currently have.