Aronia is a deciduous genus of plants, the leaves of which are needle-like, with four to five pointed ends. The name comes from the Greek word arony meaning “little flower”. Aronia officinalis or the “wild rose” is the common name for this plant. Aronia officinalis is native to central Europe, northern Germany and the Russian Plain. The wild rose is now protected in France.
Black Aronia is a member of the same family as black peony. It is also known as Chinese black aronia. Black Aronia has a long history in herbal medicine. It is said that ancient Greeks and Romans used it to treat many disorders including high blood pressure, constipation, diarrhea, ulcers, sore throats and liver problems. This plant is now grown in other countries and is commercially available in America under the trade names Gotu Kola, Gotu Cola, Gotu Pemba, Gotu Valerian and Grewic. It is commonly used as an exotic ornamental plant or to enhance the flavor of fruits and other foods.
In a study found published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers showed that black aronia leaf extracts moderately lowers blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity in rats. It also appears to be effective in reducing glucose levels and increasing the sensitivity of the pancreatic islets, also called islet cells, to insulin. The studies were conducted using animals at a very high calorie diet. No studies were performed on human subjects.
The investigators found that when the plant was added to the diet, glucose utilization and activity of the pancreatic islets increased, but the uptake and utilization of other essential nutrients were not affected. They concluded that the extract may act as a novel insulin sensitizer with anti-diabetes and anti-cancer activity. Diabetes, hypoglycemia and cardio-vascular diseases are all potentially amenable to treatment with extracts from this botanical source. In addition, the plant may also be useful in combating lipid, inflammatory and other diseases related to aging, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
A study found that an ethanolic grape seed extract and its derivatives (of which ammonia is the main component) moderately decrease the risk of breast cancer. Researchers studied nine case women with breast cancer who were treated surgically. During the six-year study, the women took a standardized grape seed extract daily. Three of the women experienced breast cancer and the study did not detect a significant amount of abnormalities in any of the women. However, the researchers stated that more studies are needed to verify the potential benefit of these extracts in the treatment of breast cancer.
Another study found that anthocyanins from ammonia can inhibit tumor growth and promote cancer cell growth in human liver. The test-tube study found that inulin, a type of monosodiumglucose isobutyl ester, an essential sugar, inhibits tumor growth and increases pancreatic enzyme activity. The test-tube study found that the aroma extract and its carotenoids HCA and quercetin, interfere with insulin and glucose transport into the cell. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, controls cell growth. Quercetin, another type of antioxidant, modulates glucose uptake and metabolism. Both extracts showed significant anti-cellular adenosine activity.
The test-tube studies indicate that these antioxidants prevent oxidative stress caused by DNA damage. They scavenge free and superoxide anions, which cause DNA damage. The antioxidants scavenge reactive oxygen species and thus prevent DNA damage. Since DNA damage prevents the formation of healthy cells, this is an important factor in cell regeneration and health.
Aronia berries are a delicious and nutritious addition to your diet. They are loaded with antioxidants and proteins and therefore help slow the aging process, fight heart disease and cancers. This natural food contains many nutrients, including fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They can be taken as a supplement with a daily multi vitamin to maximize their health and prevent free radicals.