DOCTRINE OF SIGNATURES (You are what you eat)

by Sedzani Mbedzi

The doctrine of signature is an ancient pharmacological theory which states that the way plants look, taste, react or shaped offers strong clues to their medical implications. Major category of doctrine of signature are the similarity between shape of the plant and ailing human organ, and the similarity of plant colour to disease syndrome. Indigenous people coined the concept “you are what you eat and so is the brain” which suggest that what you eat is valuable to your health and heart. They had a well versed and in-depth understanding of nature, and knowledge about how some plants work and what they are used for. Physical characteristics of plants reveal their therapeutic value, for instance the reddish color of beetroot (blood root) indicates the plant’s efficacy in treating blood disorders.

Pomegranates resembles the human heart and known to have rich antioxidant polyphenols, which includes tannis, anthocyanin and flavonoids. Study by Dos Santos and co-workers reveled that having pomegranates at least once a day can be significant in attenuating hypertension, stress level and making your skin glow (Dos Santos et al., 2016). Using pomegranate dried peels, extracts for dietary purposes attenuates stress and coronary angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) activity. ACE is a zinc metallopeptidase comprised of two homologous domains, the N and C domain. These domains are the main targets of ACE inhibitors that act by binding to the zinc. Polyphenols have chemical structures that favor chelation of redox active metals which favor ACE inhibition. This fruit lowers cholesterol, blood pressure and melts away heart blockages.

Figure 1: Infographic presentation of pomegranate resembling a human heart with chambers inside and the seeds encased like blood vessels. Pomegranates contain punicalagins that benefit the heart and blood vessels. The fruit lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, and melts away heart blockages.

“You are what you eat” concept plays a crucial role in managing chronic diseases. Therefore, it is important to know what you eat and how that impacts your body. It is quite difficult to eat healthy under stressful situations. For instance, during examinations a lot of university students tend to eat more fast food and snacks. The doctrine of signature indicates that having healthy snacks such as walnuts regularly may improve brain health and reduces risks of heart disease and cancer. Figure two below just shows some of healthy food and organs that they resemble.

Figure 2: info graphic representation of certain medicinal plants (fruits and vegetables) and resemble organs that they are good for.

Studies suggest that doctrine of signature could be the future for development of effective drugs and reducing chronic illnesses. For instance, beneficial effects of pomegranate peels extracts may be considered in development of therapies for hypertension.

REFERENCE

Dos Santos, R.L., Dellacqua, L.O., Delgado, N.T., Rouver, W.N., Podratz, P.L., Lima, L.C., Piccin, M.P., Meyrelles, S.S., Mauad, H., Graceli, J.B. and Moyses, M.R., 2016. Pomegranate peel extract attenuates oxidative stress by decreasing coronary angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) activity in hypertensive female rats. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A79(21), pp.998-1007.

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