Special Issue "Nutraceuticals and Botanicals: Bioactive Molecules and Therapeutic Properties for Human Health"

A special issue of Pharmaceuticals (ISSN 1424-8247).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2017)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Dario Donno

Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Forestali e Alimentari, Università degli Studi di Torino, Grugliasco (TO), Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: natural compound chemistry; food science and technology; analytical chemistry; phytotherapy; food chemistry; phytochemistry

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Nutraceuticals and botanicals are biologically active phytochemicals that possess health benefits. These may be delivered to the consumer as natural medicines, herbal preparations, and functional foods. These products are likely to play a vital role in human health and longevity. The consumption of these products by the most of the people is usually without a medical prescription and/or supervision: increasing use of these products has also led to concerns about their actual safety. Not only do consumers increasingly take charge of their health, but the scientific information and understanding of the beneficial health effects of bioactive substances have improved. In recent years, the industry has suffered a setback in its growth, due to certain instances of quality failures and/or adverse health effects. This situation has created an urgency for increased regulatory oversight and for monitoring the products at different stages of manufacturing for quality, safety, and integrity. Recent improvements in the identification, characterization, and standardization of raw materials, coupled with screening by human cell line and gene expression-directed fractionation, are expected to improve the development of new nutraceuticals and drugs. These will afford an important benefit to the rapidly emerging alternative, complementary, and integrated healthcare practices. It is also hoped that the nutraceutical/herbal industries and regulatory agencies will work together to prevent the ultimate cost of new drug development from becoming prohibitive.

The proposed topics include, but are not limited to:

  • biomarkers and medical properties;
  • nutraceuticals and new functional foods;
  • herbal preparations and natural medicines;
  • botanicals and medicinal plants;
  • antioxidants and healthy-properties;
  • benefits, adverse effects and drug interactions of herbal medicines;
  • quality control and regulatory guidelines;
  • marketing and economic evaluation;
  • bioactive substances and phytocomplexes;
  • analytical strategies for bioactive compound identification and quantification;
  • in vivo and in vitro bioactivity of botanicals.

Dr. Dario Donno
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Pharmaceuticals is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 850 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Green Extraction from Pomegranate Marcs for the Production of Functional Foods and Cosmetics
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(4), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9040063
Received: 3 August 2016 / Revised: 12 October 2016 / Accepted: 13 October 2016 / Published: 18 October 2016
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (933 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The aim of this study was to investigate the potential of retrieving polyphenolic antioxidants directly from wet pomegranate marcs: the fresh by-products obtained after pomegranate juice processing. These by-products mainly consist of internal membranes (endocarp) and aril residues. Even if they are still [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to investigate the potential of retrieving polyphenolic antioxidants directly from wet pomegranate marcs: the fresh by-products obtained after pomegranate juice processing. These by-products mainly consist of internal membranes (endocarp) and aril residues. Even if they are still edible, they are usually discharged during juice production and, thus, they represent a great challenge in an eco-sustainable industrial context. Green technologies, such as ultrasound assisted extraction (UAE) and microwave assisted extraction (MAE), have been employed to convert these organic residues into recycled products with high added value. UAE and MAE were used both in parallel and in series in order to make a comparison and to ensure exhaustive extractions, respectively. Water, as an environmentally friendly extraction solvent, has been employed. The results were compared with those ones coming from a conventional extraction. The most promising extract, in terms of total polyphenol yield and radical scavenging activity, has been tested both as a potential natural additive and as a functional ingredient after its incorporation in a real food model and in a real cosmetic matrix, respectively. This study represents a proposal to the agro-alimentary sector given the general need of environmental “responsible care”. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030049
Received: 30 May 2016 / Revised: 8 August 2016 / Accepted: 8 August 2016 / Published: 18 August 2016
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (1693 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The plant maca, grown at 4000 m altitude in the Peruvian Central Andes, contains hypocotyls that have been used as food and in traditional medicine for centuries. The aim of this research was to provide results on some health effects of oral administration [...] Read more.
The plant maca, grown at 4000 m altitude in the Peruvian Central Andes, contains hypocotyls that have been used as food and in traditional medicine for centuries. The aim of this research was to provide results on some health effects of oral administration of spray-dried extracts of black or red maca (Lepidium meyenii) in adult human subjects living at low (LA) and high altitude (HA). A total of 175 participants were given 3 g of either placebo, black, or red maca extract daily for 12 weeks. Primary outcomes were changes in sexual desire, mood, energy, health-related quality of life score (HRQL), and chronic mountain sickness (CMS) score, or in glycaemia, blood pressure, and hemoglobin levels. Secondary outcomes were acceptability and safety, assessed using the Likert test and side effect self-recording, respectively, and the effect of altitude. At low altitude, 32, 30, and 32 participants started the study receiving placebo, red maca, or black maca, respectively. At high altitudes, 33, 35, and 31 participants started the study receiving placebo, red maca, and black maca, respectively. Consumption of spray-dried extracts of red and black maca resulted in improvement in mood, energy, and health status, and reduced CMS score. Fatty acids and macamides were higher in spray-dried extracts of black maca than in red maca. GABA predominated in spray-dried extracts of red maca. Effects on mood, energy, and CMS score were better with red maca. Black maca and, in smaller proportions, red maca reduced hemoglobin levels only in highlanders with abnormally high hemoglobin levels; neither variety of maca reduced hemoglobin levels in lowlanders. Black maca reduced blood glucose levels. Both varieties produced similar responses in mood, and HRQL score. Maca extracts consumed at LA or HA had good acceptability and did not show serious adverse effects. In conclusion, maca extract consumption relative to the placebo improved quality of life parameters. Differences in the level of improvement between red and black maca are probably due to differences in the composition of these two plant varieties. Both maca extracts were well tolerated and safe. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Nutraceutical Improvement Increases the Protective Activity of Broccoli Sprout Juice in a Human Intestinal Cell Model of Gut Inflammation
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(3), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9030048
Received: 23 June 2016 / Revised: 5 August 2016 / Accepted: 8 August 2016 / Published: 12 August 2016
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2209 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Benefits to health from a high consumption of fruits and vegetables are well established and have been attributed to bioactive secondary metabolites present in edible plants. However, the effects of specific health-related phytochemicals within a complex food matrix are difficult to assess. In [...] Read more.
Benefits to health from a high consumption of fruits and vegetables are well established and have been attributed to bioactive secondary metabolites present in edible plants. However, the effects of specific health-related phytochemicals within a complex food matrix are difficult to assess. In an attempt to address this problem, we have used elicitation to improve the nutraceutical content of seedlings of Brassica oleracea grown under controlled conditions. Analysis, by LC-MS, of the glucosinolate, isothiocyanate and phenolic compound content of juices obtained from sprouts indicated that elicitation induces an enrichment of several phenolics, particularly of the anthocyanin fraction. To test the biological activity of basal and enriched juices we took advantage of a recently developed in vitro model of inflamed human intestinal epithelium. Both sprouts’ juices protected intestinal barrier integrity in Caco-2 cells exposed to tumor necrosis factor α under marginal zinc deprivation, with the enriched juice showing higher protection. Multivariate regression analysis indicated that the extent of rescue from stress-induced epithelial dysfunction correlated with the composition in bioactive molecules of the juices and, in particular, with a group of phenolic compounds, including several anthocyanins, quercetin-3-Glc, cryptochlorogenic, neochlorogenic and cinnamic acids. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview Herbal Products in Italy: The Thin Line between Phytotherapy, Nutrition and Parapharmaceuticals; A Normative Overview of the Fastest Growing Market in Europe
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(4), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9040065
Received: 7 September 2016 / Revised: 24 October 2016 / Accepted: 26 October 2016 / Published: 29 October 2016
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (203 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Italian herbal products market is the most prosperous in Europe. The proof is represented by the use of these products in several marketing categories, ranging from medicine to nutrition and cosmetics. Market and legislation in Italy are at the same time cause [...] Read more.
The Italian herbal products market is the most prosperous in Europe. The proof is represented by the use of these products in several marketing categories, ranging from medicine to nutrition and cosmetics. Market and legislation in Italy are at the same time cause and consequence of this peculiar situation. In fact, the legislation on botanical food supplements in Italy is very permissive and at the same time the market shows an overall satisfaction of users and strong feedback in terms of consumption, which brings a widening use of medicinal plants, formerly the prerogative of pharmaceuticals, to other fields such as nutrition. This review summarizes the market and normative panorama of herbal products in Italy, highlighting the blurred boundaries of health indications, marketing authorizations and quality controls between herbal medicines and non pharmaceutical products, such as food supplements, cosmetics and other herbal-based “parapharmaceuticals”. Full article
Open AccessReview Lactoferrin from Milk: Nutraceutical and Pharmacological Properties
Pharmaceuticals 2016, 9(4), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/ph9040061
Received: 29 July 2016 / Revised: 15 September 2016 / Accepted: 21 September 2016 / Published: 27 September 2016
Cited by 21 | PDF Full-text (704 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein present in large quantities in colostrum and in breast milk, in external secretions and in polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Lactoferrin’s main function is non-immune protection. Among several protective activities shown by lactoferrin, those displayed by orally administered lactoferrin are: (i) [...] Read more.
Lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein present in large quantities in colostrum and in breast milk, in external secretions and in polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Lactoferrin’s main function is non-immune protection. Among several protective activities shown by lactoferrin, those displayed by orally administered lactoferrin are: (i) antimicrobial activity, which has been presumed due to iron deprivation, but more recently attributed also to a specific interaction with the bacterial cell wall and extended to viruses and parasites; (ii) immunomodulatory activity, with a direct effect on the development of the immune system in the newborn, together with a specific antinflammatory effects; (iii) a more recently discovered anticancer activity. It is worth noting that most of the protective activities of lactoferrin have been found, sometimes to a greater extent, also in peptides derived from limited proteolysis of lactoferrin that could be generated after lactoferrin ingestion. Lactoferrin could therefore be considered an ideal nutraceutic product because of its relatively cheap production from bovine milk and of its widely recognized tolerance after ingestion, along with its well demonstrated protective activities. The most important protective activities shown by orally administered bovine lactoferrin are reviewed in this article. Full article
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