More Good News About the Mediterranean Diet

Today, “Paleo” and “Keto” are all the rage, and time will tell if they are indeed viable in helping people to lose weight and keep it off. But sometimes diet should be more about weight – the ideal diet actually helps improve other health parameters.

The Mediterranean Diet is a great, enduring example, and new studies are still showing positive effects on health.

A new study by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health offers examined health parameters in women who reported consuming a Mediterranean-type diet. The team found a 25% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease amon those participants who consumed a diet rich in plants and olive oil and low in meats and sweets. The team also explored why and how a Mediterranean diet might mitigate risk of heart disease and stroke by examining a panel of 40 biomarkers, representing new and established biological contributors to heart disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the Mediterranean diet include eating mostly plant-based foods (produce, whole grains, nuts and beans), replacing butter with olive oil, using herbs and spices to flavor food instead of using salt, limiting red meat to three to four times a month, eating fish and poultry three to four times a week, and drinking red wine in moderation.

Randomized trials in Mediterranean countries along with observational studies have previously linked the Mediterranean-style diet to reductions in cardiovascular disease, but the link to how this was done was obscure. The current research draws on data from more than 25,000 female health professionals who participated in the Women’s Health Study.

Participants completed food intake questionnaires about diet, provided blood samples to measure several biomarkers, and were followed for up to 12 years. The primary outcomes analyzed in this study were incidents of cardiovascular disease, defined as first events of heart attack, stroke, coronary arterial revascularization and cardiovascular death.

The team categorized the participants as having a low, middle or upper Mediterranean diet intake. They found that 428 (4.2%) of the women in the low group experienced a cardiovascular event compared to 356 (3.8%) in the middle group and 246 (3.8%) in the upper group, representing a relative risk reduction of 23% and 28% respectively, a benefit that is similar in percentages to statins or other preventive drugs.

The biomarker measurements showed changes in signals of inflammation (accounting for 29% of the cardiovascular disease risk reduction), glucose metabolism and insulin resistance (27.9%), and BMI (27.3%). The team also found dietary influences on blood pressure, various forms of cholesterol, branch-chain amino acids and other biomarkers, but found that these accounted for less of the association between Mediterranean diet and risk reduction.

This new study “has a strong public health message that modest changes in known cardiovascular disease risk factors, particularly those relating to inflammation, glucose metabolism and insulin resistance, contribute to the long-term benefit of a Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular disease risk. This understanding may have important downstream consequences for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease,” said lead author Shafqat Ahmad, PhD, a research fellow at the Brigham and at the Harvard Chan School.

We encourage you to select a daily diet that works best for you, after researching the benefits of each and measuring those against your individual health needs. And don’t forget to supplement to fill in any gaps and to combat effects of daily stress. Our Fucosea and Oysrelax are valuable and will help promote well-being.

Ahmad et al. “Assessment of Risk Factors and Biomarkers Associated With Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Women Consuming a Mediterranean Diet.” JAMA Network Open, 2018; 1 (8): e185708 DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.5708

Low-Carb Can Prevent Weight Regain

Fad diets come and go. Remember the grapefruit diet? The Scarsdale Diet? Currently, the keto diet is all the rage, but it is essentially an updated Atkins Diet. Which is to say, carbohydrate restrictive.

It isn’t all or nothing. There are the good carbs that you should be eating every day. Your daily diet needs primarily to consist of macronutrients: healthy (complex or slow) carbs, protein, and healthy fats. It’s the simple carbs that are easily identified that should be dramatically reduced if not completely eliminated. Foods made with white flour and extra sugar (as well as high-fructose corn syrup), and white rice (denuded of any vitamins and fiber).

It is known that a low-carb diet can and does spur weight loss. But a research team was keen to see if it helped people who lost weight keep the weight off. Often, people who lose weight tend to regain pounds as the poor eating habits creep back in through time. Additionally, when weight is loss, metabolism slows down. It sounds paradoxical, but it’s true.

The research team studied the effects of various diets on 164 adults with BMI of 25 or greater (overweight or obese) from August 2014 and May 2017. The participants were divided into three test diet groups – high carb diet (60% total carbs per day), medium carbs (40%) and low (20%).

When the participants reached the maintenance stage, the researchers then measured total energy expenditure (TEE), ghrelin and leptin. They found that the low-carb dieters had much higher TEE than the other two groups, that ghrelin (the hormone that creates hunger and appetite) was lower in the low-carb group, and that leptin, ghrelin’s opposite hormone (the one that makes you feel satiated) was higher in the low-carb group.

This study seems to validate that low-carb eating is just as important after weight is lost. The authors concluded, “Consistent with the carbohydrate-insulin model, lowering dietary carbohydrate increased energy expenditure during weight loss maintenance. This metabolic effect may improve the success of obesity treatment, especially among those with high insulin secretion. New information the authors believe this study adds to current knowledge about low-carbohydrate diets and health are that a low-carb diet can increase energy expenditure during weight loss maintenance, and this metabolic effect could improve the effectiveness of obesity treatment.”

Ebbeling, et al. “Effects of a low carbohydrate diet on energy expenditure during weight loss maintenance: randomized trial” BMJ 2018; 363 doi:

There have been previous studies showing benefits of restricting carb intake over restricting fats, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The DIRECT study compared low-carb, low-fat, and Mediterranean diets and found that after two years, weight loss and maintenance were better for low-carb and Mediterranean-style diets as compared to low-fat diets. In addition, a low-carb diet was most effective for lowering triglycerides, and also exerted the largest increase in HDL (good) cholesterol.

We believe in restricting the unhealthy carbs – and that it is easier to do today than ever, with the increasingly widespread availability of exotic fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, and better-for-you plant-based and whole grain foods. Adding in whole foods supplements, such as our popular Fucosea, helps boost nutrient status and overall well-being.

New Analysis Confirms Omega-3 Supports Healthy Pregnancy Duration

If you are pregnant, want to become pregnant, or love someone who is – great news once again shows that taking Omega 3 essential fatty acids help nourish the body to encourage a healthy pregnancy for the fuller term.

In a new published Cochrane Review analysis, researchers have found that increasing the intake of omega-3 EFAS docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) during pregnancy reduces the risk of premature births.

Premature birth is the worldwide leading cause of death for children under age five, accounting for close to one million deaths annually. Premature babies are at higher risk of a range of long-term conditions including visual impairment, developmental delay and learning difficulties.

“We know premature birth is a critical global health issue, with an estimated 15 million babies born too early each year,” explains Philippa Middleton from Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). “While the length of most pregnancies is between 38 and 42 weeks, premature babies are those born before the 37-week mark — and the earlier a baby is born, the greater the risk of death or poor health.”

Middleton and a team of Cochrane researchers have been investigating long-chain omega-3 fats and their role in reducing the risk of premature births – particularly DHA and EPA. They analyzed 70 randomized human trials and discovered three actions in pregnant women who increased daily consumption of omega 3 EFAs:

  • lowered risk of premature delivery (less than 37 weeks) by 11% (from 134 per 1000 to 119 per 1000 births)
  • lowered risk of having an early premature baby (less than 34 weeks) by 42% (from 46 per 1000 to 27 per 1000 births)
  • reduced risk of having a small baby (less than 2500g) by 10%

Middleton comments that currently, there are few options to prevent premature birth, so these findings have strong merit for pregnant women who want to ensure they achieve healthy gestation duration. “We don’t yet fully understand the causes of premature labor, so predicting and preventing early birth has always been a challenge. This is one of the reasons omega-3 supplementation in pregnancy is of such great interest to researchers around the world.”

This Cochrane review was first launched in 2006 and concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to support the routine use of omega-3 fatty acid supplements during pregnancy. However, more than a decade after, this updated review concludes that there is high quality evidence for omega-3 supplementation being an effective strategy for preventing preterm birth.

“It’s worth noting though that many supplements currently on the market don’t contain the optimal dose or type of omega-3 for preventing premature birth,” Middleton says. “Our review found the optimum dose was a daily supplement containing between 500 and 1000 milligrams (mg) of long-chain omega-3 fats (containing at least 500mg of DHA) starting at 12 weeks of pregnancy.”

She concludes, “Ultimately, we hope this review will make a real contribution to the evidence base we need to reduce premature births, which continue to be one of the most pressing and intractable maternal and child health problems in every country around the world.”

Our Fucosea whole foods nutrient-dense supplement provides Omega 3 EFAs, and taking this daily can help you achieve the levels shown by this study to help ensure a healthy delivery.

Makrides, et al. “Fish oil and other prostaglandin precursor supplementation during pregnancy for reducing pre-eclampsia, preterm birth, low birth weight and intrauterine growth restriction.” Cochrane Review, 2018 DOI:

7 Factors Driving the Weight Management Market

Despite the irrefutable knowledge that eating too much of the wrong foods and not exercising induces weight gain – coupled with the increasing availability of healthy foods, products and dietary supplements – millions of people (and more children) are either overweight or obese.

Analyst John LaRosa of has outlines eight trends in the US weight management market, which is expected to grow 3.2% this year (2018) to reach approximately $70 billion – the market leading categories are commercial chains and meal replacements.

He writes, “there are very few negatives in this year’s outlook for the U.S. weight loss market. Obesity rates are still high, and more DIY dieters seem to be joining structured programs. The industry appears to be hitting on all cylinders, propelled by a strong overall economy and continued high demand for weight loss programs by a largely overweight population.”

  1. Commercial Weight Loss Programs: Branded commercial weight loss programs such as NutriSystem and WW (formerly Weight Watchers) were expected to enjoy another strong year in 2018, buoyed by a stronger economy that increases both optimism and higher disposable income. Weight Watchers is re-energized by three factors: the involvement of mega-star Oprah Winfery, a more relevant and flexible points program and a new CEO, Mindy Grossman. Meanwhile, NutriSystem’s new South Beach Diet line is expected to give the brand a boost. LaRosa notes that this market segment is expected to grow nearly 13% to reach approximately $3.55 billion in 2018.
  1. Meal Replacements: The popularity of meal replacement products (eg, shakes and nutrition bars eaten as small meals) is objectified by strong growth as they offer convenience, and when the individual remains compliant, results. La Rosa projects that through 2022, sales of meal replacement shakes and bars should outpace the growth of OTC diet pills — 7.2% vs. 4.8% annually, respectively. In 2018, this market segment is expected to reach $4.7 billion in 2018. A significant contributor is the MLM sector – eg, Shaklee, Herbalife, Isagenix – which has strong sales of these products.
  1. Millennials: The millennial generation (the largest population group) has an impact in the weight management market. Their efforts to get into shape focus on “clean” eating, convenience, exercise. More than any previous generation, they are avoiding artificial components in foods, added sugars and empty calories.
  1. Body Positive Movement: Size acceptance is gaining, pun intended, as evidenced by more companies proudly using “plus-size” models, in an effort to promote a healthier self esteem, which empowers women to get into their best shape without sacrificing their health.
  1. Retail Weight Loss Programs: Pharmacy giants CVS and Rite-Aid, among other drug retail chains are increasingly offering walk-in weight loss clinics, and other retail entities, notably Walmart and have acknowledged interest in following suit.
  1. Diet Trends: Every decade or so a new diet surges to popularity. Currently, gluten-free, high-protein and ketogenic (a modified low-carb) diets are all the rage and will likely continue to gain acolytes for awhile.
  1. Seeking Out “Untapped Markets: For industry and healthcare, finding niche markets that will benefit from weight loss programs and products such as supplements will also accelerate. For example, offers LaRosa, underserved markets include adolescents, those with food allergies, and worksite wellness, among others. He writes, “Small entrepreneurs and medical diet chains will be the companies most likely to exploit these niches.”

No matter the trend or the diet, supplements will likely be a part of the weight loss and management regimen. For example, white kidney bean extract has been shown to prevent a certain percentage of carbohydrates from being absorbed, resulting in weight loss. Bitter orange’s content of synephrine is a gentle but effective stimulant that accelerates calorie burning and fat breakdown. Fucoxanthin from brown seaweed has also been shown to help stimulate weight loss by burning calories and fat.

Cactus Botanics offers all three ingredients; please contact us for more information. And
to learn more about Marketdata’s study, “
The U.S. Weight Loss & Diet Control Market,” visit

Lifestyle Changes Can Support Healthy Blood Pressure

A new study from the American Heart Association (AHA) showed that when adults (both men and women) who have high blood pressure made healthy lifestyle changes they can lower their blood pressure. The study was presented at AHA’s Joint Hypertension 2018 Scientific Sessions.



“Lifestyle modifications, including healthier eating and regular exercise, can greatly decrease the number of patients who need blood pressure-lowering medicine, stated lead author Alan Hinderliter, MD, associate professor of medicine at University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. That’s particularly the case in folks who have blood pressures in the range of 130 to 160 mmHg systolic and between 80 and 99 mmHg diastolic.”


Hinderliter and his team studied 129 overweight or obese hypertensive men and women aged 40 to 80 who were not taking blood pressure lowering medication at the time of the study. Patients’ blood pressures were between 130-160/80-99 mmHg at the study’s start.


Study participants were randomly assigned to one of three16-week interventions. Those in one group changed the content of their diets and took part in a weight management program that included behavioral counseling and thrice-weekly supervised exercise. This group consumed the DASH diet, a nutritional approach proven to lower blood pressure. DASH emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy and minimizes consumption of red meat, salt and sweets.


Participants in the second group changed diet only, also following the DASH diet. The third (control) group didn’t change their exercise or eating habits.


At the end of the 16-week study, researchers found four key points:

  • Those eating the DASH diet and participating in the weight management group not only had reduced blood pressure by an average 16 mmHg systolic and 10 mmHg diastolic at the close of the 16 weeks, they lost an average 19 pounds.
  • Those following only the DASH eating plan had blood pressures decrease an average 11 systolic/8 diastolic mmHg.
  • Adults who didn’t change their eating or exercise habits experienced a minimal blood pressure decline of an average 3 systolic/4 diastolic mmHg.
  • By the study’s end, only 15 percent of those who had changed both their diet and their exercise habits needed blood pressure-lowering medications, as recommended by the 2017 AHA/ACC (American College of Cardiology) guideline, compared to 23 percent in the group that only changed their diet. However, there was no change in the need for medications among those who didn’t change their diet or exercise habits — nearly 50 percent continued to meet criteria for drug treatment.

This study shows once again that lifestyle makes a large impact on health, and can be a critical factor in development of disease. Also, by changing one’s lifestyle from poor health habits to good health habits, overall well-being ensues as does lowered risk of certain diseases.


As part of a healthy lifestyle dietary supplements play a huge role. Indeed, several supplements have been shown to help manage blood pressure. One supplement, ellagic acid, was shown in a study to lessen hypertension and possibly improve nitric oxide bioavailability.  Cactus Botanics offers ellagic acid 90% HPLC, and many other supplements for promoting good health.


New Consumer Research Shows Supplement Demand Growth

At Cactus Botanics, we have devoted ourselves to the provision of safe, high-quality, science-backed ingredients for brands to formulate products that consumers will trust to provide them with health and well-being benefits. We never wavered from our commitment in all our years, and we know you are equally as dedicated.


Our hard work as an industry for several decades is paying off in unprecedented sales and demand from consumers for our products. We are doing something right. And new research from the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) proves it.


2018 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements. Commissioned by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, the survey found that 75 percent of U.S. adults take dietary supplements, as opposed to 65 percent in 2009, translating to an approximate 1% growth each year in the past 10 years – now three out of four American adults invest in supplements for their health.


“This year’s data provide further evidence that dietary supplements are mainstays in modern day health and wellness regimens,” said Brian Wommack, senior vice president, communications, CRN. “Three-quarters of Americans take dietary supplements, and the steady increase in use observed over recent years speaks to society’s shift toward a more holistic, personalized approach to healthcare. Not only does the 2018 survey reaffirm positive data we’ve seen before, but the results also paint a clearer picture of a changing industry guided by the needs and wants of American consumers today.”

More proof that our industry is here to stay and gain more devotees lies in increased trust. According to the new research, 87% of American adults have overall confidence in safety, efficacy and quality in dietary supplements. This has been rather high for about a decade, as in 2009, this number was 84%.


Further, in 2016 when asked, “To what extent do you perceive the dietary supplement industry as being trustworthy?” 73% of respondents acknowledged supplements are trustworthy. This number climbed to 78% this year. The five percent increase in consumer trust in just two years is noteworthy, according to Wommack.


Additionally, the CRN survey continues to show that those who use and trust in dietary supplements are also more likely to live a healthy lifestyle than those who don’t use supplements. This particular data point opens the doors wide for product development, and we are here to help.

Fucoidan Helps Keep the GI Healthy


New research shows that fucose, a fundamental phytochemical found in fucoidan (itself from brown seaweed) may protect against norovirus (aka ‘the stomach flu”), especially in children. Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis and is particularly harsh on children under three.


New research published this past July suggests that it may be easy to find a compound that could be used as a food supplement to stop the spread of norovirus in children’s hospitals. And that compound comes from brown seaweed (a featured ingredient in Fucosea).


According to the study authors, “Norovirus causes disease after entering cells in the gut by binding to a sugar molecule called fucose, which is found on cell surfaces as part of the structure that determines human ABO blood types. Norovirus can’t tell the difference between fucoses that are part of cells in the gut and those that are simply passing through; for this reason, adding a fucose-based supplement to the diet as a decoy could be a way to capture the virus and keep it from infecting cells.”


The scientists first needed to identify how fucose and virus molecules attached to each other. In cells, foods, and milk, fucose is typically found as a part of chains sugars and proteins. Lead author Franz-Georg Hanisch, a researcher at the University of Cologne, first broke down these molecular elements to understand what type of fucose-based product would best distract a norovirus. His team screened numerous types of fucose-containing human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs).


The researchers found the strength of the binding between the norovirus protein and HMOs did not depend much on the specific structure of the HMO, or the types of fucose molecules it contained. Instead the binding depended mostly on how many fucoses were contained. Each individual fucose stuck weakly to the virus protein, but the more fucoses there were in the compound, the better the compound and the viral protein stuck together.


“The binding of the virus is not dependent in any way on further structural elements (of HMOs),” Hanisch said. “It’s only the terminal fucose which is recognized, and the more fucose at higher densities is presented, the better is the binding.”


Hanisch then used an outstanding source of fucose — brown algae — the same family of seaweed that includes kelp – which is rich in fucoidan, a complex network of many fucoses and thus desirable for this research. (Fucoidan has independently been explored as useful for other viruses.)


“There are procedures for isolating the stuff in quite high yields and in high purity,” Hanisch said.

The fucoses in fucoidan were found to tightly bind to the virus protein in the team’s experiments. He noted that “this is good news, because it means that fucoidan could be a safe and cheap food additive to block viruses from infecting cells. It also suggests that the sky is the limit for researchers to design an even better fucose-containing compound.”


Our Fucosea features this desirable type of fucose. It is a whole-food supplement that provides macronutrients and micronutrients to keep you healthy.


Hanisch, et al. “Avidity of α-fucose on human milk oligosaccharides and blood groupunrelated oligo/polyfucoses is essential for potent norovirus-binding targets.” Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2018; 293 (30): 11955






Aerobic Exercise Can Extend Life


Cleveland Clinic researchers have found that better cardiorespiratory fitness leads to longer life, with no limit to the benefit of aerobic fitness.


Scientists studied 122,007 patients who performed treadmlll exercise at Cleveland Clinic between Jan. 1, 1991 and Dec. 31, 2014, by measuring all-cause mortality relating to the benefits of exercise and fitness.


Study data showed that increased cardiorespiratory fitness was directly associated with reduced long-term mortality, with no limit on the positive effects of aerobic fitness. Excellent aerobic fitness was linked with the greatest benefit, particularly in elderly individuals (70 and older) and in people with hypertension. “We found there is no limit to how much exercise is too much,” said lead author Wael Jaber, MD, Cleveland Clinic cardiologist. “Everyone should be encouraged to achieve and maintain high fitness levels.”


The risk associated with poor cardiorespiratory fitness was comparable to or even exceeded that of traditional clinical risk factors, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and smoking. The study’s findings emphasize the long-term benefits of exercise and fitness, even to extreme levels, regardless of age or coexistent cardiovascular disease.


Despite what previous studies suggesting that extreme exercising can be damaging, this team found that extreme fitness provided additional survival benefit over more modest levels of fitness, and that extremely fit patients lived the longest.


According to lead study author Kyle Mandsager, MD, he and his team were focused on the relationship between extremely high fitness and mortality, a relationship previously not studied on such a large scale.


All individuals had previously undergone stress tests at Cleveland Clinic, and were divided into five performance groups — elite, high, above average, below average and low. Elite performers were defined as having aerobic fitness in the top 2.5% by age and gender and their fitness levels were comparable to endurance athletes.


When the subgroups were analyzed by age, the survival benefit of elite versus high performance was most notable in older patients. Elite performers 70 and older exhibited a nearly 30% reduced risk of mortality compared to high performers. In younger age groups there was no statistical difference in outcomes between elite and high performers.


When the subgroups were analyzed by comorbidities, all-cause mortality inversely related to cardiorespiratory fitness and was lowest in the elite performers. For those patients with hypertension, the elite performers again showed a nearly 30 percent reduction in all-cause mortality compared to high performers. For all other comorbidity subgroups there was no statistical difference in survival rates between the elite and high performers.


We believe that exercise is an ultimate key to good health and mental and emotional well-being. If you don’t exercise now, start slowly. Give yourself reasonably achievable small goals to reach to improve your exercise output. And remember, aerobic exercise isn’t just “dancing” in a gym studio – it’s continued movement. Tennis can be aerobic, as can swimming, playing soccer or basketball. Conditioning through treadmill or similar exercise machines is a good idea, and will help build the endurance and improve cardiovascular and pulmonary (lung) health. In tandem, taking supplements, such as Fucosea, with a healthy diet, will help flood your body with nutrients it needs to enjoy good, wholesome health.



Mandsager, et al. “Association of Cardiorespiratory Fitness With Long-term Mortality Among Adults Undergoing Exercise Treadmill Testing.” JAMA Network Open, 2018; 1 (6): e183605

Fisetin: An Anti-Aging Antioxidant

Aging organisms tend to accumulate damaged cells, and when cells reach a certain point of damage, they go through an aging process to turn into senescent cells. The cells also release inflammatory factors that order the immune system to remove those damaged cells. A younger individual’s immune system is able to clear the damaged cells but in older people this process slows and becomes impaired, and they begin to accumulate, cause low level inflammation and release enzymes that can degrade the tissue.

As you know, fruits and vegetables offer a world of health-giving antioxidants, a broad range of phytochemicals that help keep us healthy by fighting off damaging chemicals called free radicals. Hundreds of antioxidants have been found to work specifically in the body, targeting cells, organs and systems to protect viability and structure.

According to a 2016 study, researchers noted that fisetin – a natural antioxidant found in various fruits (strawberries, apples, mangoes, persimmons, kiwis, and grapes), vegetables (tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers), nuts, and wine — has been shown to have many actions: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumorigenic, anti-angiogenic, neuroprotective, and cardioprotective effects in in vitro and in vivo studies. 1

New research published earlier this year in Nature Medicine involving University of Minnesota Medical School faculty and Mayo Clinic researchers showed it was possible to reduce the burden of damaged cells (called senescent cells), and extend lifespan and improve health, even when treatment was initiated later in life. The researchers now have shown that treatment of aged mice with fisetin also has significant positive effects on health and lifespan.

The team found that fisetin reduces the level of senescent cells in the body. They found this by treating mice towards the end of life with this compound and see improvement in health and lifespan. “These results suggest that we can extend the period of health, termed healthspan, even towards the end of life,” said co-author Paul Robbins. “But there are still many questions to address, including the right dosage, for example.” 2

In an earlier study on fisetin, the researchers noted that “fisetin has been shown to inhibit or retard the growth of various destructive cells in culture and implanted tumors in vivo. Fisetin targets many components of intracellular signaling pathways including regulators of cell survival and apoptosis, tumor angiogenic and metastatic switches by modulating a distinct set of upstream kinases, transcription factors and their regulators. Current evidence supports the idea that fisetin is a promising agent” for immune support. 3

Another outstanding source of antioxidants if Fucosea, a whole food supplement containing multiple vitamins, minerals, enzymes and omega 3 EFAs from sea plants and herbs.

1 Pal, et al. “Fisetin and Its Role in Chronic Diseases.” Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;928:213-244.

2 Yousefzadeh, et al.”Fisetin is a senotherapeutic that extends health and lifespan.” EBioMedicine, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2018.09.015

3 Rengaraian, Yaacob. “The flavonoid fisetin as an anticancer agent targeting the growth signaling pathways.” Eur J Pharmacol. 2016 Oct 15;789:8-16. 

Another Reason to Lose Weight:  Obesity Increases Cancer Risk

As the weather continues to turn colder and the holidays are near, we turn to comfort foods, typically laden with sugars and refined carbs, making us gain some weight. Many people, unfortunately, don’t stop the cycle and slowly continue to gain weight as years go by. This may lead to obesity.

Obesity is associated with increased risk of developing and dying from numerous common cancers (breast, ovarian, kidney, colon, pancreatic, gastric, esophageal, thyroid, and gallbladder). Obesity is also linked with prostate cancer progression.

A newly published article in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has explored the link between obesity and various cancers – the authors estimated that about one-third of cancer cases are linked to dietary and other modifiable risk factors, especially for obesity-related cancers such as breast, colorectal, ovarian, endometrial, kidney, gallbladder, esophageal, and pancreatic cancers. 

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 1.7 million new cancer cases diagnosed in 2018. Previous research has suggested that poor diet is linked to development or exacerbation of cancer and that obesity increases the risk of many types of cancer as well as type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, as well as contributing conditions hypertension and chronic inflammation. Obesity rates have continued to incline, as much as tripling over the past 50 years, despite new, healthier foods 

According to a 2016 report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, excess body fat increases the risk for 13 types of cancer. In their review, lead investigator Stephen D. Hursting, PhD, MPH, and colleagues illuminated several significant mechanisms underlying the obesity-cancer link and assessed the dietary interventions that are currently being implemented in preclinical and clinical trials.

“Obesity-associated metabolic perturbations are emerging as major drivers of obesity-related cancer, including alterations in growth factor signaling, inflammation, and angiogenesis,” explained Dr. Hursting. “Preclinical evidence suggests that dietary interventions, such as calorie restriction, intermittent fasting, low-fat diet and the ketogenic diet, have the potential to reverse some of these obesity-associated alterations; however, more clinical data are needed to confirm translation to human subjects.” 1

In 2016, figures released by Cancer Research UK showed that obese women were found to have around a 40 percent greater risk of developing a weight-related cancer in their lifetime than women of a healthy weight.

“Losing weight isn’t easy, but you don’t have to join a gym and run miles every day or give up your favorite food forever,” said Dr. Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK. “Just making small changes that you can maintain in the long term can have a real impact.” 2

If you or a loved one has a lot of weigh tot lose, the journey begins with one step. You can also start taking good-quality dietary supplements, especially whole foods-based supplements such as Fucosea. This supplement gives you necessary macronutrients good fats, protein and fiber, as well as a wide range of micronutrients such as trace minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and omega-e EFAs. 

1 “The connection between diet, obesity, and cancer: Nutrition experts explore the evidence: Dietary and lifestyle changes guided by registered dietitian nutritionists and other professionals can help reduce the incidence and progression of obesity-related cancers and support the recovery of cancer survivors.” Elsevier. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2018.

2  Cancer Research UK. “Obese women 40 per cent more likely to get cancer.” March 16, 2015

New Pomegranate Report Released

Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is becoming more popular as a health-promoting supplement as well as use as a healthy flavor in beverages and foods. And more people are using pomegranates in salads and other recipes – Pomegranate continues to enjoy a “moment.” Supplements tend to incorporate the rind, seed and seed oil, and sometimes the whole fruit extract. 

As pomegranate continues to be sought by consumers who are also increasingly demanding safety, transparency and traceability, the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP) has released its Laboratory Guidance Document (LGD) on pomegranate juice and extracts, written by written by John H. Cardellina II, PhD, a noted expert in natural products chemistry and analysis and chief technical consultant for BAPP.

When formulating pomegranate-containing supplements or foods/beverages, it is critical you pay attention to how adulteration can affect your product.

According to the LGD, the most significant issue reported in adulteration of pomegranate juice has been dilution with lower-cost fruit juices, and in some cases, undeclared colorants have been reported. In supplements, said the report, a common issue is added ellagic acids from non-pomegranate sources. Ellagic acid is a key active polyphenolic compound found in pomegranate, as well as in in other, lower-cost botanicals such as tree barks – it can also be made synthetically. 

“As is too often the case with relatively high-cost ingredients like pomegranate, unethical producers have found ways to sell diluted or counterfeit ‘pomegranate’ ingredients that contain lower-cost materials,” said Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council (ABC) and founder and director of BAPP. He added that the new LGD on pomegranate gives quality-control personnel the correct information they need about laboratory methods that can authenticate unadulterated pomegranate ingredients and determine any adulterants that may be present.

Dr. Cardellina asserted, “While the nature of adulteration may be different for juice or other food forms of botanical materials relative to supplements, the motivation for the fraudulent behavior is the same: higher profits. The analytical targets and laboratory methods may be different in the two product categories, but the challenge is the same: identifying effective methods and tools to ensure that products in the marketplace are properly composed and convey the expected nutrients and benefits. This might be a great opportunity for the food and supplement sectors to recognize common ground and work toward resolving this challenging issue.”

Stefan Gafner, PhD, chief science officer of ABC and technical director of BAPP, commented: “As explained in this LGD, there are no simple analytical methods to distinguish ellagic acid derived from pomegranate or other botanical sources. However, the absence of characteristic polyphenols, such as the punicalagins, in ingredients labeled as pomegranate extracts, should raise a red flag.”

For more information about this Laboratory Guidance Document, visit 

Cactus Botanics is proud to provide dietary supplement and functional food/beverage manufacturers with Pomegranate Hull Powder Extract with several percentages of ellagic acid content to suit your needs. 

Studies: Lutein May Slow Cognitive Aging and Lessen Inflammation

Lutein has long been known as an eye-health supplement, and for good reason. It has numerous studies in agreement that this carotenoid (from marigolds, eggs, spinach and other green leafy vegetables) helps preserve vision.

Two studies have unveiled new potential health uses for lutein, a nutrient that the human body cannot make on its own. Lutein accumulates in the eyes and brain tissue.

One study, which included 60 adults aged 25 to 45, found that middle-aged participants with higher levels of lutein had neural responses that were more on par with younger individuals than with their peers. This is significant as many other studies have focused on lutein in older adults after which there has already been some decline. 

The researchers chose to focus on young to middle-aged adults to see whether there was a notable difference between those with higher and lower lutein levels. “As people get older, they experience typical decline. However, research has shown that this process can start earlier than expected. You can even start to see some differences in the 30s,” said co-author Anne Walk. “We want to understand how diet impacts cognition throughout the lifespan. If lutein can protect against decline, we should encourage people to consume lutein-rich foods at a point in their lives when it has maximum benefit.”

The researchers measured lutein in the study participants’ eyes as they looked into a scope and responded to a flickering light. Then, using electrodes on the scalp, the researchers measured neural activity in the brain while the participants performed a task that tested attention. “The neuro-electrical signature of older participants with higher levels of lutein looked much more like their younger counterparts than their peers with less lutein,” Walk said. “Lutein appears to have some protective role, since the data suggest that those with more lutein were able to engage more cognitive resources to complete the task.”  1

Lutein may also suppress inflammation, according to another 2017 study by Swedish researchers. The results suggest that lutein itself has anti-inflammatory effects in individuals with coronary artery disease — inflammation is a driving force in many types of coronary artery conditions.

Many individuals who have had a myocardial infarction still exhibit low-level chronic inflammation even after receiving treatments and making lifestyle adjustments. “We know that chronic inflammation is associated with a poorer prognosis,” says Lena Jonasson, study co-author. 

Study co-author Rosanna Chung noted, “Our study confirms that one particular carotenoid, lutein, can suppress long-term inflammation in patients with coronary artery disease. We have also shown that lutein is absorbed and stored by the cells of the immune system in the blood.”

The researchers first measured the levels of the six most common carotenoids in blood from 193 individuals with coronary artery disease. Concomitantly, they measured the level of inflammation in the blood by looking for known inflammation marker interleukin-6 (IL-6). Lutein was the only carotenoid whose level was correlated with IL-6, they found. The higher the level of lutein in the blood, the lower the level of IL-6. 2

The researchers announced plans to study whether increased consumption of lutein has a positive effect on the immune system in people with coronary artery disease. 

Cactus Botanics proudly provides Lutein for the dietary supplement and functional food/beverage industry. 

1 Walk, et al. “The Role of Retinal Carotenoids and Age on Neuroelectric Indices of Attentional Control among Early to Middle-Aged Adults” Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 2017; 9 DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2017.00183

2 Chung, et al. “Lutein exerts anti-inflammatory effects in patients with coronary artery disease.” Atherosclerosis, 2017;262:87

Algae Can Alleviate Joint Issues



Algae may not sound appealing, but many species of this marine plant are wonderful for promoting human health. In fact, one study shows that a brown alga has an ingredient that can stop cartilage degeneration in joints. This is great news for the millions of adults worried about losing mobility to worsening joint discomfort and stiffness.


Approximately 90 percent of all people over 65 have some degree of joint degradation, primarily the cartilage, which serves to help lubricate the joints and cushion against the bones. This can be extremely painful for sufferers, because inflammatory reactions are associated with cartilage degeneration. In the later stages of arthritis, bones are no longer adequately protected and can directly rub against each other; it typically affects knees, hips and fingers.


Conventional anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers mainly address the symptoms. And some people opt to regain mobility through surgical knee or hip replacements.


In laboratory tests, researchers identified a compound — polysaccharide alginate extracted from the stems of cuvie (Laminaria hyperborean), a brown alga — similar to extracellular molecules in cartilage, and which has potential to cause cessation of cartilage degeneration in joints.


In the in vitro study, researchers modified the alginate with sulfate groups then added it in dissolved form to cell cultures to examine the reaction of various cell types to the modified polysaccharide. Alginate sulfate was shown to significantly reduce oxidative stress, a common cause of cell damage and cell death; further, the more sulfate groups that were attached to the alginate molecule, the greater this reduction was.


The study also showed that alginate sulfate was able to suppress the inflammatory reaction, likewise also depending on the number of sulfate groups, and was able to down-regulate the expression of genes that trigger an inflammatory reaction in both chondrocytes (cells specific to cartilage), and in macrophages, the “scavenger cells” of the immune system. The algal molecules should therefore slow down cartilage degeneration. “The hope is that they can even stop this degeneration,” stated researcher Markus Rottmar.


At Herbsea, we are very excited about this emerging research. We know earth’s waters offer a treasure trove of healthy gifts for us (and our companion animals, too). As such, we developed our distinctive Fucosea — a multi-marine-source dietary supplement containing health-promoting polysaccharides, and is perfect for vegans and vegetarians.


Anne Kerschenmeyer, et al. “Anti-oxidant and immune-modulatory properties of sulfated alginate derivatives on human chondrocytes and macrophages.” Biomater. Sci., 2017; 5 (9): 1756