The contribution of trees to mankind in terms of nutrition and health

Trees, the most common creatures around us, are related to the development and habitat of human civilization. From drilling wood for fire to building tree houses, from manufacturing tools, building furniture to the development of papermaking technology, the silent dedication of trees is inseparable. Nowadays, the close relationship between trees and humans has penetrated into all aspects of human activities and life.
Trees are the general term for woody plants, including trees, shrubs and woody vines. Trees are mainly seed plants. Among ferns, only tree ferns are trees. There are about 8,000 species of trees in China. In addition to the common nutritional and healthy raw materials from fruit trees, there are also some natural ingredients from trees that are also the focus of the nutrition and health industry. Today we will summarize the functional raw materials from these trees.


Taxol, as a diterpene alkaloid compound with anticancer activity, was first isolated from the bark of Pacific yew. In August 1962, US Department of Agriculture botanist Arthur Barclay collected samples of branches, bark and fruit of Pacific yew in a national forest in Washington State. These samples were sent to Wisconsin alumni for research The foundation conducts extraction and separation. It was confirmed that the crude extract of bark had a toxic effect on KB cells. Later, the chemist Wall named this potentially anti-cancer substance taxol (taxol).
After a large number of scientific experiments and clinical verification, paclitaxel can be used for the treatment of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and some head and neck cancers and lung cancers. Nowadays, paclitaxel has long become a popular natural anti-cancer drug in the international market. With the increase in the population of the earth and the incidence of malignant tumors, people’s demand for paclitaxel has increased significantly. However, paclitaxel is low in nature, about 0.004% in yew bark, and it is not easy to get. And the content fluctuates depending on the season, place of production and collection location. However, due to the trend of interest, in the last few years of the 20th century, more than 80% of the yews in the world were cut down. The more than 3 million yews in the Hengduan Mountains in western Yunnan, China were not spared, and most of them were stripped of their bark. , Died silently. This “slaughter” storm slowly ceased until all countries introduced laws prohibiting logging.
Extracting medicines from natural resources to benefit patients is a good thing to treat diseases and save people, but how to find a balance between medicine development and natural resources protection is a realistic problem we must face today. Facing the dilemma of paclitaxel raw material supply, scientists in various fields began to make different attempts. Mainly include chemical total synthesis, semi-synthesis, endophytic fermentation and synthetic biology. But what can be commercially produced is still a semi-synthetic method, that is, artificially cultivated fast-growing yew branches and leaves are used as raw materials to extract 10-deacetyl baccatin III (10-DAB), which has the same core structure as paclitaxel, and then synthesize it into paclitaxel. This method has lower cost than natural extraction and is more environmentally friendly. I believe that with the continuous advancement of synthetic biology, gene editing, and the development of artificial chassis cells, the ambition of using microorganisms to produce paclitaxel will be realized in the near future.

2.White willow bark extract

White willow bark extract is the branch or bark extract of weeping willow of the Willow family. The main component of white willow bark extract is salicin. As “natural aspirin”, salicin is often used to relieve colds, fever, headaches and rheumatic joints inflammation. The functional active ingredients in white willow bark extract also include tea polyphenols and flavonoids. These two chemicals have anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-fever and strengthen immune granule effects.

Thousands of years ago, the salicylic acid in willow bark began to help humans fight against pain, fever, rheumatism and other diseases. It is recorded in the “Shen Nong’s Materia Medica” that the roots, bark, branches and leaves of the willow tree can be used as medicine, which has the effects of clearing heat and detoxification, preventing wind and diuresis; ancient Egypt before 2000, recorded in the “Ebers Planting Manuscript”, using dried willow leaves To relieve pain; Hippocrates, a famous ancient Greek doctor and “father of medicine”, also mentioned the effect of willow bark in his writings.
Modern clinical studies have found that daily intake of 1360mg of white willow bark extract (containing 240mg of salicin) can relieve joint pain and arthritis after two weeks. Using high-dose white willow bark extract may also help relieve back pain, especially for high fever headaches.

3.Pine Bark Extract

Pycnogenol is an extract from the bark of French coastal pine, which grows only in the largest single-species forest in Europe in the Landes region on the southwest coast of France. In fact, since ancient times, the bark of pine trees has been used for food and medicine, and as a holy product for medical medicine. Hippocrates (yes, he again) used pine bark to treat inflammatory diseases. He applied the inner membrane of the smashed pine bark to the inflamed wound, pain, or ulcer. The Laplanders in modern northern Europe pulverized pine bark and added it to the flour to make bread to withstand the biting cold winds in winter.
Pycnogenol contains bioflavonoids and phenolic fruit acids, including oligomeric proanthocyanidins, catechol, epicatechin, taxifolin, and a variety of phenolic fruit acids such as ferulic acid and caffeic acid And more than 40 active ingredients. It can scavenge free radicals, produce nitric oxide, and has multiple effects such as delaying aging, beautifying the skin, strengthening blood vessels, protecting the heart and brain, improving vision, and increasing energy.
In addition, there are pine bark extracts developed by New Zealand Enzhuo Company. The unique New Zealand pine grows in a pure and natural environment. It is located in the water source of New Zealand’s national beverage, the most famous beverage L&P. It does not contain any toxic substances before being processed. , And then use the pure water technology that has obtained a number of international patents to obtain high-purity pine alcohol through pure natural extraction. The company’s raw materials are positioned for brain health, and based on this as the main ingredient, it has developed a variety of brain health supplements.

4.Ginkgo Biloba Extract

Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) is an extract made from the dried leaves of Ginkgo biloba, a plant of the Ginkgo family, with complex chemical components. At present, more than 160 compounds have been isolated from it, including flavonoids, terpenoid lactones, polypentenols, and organic acids. Among them, flavonoids and terpene lactones are conventional indicators for the quality control of GBE and its preparations, and are also the main active components of GBE. They can improve the microcirculation of the heart and brain vessels, scavenging oxygen free radicals, and are effective in hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and acute brain. Infarction and other cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases have better therapeutic effects. Preparations such as ginkgo leaves, capsules and dripping pills made with GBE as raw materials are currently very popular edible supplements and medicines in Europe and the United States.
Germany and France are the first countries to extract ginkgo flavonoids and ginkgolides from ginkgo leaves. The GBE preparations of the two countries have a relatively high share in the world, such as the German Schwabe pharmaceutical company (Schwabe) Tebonin, France’s Beaufor-Ipsen’s Tanakan, etc.
my country is rich in ginkgo leaf resources. Ginkgo trees account for about 90% of the global ginkgo tree resources. It is the main producing area of ​​ginkgo, but it is not a strong country in the production of ginkgo leaf preparations. Because of the late start of modern research on ginkgo resources in my country, and the weak production and processing capabilities, coupled with the influence of adulterated products, the situation in the GBE market in my country is relatively sluggish. With measures such as domestic quality control standards, integration of existing processing and production enterprises, and enhancement of industry R&D capabilities and production technologies, my country’s GBE industry will usher in a healthy development.

5.Gum Arabic

Gum arabic is a kind of natural indigestible carbohydrates. It is the particles formed naturally from the sap of the acacia tree. The main components are polymer polysaccharides and their calcium, magnesium and potassium salts. It is the world’s most The ancient and most well-known kind of natural rubber. Its commercial cultivation is mainly concentrated in African countries such as Sudan, Chad and Nigeria. It is an almost monopolized market. Sudan accounts for about 80% of global gum arabic production.
Gum Arabic has always been sought after because of its prebiotic effects and its influence on the taste and texture of food and beverages. Since the early 1970s, the French company Nexira has supported several sustainable work related to the gum arabic project, including ecological support and ways to influence the communities in which it operates. It reforested 27,100 acres and planted more than 2 million trees using agroforestry management methods. In addition, we actively support the development of fragile ecosystems and the diversity of biological resources through sustainable agriculture.
Nexira stated that the company’s gum arabic products are 100% water-soluble, odorless, odorless, and colorless, and have good stability under extreme process and storage conditions, which makes them suitable for dietary supplements and a wide range of functions. Food and beverages. The company has applied to the FDA at the end of 2020 to list gum arabic as a dietary fiber.

6.Baobab Extract

Baobab is a unique plant in the Sahara Desert of Africa, and it is also known as the African tree of life (Baobab), and it is a traditional food for African residents. The African Baobab is one of the most recognizable trees on the African continent, but it also grows in Oman, Yemen, the Arabian Peninsula, Malaysia, and Australia. In parts of Africa, the Baobab fruit drink called bouye is very popular.
As an emerging flavor, Baobab has a flavor (called lemon light sweetness) texture, and is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, making it a unique healthy raw material. Its raw material supplier Nexira believes that Baobab pulp powder is very suitable for cleaning label applications. This powder has a slight strong taste and is easy to apply in large quantities, such as milkshakes, health bars, breakfast cereals, yogurt, ice cream or chocolate. It also combines well with other super fruits. The baobab pulp powder produced by Nexira uses only the fruit of the baobab tree, so the tree itself has not been damaged. At the same time, Nexira’s procurement supports the policies of local residents and helps create a positive socio-economic impact in Africa.

7.Birch Bark Extract

Birch trees not only have the upright and heroic appearance, but also the characteristics of being sparsely forested. In the deciduous season, it is the painter’s most lingering beauty. The bark can be made into paper, the branches can be made into wood, and the most amazing thing is “birch sap”.
The birch sap, known as the “successor” of coconut water, can be extracted directly from birch trees and is also known as “natural forest drink”. It concentrates the vitality of birch trees in the alpine region, and contains carbohydrates, amino acids, organic acids and a variety of inorganic salts that are necessary and easily absorbed by the human body. Among them, there are more than 20 kinds of amino acids and 24 kinds of inorganic elements, especially vitamin B1, B2 and vitamin C. It helps the skin retain moisture and maintain the balance of oily and dry areas. Many emerging products use birch juice instead of water to create “soft and elastic” skin. Among many natural skin care products and functional beverages, birch juice is a very popular functional raw material.

8.Moringa Extract

Moringa is also a kind of “super food” that we often say, it is rich in protein, fatty acids, and minerals. Its flowers, leaves and Moringa seeds have high application value. In recent years, Moringa has attracted the attention of the industry due to its rich nutrient content, and there is a faint second “curcumin” trend.
The international market is also optimistic about the development prospects of Moringa. From 2018 to 2022, global Moringa products will grow at an average annual rate of 9.53%. Moringa products come in various forms, including various forms of Moringa tea, Moringa oil, Moringa leaf powder and Moringa seeds. Important factors driving the rapid growth of Moringa products include the increase in people’s disposable income, the increase in aging trends, and millennials who are willing to try new things.
However, domestic development is still at a relatively low-end stage. However, from the current research related to Moringa oleifera, foreign countries pay attention to the nutritional value of Moringa oleifera, and domestic research is more about the feeding value of Moringa oleifera. Moringa leaf was approved as a new food ingredient in 2012 (Announcement No. 19 of the Health and Family Planning Commission). With the deepening of research, the benefits of Moringa oleifera for diabetes, especially the complications of diabetes, have attracted attention. With the continuous and rapid growth of diabetic and pre-diabetic patients in the future, this field may become a breakthrough in the application of Moringa extract in the food field.

Post time: May-07-2021