Why is this important?
Reactive oxygen and nitrogen free radical molecules are produced within the body particularly when exposed to environmental factors such as: pollution, stress, smoke, and sunlight.
Studies done in Brazil at the University of Lavras have demonstrated Cinnamodendron dinisii, pepper, and Siparuna guianesis Aublet, negramina, show antibiotic activity. The researchers were careful to note that the constituents although identified through GC/MS - gas chromatography mass spectroscopy -may demonstrate their antioxidant activity through synergistic effects (working together) as opposed to the plants' isolates. The antioxidants were analyzed using the B-carotene/linoleic acid system and the DPPH radical sequestering method.
The oils were studied to see if they would prevent the peroxidation of food which is what causes food to smell and taste badly making them unfit for consumption. Currently, the industry uses BHA, BHT, TBHQ and PG which have demonstrated carcinogenic potential in animals. Due to the problems caused by the consumption of synthetic products, natural products with antioxidant potential are being sought. The study and its finding concluded that, "the antioxidant activity of volatile oils, even very pronounced can hardly be attributed to the components alone [...] due to the complex chemical composition of these natural compounds which may contain molecules with different functional groups, the magnitude of the antioxidant activity shown by them can be related to the effect caused by the interaction of all the constituents present in the essential oil, from those present in a greater proportion to those present in minor amounts. This action may produce a synergistic effect when the interaction enhances the effect of the oil or antagonistic when the interaction negatively effects the antioxidant activity of the oil in the study.
In another study at NIH, "The antioxidant activity of a commercial rectified clove leaf essential oil (Eugenia caryophyllus) and its main constituent eugenol was tested. This essential oil comprises in total 23 identified constituents, among them eugenol (76.8%), followed by beta-caryophyllene (17.4%), alpha-humulene (2.1%), and eugenyl acetate (1.2%) as the main components. The essential oil from clove demonstrated scavenging activity against the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picryl hydracyl (DPPH) radical at concentrations lower than the concentrations of eugenol, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). This essential oil also showed a significant inhibitory effect against hydroxyl radicals and acted as an iron chelator. With respect to the lipid peroxidation, the inhibitory activity of clove oil determined using a linoleic acid emulsion system indicated a higher antioxidant activity than the standard BHT."
In another study at the Department of Chemistry at the Texas Southern University 248 essential oils belonging to eighteen different chemical families were evaluated for their antioxidant capabilities (ROS scavending capabilities). Seven percent [or seventeen] of these were determined to have "very high free radical scavenging capacities."
The results of this study is best demonstrated by using the graphs below.
The most interesting aspect of this work was found when I went to see who their resources were and this study was supported by a grant from NASA. Wow. The links are all listed in the