Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Anise and Human Health

(Pimpinella anisum) An HERB belonging to the PARSLEY family that originated in India and was cultivated in ancient China and Egypt. The fruit, aniseed, is dried and used as a seasoning. The distinctive, licorice-like flavor of anise extract adds to the taste of shortbread cakes, such as pizella (Italy) and pains รก l’anis (France). Anise is used in certain candies. Crushed aniseed together with cinnamon and coriander is used to make a liqueur, anisette. Chopped anise leaves have been used in pickled vegetables and soups.

What is anion?

A negatively charged ion. Anions are the opposite of CATIONS, which carry positive charges. Important anions are formed when weak acids ionize. Anions, together with their cation counterparts, occur in blood and are called electrolytes. They are required to maintain the appropriate effective concentration of ions and PROTEINS in the
blood. Key anions in blood are chloride (Cl–), phosphate (H2PO4–), and bicarbonate (HCO3
Chloride (Cl–) is the predominant anion in body fluids. Neither chloride nor phosphate can be made by the body; they are essential nutrients to be supplied by the diet. Phosphate and bicarbonate ions help buffer blood at nearly a constant pH. These anions are examples of “conjugate bases,” formed when weak acids ionize.

What is angiotensin?

A protein-like hormone formed in the blood that raises blood pressure. Angiotensin contracts the muscles of CAPILLARIES and ARTERIES (vasopressor), which increases resistance for blood flow. Angiotensin is liberated by the action of RENIN, an ENZYME formed by the kidneys, on a serum PROTEIN (angiotensinogen) produced by the liver. The release of renin by the kidneys is triggered when they experience lowered blood flow, for example, due to dehydration. Angiotensin also plays an important role in the regulation of blood pressure by stimulating the ADRENAL GLANDS to secrete ALDOSTERONE. Aldosterone, in turn, promotes SODIUM retention and water retention by the kidneys, to help regulate water balance.