In 2001 we moved to China to be part of the start up team for a new Research and Development Center.
One of the goals of the center was to look at applications of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the development of new foods and beverage with specific health benefits.
This was really a great experience as well as a good challenge and often lots of fun too.
We got to meet many practitioners of TCM who would assess our Ying and Yang and predict what most likely were the strengths and weakness in our bodies. They were generally spot on in their diagnosis.
We tried out many hundreds of ingredients some of which had rather special tastes and aromas!
We hoped to identify the most promising for western applications by matching the traditions with modern clinical studies. For example we know ginger has been used for centuries for it’s benefits on digestion. Today clinical trials have “proved” it works.
One of the most prized and promising traditional ingredients we came across was the Goji Berry. This is an absolutely beautiful plant. The color is a deep orange contrasting with the deep green of the leaf.
Generally the berries are dried and are used in soups, teas and porridge’s. They have been used traditionally for thousands of years to protect the body and keep the skin and eyes healthy.
Within the past fifty years or so chemical analysis showed them to be one of the richest sources ever found of certain carotenoids including Lutein and its isomer Zeaxanthin.
After all this rambling, here comes the punch line! Guess what was discovered only quite recently in fact just around the millennium? The retina of the eye selectively stocks these two compounds.
They help protect the eye from the oxidative damage light imparts. There may even be a special component that pulls them out of the blood stream just for this purpose of stocking them up in the eye.
People suffering from conditions such as macular degeneration that can cause blindness are now regularly recommended to take supplements rich in Lutein and Zeaxanthin!
Just an example that shows that it pays to listen to the wisdom of the ages!
Blessing # 389– Sages and Science