The concept of Yin and Yang balance existed in ancient traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2000 years. The author of the Chinese medical treatise Su Wen writes “The imbalance of Yin and Yang was the cause of all diseases”. For centuries, traditional Chinese medicine relies on the theory of Yin and Yang balance in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Interestingly enough, this Yin and Yang balance sought in traditional Chinese medicine seems to have been reflected in modern western medicine as the balance between antioxidation and oxidation in the human body.
Numerous research show that the balance between antioxidation and oxidation is critical for maintaining a healthy biological system. Human body systemically generates oxidative reactive oxygen species that are critical for cellular signaling process. At the same time, these oxidative reactive oxygen species are extremely unstable that cause oxidation and damages of biological structures such as cells. Therefore, as a natural defense system, the body regularly eliminates these free radicals via in vivo antioxidants and other mechanisms to reach a healthy balance of antioxidation and oxidation. However, under weakened body conditions, oxidative radical elimination process may become insufficient. That’s when oxidative stress, an imbalance where free radicals generation overwhelms the radical elimination process occurs, is formed.
A large body of studies has related oxidative stress to many disease conditions and symptoms such as inflammation. In traditional Chinese medicine theory, inflammation is a typical symptom of excessive Yang (or Fire). Traditional medicinal treatment employs natural plants and herbs to achieve “Fire Relief”, mirroring the concept of employing natural antioxidants for oxidative stress relief in modern western nutraceutical industry. Practice in both eastern and western world indicated that the physiological reaction of “Fire” and “Fire Relief” is closely related to the process of oxidation and antioxidation in human bodies, and dynamic balance of Yin-Yang and Antioxidation-Oxidation is pivotal to health. Both theories are also much more complex than simple imbalance and reaching balance via natural botanic aids. In fact, artificially forging physiological balance via extensive external aids, natural or synthetic medicine, may overwhelm the body and cause it to lose ability to balance.
Regardless, nature has presented numerous substances that, when moderately applied, have been successfully demonstrated to improve chronic problem conditions in human bodies. Remarkably, both eastern traditional medicine and western nutraceutical theory have included similar groups of substances such as phenolic compounds as natural remedy or health supplements. In Chinese medicine, herbs containing phenolic compounds are used to reach “Fire Relief” to combat fire symptoms like inflammation; In nutraceutical world, phenolic compounds are a major group of antioxidants that are used to release oxidative stress and related disease conditions including inflammation.
Such antioxidant compounds can be identified and quantified via modern technologies like Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) analysis. As antioxidant rich functional foods and nutritional products industry continues to evolve, demands for in depth investigations connecting antioxidants and health benefits increase. Therefore biological investigations have also been developed to monitor the effect of these natural compounds in a real biological system, and determine whether they have a positive impact in health conditions. These investigations include cellular and enzymatic analyses developed at research labs (like Brunswick Labs of course) that looks into human cells to determine impact of antioxidants in oxidative stress reduction, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic function areas. In addition, more and more clinical studies have been conducted to verify the effect of functional foods and nutritional products on human health.
With more science backing, we would be understanding the control mechanism behind antioxidation and oxidation/Yin and Yan balance, and hopefully grasping nature’s best offerings to achieve the ultimate goal: balance.