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Center Research and Plants

The UIC Botanical Research Center and the Properties of Botanicals that Women Take to Promote Good Health and Resilience Heading link

Today’s emphasis on health maintenance and resilience is reflected in the increased use of botanical dietary supplements (BDS). Women – especially those over 55 years of age – are the largest consumer group taking botanical dietary supplements.

The ability of women to manage, e.g., menopausal symptoms while maintaining an active lifestyle without the use of prescription hormone therapy is an appealing message, which many women consumers of botanical dietary supplements respond to enthusiastically.

In recognition of this trend, the UIC Botanical Research Center investigators are committed to determining whether the botanical dietary supplements regularly consumed by women are safe and effective, and to what degree their health claims are substantiated.

Investigated Botanicals Heading link

Center botanicals were selected based on a review of the literature using various databases including NAPRALERT which includes references for ethnobotanical and traditional use applications. The botanicals chosen for Center research were identified as having either a long history of use and/or are among the top-ranking botanicals currently available for sale as botnaical formulations targeted to women's health (see the table below).  For comparison, Rhodiola rosea and Schisandra chinensis are included as they are known to promote resiliency when the user is in a stressed state. Therefore, how well the listed botanicals will compare to the known resliency plants will be of interest.
UIC Botanical Center Plants (Latin Name) Common Name Plant Part
Actaea racemosa Black Cohosh root/rhizome
Angelica sinensis Dang Gui (aka Dong Quai) Root
Dioscorea villosa Wild yam Root
Glycyrrhiza glabra L., G. uralensis, G. inflata Licorice Rhizome
Humulus lupulus Hops Strobuli
Lepidium meyenii Maca Root, tuber
Pueraria mirifica Kwao Keur Root
Rhodiola rosea Rose root Root
Silybum marianum Milk thistle Seed
Schisandra chinensis Five flower berry Fruit
Trifolium pratense Red clover Aerial
Valeriana officinalis Valerian Root
Vitex agnus-castus Chasteberry Fruit

Examples of two familiar botanicals under current investigation are hops (Humulus lupulus) and licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra).

Hops are well known for their use in the beer-making process, as they add flavor and color and act as a preservative. Hops have also been used traditionally as a sleep aid and anti-anxiety medicine. The UIC Botanical Center is studying its application to the alleviation of symptoms such as hot flushes associated with menopause and testing hops for their cytoprotective properties.

Licorice is familiar to many as the candy or sweetener derived from the roots of this plant. However licorice was also traditionally used for coating/moisturizing tissue, such as the throat, and for healing gastric ulcers. Current Center research focuses on the estrogenic and related hormonal properties of licorice as well as its resiliency enhancing properties.