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Plum

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Prunus cerasifera is a species of plum known by the common name cherry plum. It belongs to family Rosaceae, genus Prunus and subgenus Prunus. It is native to Europe and Asia. It is a shrubs or small trees reaching 6-15 meters tall, with deciduous leaves 4 to 6 centimeters long. The flowers are white and about 2 centimeters across, with five petals. The fruit is a drupe 2 or 3 centimeters in diameter and yellow or red in color.
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Botanical Names
Prunus cerasifera
Indian Names
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Chemical Constituents
Plum is a good source of antioxidants and vitamins. It contains carbohydrates, dietary fibers, proteins, vitamin C, vitamin A and minerals such as phosphorous, and potassium. The physical characteristics and chemical composition of different plum varieties differs but the mean chemical compositions for all varieties are as moisture, soluble solids, tratable acidity, total sugar, reducing sugar, sucrose, ascorbic acid, protein, sodium potassium, calcium, and iron. Neo-chlorogenic acid was the predominant poly phenol among fresh plums tested. Flavonols found in plum were commonly quercetin derivatives. Rutin was the most predominant flavonol in plums (1). Ethanolic extracts of plum seeds have been shown to contain gallic acid, ellagic acid, chebulic acid, corilagin and related ellagitannins, 3,6-hexahydroxydiphenoylglucose and its two isomeric forms, galloylglucose and quercetin.
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs, it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health.
Pharmacology
Plum is a good source of antioxidants. It possesses many health benefits due to its high antioxidants content. Plum possesses anti viral, anti cholesterol, and antioxidant properties. Plum also prevents the osteoporosis conditions in women (3). Phenolic compounds in plums found to inhibit human low density lipid cholesterol oxidation in vitro thus it lowers the cholesterol levels (4). Studies have demonstrated that dried plums which contain high amounts of poly phenols can restore bone mass and structure, and significantly increase indices of bone formation. Plum also contains flavonoids. Flavonoids have antioxidative activity, free-radical scavenging capacity, coronary heart disease prevention, and anticancer activity, while some flavonoids exhibit potential for anti–human immunodeficiency virus functions (5). Plum extract also possesses anti viral properties against human influenza A virus. Using a plaque reduction assay, treatment of human influenza A viruses with the fruit-juice concentrate of plum showed strong in vitro anti-influenza activity against human influenza A viruses before viral adsorption. Dried plums are a good source of the cholesterol- lowering fibre pectin, and have been shown to lower serum cholesterol in both rats and man. Scientist Tinker et al. has proved through scientific studies that hyper cholesterolaemic patients can be benefited by plums as it reduces both total and LDL-cholesterol.
Health Benefits
Plum has various health benefits. Potassium content of plums is beneficial for cardiovascular health. Its fiber composition, plays a role in laxation, also provide other benefits such as improved glucose tolerance and lipid metabolism. The phenolic compounds found in dried plum, chlorogenic acid in particular, involved in the improved glucose metabolism observed with dried plum consumption (8). Furthermore, chlorogenic acid has been found to stimulate the immune function against certain tumor cell lines and to exhibit antiviral activity in vitro. Plums have also been identified as having the highest antioxidant activity among the commonly consumed plant foods. This antioxidant property of plum can potentially play a role in the prevention of disorders such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and bone loss (9). Dried plum have been recently shown to be effective in both preventing and reversing ovarian hormone deficiency-associated bone loss in a rat model of osteoporosis, as well as positively influencing the indices of bone metabolism in postmenopausal women.
Application in Cosmetics
The sweet scent of plum and the antioxidant content revive the complexion, providing comfort and hydration. Plums are proven to have high levels of phyto-nutrients to fight the signs of aging associated with free radicals. The smooth whip of nutritious fruits gives the skin the moisture that it needs to look younger and line-free. Plum is a good source of antioxidants, it fights with free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for formation of wrinkles and lines on the face. Thus plum fruit can be used for skin care and to keep lines and wrinkles at bay.
Research References
1. MARIÄA I. G., FRANCISCO A. T., BETTY H. AND ADEL A. K. Antioxidant Capacities, Phenolic Compounds, Carotenoids, and Vitamin C Contents of Nectarine, Peach, and Plum Cultivars from California J. Agric. Food Chem. 2002, 50, 4976-4982 2. Francisco A. T., Marı´a I. G., Paedar C., Andrew L. W., Betty Hess-P. and Adel A. HPLC-DAD-ESIMS Analysis of Phenolic Compounds in Nectarines, Peaches, and Plums J. Agric. Food Chem. 2001, 49, 4748-4760 3. Bu S. Y., Hunt T. S., Smith B. J. Dried plum polyphenols attenuate the detrimental effects of TNF-alpha on osteoblast function coincident with up-regulation of Runx2, Osterix and IGF-I.J Nutr Biochem. 2009 Jan;20(1):35-44. 4. Cynthia M. G. and Daniel D. G. Dried plums (prunes) reduce atherosclerosis lesion area in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice British Journal of Nutrition (2009), 101, 233–239 5. L. H. YAO., Y. M. JIANG., J. SHI., F. A. TOMÁS-BARBERÁN., N. DATTA., R. SINGANUSONG and S. S. CHEN Flavonoids in Food and Their Health Benefits Plant Foods for Human Nutrition (Formerly Qualitas Plantarum) 59 (3):113-122 6. Yingsakmongkon S., Miyamoto D., Sriwilaijaroen N., Fujita K., Matsumoto K., Jampangern W., Hiramatsu H., Guo C. T., Sawada T., Takahashi T., Hidari K., Suzuki T., Ito M., Ito Y., and Suzuki Y. In vitro inhibition of human influenza A virus infection by fruit-juice concentrate of Japanese plum (Prunus mume SIEB. et ZUCC). Biol Pharm Bull. 2008 31(3):511-515 7. Dae-Ok K. Ock K. C., Young J. K., Hae-Yeon M., and Chang Y. L. Quantification of Polyphenolics and Their Antioxidant Capacity in Fresh Plums J. Agric. Food Chem., 2003, 51 (22), pp 6509–6515 8. Ock K. C., Dae-Ok K. and Chang Y. L. Superoxide Radical Scavenging Activity of the Major Polyphenols in Fresh Plums J. Agric. Food Chem., 2003, 51 (27), pp 8067–8072 9. U. Imeh and S. Khokhar Distribution of Conjugated and Free Phenols in Fruits: Antioxidant Activity and Cultivar Variations J. Agric. Food Chem., 2002, 50 (22), pp 6301–6306 10. Ock K. C., Dae-Ok K., Hae Y. M., Hee G. Kang, and Chang Yong L. Contribution of Individual Polyphenolics to Total Antioxidant Capacity of Plums J. Agric. Food Chem., 2003, 51 (25), pp 7240–7245 11. Bolı´var A., Cevallos C., David B., William R. O., Luis C. Z. Selecting new peach and plum genotypes rich in phenolic compounds and enhanced functional properties Food Chemistry 96 (2006) 273–280