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Almond

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Prunus dulcis, called almond is a species of tree native to the Middle East and South Asia. Almond is the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree. Within the genus Prunus, it is classified with the peach in the subgenus Amygdalus, and belongs to the family Rosaceae. The fruit of the almond is not a true nut, but a drupe, consisting of an outer hull and a hard shell with the seed inside.
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Botanical Names
Prunus dulcis
Indian Names
Sanskrit : Vaataama, Vaataada Hindi : Badaam Marathi : Badam Bengali : Badam Gujarati : Badam Tamil : Vadhumai Telugu : Badamkayi Kannada : Badami
Chemical Constituents
The sweet almond contains about 26% carbohydrates (12% dietary fiber, 6.3% sugars, 0.7% starch and the rest miscellaneous carbohydrates), Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E. They are also rich in monounsaturated fat, one of the two "good" fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol (1). Almonds contain phenolics and flavonoids a combination of flavonols, flavan-3-ols, hydroxybenzoic acids and flavanones in their skins. Other chemical compounds in the almond include 3 major components: betulinic, oleanic, and ursolic acids which have shown anti-HIV, anti-inflammatory and in vitro antiproliferative activities. Other acids (corosolic and maslinic) have been identified as aldehydes. Antioxidant flavonoids quercetin, isorhamnetin, quercitrin, kaempferol, and morin have been isolated. Prunasin, another cyanogenic compound, is found only in the vegetative parts of the almond plant (2).
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 irritating to the skin as well as to the internal organs, hence 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
Both the sweet and bitter varieties of almonds have a number of medicinal qualities. Sweet almonds are very high in protein. Both types of almonds reduce inflammation and are used in the treatment of bronchitis. In addition to being an excellent source of protein, as mentioned above, almonds are also a source of healthy fat, zinc, potassium, iron, B vitamins, and magnesium (3). Almonds are also known to aid respiration, act as a digestive aid, and even can help with urinary problems. Almond milk also makes an excellent tonic during convalescence. Almond milk consumed daily can reduce frequency of digestive disorders, and relieve respiratory problems (4). The constituents of almond have immunity boosting, and anti-hepatotoxicity effects.
Health Benefits
The almond, known as the king of nuts, is a highly nutritious food. It is rich in almost all the elements needed by the body. It is an effective health-building food, both for the body and mind, and a valuable food remedy for several common ailments. The medicinal virtues of almonds arise chiefly from pharmaco dynamic action of copper, iron, phosphorus and vitamin B1. These chemicals exert a synergic action and help the formation of new blood cells, hemoglobin and play a major role in maintaining the smooth physiological functions of brain, nerves, bones, heart and liver. The almond is thus highly beneficial in preserving the vitality of the brain, in strengthening the muscles and in prolonging life. The use of almonds has proved highly -beneficial in the treatment of chronic constipation. It is an excellent laxative. An emulsion of almonds is also useful in bronchial diseases, hoarseness and tickling cough (5). Almonds contain copper in organic form at the rate of 1.15 mg. per 100 grams. The copper along with iron and vitamins acts as a catalyst -in the synthesis of blood hemoglobin. Almonds are, therefore, a useful food remedy for anemia. Almonds provide nutrients that help to increase the bone mineral density, which helps to strengthen the skeletal system. Owing to this it can also be considered as a remedy to cope up with osteoporosis in the elderly (6).
Application in Cosmetics
Almonds have been used for centuries to give a youthful radiance and glow to dull and damaged skin. In fact it cleanses the skin deeply, rejuvenates and improves the complexion. Almonds also have antioxidant properties and are hence very beneficial for the health. Almond oil nourishes and softens the skin and helps the skin to retain moisture. Almonds also have a mild bleaching effect on the skin to remove tan and lighten skin color over a period of time. Paste of almonds with milk cream and fresh rose bud's paste applied daily over the face is a very effective beauty aid. It softens and bleaches the skin and nourishes it with the choicest skin ¬food. Its regular application prevents early appearance of wrinkles, black heads, dryness of the skin, pimples and keeps the face fresh (7). A very dry skin massaged daily with pure almond oil for a few minutes helps to minimize the visible signs of ageing on the skin, due to its vitamin E content. Almond oil is ideal for care of the delicate skin around eyes and also a useful home remedy for dark circles under the eyes. Almond oil is very good for hair due to some of its properties especially the composition of fats and fatty acids. It is very beneficial for almost all types of hair as it proves to be very nourishing, softens and strengthens the hair. The almond oil also proves to be a very good cleansing agent. After application of almond oil on hair the sticky fats on the oil absorb and collect the particles and the particulates of dust and pollution that have entered the hair. Eventually the whole mixture of oil and dirt gets washed off effectively cleansing the hair and scalp while washing. There is another very good advantage of using almond oil for hair. The almond oil can be effectively used as an emollient and tends to soothe the skin. As an emollient, almond oil also tends to have a very stable and neutral state once applied.
Research References
1. Jenkins et al. Dose Response of Almonds on Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors: Blood Lipids, Oxidized Low-Density Lipoproteins, Lipoprotein(a), Homocysteine, and Pulmonary Nitric Oxide. Circulation. 2002; 106: 1327-1332. 2. Brown, D. FDA considers health claim for nuts. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2003; 103: 426. 3. Chen, C, Lapsley, K, Blumberg, J. A nutrition and health perspective on almonds. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 2006; 86(14):2245-2250. 4. Davis A.-P. and Iwahasi K.-C. (2001),Whole almonds and almond fractions reduce aberrant crypt foci in a rat model of colon carcinogenesis. Cancer Lett. 165, 27-33 5. Chen, C, Milbury, P, Lapsley, K, and Blumberg, J. Flavonoids from Almond Skins are Bioavailable and Act Synergistically with Vitamins C and E to Enhance Hamster and Human LDL Resistance to Oxidation. Journal of Nutrition. 2005; 135: 1366-1377. 6. Gary R. Takeoka and Lan T. Dao Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2003, 51 (2), 496-50 7. Antioxidative Phenolic Compounds Isolated from Almond Skins (Prunus amygdalus Batsch) Shengmin S K L, Woo-Sik J, Paul A. Lachance C, and Robert T. R. 2002 J. Agric. Food Chem., , 50 (8), pp 2459–2463 8. Josse, A, Kendall, C, Augustin, L, Ellis, P, and Jenkins, D. Almonds and postprandial glycemia—a dose-response study metabolism. 2007; 56: 400-404. 9. Ammar C., Khaled S., Sadok B., Habib K., Khaled B., and Joseph A., Kernel Fatty Acid and Triacylglycerol Composition for Three Almond Cultivars During Maturation cJAOCS,.2004; 81 (10) 901-907. 10 Kiranjot Sidhu*and Kunwarjeet Pannu Indigenous Use of Medicinal Plants for Health Care Ethno Med 2010, 4(2): 145-148 .