WHAT ARE MONOPHENOLS?
The monophenols are part of the phytonutrient family (a group of chemical compounds which occur naturally in plants and have numerous health benefits but are not considered essential nutrients). Monophenols are not stored by the human body and they have no recommended daily allowance (RDA) but regular consumption is believed to promote optimal health. They are mainly found in herbs and act in a protective, soothing way in the body. In this article I will be discussing 4 of the main monophenols in greater detail.
1) APIOL (ALSO KNOWN AS PARSLEY APIOL, APIOLE OR PARSLEY CAMPHOR):
Apiol was first discovered in 1715 by the apothecary (a historical name for medical professionals) Heinrich Christoph Link in Liepzig, Germany when he noticed that greenish crystals (apiol) were produced by the steam from parsley oil. In 1855 Joret and Homolle discovered that apiol could be used to treat lack of menstruation in women and it is still sometimes used today as a treatment for menstrual problems. Apiol was also used in the Middle Ages as a method to terminate pregnancies (a function that was first written about by Hippocrates when he wrote that parsley could be used to cause an abortion) and because of this pregnant women are advised to avoid apiol and parsley. Apiol can be found in celery, parsley seeds and parsley oil. Overdosing on apiol is highly toxic and can cause damage to both the kidneys and the liver.
Carnosol is a phenolic compound that can be found in rosemary. Research suggests that it is an antioxidant (a compound which fights against damaging free radicals in the body) and also has cancer fighting properties.
3) CARVACROL (ALSO KNOWN AS CYMPPHENOL):
Carvacrol is a phenolic compound which has been shown to have antioxidant, antibacterial, anti inflammatory, antimicrobial and antisepctic properties. It is well known for controlling the common bateria; Escherichia coli (a bacteria also known as E.coli which is found in the human intestinal tract and is normally harmless but can cause gastrointestinal and urinary tract infections) and Bacillus cereus (a type of bacteria also known as B. cereus which is found in the soil and can be beneficial as a probiotic but also cause food poisoning). Carvacrol can also be used as an effective treatment for multiple diseases and inflammatory disorders including; bacteremia (the presence of bacteria in the blood), cholangitis (inflammation of the bile duct), cholecyctitis (inflammation of the gall bladder), gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines), traveller’s diarrhea and urinary tract infection. Finally, carvacrol can relieve sore joints and muscles, soothe burns, cuts and wounds, treat skin related problems and soothe digestive problems.
Carvacrol can be found in bergamot, oregano, pepperwort, thyme and any essential oils that contain these ingredients (with oregano oil being the most potent source). Whilst it has many health benefits, consuming too much carvacrol can have a number of unpleasant side effects. Consuming more than 500 milligrams (mg) a day of oregano oil can cause an overdose for which the symptoms include reduced iron absorption, skin rashes and vomiting. It is also recommended that pregnant women avoid carvacrol.
Dillapiole is a phenolic compound that is most commonly found in dill weed and dill essential oil. Very little information is available on the health benefits of dillapiole but it is believed to contribute to the health benefits of dill oil which include increasing the formation of milk in women’s breasts, preventing gas problems (by removing gas from the intestines and preventing the build up of gas in the intestines), preventing muscle spasms (by relaxing the nerves and muscles), soothing the brain and nerves (which can help you relax and sleep whilst also reducing feelings of anger, anxiety, depression and tension), supporting healthy digestion (by stimulating the secretion of digestive juices and muscle contractions within the intestines), treating infections (such as colon, genital, hair, kidney, skin and urinary tract infections) and treating wounds (both internally and externally).
Whilst there is only limited information available on the monophenols, the early signs are very promising. Monophenols have antioxidant properties which means they can protect you from the damaging effects of oxygen based reactions and have also been linked with cancer protection. Dill, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme go well with many foods and can be added to pretty much any dish. So if you are not doing so already, start cooking with these herbs and add some healthy monophenols to your diet.
Carnosol (Oxford Journals)
Carvacrol – The Secret Behind Oregano Oils (Ezine Articles)
List Of Phytochemicals In Foods (Wikipedia)
Oregano Oil Side Effects (Buzzle.com)
What Is Phytochemical? (Juicing For Health)