Three thousands of years ago, the authors of the Chinese medical books did not have the scientific knowledge to describe the effects of free radicals and antioxidants. But they had the insight to recognize their effects.
The effects of free radicals were described in these ancient books as "dampness", and the actions of the antioxidants in the body were listed as "drain Dampness" and "resolve Phlegm".
So what is this dampness? Chinese Medicine dampness is, in a general sense, a form of inflammation, whether it is visible or invisible. With today's scientific knowledge we know that infection is often the result of our bodies reaction to these chemical reaction's byproducts.
But what is a free radical?
A free radical is a Molecule that has an odd, unpaired electron. The normal behavior of a molecule with an unpaired electron is to try to capture an electron from another molecule to gain stability. Generally a free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, stealing one of its electrons. When a stable molecule loses one of its electrons it becomes a free radical itself, creating a chain reaction. Once the process is started it can cascade resulting in the disruption of a living cell.
These electron scavangers arise of our own metabolism, some other times our immune system creates them to neutralize viruses and bacteria. And othersl we get from the pollutants in our environment, eq., Second hand smoke, radiation, ultraviolet rays, herbicides, etc.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals. Nature has provided us with antioxidants in the form of enzymes such as vitamin C and E. Antioxidants are molecules that are very stable and can give up an electron with out losing its stability. Most of our antioxidants come from our fruits and vegetables. If the body has enough antioxidants it can handle the free radicals, but if the free radical production becomes excessive damage can occur.
Every fruit and vegetable has its own antioxidant capacity. Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) is a rating given to foods when comparing its antioxidant capacity to that of vitamin E value. A higher ORAC capacity, the more potent antioxidant action is for that particular the food. Most of us do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, it is recommended that we consume between 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Many of us due to our hectic schedules and busy life styles do not even come close to eating enough of the right foods. In addition to that as we age the ravages of free radicals accumulate.
As we age our metabolism slows down and the free radicals exceed the body's capacity to deal with them. The net result is that as we age the free radicals weaken our immune system making us more susceptible to infections and inflammation, and some of this damage appear in the form of diseases such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, and other auto immune disorders and maladies . On the more serious side the inflammation caused by the free radicals can lead to Heart disease and Cancer.
In TCM the treatment of these diseases is accomplished with herbs and foods that drain dampness and resolve phlegm (antioxidants). In many cases the damage created by the free radicals in not reversible, such is the case in Multiple Sclerosis and Osteoarthritis, but it is possible to slow down and in many cases stop the damage. Too many people live with pain, and have a poor quality of life, but it does not have to be that way. With a little bit of education and some changes in our life styles our quality of life can improve, and what is better yet, if you are not suffering from any of these maladies you can do something to prevent it from ever happening to you.
Source by Roberto Guerrero