Prunus Spinosa (Blackthorn)
Prunus spinosa, also known as ‘blackthorn’ is used for numerous medicinal purposes. It possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, laxative, diuretic and stomachic properties.
The presence of various nutrients and health-promoting compounds in prunus spinosa makes it beneficial for the treatment and management of skin disorders, dental caries, heart diseases, cancer and other bacterial infections.
Prunus Spinosa Benefits & Medicinal Uses
Studies have found that prunus spinosa, also known as sloe berry is a potent antimicrobial agent. An interesting research found that fresh sloe berry puree exhibits strong anti-bacterial activity. It reduces the population of ‘salmonella’, gram-negative bacteria that cause food poisoning.
It lowers survival of various bacteria that affect the health negatively. Such an effect is attributed to the presence of tannic acid, malic acid, benzoic acid and sorbic acid in prunus spinosa. These naturally occurring organic acids destabilize the bacteria and rupture their outer membrane. This leads to the death of harmful bacteria and reduces its negative effect on overall health. (1, 2)
Rich in Flavonoids
Prunus spinosa is loaded with flavonoids such as:
Besides this, prunus spinosa also contains anthocyanins and phenolic acids, compounds that promote good health.
It was further found that these flavonoid compounds are present in prunus spinosa flowers as well as fruits.
The therapeutic benefits of prunus spinosa are attributed to the high concentration of flavonoids in it. These flavonoids reduce inflammation, fight oxidative stress, lower the risk of heart diseases and help in the management of cancer.
Loaded With Nutrients
Scientific studies have revealed that prunus spinosa contains an array of nutrients that are required for good health. It contains a good amount of vitamins such as vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin C and vitamin E.
Major minerals present in prunus spinosa include calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur and magnesium.
Beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E are natural antioxidants present in prunus spinosa that neutralize free radicals and lower the risk of diseases and disorders induced by oxidative stress.
Its high folic acid content makes it beneficial for individuals with heart diseases. Hence, prunus spinosa is a natural source of multi-vitamin and consuming its fruits regularly is an easy way to incorporate various nutrients in the diet. (6, 7)
Protects Against Dental Caries
Prunus spinosa possesses anti-caries activity against ‘Streptococcus mutans’, gram-positive bacteria that contribute to tooth decay.
Oxidative stress increases the risk of dental caries. Free radical attack initiates the process of tooth decay and creates a favorable environment for Streptococcus mutans.
Antioxidants present in prunus spinosa neutralize the free radicals and balance the acid content of oral cavity. Such a reduction in the level of oxidative stress protects against tooth decay. (8)
Rich In Antioxidants
Studies have observed that prunus spinosa contains substantial quantities of natural antioxidants. These include:
- Coumarin derivatives
Prunus spinosa is also a good source of nutrients such as beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E which are potent antioxidants in nature.
Research has also revealed that different parts of prunus spinosa such as fruits, leaves, and flowers contain a good amount of antioxidants. These potent antioxidants deactivate harmful free radicals and lower the risk of diseases induced by an overload of free radicals. (9)
Prunus spinosa fruit is effective in the management of cancer. It inhibits the growth of cancer cells and reduces its multiplication. Health-promoting compounds present in prunus spinosa suppress the production of inflammatory compounds which otherwise damage the DNA and further worsen the condition.
Thus, it makes the environment unfavorable for the cancer cells to survive and reduces the population of these cancer cells.
Besides this, antioxidants present in prunus spinosa neutralize the dangerous free radicals, protect the DNA and help in controlling the spread of cancer. (10)
Improves Skin Health
Prunus spinosa fruits contain compounds such as tannins, fruit acids, flavonoid, glycosides, vitamin C and coumarin derivatives which enhance overall skin health. These compounds moisturize the skin and restore hydration.
Furthermore, its anti-bacterial potential keeps skin infections at bay. Antioxidants present in prunus spinosa fight oxidative stress and reduce the damage caused by free radicals. Thus, it protects the skin against damage and may also fight against premature aging. (11)
The fruits, leaves, and flowers of prunus spinosa are an effective laxative that can be used to relieve constipation. Prunus spinosa fruits are also effective for the treatment and management of heart diseases, kidney infections, eczema and respiratory infections. Besides this, it has been used as an anthelmintic and diuretic.
Photo Attribution Images by Andreas Rockstein