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VALEPOTRIATES comprise a group of compounds found in valerian root and other plants. Two examples of valepotriate compounds are isovalerate and valtrate. On experimental animals, the valepotriates in valerian root have shown antispasmodic and central nervous system depressant properties.

VALERIAN is found in Europe and Asia, and prefers damp places and swamp grounds. It is a perennial plant with a hollow, angular, furrowed, pale-green stem. Valerian grows from two to four feet in height. It bears opposite, pinnate leaves having 7 to 25 lanceolate, sharply pointed leaflets. Small, white or pink flowers grow in terminal clusters from June to August. The fruit is a pale brown capsule, oblong-ovate, containing a single seed. The medicinal part is the rootstock.

Other common names for this plant are: All-heal, English Valerian, German valerian, Great wild valerian, Heliotrope, Setwall, Vandall root, Vermont valerian, Wild valerian.

For more information see the HERBS section of the Nutrition Notebook.

VALERINE is an alkaloid found in the plant valerian root.

VARICOSE VEINS - blood returning to the heart is powered by the action of our skeletal muscles. Large muscles in the leges help power the blood the long way through the veins. This system is called the muscle-vein pump. When we use a large muscle that muscle presses on veins at the same time, which helps push the blood on its path back to the heart. These veins have one-way valves that prevent the blood from being pulled back by gravity when there are no muscle contractions to aid this process. Inactivity fro long periods of time causes this pump to not be active, thus increasing the blood volume in the veins and causing the pressure to rise. The one-way valves in these veins can give in, allowing gravity to pull the blood, resulting in edema, swelling and pain, and over time, varicose veins and/or hemorrhoids. In addition to exercise, OPCs have been found to help this condition by strengthening blood vessel walls and preventing leakage through the blood vessel walls (an additional cause of varicose veins).

VIRUS - a virus is a minute infectious organism that is visible only by an electron microscope. A virus lacks an independent metabolism and can replicate solely within another living "host" cell. They are responsible for some of the most important diseases affecting man: e.g. influenza, poliomyelitis, smallpox, yellow fever, A.I.D.S., etc. Subgroups are classified according to their origin, mode of transmission and manifestations produced in the host; many are named for the geographic locations where they were first isolated.

VIRUS: A word used by doctors to mean "your guess is as good as mine."

VITAMIN - A vitamin is a substance essential to one’s body that the body is unable to synthesize from its own metabolism, and must be obtained from an outside source.

This leads to the question: "If the substance must be secured from an outside source, is it necessary that it be natural?" Although chemically a synthetic vitamin may be identical, its field of polarity as compared to a natural vitamin may be reversed, and hence its molecular structure may not fit as well into the vitamin’s receptor sites which are designed to receive the polarity and molecular structure common to the natural vitamin.

There are fifteen vitamins in the scientific world, plus another fifteen possibly essential, to human life, in trace amounts.

Water soluble vitamins consist of the B Complex and Vitamin C. They have this name because they are readily passed off into the urine rather than stored.

Fat soluble vitamins consist of vitamins A,D,E, and K. These vitamins are less affected by heat, and are less likely to be lost in the cooking and processing of foods. Also, because they are not soluble in water they are not excreted in the urine, but instead stored in the body, chiefly in the liver.

VITAMIN A - One of the chief functions of Vitamin A is to maintain the health of the skin. It also aids in the growth of bones, allows for night vision and is crucial to the immune system.

VITAMIN B COMPLEX - All B Complex Vitamins are obtained from bacteria, yeast, fungi, or molds. The B Vitamins are necessary for the normal function of the nervous system, and may be the single most important factor for the health of nerves.

VITAMIN B-1 (THIAMINE) - Thiamine is a water soluble vitamin that breaks down in the body’s natural acids. It is vulnerable to heat, air, water, and cooking. The best sources are wheat germ, bran, and the hulls of rice. Vitamin B-1 assists in the conversion of carbohydrates to glucose, stabilizes the appetite, is necessary for normal growth and fertility, and is quite necessary for the function of the nervous system.

VITAMIN B-2 (RIBOFLAVIN) - This is a difficult vitamin to describe. It assists the eyes to adapt to light, and aids in the conversion of to niacin. Deficiency symptoms usually lead to some breaking of the skin and dermatitis.

VITAMIN B-3 (NIACIN OR NIACINAMIDE) - The amino acid tryptophan is chemically converted into niacin in the body tissues, and a small amount can be synthesized by the intestinal flora. Therefore, along with Niacin, it is necessary to maintain an adequate protein diet. The functions of Niacin (B-3) are to maintain active portions of coenzymes that play an essential role in healthy tissue oxidation and conversion.

VITAMIN B-5 - PANTOTHENIC ACID - This vitamin is necessary for the makeup of coenzyme A. Without it people suffer fatigue, headaches, dizziness, personality changes, numbness and tingling in the hands, and a tendency to hypoglycemia.

VITAMIN B-6 (PYRIDOXINE) - VITAMIN B-6 is essential for the complete metabolism of fat, helps maintain a sodium/potassium balance, and is involved in DNA and RNA action.

VITAMIN B-9 - FOLIC ACID - This vitamin is necessary for the synthesis of nucleic acid, necessary for the synthesis of certain amino acids, and for the utilization of certain amino acids.

VITAMIN B-12 - This is the most complex of all B vitamins, and cannot be synthesized. Neither man nor animal is able to synthesize it, and even the higher forms of plant life are not able to produce it. Only the lowly fungi and bacteria manufacture Vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 is essential for normal functioning of all cells - particularly bone marrow, nervous system, and cells of the gastrointestinal tract.


BIOTIN - The best source for Biotin is raw egg white. The heating of raw egg white prevents it from being a good source of Biotin. Biotin is necessary for the formation of nucleic acids, the formation of glycogen, and is required for the synthesis of several nonessential amino acids.

INOSITOL - Many nutritionists do not agree on this substance. Since man appears capable of synthesizing this substance, it does not technically fit the definition of a vitamin, although many nutritionists consider it part of the B Complex. Inositol aids in the metabolism of fats and is a growth factor.

VITAMIN C - This is probably the least stable of vitamins, and is very sensitive to oxidants. Its potency can be lost due to exposure to heat, air, and light. The functions of Vitamin C are: to assist in the formation of skin, tendon, and bone, to maintain the strength in the blood vessel, to promote healing of wounds, to help assist in secretion of hormones from the adrenals, and to convert folic acid to folacin.

VITAMIN D - This vitamin is often overlooked, because we think it is only necessary to expose ourselves to sunlight. Vitamin D is essential in the proper growth and mineralization of bone and teeth. There is a growing concern among nutritionists that overexposure to vitamin D may be dangerous, but very high doses are necessary before this occurs.

VITAMIN E - This vitamin is usually associated with reproductive organs; however, the most important function of Vitamin E is to help prevent peroxide formation. Vitamin E also protects the fat soluble vitamins, prevents scar tissue from forming, assists in normal blood viscosity, and extends cell life when present.

VITAMIN K - This vitamin is known as the "coagulating factor." It is found in such foods as alfalfa, casein, soybean oil, and most green, leafy vegetables. One of the functions of Vitamin K is to assist in the coagulation of blood to prevent excessive bleeding.

VITEXIN is a flavonoid found in fenugreek.

VOLATILE OILS are butyric acid and isovaleric acid, which influence the central nervous system and are slightly sedative.

VULGAROL is a diterpene alcohol found in horehound.

VULNERARY - any form of first aid for wounds and skin abrasions.

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