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Natural Awakenings New York City

Blueberries Join the Fight against Free Radicals

by Franklin St. John, Doctor of Chinese Medicine

You’ve probably heard of the dangers of free radicals, and how important it is to combat them using antioxidants. You might also know that free radicals form as a result of your normal bodily functions, as well as from environmental considerations such as the air we breathe and even the water we drink. But you still might not know exactly what free radicals are.

Free radicals are atoms or ions that are missing at least one electron from their outer shell. When they enter your body, they steal electrons from your healthy cells and turn them into free radicals too. That process continues until the damage is so severe that health issues occur.

With this in mind, I’d like to discuss anthocyanins, a group of antioxidants that is particularly effective in fighting free radicals. Anthocyanins are what make blueberries so beneficial to your health (and, incidentally, what give them their blue color). The level of anthocyanin in blueberries is very high, and scientific literature has confirmed their effectiveness in fighting free radicals.

But why are anthocyanins so effective in fighting free radical damage? Their chemical makeup is part of the answer.

It just so happens that the electrons in the outer shell of free radicals—namely hydrogen, oxygen and carbon—are shared by the individual atoms that make up the anthocyanins. Because the electrons are shared, it is easy for the free radicals to latch on to them. But, unbeknownst to the evil free radicals, when they latch on to anthocyanins, they become neutralized before they can cause damage to your organs and DNA. Instead, they simply become debris, which travels through the liver and finally out of the body as waste. Neat!

Obviously you should have an abundance of free radical fighters in your system at all times—and one of the best ways to accomplish this would be to eat blueberries on a regular basis. But there’s one problem: you would have to eat a lot of blueberries in order to get maximum benefits.

I know that when you eat too much of one food, you can get sick of it. (Personally, I love blueberries, and I would find it hard to get tired of them.) But even if you eat them regularly, you cannot maximize your intake of the anthocyanin. That’s why my company developed a liquid concentrate incorporating extracts of blueberry and bilberry, along with various other extracts, that is both effective and easy to take.

There are two other factors that I found to be important in developing this concentrate. The first is taste. If a liquid concentrate doesn’t taste good, it’ll be more like medicine than a pleasant drink.

The second is calories. I believe you should not have to think about your waistline every time you drink something. There are two herbal extracts that are very sweet and have no calories: Lo han fruit extract and an extract of stevia. By properly combining the two, we got a wonderful taste in our blueberry concentrate.

By the way, I use blueberry concentrate on cereal, in milk and even in water. By taking it three times a day, I feel that I am doing my best to fight those dangerous free radicals.

Dr. Franklin St. John, founder of HerbaSway Laboratories, was taught traditional Chinese herbal medicine and qigong by a Taoist master from the mountains of China. For more information, visit or call 1.800.672.7322.