Across: γδ T cell stimulatory activity in Acai is concentrated in the polysaccharide fraction and effective in all species tested, as is the Yamoa (Yam-PS).
Strong anecdotal evidence supporting the use of the bark of the Funtumia elastica tree for aiding the immune system, most commonly to address respiratory allergies, has triggered the interest of independent researchers to conduct their own research on the bark powder in a bid to discover what the active ingredients were and how they achieved the long-term results being reported.
If researchers could identify and isolate these compounds perhaps they could build the foundation of a new, effective medical approach to these conditions. One such team of researchers based at Montana State University, after extensive reasearch into Yamoa, has done just that, and has a technology for strengthening the immune based on research into Yamoa™ available for licensing.
The plant Funtumia elastica, belonging to Apocynaceae family, is commonly called Lagos silk rubber, or West African silk rubber. Researchers isolated the active fraction of polysaccharide from the Yamoa™ powder which is marketed as a food supplement. Yamoa™ contains essentially nothing but powdered bark of the Funtumia elastica tree.
The researchers tested it to see if active contents from the powder helped increase the cells that are known to help boost immunity in the body. There are multiple such cells and enzymes in our body, like cytokines, neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, T cells, etc.
In 2008, one team of researchers headed by Jodi Hedges and Jill Graff found that stimulation of purified cattle cells and monocytes with Yamoa™ resulted in the expression of genes in a manner similar to that seen with lipopolysaccharides (LPS). LPS are molecules containing fats and carbohydrates found in the outer covering of certain bacteria. LPS produce strong immune reactions in animals on exposure and thus, are used to study immune responses or compare the immune response produced by two substances. Thus, Yamoa™ clearly activated the innate immunity1.
In the same test, they found that injection of Yamoa™ lead to increase in neutrophil activation and enhanced the natural immunity against the typhoid bacteria of mice and cattle used for the study1. This proved that the active ingredient of Yamoa™ is a novel natural ingredient that can be used as an adjunct to innate immunity and might be used in the future to create treatments against other bacteria too1.
To quote the research ‘Thus, polysaccharide agonists derived from Yamoa™ are novel innate adjuvants with conserved activity and potential application in infectious disease settings.'
Another team of researchers lead by scientist Jeff Holderness and Jodi Hedges focussed on the T cells that are lymphocytes derived from a gland called Thymus in the neck. T cells were coated with Yamoa™ extract. Study calves that were fed the powder supplement showed that there was improvement in their white blood cell counts2. As the paper said,
‘Our ongoing studies suggest that the responses of T cells may be responsible, to some degree, for the innate immune benefit provided by these dietary supplements.’
Guédé Noël Zirihi, along with a team of researchers tested the bark activity against the parasite that causes malaria, Plasmodium falciparum. The team extracted the active constituents of Funtumia elastica and tested the activity of the isolated fractions of the extract and found that the compounds showed significant anti-plasmodium activity. The paper published by this team suggested that
‘Each compound … showed significant inhibition of Plasmodium falciparum growth ... They could be used as lead compounds for the synthesis of novel anti-plasmodial agents with improved activity.’3
As more and more people started using the supplement and started to experience relief from their asthma troubles for the first time in their lives, more research was being undertaken by researchers.
In 2008, a team of scientists under the guidance of Jodi Hedges at the Montana State University, fed Yamoa™ to calves that had undergone a cannulation surgery. Compared to the calves that hadn’t been fed the powder, it was found that these calves that had consumed Yamoa™ had lesser inflammatory markers, showing that Yamoa™ had produced an anti-inflammatory effect in them and dampened the after-effects of the surgery4. This showed that this anti-inflammatory effect might be the reason it was helping so many asthmatics, by reducing the inflammation of the air passages that get swollen and constricted in asthma.4. To quote:
‘This result suggested that ingesting Yamoa™ may have had an anti-inflammatory effect that dampened the inflammation involved in surgery. This anti-inflammatory effect would be consistent with the main use of Yamoa™ in humans, to alleviate asthma.’
Yet another team of scientists lead by Adekunle AA in 2006 tried seeing its effects on fungi. They extracted the ingredients of the bark of Funtumia elastica and used it on scrapings of fungal infections obtained from the finger of a patient at the National Primary Health Centre, Lagos. The fungi present in the scraping were Candida albicans, Miscrosporium audouinii, Aspergillus flavus, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Penicillium sp., Trichosporon cutaneum and Trichoderma sp. It was found that except Miscrosporium audouinii and Trichosporon cutaneum, the bark inhibited all the other fungi when assessed after 48 hours of immersion in the bark extract. It was concluded that
´The results … show that all the crude extracts had definite significant antifungal activity on most of the fungi. Generally, the crude extracts were more active against fungus than Fulcin antibiotic. The results obtained on the antifungal activity of Funtumia elastica (bark) and M oppositifolius (leaf) showed that the plant extracts possess antifungal properties and can be effective antibiotics since they inhibited the growth of fungal causative agents of skin diseases’5.Also, in 2008, a study was conducted on cattle i.e. Bos Taurus. It was concluded that
'Yamoa™ stimulated innate immunity in part by affecting the gamma delta T cells. Yamoa™ had distinct priming effects, very similar to but more robust than, that of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) on bovine, mouse and human gamma delta T cells. Yamoa™ stimulated human cells to produce cytokines involved in innate protection.’
The same study also found that Yamoa™ and the active fraction of Yamoa™, Yam-I, was efficacious for treating mice against the typhoid bacterium producing colitis, seen as a reduction in the bacterial count in mouse faeces. These findings suggest that Yamoa™ has potential for positive action in asthma and infectious diseases as well.6 To quote:
‘This initial characterization of the immune stimulatory properties of polysaccharides derived from Yamoa™ suggests potential mechanisms for positive effects in asthma and that they have potential for application in infectious disease settings.’
All these studies came to simply one conclusion, that the supplement Yamoa™ and its constituent Funtumia elastica bark powder showed activity not only against bacteria like the typhoid bacterium but also against numerous fungi. It was seen that the plant reduces the inflammation that occurred in the body and increased the white blood cell counts that are the body’s natural defence system. It boosted the body’s innate immunity to fight off infections and curtail asthma-causing inflammation. Three more studies showed that Yamoa™ induced activation of gamma delta T cells due to the phytochemicals that the powdered bark contains naturally. These phytochemicals called alkaloids, triterpens and saponosoides showed strong evidence in inhibition of infections like typhoid and malaria by stimulation of the gamma delta T cells.7,8,9
Researchers from various parts of the world conducted these studies independently and came to their own scientific conclusions. One paper concluded that 'Funtumia elastica extracts showed good antiplasmodial activity on a multiresistant strain (FcB1 strain) responsible for paludism in Colombia ... The pharmacological and phytochemical information confirm the basis for its traditional use as antipaludics’ while another said that
‘This characterization of the immune stimulatory properties of polysaccharides derived from Yamoa™ suggests mechanisms for the anecdotal positive effects of its ingestion and that these polysaccharides show potential for application in innate protection from disease.’
The latest research published in 2012 by Jodi Hedges and her team has found that certain plant polysaccharides like those obtained from plants like Acai, and Yamoa™ too, stimulate IL-12 (Interleukin) production which indirectly stimulates IFN-gamma (interferon-gamma) production from the white blood cells in the lung mucous membrane. This IFN-gamma production favors a TH1 response which has been proven to alleviate symptoms of asthma.10,11
The study corroborates that despite genetic variations, the plant polysaccharides are capable of slanting immune responses towards reduction of asthma and its symptoms right down to the molecular level. TH1 cells are helper T cells, a type of white blood cells, that are responsible to maintain immunity and good health. Excessive TH2 cells are thought to be the reason currently for allergies and asthma. Thus, an increase in the TH1 response would balance out the excessive TH2 response, reducing asthmatic symptoms.
Arriving at the TH1/TH2 Balance Hypothesis
‘As discussed in Graff et al., Yamoa™ is purported to be beneficial in asthma. Asthma is associated with an exaggerated TH2 cytokine response mediated in part by gd T cells. In mice, lung gd T cells are present that can either promote or restrict TH2 cytokine responses. Clinical evidence indicates that gd T cells are increased in asthmatic patients and also that these cells produce large amounts of TH2 cytokines after antigen challenge. Since therapies to increase TH1 responses can alleviate asthma symptoms, we originally proposed that the anecdotal asthma benefits attributed to plant polysaccharides might be a result of tipping the gd T cell cytokine balance in the lung towards a TH1 response. At the time, we had no direct evidence in support of this hypothesis, and results would have been difficult to interpret due to the endotoxin reactive component of Yamoa polysaccharides. Here we found that Acai-1 directly induced IL-12 production in the mouse lung. IL-12 release favors a downstream TH1 response via IFN-g production from leukocytes in the mucosa. Thus, we provide, for the first time, mechanistic evidence for the potential benefit of some plant polysaccharides by driving TH1 responses in the lung. In addition, IFN-g is crucial for host defense responses against intracellular bacterial pathogens of the lung, such as Francisella tularensis and Coxiella burnetii. ’
All this research done extensively on mice, cattle and humans show that despite being a food supplement, Yamoa™ has immense power to heal the body by curtailing inflammation and boosting body’s innate, natural mechanisms of healing. Yamoa™ can effectively fight asthma, and help in long term control of the condition.
With further research it might soon be developed to be used against more deadly diseases like malaria and typhoid.
People who used Yamoa™ before research revealed all these facts will now know what helped them and why they got better after taking Yamoa™. Those who wish to try the powder can rest assured that there is ample research backing its power as an immunity booster and anti-inflammatory agent. The all-natural powder has helped so many people world over and continues to do good work with nature’s blessings on its side and the inherent goodness of its constituent the Funtumia elastica tree, a native of the African continent.
- Hedges Jodi, Graff Jill et al. Novel innate polysaccharide agonists derived from Funtumia elastica tree bark (Yamoa™). Veterinary Molecular Biology.
- Holderness Jeff, Hedges Jodi et al. Procyanidin and polysaccharide-induced γδ T cell priming. Veterinary Molecular Biology.
- Guede Noel, Philippe Grellier et al. Isolation, characterization and antiplasmodial activity of steroidal alkaloids from Funtumia Elastica (Preuss) Stapf. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 15 (2005) 2637-2640.
- Hedges Jodi. Enhancing innate immunity in Bovine Calves by stimulating gamma delta T cells with plant-derived polysaccharides. Montana State University.
- AA Adekunle; AM Ikumapayi. Antifungal property and phytochemical screening of the crude extracts of Funtumia elastica and Mallotus oppositifolius. West Indian med. j. vol.55 no.4 Mona Sept. 2006
- Transcription profiling of Bos Taurus gamma delta T cells induced by Yamoa. Array Express.
- Holderness Jeff, Jackiw Larissa et al. Select Plant Tannins Induce IL-2Ralpha Upregulation and augment cell division in gamma delta T cells. J Imm., 2007, 179: 6468– 6478.
- Graff JC, Kimmel E et al. Polysaccharides derived from Yamoa™ (Funtumia elastica) prime gamma delta T cells in vitro and enhance innate immune responses in vivo. Intl Immunopharmacol. (2009) doi:10.1016/j.intimp.2009.07.015
- Zirihi Guede Noel et al. Evaluation in vitro of antiplasmodial activity of ethanolic extracts of Funtumia elastica, Rauvolfia vomitoria and Zanthoxylum gilletii on Plasmodium falciparum isolates from Cote-d’Ivoire. Journal of Animal & Plant Sciences, 2009. Vol. 5, Issue 1: 406 - 413.
- Holderness J, Schepetkin IA, Freedman B, Kirpotina LN, Quinn MT, et al. (2011) Polysaccharides Isolated from Ac¸aı´ Fruit Induce Innate Immune Responses. PLoS ONE 6(2): e17301.
- Skyberg JA, Rollins MF, Holderness JS, Marlenee NL, Schepetkin IA, et al. (2012) Nasal Acai Polysaccharides Potentiate Innate Immunity to protect against Pulmonary Francisella tularensis and Burkholderia pseudomallei Infections. PLoS Pathog 8(3): e1002587.
Active ingredient (AI): is the substance that is biologically active. Adjunct: [aj-uhngkt] noun - something added to another thing but not essential to it. Agonist: [ag-uh-nist] noun – Pharmacology - a chemical substance capable of activating a receptor to induce a full or partial pharmacological response. Cannula: (from Latin "little reed"; plural cannulae) or canula is a tube that can be inserted into the body, often for the delivery or removal of fluid or for the gathering of data. Cytokines: (Greek cyto-, cell; and -kinos, movement) are a broad and loose category of small proteins that are important in cell signaling. Cytokines include chemokines, interferons, interleukins, lymphokines, tumour necrosis factor but generally not hormones or growth factors. Cytokines are produced by broad range of cells, including immune cells, as well as endothelial cells, fibroblasts, and various stromal cells. They are especially important in the immune system. They are different from hormones, which are also important cell signaling molecules, in that hormones circulate in much lower concentrations and hormones tend to be made by specific kinds of cells. They are important in health and disease, specifically in host responses to infection, immune responses, inflammation, trauma, sepsis, cancer, and reproduction. Γδ T cells: (gamma delta T cells) represent a small subset of T cells that possess a distinct T-cell receptor (TCR) on their surface. This group of T cells is usually much less common than αβ T cells, but are at their highest abundance in the gut mucosa, within a population of lymphocytes known as intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs). The conditions that lead to responses of γδ T cells are not fully understood, and current concepts of γδ T cells as 'first line of defense', 'regulatory cells', or 'bridge between innate and adaptive responses' only address facets of their complex behaviour. Mature γδ T cells are divided into functionally distinct subsets that have countless direct and indirect effects on healthy tissues and immune cells, on pathogens and tissues enduring infections and the host responses to them. Like other 'unconventional' T cell subsets bearing invariant TCRs γδ T cells exhibit several characteristics that place them at the border between the more evolutionarily primitive innate immune system that permits a rapid beneficial response to a variety of foreign agents, and the adaptive immune system, where B and T cells coordinate a slower but highly antigen-specific immune response leading to long-lasting memory against subsequent challenges by the same antigen. Innate immune system: also known as non-specific immune system and first line of defence - the cells of the innate system recognize and respond to pathogens in a generic way, but, unlike the adaptive immune system it does not confer long-lasting or protective immunity to the host. Innate immune systems provide immediate defence against infection, and are found in all classes of plant and animal life. Interferon gamma: (IFNγ) is a cytokine that is the only member of the type II class of interferons. The existence of this interferon early in its history was known as immune interferon. IFNγ, or type II interferon, is a cytokine that is critical for innate and adaptive immunity against viral and intracellular bacterial infections and for tumor control. Aberrant IFNγ expression is associated with a number of autoinflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The importance of IFNγ in the immune system stems in part from its ability to inhibit viral replication directly, and most importantly from its immunostimulatory and immunomodulatory effects. IFNγ is produced predominantly by natural killer (NK) and natural killer T (NKT) cells as part of the innate immune response, and by CD4 Th1 and CD8 cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) effector T cells once antigen-specific immunity develops. Interleukins: are a group of cytokines (secreted proteins and signaling molecules) that were first seen to be expressed by white blood cells (leukocytes). The function of the immune system depends in a large part on interleukins, and rare deficiencies of a number of them have been described, all featuring autoimmune diseases or immune deficiency. Lipopolysaccharides (LPS): also known as lipoglycans, and endotoxin are large molecules consisting of a lipid and a polysaccharide composed of O-antigen, outer core and inner core joined by a covalent bond; they are found in the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria, and elicit strong immune responses in animals. Lymphocyte: is any of 3 types of white blood cell in a vertebrate's immune system. They include natural killer cells (NK cells) (which function in cell-mediated, cytotoxic innate immunity), T cells (for cell-mediated, cytotoxic adaptive immunity), and B cells (for humoral, antibody-driven adaptive immunity). They are the main type of cell found in lymph, which prompted the name lymphocyte. Monocytes: are a type of white blood cells (leukocytes). They are the largest of all leukocytes. They are part of the innate immune system of vertebrates including all mammals (humans included), birds, reptiles, and fish. Neutrophil: the most abundant (40% to 75%) type of white blood cells in mammals and form an essential part of the innate immune system. Novel: [nov-uh l] adjective of a new kind; different from anything seen or known before: a novel idea. Phytochemicals: are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants (phyto means "plant" in Greek). The term is generally used to refer to those chemicals that may have biological significance, for example antioxidants, but are not established as essential nutrients. Scientists estimate that there may be as many as 10,000 different phytochemicals having the potential to affect diseases such as cancer, stroke or metabolic syndrome.
If you have any questions about Yamoa™, please contact us. Yamoa™ is manufactured in the UK to GMP standards.