Erbasens: Using the power of nature
Before setting up her own company, biologist Dr. Elke Schulz amassed a wealth of knowledge in the pharmaceutical industry. Now, she harnesses the power of plants to develop and sell dietary supplements and natural cosmetics. Her company Erbasens® specialises in combining high-quality oils and plant essences to create products such as Paramirum®, that safeguards the effectiveness of the immune system and promotes the body’s defence systems.
Dr. Schulz studied biology and plant biochemistry in Great Britain where she also worked in the pharmaceutical industry before moving on to Altana (now Nycomed) in Konstanz in 2004. However, Dr. Elke Schulz has also always been interested in plants and botany. In 2006, she turned this passion into a profession and set up a small company: Erbasens® develops and sells dietary supplements and natural cosmetics made from plant substances. The name of the company alludes to "herba" which is the Latin word for herbs and "essence", said Schulz.
During a long-term stay in the USA, Dr. Schulz became aware of a precursor version of the company's Paramirum® product, which was developed at the beginning of the 1990s by scientific friends who used their experience in the field of anthroposophy to develop the product.
Secondary plant substances have an antioxidative effect
"Paramirum® is based on a unique formulation of high-quality oils combined with a particular complex of plant essences," said Dr. Elke Schulz explaining that Paramirum contains cold-pressed oils such as almond, thistle and sallow thorn oil, vitamin E from wheat germ oil, curcuma extracts (turmeric) and piperine (black pepper extract) as well as carefully selected ethereal oils such as thyme, clove and mint.
Schulz sees curcuma as an important antioxidant in terms of immunity and cell protection as it is able to bind free radicals. The biologically active components of curcuma are curcuminoids (phenolic acids), which are also responsible for the yellow colour of the spice. With a proportion of around 90 per cent, curcumin is the principal curcuminoid of the spice turmeric. It has a strong diuretic effect, and also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antimutagenic and antitumour properties. The pepper extract contained in Paramirum boosts the resorption of lipophilic secondary plant substances.
The combination is important
The combination of curcumin and black pepper improves the antioxidative state of the body, thereby safeguarding the efficiency of the immune system and promoting the body’s own defence abilities. The antioxidative capacity of the substances was analytically confirmed in an investigation carried out at the University of Jena where the researchers used the TEAC test to assess the hydrophilic and lipophilic antioxidative capacity and the protective effect of curcumin. “No undesired side effects are known, even after 17 years of research,” said the scientist.
Paramirum® is produced in a certified laboratory in Germany. The quality and processing of the natural raw materials are essential for the substances to exert their optimal physiological effect, explained Dr. Elke Schulz. She also attaches great importance to the bioavailability of the substances. It is not the quantity that counts, but the combination of substances used. “It’s like an orchestra playing a symphony. It only sounds fantastic if the musicians play well together,” explains Schulz.
Paramirum® in combination with chemotherapy has had excellent results in patients. Although Dr. Schulz does not disclose the exact formulation, she says that the formulation also contains sallow thorn oil which has a protective effect on mucous membranes that can be damaged through cytostatic drugs. Paramirum® has also been shown to be effective against lip herpes, parasites and in the initial or acute stages of infectious diseases (for example in the mouth). It has also been shown to have a relaxing effect in the gastrointestinal tract through its ability to relieve muscular cramps. Paramirum® can also be used as an addition to standard therapy of chronic inflammatory intestinal disorders, where it has been shown to reduce drug-related side effects.
Dr. Schulz explains that the plant substances can increase glutathione levels in the organism, which has been shown to be one of the key prognosis markers for almost all immune diseases. Glutathione is found in all body cells where it supports the function of erythrocytes.
Assessing the effect on cell populations
Dr. Schulz’ major projects in the near future are tests and pilot studies, and she intends to investigate the effect of Paramirum® on isolated cell populations, bacteria, fungi and virus strains in cooperation with scientific institutions. Agar diffusion tests and serial dilution tests will be carried out for clinically relevant pathogens and multiresistant problem isolates. Further projects will focus on testing the effects of Paramirum® on natural killer cells, and immune function tests such as NK cell cytotoxicity tests will be carried out. Further plans involve the determination of elevated glutathione peroxidase levels. Since curcuma also naturally inhibits the inflammation enzyme COX-2, studies will be carried out to find out whether this effect is great enough to achieve clinically relevant results and also to see whether Paramirum® is a viable alternative to synthetic COX-2 inhibitors.
Dr. Elke Schulz