Yamoa™ contains only the powdered bark of the Funtumia elastica tree. Over the years, independent researchers have studied it to discover what active constituents it contains which could possibly be responsible for the dramatic anecdotes in both traditional African and Western use. Their findings have been not only supportive of the claims by users, but reassuring as to its safety and enlightening as to the mechanisms by which it works.
Yamoa™ - A New Discovery in the fight against Malaria?
In 2005 in the Ivory Coast Guédé Noël Zirihi along with a team of researchers published a paper entitled ‘Isolation, characterization and antiplasmodial activity of steroidal alkaloids from Funtumia elastica (Preuss) Stapf.’ in the Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters. They had tested the bark’s activity against the parasite that causes malaria, Plasmodium falciparum. The team found that the compounds tested showed significant anti-plasmodium activity. They 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.’ 1 In other words, they believed they had discovered something new to help in the fight against the second biggest killer in the World today.
Yamoa™ Found Effective Against a Drug-Resistant Strain of Malaria
Another study, ‘Evaluation in vitro of antiplasmodial activity of ethanolic extracts of Funtumia elastica, Rauvolfia vomitoria and Zanthoxylum gilletii on Plasmodium falciparum isolates from Côted’Ivoire’ conducted by Zirihi and his team at the University of Cocody-Abidjan and published in Journal of Animal & Plant Sciences, in 2009 concluded ‘Funtumia elastica extracts showed good antiplasmodial activity on a multiresistant strain (FcB1 strain) responsible for paludism [malaria] in Colombia ... The pharmacological and phytochemical information confirm the basis for its traditional use as antipaludics.’ 2 In the study, extracts of Yamoa™ had in fact shown to be more effective than common antipaludics such as Chloroquine and Mefloquine.
Yamoa™ More Effective than Fulcin in the Fight Against Candida
In 2006 a team of scientists from the Department of Botany and Microbiology, University of Lagos, in Nigeria led by AA Adekunle tried seeing the effects of Funtumia elastica 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 disease.’ 3
Unique Yamoa™ Polysaccharides Stimulate Innate Immunity and Demonstrate Potential for Infectious Disease
In 2008, one team of researchers at the Montana State University Veterinary Molecular Biology department headed by Jodi Hedges and Jill Graff published their paper entitled, 'Polysaccharides derived from Yamoa™ (Funtumia elastica) prime γδ T cells in vitro and enhance innate immune responses in vivo'. Their study 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 immunity4. In the same test, they found that injection of Yamoa™ led to increase in neutrophil activation and enhanced the natural immunity against the typhoid bacteria of mice and cattle used for the study4. 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 too4. To quote the research paper published in 'International Immunopharmacology', ‘Thus, polysaccharide agonists derived from Yamoa™ are novel innate adjuvants with conserved activity and potential application in infectious disease settings.’ The paper concluded, ‘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.’ 8 The team believes that the unique polysaccharides found in Yamoa™ may be what is causing all the benefits its users are reporting.
Yamoa™ Found to Stimulate Innate Immunity and Proves to be an Effective Anti-Bacterial
Also, in 2008, the same team conducted another study on cattle, ‘Enhancing Innate Immunity in Bovine Calves by Stimulating GammaDelta T Cells with Plant-Derived Polysaccharides’. It was determined 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 [hormonal messengers responsible for most of the biological effects in the immune system] 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 mice faeces. These findings suggest that Yamoa™ has potential for positive action in asthma and infectious diseases as well.5 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.’
Yamoa™ Proven to be an Effective Anti-Inflammatory
Again, the same team of scientists under the guidance of Jodi Hedges at the Montana State University Veterinary Molecular Biology department also revealed in this study that the that calves that had undergone a cannulation surgery and been fed Yamoa™ compared to calves that hadn’t been fed the powder, had lesser inflammatory markers, showing that Yamoa™ had produced an anti-inflammatory effect in them and dampened the after-effects of the surgery.6 This raised the question whether 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.6 ‘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.’
Yamoa™ Improves White Blood Cell Counts
Another team of researchers led by scientist Jeff Holderness and again Jodi Hedges from the Montana State University Veterinary Molecular Biology department 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 counts.7 The study ‘Procyanidin- and polysaccharide-induced γδ T cell priming’ concluded, ‘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.’ The research was published in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
Yamoa™ Polysaccharides Slant Allergic Immune Response on a Molecular Level
The latest research published in 2012 by Jodi Hedges and her team at the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Montana State University, found that certain plant polysaccharides stimulate IL-12 (Interleukin) production (immune system messengers) which indirectly stimulates IFN-gamma (interferon-gamma) production (critical for innate and adaptive immunity) 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.9, 10
"We are more focused on Acai polysaccharides, because they are distinguishable from LPS (Lipopolysaccharides), unlike Yamoa. However, Acai polysaccharides and Yamoa likely have the same mechanism, and Acai PS are not available in a nifty pill, like Yamoa is. Yamoa is only shown in the first figure [see below], but is clearly having a similar effect as Acai PS. " - Jodi F. Hedges, Ph.D. Assistant Research Professor, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Montana State University, referring to 'Polysaccharides Isolated from Açaí Fruit Induce Innate Immune Responses.' February 28, 2011, PLOS: One.
Above: 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)
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. ’ 9
Other Conditions Yamoa™ May be Able to Help
We now understand why Yamoa™ is so effective for many people with asthma and allergies, and it is considered likely that other TH2 dominant conditions such as those listed below could also benefit from the use of Yamoa™:
- Allergic Dermatitis
- Atopic Eczema
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Multiple chemical sensitivity
Yamoa™ is Safe for the Whole Family!
Although we know Yamoa™ has proven safe anecdotally for all ages for generations, we now have several studies that have declared that Yamoa™ appears safe and nontoxic. When interviewed and asked to explain why this might be, Jodi Hedges PhD of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Montana State University explained:
"We think that in vivo the main response to polysacchrides is that they prime the cells, to better respond to other signals. They do not overtly stimulate the cells, and they do not induce inflammatory cytokines. Targeting these gd T cells and NK cells is nifty because these cells are not the source of strong damaging cytokines like IL-1, IL-6 and TNFa, these come from macrophages. gd T cells and NK cells are anti-inflammatory in many situations, and polysaccharides may enhance that capacity as well. Macrophages are not known for this, but also do not appear to be a primary target for these polysaccharides (if they were, we would see more inflammation not less)” .
So…What are You Waiting For?
Those who wish to try Yamoa™ can rest assured that there is ample research backing its claims as an immunity booster and anti-inflammatory agent, as well as an anti-fungal and an anti-plasmodial. Our 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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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
4. Hedges Jodi, Graff Jill et al. 2008 Novel innate polysaccharide agonists derived from Funtumia elastica tree bark (Yamoa™). Veterinary Molecular Biology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
5. Hedges Jodi. Enhancing innate immunity in Bovine Calves by stimulating gamma delta T cells with plant-derived polysaccharides. Montana State University.
6. Transcription profiling of Bos Taurus gamma delta T cells induced by Yamoa. Array Express.
7. Holderness Jeff, Hedges Jodi et al. Procyanidin- and polysaccharide-induced γδ T cell priming. Veterinary Molecular Biology.
8. 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
9. 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.
10. 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.
Glossary: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.
Antigen challenge: The antigen challenge is the first encounter between an immunocompetent lymphocyte and an invading antigen.
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.