Chia

Salvia hispanica

An annual shrub growing to 1m (3ft) in height. The toothed leaves are lime-green and arranged in opposites. Small blue, purple or white flowers on spikes are self pollinating. The chia seed is approximately 1mm in diameter and ranges in colour from dark-brown to grey-white. When soaked the seed becomes a mucilaginous gel similar to linseed.

Family: Laminaceae

Which probiotic is it in?: Chia is a key herb in Sustain

Habit and cultivation: Often grows on the rocky slopes, along streams or open forests at heights of up to 2,500m above sea level. Light to medium well drained soil with a sunny position. Native to Columbia and Guatemala but now grown commercially in several South American countries and the US. Grows best in latitudes 15 degrees on either side of the equator.

Actions (known for): Cardiovascular disease, anti-oxidant.

History

Chia is the ancient Mayan word for strength. Evidence suggests that chia seeds were used as a food as early as 3500 B.C. by the Aztecs, quickly becoming a cash crop 1500-900BC. Eaten alone, mixed with grains or consumed as a beverage. Aztecs used the seed in medicine; they also pressed it for its oil content, making a base for face and body paint and offered to the gods during ceremonies. The world largely overlooked its nutritional value until the 1990s.

Parts used:

Seeds

Constituents (bio available chemicals):

Caffeic, rosmarinic, salvianolic acids, ferulic acid, EFAs, chia gum.

Nutritional constituents:

Vitamins: A, C, E, B3, B9. Minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper and manganese. Protein, amino acids, phytonutrients, fibre, omega 3 carbs and water.

Indications:

Hypertension, obesity and diabetes.

Dosage:

1.5 tbsp 2 x daily.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia

Cautions for therapeutic doses

Excess fibre can cause abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and gas.

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