Also known as Bambusa vulgaris. Bamboo is an edible grass, of which there are over 1000 species on the earth. The diversity of bamboo makes it adaptable to many environments – it can tolerate extremes of precipitation, from 30-250 inches of annual rainfall.
Bamboo is the fastest growing woody plant in the world, growing one third faster than the fastest growing tree. Some species can grow up to 1 metre per day, and this growth pattern makes it easily accessible in a minimal amount of time. Size ranges amongst plants, but they can grow to about 60 metres high. The plants can be harvested at 3-5 years old. Bamboo has been part of the diet of mankind for thousands of years - it is also the principal food for many species of mammals, for example, the Indian elephant and the Giant Panda of China, which exists almost exclusively on bamboo. The skeletal system of the panda is incredibly strong, yet very flexible, and these unique properties are thought to be related in some part to the high silica content of bamboo.
Bamboo extract is the richest known source of natural silica, containing over 70%. Bamboo Silica extract is prepared from the Tabashir bamboo leaves and stem from India (Bambusa vulgaris). Silicon (Si) is the second most abundant element on earth after oxygen, and a sister element of carbon. Silicon's role as an essential nutrient was not established until 1972, but it is now known to play a part in the integrity of the skin, ligaments, tendons and bone.
The body constantly metabolises silicic acid, and this natural secretion of silica can be from 10 to 40mg daily. The average adult body contains about 20 grams of silica, and it is necessary for the body's stores to be maintained at this level to promote good health.
It is thought to improve the cardiovascular system, as it is essential to the structural integrity, elasticity and permeability of the arteries. It is also thought to be useful in reducing blood fats and cholesterol - silicon is abundant (up to 14 times more) in the arteries of people who are free of heart disease.
Silicon also improves the condition of the hair, nails, teeth, gums and skin, and has been used to alleviate eczema and psoriasis. It plays an essential role in mineral absorption and may help in restoring decalcified bones. Silicon enhances the function of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and boron, and is essential for normal bone development, which may help prevent osteoporosis. It may be useful in strengthening the musculoskeletal system, preventing injuries, and helping bones to heal in athletes.
Silicon supplementation may slow the ageing process - at birth, the body contains a maximum level of silica that declines with age. As the body's natural level of silica declines, it exhibits the signs attributable to ageing such as bone loss, dry and wrinkled skin, weakened teeth and gums, and hair loss.
Functions of Silicon include:
Providing strength and resilience to collagen and elastin connective tissues
Aiding bone and cartilage collagen synthesis present as silicic acid in mucopolysaccharides, the structural components of connective tissues
Assisting in the proper functioning of the enzyme prolyhydroxylase that is used in the formation of collagen in bone, cartilage and other connective tissues