Sumac also spelled sumach is any one of approximately 250 species of flowering plants in the genus Rhus and related genera, in the family Anacardiaceae. Sumacs grow in subtropical and temperate regions throughout the world, especially in Africa and North America.
Sumacs are shrubs and small trees that can reach a height of 1–10 metres. The leaves are spirally arranged; they are usually pinnately compound, though some species have trifoliate or simple leaves. The flowers are in dense panicles or spikes 5–30 centimetres long, each flower very small, greenish, creamy white or red, with five petals. The fruits form dense clusters of reddish drupes called sumac bobs. The dried drupes of some species are ground to produce a tangy crimson spice.
Sumacs propagate both by seed (spread by birds and other animals through their droppings), and by new shoots from rhizomes, forming large clonal colonies.
The word sumac traces its etymology from Old French sumac (13th century), from Mediaeval Latin sumach, from Arabic summaq, from Syriac summaq - meaning "red.
Sumac is also known by other names like: Elm-leafed Sumac; gewürzsumach (German); kankrasing (Hindi); shumac; Sicilian sumac; somagh (Farsi); sommacco (Italian); soumaki (Greek); sumac (French); sumac, Somak (Turkish); sumaq (Hebrew); summaq (Arabic); zumaque (Spanish).
Sumac has been used across globe for its medicinal properties and uses. Research has showed that health benefits of sumac are many, some being antifungal, anti microbial, anti oxidant, anti inflammatory. Extract of Sumac and various bio active compounds which has potential health benefits and other food and industrial uses.
Research is still ongoing in understanding full potential and health benefits of sumac.Sumac has been used as cure of various ailments in medieval medicine. Potential finding of sumac drupes in an 11th-century shipwreck off the coast of Rhodes, suggests its use as medicine, culinary spice or as a dye. Some of the health benefits of sumac are given below:
Sumac health benefits – Diuretic
Sumac berries have diuretic properties and are used in bowel complaints. In Middle East, sour Sumac juice is used to relieve stomach upset.
Anti inflammatory properties of Sumac
Sumac helps in reducing fever. Sumac works great for arthritis, skin inflammation,and respiratory problems such as bronchitis, colds, and flues.
Sumac has anti microbial properties. A study published in International Journal of Food Microbiology suggested sumac’s antimicrobial activity that can combat Salmonella bacteria. Water mixed with sumac extract can be used to treating vegetables and fruits and get rid of bacteria on them. Anti microbial properties of sumac were attributed to presence of methyl gallic acid, gallic acid and other compounds in a study published in Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
Antifungal Action of Sumac
A research published in German bioscience journal, Zeitschrift Fuer Naturforschung,showed that seeds of sumac are effective against Aspergillus fungus which causes lung infection and infection to other organs.
Anti oxidant properties of Sumac
Sumac is full of Vitamin C and Omega 3 fatty acids thus helping to prevent cardiovascular disease and strokes. Sumac helps get rid of free radicals in body, mainly gastro intestinal tract. Results of lab studies on strong antioxidant properties of Rhus coriaria has been published in Journal, Phytotherapy Research and Journal of Medicinal Food.
Hypoglycemic properties of Rhus
Research further suggests that sumac is effective in case hyperglycemia, diabetes and obesity. Some research is also carried on its anti tumour properties.
Sumac nutritious juice to summarize, health benefits of sumac can be mainly attributed to its anti microbial and antioxidant properties.
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