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Functional Ingredients

Allspice

Ingredient: Allspice

History: Allspice comes from a tropical evergreen tree. It’s native to Central America and the West Indies. The spice is the unripe, dried berries of the Pimenta diocia tree. Fifteenth century merchants in the spice game were convinced they had found black pepper in Jamaica and introduced the spice to the New World as Jamaican pepper because the fruits of the tree closely resemble peppercorns.

During the War of 1812, Russian soldiers placed whole allspice berries in their boots to help prevent unpleasant odors and cold feet.

Flavor: It's spicy, slightly sweet flavor is similar to cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. 

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Manganese
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Vitamin B5
  • Copper
  • Gallic acid
  • Quercetin
  • Ericifolin

Functional health benefits:

Inflammation

Many compounds in allspice are being studied as potential treatments for inflammation and  nausea. 

Tooth pain

Studies have shown that the eugenol found in allspice works as a topical pain reliever, often used to relieve tooth pain.

Portland syrups that feature allspice: Bright Chai, Root Beer.

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Basil

Ingredient: Basil 

History: Originally native to India, Asia, and Africa, basil can now be found and grown across the globe. Basil is a member of the mint family, along with other culinary herbs like rosemary, sage, and even lavender. It is believed that basil has origins in India, but the herb has been cultivated for over 5,000. There are some indications that basil may have originated even farther east than India with ancient records from 807 A.D. suggesting that sweet basil was used in the Hunan region of China at that time.

Flavor: The flavor of basil is a balance between sweet and savory, with hints of mint, anise, and pepper. While the initial flavor has pronounced tones of black pepper, this aromatic herb ultimately adds a hint of sweetness that is recognizable. 

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin K
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Potassium

Functional health benefits:

High in antioxidants

Basil's antioxidants help to fight free radicals in the body that can otherwise lead to cell damage and increase your risk for a variety of health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes.

Blood sugar maintenance 

Adding basil to your diet may help to reduce high blood sugar levels. Basil may also be helpful in treating the long-term effects of high blood sugar.

The eugenol in basil can block calcium channels, which may help to lower blood pressure. The essential oils in the herb can help to lower your cholesterol and triglycerides.  

Inflammation

Essential oils in basil, including eugenol, linalool, and citronellol, can help to fight inflammation in the body. These anti-inflammatory properties can help to lower the risk of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, and bowel issues.  

Portland syrups that feature basil: Marionberry, Spicy Ginger.

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Bergmont

Ingredient: Bergamot 

History: The bergamot, a citrus fruit growing almost exclusively in Southern Italy, is considered the “prince of citrus” for its role in the perfume industry due to its essential oil, a product in great demand of a pleasant and refreshing scent. Recently, analgesic, anxiolytic, neuroprotective consistent effects have been ascribed to bergamot essential oil when it is used in aromatherapy, for the relief of pain and symptoms associated with stress-induced anxiety and depression. It also lends the citrus and floral notes to Earl Grey tea.

Flavor: The taste is akin to a combination of lemon and bitter orange.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Neoeriocitrin
  • Neohesperidin
  • Naringin
  • Rutin
  • Melitidine
  • Brutieridine

Functional health benefits:

Reducing Cholesterol

Several studies have shown that bergamot may help to reduce overall cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol. It may also help to increase “good” HDL cholesterol and has the potential to be an effective supplement to cholesterol drugs.

Depression Relief

Studies have shown that an aromatherapy blend that includes bergamot may help with depression symptoms in older adults, people with terminal cancer, and women who are at high risk of postpartum depression.

Easing Joint Pain  

Scientists have found that bergamot might protect the joints in people taking aromatase inhibitors as part of cancer treatment. More research is needed.

Portland syrups that feature bergamot: Mango Habanero.

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Bird's Eye Chili

Ingredient: Bird’s Eye Chili Peppers

History: All chilis found around the world today have their origins in Mexico, Central America, and South America. They were spread by Spanish and Portuguese colonists, missionaries, and traders, together with many other now common crops such as maize, tomatoes and pineapples through the Columbian Exchange. The chili varieties found in Southeast Asia today were brought there in the 16th or 17th century.

Flavor: The bird's eye chili is small, but is quite spicy. It measures around 50,000 - 100,000 Scoville units, which is at the lower half of the range for the hotter habanero, but still much hotter than a common jalapeño. 

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Betacarotene 
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Capsaicin

Functional health benefits:

Aids Digestion

For the ones who keep on experiencing digestive issues, you may start trying bird’s eye chili. It has become a general fact that bird’s eye chili helps in improving digestion by increasing the production flows of enzymes and also gastric acid.

Accelerates Weight Loss

With the help of bird’s eye chili, diet goers can supplement their program by consuming it, but at modest levels.  

Treats Infections

The antifungal properties of bird’s eye chili also treat infections, which can prevent further infection-based diseases.

Portland syrups that feature bird's eye chili: Bird's Eye Chili.

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Bitter Orange

Ingredient: Bitter orange

History: Native to eastern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Syria, and Southeast Asia, bitter orange now is grown throughout the Mediterranean region and elsewhere, including California and Florida. Bitter orange has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for indigestion, nausea, and constipation.

Flavor: Bitter oranges have a pronounced sour flavor and slight bitterness along with very little sweetness.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorous
  • Vitamin A
  • Thiamine
  • Riboflavin

Functional health benefits:

Weight Management

Bitter orange is commonly found in weight loss pills and capsules. It may be effective in helping with weight management when combined with diet and exercise, but further studies are needed to be sure of its effectiveness and safety.

Helps Manage Low Blood Pressure

The synephrine in bitter oranges can increase the heart rate and raise blood pressure. For people with low blood pressure or conditions like POTS, small amounts of bitter orange may help manage symptoms. However, the effects of bitter orange are still being studied and regulated. Ask your doctor before using bitter orange to help manage low blood pressure.

Athlete's Foot Treatment

Bitter orange doesn't just have to be eaten. The oil of bitter orange can be used topically to treat fungal infections like athlete's foot. Because bitter orange is relatively cheap, this can be helpful to people with fungal skin infections.

Portland syrups that feature bitter orange: Aromatic Bitters.

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Blackberries

Ingredient: Blackberry

History: One of the earliest known instances of blackberry consumption comes from remains found in Denmark from approximately 2,500 years ago. The use of blackberries to make wines and cordials was documented in the London Pharmacopoeia in 1696. In the culinary world, blackberries have a long history of use alongside other fruits to make pies, jellies and jams.

Blackberry plants were also used for traditional medicine by Greeks, other European peoples, and aboriginal Americans. A 1771 document described brewing blackberry leaves, stem, and bark for stomach ulcers.

Blackberry fruit, leaves, and stems have been used to dye fabrics and hair. Native Americans have even been known to use the stems to make rope. The shrubs have also been used for barriers around buildings, crops and livestock. The wild plants have sharp, thick prickles, which offered some protection against enemies and large animals.

Flavor: Blackberries are succulent, juicy berries with a tart flavor. The ripest ones are sweet and tangy, while unripe berries can be sour or bitter.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Calcium
  • Manganese

Functional health benefits:

Improved digestion

Blackberries are an excellent source of insoluble fiber. Fiber plays an important role in the digestive process by increasing the bulk of stools to make them easier to pass. A diet high in fiber can ease constipation, which is the most common gastrointestinal issue in the U.S. Regular bowel movements play a critical role in maintaining colon health.

Diabetes Management

Blackberries are one of several types of berries believed to have a positive impact on insulin resistance and triglyceride levels. As such, researchers view blackberries as beneficial for diabetes management, especially if eaten fresh or frozen. 

Reduced Risk of Obesity

Research suggests that an increased intake of blackberries may address obesity by increasing insulin sensitivity and helping the body burn fat more effectively.

Portland Syrups that feature blackberries: Marionberry.

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Black peppercorns

Ingredient: Black Pepper

History: Black pepper is native to South Asia and Southeast Asia, and has been known to Indian cooking since at least 2000 B.C.E. The lost ancient port city of Muziris in Kerala, famous for exporting black pepper and various other spices, gets mentioned in a number of classical historical sources for its trade with the Roman Empire, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Levant, and Yemen. Peppercorns were a much-prized trade good, often referred to as "black gold" and used as a form of commodity money. The legacy of this trade remains in some Western legal systems that recognize the term "peppercorn rent" as a token payment for something that is, essentially, a gift.

Flavor: Pepper gets its spicy heat mostly from piperine derived from both the outer fruit and the seed.  

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C

Functional health benefits:

Digestive Health

The advantageous link between the consumption of peppercorns and one’s digestive health is well-known, and green peppercorns are no exception. One of the most vital compounds found in green peppercorns, which contributes to this benefit, is called piperine. The presence of piperine helps in the secretion of the stomach juices, thus increasing the rate of digestion.

Intestinal Issues

The consumption of green peppercorn helps with the reduction of gas. Moreover, the antimicrobial nature of hydrochloric acid helps in killing the bacteria present in the food before it gets into the intestinal tract, thus preventing you from contracting any intestinal diseases.

Anti-Oxidants

Green peppercorn is rich in vitamin C and A, which are powerful antioxidants that can help in lowering the concentration of free radicals and reduce the risks associated with free-radical damage. 

Portland Syrups that feature black pepper: Bright Chai.

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Black tea

Ingredient: Black tea

History: Up until the 17th century, the only teas that were consumed were green and oolong. It is believed that black tea was discovered when the Chinese started fermenting tea leaves in order to extend the storage life of tea. Fermentation produced an oxidized, darker version of the leaves, which became known as “black tea.”

Flavor: Some common traits used to describe the overall flavor profile of the black tea category include malty, smoky, brisk, earthy, spiced, nutty, metallic, citrus, caramel, leather, fruity, sweet and honey. 

Functional health benefits:

Lowering cancer risk

Findings cited by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) suggest that the polyphenols in tea may decrease the risk of tumor growth.

Reducing blood pressure

The findings of a 2015 study suggested that black tea may reduce diastolic and systolic blood pressure. Consuming black tea also appeared to cancel out the impact of a high fat meal on blood pressure.

Protecting against diabetes

Some research has suggested that consuming tea might help reduce the risk of diabetes.

In one study, people with type 2 diabetes consumed different amounts of black tea extract over a period of 4 weeks. The authors concluded that regular consumption of black tea might have antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects for people with this condition.

Portland Syrups that feature black tea: Bright Chai.

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Blood orange

Ingredient: Blood orange

History: The blood orange was first cultivated in Italy, but it has since spread throughout the world. Blood oranges are the result of a natural mutation of standard oranges. This mutation led to the production of anthocyanins, which make blueberries blue and blood oranges bright red. 

 

 

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Potassium
  • Manganese
  • Anthocyanins
  • Antioxidants

Functional health benefits:

Cholesterol Regulation

Blood oranges are full of vitamin C which can help lower cholesterol levels. In fact, according to one study, regularly consuming vitamin C can not only lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol significantly, it may also help raise your “good” HDL cholesterol levels.

Immune System Support

Another benefit of the vitamin C in blood oranges is its ability to shore up your immune system. It’s important to make sure you get enough vitamin C regularly, because it’s water-soluble and your body can’t store it. Regularly consuming enough vitamin C helps keep your immune system and especially your white blood cells working efficiently. 

Protection Against Strokes

Blood oranges are also rich in flavonoids, the compound that produces the rich flavor of these fruits. This compound can help reduce the risk of strokes for some people. Recent research has shown that eating more flavonoids significantly reduces the risk of ischemic strokes in women. 

Portland Syrups that feature blood orange: Citrus-Passion.

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Cardamom

Ingredient: Cardamom

History: Cardamom is a spice found in the form of a small pod with black seeds inside. It belongs to the Zingiberaceae or the ginger family. They are native to the Indian subcontinent.

Cardamom has been traditionally used in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine for many years. In ancient times, people used cardamom for treating various oral conditions. 

Now, it is regarded as the queen of spices and is the third-most-expensive spice after saffron and vanilla.

Flavor: Green cardamom has an intensely sweet, minty, and savory flavor. 

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Manganese

Functional health benefits: 

Antimicrobial

The oils from cardamom were able to inhibit the growth and spread of dangerous microbes that may be a cause of food poisoning. 

Studies have also suggested that cardamom may also have the potential to become an alternative therapy against antibiotic-resistant pathogens

Anti-inflammatory 

Evidence suggests that certain compounds in cardamom may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A 2010 report suggests that black pepper and cardamom extracts may help in building a healthy immune system.

Aid In Oral Health

Research has verified the presence of antimicrobial properties in cardamom, which may help fight common bacteria linked to cavities.  

It is also an ingredient in a traditional mouth rinse used to prevent dental plaque. 

Portland Syrups that feature cardamom: Aromatic bittersBright ChaiHibiscus Cardamom.

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Chamomile

Ingredient: Chamomile

History: Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind. The name Chamomile is derived from two Greek words: Khamai meaning “on the ground” and melon meaning “apple.” Pliny the Elder mentioned that the plant has an apple-like smell. Chamomile originated in Europe and West Asia and was highly valued by the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks for its medicinal properties. The Egyptians considered the plant sacred and believed it was a gift from the God of the Sun. 

It has been used since the time of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in 500 B.C.E. The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans regularly used the chamomile flowers to treat erythema and xerosis caused because of dry weather and as a calming beverage in the form of tea or tisane. Chamomile came into widespread use during the medieval age. It was extensively prescribed by the doctors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries for fevers.

Flavor: It is delicately floral with notes of apple and honey.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Calcium 
  • Iron 
  • Magnesium 
  • Potassium 

Functional health benefits: 

Inflammation

The flowers of chamomile contain 1–2% volatile oils including alpha-bisabolol, alpha-bisabolol oxides A & B, and matricin (usually converted to chamazulene and other flavonoids which possess anti-inflammatory and antiphlogistic properties.)

Heart health

It has been suggested that regular use of flavonoids consumed in food may reduce the risk of death from coronary heart disease.

Portland Syrups that feature chamomile: Aromatic bitters.

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Cinchona bark

Ingredient: Cinchona bark  

History: How and when the medical value of Cinchona bark was discovered is obscure, but it is said that the powder was given to a European for malaria for the first time in the 1630s. The bark was brought to Europe by Spanish missionaries and it was recommended by the cardinal Juan de Lugo. In the 1660s, the use of Cinchona bark became known in England - and in Denmark by Thomas Bartholin. It was used for the treatment of malaria, but several debates on its value continued up to the 1730s.

Flavor: Cinchona bark has a distinctively bitter taste that also can be described as barky, woody, and even dusty. Often it comes off as quite tannic/astringent.


Vitamins, minerals, other properties: 

  • Quinine
  • Quinidine

Functional health benefits: 

Digestive health

Cinchona is used for promoting the release of digestive juices and treating bloating, fullness, and other stomach problems. 

Malaria

Cinchona bark contains quinine, which is a medicine used to treat malaria. 

Heart health

It also contains quinidine which is a medicine used to treat heart palpitations (arrhythmias).

Portland Syrups that feature cinchona bark: Aromatic bitters, Rose City Tonic.

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Cinnamon

Ingredient: Cinnamon 

History: Native to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), true cinnamon, Cinnamomum zeylanicum, dates back in Chinese writings to 2800 B.C.E. and is still known as kwai in the Cantonese language today. Its botanical name derives from the Hebraic and Arabic term amomon, meaning fragrant spice plant. Cinnamon is a spice. But extracts from the bark as well as leaves, flowers, fruits, and roots of the cinnamon tree have also been used in traditional medicine around the world for thousands of years.

Flavor: The main flavor of cinnamon comes from the aromatic compound “cinnamaldehyde” which is described as tasting like spicy “red hot” candy. Of the four main culinary species of cinnamon, Vietnamese and Chinese typically have the highest cinnamaldehyde content and spicy flavor. It is a warming spice used in mulling spices and teas.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Potassium 
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium

Functional health benefits: 

Anti- Inflammation

Cinnamon is an effective anti-inflammatory. Researchers tested the phytochemicals found in cinnamon and discovered antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. 

Diabetes Control

Cinnamon has the ability to improve insulin resistance, lower glucose levels, and reverse oxidative damage. Because of this, many scientists believe it could help treat Type 2 diabetes or even prevent its initial development.

Antibiotic Properties

The compound cinnamaldehyde is responsible for cinnamon’s distinct odor and flavor. This phytochemical also has proven widespread antibiotic effects. Cinnamaldehyde was tested against several bacteria and viruses, including staphylococcus, E. coli, salmonella, and candida. Researchers found that it was able to effectively prevent these bacteria’s growth.

Portland Syrups that feature cinnamon: Bright Chai, Vanilla Rooibos

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Cloves

Ingredient: Clove

History: Cloves are the dried flowers of the clove tree. Native to the Spice Islands near China. As early as 200 B.C.E., envoys from Java to the Han-dynasty court of China brought cloves that were customarily held in the mouth to perfume the breath during audiences with the emperor. During the late Middle Ages, cloves were used in Europe to preserve, flavor, and garnish food. Cloves spread throughout Europe and Asia during the late Middle Ages as an important part of local cuisine.  

Flavor: This intensely aromatic spice has a subtly sweet flavor that lends plenty of warmth to a dish. Cloves also have a slight note of bitterness and astringency that counterbalances the sweetness.

Vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin K
  • Potassium
  • Beta-carotene
  • Eugenol 

Functional health benefits:

Reduced Inflammation

Cloves include multiple compounds that are linked to anti-inflammatory properties. Eugenol is the most important of these compounds. Eugenol has been shown to reduce the inflammatory response in the body, reducing the risk of diseases such as arthritis and helping to manage symptoms.

Fewer Free Radicals

Eugenol is also a potent antioxidant. These compounds help your body to fight free radicals, which damage your cells and can lead to disease. By removing free radicals from your system, the antioxidants found in cloves can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

Reduced Ulcers

Cloves can help protect your stomach from ulcers. Most ulcers are caused by thinning in the layers of mucus that protect your stomach lining. Preliminary studies show that cloves can thicken this mucus, lowering your risk of developing ulcers and helping existing ulcers heal.

Improved Liver Function

Cloves may also promote better liver function. Some trials have shown that the eugenol found in cloves can help reduce signs of liver cirrhosis and fatty liver disease. It may also improve general liver function.

Portland Syrups that feature clove: Bright Chai, Root Beer.

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Cranberries

Ingredient: Cranberry

History: Cranberries are small, hard, round, red fruits that grow on vines in freshwater bogs, mostly in the northern United States and southern Canada. They're related to blueberries and wintergreen.

The North American variety is one of the only commercial fruits native to North America. Native Americans first used them for food, fabric dye, and medicine. Sailors used to eat them to prevent scurvy while at sea. Today, they grow on about 40,000 acres in the U.S. each year.

Flavor: With the tartness of a lemon and a subtle fruitiness of a cherry, cranberries are quite a unique and distinct fruit. 

Vitamins, minerals and other properties: 

  • Quercetin
  • Myricetin
  • Peonidin
  • Ursolic acid
  • A-type proanthocyanidins

Functional health benefits:

Urinary tract health

Studies have shown that cranberries can help lessen the risk of urinary tract infection (UTI) in certain people. This includes children or women who get them often. Your doctor may suggest that you take them as supplements or drink the juice from time to time.

Gut health

Studies have shown that they can improve gut bacteria in people who eat an animal-based diet. In other words, if you eat a lot of meat, dairy, and sugar, cranberries can help put good bacteria back into your digestive system. They also reduce bile acids in the gut that have a link to colon and gastrointestinal cancers.

Oral health 

Just like in your digestive system, cranberries help control harmful acids in your mouth. They lessen the amount of acid you make and keep it from sticking to your teeth. This helps stop cavities, gum disease, tooth decay, and even oral cancer.

Antioxidants

Cranberries are very high in antioxidants. A study found that out of 20 common fruits, cranberries have the highest level of phenols, a type of antioxidant. 

Portland Syrups that feature cranberry: Spiced Cranberry.

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Ginger

Ingredient: Ginger

History: Ginger, a well-known herbaceous plant, has been widely used as a flavoring agent and herbal medicine for centuries. The known history of ginger dates back about 5000 years. Its native home is debated but its medicinal and spiritual uses were first documented in Southeast Asia, India and China. Furthermore, the consumption of the ginger rhizome is a typical traditional remedy to relieve common health problems, including pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Flavor: Ginger is slightly peppery and sweet and even a bit spicy.  

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B 
  • Thiamine
  • Riboflavin 
  • Niacin 
  • Iron
  • Calcium 
  • Phosphorus

Functional health benefits: 

Fights Germs

Certain chemical compounds in fresh ginger help your body ward off germs. They’re especially good at halting growth of bacteria like E.coli and shigella, and they may also keep viruses like RSV at bay.

Eases Arthritis Symptoms

Ginger is an anti-inflammatory, which means it reduces swelling. That may be especially helpful for treating symptoms of both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.  

Antiemetic

A number of randomized clinical trials have found ginger’s antiemetic effect in various conditions such as motion sickness, pregnancy, and post-anesthesia. 

Relieves Indigestion

If you live with chronic indigestion, also called dyspepsia, ginger could bring some relief. Ginger before meals may make your system empty faster, leaving less time for food to sit and cause problems.

Portland Syrups that feature ginger: Bright Chai, Ginger, Spicy Ginger.

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Green peppercorn

Ingredient: Green peppercorn

History: Green peppercorns are the same fruit as black peppercorns, both are from the Piper nigrum plant. The difference is that green peppercorns are harvested at a different stage of ripeness. Instead of being dried in the sun like black peppercorns, they are dehydrated quickly to preserve their color. Because they are the same as black peppercorns, much of their history remains the same.

The peppercorn originated in Kerala, an Indian state and is known as the king of spices and was once valuable enough to be used as currency. It is arguably the most commonly used spice in the world after salt.

Flavor: The flavor of green peppercorns is milder than that of black peppercorns, which are noticeably hotter. This makes them great for avoiding the heat of black pepper, while still getting the flavor. The green peppercorns’ flavor is also more complex than those of black or white peppercorns, with fruity notes that are not present in either of the other forms.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C

Functional health benefits:

Digestive Health

The advantageous link between the consumption of peppercorns and one’s digestive health is well-known, and green peppercorns are no exception. One of the most vital compounds found in green peppercorns, which contributes to this benefit, is called piperine. The presence of piperine helps in the secretion of the stomach juices, thus increasing the rate of digestion.

Intestinal Issues

The consumption of green peppercorn helps with the reduction of gas. Moreover, the antimicrobial nature of hydrochloric acid helps in killing the bacteria present in the food before it gets into the intestinal tract, thus preventing you from contracting any intestinal diseases.

Anti-Oxidants

Green peppercorn is rich in vitamin C and A, which are powerful antioxidants that can help in lowering the concentration of free radicals and reduce the risks associated with free-radical damage. 

Portland Syrups that feature green peppercorn: Spiced Cranberry.

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Habanero

Ingredient: Habanero peppers

History: The habanero chili comes from the Amazon and was spread, reaching Mexico. Today, the largest producer of the habanero pepper is the Yucatán Peninsula, in Mexico. Habaneros are an integral part of Yucatecan food, accompanying most dishes, either in natural form or purée or salsa. Other modern producers include Belize, Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, and parts of the United States, including Texas, Idaho, and California.

The habanero chili was disseminated by Spanish colonists to other areas of the world, to the point that 18th-century taxonomists mistook China for its place of origin and called it Capsicum chinense ("the Chinese pepper").

Flavor: The habanero is often smoky and citrusy, but also is similar to the Scotch Bonnet pepper. Both the Scotch bonnet and the habanero have thin, waxy flesh. They have a similar heat level and flavor. 

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C 
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Calcium

Functional health benefits:

Treats Cold & Respiratory Issues

Habaneros help relieve some cold symptoms, especially respiratory issues. It’s said that it helps clear out the sinuses and congested nose and lungs.

Aids Weight Loss

Habaneros’ active compound increases your body’s temperature. As a result, this can boost your metabolism , forcing fat cells to be used as energy.

Arthritis Relief

Capsaicin is a well-known ingredient in many topical pain relief and arthritis treatments. It improves circulation, relieves nerve pain, muscle pain, and muscle spasms.

Portland Syrups that feature habanero pepper: Mango Habanero, Spicy Ginger.

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Hibiscus

Ingredient: Hibiscus

History: The tropical flowering plant is more than just a beautiful flower.  For centuries, people have used hibiscus seeds, flowers, leaves and stems in food and traditional medicine. The ingredient is especially popular in Western Africa, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Also known as roselle or sorrel, it’s been used to treat everything from high blood pressure to indigestion.

Flavor: The fruity flavor of hibiscus is tangy, sweet, and only subtly floral.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Calcium,
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B 

Functional health benefits: 

Antioxidants

The hibiscus plant is rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C and anthocyanin.

Antioxidants destroy harmful molecules known as free radicals within your body. Free radicals cause damage to cells that contribute to diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. 

Lowers blood pressure

High blood pressure affects nearly half of all adults in the U.S., leading to serious health problems like heart attack, stroke, heart failure and kidney disease. In clinical trials, drinking hibiscus tea has been shown to lower blood pressure in humans.

Portland Syrups that feature hibiscus: Hibiscus Cardamom

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Japanese Chilies

Ingredient: Japanese chilies

History: In the 15th and 16th centuries, dried chili peppers were carried with explorers from the New World to Asia, where the spicy pods were widely valued for their flavor, coloring, and heat. Over time, the peppers earned their Japanese moniker, as the variety was used more frequently in Asia than in Mexico. 

In China, Japanese pepper has historically been used as an antiseptic and as a digestive aid that was thought to benefit the spleen and stomach. The spicy, warming herb was also used for intestinal parasites, colds, fevers, and as an antifungal.

In Korea, the berries are used in temple food dishes, referring to vegetarian meals that are served in Buddhist temples, which aid meditative practices. It’s used for stomach ache and abdominal fullness and used mainly for gastric disorders.

Flavor: While they have a rating of 15,000-30,000 Scoville Heat Units on the Scoville scale, Japanese peppers are considered to be mild peppers compared to the larger chili family. The milder heat levels, however, make them a tasteful and popular addition to most foods and dishes.   

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B

Functional health benefits:

Good for Eye Health

Vitamin A helps to protect your eyes from night blindness and/or any age related weakening. It may lower the risk of certain types of cancers. Amazingly, it reduces or minimizes the risk of acne. It supports normal vision, cell growth and your immune system.

Strengthens the bones

This incredible pepper has calcium which helps build and maintain strong bones. Calcium is needed for better functioning of your heart, muscles, and nerves. Moreover, Japanese pepper may help in slow bone mineralization which in effect, reduces risks of fractures in the bones.

Treatment for diarrhea

Japanese pepper was known before as naruhajika and was used traditionally as a remedy for diarrhea since the Heian Period. In fact, it was considered as a treatment for many digestive problems. It helps in normalizing your bowel movements and supports your intestines in absorbing fluids. 

Portland Syrups that feature Japanese chilies: Ginger, Spicy Ginger.

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Key limes

Ingredient: Key lime

History: The Key lime is a citrus hybrid native to tropical Southeast Asia. The Key lime is usually picked while it is still green, but it becomes yellow when ripe.

The Key lime is smaller, seedier, has higher acidity, stronger aroma, and thinner rind than the Persian lime. It is valued for its characteristic flavor. The name comes from its association with the Florida Keys, where it is best known as the flavoring ingredient in Key lime pie. It is also known as West Indian lime, bartender's lime, Omani lime, or Mexican lime.

Flavor: The juice of a key lime is tarter and somewhat more bitter than a Persian lime, though some people find the taste very bitter and almost caustic. For this reason, key lime juice is often used in very sweet desserts. The bitterness of the key lime balances well with the sweetness of sugar.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin C
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Folate
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium 

Functional health benefits:

Good source of antioxidants

Antioxidants are important compounds that defend your cells against molecules called free radicals. In high amounts, free radicals can damage your cells, and this damage has been linked to chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and many types of cancer.

Limes are high in active compounds that function as antioxidants in your body, including flavonoids, limonoids, kaempferol, quercetin, and ascorbic acid.

Boost immunity

Limes are high in vitamin C, a nutrient that may help boost your immune system. Vitamin C helps increase the production of white blood cells, which help protect your body against infections and disease.

Healthy skin

Limes have several properties that may promote healthy skin. They’re high in vitamin C. This vitamin is necessary to make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin firm and strong. Limes are also high in antioxidants, which may help combat age-related skin changes.

Portland syrups that feature key lime: Mojito, Strawberry Lemon-Lime.

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Kola nuts

Ingredient: Kola nut

History: The kola nut comes from the evergreen kola tree, which is found in the rainforests of Africa. Inside the tree’s star-shaped fruits are white shells, which contain the seeds or kola nuts.

In Nigeria, it is an important cultural symbol for many ethnic groups. It is given to guests at weddings, funerals, and naming ceremonies, and it is used in medicine. Ceremonial breaking of the kola nut is important for making people feel welcome in a village or gathering. The nut is relatively large, being about the size of a chestnut.

The kola nut has a bitter taste but becomes sweeter, as it is chewed. In certain African countries, the kola nut is chewed during ceremonies and rituals. It is also used to sweeten breath. Another application of the kola nut in the western world is as a flavoring agent for sodas.

Flavor: The fresh kola nut has a bitter, potato-like flavor which increases in sweetness the longer it is chewed. It has a sweet floral aroma that is reminiscent of rose petals. 

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A 
  • Caffeine
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium

Functional health benefits:

Aid to digestion

They are thought to promote the production of gastric acid, which increases digestive enzyme effectiveness in the stomach.

Increase in circulation

The caffeine and theobromine in the kola nut may speed up the heart rate, which increases circulation.

Boost to energy levels

The kola nut naturally stimulates the central nervous system, which may increase alertness and boost energy levels.

Antibacterial benefits

One study reported in the Journal of Biosciences and Medicines indicates that the use of kola nut extract might stop the growth of harmful bacteria.

There are several health conditions that might be improved by consumption of the kola nut.

Portland syrups that feature kola nut: True Cola.

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Lemons

Ingredient: Lemon

History: The true origin of lemons is not entirely known. They are thought to have originated in north-western India. It is known that lemons were introduced to southern Italy around 200 AD and have been cultivated in Egypt and Iran since 700 AD. Arabs spread lemons throughout the Mediterranean area during the early 2nd century. When Christopher Columbus left Europe for the New World in 1492, he brought with him lemon seeds. These seeds were planted in Hispaniola in 1493.  

Flavor: Heavily citrus flavor, usually with a strong bitterness, sourness, harsh and acidic flavor.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Iron 
  • Potassium

Functional health benefits:

Prevent Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are small lumps that form when waste products crystallize and build up in your kidneys. Citric acid may help prevent kidney stones by increasing urine volume and increasing urine pH, creating a less favorable environment for kidney stone formation.

Protect Against Anemia

Lemons contain some iron, but they primarily prevent anemia by improving your absorption of iron from plant foods. Because lemons contain both vitamin C and citric acid, they may protect against anemia by ensuring that you absorb as much iron as possible from your diet.

Portland syrups that feature lemon: Strawberry Lemon-Lime, True Cola.

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Mangoes

Ingredient: Mango 

History: Mangoes originated in India over 4,000 years ago and are considered a sacred fruit. Mangoes spread gradually throughout Asia and then to the rest of the world. Due to a mango's large center seed, the fruit relied on humans to transport them across the world. 

Flavor: Mangoes have a distinctively sweet flavor that can be compared to peach, pineapple, and apricot.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin A 
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K

Functional health benefits:

Lower Risk of Cancer

Mangos are rich in beta-carotene, a pigment responsible for the yellow-orange color of the fruit. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant, just one of many found in mangos. The antioxidants in mangos have been shown to fight free radicals, which can cause damage to your cells and potentially lead to cancer.

Heart Health

Mangos are also helpful for supporting your cardiovascular system. They are a great source of magnesium and potassium, both of which are connected to lower blood pressure and a regular pulse. Furthermore, mangos are the source of a compound known as mangiferin, which early studies suggest may be able to reduce inflammation of the heart.

Digestive Health

Mangos can help stabilize your digestive system. They offer both amylase compounds and dietary fiber, which can help you avoid constipation. Amylase compounds can help dissolve other foods in your stomach, breaking down difficult starches. Meanwhile, the fiber in mangos can be more effective for relieving constipation than equivalent fiber supplements.

Portland syrups that feature mangoMango Habanero.

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Marionberries

Ingredient: Marionberry

History: The marionberry was developed by U.S. Department of Agricultural researcher George F. Waldo at Oregon State University in Corvallis in the nineteen forties. It is a cross of the flavorful Olallie berry and the high-producing Chehalem berry, both of which are also caneberry hybrids.

And though technically a member of the rose family, the thorns on a marionberry cane are much sharper and more densely packed than those of a rose bush.

Flavor: The fruits have a comparatively tart but complex flavor that combines earthiness with a hint of sweetness. They are larger in general size, juicier, and sweeter than the fruit produced by the Evergreen blackberry or Himalayan blackberry.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Ellagic acid 
  • Anthocyanins 
  • Vitamin C
  • Gallic acid 
  • Rutin

Functional health benefits:

Antioxidants

Marionberries contain significant amounts of vitamin C, gallic acid and rutin. Antioxidants are extremely important for the human body to protect it from free radicals that cause gradual deterioration of the body. Vitamin C is important for regulation of the immune system, scouring the body of free radicals and preventing inflammation.

Brain Performance

Marionberries have been found to improve memory and motor performance, and show neuroprotective effects by decreasing ROS levels in the brain and modulating glutathione levels. Such effects might help in stopping the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia according to scientists.  

Portland syrups that feature marionberry: Marionberry

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Oranges

Ingredient: Orange

History: The orange is a hybrid between pomelo and mandarin. The orange originated in a region encompassing Southern China, Northeast India, and Myanmar, and the earliest mention of the sweet orange was in Chinese literature in 314 B.C.E. As of 1987, orange trees were found to be the most cultivated fruit tree in the world. 

Flavor: The orange has a sweet-tart taste.  

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin C 
  • Folate 
  • Calcium 
  • Potassium

Functional health benefits:

Helps promote heart health

Heart disease is currently the world’s most common cause of premature death.

A number of nutrients and plant compounds found in oranges, including vitamin C, flavonoids, and carotenoids, may help promote heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease. Plus, regularly consuming oranges and orange juice may help reduce heart disease risk factors.

Anemia prevention

Consuming vitamin-C-rich foods may help prevent anemia, a condition that occurs when your body lacks adequate amounts of the mineral iron.

Although oranges are not a good source of iron, they’re an excellent source of vitamin C, which enhances your body’s ability to absorb iron.

Portland syrups that feature orange: True Cola.

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Passionfruit

Ingredient: Passion fruit 

History: The purple and yellow passion fruit are native to Brazil. They were already cultivated by the Aztecs, who prepared refreshments and drinks with them. It was introduced to Europe in 1629 via Spanish Jesuit missionaries. The passion fruit got its name because priests in the 1500s thought parts of the passion flower symbolized the "passion," or suffering and death, of Jesus. The fruit, also called granadilla and maracuya, ended up with the name, too.

Flavor: Passion fruit has jelly-like yellow flesh covering its black seeds and the sharp citrusy tart balances with the sweet taste. It tastes like pineapple, tart mango, or yellow kiwi.  

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin A
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Iron

Functional health benefits:

Vitamin C

Move over, oranges. Passion fruit is full of this antioxidant. Your body uses it to make blood vessels, cartilage, muscles, and collagen, which keeps skin looking young. It also helps your body heal, lowers inflammation, and protects your cells from damage. When you get enough vitamin C, it lowers your chances of getting colds and certain types of cancers.

Vitamin A

Passion fruit's pulp and crunchy seeds have 8% of the vitamin A you need every day. It's a key to healthy eyes and cells, reproduction, and immunity.

Low glycemic index

Passion fruit is a tropical fruit that has a low glycemic index (GI) value. This means that it does not cause a steep increase in blood sugar after eating it, making it a good option for people with diabetes.

Improve insulin sensitivity

Some research suggests that a compound found in passion fruit seeds could improve a person’s insulin sensitivity. Improving insulin sensitivity can help reduce the risk of many diseases, including diabetes.

A small-scale 2017 study on humans found that a substance called piceatannol could improve metabolism after animal studies had found the same.

Portland syrups that feature passionfruit: Citrus-Passion.

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Peppermint

Ingredient: Peppermint

History: This herb is a cross between two types of mints: water mint and spearmint. The taste and smell you know from things like candies and soaps come from the concentrated oil (essential oil) inside the plant. Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians used mints, including peppermint, as medicine thousands of years ago. But peppermint wasn’t recognized as a distinct subspecies until the late 17th century.

Flavor: Peppermint has a significantly higher concentration of menthol, which gives the herb its signature cooling flavor and aroma. Because of the difference in menthol concentration.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Niacin
  • Phosphorus 
  • Zinc 
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Riboflavin

Functional health benefits:

GI support

Peppermint has compounds that relax the tissues in animals’ GI tracts. A few studies have shown peppermint and other herbal meds can ease stomach pain in kids, but we need more proof before doctors can recommend it. Other research shows it may also help relieve nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy.

Studies suggest that coated peppermint oil capsules can ease side effects of irritable bowel syndrome like gas, stomach pain, constipation, and diarrhea.

Migraine relief

The active ingredient in peppermint is menthol. Some small studies show it can lessen the pain of migraine headaches. It may also reduce other symptoms like light sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting. A few studies suggest that applying a peppermint oil solution to your forehead and temples can help take away tension headaches, too.

Oral health

Not only does the flavor of peppermint freshen your breath, but its antibacterial properties may also help get rid of the source of the smell: germs. It’s believed to keep bacteria from forming a film on your teeth. 

Relieve Menstrual Cramps

It doesn’t seem to affect the amount of blood loss, but the menthol in peppermint  can ease the intensity and shorten the length of period pain in some women.

Portland syrups that feature peppermint: Mojito.

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Plums

Ingredient: Plum

History: Plums may have been one of the first fruits domesticated by humans. Three of the most abundantly cultivated species are not found in the wild, only around human settlements: Prunus domestica has been traced to East European and Caucasian mountains, while Prunus salicina and Prunus simonii originated in China. Plum remains have been found in Neolithic age archaeological sites along with olives, grapes and figs.

Flavor: Plum fruit ranges from sweet to tart; the skin itself may be particularly tart. 

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin K
  • Folate

Functional health benefits:

Constipation Relief 

Plums, like prunes, can also help keep things moving through your system. They have a lot of sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that acts as a natural laxative.

High blood pressure and stroke

The potassium in plums is good for blood pressure control in two ways. It helps your body get rid of sodium when you pee, and it lessens tension in the walls of your blood vessels. When your blood pressure is lower, your odds of getting a stroke go down.

Rich in antioxidants

These substances protect the body against the cell and tissue damage that can lead to diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and cancer.

Reduce blood sugar

Plums are chock full of fiber, which helps slow down a blood sugar spike after you eat carbs. They can also boost your body’s production of adiponectin, a hormone that helps regulate your blood sugar levels.

Portland syrups that feature plum: Spiced Cranberry.

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Rooibos tea

Ingredient: Rooibos tea

History: Rooibos tea—also known as red bush tea and African red tea—is an herbal tea made using the leaves of the Aspalathus linearis plant. Rooibos means “red bush” in Afrikaans and references the rich, deep crimson of rooibos tea. Rooibos tea is made using the long needle leaves of the plant, which are green when still growing on the plant and turn red during the fermentation process.

The Aspalathus linearis plant is native to South Africa and like most teas, contains high levels of polyphenols that provide an array of health benefits. Rooibos is grown mainly in the mountainous Cederberg region of South Africa in the Western Cape province. Rooibos tea is also caffeine-free, making it a good beverage at any time of the day. Thanks to its high concentration of vitamins and polyphenols, rooibos tea offers not only delicious taste, but also helps to keep you healthy.  

Flavor: Rooibos tea has a sweet, nutty flavor that is often compared to hibiscus tea and earthy notes that are similar to yerba mate infusions. Rooibos is also described as having hints of caramel, vanilla and a smoky essence likened to tobacco.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc 
  • Alpha hydroxyl acid
  • Vitamin C 

Functional health benefits:

Improves Appearance of Skin

Rooibos tea contains alpha hydroxy acid, which is one of the main ingredients in skin treatments such as chemical peels that you can get at your dermatologist’s office. Not particularly common in foods, alpha hydroxy acid in rooibos tea can aid in your skin care routine and help to reduce wrinkles.

Rooibos tea offers a soothing effect, thereby reducing irritation and redness resulting in more even-toned skin. Rooibos tea also contains zinc, which has shown potential to help treat common skin conditions such as eczema and acne 

Alleviates Pain

Rooibos tea contains antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce inflammation and feelings of aches and pains. The anti-spasmodic compounds in rooibos tea can also help to alleviate abdominal pain such as stomach cramps by activating potassium ions throughout the body.

Allergies

Rooibos contains a bioactive flavonoid known as chrysoeriol, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Working as a bronchodilator, rooibos tea can help relieve the feelings of wheezing and coughing caused by allergic rhinitis and asthma.

Another flavonoid called Quercetin helps to prevent allergies from being triggered in the first place. Quercetin essentially blocks mast cells, which are responsible for releasing histamine, the main element that triggers an allergic response.

Portland syrups that feature rooibos: Vanilla Rooibos.

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Rose

Ingredient: Rose  

History: Roses have been used for cultural and medicinal purposes for thousands of years.

The rose family has over 130 species and thousands of cultivars. All roses are edible and can be used in tea, but some varieties are sweet while others are more bitter. In the Middle Ages in the Middle East, it was used to treat depression and anxiety and to aid circulation. Today, thanks to modern medical research that has proven these properties in precious rose oil, it is used in aromatherapy to treat depression, anxiety and more.

Flavor: Rose is an abundantly floral flavoring with a subtle sweetness. 

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E

Functional health benefits:

Rich in antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that help combat the effects of free radicals. These are reactive molecules that cause cellular damage and lead to oxidative stress, which is associated with many diseases and premature aging.

Boost your mood

Studies have shown that roses have mood-boosting and stress relieving properties. Traditionally, relief for a cranky mood was to inhale rose vapor from the tea. The natural aromatics encourage calm, relieve stress and tension, and promote a restful sleep.

Portland syrups that feature rose: Rose Cordial, Rose City Tonic.

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Rose Canina

Ingredient: Rose canina

History: Rosa canina, commonly known as the dog rose, is a variable climbing, wild rose species native to Europe, northwest Africa, and western Asia. The flesh of rose hips from dog roses contain high levels of antioxidants, mainly polyphenols and vitamin C /ascorbic acid, as well as carotenoids and vitamins B and E, making them excellent for consumption. 

During World War II in the United States, Rosa canina was planted in victory gardens, and can still be found growing throughout the country, including roadsides and in wet, sandy areas along the coastlines. During World War II the British relied on rose hips and hops as the sources for their vitamins A and C and it was a common British wartime expression to say "We are getting by on our hips and hops." 

Flavor: Rose canina’s fragrance has strong floral notes of wild rose, lotus flower and warm musks. Its flavor is highly influenced by that aroma.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E 

Functional health benefits:

Anti-aging properties

Rosehip oil is a popular anti-aging substance in the beauty community, though research supporting its benefits is limited. It’s made by cold pressing rose hips and extracting their natural oils.

Rosehip seeds are high in polyunsaturated fats, which support a healthy skin membrane and protect your skin from inflammatory compounds, such as ultraviolet (UV) rays, cigarette smoke, and pollution.

In addition, using vitamin C directly on your skin has been shown to significantly increase collagen synthesis and cell turnover — the rate at which skin cells replenish.

May reduce arthritis pain

Rose hips have been well studied for their effects on osteoarthritis pain.

A recent review of 24 studies found that supplementing with rose hips may help relieve osteoarthritis symptoms by combating oxidative stress and inflammation in your joints.

Portland syrups that feature rose canina: Rose City Tonic.

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Sarsaparilla

Ingredient: Sarsaparilla

History: Sarsaparilla is a tropical plant from the genus Smilax. The climbing, woody vine grows deep in the canopy of the rainforest. It’s native to South America, Jamaica, the Caribbean, Mexico, Honduras, and the West Indies. For centuries, indigenous people around the world used the root of the sarsaparilla plant for treating joint problems like arthritis, and for healing skin problems like psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. Sarsaparilla is also the common name of a soft drink that was popular in the early 1800s. The drink was used as a home remedy and was often served in bars.

Contrary to popular belief, the sarsaparilla soft drink was typically made from another plant called sassafras. It has been described as having a similar taste to root beer or birch beer. The drink is still popular in certain Southeast Asian countries.

Flavor: Sarsaparilla is considered to be one of the forefathers of root beer and has flavors that are reminiscent of wintergreen, vanilla, and licorice.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Caffeoylshikimic acid
  • Shikimic acid
  • Ferulic acid
  • Sarsapic acid
  • Kaempferol 
  • Quercetin
  • Aluminum
  • Chromium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Calcium 
  • Zinc

Functional health benefits:

Sarsaparilla contains a wealth of plant chemicals thought to have a beneficial effect on the human body. Chemicals known as saponins might help reduce joint pain and skin itching, and also kill bacteria. Other chemicals may be helpful in reducing inflammation and protecting the liver from damage. 

Portland syrups that feature sarsaparilla: Root Beer.

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Serrano peppers

Ingredient: Serrano peppers

History: The serrano pepper is a type of chili pepper that originated in the mountainous regions of the Mexican states of Puebla and Hidalgo. The name of the pepper is a reference to the mountains of these regions. The pepper is commonly used to make giardiniera.

Flavor: Serranos are very similar in taste to jalapeños, but they're two to five times hotter. They also have an earthy and somewhat grassy flavor profile. 

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin C 
  • Potassium 
  • Copper 
  • Manganese

Functional health benefits:

Immune System Booster

The orange has long held the reputation for providing the most vitamin C, but the serrano pepper may have that orange beat as a vitamin C food. Getting enough vitamin C is important to the immune system and tissue repair caused by inflammation.

According to research from 2015, the serrano pepper is among the types of peppers that help boost the immune system due to the high-antioxidant levels. In particular, the carotene is beneficial against all types of disease, including chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. 

Improves Heart Health

The heat-stimulating capsaicin found in chili peppers like the serrano has been found to help lower cholesterol levels because it’s able to reduce the accumulation of cholesterol in the body while helping the body detox through the excretion in the feces. The peppers can also prevent arteries from contracting, which can restrict blood flow to the heart.

Relief for Arthritis and Sore Muscles

Capsaicin is what produces the heat in chili peppers. When applied topically as a cream, gel or patch, the capsaicin provides relief by depleting substance P, which is a neurotransmitter that sends pain-related messages to the brain.

Capsaicin may reduce pain from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. 

Portland syrups that feature serrano pepper: Spicy Ginger.

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Spearmint

Ingredient: Spearmint

History: Spearmint was established in American gardens by 1739. Also called garden mint or English mint, this species now grows throughout the temperate regions of the world. 

Flavor: With a subtler, lighter flavor, vaguely sweet flavor, spearmint is a softer sibling to peppermint, which has a sharper flavor that is almost spicy due to its high menthol content.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamin C
  • Flavones
  • Iron
  • Limonene
  • Dihydrocarvone
  • Cineol
  • Folate

Functional health benefits:

Good for Digestive Upsets

Spearmint is commonly used to help relieve symptoms of indigestion, nausea, vomiting and gas. This herb may also relieve nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.

In one study, spearmint essential oil applied to the skin significantly reduced the incidence of nausea and vomiting.

High in Antioxidants

Antioxidants are natural chemical compounds found in plants that help protect against and repair damage caused by free radicals, which are harmful molecules that can lead to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been linked to several chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Spearmint contains a large number of antioxidant compounds, including rosmarinic acid, flavones and flavanones like limonene and menthol. Spearmint shows excellent antioxidant activity against free radicals.

May Aid Women With Hormone Imbalances

Studies in women have shown that it can decrease male hormones like testosterone while increasing female hormones necessary for ovulation, such as luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol.

Portland syrups that feature spearmint: Mojito.

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Star anise

Ingredient: Star anise

History: Star anise originated in southern China and has been used as a medicine and spice for more than 3,000 years. During the late 1500s, star anise came to Europe via an English sailor and soon after was traded along the tea route from China through Russia.

Flavor: Star anise has a mild and fragrant licorice flavor.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin E 
  • Vitamin C 
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Manganese
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium

Functional health benefits:

Antiviral Capabilities

One of the most popular pharmacologically relevant attributes of star anise is its shikimic acid content. Shikimic acid is a compound with strong antiviral capabilities. In fact, it’s one of the main active ingredients in Tamiflu, a popular medication for the treatment of influenza.

Currently, star anise is the primary source of shikimic acid used for pharmaceutical product development. 

Antifungal Properties

Star anise is a rich source of the flavonoid anethole. This compound is responsible for the spice’s distinct flavor and offers potent antifungal benefits.

Some agricultural research has found that trans-anethole derived from star anise may inhibit the growth of pathogenic fungi in certain edible crops.

Test-tube research indicates that other bioactive compounds found in star anise essential oil, like terpene linalool, may suppress biofilm and cell wall formation of infectious fungi in humans.

Antibacterial Benefits

Another important medicinal benefit of star anise is its ability to inhibit bacterial growth implicated in a variety of common illnesses.

Some research has revealed that star anise extract is as effective as antibiotics against multiple drug-resistant pathogenic bacteria. This may be particularly useful for future development of new antibiotic medications.

Portland syrups that feature star anise: Root Beer.

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Strawberries

Ingredient: Strawberry

History: The first garden strawberry was grown in Brittany, France, during the late 18th century. Prior to this, wild strawberries and cultivated selections from wild strawberry species were the common source of the fruit.

The strawberry fruit was mentioned in ancient Roman literature in reference to its medicinal use. The French began taking the strawberry from the forest to their gardens for harvest in the 14th century. Charles V, France's king from 1364 to 1380, had 1,200 strawberry plants in his royal garden. In the early 15th century western European monks were using the wild strawberry in their illuminated manuscripts. The strawberry is found in Italian, Flemish, and German art, and in English miniatures. The entire strawberry plant was used to treat depressive illnesses.

Flavor: The flavor of strawberry can vary depending on the variety of the fruit. But generally, the strawberry taste, especially ripe, is wonderfully sweet and slightly sour. Strawberries feature tiny seeds that are slightly crunchy and edible.  

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamin C
  • Manganese
  • Folate 
  • Potassium

Functional health benefits:

Heart disease

Strawberries might help protect against heart disease due to their anthocyanin and quercetin content. Additionally, quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties that appear to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.

Potassium in strawberries also supports heart health.  

High blood pressure

The potassium in strawberries might offer some benefit for people with high blood pressure. This is due to how the substance helps offset the negative effects of sodium in the body.

Portland syrups that feature strawberry: Strawberry Lemon-Lime.

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Vanilla

Ingredient: Vanilla

History: Vanilla is a native of South and Central America and the Caribbean; and the first people to have cultivated it seem to have been the Totonacs of Mexico's east coast. The Aztecs acquired vanilla when they conquered the Totonacs in the 15th Century; the Spanish, in turn, got it when they conquered the Aztecs. The vanilla bean, obtained from Vanilla planifolia and Vanilla tahitensis, members of the Orchidaceae family, is the source of vanilla extract, one of the most desired and widely used food flavorings worldwide. Besides uses of vanilla in foods, perfumes, and pharmaceuticals, it has complementary medicinal applications including alleviation of fever, spasms, and gastrointestinal irritations, to name a few. 

Flavor: Vanilla is far more an aroma than a flavor, per se, but vanilla will bring in notes of marshmallow, honey, sweetness and subtle honeysuckle floral notes.

Vitamins and minerals: 

  • Calcium 
  • Magnesium 
  • Phosphorous 
  • Potassium 

Functional health benefits:

Antioxidant

Vanillin is known to have powerful antioxidant properties, though these effects have only been studied in test tubes and animals.

Anticancer 

Some evidence suggests that vanillin may have anticancer properties, though research is limited to cell and animal studies.

Anti-inflammatory 

Vanillin has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects in animal and test-tube studies.

Neuroprotective

According to some rodent studies, vanillin may benefit brain health and protect against neurodegenerative diseases.

Portland syrups that feature vanilla: Root Beer, Vanilla Rooibos.


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