The term 'nutraceutical' was coined to represent compounds found in food and herbs that are not technically considered nutrients such as vitamins or minerals, but which may have a profoundly beneficial impact on the health of the body. Common examples of nutraceuticals include glucosamine, used in the treatment of arthritic conditions of dogs and cats, and antioxidant compounds that help in the prevention of cancer.
Much of the research into nutrition has focused on the minimum requirements of nutrients to avoid overt deficiency diseases. Orthomolecular therapy (from 'ortho' meaning 'right') places its focus on providing optimal levels of nutrients and substances that are normally present in the body in order to either prevent the development of disease or to treat disease once it has occurred.
Perna (Perna canaliculus), the green-lipped mussel, is a shellfish that is a natural source of glycosaminoglycans (GAGS) including chondroitin. It also contains a number of other nutrients, including essential fatty acids, carotenoids, and other compounds that possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Probiotics are dietary supplements that contain normal, potentially beneficial bacteria and yeasts. The currently adopted definition of a probiotic by the FAO/WHO (the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization) is: "Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host".
SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) is the bioactive form of methionine, an essential amino acid (building block of protein) abundant in foods, but especially concentrated in meat and sunflower seeds. Supplementation with methionine alone, however, does not necessarily markedly raise the level of bioactive methionine, or SAMe.
Soy proteins are the proteins found in the soybean and its products such as tofu. Isoflavones are a particularly important class of soy protein, and include the water-soluble compounds genistein and daidzein. Genistein is found in other plants as well, including red clover, and is one of the most heavily studied plant compounds in the world, because of its phytoestrogenic effects.
St. John's Wort is an herb prepared from the plant Hypericum perforatum. Currently, it is mainly used for treating depression and anxiety disorders in people. This is a fairly modern use of St. John's Wort. Traditionally, the herb was used to ease the pain of peripheral nerve injuries.