Which part to use for turmeric herbal tea ? The dried powder (1 teaspoon) are used for making the brew.
Making herbal tea with Turmeric
The standard way to make an infusion of Turmeric Herbal Tea, unless otherwise specified, is to pour a cup of boiling water over the material to be infused, let it stand for 5 minutes, strain it, and drink it.
* Fresh plant material - When the recipe refers to fresh plant material to be used, a 1/4 cup fresh material is used, following the method above.
* Dried material - When the recipe refers to using dried material, use 2 teaspoons of material when making it.
* Bark or seeds - Should the recipe call for bark or seeds to be used, use 2 teaspoons of seeds or 1 tablespoon of bark.
* Sweetening your infusion - You could sweeten your health drink with honey, should you so require, and a dash of fresh lemon juice may also enhance the taste.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Which part to use for turmeric herbal tea ? The dried powder (1 teaspoon) are used for making the brew.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae which is native to tropical South Asia. It needs temperatures between 20°C and 30°C, and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive. Plants are gathered annually for their rhizomes, and re-seeded from some of those rhizomes in the following season.
It is often misspelled (or pronounced) as 'tumeric'. It is also known as kunyit (Indonesian and Malay), Besar (Nepali) or haldi (Hindi) or arishina (Kannada) or pasupu (Telugu)or manjal(Tamil) in Asian countries. In Assamese it is called Halodhi. In Hawaiì, it is called "`Olena." In medieval Europe, turmeric became known as Indian Saffron, since it is widely used as an alternative to far more expensive saffron spice.
Its rhizomes are boiled for several hours and then dried in hot ovens, after which they are ground into a deep orange-yellow powder commonly used as a spice in curries and other South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, for dyeing, and to impart color to mustard condiments. Its active ingredient is curcumin and it has an earthy, bitter, peppery flavor and a mustardy smell.
Turmeric as traditional Asian medicine
The rhizome (root) of turmeric ( Curcuma longa Linn.) has long been used in traditional Asian medicine to treat gastrointestinal upset, arthritic pain, and "low energy." Laboratory and animal research has demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties of turmeric and its constituent curcumin. Preliminary human evidence, albeit poor quality, suggests possible efficacy in the management of dyspepsia (heartburn), hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), and scabies (when used on the skin).
Herbal remedies using Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Also known as haridra and was previously classified as Curcuma domestica. The use of herbal remedies, including the herb turmeric (also known as haridra) and classified as Curcuma longa, (previously classified as Curcuma domestica) are popular as an alternative to standard Western allopathic medicine for a variety of problems, including lowering cholesterol, reducing risk of stroke and heart attack as well as eczema.
Curcuma longa is an effective remedy for various ailments, and this natural holistic approach to health is becoming more and more popular, but should NOT replace conventional medicine or prescription drugs.
In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is thought to have many medicinal properties and many in India use it as a readily available antiseptic for cuts, burns and bruises. Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine say it has fluoride which is thought to be essential for teeth. It is also used as an antibacterial agent.
It is taken in some Asian countries as a dietary supplement, which allegedly helps with stomach problems and other ailments. It is popular as a tea in Okinawa, Japan. It is currently being investigated for possible benefits in Alzheimer's disease, cancer and liver disorders.
Scientists have studied turmeric for the following health problems:
Antioxidant - Some research suggests that as an antioxidant, turmeric may help in the prevention of conditions such as cancer and heart disease. These studies, however, are small and of poor quality, and most have involved animals. Better studies performed in humans are needed to provide more definitive answers.
Cancer - Several laboratory studies, animal studies and low-quality studies in humans have examined the effects of turmeric on different types of tumors. However, currently it is not clear if turmeric is effective in the prevention or treatment of cancer. There are several ongoing studies in this area.
Heartburn and stomach ulcers - Turmeric has been used traditionally for stomach and intestinal conditions. There is limited study in this area, and the effects of turmeric are not clear. Turmeric may actually cause heartburn or ulcers when used long-term or in high doses.
Arthritis treatment - A few small studies suggest turmeric may help improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, larger studies are needed to determine the exact benefit of turmeric for these conditions.
Other - Turmeric has been studied for the treatment of high cholesterol, inflammation, scabies, viral infections, HIV, AIDS and a vision disorder called chronic anterior uveitis. Other studies suggest that turmeric may prevent gallstones and the formation of blood clots and may have a protective effect on the liver. Turmeric has not been proven for any of these uses, and more research is needed before turmeric can be recommended for these conditions.
Turmeric has been suggested for many other uses, based on tradition or on scientific theories. However, these uses have not been thoroughly studied in humans, and there is limited scientific evidence about safety or effectiveness. Some of these suggested uses are for conditions that are potentially serious and even life-threatening. You should consult a health care provider before using turmeric for any unproven use.
Decreased breast milk
High blood pressure
Lack of menstrual period
Potential dangers of Turmeric
Allergies - Individuals who are allergic to spices that include turmeric or to yellow food colorings should avoid turmeric. Contact allergy to curcumin has been reported. Turmeric is a member of the ginger (Zingiberaceae) family and should be avoided by people with allergies to these plants.
Side Effects - Few side effects have been reported when turmeric is used at recommended doses. There are reports of skin rash and mild giddiness. Stomach irritation, including heartburn and ulcers, may occur with long-term use. In animal studies, turmeric has caused hair loss, changes in blood pressure and liver damage. In theory, turmeric may increase the risk of bleeding. You may need to stop taking turmeric before some surgeries; discuss this with your health care provider.
Individuals with gallstones, blocked bile ducts, stomach or intestinal ulcers, high levels of stomach acid or immune system diseases should speak with a health care provider before using turmeric in amounts greater than commonly found in foods.
Pregnancy And Breast-Feeding - Turmeric cannot be recommended during pregnancy or breast-feeding in amounts greater than usually found in foods. Turmeric may stimulate contractions of the uterus and may alter menstrual periods.
Amomoum curcuma, anlatone (constituent), ar-tumerone, CUR, Curcuma, Curcuma aromatica, Curcuma aromatica salisbury, Curcuma domestica, Curcuma domestica valet, Curcuma longa, Curcuma longa Linn, Curcuma longa rhizoma, curcuma oil, curcumin, diferuloylmethane, E zhu, Gelbwurzel, gurkemeje, haldi, Haridra, Indian saffron, Indian yellow root, jiang huang, kunir, kunyit, Kurkumawurzelstock, kyoo, NT, number ten, Olena, radix zedoaria longa, rhizome de curcuma, safran des Indes, sesquiterpenoids, shati, tumeric, turmeric oil, turmeric root, tumerone (constituent), Ukon, yellowroot, zedoary, Zingiberaceae (family), zingiberene, Zitterwurzel.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Herbs have been used for thousands of years to treat both physical and mental illnesses. There are several herbs that can be used to decrease anxiety and reduce the symptoms of anxiety attacks. Herbs known as adaptogens, such as ginseng (Panax ginseng), wild yam (Dioscorea villosa), borage (Borago officinalis), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), milk thistle (Silybum marianum), and nettle (Urtica dioica) may help to alleviate anxiety attacks.
By: Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, PhD, ND, DACBN
What Is an Anxiety Attack?
Also known as a panic attack, an anxiety attack is characterized by intense episodes in which the sufferer experiences such symptoms similar to a heart attack such as heart palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, sweating, and trembling. They may be triggered by a stressful event or they may come on for no discernible reason. Anxiety attacks, and the fear of their occurrence, can prevent suffers from leading a normal life.
What Are The Symptoms Of An Anxiety Attack?
An anxiety attack is often mistaken for a heart attack as the symptoms are very similar. Increased heart and breathing rates, dry mouth, chest pains, loss of touch with reality, light-headedness, nausea, numbness or tingling in the extremities, sweating, and diarrhea are common symptoms of an anxiety attack.
What Causes Anxiety Attacks?
Anxiety attacks may be triggered by an illness or a stressful situation, or they may come on unexpectedly. The memory of a stressful event that occurred in the past can also cause an anxiety attack.
When To Get Help For Anxiety Attacks
Anxiety attacks can be very distressing and debilitating. Some sufferers have found supplements or home care techniques that allow them to manage anxiety attacks before they become a problem. But you may need to seek the help of a natural health care professional or licensed therapist if your anxiety attacks are interrupting your daily activities and preventing you from leading a normal life. Seek professional help immediately if you experience a sudden anxiety attack that you cannot control, or if you experience chest pain, sweating, difficulty breathing, or pain in your jaw, neck and arm during an attack.
Preventing Anxiety Attacks
Exercise: Any cardiovascular exercise that increases your heart rate is a good way to reduce anxiety and the stress that may cause an anxiety attack. Walking, swimming, biking, Pilates and aerobics are good choices.
Relaxation: Practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation may help to alleviate anxiety and provide tools for controlling symptoms during an anxiety attack.
Avoid Certain Substances: Avoid using substances such as drugs, alcohol, and coffee that can contribute to or aggravate the symptoms of anxiety.
Dietary Changes: Many people have found that eating a vegetarian diet can decrease feelings of anxiety. Red meat, in particular, releases stress hormones within the body. Whole grains, on the other hand, release endorphins that promote a sense of well being.
Managing an Anxiety Attack
Herbs: Herbs have been used for thousands of years to treat both physical and mental illnesses. There are several herbs that can be used to decrease anxiety and reduce the symptoms of anxiety attacks. Talk with your health care professional before you try any new herbs or herbal combinations. Herbs known as adaptogens, such as ginseng (Panax ginseng), wild yam (Dioscorea villosa), borage (Borago officinalis), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), milk thistle (Silybum marianum), and nettle (Urtica dioica) may help to alleviate anxiety attacks. Other herbs that may be helpful include:
* Chamomile: (Matricaria chamomilla ) This herb is often associated with relaxation. It may be helpful in reducing anxiety.
* Kava: (Piper methysticum ) Kava is helpful for mild anxiety.
* St John's Wort: (Hypericum perforatum ) St John's Wort has been used for many years to help promote an overall sense of well being and reduce stress and anxiety.
Supplements: As with herbs, check with your health care provider before introducing any new supplements to your diet.
* 5-HTP: (5-hydroxytryptophan) This supplement is a mood lifter that may help to promote restful sleep and decrease anxiety.
* Inositol: Inositol may be helpful in decreasing anxiety with long term use.
* Acupuncture: Anxiety causes tension that disrupts the flow of the qi. Acupuncture can help to restore harmony and induce a state of deep relaxation.
* Mental Exercises: Meditation, guided imagery, art, music, and other mental exercises are a useful way to reduce stress and promote relaxation in your life.
* Relaxation Techniques: Slow, diaphragmatic breathing and conscious muscle relaxation can help to manage stress by calming the body and clearing the mind of stressors.
* Aromatherapy: Essential oils of lavender, chamomile, geranium, rose, neroli, sweet marjoram, and ylang-ylang are commonly recommended for stress relief. They help to reduce anxiety and tension and can be used in a massage, added to a bath, or inhaled through a vaporizer.
* Massage: A regular massage in which the practitioner uses such techniques as rubbing, kneading, and pummeling, can be very beneficial in the management of anxiety attacks. It can help to increase blood circulation, reduce pain, and relieve muscle tension. Massage also help to release endorphins, substances that have a mood-enhancing effect.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Eleutherococcus senticosus (formerly Acanthopanax senticosus) is a species of small, woody shrub in the family Araliaceae native to Northeastern Asia. In Chinese medicine it is known as cì wǔ jiā (刺五加). It is commonly called eleuthero, and was previously marketed in the United States as Siberian Ginseng as it has similar herbal properties to those of Panax ginseng. However, it belongs to a different genus in the family Araliaceae, and it is currently illegal in the United States to market eleuthero as Siberian Ginseng since "ginseng" only refers to Panax species.
The herb grows in mixed and coniferous mountain forests, forming low undergrowth or is found in groups in thickets and edges. E. senticosus is sometimes found in oak groves at the foot of cliffs, very rarely in high forest riparian woodland. Its native habitat is East Asia, China, Japan and Russia. E. senticosus is broadly tolerant of soils, growing in sandy, loamy and heavy clay soils with acid, neutral or alkaline chemistry and including soils of low nutritional value. It can tolerate sun or dappled shade and some degree of pollution. E. senticosus is a deciduous shrub growing to 2m at a slow rate. It flowers in July in most habitats. The flowers are hermaphroditic and are pollinated by insects.
E. senticosus is a new addition to Western natural medicine, but has quickly gained a reputation similar to that of the better known and more expensive Chinese Ginseng. Though the chemical make-up of the two herbs differs, their effects seem to be similar.
The herb is an adaptogen, is anti-cholesteremic, is mildly anti-inflammatory, is antioxidant, is a nervine and an immune tonic. It is useful when the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) is depleted. Symptoms of this condition include fatigue, stress, neurasthenia and sore muscles associated with the hypo-functioning of the endocrine system, and adrenal exhaustion indicated by a quivering tongue, dark circles under the eyes, and dilating/contracting pupils. Eleuthero may alleviate these symptoms.
Siberian Ginseng Facts
Siberian Ginseng is a tall, prickly shrub native to Russia, China, Korea and Japan. It is known for its anti-fatigue, energy-lifting properties and its ability to help prevent stress-induced ailments. Siberian Ginseng is routinely used by Russian athletes to improve their stamina, reflexes, coordination and athletic performance. It is also considered the number one, ultimate aphrodisiac. Siberian Ginseng is used as a cure-all tonic and rejuvenator for many things from impotence to heart disease and anti aging..
How Siberian Ginseng Works
Siberian Ginseng contains choline, a brain chemical for learning and memory retention. This helps improve mental performance and alertness. its antioxidant properties prevent cellular damage due to oxidation to help with heart disease and cancer prevention. Siberian Ginseng contains saponins which inhibit the growth of cancer cells and can convert diseased cells into normal ones. It gives the body a better ability to cope with stress by normalizing body functions and exerting beneficial effects on the adrenal glands (the ones that secrete stress-fighting hormones). Siberian Ginseng has compounds similar to estrogen that help control menopause symptoms like hot flashes. Other properties in this herb help support sexual function by improving sexual performance, sexual desire and fertility in both men and women.
* Tonic for overall good health and antiaging
* Remedy for insomnia
* Promotes mental vigor and alertness
* Increases stamina and endurance, mentally and physically
* Improves reflexes and coordination
* Protects against stress-related illness
* Potent aphrodisiac for improved sexual performance and fertility
* Helpful with menopause symptoms like hot flashes and irregular periods
* Enhances lung and immune functions; used to treat bronchitis
* Helps control metabolism, appetite and digestion
* Normalizes blood pressure and reduces cholesterol
* Helps cure colds and infections
Other uses for Siberian Ginseng
* Alzheimer's disease
* Athletic performance
* Attention deficit disorder
* Chemotherapy support
* Chronic fatigue syndrome
* Common cold/sore throat
* Influenza (flu)
* Stress and fatigue
People who have high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, or who use heart medications should not use this herb. In rare cases, postmenopausal women can experience vaginal bleeding due to its mildy estrongenic effect; women should tell their doctor they are using this herb, so this won't be mistaken as a sign of uterine cancer. Siberian Ginseng can be taken on a long term basis.
Other Remedies of Siberian Ginseng
Siberian ginseng is highly valued as an adaptogen, a substance that normalizes adverse conditions of the body. It is also used as a stimulant. Russians prescribe it for patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy due to its anti-radiation effect.
Modern studies conducted by Russian scientists show that Siberian ginseng relieves stress, lowers toxicity of some common drugs that tend to produce side effects in humans, increase mental alertness, improve resistance to colds and mild infections, and be beneficial in cases where a person is continuously in contact with environmental stresses.
Siberian ginseng extract was shown to stimulate cellular immunity. It was found to stimulate T-cell production, especially helper cells. Thus Siberian ginseng is touted for numerous immune-related disorders. German scientists have found that this herb may be useful for treatment in the early stages of AIDS. It is found to retard the spread of the virus by a synergistic action of the elevated numbers of both helper and cytotoxic T cells.
Safety (Side effects / precaution)
Reported side effects have been minimal with use of eleuthero.
Mild, transient diarrhea has been reported in a very small number of users. Eleuthero may cause insomnia in some people if taken too close to bed-time.
Eleuthero is not recommended for individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure. It can be used during pregnancy or lactation. However, pregnant or lactating women using eleuthero should avoid products that have been adulterated with Panax ginseng or other related species that are contraindicated.
Siberian Ginseng Role for Anti-Aging
Studies on Siberian ginseng have shown that it has considerable promise for increasing longevity and improving overall health. The plant may also play a role in the treatment of hypertension, blood sugar irregularities, and depression. Siberian ginseng is known to boost overall immune function and preliminary findings also suggests that it may prove valuable in the long-term management of various diseases of the immune system, including HIV infection and chronic fatigue syndrome. Healthy people who were given a daily supplement of Siberian ginseng were found to have increased numbers of T-lymphocytes. Siberian ginseng also supports the body by helping the liver detoxify harmful toxins.
Studies carried out in Russia have confirmed that ginseng can also exert a protective effect on the body during radiation exposure. Therefore, it may be of benefit to patients undergoing radiotherapy to treat cancer. The plant also helps the liver to detoxify harmful toxins. Animal studies have shown that Siberian ginseng helps to protect against ethanol, sodium barbital, and the tetanus toxoid, and chemotherapeutic agents, among others. Siberian ginseng has also been shown to enhance mental acuity and physical endurance without the side effects associated with caffeine. Research suggests that Siberian ginseng improves oxygen utilization by exercising muscle, thus it would be logical to assume that it may help to increase endurance and speed recovery from exercise. However, research in this area has produced somewhat contradictory results. In research conducted on people of average athletic abilities, for instance, people given Siberian ginseng have shown marked improvements in endurance. However, in a recent study on experienced distance runners, researchers saw no effects on exercise performance.
Biological Name: Eleutherococcus senticosus, Acanthopanox senticosus Araliaceae
Other Names: Siberian ginseng, ci wu ju, Eleuthero, touch-me-not, devil's shrub
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Chinese Herbology (simplified Chinese: 中药学; traditional Chinese: 中藥學; pinyin: Zhōngyào xué), is the common name for the subject of Chinese materia medica. It includes the basic theory of Chinese materia medica, "crude medicine," "prepared drug in pieces" (simplified Chinese: 饮片; traditional Chinese: 飲片; pinyin: yǐnpiàn) and traditional Chinese patent medicines and simple preparations' source, collection and preparation, performance, efficacy, and clinical applications.
Chinese materia medica (simplified Chinese: 中药; traditional Chinese: 中藥; pinyin: Zhōngyào), is also the medicine based on traditional Chinese medicine theory. it includes Chinese crude medicine, prepared drug in pieces of Chinese materia medica, traditional Chinese patent medicines and simple preparations, etc.
Herbology is the Chinese art of combining medicinal herbs.
Herbology is traditionally one of the more important modalities utilized in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Each herbal medicine prescription is a cocktail of many herbs tailored to the individual patient. One batch of herbs is typically decocted twice over the course of one hour. The practitioner usually designs a remedy using one or two main ingredients that target the illness. Then the practitioner adds many other ingredients to adjust the formula to the patient's yin/yang conditions. Sometimes, ingredients are needed to cancel out toxicity or side-effects of the main ingredients. Some herbs require the use of other ingredients as catalyst or else the brew is ineffective. The latter steps require great experience and knowledge, and make the difference between a good Chinese herbal doctor and an amateur. Unlike western medications, the balance and interaction of all the ingredients are considered more important than the effect of individual ingredients. A key to success in TCM is the treatment of each patient as an individual.
Chinese herbology often incorporates ingredients from all parts of plants, the leaf, stem, flower, root, and also ingredients from animals and minerals. The use of parts of endangered species (such as seahorses, rhinoceros horns, and tiger bones) has created controversy and resulted in a black market of poachers who hunt restricted animals. Many herbal manufacturers have discontinued the use of any parts from endangered animals.
In Chinese herbology, there are 50 "fundamental herbs." These include:
1. Agastache rugosa - huò xiāng (藿香)
2. Alangium chinense - bā jiǎo fēng (八角枫)
3. Anemone chinensis (syn. Pulsatilla chinensis)- bái tóu weng (白头翁)
4. Anisodus tanguticus - shān làng dàng (山莨菪)
5. Ardisia japonica - zǐ jīn niú (紫金牛)
6. Aster tataricus - zǐ wǎn (紫菀)
7. Astragalus propinquus (syn. Astragalus membranaceus) - huáng qí (黄芪)or běi qí (北芪)
8. Camellia sinensis - chá shù (茶树) or chá yè (茶叶)
9. Cannabis sativa - dà má (大麻)
10. Carthamus tinctorius - hóng huā (红花)
11. Cinnamomum cassia - ròu gùi (肉桂)
12. Cissampelos pareira - xí shēng téng (锡生藤) or (亞乎奴)
13. Coptis chinensis - duǎn è huáng lián (短萼黄连)
14. Corydalis ambigua - yán hú suǒ (延胡索)
15. Croton tiglium - bā dòu (巴豆)
16. Daphne genkwa - yuán huā (芫花)
17. Datura metel - yáng jīn huā (洋金花)
18. Datura stramonium (syn. Datura tatula)- zǐ huā màn tuó luó (紫花曼陀萝)
19. Dendrobium nobile - shí hú (石斛) or shí hú lán (石斛兰)
20. Dichroa febrifuga - cháng shān (常山)
21. Ephedra sinica - cǎo má huáng (草麻黄)
22. Eucommia ulmoides - dù zhòng (杜仲)
23. Euphorbia pekinensis - dà jǐ (大戟)
24. Flueggea suffruticosa (formerly Securinega suffruticosa) - yī yè qiū (一叶秋)
25. Forsythia suspensa - liánqiào (连翘)
26. Gentiana loureiroi - dì dīng (地丁)
27. Gleditsia sinensis - zào jiá (皂荚)
28. Glycyrrhiza uralensis - gān cǎo (甘草)
29. Hydnocarpus anthelminticus (syn. H. anthelminthica) - dà fēng zǐ (大风子)
30. Ilex purpurea - dōngqīng (冬青)
31. Leonurus japonicus - yì mǔ cǎo (益母草)
32. Ligusticum wallichii - chuān xiōng (川芎)
33. Lobelia chinensis - bàn biān lián (半边莲)
34. Phellodendron amurense - huáng bǎi (黄柏)
35. Platycladus orientalis (formerly Thuja orientalis) - cèbǎi (侧柏)
36. Pseudolarix amabilis - jīn qián sōng (金钱松)
37. Psilopeganum sinense - shān má huáng (山麻黄)
38. Pueraria lobata - gé gēn (葛根)
39. Rauwolfia serpentina - shégēnmù (蛇根木), cóng shégēnmù (從蛇根木), or yìndù shé mù (印度蛇木)
40. Rehmannia glutinosa - dìhuáng (地黄) or gān dìhuáng (干地黄)
41. Rheum officinale - yào yòng dà huáng (药用大黄)
42. Rhododendron tsinghaiense - Qīng hǎi dù juān (青海杜鹃)
43. Saussurea costus - yún mù xiāng (云木香)
44. Schisandra chinensis - wǔ wèi zi (五味子)
45. Scutellaria baicalensis - huáng qín (黄芩)
46. Stemona tuberosa - bǎi bù (百部)
47. Stephania tetrandra - fáng jǐ (防己)
48. Styphnolobium japonicum (formerly Sophora japonica) - huái (槐), huái shù (槐树), or huái huā (槐花)
49. Trichosanthes kirilowii - guā lóu (栝楼)
50. Wikstroemia indica - liǎo gē wáng (了哥王)
Monday, October 6, 2008
St John's wort (pronounced IPA: /sɪndʒənsˈwɝt/) used alone refers to the species Hypericum perforatum, also known as Tipton's Weed or Klamath weed, but, with qualifiers, is used to refer to any species of the genus Hypericum.
Therefore, H. perforatum is sometimes called Common St John's wort to differentiate it. The species of Hypericum have been placed by some in the family Hypericaceae, but more recently have been included in the Clusiaceae. Approximately 370 species of the genus Hypericum exist worldwide with a native geographical distribution including temperate and subtropical regions of North America, Europe, Asia Minor, Russia, India, and China.
Extracts of yellow-flowering Hypericum perforatum L. (St. John's wort) have been recommended traditionally for a wide range of medical conditions. The most common modern-day use of St. John's wort is the treatment of depression. Numerous studies report St. John's wort to be more effective than placebo and equally effective as tricyclic antidepressant drugs in the short-term treatment of mild-to-moderate major depression (1-3 months). It is not clear if St. John's wort is as effective as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants such as sertraline (Zoloft®).
What St. John's Wort Is Used For
- St John's wort is today most widely known as a herbal treatment for major depression. In some countries, such as Germany, it is commonly prescribed for mild depression, especially in children, adolescents, and where cost is a concern. Standardized extracts are generally available over the counter – however, in some countries (such as Ireland) a prescription is required. Extracts are usually in tablet or capsule form, and also in teabags and tinctures.
- St. John's wort has been used for centuries to treat mental disorders and nerve pain.
- St. John's wort has also been used as a sedative and a treatment for malaria, as well as a balm for wounds, burns, and insect bites.
- Today, St. John's wort is used by some for depression, anxiety, and/or sleep disorders.
Other Medical Uses Of St. John's Wort
It may decrease alcohol intake. The constituent hyperforin, (found in the plant), appears to be responsible for decreasing alcohol consumption.
The aerial parts of the plant can be cut and dried for later delivery of the active ingredients in the form of an herbal tea with a pleasant, though somewhat bitter, taste.
Hyperforin, a major constituent, has also been found to have antibacterial properties; in ultrapurified form a concentration of 0.1 mg/ml kills methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
Hyperforin can stimulate the release of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, leading to speculation that it might alleviate the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A randomized controlled trial of St. John's wort found no significant difference between the botanical and placebo in the management of ADHD symptoms over eight weeks.
Side Effects and Cautions
* St. John's wort may cause increased sensitivity to sunlight. Other side effects can include anxiety, dry mouth, dizziness, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, headache, or sexual dysfunction.
* Research shows that St. John's wort interacts with some drugs. The herb affects the way the body processes or breaks down many drugs; in some cases, it may speed or slow a drug's breakdown. Drugs that can be affected include:
o Birth control pills
o Cyclosporine, which prevents the body from rejecting transplanted organs
o Digoxin, which strengthens heart muscle contractions
o Indinavir and possibly other drugs used to control HIV infection
o Irinotecan and possibly other drugs used to treat cancer
o Warfarin and related anticoagulants
* When combined with certain antidepressants, St. John's wort may increase side effects such as nausea, anxiety, headache, and confusion.
* St. John's wort is not a proven therapy for depression. If depression is not adequately treated, it can become severe. Anyone who may have depression should see a health care provider. There are effective proven therapies available.
* Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
More Precaution (Adverse Effects) On St John's wort
At large doses, St John's wort is poisonous to grazing livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, horses).
Behavioural signs of poisoning are general restlessness and skin irritation. Restlessness is often indicated by pawing of the ground, head shaking, head rubbing, and occasional hindlimb weakness with knuckling over, panting, confusion and depression. Mania and hyperactivity may also result including running in circles until exhausted. Observations of thick wort infestations by Australian graziers include the appearance of circular patches giving hillsides a ‘crop circle’ appearance, possibly from this phenomenon. Animals typically seek shade and have reduced appetite. Hypersensitivity to water has been noted, and convulsions may occur following a knock to the head. Although general aversion to water is noted, some may seek water for relief.
Severe skin irritation is physically apparent, with reddening of non-pigmented and unprotected areas. This subsequently leads to itch and rubbing, followed by further inflammation, exudation and scab formation. Lesions and inflammation that occur are said to resemble the conditions seen in foot and mouth disease. Sheep have been observed to have face swelling, dermatitis, and wool falling off due to rubbing. Lactating animals may cease or have reduced milk production, pregnant animals may abort. Lesions on udders are often apparent. Horses may show signs of anorexia, depression (with a comatose state), dilated pupils, and injected conjunctiva.
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SCHIZANDRA, Schizandra Chinensis, Schisandra Chinensis (五味子 in Chinese, pinyin: wǔ wèi zi, literally "five flavor berry") is a deciduous woody vine hardy and is dioecious, meaning individual plants are either male or female, thus both male and female plants must be grown if seeds are desired.
It is very tolerant to shade. Its Chinese name comes from the fact that its berries possess all five basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, pungent (spicy), and bitter. Sometimes it is more specifically called běi wǔ wèi zi (北五味子; literally "northern five flavor berry") to distinguish it from another traditionally medicinal schisandraceous plant Kadsura japonica that grows only in subtropical areas.
Its berries are used in traditional Chinese medicine and they are most often used in dried form, and boiled to make a tea. Medicinally it is used as a tonic and restorative adaptogen with notable clinically documented liver protecting effects. The primary hepatoprotective (liver protecting) and immuno-modulating constituents are the lignans schizandrin, deoxyschizandrin, gomisins, and pregomisin, which are found in the seeds of the fruit.
Medical Uses of Schisandra (remedies for)
Useful for the treatment of:
• chemotherapy support
• common cold/sore throat
• liver support
Modern Chinese research suggests that lignans in schisandra regenerate liver tissue damaged by harmful influences such as viral hepatitis and alcohol. Lignans lower blood levels of serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase (SGPT), a marker for infective hepatitis and other liver disorders.
Schisandra fruit may also have an adaptogenic action, much like the herb ginseng, but with weaker effects. Laboratory work suggests that schisandra may improve work performance, build strength, and help to reduce fatigue.
Side effects of Schisandra
Side effects involving schisandra are uncommon but may include abdominal upset, decreased appetite, and skin rash.
Some herbs are known to react with your medication. Please consult your physician before starting on any herb.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Serenoa repens, the saw palmetto, is the sole species currently classified in the genus Serenoa. It has been known by a number of synonyms, including Sabal serrulatum, under which name it still often appears in alternative medicine. It is a small palm, normally reaching a height of around 2-4 m. Its trunk is sprawling, and it grows in clumps or dense thickets in sandy coastal lands or as undergrowth in pine woods or hardwood hammocks. Erect stems or trunks are rarely produced but are found in some populations. It is endemic to the southeastern United States, most commonly along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains, but also as far inland as southern Arkansas. It is extremely slow growing, and long lived, with some plants, especially in Florida, possibly being as old as 500-700 years.
Saw palmetto is a fan palm (Arecaceae tribe Corypheae), with the leaves that have a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of about 20 leaflets. The petiole is armed with fine, sharp teeth or spines that give the species its common name.
The leaves are light green inland, and silvery-white in coastal regions. The leaves are 1-2 m in length, the leaflets 50-100 cm long. They are similar to the leaves of the palmettos of genus Sabal. The flowers are yellowish-white, about 5 mm across, produced in dense compound panicles up to 60 cm long. The fruit is a large reddish-black drupe and is an important food source for wildlife and historically for humans.
The plant is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Batrachedra decoctor (which feeds exclusively on the plant).
The genus name honors American botanist Sereno Watson.
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens L.) is an herbal drug used to treat symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). There has been a report that a preparation containing this herb has caused cholestatic hepatitis in one person and some indications exist that it may have the potential to produce liver toxicity.
What It Is Used For
* Saw palmetto is used mainly for urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate gland (also called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH).
* Saw palmetto is also used for other conditions, including chronic pelvic pain, bladder disorders, decreased sex drive, hair loss, and hormone imbalances.
* Saw palmetto berry has been used for urination difficulties due to prostate gland enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH).
* Unlikely but report to your doctor promptly: headache, stomach pain or discomfort. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
* Some men using saw palmetto have reported side effects such as tender breasts and a decline in sexual desire.
* Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
If you have any of the following health problems, consult your doctor before using this product: illnesses affected by male hormones (e.g., prostate cancer). Liquid preparations of this product may contain sugar and/or alcohol. Caution is advised if you have diabetes, alcohol dependence or liver disease. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the safe use of this product. Saw palmetto is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Consult your doctor before using this product. Because of the potential risk to the infant, breast-feeding while using this product is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a woody, perennial herb with an attractive fragrant evergreen shrub with pine needle-like leaves. It is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which also includes many other herbs.
The name rosemary has nothing to do with the rose or the name Mary, but derives from the Latin name rosmarinus, which literally means "dew of the sea", though some think this too may be derived from an earlier name. It is also a symbol or remembrance and friendship, and is often carried by wedding couples as a sign of love and fidelity.
History and Tradition
Tradition says that rosemary will grow for thirty-three years, until it reaches the height of Christ when he was crucified, then it will die. Sprigs of rosemary were placed under pillows at night to ward off evil spirits and bad dreams. The wood was used to make lutes and other musical instruments.
We continue to use rosemary in many of the same ways that our ancestors did: in potpourris to freshen the air, and in cosmetics, disinfectants and shampoos.
'[Rosemary] comforteth the cold, weak and feeble brain in a
most wonderful manner.' --Gerard
'Make thee a box of the wood of rosemary and smell to it and it
shall preserve thy youth.' --Banckes' Herbal
Several studies done in the last several years show that oil from the leaves of the very plant sold as a spice for flavoring can help prevent the development of cancerous tumors in laboratory animals. One study, led by Chi-Tang Ho, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Food Science at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, showed that applying rosemary oil to the skin of experimental animals reduced their risk of cancer to half that found in animals that did not receive the application of oil. In other studies by the same research team, animals whose diets contained some rosemary oil had about half the incidence of colon cancer or lung cancer compared with animals not eating rosemary. And researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana found that rosemary cut by half the incidence of breast cancer in animals at high risk for developing the disease. Future studies will demonstrate whether these properties extend to humans as well.
Though these experiments have used rosemary oil to test the effectiveness in preventing cancer, the oil should not be taken internally. Even small doses can cause stomach, kidney and intestinal problems, and large amounts may be poisonous. Use a tea instead. Pregnant women should not use the herb medicinally, although it's okay to use it as a seasoning.
Other Medicinal Properties
Rosemary helps to relax muscles, including the smooth muscles of the digestive tract and uterus. Because of this property it can be used to soothe digestive upsets and relieve menstrual cramps. When used in large amounts it can have the opposite effect, causing irritation of the intestines and cramps. A tea made form the leaves is also taken as a tonic for calming nerves and used as an antiseptic.
Rosemary makes a pleasant-tasting tea. Use one teaspoon of crushed dried leaves in a cup of boiling water and steep for ten minutes.
Use an infusion as a rinse to lighten blond hair, and to condition and tone all hair. Try mixing an infusion half and half with shampoo to strengthen hair.
An infusion can also be used as an invigorating toner and astringent. Rosemary added to a bath strengthens and refreshes, especially when used following an illness.
Rosemary and lamb go well together. Make slits in lamb for roasting and tuck in sprigs of the herb. Place larger sprigs over chops for grilling and use chopped leaves sparingly in soups and stews. Use rosemary in bouquets garnis and sparingly with fish and in rice dishes.
Health Precautions | Possible Side Effects
Rosemary in culinary or therapeutic doses is generally safe; however, precaution is necessary for those displaying allergic reaction or prone to epileptic seizures. Rosemary essential oil may have epileptogenic properties, as a handful of case reports over the past century have linked its use with seizures in otherwise healthy adults or children. Rosemary essential oil is potentially toxic if ingested. Large quantities of rosemary leaves can cause adverse reactions, such as coma, spasm, vomiting, and pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) that can be fatal. Avoid consuming large quantities of rosemary if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Rosemary may also be useful in the prevention and treatment of headlice.
Cucurbita is a genus in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae first cultivated in the Americas and now used in many parts of the world. It includes species grown for their fruit and edible seeds (the squashes, pumpkins and marrows, and the chilacayote), as well as some species grown only as gourds. They have bicollateral vascular bundles. Many North and Central American species are visited by specialist pollinators in the apid group Eucerini, especially the genera Peponapis and Xenoglossa, and these bees can be very important for fruit set.
Cucurbita Pepo (common name: Pumpkin seed) is an annual plant, hispid and scabrous, with a procumbent stem and branching tendrils. Its leaves are large, cordate, palmately 5-lobed, or angled and denticulate. The flowers are yellow large, axillary, and the males long-pedunculate. Corolla campanulate; the petals united and coherent with the calyx. The calyx of the male flowers is 5-toothed; of the female the same, the upper part being deciduous after flowering; the stigmas are 3, thick, and 2-lobed; the pepo, or fruit, subligneous, very large, roundish, or oblong, smooth, yellow when ripe, furrowed and torulose, containing yellowish seeds, somewhat resembling those of the watermelon in form (W.).
The pumpkin flowers in July, and matures its fruit in September and October. It is a native of the Levant, and is extensively cultivated as a kitchen vegetable, and for cattle. The seeds of this plant are used in medicine, and have long been popular with the laity as a remedy for worms. An oil may be obtained from the pumpkin seeds by expression. The West India seeds are more active as an anthelmintic than our own.
The seeds are "about 2 Cm. (4/5 inch) long, broadly-ovate, flat, white or whitish, nearly smooth, with a shallow groove parallel to the edge; containing a short, conical radicle, and 2 flat cotyledons; inodorous; taste bland and oily"—(U. S. P.).
Pumpkin seeds are composed of 25 per cent of husks and 75 per cent of kernels, and contain upward of 33 per cent of a reddish fixed oil, which, according to Kopylow (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1877, p. 23), consists of the glycerides of palmitic, myristic, and oleic acids. These also occur partly in the free state. No alkaloid was found in the seeds, nor the glucosid, cucurbitin, of Dorner and Wolkowitsch (1870). According to Dr. L. Wolff (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1882, p. 382), the active (taenifuge) principle is a greenish-brown, acrid, bitter resin (Heckel, 1875) not contained in the petroleum-benzin extract of the seeds, but in the extract obtained with ether. It is also soluble in alcohol and chloroform. Its dose, as a taenifuge, is 15 grains, in pill form. The fatty oil is soluble in absolute, but not in 95 per cent alcohol (W. E. Miller, ibid., 1891, p. 385). Air-dried pumpkin seeds contain about 3.7 per cent of ash. The juice of pumpkin pulp contains 1.6 per cent of dextrose and 0.9 per cent of cane sugar (Mr. Both, in Dragendorff's Heilpflanzen, 1899, p. 650). The coloring matter of the pumpkin is due to carotene (Jahresb. der Pharm., 1896, p. 84).
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.
Mucilaginous, taenicide, and diuretic, and of service in strangury and urinary affections, also in gastritis, enteritis, and febrile diseases. The infusion may be drank freely. The expressed oil of the pumpkin seeds, in doses of 6 to 12 drops, several times a day, is said to be a most certain and efficient diuretic, giving quick relief in scalding of urine, spasmodic affections of the urinary passages, and has cured gonorrhoea.
Rheumatoid arthritis, elevated blood lipids and cholesterol, parasitic infestation, BPH, kidney/bladder disorders. Useful in maintaining skin health. The high tryptophan content of the seeds may make the oil useful in cases of insomnia. A nutritious culinary oil.
* ANTI-ARTHRITIC - Studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil is as potent as the drug indomethacin at relieving chronic rheumatoid arthritis. It is likely that this effect is due to the essential fatty acid profile, rich antioxidant content, and the synergistic effects of other minor components. Pumpkin seeds have been shown to have high levels of vitamin E, including all forms of the tocopherol family i.e. alpha, beta, delta, and gamma tocopherol, along with the tocotrienols.
* PROSTATE FUNCTION - Pumpkin seed oil has been used in combination with saw palmetto in two double blind human studies to effectively reduce symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). Researchers have suggested that the zinc, free fatty acid, or plant sterol content of pumpkin seeds might account for their benefit in men with BPH. Studies have shown that pumpkin seed extracts can improve the function of the bladder and urethra, this might partially account for BPH symptom relief.
* ANTI-PARASITIC - Cucurbitin is an amino acid that has shown anti-parasitic activity in vitro. Human studies conducted in China have shown pumpkin seeds to be helpful for people with acute schistosomiasis, a severe parasitic disease occurring primarily in Asia and Africa that is transmitted through snails. Preliminary human research conducted in China and Russia has shown pumpkin seeds can assist with resolving tapeworm infestations.
* CHOLESTEROL LOWERING - Pumpkin seed oil (PSO) has been concurrently used with cholesterol lowering drugs and would appear to potentiate the overall lipid lowering effects. The positive effects on lowering LDL levels and increasing HDL levels are most likely due to the antioxidant and essential fatty acid content of PSO. Side effects of the cholesterol drug were also reduced when PSO was administered. Similar positive results have been found in concomitant use of PSO with anti-hypertensive medication. The hypotensive action is due to the EFAs and antioxidant capability of PSO.
* KIDNEY FUNCTION - Two studies in Thailand have demonstrated that eating pumpkin seeds as a snack can help prevent the most common type of kidney stone. Pumpkin seeds appear to both reduce levels of substances that promote stone formation in the urine and increase levels of compounds that inhibit stone formation. Some research has demonstrated that PSO could remarkably reduce bladder pressure, increase bladder compliance, and reduce urethral pressure.
Pumpkin Seeds Commercial Supplements
Chinese Raw Pumpkin Seeds - NOW Pumpkin Seeds are a healthy snack that can be enjoyed all year long. This wonderful source of nutrients is naturally rich in essential fatty acids, magnesium, iron, zinc, protein, and fiber.
Pumpkin Seed Oil - Pumpkin Seed Oil is a nutritional oil rich in essential fatty acids. Most pumpkin seed oil are 100% natural and are screened for potency and purity.
Anti Parasite Formula - A regular natural detoxification program including Anti Parasite Formula and a colon cleanser to promote proper elimination has been recommended by various naturopaths.
Pumpkin seed in cosmetics and combating fine lines
Pumpkin seed oil is a highly nourishing and lubricating oil, and is useful for all skin types. It is especially good if used to combat fine lines and superficial dryness and to prevent moisture loss.
African Cucurbita pepo L.: properties of seed and variability in fatty acid composition of seed oil
Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) seeds are used locally in Eritrea to treat tapeworm. Seeds were found to be rich in oil (35%), protein (38%), α-tocoferols (3 mg/100 g) and carbohydrate content (37%).
Traditional Uses Of Pumpkin Seed (Cucurbita Pepo)
Pumpkin seed is traditionally used to treat a wide variety of illnesses, and through scientific investigation most of the properties have been validated.
It is used as an anthelmintic (to expels intestinal worms), taeniacide (killing tapeworms), as a diuretic, to treat bed-wetting in children and facilitate the passage of urine, while soothing an irritated bladder.
It is also used to reduce the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, but DOES NOT help to reduce an enlarged prostate.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Maypop (Passiflora incarnata), also known as Purple passionflower, is a fast growing perennial vine with climbing or trailing stems.
A member of the passionflower genus Passiflora, the Maypop has large, intricate flowers with prominent styles and stamens. One of the hardiest species of passionflower, it is a common wildflower in the southern United States.
The stems can be smooth or pubescent; they are long and trailing, possessing many tendrils. Leaves are alternate and palmately 3-lobed, measuring from 6-15 cm. They have two characteristic glands at the base of the blade on the petiole. Flowers have five bluish-white petals. They exhibit a white and purple corona, a structure of fine appendages between the petals and corolla. The large flower is typically arranged in a ring above the petals and sepals. They are pollinated by insects such as bumblebees, and are self-sterile.
The fleshy fruit, also in itself called a Maypop, is an oval yellowish berry about the size of a hen egg; it is green at first, but then becomes orange as it matures. In this species, the yellow mucilage around the seeds of the fruit is sweet and edible, however it is quite seedy and mostly benefits wildlife. As with other passifloras, it is the larval food of a number of butterfly species.
Traditionally, the fresh or dried whole plant has been used as a herbal medicine to treat nervous anxiety and insomnia. The dried, ground herb is frequently used in Europe by drinking a teaspoon of it in tea. A sedative chewing gum has even been produced.
The Maypop occurs in thickets, disturbed areas, unmowed pastures, roadsides, and railroads. It thrives in areas with lots of available sunlight. It is not found in areas of growing forest, however, as the sun is blotted out by growing trees.
Passion flower has a tranquilizing effect, including mild sedative and anti-anxiety effects. In studies conducted since the 1930's, its mode of action has been found to be different than that of most sedative drugs (sleeping pills), thus making it a non-addictive herb to promote relaxation.
The sedative effect of Passion flower has made it popular for treating a variety of ailments, including nervousness and insomnia. Research had indicated that passion flower has a complex activity on the central nervous system (CNS), which is responsible for its overall tranquilizing effects. Also, it apparently has an antispasmodic effect on smooth muscles within the body, including the digestive system, promoting digestion.
Maypop, Passionflower, Apricot Vine, Passion Vine, Blue Passionflower, Purple Passionflower, Wild Passionflower, Passiflora, Flower of the Five Wounds, Waterlemon, Wild apricot and May apple.
There are no reported side effects for passion flower and the suggested dosages. However, it is not recommended for use in pregnant women or children under the age of two. If already taking a sedative or tranquilizer, consult a health care professional before using passion flower.
Since it may cause sleepiness, it should not be used before driving or operating machinery. Children should never be given this herb in any form, and older adults and older children should take low dosages (preferably in consultation with a physician). Do not use Passion Flower if you take MAO inhibitors, and it should not be taken with other prescription sedatives or sedative herbs, as it increases their effects.
* Medicinal Herbs Reference
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Blessed Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) is a milk thistle, a plant of the Asteraceae family. This fairly typical thistle has red to purple flowers and shiny pale green leaves with white veins. Originally a native of Southern Europe through to Asia, it is now found throughout the world. The medicinal parts of the plant are the ripe seeds.
It has a large number of other common names, such as Marian Thistle, Mary Thistle, Mediterranean Milk Thistle and Variegated Thistle. Trade or commercial names under which this herb is sold include Silymarin, Milk Thistle Extract, Milk Thistle Super Complex, Milk Thistle Phytosome, Alcohol Free Milk Thistle Seed, Milk Thistle Plus, Silymarin Milk Thistle, Milk Thistle Power, Time Release Milk Thistle Power, and Thisilyn Standardized Milk Thistle Extract.
Milk thistle has been used medicinally for over 2,000 years, most commonly for the treatment of liver and gallbladder disorders. A flavonoid complex called silymarin can be extracted from the seeds of milk thistle and is believed to be the biologically active component. The terms "milk thistle" and "silymarin" are often used interchangeably. It has also been considered especially helpful in cases jaundice, colitis, pleurisy, and diseases of the spleen.
In herbalism, it is used in cases of liver diseases (cirrhosis, jaundice and hepatitis), gallbladder disease, and is claimed to protect the liver against poisons. A 2000 study of such claims by the AHRQ concluded that "clinical efficacy of milk thistle is not clearly established". However a more recent study did show activity against liver cancers.
It's potent extract is used in medicine under the name silymarin. Another extract, silibinin or a derivative, is used against poisoning by amanitas, such as the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) and the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria).
Due to potassium nitrate content, the plant has been found to be toxic to cattle and sheep. When potassium nitrate is eaten by ruminants, the bacteria in animal's stomach breaks the chemical down, producing a nitrite ion. Nitrite ion then combines with hemoglobin to produce methaemoglobin, blocking the transport of oxygen. The result is a form of oxygen deprivation.
Side Effects and Warnings
Milk thistle appears to be well tolerated in recommended doses for up to six years. Some patients in studies have experienced stomach upset, headache, and itching. There are rare reports of appetite loss, gas, heartburn, diarrhea, joint pain, and impotence with milk thistle use. One person experienced sweating, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, and collapse after taking milk thistle. This reaction may have been due to an allergic reaction, and improved after 24 hours. High liver enzyme levels in one person taking milk thistle returned to normal after the person stopped taking the herb.
In theory, milk thistle may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugars. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare provider, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
Theoretically, because milk thistle plant extract might have estrogenic effects, women with hormone sensitive conditions should avoid milk thistle above ground parts. Some of these conditions include breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. The more commonly used milk thistle seed extracts are not known to have estrogenic effects.
Side effects from correctly administered Milk Thistle usage are thought to be rare and it is usually considered to have a low toxicity. The following side effect usually does not require medical attention (however stop usage and report it to your health care professional if it continues, is bothersome or worsens): Laxative effect- mild (from increased bile secretion)
* Information about Milk Thistle - Silybum Marianum
* Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
* Medicinal Herbs Reference
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Hawthorn is an excellent herb for relaxing nervous tension brought on by stress of job, family worries and any other stressful conditions. It is also an aid in sleeping well.
Hawthorn is a thorny tree that thrives in hedgerows and fields in the temperate regions of Europe and the British Isles. Its name originates from the Greek word kratos meaning strength and refers to the nature of the wood. Other names include white thorn and hogberry. It blooms in May producing luscious red fruits and hence receives one of its most popular names, May-blossom.
- English hawthorn
- May blossom
- May bush
- May tree
- Thorn-apple tree
Hawthorn was regarded as a valuable heart remedy as far back as the Middle Ages. The Hawthorn was considered sacred in early times and believed to furnish the Crown of Thorns. Legend has it that between AD30-63 Joseph of Aramathea came to England and planted his hawthorn staff in Glastonbury soil. This became known as the Glastonbury Thorn and grew and blossomed at Christmas and Easter as if in celebration of the Christian Year. The Celts used Hawthorn in May celebrations using it to dress maypoles and symbolic effigies, and associated it with fertility.
Uses of Hawthorn
Hawthorn's therapeutic actions come from the berries, flowers and leaves. The total complex of plant constituents is considered valuable as a remedy for those with circulatory and cardiac problems.
It is believed to regulate and support these systems and be beneficial to use in the following conditions:
* Angina - Believed to give relief from cramp-like symptoms.
* Mild congestive heart failure - Believed to increase cardiac output and increase the flow of blood through the coronary arteries.
* Arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) - Thought to counteract rhythm disturbances.
* High blood pressure - Believed to cause vasodilatation of peripheral blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
* Nervous Heart Disorders (palpitations) - Believed to have a sedative effect on the nervous system which may render it useful in heart conditions where the nerves are involved.
* Heart Weakness - as caused by infectious diseases e.g. pneumonia, scarlet fever and diphtheria. Is believed to restore and support heart function.
It is also believed to encourage concentration and memory function as it improves circulation of blood and oxygen to the brain!
Cautions and Side Effects
Hawthorn is considered to be a non-toxic herb. It does not accumulate in the body as Digitalis does. There are no apparent side effects and is not believed to lead to dependence. Due to this Hawthorn is believed to be safe to use over long periods.
Hawthorn is believed to possess hypotensive action and as a result should be used with caution in low blood pressure. Studies have shown the herb to decrease blood pressure even further and in some instances cause fainting. Check with your doctor before taking hawthorn if you are taking any medication for blood pressure.
Hawthorn is considered a valuable herb for the heart and cardiovascular system. It may combine well with Melissa and Lavender in nervous heart conditions. In hypertension it may combine well with Lime Blossom, Yarrow and Mistletoe. As long as it is avoided in low blood pressure it can be taken with benefit by anyone who wants to support the function of the heart.
* Medicinal Herbs Reference
Saturday, May 24, 2008
What is Ginseng?
Alternate Names: The two most common types of ginseng are Panax ginseng, also called Asian, Korean or Chinese ginseng, and Panax quinquefolius, also called American, Canadian, or North American ginseng.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, each type of ginseng is thought to have unique healing properties. American ginseng has more "cooling" properties, which make it valuable for fever and respiratory tract disorders. Asian ginseng has "heating" properties, which are good for improving circulation.
Ginseng refers to species within Panax, a genus of 11 species of slow-growing perennial plants with fleshy roots, in the family Araliaceae. They grow in the Northern Hemisphere in eastern Asia (mostly northern China, Korea, and eastern Siberia), typically in cooler climates; Panax vietnamensis, discovered in Vietnam, is the southernmost ginseng found. This article focuses on the Series Panax ginsengs, which are the adaptogenic herbs, principally Panax ginseng and P. quinquefolius. Ginseng is characterized by the presence of ginsenosides.
Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is not a true ginseng at all. It is another adaptogen, but a different plant that was renamed as "Siberian ginseng" as a marketing ploy; instead of a fleshy root, it has a woody root; instead of ginsenosides, eleutherosides are present.
The English word ginseng derives from the Chinese term rénshēn (simplified: 人参; traditional: 人蔘), literally "man root" (referring to the root's characteristic forked shape, resembling the legs of a man).
The botanical/genus name Panax means "all-heal" in Greek, sharing the same origin as "panacea," and was applied to this genus because Linnaeus was aware of its wide use in Chinese medicine for muscle relaxant.
Both American and Panax (Asian) ginseng roots are taken orally as adaptogens, aphrodisiacs, nourishing stimulants, and in the treatment of type II diabetes, including sexual dysfunction in men. The root is most often available in dried form, either in whole or sliced form. Ginseng leaf, although not as highly prized, is sometimes also used; as with the root it is most often available in dried form.
This ingredient may also be found in some popular Energy Drinks: usually the "tea" varieties or Functional Foods. Usually ginseng is in subclinical doses and it does not have measurable medicinal effects. It can be found in cosmetic preparations as well, with similar lack of effect.
Ginseng root can be double steamed with chicken meat as a soup.
Why Do People Use Ginseng?
The word Panax comes the Greek word meaning "all-healing". In much of Asia, ginseng is prized as a revitalizer for the whole body. This is partly due to the shape of the root, which resembles the human body.
# Mental and Physical Performance
Ginseng is known as an adaptogen, which means it increases resistance to physical, chemical, and biological stress and builds energy and general vitality.
# Immune Function
A study examined 323 people who had had at least two colds in the prior year. Participants were instructed to take two capsules per day of either the North American ginseng extract or a placebo for a period of four months.
The mean number of colds per person was lower in the ginseng group than in the placebo group. The proportion of subjects with two or more colds during the four-month period was significantly lower in the ginseng group than in the placebo group, as were the total symptom score and the total number of days cold symptoms were reported for all colds.
In one study, Panax ginseng in dosages of 100 or 200 milligrams were given to 36 people with newly-diagnosed non-insulin dependent diabetes. After eight weeks, there were improvements in fasting blood glucose levels, mood, and psychophysical performance. The 200 milligram dose also resulted in improved hemoglobin A1C levels (a test that measures how well blood sugar has been controlled during the previous three months).
# Erectile Dysfunction
In one research study of 90 men with erectile dysfunction, 60% of the participants reported improvement in their symptoms compared with 30% of those using the placebo. Unlike prescription drugs for erectile dysfunction which are usually taken when needed, ginseng only appears to be useful for erectile dysfunction if taken on a continuous basis.
Type of ginseng
P. quinquefolius American ginseng (root)
Ginseng that is produced in the United States and Canada is particularly prized in Chinese societies, and many ginseng packages are prominently colored red, white, and blue.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, American Ginseng promotes Yin energy, cleans excess Yang in the body, calms the body. The reason it has been claimed that American ginseng promotes Yin (shadow, cold, negative, female) while East Asian ginseng promotes Yang (sunshine, hot, positive, male) is that, according to traditional Chinese medicine, things living in cold places or northern side of mountains or southern side of rivers are strong in Yang and vice versa, so that the two are balanced.
Chinese/Korean ginseng grows in northeast China and Korea, the coldest area known to many Koreans in traditional times. Thus, ginseng from there is supposed to be very Yang. Originally, American ginseng was imported into China via subtropical Guangzhou, the seaport next to Hong Kong, so Chinese doctors believed that American ginseng must be good for Yin, because it came from a hot area. However they did not know that American ginseng can only grow in temperate regions. Nonetheless the root is legitimately classified as more Yin because it generates fluids.
The two main components of ginseng are in different proportions in the Asian and American varieties, and may well be the cause of the excitatory versus tonic natures.
The ginseng is sliced and a few slices are simmered in hot water to make a decoction.
Most North American ginseng is produced in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and British Columbia and the American state of Wisconsin, according to Agri-food Canada. P. quinquefolius is now also grown in northern China.
A randomized, double-blind study shows that an extract of American ginseng reduces influenza cases in the elderly when compared to placebo.
The treasured aromatic root resembles a small parsnip that forks as it matures. The plant grows 6 to 18 inches tall, usually bearing three leaves, each with three to five leaflets 2 to 5 inches long.
Panax ginseng Asian ginseng (root)
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine Panax Ginseng promotes Yang energy, improves circulation, increases blood supply, revitalizes and aids recovery from weakness after illness, stimulates the body. Panax Ginseng is available in two forms:
The form called white ginseng is grown for four to six years, and then peeled and dried to reduce the water content to 12% or less. White Ginseng is air dried in the sun and may contain less of the therapeutic constituents. It is thought by some that enzymes contained in the root break down these constituents in the process of drying. Drying in the sun bleaches the root to a yellowish-white color.
The form called red ginseng is harvested after six years, is not peeled and is steam-cured, thereby giving them a glossy reddish-brown coloring. Steaming the root is thought to change its biochemical composition and also to prevent the breakdown of the active ingredients. The roots are then dried.
Red ginseng (Korean=홍삼, simplified Chinese: 红蔘; traditional Chinese: 紅蔘), is P. ginseng that has been heated, either through steaming or sun-drying. It is frequently marinated in an herbal brew which results in the root becoming extremely brittle. This version of ginseng is traditionally associated with stimulating sexual function and increasing energy. Red ginseng is always produced from cultivated roots, usually from either China or South Korea.
In 2002, a preliminary double-blind, crossover study of Korean red ginseng's effects on impotence reported that it can be an effective alternative for treating male erectile dysfunction.
A study shows that Red ginseng reduces the relapse of gastric cancer versus control.
A study of ginseng's effects on rats show that while both White ginseng and Red ginseng reduce the incidence of cancer, the effects appear to be greater with Red ginseng.
Falcarinol, a seventeen-carbon diyne fatty alcohol was isolated from carrot and red ginseng, shown to have potent anticancer properties on primary mammary epithelial (breast cancer) cells. Other acetylenic fatty alcohols in ginseng (panaxacol, panaxydol, panaxytriol) have antibiotic properties.
Wild ginseng is ginseng that has not been planted and cultivated domestically, rather it is that which grows naturally and is harvested from wherever it is found to be growing. It is considered to be superior to field farmed ginseng by various authorities, and it has been shown to contain higher levels of ginsenoside. Wild ginseng is relatively rare and even increasingly endangered, due in large part to high demand for the product in recent years, which has led to the wild plants being sought out and harvested faster than new ones can grow (it requires years for a ginseng root to reach maturity). Wild ginseng can be either Asian or American and can be processed to be red ginseng.
There are woods grown American ginseng programs in Maine, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina. United Plant Savers has been encouraging the woods planting of ginseng both to restore natural habitats and to remove pressure from any remaining wild ginseng, and they offer both advice and sources of rootlets. Woods grown plants have comparable value to wild grown ginseng of similar age.
One of P. ginseng's most common side-effects is the inability to sleep (insomnia). Other side-effects of ginseng can include nausea, diarrhea, euphoria, headaches, epistaxis, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, mastalgia, nervousness, agitation and heart palpitations.
Pregnant or nursing women or children should avoid ginseng. People with hormone-dependent illnesses such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or cancers of the breast, ovaries, uterus, or prostate should avoid Panax ginseng because it may have estrogenic effects.
Panax ginseng may decrease the rate and force of heartbeats, so it shouldn't be used by people with heart disease unless under the supervision of a healthcare providers.
Ginseng may lower blood sugar levels, so it shouldn't be taken by people with diabetes unless under a doctor's supervision. Ginseng may worsen insomnia.
These mostly adaptogenic plants are sometimes referred to as ginsengs, but they are either from a different family or genus. Only Jiaogulan actually contains compounds closely related to ginsenosides, although ginsenosides alone do not determine the effectiveness of ginseng.
Since each of these plants have different uses, one should research their properties before using. Descriptions and differentiation can be found in David Winston and Steven Maimes book Adaptogens.
* Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Southern ginseng, aka Jiaogulan)
* Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng)
* Pseudostellaria heterophylla (Prince ginseng)
* Withania somnifera (Indian ginseng, aka Ashwagandha)
* Pfaffia paniculata (Brazilian ginseng, aka Suma)
* Lepidium meyenii (Peruvian ginseng, aka Maca)
* Oplopanax horridus (Alaskan ginseng)
Other plants which are referred to as ginsengs may not be adaptogens (although notoginseng is in the Panax Series):
* Angelica sinensis (Female ginseng, aka Dong Quai)
* Panax notoginseng (Known as san qi, tian qi or tien chi, hemostatic ingredient in Yunnan Bai Yao)
Friday, May 23, 2008
TODAY, many Chinese mothers still cook a very special dish called kacangma chicken, the traditional herbal tonic, for their daughters who have just given birth.
Kacangma (the herb) or Chinese motherwort, contains protein, carbohydrates and minerals like calcium, sodium, and potassium, vitamins A, B1, B2 and acid ascorbic, to name a handful.
The herb is believed to be effective in improving blood circulation and enhancing the immune system, especially in speeding up post-natal recovery.
Kacangma chicken is regarded as a delicacy peculiar to Malaysia despite the fact that the ‘confinement concept’ among the Chinese community worldwide is more or less similar.
Kuching Organic Herb Society president Kiew Pee Hua recently shared with thesundaypost her recipe for kacangma dish.
“I could still recall preparing kacangma for my daughter after she gave birth to her first child. You don’t need the skills of a chef … only have to remember a few simple steps,” said the proud grandmother.
“Only a few ingredients are needed like ginger, sesame oil, rice wine and some dry kacangma. For Muslims, rice wine can be substituted with soya sauce,” she added.
According to her, the dried kacangma and ginger sediments have to be stir-fried with sesame oil until the ingredients turn golden colour before some pieces of chicken are added. Then, continue to sauté the chicken until the juice from the pieces dry up.
After that, pour in some water with half to a full glass of rice wine (depending on individual preference) on the chicken and let the it cook for a while. Before serving, a bit more rice wine and ginger juice can be added.
“It’s ideal for getting rid of rheumatalgia ‘hong’ or wind in Chinese terminology) in the body,” she stressed.
Kiew said kacangma could also regulate menses as a health benefit.
She also said people who experienced serious coughing (with white discharges) could improve their condition by taking kacangma chicken.
Moreover, the dish could be “modified” to suit everyone.
“For a change, cook kacangma with other ingredients like lamb and ribs if you no longer fancy chicken,” she suggested.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Oolong tea helps in the treatment of stubborn atopic dermatitis
An open Japanese study suggests that consumption of oolong tea (Camellia sinensis) helps speed clearance of recalcitrant atopic dermatitis lesions.
The 118 study participants continued their usual dermatologic treatments but also drank oolong tea (10 g steeped in 1000 mL water a day, divided into three doses). Beneficial results were noted after one to two weeks, and 74 (63%) of the participants showed marked to moderate improvement of lesions after one month.
After 6 months, 64 patients (54%) still demonstrated a good response to treatment. The study builds on animal research showing that oral administration of green, black, or oolong tea suppressed allergic skin reactions.
Uehara M, Sugiura J, Sakurai K. A trial of oolong tea in the management of recalcitrant atopic dermatitis. Arch Dermatol 2001; 137: 42-43.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), also spelled Camomile, is an annual plant of the sunflower family Asteraceae. Synonyms are: Chamomilla chamomilla, Chamomilla recutita (accepted name according to the Flora Europaea), Matricaria chamomilla, and Matricaria suaveolens.
It usually grows near populated areas all over Europe and temperate Asia. It is widely introduced in temperate North America and Australia. As the seeds need open soil to survive, it often grows near roads, around landfills and in cultivated fields as a weed.
Other names include Wild Chamomile, Hungarian Chamomile, and Scented Mayweed.
The branched stem is erect and smooth and grows to a height of 15-60 cm. The long and narrow leaves are bipinnate or tripinnate.
The flowers are borne in paniculate capitula. The white ray florets are furnished with a ligule, while the disc florets are yellow. The hollow receptacle is swollen and lacks scales. This property distinguished German Chamomile from Corn Chamomile (Anthemis arvensis), which has a receptacle with scales. The flowers have a strong, aromatic smell, and bloom in early to mid summer.
German Chamomile is used medicinally against sore stomach, irritable bowel syndrome, and as a gentle sleep aid. It can be taken as an herbal tea, two teaspoons of dried flower per cup of tea. For a sore stomach, some recommend taking a cup every morning without food for two to three months. It is also used as a mouthwash against oral mucositis. It has acaricidal properties against certain mites, such as Psoroptes cuniculi. The primary active ingredient of the essential oil from German Chamomile is bisabolol.
The active ingredients are essential oils, notably chamazulene, flavonoids and coumarin.
Chamomile is also used cosmetically, primarily to make a rinse for blonde hair.
Possible side effects
Chamomile is a relative of ragweed and can cause allergy symptoms and can cross-react with ragweed pollen in individuals with ragweed allergies. It is also a coumarin and should be avoided by anyone taking blood thinners.
While extremely rare, very large doses of Chamomile may cause nausea and vomiting. Even more rare, rashes may occur.
Chamomile is one of the most widely used flowers for herbal tea. Chamomile Tea is so popular, it is found in most grocery stores in the tea aisle. It is used as a mild sedative, and is good for insomnia as well as many other nervous conditions. It is nervine and sedative especially suited to teething children and those who have been in a highly emotional state over a long period of time. Except for the small risk of allergy, Chamomile is also one of the safest herbs to use.
Chamomile flowers are used in alternative medicine as an anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, nervine, stomachic, tonic, vasodilatory. The anti-inflammatory properties make it good for rheumatism, arthritis, and other painful swellings. Additional uses in herbal medicine include an antispasmodic for intestinal and menstrual cramps, relieving gas pains, and a very mild but efficient laxative. Milder tea in large doses is given throughout the day for fevers, sore throats, the aches and pains due to colds, flu, and allergies.
Technorati Tags: German Chamomile, Matricaria recutita, Medicinal Herbs
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Allium sativum L., commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion family Alliaceae. Its close relatives include the onion, the shallot, and the leek. Garlic has been used throughout recorded history for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
It has a characteristic pungent, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking. A bulb of garlic, the most commonly used part of the plant, is divided into numerous fleshy sections called cloves. The cloves are used as seed, for consumption (raw or cooked), and for medicinal purposes.
The leaves, stems (scape) and flowers (bulbils) on the head (spathe) are also edible and most often consumed while immature and still tender. The papery, protective layers of 'skin' over various parts of the plant and the roots attached to the bulb are the only parts not considered palatable.
Garlic has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years, dating as far back as the time that the Egyptian pyramids were built. Garlic is claimed to help prevent heart disease including atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Animal studies, and some early investigational studies in humans, have suggested possible cardiovascular benefits of garlic. A Czech study found garlic supplementation reduced accumulation of cholesterol on vascular walls of animals. Another study had similar results, with garlic supplementation significantly reducing the placque in the aortas of cholesterol-fed rabbits. Another study showed that supplementation with garlic extract inhibited vascular calcification in human patients with high blood cholesterol.
In 2007 a BBC news story reported that Allium sativum may have beneficial properties, such as preventing and fighting the common cold. This assertion has the backing of long tradition. Traditional British herbalism used garlic for hoarseness and coughs, both as a syrup and in a salve made of garlic and lard, which was rubbed on the chest and back.
Allium sativum has been found to reduce platelet aggregation and hyperlipidemia.
Garlic is also alleged to help regulate blood sugar levels. Regular and prolonged use of therapeutic amounts of aged garlic extracts lower blood homocysteine levels, and has shown to prevent some complications of diabetes mellitus. People taking insulin should not consume medicinal amounts of garlic without consulting a physician.
Allium sativum may also possess cancer-fighting properties due to the presence of allylic sulfur compounds such as diallyl disulfide (DADs), believed to be an anticarcinogen.
In modern naturopathy, garlic is used as a treatment for intestinal worms and other intestinal parasites, both orally and as an anal suppository. Garlic cloves are used as a remedy for infections (especially chest problems), digestive disorders, and fungal infections such as thrush.
Garlic supplementation in rats along with a high protein diet has been shown to boost testosterone levels.
To maximize health benefits from consuming cooked garlic, it has been suggested to allow crushed or chopped garlic to rest for 15 minutes before use to allow enzyme reactions to occur. However the primary compound of interest from this reaction, allicin, is generally deactivated during cooking due to its instability, and may be more beneficial consumed raw.
Side Effects and Cautions
* Garlic appears to be safe for most adults.
* Side effects include breath and body odor, heartburn, upset stomach, and allergic reactions. These side effects are more common with raw garlic.
* Garlic can thin the blood (reduce the ability of blood to clot) in a manner similar to aspirin. This effect may be a problem during or after surgery. Use garlic with caution if you are planning to have surgery or dental work, or if you have a bleeding disorder. A cautious approach is to avoid garlic in your diet or as a supplement for at least 1 week before surgery.
* Garlic has been found to interfere with the effectiveness of saquinavir, a drug used to treat HIV infection. Its effect on other drugs has not been well studied.
* Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
Technorati Tags: Garlic, allium+sativum, medicinal herbs
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