Tuesday, September 16, 2008

ROSEMARY - Rosmarinus Officinalis (Medicinal Herbs)

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

Medicinal Uses

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.

Cosmetic Uses

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.

Culinary Uses

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.

PUMPKIN SEED - Cucurbita Pepo (Medicinal Herbs)

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.

Botanical Source.

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.).

Chemical Composition.

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.

Potential applications

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 (not, vert, similar35%), protein (38%), α-tocoferols (3 mg/100 g) and carbohydrate content (not, vert, similar37%).

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.

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