Olive Leaf Extract
St. John's Wort
White Willow Bark
(Medicago sativa) Top
Alfalfa has been used by the Chinese since the sixth century to treat kidney stones, and to relieve fluid retention and swelling. It is a perennial herb that grows throughout the world in a variety of climates. Alfalfa grows to about 3 feet and has blue- violet flowers that bloom from July to September.
First discovered by the Arabs, they dubbed this valuable plant the "father of all foods". They fed alfalfa to their horses claiming it made the animals swift and strong. The leaves of the alfalfa plant are rich in minerals and nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and carotene (useful against both heart disease and cancer). Leaf tablets are also rich in protein, vitamins E and K. Alfalfa extract is used by food makers as a source of chlorophyll and carotene.
The leaves of this remarkable legume contain eight essential amino acids. Alfalfa is a good laxative and a natural diuretic. It is useful in the treatment of urinary tract infections, and kidney, bladder and prostrate disorders. Alkalizes and detoxifies the body, especially the liver. Promotes pituitary gland function and contains an anti-fungus agent.
Part Used: Whole herb and leaf.
Common use: This versatile herb is also a folk remedy for arthritis, diabetes, asthma, hay fever, and is reputed to be an excellent appetite stimulant and overall tonic. Excellent source of nutritive properties with minerals, chlorophyll and vitamins. Alfalfa is high in chlorophyll and nutrients. Treating with alfalfa preparations is generally without side effects, however the seeds contain a slightly toxic amino acid L-canavanine.
(Aloe vera) top
Aloe, native to Africa, is also known as "lily of the desert", the "plant of immortality", and the "medicine plant". The name was derived from the Arabic alloeh meaning "bitter" because of the bitter liquid found in the leaves. In 1500 B.C. Egyptians recorded use of the herbal plant in treating burns, infections and parasites.
There are over 500 species of aloe growing in climates worldwide. Ancient Greeks, Arabs and Spaniards have used the plant throughout the millennia. African hunters still rub the gel on their bodies to reduce perspiration and their scent. Extensive research since the 1930's has shown that the clear gel has a dramatic ability to heal wounds, ulcers and burns by putting a protective coating on the affected areas and speeding up the healing rate.
The plant is about 96% water. The rest of it contains active ingredients including essential oil, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, enzymes and glycoproteins. Modern healers have used it since the 1930's. Many liquid health treatments are made, some combining aloe juice with other plants and herbs. The juice is soothing to digestive tract irritations, such as colitis and peptic ulcers. As a food supplement, aloe is said to facilitate digestion, aid in blood and lymphatic circulation, as well as kidney, liver and gall bladder functions.
Aloe contains at least three anti-inflammatory fatty acids that are helpful for the stomach, small intestine and colon. It naturally alkalizes digestive juices to prevent overacidity - a common cause of indigestion. It helps cleanse the digestive tract by exerting a soothing, balancing effect. A newly discovered compound in aloe, acemannan, is currently being studied for its ability to strengthen the bodies natural resistance. Studies have shown acemannan to boost T-lymphocyte cells that aid the immune system.
Those wise to the ways of aloe healing keep this plant in the kitchen. When the leaf is broken, its gel is placed on burns to relieve pain and prevent blisters. Aloe may reduce inflammation, decrease swelling and redness, and accelerate wound healing. Aloe can aid in keeping the skin supple, and has been used in the control of acne and eczema. It can relieve itching due to insect bites and allergies. Aloe's healing power come from increasing the availability of oxygen to the skin, and by increasing the synthesis and strength of tissue.
Part Used: Aloe vera "extract" is made by pulverizing the whole leaves of the plant. Aloe juice is made from the inner leaf.
Common Use: Aloe supplements can be used for peptic ulcers and for gastro-intestinal health. Aloe has a moisturizing effect on the skin and is a common remedy for sunburn and skin irritation. Often used direct form the flowerpot in the treatment of minor burns and wounds. To make a salve; remove the thin outer skin and process the leaves in a blender, add 500 units of vitamin C powder to each cup and store in refrigerator.
Care: Keep in sandy soil that is well drained. Potted plants need filtered sun or full shade.
(Arnica montana) top
Arnica is also commonly called leopard's bane. The arnica plant has a bright yellow, daisy-like flower that blooms around July. Preparations made from the flowering heads have been used in homeopathic medicine for hundreds of years. It is popular in Germany and over 100 drug preparations are made from the plant. Arnica is a perennial that is protected in parts of Europe.
The active components in arnica are sesquiterpene lactones, which are known to reduce inflammation and decrease pain. Other active principals are thymol (an essential oil), flavonoids, inulin, carotenoids and tannins.
Arnica works by stimulating the activity of white blood cells that perform much of the digestion of congested blood, and by dispersing trapped, disorganized fluids from bumped and bruised tissue, joints and muscles.
Arnica is known to stimulate blood circulation and can raise blood pressure, especially in the coronary arteries. The plant is used externally for arthritis, burns, ulcers, eczema and acne. It has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities that can reduce pain and swelling, improving wound healing.
Part Used: Extract of the blossoms
Common use: It is typically rubbed on the skin to soothe and heal bruises, sprains, and relieve irritations from trauma, arthritis and muscle or cartilage pain. Applied as a salve, arnica is also good for chapped lips, irritated nostrils and acne.
Care: Grows in moist, sandy soil with adequate drainage. Likes full sun.
Toxicity: The internal use of Arnica is not suggested. It can cause vomiting, weakness, increased heart rate and nervous disturbances.
| Barley Grass
(Hordeum vulgare) top
Barley grass is one of the green grasses - the only vegetation on the earth that can supply sole nutritional support from birth to old age. Barley has served as a food staple in most cultures. The use of barley for food and medicinal purposes dates to antiquity. Agronomists place this ancient cereal grass as being cultivated as early as 7000 BC. Roman gladiators ate barley for strength and stamina. In the West, it was first known for the barley grain it produces.
Astounding amounts of vitamins and minerals are found in green barley leaves. The leaves have an ability to absorb nutrients from the soil. When barley leaves are 12-14 inches high, they contain many vitamins, minerals, and proteins necessary for the human diet, plus chlorophyll. These are easily assimilated throughout the digestive tract, giving our bodies instant access to vital nutrients. These include potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, beta carotene, B1, B2, B6, C, folic acid, and pantothenic acid. Indeed, green barley juice contains 11 times the calcium in cows' milk, nearly 5 times the iron in spinach, 7 times the vitamin C in oranges, and 80 mg of vitamin B12 per hundred grams.
Barley also contains a -glucan, a fiber also found in oat bran and reported to reduce cholesterol levels. The root contains the alkaloid hordenine which stimulates peripheral blood circulation and has been used as a bronchodilator for bronchitis. Barley bran, like wheat bran may be effective in protecting against the risk of cancer.
Part Used: Grain, left when barley hull is removed.
Common Use: Barley is widely cultivated grain used as a food and in the brewing process. It is an additive for human and animal cereal foods. It also makes a flavorful flour for use in baking breads and muffins.
Care: It is a very hardy plant and can be grown under a greater variety of climatic conditions than any other grain, and a polar variety is grown within the Arctic Circle in Europe.
Bee Pollen contains the male gametes of plants found as small dust pellets in the stamen of flowers. It is gathered from pollen laden bees with a special device placed at the entrance of the hive designed to brush the material from their hind legs.
Bee Pollen has been called nature's perfect food. It is very rich in vitamins and contains almost all known minerals, trace elements, enzymes and amino acids. It contains the essence of every plant from which bees collect pollen, in combination with digestive enzymes from the bees.
Bee pollen is a popular nutritional supplement that builds the immune system and provides energy for the entire body. It contains 35% protein, 55% carbohydrate, 2% fatty acids and 3% minerals and vitamins. It is high in B-complex and vitamins A, C, D, and E. It also contains lecithin, beta-carotene, selenium.
This combination of elements make bee pollen an excellent source of anti-oxidants. Research studies and clinical tests have demonstrated that bee pollen has an immunizing effect, enhances vitality, and can counteract the effects of radiation and chemical toxins.
Used as an immune system builder, Bee Pollen is thought to have the ability to correct body chemistry and eliminate unhealthy conditions. It is considered to have the ability to throw off poisons and toxic materials from the body. Radiation and chemical pollutants are known as the most severe stressors to your immune system. Side effects of radiation treatment decreases the body's production of blood cells and nutrients in the blood.
Bee pollen is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream and stimulates immunological responses. It has proved beneficial for nausea, sleep disorders, and urinary and rectal disorders following radiation treatment.
Athletes often use this supplement to help increase their strength, endurance, energy and speed. Bee pollen aids the body in recovering from exercise, returning breathing and heart rate to normal, and improves endurance for repeat exertion. It provides energy, stamina and strength as well as improving mental and physical reactions.
Those who do taxing mental work also can see benefits from this natural energy food. Bee pollen can relieve brain fatigue and improve alertness. This can increase your capacity for intense concentration and enable longer periods of work without becoming tired. Stress can use up vitamins quickly and bee pollen can relieve stress and anxiety by replacing essential nutrient reserves in the body.
Many people with allergies have found relief by ingesting bee pollen. It reduces the production of histamine which can cause allergic responses such as hay fever. It can strengthen the respiratory system and provide protein that can help the body build a natural defense shield against allergic responses.
Bee pollen has an effect on blood pressure and sexual function. People who suffer from low blood pressure can be subject to deficiencies in the sex glands. Pollen increases blood pressure especially when taken with kelp and may increase hormone levels and sexual strength.
Weight loss also may occur as lecithin, an ingredient in bee pollen, increases the speed calories are burned and stabilizes poor metabolism. It aids in the digestive process and the assimilation of nutrients. Bee pollen may also relieve anemia, cerebral hemorrhage, colitis and constipation.
How Used: Gelatin caps, tablets and granules
Common Use: This natural tonic food is a popular energy booster, strengthens the immune system and enhances vitality.
(Vaccinium myrtillus) top
Bilberry is a perennial, ornamental shrub that is commonly found in various climates in damp woodlands and moorlands. In the United States they are known as huckleberries, and there are over 100 species with similar names and fruit throughout the Europe, Asia and North America. The English call them whortleberries. The Scots know them as blaeberries. Bilberry has been used as a medicinal herb since the 16th century.
Bilberry is also used in connection with vascular and blood disorders and shows positive effects when treating varicose veins, thrombosis, and angina. Bilberry's fruit contains flavonoids and anthocyanin, which serve to prevent capillary fragility, thin the blood, and stimulate the release of vasodilators. Anthocyanin, a natural antioxidant, also lowers blood pressure, reduces clotting and improves blood supply to the nervous system. Bilberry also contains glucoquinine that has the ability to lower blood sugar.
The herb contains Vitamins A and C, providing antioxidant protection which can help prevent free radical damage to the eyes. Vitamin A is required for sharp vision, while Vitamin C helps form collagen and is needed for growth and repair of tissue cells and blood vessels. Anthocyanosides support and protect collagen structures in the blood vessels of the eyes, assuring strong, healthy capillaries that carry vital nutrients to eye muscles and nerves.
Bilberry has long been a remedy for poor vision and "night blindness." Clinical tests confirm that given orally it improves visual accuracy in healthy people, and can help those with eye diseases such as pigmentosa, retinitis, glaucoma, and myopia. During World War II, British Royal Air Force pilots ate Bilberry preserves before night missions as an aid to night vision. Bilberry works by improving the microcirculation and regeneration of retinal purple, a substance required for good eyesight.
Dried Bilberry fruit and Bilberry tea has been used as a treatment for diarrhea and as a relief for nausea and indigestion. Bilberry is also used as a treatment for mild inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat.
Part Used: Berries, leaves
Common Use: Bilberry contains nutrients needed to protect eyes from eyestrain or fatigue, and can improve circulation to the eyes. Bilberry tea is administered to treat stomach problems and soothe the digestive tract. The leaves and berries are used in the homeopathic treatment of diabetes. Bilberries are used in making jams, preserves, liqueurs, and wines.
Care: Prefers filtered shade and moist, fertile soil that is acidic and non calcareous.
| Cat's Claw
(Uncaria tomentosa) top
Cat's Claw is a tropical vine that grows in rainforest and jungle areas in South America and Asia. Some cultures refer to the plant as the "Sacred Herb of the Rain Forest". This vine gets its name from the small thorns at the base of the leaves, which looks like a cat's claw. These claws enable the vine to attach itself around trees climbing to a heights up to 100 feet.
The plant is considered a valuable medicinal resource and is protected in Peru. Although scientific research has just recently begun to explore cat's claw, many cultures native to the South American rain forest areas have used this herb for hundreds of years.
Current studies show it may have positive effects on, and can boost the body's immune system. With recent fear of HIV, studies on cat's claw have started to move quickly.
The active substances in Cat's Claw are alkaloids, tannins and several other phytochemicals. Some of the alkaloids have been proven to boost the immune system. The major alkaloid rhynchophylline has anti-hypertensive effects and may reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack by lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation, reducing heart rate and controlling cholesterol.
Other constituents contribute anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer properties. Many treatments combine the herb with different plants and natural products to increase the absorption and bioavailability.
Cat's Claw has long been used as a homeopathic treatment for intestinal ailments. Uses include: Crohn's disease, gastric ulcers and tumors, parasites, colitis, gastritis, diverticulitis and leaky bowel syndrome. By stimulating the immune system, it can also improve response to viral and respiratory infections.
European clinical studies have used the extract from the bark in combination with AZT in the treatment of AIDS. It is also used in the treatment and prevention of arthritis and rheumatism, as well as diabetes, PMS, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, and prostrate conditions.
Part Used: Inner bark and root. Capsules, tea and extract.
Common Use: Extracts are used in treatments for a variety of conditions, mostly gastrointestinal. Immuno-stimulant properties help the body fight off infections and protect against degenerative diseases.
Chromium picolinate top
Chromium picolinate continues to show promise for the support of general health. Now a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted on 113 subjects examined the positive effects of chromium picolinate supplementation on symptoms of atypical depression. The study was reported at the Conference of National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) New Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit (NCDEU), Phoenix, AZ.
Researchers found that daily supplementation with 600 mcg of chromium picolinate improved symptoms such as mood swings, fatigue and weight-gain perception; and significantly reduced carbohydrate cravings compared to placebo. The results also show that people with the highest levels of carbohydrate cravings had the most significant reduction in depressive symptoms after taking chromium picolinate.
| Coenzyme Q-10
It is the cofactor of an enzyme. Enzymes are the protein substances that are found in all living things; they are needed for tissue and cell building and repairing. Coenzyme Q-10 is an antioxidant that is the essential component of cellular energy. It's highest concentrations are found in the heart and liver, and is synthesized in the body.
CoQ-10 and Aging
In normal aging, the body loses it's ability to manufacture adequate amounts of CoQ-10. Levels of CoQ-10 can decline by as much as 80% as you age. It is thought that the decreased levels of CoQ-10 brought on by aging may lead to age-related discomforts.
CoQ-10 and your heart
The heart needs a constant supply of energy for it's continuous actions of pumping and contracting. Because the richest concentrations of CoQ-10 are in the heart, preventing a deficiency by supplying the body with sufficient amounts may promote healthy activity and nourish the circulatory system. As many as 75% of heart patients are found to be deficient in CoQ-10.
The effects of CoQ-10 Deficiency
Along with aging, other factors may deplete the body of CoQ-10, affecting the body's ability to manufacture adequate amounts and increasing the risk of a deficiency. These are: poor eating habits, stress and particular conditions such as an infection. A deficiency may also have a direct impact on many other body functions as well. Because high concentrations are also stored in the liver, maintaining and adequate supply of CoQ-10 and preventing a deficiency may ensure that it is properly nourished and performing at its peak.
Curcumin shows promise in war against Alzheimer's
A dietary staple of India, where Alzheimer’s disease rates are reportedly among the world’s lowest, holds potential as a weapon in the fight against the disease. A new UCLA-Veterans Affairs study involving genetically altered mice suggests that curcumin, the yellow pigment in curry spice, inhibits the accumulation of destructive beta amyloids (which form the disease-causing plaques) in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and also breaks up existing plaques.
Reporting in the January 2005 online edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the research team also found the low molecular weight and polar structure of curcumin allows it to penetrate the blood-brain barrier effectively and bind to beta amyloid. In earlier studies (Journal of Neuroscience 21:8370-8377, 2001; Neurology of Aging 22:993-1005, 2001) the same research team found curcumin has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which scientists believe help ease Alzheimer’s symptoms caused by oxidation and inflammation. The team’s body of research into curcumin has prompted the UCLA Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center to begin human clinical trials to further evaluate its protective and therapeutic effects.
“Curcumin has been used for thousands of years as a safe anti-inflammatory in a variety of ailments as part of Indian traditional medicine,” Cole said. “Recent successful studies in animal models support a growing interest in its possible use for diseases of aging involving oxidative damage and inflammation like Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease. What we really need, however, are clinical trials to establish safe and effective doses in aging patients.”
|Dandelion Root - promotes healthy Liver function.|
| DHEA top
is short for Dehydroepiandrosterone. It is the most abundant hormone produced by the adrenal glands. In the body, it is converted to testosterone and estrogen. Production peaks in your early 20's, and declines about 10% every 10 years. This means that those in their 80's produce only 10 - 20% as much as they did in their 20's.
DHEA is the only hormone that declines with age in both men and women. It's decline signals age-related disease. DHEA is said to be effective at improving and preventing many age related diseases, thus being seen as an anti-aging treatment.
Research indicates DHEA therapeutic effects in many chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, disorders of the immune system, depression, and osteoporosis. For each of the medical conditions listed above, there are many studies invariably demonstrating them to be associated with low blood levels of DHEA.
DHEA works in three important ways: it maintains normal sex hormone levels, inhibits the damaging effects of stress, and increases the production of antioxidant enzymes in the liver. Low levels of DHEA can lead to chronic fatigue, weakness, depression, headaches, and leave one susceptible to infections and disease. It's effect on the immune system has led researchers to believe that DHEA may play an important role in fighting AIDS.
Advocates claim that DHEA supplements can improve mood, increase energy and libido, counteract the effects of stress, preserve muscle, strengthen the immune system, and prevent cancer and heart disease. The most immediate and lasting effects of supplementation is an elevated mood and sense of physical well-being.
Another benefit of DHEA is its ability to help the body burn calories for energy rather than store them as fat. DHEA blocks an enzyme named G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase) that is not only essential for fat tissue production but also promotes cancer cell growth.
DHEA has anti-aging properties, because it counteracts the stress hormone, Cortisol, that cannibalizes our body and causes destruction of tissues causing rapid aging. Elizabeth Barrett-Conor, MD, charted DHEA sulfate levels in 242 men, ages 50-79, for twelve years. She observed that 100mcg/dl increase in the DHEA sulfate level was associated with a 36% reduction in death from cardiovascular disease.
French researcher, Dr. Emile-Etienne Baulieu, who isolated DHEA in the 60's, summed up the benefits of the hormone by stating, "DHEA won't make people live longer, but it will improve the quality of life over a longer period of time and will postpone some of the unpleasant effects of aging, such as fatigue and muscle."
Although it cannot be said with absolute certainty, that raising your DHEA levels with supplements will prevent oncoming disease, research may suggests this. The best way to know how much to take is to have your DHEA levels checked by a physician. If you are under 40 you may not need additional DHEA. There are some contraindications for taking supplements; being pregnant, nursing, or having prior ovarian, adrenal or thyroid tumors. Side effects include acne, irritability, fatigue and hirsutism in women. Side effects only occur with doses over 50mg per day. Normal dosages appear quite safe.
| Don Quai
(Angelica sinensis) top
Dong quai is an aromatic herb that grows in China, Korea, and Japan. The reputation of Don quai is second only to Ginseng and is considered the ultimate, all-purpose woman's tonic herb. It is used for almost every gynecological complaint from regulating the menstrual cycle to treating menopausal symptoms caused by hormonal changes.
Dong quai is frequently used by the Chinese as a strengthening treatment for the heart, spleen, liver and kidneys. Both men and women use the herb as a general blood tonic.
Dong quai contains vitamins E, A and B12. Researchers have isolated at least six coumarin derivatives that exert antispasmodic and vasodilatory effects. Antispasmodics are a remedy for menstrual cramps. The essential oil in dong quai contains Ligustilide, butylphthalide and numerous other minor components. Ferulic acid and various polysaccharides are also found in dong quai's root. These elements can prevent spasms, reduce blood clotting and relax peripheral blood vessels. Research has shown that don quai produces a balancing effect on estrogen activity.
Modern treatments prescribe the herb to combat PMS and to help women resume normal menstruation after using birth control pills.
The herb has been found useful in balancing and treating many female systems and cycles. Dong quai's constituents can act to stimulate the central nervous system which can remedy weakness and headaches associated with menstrual disorders. It strengthens internal reproductive organs, helps with endometriosis and internal bleeding or bruising. It relieves menopausal conditions such as vaginal dryness and hot flashes.
The herb has also been used as a blood purifier, to promote blood circulation and nourish the blood in both sexes. It is high in iron content and may help to prevent iron deficiency and anemia. Studies show that it can aid in regulating blood sugar and in lowering blood pressure.
Dong quai has a mild sedative effect which can relieve stress and calms the nerves. It has also be used to stimulate the uterus during childbirth, treat insomnia, alleviate constipation and for migraine headaches.
Parts Used: Whole root. Found in tea, herbal preparations, capsules, extract and recipes.
Common Use: The root has earned a reputation as the "ultimate herb" for women. It is used to restore balance to a woman's hormones and cycles and is helpful in restoring menstrual regularity and for conditions of the reproductive system. It is not recommended during pregnancy, for women with excessive menstrual flow or for people taking blood thinning agents.
(Echinacea angustifolio) top
Resembling a black-eyed Susan, echinacea or purple coneflower is a North American perennial that is indigenous to the central plains where it grows on road banks, prairies, fields and in dry, open woods. It is also called snake root because it grows from a thick black root that Indians used to treat snake bites.
Herbalists consider Echinacea one of the best blood purifiers and an effective antibiotic. It activates the body's immune system increasing the chances of fighting off any disease. This popular herb has been used to help ward off the common cold and to relieve the symptoms of hay fever.
The Plains Indians used various species of echinacea to treat poisonous insect and snake bites, toothaches, sore throat, wounds, as well as mumps, smallpox, and measles. The settlers quickly adopted the therapeutic use of the plant, and since that time it has become one of the top selling herbs in the United States. Since the early 1900's hundreds of scientific articles have been written about echinacea. Most of the research during the past 10 years has focused on the immunostimulant properties of the plant.
The constituents of echinacea include essential oil, polysaccharides, polyacetylenes, betain, glycoside, sesquiterpenes and caryophylene. It also contains copper, iron, tannins, protein, fatty acids and vitamins A, C, and E. The most important immune-stimulating components are the large polysaccharides, such as inulin, that increase the production of T-cells and increase other natural killer cell activity. Fat-soluble alkylamides and a caffeic acid glycoside called echinacoside also contribute to the herb's immune empowering effects.
It has been shown in animal and human studies to improve the migration of white blood cells to attack foreign microorganisms and toxins in the bloodstream. Research suggests that echinacea's activity in the blood may have value in the defense of tumor cells.
Echinacea properties may offer benefit for nearly all infectious conditions. Studies show echinacea prevents the formation of an enzyme which destroys a natural barrier between healthy tissue and damaging organisms. Echinacea is considered an effective therapeutic agent in many infectious conditions including upper respiratory infections, the common cold and sinusitis. The herb is a mild antibiotic that is effective against staph and strep infections.
Echinacea aids in the production of interferon has increases antiviral activity against, influenza (flu), herpes, an inflammation of the skin and mouth. It may reduce the severity of symptoms such as runny nose and sore throat and reduce the duration of illness.
Echinacea's antibacterial properties can stimulate wound healing and are of benefit to skin conditions such as burns, insect bites, ulcers, psoriasis, acne and eczema. It's anti-inflammatory properties may relieve arthritis and lymphatic swelling.
It has also been used in homeopathy treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome, indigestion, gastroenteritis, and weight loss.
Part Used: Root, dried; also liquid extract and juice. Often used in combination with goldenseal or vitamin C.
Common Use: Echinacea products are used as a general nonspecific stimulant to the immune system, supporting and stabilizing cellular immunity and cleansing the blood, for the prevention and treatment of infections. There are no known side effects associated with it's use.
Care: Full sun or light shade in hotter climates. Can grow in fairly poor and dry soil.
(Sambucus canadensis) top
The American elder (canadensis) , also known as Elderberry, is small tree that grows to 12 feet and is native to North America. The European elder (nigra) grows to 30 feet, is found throughout Europe, Asia, North Africa, and has been naturalized in the United States. The tree has been called "the medicine chest of the common people.
The flowers, leaves, berries, bark and roots have all been used in traditional folk medicine for centuries. The fruits have been used to make elderberry wine, and when cooked, can be used in pies and jams. The berries contain more vitamin C than any other herb except rosehips and black currant.
The elder also has a rich background of cultural superstitions. In the Middle Ages legends held that tree was home to witches and that cutting down one would bring on the wrath of those residing in the branches.
The Russians and the English believe that elder trees ward off evil spirits and it was considered good luck to plant a tree near your home. Sicilians think that sticks of elder wood can kill serpents and drive away thieves.
This herb has a long history dating beyond the stone ages. Egyptians discovered that applying its flowers improved the complexion and healed burns. Many early Indian tribes used elderberry, and its variants, in teas and other beverages. In the 17th century the British often drank home made wine and cordials that was thought to prolong life and cure the common cold.
The berries from the elder contain a considerable amount of vitamins A, B and C, as well as flavonoids, sugar, tannins, carotenoids and amino acids. Warm elderberry wine is a remedy for sore throat, influenza and induces perspiration to reverse the effects of a chill. The juice from the berries is an old fashioned cure for colds, and is also said to relieve asthma and bronchitis.
Infusions of the fruit are beneficial for nerve disorders, back pain, and have been used to reduce inflammation of the urinary tract and bladder. Raw berries have laxative and diuretic properties, however the seeds are toxic and may induce vomiting and nausea. Elderberries are edible when cooked.
Elder leaves contain the flavonoids rutin and quercertin, alkaloids, vitamin C and sambunigrin, a cyanogenic glucoside. Fresh elder leaves also contain hydrocyanic acid, cane sugar, invertin, betulin, free fatty acids, and a considerable quantity of potassium nitrate. Elder flowers and elder flower water have been used in a variety of ways topically and as a tonic mixture.
Elder flowers are a mild astringent and are used in skin washes to refine the complexion and help relieve eczema, acne and psoriasis. Flower water makes a soothing gargle and when strained makes an excellent eye wash.
The leaves and flowers are a common ingredient in ointments and poultices for burns and scalds, swelling, cuts and scrapes. Infusions and preparations with the blossoms combined with other herbs have also been used to quicken recovery form the common cold and flu.
Parts Used: Bark, leaves, flowers, berries.
Common Use: Topically for infections, inflammations and swelling. As a wash for skin healing and complexion purification. As a tea and cordial to sooth sore throats, speed recovery from cold and flu and relieve respiratory distress. Cooked and used in jams and conserves.
Care: Prefers sandy or loamy soil rich in humus and nitrogen. Full sun or partial shade.
(Chrysanthemum parthenium) top
Feverfew, also known as featherfew and bachelor's buttons, is native to southwest Europe and was brought to America originally as an ornamental. It is commercially cultivated in Japan, Africa and Europe. Greek and European herbalists traditionally used it to reduce fevers.
The herb has a long history of use in traditional and folk medicine as a treatment for disorders often controlled by aspirin, such as fever, headaches and some of the accompanying symptoms such as nausea and depression.
Recently feverfew has been gaining fame as a effective treatment for migraine headaches. It may also help ease diseases caused by chronic inflammation such as arthritis. It is an aromatic plant with a strong and lasting odor, it has been used externally as an insect repellent and for treating insect bites.
It is the combination of ingredients in the feverfew plant that brings such effective relief. It works to inhibit the release of two inflammatory substances, serotonin and prostaglandins, both believed to contribute to the onset of migraines. By inhibiting these amines as well as the production of the chemical histamine, the herb controls inflammation that constricts the blood vessels in the head, and prevents blood vessel spasms which may contribute to headaches.
The plant is rich in sesquiterpene lactones, the principal one being parthenolide. Other constituents include essential oils, flavonoid glycosides, pinene derivatives and costic acid. Feverfew should be taken regularly to receive maximum benefit and protection from migraines.
The tea, drunk cold, may also relieve skin perspiration associated with migraines, and has been used to stimulate appetite, and improve digestion and kidney function.
Clinical tests have shown the use of feverfew may reduce of frequency and severity of headaches. It may be more effective than other nonsteroidal antiinflammatories (NSAIDS), like aspirin. Additional benefits include lower blood pressure, less stomach irritation and a renewed sense of well-being.
It may also relieve dizziness, tinnitus, and painful or sluggish menstruation. Its extracts have been claimed to relieve asthma, coughs, dermatitis and worms.
Parts Used: Leaves and flowers in extract, infusion, and dried in capsules.
Common Use: The herb has historically been used as remedy for headache, inflammation and as a general substitute for ailments treated with aspirin. Its most popular use is for the prevention of migraine headaches and associated symptoms. Pregnant women should not use the herb, and some people have developed mouth ulcers or experienced loss of taste from eating the fresh leaves.
Care: Feverfew is a hearty perennial that will produce an abundant supply of blossoms. It prefers full sun or partial shade and well-drained average soil.
(Allium sativum) top
Garlic is a member of the onion family and is nature's most versatile medicinal plant. Garlic has been used all over the world for thousands of years for a wide range of conditions. It has been prized since the first records of civilization for its uses in treating wounds, infections, tumors, and intestinal parasites.
Modern scientists in numerous clinical trials have concluded that Garlic lowers cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, thins the blood (which reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke) and fights bacteria like an antibiotic.
Garlic is a potent antioxidant that has been found to inhibit tumor cell formation and is currently being studied by the National Cancer Institute. It may be effective in fighting stomach, skin and colon cancer.
Though it is best know as a culinary herb and vampire retardant, the medicinal benefits and claims for garlic have awarded it the name "Wonder Drug among all herbs".
Modern day research helps explain the broad applications of this "miracle" herb. Garlic bulbs contain the amino acid allicin. When crushed, allicin is released. This chemical element is the component that gives Garlic its strong odor and is responsible for the powerful pharmacological properties of the plant. One medium clove of Garlic can equal the antibacterial action equivalent to 1% penicillin.
Garlic also contains about 0.5% of a volatile oil that is composed of sulfur-containing compounds. Garlic's sulfur compounds, in addition to Selenium and Vitamins A and C containing compounds, make it a potent antioxidant, protecting cell membranes and DNA from damage and disease.
Although Garlic directly attacks bacteria and viruses, it also stimulates the body's natural defenses against foreign invaders. Garlic is reported to be more effective than penicillin against typhus disease, and works well against strep, staph bacteria, and the organisms responsible for cholera, dysentery and enteritis.
It is generally regarded as a preventative measure for colds, flu and other infectious diseases. Furthermore, scientific studies have shown that garlic stimulates the production of the liver's own detoxifying enzymes which neutralize carcinogens and other environmental toxins. It has also been used to rid the body of intestinal parasites and to treat digestive infections.
Researchers have been studying the anti-cancer properties of Garlic since the 1940's. It appears that the herb may prevent cells from turning cancerous by enhancing the body's mechanisms for removing toxic substances. Garlic's phytochemicals are believed to enhance immunity and the National Cancer Institute (January 1992) reported that people who ate the greatest amount of onions and garlic had the lowest incidence of stomach cancer. Other types of cancer have also been reported as lower.
Furthermore, garlic increases the activity of white blood cells and T-helper cells (natural killer cells), the cells that are central to the activity of the entire immune system.
Garlic supplements can improve many of the processes that can lead to cardiovascular disease. Garlic has been used as a blood thinner and anticoagulant to resolve blood clots and improve circulation. It has been shown to lower cholesterol while increasing the level of beneficial HDLs (high-density lipoproteins), the so-called good cholesterol.
Garlic has no side effects like those associated with cholesterol lowering drugs. (Take garlic for at least two or three months, as often in the first month or two cholesterol may actually slightly rise.) In addition, garlic compounds gently lower blood pressure by slowing the production of the body's own blood pressure raising hormones. At least seventeen clinical trials have shown that mild hypertension can be effectively managed with garlic.
Garlic has great value as a long-term dietary supplement, helping to maintain healthy circulation, balance blood sugar and pressure, reduce fat levels in the blood, and improve resistance to infection. It can be taken with conventional antibiotics to support their action and ward off side effects.
Garlic has also been used in treating upper respiratory infections (especially bronchitis), late-onset diabetes, urinary infections, acne, asthma, sinusitis, arthritis, and ulcers.
Part Used: Bulb or as odorless tablets.
Common Use: Good for virtually any disease or infection. Improves circulation, maintains healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. A natural antibiotic and immune system stimulant.
Care: A perennial bulb that grows in warm climates worldwide. Prefers rich soil and full sun.
| Ginkgo Biloba
(Ginkgo Biloba Leaf) top
The ginkgo is the oldest living tree species, geological records indicate this plant has been growing on earth for 150 - 200 million years. Chinese monks are credited with keeping the tree in existence, as a sacred herb. It was first brought to Europe in the 1700's and it is now a commonly prescribed drug in France and Germany. It is one of the most well-researched herbs in the world.
In the last 30 years, more that 300 studies have given clinical evidence that ginkgo prevents and benefits many problems throughout the entire body. Ginkgo is gaining recognition as a brain tonic that enhances memory because of its positive effects on the vascular system, especially in the cerebellum. It is also used as a treatment for vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and a variety of neurological disorders and circulation problems. Ginkgo may help to counteract the effects of aging, including mental fatigue and lack of energy.
Ginkgo works by increasing blood flow to the brain and throughout the body's network of blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the organ systems. It increases metabolism efficiency, regulates neurotransmitters, and boosts oxygen levels in the brain which uses 20% of the body's oxygen.
Benefits of enhanced circulation in the brain include improved short and long term memory, increased reaction time and improved mental clarity. Ginkgo is often used to treat elderly persons with Alzheimer's and other symptoms of cerebral insufficiency. Cerebral insufficiency is a general term for a collection of symptoms that include difficulties of concentration and memory, absentmindedness, confusion, lack of energy, depressive mood, anxiety, dizziness, tinnitus, and headache.
Ginkgo constituents are beneficial for a variety of imbalances and deterioration in the brain and body. Standardized ginkgo extract inhibits platelet activity factor (PAF), which is a common allergen in the body. Physical stress, and poor quality food can overstimulate PAF production; in other words, blood clotting. Excessive PAF can help cause cardiovascular disease, brain damage, hearing disorders and other immune and inflammatory diseases.
Ginkgo has been used to relieve tension and anxiety and improve mental alertness, elevate mood and restore energy.
Ginkgo has two groups of active substances, flavonoids and terpene lactones, including ginkgolides A, B, and C, bilobalide, quercetin, and kaempferol. The ginkgolides have been shown to control allergic inflammation, anaphylactic shock and asthma.
Ginkgo also acts as a powerful antioxidant and contributes to the oxidation of free radicals which are believed to contribute to premature aging and dementia. Antioxidants also protect the eyes, cardiovascular system and central nervous system.
Ginkgo may also help control the transformation of cholesterol to plaque associated with the hardening of arteries, and can relax constricted blood vessels.
The herb has been used in treatment of other circulation-related disorders such as diabetic peripheral vascular disease, Raynaud's syndrome, hemorrhoids and varicose veins. It can also aid in the treatment of insufficient circulation and complications from stroke and skull injuries. Ginkgo's beneficial effects on the circulatory system also can be of benefit in the treatment of eye and ear disorders.
Studies have confirmed that ginkgo increases blood flow to the retina, and can slow retinal deterioration resulting in an increase of visual acuity. In clinical tests ginkgo has improved hearing loss in the elderly. It also improves circulation in the extremities relieving cold hands and feet, swelling in the limbs and chronic arterial blockage. Among other things, ginkgo is being investigated as a potential treatment to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs, as a treatment for asthma and for toxic shock syndrome.
Parts Used: Dried leaf.
Common Use: Ginkgo has been shown to be nutritional support for mental alertness, enhanced vitality level, circulatory health and blood vessel health. Its high antioxidant activity is valuable for fighting age related conditions. All over the world, people have claimed Ginkgo to be beneficial in the fight against the gradual erosion of energy associated with aging.
Care: The ginkgo tree thrives in full sun and average soil. It is very resistant to infection and pollution and can grow up to 120 feet. The small yellow fruit that falls from the female tree has a strong rancid odor.
(Panax ginseng) top
Ginseng is the most famous Chinese herb. It is the most widely recognized plant used in traditional medicine. Various forms of ginseng have been used in medicine for more than 7000 years. Several species grow around the world, and though some are preferred for specific benefits, all are considered to have similar properties as an effective general rejuvenator.
The name panax is derived from the Greek word panacea meaning, "all healing" and the benefits of ginseng are recognized as such. Ginseng is commonly used as an adaptogen, meaning it normalizes physical functioning depending on what the individual needs (for example, it will lower high blood pressure, but raise low blood pressure).
It is also used to reduce the effects of stress, improve performance, boost energy levels, enhance memory, and stimulate the immune system. Oriental medicine has deemed ginseng a necessary element in all their best prescriptions, and regards it as prevention and a cure. It is said to remove both mental and bodily fatigue, cure pulmonary complaints, dissolve tumors and reduce the effects of age.
Ginseng is native to China, Russia, North Korea, Japan, and some areas of North America. It was first cultivated in the United States in the late 1800's. It is difficult to grow and takes 4-6 years to become mature enough to harvest. The roots are called Jin-chen, meaning 'like a man,' in reference to their resemblance to the shape of the human body.
Native North Americans considered it one of their most sacred herbs and add it to many herbal formulas to make them more potent. The roots can live for over 100 years.
Ginseng contains vitamins A, B-6 and the mineral Zinc, which aids in the production of thymic hormones, necessary for the functioning of the defense system. The main active ingredients of ginseng are the more than 25 saponin triterpenoid glycosides called "ginsenosides". These steroid-like ingredients provide the adaptogenic properties that enable ginseng to balance and counter the effects of stress. The glycosides appear to act on the adrenal glands, helping to prevent adrenal hypertrophy and excess corticosteroid production in response to physical, chemical or biological stress.
Studies done in China showed that ginsenosides also increase protein synthesis and activity of neurotransmitters in the brain. Ginseng is used to restore memory, and enhance concentration and cognitive abilities, which may be impaired by improper blood supply to the brain.
Ginseng helps to maintain excellent body functions. Siberian ginseng has been shown to increase energy, stamina, and help the body resist viral infections and environmental toxins. Research has shown specific effects that support the central nervous system, liver function, lung function and circulatory system.
Animal studies have shown that ginseng extracts stimulate the production of interferons, increase natural killer cell activity, lower cholesterol and decrease triglyceride levels. Men have used the herb to improve sexual function and remedy impotence. Ginseng is believed to increase estrogen levels in women and is used to treat menopausal symptoms.
It is also used for diabetes, radiation and chemotherapy protection, colds, chest problems, to aid in sleep, and to stimulate the appetite.
Part used: Whole root. Powdered in capsules, as an ingredient in many herbal formulas, and as a tea.
Common Use: Ginseng is one of the most popular healing herbs used today throughout the world. It increases mental and physical efficiency and resistance to stress and disease. Ginseng's adaptogenic qualities help balance the body, depending on the individual's needs. It is known to normalize blood pressure, increase blood circulation and aid in the prevention of heart disease.
Care: A perennial herb with a large, slow growing root. Requires a loose, rich soil, with a heavy mulch of leaves and only 20% sun.
(Hydrastis canadenis) top
Goldenseal is a native American medicinal plant introduced to early settlers by Cherokee Indians who used it as a wash for skin diseases, wounds, and for sore, inflamed eyes. Its roots are bright yellow, thus the name. Goldenseal root has acquired a considerable reputation as a natural antibiotic and as a remedy for various gastric and genitourinary disorders.
Numerous references to Goldenseal began to appear in medical writings as far back as 1820 as a strong tea for indigestion. Today it is used to treat symptoms of the cold and flu and as an astringent, antibacterial remedy for the mucous membranes of the body.
This popular North American herb grows wild in moist mountainous woodland areas. Goldenseal's long history of use among North Americans flourished after the Civil War as it was an ingredient in many patent medicines. It has been collected to the point of near extinction. Goldenseal supplies are diminishing and most is now wildcrafted, making herbal supplements costly.
Goldenseal is used in many combination formulas and is reported to enhance the potency of other herbs. Preparations have been marketed for the treatment of menstrual disorders, urinary infections, rheumatic and muscular pain and as an antispasmodic.
The active ingredients in Goldenseal are the alkaloids hydrastine and berberine. Similar in action, they destroy many types of bacterial and viral infections. These alkaloids can also reduce gastric inflammation and relieve congestion. Berberine is a bitter that aids digestion and that has a sedative action on the central nervous system.
Goldenseal works wonders in combination with Echinacea particularly at the onset of cold and flu symptoms, especially coughs and sore throats. Goldenseal, Echinacea and Zinc lozenges should be in every medicine cabinet.
Goldenseal is a cure-all type of herb that strengthens the immune system, acts as an antibiotic, has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, potentiates insulin, and cleanses vital organs. It promotes the functioning capacity of the heart, the lymphatic and respiratory system, the liver, the spleen, the pancreas, and the colon.
Taken internally, Goldenseal increases digestive secretions, astringes the mucous membranes that line the gut, and checks inflammation. It also aids digestion by promoting the production of saliva, bile, and other digestive enzymes. In addition it may control heavy menstrual and postpartum bleeding by means of its astringent action.
As a dilute infusion, Goldenseal can be used as an eyewash and as a mouthwash for gum disease, and canker sores. It is also an effective wash or douche for yeast infections. External applications have been used in the treatment of skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, athlete's foot, herpes, and ringworm.
Part Used: Whole root. Available in bulk, capsules, and tincture.
Common Use: Treatment of any infection, inflammation and congestion of lungs, throat and sinuses. Famous for use in treatment of cold and flu. A potent remedy for disorders of the stomach and intestines such as irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, ulcers, and gastritis and internal parasites.
Care: Perennial. Grows best in humid regions with rich humus soil and in shady areas.
Cautions: The use of very large doses can or extended use is not suggested. Not for use during pregnancy or by children under two. Children and older adults should take smaller doses.
| Gotu Kola -
Centella asiatica top
Gotu kola is a slender, creeping plant that grows commonly in swampy areas of India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, South Africa and the tropics. Its fan shaped leaves are about the size of an old British penny - hence its common names Indian pennywort, marsh penny and water pennywort.
It is regarded as one of the most spiritual and rejuvenating herbs in Ayurveda and is used to improve meditation. It is said to develop the crown chakra, the energy center at the top of the head, and to balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which the leaf is said to resemble.
Gotu kola has been widely used for a number of conditions, particularly in traditional Eastern health care. In Ayurveda Gotu kola is one of the chief herbs for revitalizing the nerves and brain cells. It is said to fortify the immune system, both cleansing and feeding it, and to strengthen the adrenals.
It has been used as a tonic for purification of blood and for promoting healthy skin. It has also been used to aid in restful sleep, treat skin inflammations, as a treatment for high blood pressure and as a mild diuretic. Recent studies (1995) demonstrated that Gotu kola destroyed cultured tumor cells in the laboratory setting (in vitro).
The leaves of this swamp plant have been used around the world for centuries to treat leprosy, cancer, skin disorders, arthritis, hemorrhoids, and tuberculosis. In recent years, Gotu kola has become popular in the West as a nerve tonic to promote relaxation and to enhance memory.
The herbs calming properties make it well suited for overcoming insomnia and making one calm for yoga and meditative practices. It is commonly used to rebuild energy reserves improve memory and treat fatigue, both mental and physical.
Gotu kola has been referred to as "food for the brain". This oriental herb has demonstrated mild tranquilizing, anti-anxiety and anti-stress effects, as well as improving mental functions such as concentration and memory. It has a calming effect on the body and is chiefly used to support the central nervous system. These beneficial qualities make Gotu kola an excellent herb for children with A.D.D. because it has a stimulating effect on the brain that increases one's ability to focus while having a soothing and relaxing effect on an overactive nervous system.
Gotu kola is often confused with kola nut. Due to this confusion, some people assume the rejuvenating properties of Gotu kola are due to the stimulating effects of caffeine contained in kola nut. In fact, Gotu kola is not related to kola nut and contains no caffeine. There are three main chemical constituents in Gotu kola. The first is asiaticoside, which is a triterpene glycoside and classified as an antibiotic. It aids in wound healing and has been used in the treatment of leprosy and tuberculosis in the Far East. The second constituent is a pair of chemicals, brahmoside and brahminoside, which are saponin glycosides. These are diuretic in nature and have a slightly sedative action in large doses. Finally, there is madecassoside, a glycoside that is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. The plant is also a source of Vitamin K, magnesium, calcium and sodium.
Gotu Kola has been found to have significant results in healing of skin, other connective tissues, lymph tissue, blood vessels, and mucous membranes. Researchers have found that Gotu kola contains several glycosides that exhibit wound healing and anti-inflammatory activities and that asiaticosides stimulate the formation of lipids and proteins necessary for healthy skin.
Gotu kola affects various stages of tissue development, including keratinization (the process of replacing skin after sores or ulcers), the synthesis of collagen (the first step in tissue repair), the stimulation of hair and nail growth, and support for the repair of cartilage. Gotu kola has been effectively used in the treatment of second and third degree burns. It has been shown to decrease healing time and reduce scar tissue formation.
Recent studies show that Gotu kola also has a positive effect on the circulatory system. It seems to improve the flow of blood throughout the body by strengthening the veins and capillaries. Gotu kola has been shown to be particularly useful for people who are inactive or confined to bed due to illness.
The herb has been used successfully to treat phlebitis (inflammation of the veins), varicose veins, as well as leg cramps, swelling of the legs, and "heaviness" or tingling in the legs. In modern health care it has been used for venous insufficiency, localized inflammation and infection, and post-surgery recovery.
Parts Used: Leaves and aerial parts.
Common Use: Prevention of mental fatigue and enhanced concentration and memory. A balancing tonic that both increases energy and relaxes the body. Stimulates the central nervous system, aids circulation especially in the legs, and is a mild diuretic. Aids in many types of wound healing. Used for rheumatism, blood diseases, mental disorders, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, sore throat, and hepatitis.
|Grapeseed Extract: Antioxident helps protect your bodies cells.|
(Crataegus oxyacanthas) top
The bright red berries of the hawthorn tree hang in clusters, from thorny branches, and remain on the tree until about September. It is used for its positive effects on the cardiovascular system, but can also be used to treat digestive problems, insomnia, and sore throat.
The flavonoids in hawthorn work to increase oxygen utilization by the heart. It also increases enzyme metabolism and acts as a mild dilator of the heart muscle. Hawthorn is a peripheral vasodilator and dilates blood vessels away from the heart. This lowers blood pressure and relieves the burden placed on the heart.
Hawthorn in combination with other drugs is given for cardiac problems such as palpitations, angina, and rapid heart beat. Components in hawthorn have been shown to lower cholesterol, and the amount of plaque in arteries.
| Kava Kava
(Piper methysticum) top
This herb, a member of the pepper family, grows as a bush in the South Pacific. Explorer Captain James Cook, who gave this plant the botanical name of "intoxicating pepper", first discovered kava kava. Kava has been used for over 3,000 years for its medicinal effects as a sedative, muscle relaxant, diuretic, and as a remedy for nervousness and insomnia.
The botanical has been used in parts of the Pacific at traditional social gatherings as a relaxant and in cultural and religious ceremonies to achieve a higher level of consciousness. The roots can be made into a mildly narcotic beverage that is comparable to popular cocktails in our culture. In Germany, Kava kava is used as a nonprescription drug to reduce anxiety. Kava was first mentioned in scientific records in 1886, and it is gaining popularity in the US for its relaxing effects.
More recently, Kava kava has also gained popularity with the natives of Hawaii, Australia and New Guinea where it is used medicinally as well as recreationally. Kava also is effective as a pain reliever and can be used instead of aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
Recent clinical studies have shown that the herb kava is a safe nonaddictive anti-anxiety medicine, and as effective as prescription anxiety agents containing benzodiazepines such as valium. While benzodiazepines tend to promote lethargy and mental impairment, kava has been shown to improve concentration, memory, and reaction time for people suffering from anxiety. Kava has been clinically demonstrated as a means of achieving a state of relaxation without the adverse side effects.
Several rhizome components and lactones have been isolated in the kava root. Of the fifteen lactones isolated from kava, there are six major lactones (kavalactones) known to provide psychoactive activity: kawain, methysticin, demethoxy-yangonin, dihydrokawain, dihydomethysicin, and yongonin. All kavalactones are physiologically active, though it is the fat-soluble kavalactones derived from kava resin that have the greatest effect on the central nervous system. Kava also has a direct effect on muscle tension similar to tranquilizers. The activity of the kava rhizome is related to several arylethylene pyrones similar in structure to myristicin, which is found in nutmeg.
Kava is mildly narcotic and produces mild euphoric changes characterized by elevated mood, fluent and lively speech and increased sense of sound. Higher doses can lead to muscle weakness, visual impairment, dizziness and drying of the skin. Long term use of the herb can contribute to hypertension, reduced protein levels, blood cell abnormalities, or liver damage. Alcohol consumption increases the toxicity of the pharmacological constituents. It is not recommended for those who intend on driving or where quick reaction time is required.
Kava is the most relaxing botanical herb with exception of the opium poppy. Pharmacological studies show kava kava's active ingredients, kavalactones, produce physical and mental relaxation and a feeling of well being. It has also been used in the treatment of ailments of the genitourinary tract including vaginitis, gonorrhea and menstrual cramps. Kava is a diuretic and an anti-inflammatory, thus useful for gout, rheumatism, bronchial congestion, cystitis and prostatis. It is an effective local anesthetic and pain reliever when applied externally as a liniment. The relaxed state and sharpening of senses also contribute to aphrodisiac effect.
Parts Used: Root and rhizome. Used as powder, fluid extract, and tonic beverage.
Common Use: Kava root is primarily used as a natural sedative and sleep enhancement. Herbalists have traditionally used it as a remedy for nervousness and insomnia. Kava kava is an effective relaxant able to induce a feeling of relaxation, peace and contentment, along with a sharpening of the senses. As a sleep aid it promotes deep and restful sleep. It is also a muscle relaxant that can help relieve cramping due to spasms.
NOTE: Do not use if pregnant, nursing, or being treated for depression.
(Lavandula officinalis) top
This English garden herb is highly regarded for its classic fragrance in soap, and potpourris, but lavender is also an important medicinal herb.
Originally, the oil from the flower was used to protect cloths and stored linens from moths. It was, and is, used as a scent in air fresheners.
Oil distilled from the flower has applications as a stimulant, tonic, headache relief, and for relief of intestinal gas. It is also used to quiet coughs and disinfect wounds.
Applied as a compress, lavender oil provides relief from neuralgic pains, rheumatism, sprains, and sore joints.
Licorice is a perennial herb native to southern Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean. It is extensively cultivated in Russia, Spain, Iran and India. It is one of the most popular and widely consumed herbs in the world.
Although many know this herb for its flavoring in candy, licorice contains many health benefits. Ancient cultures on every continent have used licorice, the first recorded use by the Egyptians in the 3rd century BC. The Egyptians and the Greeks recognized the herb's benefits in treating coughs and lung disease. Licorice is the second most prescribed herb in China followed by ginseng, it is suggested for treatment of the spleen, liver and kidney. The Japanese use a licorice preparation to treat hepatitis.
The most common medical use for licorice is for treating upper respiratory ailments including coughs, hoarseness, sore throat, and bronchitis.
The main constituent found in the root is glycyrrhizin. The plant also contains various sugars (to 14%), starches (30%), flavonoids, saponoids, sterols, amino acids, gums, and essential oil. Glycyrrhizin, stimulates the secretion of the adrenal cortex hormone aldosterone.
It can be as effective as codeine, and safer, when used as a cough suppressant. Rhizomes in licorice have a high mucilage content which, when mixed with water or used in cough drops, sooths irritated mucous membranes. The drug also has an expectorant effect which increases the secretion of the bronchial glands. Licorice is an effective remedy for throat irritations, lung congestion, and bronchitis.
Homeopathic use of licorice for gastric irritation dates back to the first century. Today, herbal preparations are used to treat stomach and intestinal ulcers, lower acid levels and coat the stomach wall with a protective gel. Rarely used alone, it is a common component of many herbal teas as mild laxative, a diuretic, and for flatulence. It has also been known to relieve rheumatism and arthritis, regulate low blood sugar, and is effective for Addison's disease. The root extract produces mild estrogenic effects, and it has proven useful in treating symptoms of menopause, regulating menstruation, and relieving menstrual cramps.
The main ingredient glycyrrhizin has also been studied for it's anti-viral properties in the treatment of AIDS. In clinical trials in Japan it prevented progression of the HIV virus by inhibiting cell infection and inducing interferon activity. Glycyrrhizin also encourages the production of hormones such as hydrocortisone which give it anti-inflammatory properties. Like cortisone it can relieve arthritic and allergy symptoms, without the side effects.
The constituent glycyrrhizin is 50 times sweeter than sugar, making it a widely used ingredient in the food industry. The distinctive flavor of licorice makes it a popular additive to baked confections, liqueurs, ice cream and candies. It is also widely used in other medicines to mask bitter tastes and also to prevent pills from sticking together.
Licorice has also been used in poultices for treatment of dermatitis and skin infections. It helps to open the pores and is used in combination with other cleansing and healing herbs as an emollient.
Part Used: Root in the making of powder, teas and tonics, extracts, tinctures and decoctions.
Common Use: It is an ingredient in many cough medicines and a popular and well-known remedy for bronchial distress. Can have a beneficial effect on gastric disturbances.
Care: Licorice grows best in a dry and warm climate. Prefers sandy, rich soil and full sun.
Toxicity: May cause side effects in healthy people. May cause headaches, elevated blood pressure, hypertension, lethargy, edema, or shortness of breath.
| Milk Thistle
(Silybum marianus) top
This plant is native to the Mediterranean and grows wild throughout Europe, North America and Australia. Milk Thistle has been used in Europe as a remedy for liver problems for thousands of years. Its use was recorded in the first century (AD 23-79), noting that the plant was excellent for protecting the liver. Early Christian tradition dedicated milk thistle to Mary, calling it Marian thistle. In the 19th century the Eclectics used the herb for varicose veins, menstrual difficulty, and congestion in the liver, spleen and kidneys. Milk thistle has also been taken to increase breast-milk production, stimulate the secretion of bile, and as a treatment for depression.
Milk thistle nutritionally supports the liver's ability to maintain normal liver function. It has shown positive effects in treating nearly every known form of liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatitis, necroses, and liver damage due to drug and alcohol abuse. Milk thistle works due to its ability to inhibit the factors responsible for liver damage, coupled with the fact it stimulates production of new liver cells to replace old damaged ones.
Milk thistle has been proven to protect the liver from damage. The detrimental effects of environmental toxins, alcohol, drugs and chemotherapy may be countered with this valuable herb. The active chemical component in the herb is silybin, which functions as an antioxidant and is one of the most potent liver protective agents known. Clinical trials have proven silybin to be effective in treating chronic liver diseases and in protecting the liver from toxic chemicals. An injection of silybin is a proven antidote for poisoning with the Deathcap mushroom (Amanita phalloides).
Silybin is a part of the chemical structure of the flavoligan silymarine. Milk thistle's hepatoprotective effects may be explained by its function of altering the liver cell membrane structure, blocking the absorption of toxins into the cells. Hepatoprotection by silymarin can also be attributed to its ability to increase the intracellular concentration of glutathione, a substance required for detoxicating reactions in liver cells. Milk thistle is also an antioxidant that is more potent than vitamins C and E.
Parts Used: Seeds for powdered or liquid extract.
Common Use: Helps the liver detoxification process. For all liver disorders such as jaundice and hepatitis. Fights pollutants and prevents free radical damage by action as antioxidant. Protects the liver and stimulates the production of new liver cells. Helps common skin conditions related to poor liver function.
Care: Annual or biennial. Very drought tolerant, self seeds readily. Prefers sunny position and well drained, dry soil.
| Plantago Major
(Great Plantain; Common Plantain)
Plantago Major consists of the dried leaves of Plantago major L. (Fam. Plantaginaceae) gathered during the flowering period. The plant is a native British herb, with a basal rosette of leaves which abruptly contract into long petioles, bearing a long cylindrical spike up to 50 cm tall, green-brown with lilac and yellow stamens protruding.
The structure of the Plantago Major plant includes a remarkable glycoside of the monoterpene class (iridoid) called Aucubin.
This glycoside has been studied and numerous scientific papers have been written about this particular member of the monoterpene family.
The anti-toxic, anti-inflammatory and expectorant
characteristics suggest why the plant is useful in lung disorders, and
as inferences as to the effect of the Plantago Major on smokers. Exact
cause and effect relationships are not yet fully understood. However,
the above suggests real reasons for the noted effects on smokers.
Collection : Gather during flowering throughout the summer. Dry as fast as possible as the leaves will discolor if dried improperly.
Part Used : Leaves or aerial parts
Pycnogenol and: Benefits | Q & A | Dosage
What is it?
Pycnogenol is a natural plant product made from the bark of the European coastal pine, Pinus Maritima. It is the most powerful antioxidant today and acts as a protector against environmental toxins.
Research has demonstrated that Pycnogenol is 50 times more effective than vitamin E and 20 times more powerful than vitamin C. Studies show that Pycnogenol is rapidly absorbed and distributed throughout the body within twenty minutes. Pycnogenol also activates vitamin C and puts it to work before it leaves your body.
Pycnogenol has been used in France, Finland, Holland, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Korea, Argentina, and Switzerland, and has just recently been marketed in the United States.
How does it work?
Like Vitamins C and E, Pycnogenol (pronounced Pick-nah-geh-nol), is a trade name for proanthocyanidin, a special family of bioflavanoids, plus 40 other biologically beneficial components. It is a powerful antioxidant which neutralizes unstable or "radical" oxygen molecules that attack the body's cells.
When these "free radical" molecules go unchecked, they degrade the tissue-strengthening collagen within the body's joints, skin and organs. Free radicals reprogram DNA and are implicated in more than 60 diseases. In addition, aging, inflammation of the muscles, joints and other tissues, plus improper functioning of the circulatory system, nervous system (including brain cells) and immune system, often result from free radical damage.
Pycnogenol furnishes the human body with excellent antioxidant nutritional support for a variety of body repairs. It furnishes capillary resistance against fragility and rupture; consequently, Pycnogenol is useful to prevent diseased blood vessels associated with varicose veins, peripheral hemorrhage, diabetic retinopathy, and high blood pressure. Such capillary resistance adds up nearly three fold over the effects in those patients who normally are prescribed other types of nutrient flavonoids for repair of their damaged capillaries.
The physiology of capillary repair involves the collagenases (enzymes which break down proteins). These collagenases are released inside the body during tissue damage and subsequent inflammation. By supplementing the diet with tablets containing Pycnogenol, one can effectively inhibit the release of unwanted collagenases, thus preventing decay of the fragile capillaries' vascular walls.
There have been over one thousand scientific studies documenting Pycnogenol's absorptive ability and bioavailability in the human body. When Pycnogenol is taken as a food supplement, and then measured in human metabolism by means of laboratory tests, results show the compound behaves like a cellular detoxifier. What is the reason such ready availability takes place? Because Pyncogenol gets quickly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract due to its excellent water solubility. The compound fixes rapidly to cell membranes in veins and capillaries and connective tissue (collagen) where it exerts a stabilizing effect on cellular membranes of all types. Outside and inside the membranes it counteracts destructive oxidization by free radicals from this unique solubility characteristic.
As if it were a sponge, the catechin ingredient mentioned earlier actually mops up free radical particles. It binds with them and then the newly formed molecules leave the body as waste products. Such neutralized waste particles gather in the kidneys and get urinated away. Thus, absorption of Pycnogenol is determined by detecting its metabolities in urine. Pycnogenol facilitates active transport of vitamin C by carrying it to the site of necessary action. Other bioflavonoids perform this function, too, but Pycnogenol does it better.
Your body naturally protects itself against pollutants
by forming antioxidants. The most common antioxidants are vitamins A, C,
and E; beta carotene; and selenium. Unfortunately, the continual
bombardment of stress, environmental pollution, and the popular practice
of food industrialization and food conversion processes destroy
antioxidants, allowing the body to be more susceptible to disease and
ill health. Consequently, the body has an extremely difficult time
producing enough antioxidants to combat the contaminants.
Improves joint flexibility, and fights joint inflammation and pain from arthritis, low back and neck problems and sports injuries.
Dramatically relieves ADD/ADHD.
Improves skin smoothness and elasticity.
Reduces prostate inflammation and other inflammatory conditions.
Reduces diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy.
Improves circulation and enhances cell vitality.
Improves skin disorders such as eczema.
Improves and arrests varicose veins, and reduces the risk of phlebitis.
Reduces the effects of stress.
Reduces allergic reactions.
Strengthens capillaries, arteries, veins and blood vessel walls, including those that supply the heart. Thus, reduces swelling in the lower extremities.
| Saw Palmetto
(Sabal Serrulata) top
Saw Palmetto is a small, palm-like plant native to North America. Native Americans and early American settlers used the berries to treat problems associated with the genitals, urinary tract and reproductive system. This herb is called the "plant catheter" due to its therapeutic effect on the neck of the bladder and the prostate in men. Saw Palmetto is widely used in Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom and now the U.S. for nutritionally benefiting the prostate and urinary tract. It has been marketed as an aphrodisiac for both men and women.
The active constituents are volatile oil, steroidal saponin, tannins, and polysaccharides. Saw Palmetto is a tonic, and is one of the few herbal remedies that are considered to be anabolic - it strengthens and builds body tissues.
For men it treats an enlarged and weakened prostate gland. It has shown significant action in treatment of conditions associated with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). Saw palmetto extract works to prevent testosterone from converting into dihydrotestosterone, the hormone thought to cause prostrate cells to multiply, leading to an enlarged prostate. It is chiefly used as a diuretic and to tone the bladder by improving urinary flow, and relieving strain. Regular use of saw palmetto may decrease urinary frequency, especially during the night, by allowing complete bladder expulsion and reducing inflammation of the bladder and enlarged prostrate.
Saw palmetto inhibits androgen and estrogen receptor activity and may be beneficial for both sexes in balancing the hormones. Because of it hormonal effects it can aid the thyroid in regulating sexual development and normalizing activity of those glands and organs.
Women have used the herb to stimulate breast enlargement and lactation as well as treating ovarian and uterine irritability. It has been prescribed for reduced or absent sex drive, impotence and frigidity. Because of its potential hormonal effects, pregnant women should not use it.
The berries have been recommended in treatment of diseases that deprive the body of strength and growth. Preliminary evidence exists to also suggest saw palmetto may also aid those suffering from thyroid deficiency. Saw palmetto is a good expectorant for use in clearing chest congestion and can be used to treat coughs, asthma, and bronchitis.
It has also been used to stimulate appetite, improve digestion, nourish the nervous system and increase the assimilation of nutrients to the body.
Parts Used: Fresh berries and dried berries as capsules or in preparation as a tincture.
Common Use: The berries have long held a reputation as sexual stimulants and aphrodisiacs. The largest use today is as a supplement for reducing enlarged prostate glands, treating urinary tract problems and for improving body strength.
Care: Saw Palmetto can be found in sand dunes along the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts. The plant grows from the Carolinas to Texas. Prefers well-drained soil and plenty of sun. The berries are harvested in autumn. Seeds are removed after the herb is dried for propagation in the spring.
| St. John's Wort
Side Effects | Picture of St. John's Wort
St. John's wort is a bushy perennial plant with numerous yellow flowers. It is native to many parts of the world including Europe and the United States. It is a wild growing plant in northern California, southern Oregon and Colorado.
The plant has been used as an herbal remedy since the Middle Ages. Many believed it to have magical powers to protect one from evil. Early Christian mystics named the plant after John the Baptist and is traditionally collected on St. John's Day, June 25, soaked in olive oil for days to produce a blood red anointing oil known as the "blood of Christ."
It has a 2,400-year history of safe and effective usage in many folk and herbal remedies. Historically used as a nerve tonic, St. John's wort is now widely used as a mild antidepressant. It is a potent antiviral and antibacterial that is being investigated as a treatment for AIDS.
One of the best herbs for mood elevation is St. John's wort. Several controlled studies have shown positive results in treating patients with mild to moderate depression. Improvement was shown with symptoms of sadness, helplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, headache and exhaustion with no reported side effects.
Its action is based on the ability of the active ingredient, hypericin to inhibit the breakdown of neurotransmitters in the brain. The herb also inhibits monoamine oxidase (MAO) and works as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI); both are actions similar to drugs prescribed for depression. In Germany, nearly half of depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders are treated with hypericin. St. John's wort should not be taken with any other antidepressants, it is not effective for severe depression, and no one should stop taking any prescribed medications for depression without proper medical care.
St. John's wort has been administered in the treatment of many illnesses. The most well known action of St. John's wort is in repairing nerve damage and reducing pain and inflammation. The herb has been used to relieve menstrual cramping, sciatica, and arthritis. It has a favorable action on the secretion of bile and thus soothes the digestive system.
The blossoms have been used in folk medicine to relieve ulcers, gastritis, diarrhea and nausea. St. John's wort can also be effective in the treatment of incontinence and bed-wetting in children. Externally it is used on cuts as a disinfectant and to relieve inflammation and promote healing. The oil can be applied to sprains, bruises and varicose veins. Folk medicine has also has used it as a treatment for cancer.
The active constituents in the herb (there are over 50) include hypericin and pseudohypericin, flavonoids, tannins and procyanidins. The tannins are responsible for the astringent effect for wound healing. Hypericin increases capillary blood flow and is a MAO inhibitor.
There are many studies documenting the clinical effects of hypericum as an antidepressant treatment similar to several synthetic antidepressants, but with a minimum of side effects. Hypericin has been demonstrated to increase theta waves in the brain. Theta waves normally occur during sleep and have been associated with deep meditation, serene pleasure and heightened creative activity. St. John's wort effectually may improve perception and clarify thinking processes.
There have been incidences of photosensitization as a side effect in animals. Anyone who is hypersensitive to sunlight or is taking other photosensitizing drugs should be cautious.
Parts Used: Herb tops and flowers. Used as a tea, extract, oil and in tablet form.
Common Use: St. John's wort has been used traditionally as an herbal treatment for anxiety and depression. It is an effective astringent that promotes wound healing and has antiviral properties that can counter herpes simplex, flu viruses and is being investigated as a treatment for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Note: If you are pregnant or lactating or taking anti-depressants like Prozac, check with your physician before taking St. John's wort.
| White Willow Bark
(Salix alba) top
The white willow was introduced into the United States form Europe and can be found next to rivers and streams throughout the country. The bark is the part of the willow used, and is easily removed in the spring when the sap begins to flow.
Willows have been used for centuries for pain relief and reduction of fever. The leaves can be chewed, and contain salicylic acid. This compound has been synthesized into acetylsalicylic acid, otherwise known as aspirin.
Natural salicylic acid is nearly as potent as aspirin, however, the compound salicin from willow does not cause gastric or intestinal upset or bleeding as aspirin can, This is because willow does not block prostaglandins in the stomach or intestines.
| Yohimbe Bark
Yohimbe is a tree that grows throughout the African nations of Cameroon, Gabon and Zaire. (A similar plant in South America is called Quebracho). For centuries, natives from these areas have ingested both the crude bark and purified compound as a tonic to enhance sexual prowess and as an aphrodisiac. The bark has been smoked as a hallucinogen and has been used in traditional medicine to treat angina and hypertension. The herb is a sensual stimulant for healthy men and women. Today, doctors prescribe an extract from the tree to treat organic impotence.
Yohimbe's energizing effects stem from it's ability to increase blood flow to the genitals, both male and female. It is thought to stimulate the pelvic nerve ganglia and thus is helpful for men with erection problems. In fact a prescription drug, yohimbine hydrochloride, is the only FDA approved drug for impotence. Effects can include increased libido, increased sensation and increased stamina. Women have also reported similar effects and general pleasant sensations.
Yohimbe bark contains about 6% yohimbine. This constituent is an indole alkaloid that is classified as an alpha-2-adrenergic blocking agent. The herb has a general nervous system stimulatory effect and can cause changes in blood pressure by dilating blood vessels. It can increase the heart rate, raise body temperature and increase blood pressure. At higher dosages, it has a mild psychotropic effect.
Yohimbe bark stimulates chemical reactions in the body that may aid in psychogenic cases of impotence, due to fatigue, tension and stress. Clinical studies have shown the herb to be effective in restoring potency in diabetic and heart patients who suffer from impotency. As an alpha-adrenoreceptor blocker, yohimbe reduces the effect of hormones that cause constriction of blood vessels, which typically increases as we age. It increases the body's production of norepinephrine which is essential in the formation of erections. Yohimbe may also boost the adrenaline supply to nerve endings, which can quicken male sensual stimulation. It has been used in combination with ginseng and saw palmetto as a remedy for men with low sex drive.
Yohimbe is also a short term MAO (monoamine oxidase) inhibitor and should be used with caution, especially if you have high blood pressure. Being an MAO inhibitor, yohimbe should not be taken with any food or drink containing tyramines (cheese, chocolate, beer, aged meats, nuts, etc.) and particularly not with the amino acids tyrosine or phenylalanine. A rise in blood pressure can result from the body not being able to remove the tyramines from these foods. It may be dangerous if used with anti-depressants, sedatives, antihistamines, caffeine, or amphetamines. Yohimbe may have other side effects such as racing heart rate, irritability, headache, nausea, sweating, dizziness and frequent urination. Anyone with a heart condition, kidney disease, glaucoma or history of gastric or duodenal ulcers should avoid this herb.
Part Used: The inner bark. Used in tablet, liquid extract, and powder forms.
Common Use: The herb has been used for centuries as an aphrodisiac for men, and has similar effects with women. Recent studies suggest the drug may be effective in the treatment of male impotence especially that associated with diabetes.
| Yucca Root
(Yucca spp) top
Yucca root is a therapeutic anti inflammatory phytosterol with the ability to break up inorganic mineral obstructions and deposits.
Its primary uses are in pain relieving combinations for arthritic and joint pain, and sediment caused by inflammation such as gout, rheumatism, and cystitis.
It is also used to establish a flora balance in the GI tract and for asthmatic relief. Yucca root may have a laxative effect.
Caution: The information on this web site is for educational purposes only. Always consult with a qualified health practitioner before deciding on any course of treatment, especially for serious or life-threatening illnesses.