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Benefits Of Saw Palmetto To Prostate Health
March 28, 2012 08:23 AM
Saw Palmetto And The Prostate
Some men experience a decline in prostate health because of aging and unhealthy lifestyle. For instance, they can suffer from prostatic hypertrophy or swollen prostate glands. This condition is characterized by several symptoms such as frequent urination, weakened urinary stream, and painful experience when urinating. The swelling can affect men's well-being and overall health, and it could eventually lead to prostate cancer. Doctors and researchers have been studying several, possible remedies for prostate disorders. These specialists have discovered the effectiveness of saw palmetto in treating the disease. The plant extract is used by several medical specialists in Italy, Austria, and Germany as treatment for prostate gland enlargement. Saw palmetto has also been noted for the excellent benefits in preventing the symptoms of cancers that are hormone-related.
Saw Palmetto and Prostate Health
Prostatic hypertrophy is a prevalent among aging men, particularly those in their eighties. Men experience symptoms linked with this medical condition when they reach forty, and the disorder can worsen if left untreated. They can develop severe infections in their lower urinary tract systems, which can affect the quality of their life.
Several studies were made regarding the benefits of saw palmetto to prostate health. Researchers have discovered that the plant releases certain enzymes that reduce the swelling of prostate glands. Aside from the production of essential enzymes, saw palmetto also offers anti-inflammatory effects that prevent prostate symptoms.
The controlled study on the effects of saw palmetto was done to men who suffered from moderate to severe prostate symptoms. The researchers recommended patients to have a daily intake of 160 mg of saw palmetto for two years. The dosage was taken two times a day, and these patients were monitored every six months. At each evaluation, researchers have observed a great improvement in urine flow among these patients. They have also discovered a reduction in symptoms linked with swollen prostate glands.
Saw Palmetto And PSA
Saw palmetto also helps reduce the levels of PSA or prostate specific antigens. When these enzymes are elevated, men are likely to suffer from infections and serious ailments such as prostate cancer. Because of the essential contents of saw palmetto, many doctors use the plant's extract in reducing PSA levels in cancer patients. Several patients have experienced complete recovery from the disease, particularly those who received treatment at the onset of their disorder.
Dosage and Several Considerations
The herb has been used by many doctors in treating patients with prostate infections. Typically, the recommended dosage ranges between 300 mg and 350 mg. Saw palmetto extract is available in liquid, dried berry or capsule form. The dosage depends on the patient's condition and concentration levels of the herb.
Some prostate cancer patients treated with saw palmetto have experienced a decrease in symptoms and improvement in their overall health. Moreover, the herb was found effective as recovery medication for those who have undergone radiation and surgery. Nevertheless, it is ideal for patients to consult their doctor before they consider taking saw palmetto extract. They should make sure that they take the right dosage depending on their condition.
History And Uses Of Xylitol
February 07, 2012 07:50 AM
Xylitol is the 5-carbon sugar which is found within the birch tree sap and it's naturally found in the fibers of various vegetables and fruits. This is a sugar-alcohol sweetener commonly used as the sugar substitute.
History of xylitol
Although discovered in the 19th century during the Second World War, Xylitol has been recognized ever since the tardy 1800s. The researchers from Germany and France were the first individuals to try to produce this product approximately 100 years ago, but ended up creating syrup-like consistency mixture. This product became commercially available in the 1960s and the commercial process is still the same as it was during the 1960s.
Before 1943, the scientists' categorized this sugar with various sugary carbohydrates (polyols) and it lingered so till the beginning of the war-associated deficiency of sugar which initiated the call for an alternate sugar. This initiated further research in to the xylitols insulin-independent properties, this resulted in discovery of its other biological benefits. In 1962 this chemical was introduced in the infusion therapy demonstrating that it can be introduced to ill individuals.
The commercial production process involves extraction of Polysaccharides rich in Xylose from various agricultural by-products and hardwoods. These are hydrolyzed with various intense acidic treatments and then it is purified before hydrogenation is done. This process needs a lot of harsh chemicals and is quite expensive and inefficient.
It was until 1970 that the odontological benefit of xylitol was ascertained in Finland, Turku. The initial study of the effects of this sugar on the dental plaque began during the same year. This resulted in large scale production of xylitol, in 1974 by the Finnish sugar company. Sugar-free dental product was first launched in Finland which was a xylitol chewing-gum.
How xylitol works
This sugar can prevent cavity in various ways by actually blocking the tooth decaying process. The bacteria causing decay cannot ferment this sugar into acids as it does with other sugars including dextrose, fructose, glucose and sucrose. This results in production of less acidic by-product thus interfering with the dental plaque environment which favors decaying. This results in prevention of tooth demineralization.
The high pH condition caused by xylitol sugar is not favorable for the cariogenic bacteria which are responsible for decaying. This results in fewer bacteria in the plaques and long-term exposure has an effect on which type of bacteria will prevail within the plaque. This also inhibits the growth of specific xylitol-sensitive bacteria strain. Since they cannot breakdown this sugar, they end up not reproducing and growing in population. The lack of fermentable sugars results in creation of anti-cavity effect.
The starvation effect created by this sugar prevents accumulation of cariogenic bacteria in the plaques. Long term xylitol exposure results in change of predominant cariogenic bacteria to xylitol-resistant strains from xylitol-sensitive. This xylitol-sensitive strain of bacteria cannot colonize the plaque since they have less adhering capabilities.
The less acidic condition in the dental plaque interface created by this sugar can initiate demineralization. Demineralization occurs when the plaque interface is at a pH of 5.5 or below since fewer bacteria live in the plaques. Studies have showed that demineralized tooth samples immersed in a solution containing 20% xylitol experienced a great remineralization degree. This is noted in the deep and middle tooth layers.
Can Nettle Leaves Help with Allergies?
July 12, 2011 12:48 PM
Nettle And Allergies
Nettle leaf is a traditional medication for excessive inflammation in many European countries. It is valued for its hollow hairs called trichomes, which work as a counter-irritant. In addition to its putative effect on allergic rhinitis or hay fever, it remains extensively used as a treatment for joint pain, muscle spasms, back ache, osteoarthritis, atopic eczema, gout, and other disorders induced by inflammation.
Urtica dioica is the plant species referred to as the common nettle or stinging nettle, from which nettle leaf is harvested from in general. It is an herbaceous shrub that grows up to 2 meters in height. It is botanically noted for its trichomes, which inject list of inflammatory agents into the skin upon contact. In alternative medicine, these organic compounds are processed to combat excessive inflammation.
Nettles enjoy a wide distribution in almost all continents, with the exception of Antarctica and South America. In particular, stinging nettle has been successfully naturalized in all regions outside the Frigid Zone. It prefers soils that retain moisture and receive high rainfall. Hence, it thrives well in tropical and subtropical regions. In temperate zones, it is often found in the wild and abandoned settlements.
Nettle leaf has had a centuries-old association with folk medicine of England, Germany, Sweden, and much of Northern Europe. It is mentioned in the Old English poem called Nine Herbs Charm, which describes the common nettle as a treatment for poison and infection. In Germany, herbal preparations that contain nettle extracts are among the leading adjuvant remedies for allergic rhinitis and joint pain.
Hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system in the form of allergies is a reaction to otherwise harmless substances called allergens. These reactions include eczema, hives, hay fever, asthma, anaphylaxis, insect bites, and even systemic allergic reactions. Modern herbalists have long employed nettle leaf for the prevention, amelioration, and cure of hay fever and related allergic reactions.
The hollow stinging hairs of nettle leaf are a natural source of organic compounds that are similar to the chemicals released by the body during allergic reactions, such as histamine and acetylcholine. It produces optimum results when applied directly, as is the case with topical creams and alcoholic tinctures. Allergies subside when these compounds are introduced to local tissues underneath the skin.
Extracts of nettle leaf contain phytochemicals that display anti-inflammatory activities when ingested. The exact mechanism of action is still under investigation. Based on initial results, researchers are positive that nettle leaf exerts an inhibitory effect on pro-inflammatory cell-signaling protein molecules known as cytokines, which are directly involved in hypersensitivity disorder, especially hay fever.
More importantly, nettle leaf has been observed to inhibit the transcription of tumor necrosis factor alpha, which is responsible for a diverse variety of inflammatory responses of cells and tissues. As a results, it downregulates the production of cytokines and interleukins incriminated in excessive inflammation during joint pain, back ache, food allergies, asthma attacks, and allergic rhinitis.
What are Homeopathic Remedies and How do They Work?
March 25, 2011 11:28 AM
Homeopathic remedies have been in use for over a century in treatment of diseases. Homeopathy is considered a forerunner of modern medicine, but today largely classified as a form of alternative medicine. Medications prepared by practitioners of homeopathy are still widely available. Moreover, there has been a resurgence of interest in homeopathy in the past few decades. Germany in particular grants the title Physician of Homeopathy after a training program of three years while other countries require professional training in more accepted conventional medicine.
Potentization and Succussion
Repertories are the primary source of information for practitioners of homeopathy. These reference books point to a process called potentization, which works on the principle of systematic dilution of substances in a solution. Homeopathic remedies administered today use distilled water or alcohol as major solvents, with proponents of this alternative medicine believing that water has the capability of retaining properties of substances even when the molecules of the substance are no longer present in the solution.
However, this effect is only achieved through succussion, the proper shaking of solution, which must be applied between each process of dilution. On the other hand, desirable dilutions of insoluble solids are possible to achieve by first reducing the size of the substance with the use of a mortar and a pestle. Potentization and succussion produce homeopathic remedies that are believed to display their well-documented potent pharmacological effects.
Law of Similars
Modern scholars consider Samuel Hahnemann to have single-handedly invented the alternative medicine practice of homeopathy. In fact, he coined the term homeopathy and outlined procedures known as homeopathic provings. He was a German physician who studied in several German universities and practiced conventional medicine before he developed the law of similars in response to medical practices of the time that are harmful in general, such as bloodletting. He gave up his medical practice amid the conviction that information on medicine was very limited and often conflicting.
All the homeopathic provings that followed the rise of homeopathy depends on the most important principle he called law of similars, which is believed to govern diseases and their treatment. Substances that produce symptoms similar to a known disease when taken by an individual in large amounts ought to bring about curative effects when taken in small amounts by an individual afflicted with the disease. Homeopathic repertories document the effects of a host of substances and their identified sources in a process called homeopathic proving in an effort to support the laws of similar.
Modern Homeopathic Remedies
The continued support for homeopathy comes from people who are seeking alternative forms of healing. Also, homeopathic remedies that follow standard preparation procedures of potentization and succussion have never been associated with any known adverse effects. While present-day doctors and medical professionals are particularly critical of homeopathic remedies, which they generally consider as placebo, they also believe that homeopathic remedies are the safest among all forms of alternative medicine.
Herbs For Depression
December 13, 2010 12:34 PM
Fight Depression with Natural Herbs
Before discussing treating depression with natural herbs we should first consider depression itself: what is it and what causes people to become depressed? Psychiatrists and psychologists will suggest a number of definitions although most experts agree that there are two forms of depression.
Causes of Depression
Exogenous depression comes about as a result of external factors such as bereavement, heavy debt, job loss, etc, while endogenous depression comes from within and is believed to be due to biochemical problems, including food allergies, hormonal changes, thyroid problems, nutritional deficiencies, particularly Vitamin B deficiency, and addictions. There are many other reasons for people becoming depressed, some of which can be established by the particular symptoms of the individual.
In many cases of depression the external factors are often easier to treat than those due to internal factors. Many exogenous causes of depression such as bereavement are alleviated through time, while causes such as job loss and debt can be resolved once the cause has been rectified: thus, if the patient is no longer in debt or is re-employed, the depression tends to disappear with the cause.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression is not diagnosed from a single symptom, but from a number of symptoms that can point to a person being clinically depressed and requiring treatment. Among the symptoms of depression are:
Prolonged periods of sadness or despair
Forms of Depression
Many normal people can suffer one or two of the above systems, and would not be diagnosed as depressed because of it. We can all get mood swings, feel a bit worthless now and again or be unable to concentrate or focus at times, but that does not mean we are clinically depressed.
Depression would not be diagnosed in a patient with just one of these symptoms but five or more likely would be. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders deem the patient suffering clinical depression if displaying 5 or more of the bottom 8 symptoms above for a month or more. This is believed to be the case with around 17 million Americans so it is a significant problem.
Manic depression is otherwise known as bipolar disorder, where patients have large mood swings from high and extreme hyperactivity and excitability to very low deeply depressive moods and is a clinical condition generally treated using drugs.
Treatment of Depression With Natural Herbs
The usual treatments are drugs that often have undesirable side effects; so many people are trying natural remedies instead. There are a number of herbs that can be used to treat depression, one of the most familiar being St. John's Wort. However, there are others, and here is a synopsis of each.
St. John's Wort
St. John's wort (hypericum perforatum) is likely the best known herbal treatment for depression. In fact, in Germany it is prescribed by doctors to children and adolescents for the treatment of mild depression and is available over the counter in many countries.
However, it can also be used in cases of severe depression, and a report in the Cochrane Database Review[8(4)] by K. Linde, M.M. Berner and L. Kriston in 2008 stated that of 29 separate tests carried out on a total of over 5,000 patients, the conclusion was that St. John's wort extracts were at least as good in treating severe depression with 5 times lower side-effects as tricyclic antidepressants and twice lower than the new selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).
It should be stated, however, that one trial on 340 subjects indicated no improvement over a placebo. However, the anti-depressive drug sertraline (Zoloft) was also shown to be no better than the placebo in this test, so some doubts must lie regarding its accuracy. Of all the herbal treatments, St. John's wort has had most testing carried out and it seems to be effective in treating mild to severe depression although not all experts are yet agreed.
Kava Kava Root
Kava kava can be used to treat depression and anxiety, largely due its content of kavalactones that are believed to increase the amount of a number of neurotransmitters in the blood, including the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. Kava kava root is mildly intoxicating, having much the same effect as alcohol, and can also reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
However, it is doubtful if its effects are permanent and so it may be less of a depression cure as a short-medium term treatment. Its effects are also variable on different people, some describing it as making them feel relaxed and 'dreamy', while others find it therapeutic and making them feel better in themselves.
Kava kava should not be taken without your doctor knowing about because there have been concerns about its effect on the liver if taken in excess. A European-wide ban was lifted about two years ago after testing found the risks of taking it to be very low. It has been used for centuries as an intoxicating drink on islands such as Fiji.
Passion flower has been used for centuries to treat anxiety, stress and depression, its active ingredients believed to be maltol and ethylmaltol that help to increase the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is one of the brain's key neurotransmitters and has been described by some as the brain's own 'Valium' supply.
Through the intervention of GABA, passion flower extract helps in reducing anxiety levels and makes you feel a lot calmer. If you suffer forms of depression that make you hyper or excitable, passion flower will help to reduce this and also helps to cure insomnia. It is a component of many natural sleeping pills.
These are just three natural substances that can be used to treat depression. However, you must inform your doctor or physician if you decide to take them since they may interfere with or change the effect of any antidepressant drug you are currently taking.
Call today for natural remedies for depression
October 28, 2009 11:39 AM
The horseradish plant is a perennial plant that is part of the Brassicaceae family, which includes mustard, wasabi, broccoli, and cabbages. Native to southeastern Europe and western Asia, the plant is popular around the world today. The horseradish plant grows up to five feet tall and is mainly cultivated for its large, white, tapered root. The intact horseradish root has hardly any aroma. However, when cut or grated, enzymes from the damaged plant cells break down to produce allylisothiocyanate, which often irritates the sinuses and eyes. Once grated, if the plant is not mixed with vinegar or used immediately, the root darkens and loses its pungency. It quickly becomes unpleasantly bitter when exposed to air and heat.
Horseradish has been cultivated since ancient times. The Delphic Oracle in Greek mythology told Apollo that horse radish was worth its weight in gold. Horseradish was known in Egypt by 1500 BC and has been used by Jews from Eastern Europe traditionally in Passover. The plant is discussed by Cato in his treatises on agriculture. It is thought that horseradish is the plant known as Wild Radish by the Greeks. Both the root and leaves of the horseradish plant were used as a medicine during the Middle Ages, with the root used as a condiment on meats in Germany, Scandinavia, and Britain. This herb was taken to North American during Colonial times. It is not certain as to where the name horseradish come from. Some believe that it derives by misinterpretation of the German Merettich as mare radish. Others think the name comes from the coarseness of the root. The common thought in Europe is that it refers to the old method of processing the root called hoofing, in which horses were used to stamp the root tender before grating it.
For at least two thousand years, horseradish has been cultivated. It was brought to America by early settlers and used to treat conditions such as pain from sciatic, colic, and intestinal worms. Horseradish provides antibiotic action that is recommended for respiratory and urinary infections. The volatile oil in horseradish has the ability to work as a nasal and bronchial dilator. Internally, it has been used to clear nasal passages, alleviate sinus problems, help with digestion, work as a diuretic, aid with edema and rheumatism, and cleanse various body systems. Also, horseradish has been used to stimulate digestion, metabolism, and kidney function. This herb helps promote stomach secretions to aid in digestion. Horseradish can be used as a compress for neuralgia, stiffness, and pain in the back of the neck. Additionally, this herb can be used as a parasiticide.
The root of the horseradish plant can be used to provide antibiotic, antineoplastic, antiseptic, bitter, caminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, hepatic, parasiticide, mild purgative, rubefacient, sialagogue, stimulant, and stomachic properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, and vitamins A, B-complex, and P. Primarily, horseradish is extremely beneficial in dealing with loss of appetite, circulation, coughs, edema, excessive mucus, sinus problems, internal and skin tumors, and worms.
Additionally, this herb is very helpful in treating arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, congestion, gout, jaundice, kidney problems, irritated membranes, neuralgia, palsy, rheumatism, skin conditions, water retention, and wounds. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by horseradish, please feel free to contact a representative from your local health food store with questions.
August 19, 2009 03:31 PM
Kombucha is also known as Manchurain tea or mushroom. It is not an official member of the fungi family. Actually, it is a symbiotic culture of genus Saccharomyces yeast and xylinum bacteria. Kombucha dates back as far as two thousands years in East Asia. Originally, it was used for healing in Japan, China, and Korea. Kombucha use spread with the beginning of trade. Merchants took the kombucha plant to Russia and then to Eastern Europe. Although it is not technically a fungus, it contains many similar healing properties. Because of this, it is often recommended along with members of the mushroom family.
This herb is usually placed in a nutrient solution of distilled water, black tea, and sugar. The process of brewing kombucha was introduced in Russia and Ukraine at the end of the 1800s. However, it did not become popular until the early 1900s. The kombucha culture is known locally as chayniy grib and the drink itself is referred to as grib, tea kvass, or simply kvass. Then, it undergoes chemical changes which make it beneficial for human consumption. The chemical reactions that occur in this process are very complex. The kombucha feeds on sugar, thus producing glucuronic acid, lactic acid, vitamins, amino acids, and some antibiotic solutions.
The healing properties are thought to be due to the production of glucuronic acid, B-complex vitamins, C vitamins, and lactic acid. Like all foods, there must be some care taken when preparing and storing kombucha, or else contamination may result. Keeping this herb safe and contamination-free is a concern to many home brewers. Key components of food safety when brewing kombucha include a clean environment, proper temperature, and low pH.
Russian studies have uncovered the presence of substances in the kombucha tea that contain antibiotic properties. The tea was found to prevent the growth and colonization of other yeasts and bacteria. The kombucha plant is also believed to help with a wide variety of conditions. It seems to have a detoxifying effect on the entire body, which makes it extremely beneficial for invigorating the whole body.
Research done in Germany led by Dr. Valentin Koehler found that kombucha has the ability to increase the function of the immune system. It does this by boosting levels of interferon. Kombucha contains many different cultures along with several organic acids, active enzymes, amino acids, and polyphenols. Due to the acidic fermentation process used in it’s brewing. Kombucha contains ethyl alcohol in amounts that vary from 0.5% to 1.5%. The range depends on the anaerobic brewing time and proportions of microbe. Commercial preparations of this herb are typically 0.5% in order to comply with distribution and safety procedures.
The entire kombucha plant is used to provide antibacterial, antibiotic, antifungal, and immuno-stimulant properties. Primarily, this herb is extremely beneficial in dealing with immune deficiencies and effects of toxins. In order to obtain the best results when supplementing with this, or any herb, it is important to consult your health care provider before beginning any regimen while on medications. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by kombucha, please feel free to consult a representative from your local health food store with questions.
Buckthorn Of The Sea
August 05, 2009 04:05 PM
Sea buckthorn is also known as sea berry or Siberian pineapple. It is a small shrub that can be found growing natively in a wild swath across Europe and Asia. This plant has been used by southeast Asians to treat various diseases for hundreds of years. The ancient Greeks are believed to have used the berries of the sea buckthorn plant in order to promote weight gain and shiny fur in horses.
After analyzing the orange berries of sea buckthorn, an abundance of vitamins C and E, carotenoids, flavonoids, glucose, fructose, several amino acids, and fatty acids have been found. The berries of this herb are used in order to produce juices, jams, liquors, and lotions. The oil that comes from the berries of sea buckthorn has been used to treat ailments that are related to inflammation. Included in these ailments are canker sores, esophagitis, cervicitis, peptic ulcers, and ulcerative colitis. Horticulturalists from the Soviet Union and East Germany came up with new varieties of sea buckthorn during the Cold War years that produce bigger berries and better nutrition.
Traditional Chinese medicine uses sea buckthorn to boost energy. Olympic athletes in the country have recently used sea-buckthorn-based sports drinks as part of their training. This herb is used in Russia in ointments to help shield cosmonauts from radiation damage while in orbit. The oil found in sea buckthorn contains high amounts of palmitoleic acid, which is a rare fatty acid that is found in skin fat. This fatty acid aids cell tissue and wound healing. Some U.S. cosmetic firms put this herb into their skin creams in order to provide protectant and anti-aging properties.
Sea buckthorn is recommended by herbalists in order to boost energy levels, promote wound healing, and shield the skin from the damage caused by ultraviolet rays. Some research on the wound-healing and tissue-protecting properties of this herb has provided positive results. The extract was shown to strengthen cardiac pump function and myocardial contractility in animal studies where dogs with heart failure were tested. The herb also seems to improve oxygen use in the hearts of dogs and animal heart cells in test tubes.
Generally, sea buckthorn oils are used externally for burns and other skin damage. They are also used internally for stomach and duodenal ulcers. Anecdotal reports of sea buckthorn extract have shown it being used to fight tumor growth, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
The berries of the sea buckthorn plant are used to provide anti-inflammatory properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are amino acids, carotenoids, fatty acids, flavonoids, fructose, glucose, and vitamins C and E. Primarily, sea buckthorn is extremely beneficial in treating burns, canker sores, cervicitis, colitis, lack of energy, esophagitis, skin protection, ulcers, and wounds. In order to obtain the best results when supplementing with this, or any herb, it is important to consult your health care provider before beginning any regimen while on medications. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by sea buckthorn, please feel free to consult a representative from your local health food store with questions.
June 08, 2009 10:39 AM
For thousands of years, blue vervain has been used as an herbal remedy. The Chinese used this herb to treat malaria, dysentery, and congestion. It was also used during the middle Ages to help cure plagues. Blue vervain was also used by Native Americans as a natural tranquilizer for treating nervous conditions, along with female problems. In Germany, modern research has been found to support the use of blue vervain for the nervous system and for pain relief.
Because of its bitter taste, vervain is used by herbalists to improve digestion. Additionally, this herb was used to treat people with depression and spastic pains in the gastrointestinal tract. Blue vervain was also used as a mild diaphoretic and for all manner of female reproductive system problems that are associated with melancholy or anxiety. Physicians in the United States during the early 20th century believed that vervain may be helpful for mild digestive problems. This herb also had a reputation of being a traditional remedy for stimulating the production of breast milk. Although the active constituents of vervain have not been thoroughly demonstrated, it is believed that glycosides such as verbenalin and acucubin, as well as a volatile oil may be the key contributors to its activity.
Additional research shows that blue vervain has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties that can help to relieve respiratory inflammation. These properties are also calming for coughs. This herb works to fight mucus, especially for coughs that are associated with colds. Dr. Edward E. Shook, a herbalist, recommended using blue vervain to treat all diseases of the spleen and liver. This herb is also used to restore circulation and alleviate menstrual symptoms, epilepsy, indigestion, and dyspepsia.
A vervain tea made from leaves and flowers can be prepared by adding one to two teaspoons to a pint of hot water. This is then left to steep, covered for ten to fifteen minutes. Doctors typically recommend that a person takes three cups each day. Because the taste of the tea is somewhat disagreeable, the majority of people prefer to take this extract in a tincture or pill form. A tincture of one to two teaspoons, three times daily, is also suggested to consume this extract.
No adverse effects of vervain have been reported to this date. However, vervain should be avoided during pregnancy. Even though it was used traditionally during the last two weeks of pregnancy to facilitate labor, if it is used during pregnancy, one should only do so under the guidance of a healthcare professional that is experienced in herbal medicine.
The entire herb is used to provide alterative, anti-inflammatory, antiperiodic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, expectorant, nervine, and purgative properties. The primary nutrients found in blue vervain include calcium, manganese, and vitamin C and E. Primarily, blue vervain is extremely beneficial in dealing with asthma, bronchitis, poor circulation, colds, colon problems, congestion, convulstions, coughs, fevers, flu, gastric disorders, indigestion, insomnia, liver disorders, lung congestion, nervous conditions, pneumonia, seizures, upset stomach, sore throat, uterine problems, and worms.
Additionally, this herb is extremely helpful in treating catarrh, constipation, diarrhea, dysentery, earaches, epilepsy, gallstones, headaches, kidney problems, malaria, menstrual symptoms, excessive mucus, pain, skin diseases, sores, and spleen ailments. For additional information on the many beneficial effects of blue vervain, please contact a representative from your local health food store. Always purchase name brands to ensure quality and purity of the product you buy.
*Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Blue vervain is not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease. Always consult with your professional health care provider before changing any medication or adding Vitamins to medications.
May 07, 2009 05:45 PM
L-carnitine is amino acid essential for the metabolism of fats into a form of energy necessary for extended aerobic activity. Originally discovered in Russia, and Germany a year later, the structural formulation of carnitine, as it is correctly known, was determined in 1927, although it is physiological and biochemical activity was not understood until the 1960s.
The amino acid is biosynthesized in the liver and kidneys from lysine and methionine. The vitamins niacin, B6, C and iron are essential for this reaction to take place. However, the supply of L-carnitine has to be supplemented by the diet, good sources being dairy products, red meat, nuts and seeds, pulses and fruits such as apricots, bananas and avocado. Most of the L-carnitine supply of the body is stored within the muscle tissue. However, it is not unusual for conditions to arise making it difficult for the body to obtain all the carnitine required.
L-carnitine enables fatty acids to be transported into the mitochondria, where cell metabolism occurs. The biochemistry is discussed below, although in simple terms the amino acid allows body fats, in the form of triglycerides, to be made more readily available for the generation of energy required for extended exertion. In this way, body fats can be used for energy and the supplies of glycogen stored by the liver can be retained for emergency use.
By providing the energy for endurance and stamina in this way, carnitine makes use of an otherwise unavailable energy source, and has the added benefit of reducing body fat stores and reducing strain on the heart.
Although there is generally a plentiful supply of L-carnitine available in a healthy diet, supplementation can ensure that a deficiency does not occur. Supplements are available in the form of L-carnitine or its acetylated derivative, acetyl L-carnitine.
In order for fatty acids to be used in the production of energy, their long-chain acetyl groups have to get inside the mitochondria where they are oxidized to the acetate to be used for the production of energy via the Citric Acid or Krebs cycle.
In order for the biochemistry to take place, fatty acids must be rendered suitable for binding to the carnitine molecule. The chemical grouping with a good affinity for L-carnitine is the acetyl or acetyl group, available in the molecule acetyl coenzyme A (CoA). The free fatty acid, therefore, is attached to coenzyme-A by means of a thioester bond, catalyzed by means of the enzyme fatty acetyl-CoA synthetase. The reaction is then completed by means of in organic pyrophosphatase.
In this way, the fatty acid in the form of an acetyL-carnitine derivative can be transported through the mitochondrial wall. This transportation takes place by means of several steps. These are:
1. As explained, the acetyl-CoA is attached to L-carnitine by means of the enzyme carnitine acetyltransferase I. This enzyme is conveniently located on the outer mitochondrial membrane.
2. The enzyme carnitine-acetylcarnitine translocase helps the acetyL-carnitine through the membrane.
3. Another enzyme, carnitine acetyltransferase II, located on the inner mitochondrial membrane, converts the acetyL-carnitine to acetyl-CoA, liberating the carnitine which returns to the muscle mass.
L-carnitine is the only known substance that allows fatty acids to cross the mitochondrial membrane, and therefore deficiencies must be avoided.
Another way in which carnitine is used in energy production is in the Krebs cycle itself. Part of this cycle involves the conversion of guanine diphosphate to the higher energy form guanine triphosphate. In this way energy can be stored in much the same way as it is in the conversion of ADP to ATP. Succinyl CoA is involved in this conversion, and one of the by-products of it is a corresponding succinate, that is then converted to a fumarate by the action of L-carnitine fumarate. Carnitine, therefore, has two parts to play in the production of long-term energy from the fatty acids contained in body fats.
Since the fatty acid triglycerides contained in body fats are a major source of energy in the heart and skeletal muscles, it is easy to understand how L-carnitine is believed to lead to the increased energy levels required for stamina and staying power. A major reason for its effect on longer-term or extended energy requirements is that in enabling stored body fats to be used for immediate and longer-term energy requirements, L-carnitine allows emergency glycogen stores to be retained for use once immediate fatty acid supplies or those of carnitine have been depleted, and so allows the energy supply to be extended even farther. Research has also suggested that the amino acid can possibly be used to treat liver and kidney disease, diabetes and chronic fatigue syndrome.
As with many supplements, the question is often asked how does L-carnitine work in practice as opposed to the claims made for it by the supplement providers? Recent research indicates mixed results, but sufficient to justify its use. It is generally accepted that a supplement is necessary when there is a deficiency, but once that deficiency has been corrected further intake is unnecessary. However, it is also believed that during long and extended periods of exercise a carnitine deficiency does occur as L-carnitine is used up, and the supplement is necessary to ensure sufficient energy supply throughout the period of exercise.
There has also been a case reported in the Journal of Clinical Neurology (Negoro, Tsuda, Kato & Morimatsu, 1995) where a deficiency, caused by anorexia nervosa damaging the liver to the extent that it was unable to synthesize L-carnitine, was remedied by means of an oral supplement. Studies on endurance athletes have been mixed, ranging from no effect to L-carnitine being found to promote weight loss.
Carnitine has no unknown harmful side effects, and has been studied for medical applications other than as an energy supplement. For example it possesses extensive antioxidant properties, and can be used as a supplement against oxidative stress and the prevention of the lipid peroxidation that is a precursor to atherosclerosis.
Its use in osteoporosis and reducing bone mass is also being studied. The concentration of L-carnitine diminishes with age, and affects fatty acid metabolism in a number of tissues. Bones are particularly affected since they require continuous reconstruction. Without detailing the biochemistry involved in this, administration of carnitine helps to reduce the speed by which this occurs. Trials are so far been carried out only on animals.
In studies on both healthy volunteers and patients with type II diabetes, L-carnitine was found to improve storage of glucose in both groups, although its oxidation increased only in the group with diabetes. Other studies carried out include improving the function of neurotransmitters in the brains of elderly patients and in the treatment of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, and other neurological disorders.
In conclusion then, although the jury is out on the use of L-carnitine is an energy-giving or weight-loss supplement, it appears to be effective where the body's stores of carnitine could be depleted such as with long-term exercise, natural deficiencies or deficiencies caused through age. It is also under study in the treatment of various medical conditions. On balance, it would appear that the prospective benefits of L-carnitine render it worthy of use.
March 26, 2009 03:13 PM
Passion flower has been long known and appreciated for its nervine abilities. The Aztecs used this herb as a sedative as well as for pain. From 1916 until 1936, it was listed in the National Formulary as a sedative. During the early twentieth century, passionflower was included in many over-the-counter sedative and sleep aids. Today, passionflower is available as an over-the-counter sedative in Germany. It is also used in many German homeopathic medicines to treat pain, insomnia, and nervous restlessness. Professional herbalists use passionflower today in combination with other calming herbs to help treat insomnia, tension, and other health problems that are related to anxiety and nervousness.
Passion flower is a perennial climbing vine that grows to a length of nearly ten meters. Each leaf on the passionflower has petals that vary in color from white to pale red. It possesses a fruit that is orange-colored, multi-seeded, and egg-shaped. This fruit is edible, containing a sweetish yellow pulp. According to folklore, the passionflower was given its name because it resembles the crown of thorns worn by Jesus during the crucifixion.
Recent research on passion flower has concluded that it is also useful for insomnia, fatigue, spasms, and nervous tension. The majority of the research done on this herb has focused on its sedative action and found good results. Studies have even found that an extract of passionflower can reduce locomotor activity and prolong sleeping. Some additional tests indicate that this herb has pain reliving abilities as well as sedative effects. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties which make it useful for those who are suffering from arthritis.
This plant contains passiflorine, which is thought to be the active ingredient, as its principles are similar to that of morphine. This herb is even occasionally referred to as the nonpoisonous, safe opium of the natural physician. It is extremely soothing to the nervous system. It is a good way to treat hysteria, anxiety, and hyperactivity. This herb possesses the ability to depress the central nervous system and also lower high blood pressure. Herbal combinations that contain valerian and passionflower are considered to be very useful as a natural tranquilizer. Additionally, passionflower contains calcium and magnesium, both of which are essential for the nervous system. This herb has been proven safe for both children and the elderly.
Passion flower remedies are made from either fresh or dried flowers as well as other ground parts of the plant. Whole and raw plant materials are used. The flowering shoots, which grow 10 to 15 centimeters above the ground, are harvested after the first fruits have matured. They are then either air-dried or hay dried. Passion flower is available as an infusion, tea, liquid extract, or tincture. For adults taking an infusion, the recommended amount is 2 to 5 grams of dried herb three times a day.
Fluid extracts should be taken three times a day, using about 10 to 30 drops, while a tincture should also be taken three times a day using 10 to 60 drops. For children, the recommended adult dose should be adjusted to account for the child’s weight. Since most herbal dosages for adults are calculated on a 150 pound adult, a child who weighs 50 lbs should receive an appropriate dose of passionflower of 1/3 of an adult dosage. Generally speaking, passionflower is considered to be safe and nontoxic. Passionflower should not be taken if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Passion flower can be found at your local and internet health food store and available in capsule, tablet, and powder form. When looking to purchase this supplement, stick with name brands such as Solaray and Source Naturals. Name brand companies back their product for any reason and put in pure quality ingredients in each bottle.
January 03, 2009 12:27 PM
Calcium is the most damaging mineral that is involved in the calcification of the blood vessel system. Ionic calcium, which is a floating form of calcium, is used by the body in daily functions like muscle contraction and relaxation, nerve impulse transmission, blood coagulation, and others. Calcium is a mineral that is capable of forming complexes with other components, such as proteins. These complexes can eventually lead to the formation of lesions, plaque, and the overall hardening of the blood vessels.
There are four different components that are found mainly in arterial walls which often combine with calcium. Elastin, a type of protein that makes up a good amount of the blood vessel wall, is the substance that allows the arterial wall to be elastic. During the process leading to atherosclerosis, elastin often forms complexes with ionic calcium, which results in a loss of elasticity.
Collagen, another type of protein that works with elastin to make up the bulk of arterial walls, forms complexes with ionic calcium, which leads to hardening of the blood vessel. MPCs, which are carbohydrates that contain a number of agents including amino acids, uronic acids, and chondroitin sulfate, are found within the arterial wall where they form complexics with ionic calcium to promote the formation of atherosclerosis. Beta lipoproteins and pre-beta lipoproteins transport a fatty acid and glycerol combination for storage in the liver, muscles, and other areas of the body.
Although beta and pre-beta lipoproteins form ionic calcium complexes and initiate the onset of arteriosclerosis, there are lipoproteins that do not form complexes with calcium, but interferes with the formation of ionic calcium complexes instead. It is clear that ionic calcium plays a huge role in the formation of arterial plaque and the actual hardening of arteries, due to the complexes it forms with components of the arterial wall. Because EDTA effectively ties up calcium complexes so that it can be eliminated through the urine, it is also clear why EDTA chelation therapy is a successful way to reduce the levels of atherosclerotic plaque and reverse the hardened condition that so often occurs in the artery walls.
EDTA chelation therapy was patented in Germany in 1930 and first used in medicine in 1941 to help with lead poisoning. It wasn’t patented in the United States until 1949, with several papers being published on its therapeutic effects following in the early 1950s. EDTA chelation therapy has been used in the U.S. to treat atherosclerosis since 1952, but was also used for lead poisoning and heavy metal toxicity before that. After its initial use for lead and heavy metal poising, it was noted that EDTA resulted in the reduction of severe pressure and pain in and around the chest, which led to the discovery of its abilities to treat atherosclerosis.
Since then, thousands of scientific articles have been written concerning the many aspects of EDTA chelation therapies as well as its safety, which has been proven by its use on thousands of patients in over three million intravenous treatments by over one thousand doctors in the last fifty years. Not one fatality has been documented when established protocol has been followed, while the FDA approved the new drug application for EDTA without requiring any additional safety studies to determine its safe use. Have you tried oral EDTA?
September 05, 2008 09:02 AM
Bilberry has been used most commonly for centuries as a food, with the English traditionally eating bilberries with a rich cream. Large amounts of bilberries were imported annually from Holland, Germany and Scandinavia for use by pastry cooks and restaurant keepers to make jams, liqueurs, wines, and desserts up until World War II. Bilberry’s use is not only limited to food, as the juice of bilberry yields a clear, dark blue or purplish dye that has often been used to color wool in England.
Over the years, the bilberry fruit has gained recognition for its medicinal properties. Decoctions of the leaves and bark of the root have been used for a topical application to treat mouth and throat ulcers. Syrups have also been made from a mixture of the berries and honey to treat intestinal issues.
Additionally, the berries are very rich in vitamin C, with their astringent action explaining their historical use for diarrhea and dysentery. Many believe that the berries contain a pigment that can kill many strains of bacteria. Bilberry fruit and tea that are dried have been used to treat nausea as well as indigestion. Along with the above, other traditional applications of bilberry include inflammation of the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat, eyestrain or fatigue, and as a circulatory tonic. The leaves and berries have also been used for a homeopathic treatment of diabetes.
One of the main reasons that bilberry’s medicinal value came to attention in the Western world was because of its legendary ability to improve the nighttime vision of the British Royal Air force pilots during World War II. After consuming bilberry, it was found that they experienced improved visual acuity, making it easier to carry our nighttime bombing raids. It was also found that their eyes could adjust to darkness quicker and their vision was able to better correct after the effects of prolonged glare.
In the proceeding years, scientific research found that bilberry offered a wide range of benefits for both vision and other vascular disorders. French studies found that bilberry supplementation significantly enhanced the ability to adjust for glare and darkness. Bilberry can help to prevent compromised vision for anyone who is susceptible to eyestrain. In the last few decades, more studies have confirmed the medicinal value of bilberry for a variety of eye disorders. Bilberry is routinely used by European medical practitioners for patients with cataracts, venous insufficiency, visual disorders, peptic ulcers, capillary fragility, and even dysmenorrheal.
Finally, bilberry has a great effect on the activity of many enzymes that participate in inflammatory responses. Those who bruise easily or have trouble with capillary weakness can benefit from the anthocyanidin content of bilberry. These anthocyanidins offer many actions including: stimulating the production of collagen; protecting existing collagen stores in the connective tissue; preventing the formation and release of inflammatory compounds including histamine, prostaglandins, and leukotrines; preventing certain enzyme reactions that occur as a result of inflammatory conditions; and scavenging for free radicals to reduce cellular damage from oxidizing agents.
May 01, 2008 02:45 PM
Bromelain consists of two enzymes that digest proteins, otherwise known as proteases or proteolytic enzymes. These enzymes are obtained from different parts of the plant, one from the stem and the other from the fruit. It also includes protease inhibitors, acid phosphatase, peroxidase and calcium.
First used as a supplement in 1959, bromelain is particularly popular in Germany, where a lot of the recent research has been carried out. Because the stem enzyme is in the greatest amount, eating pineapple will not give a great deal of bromelain, and you will have to take the supplement which is extracted from the stem in order to get the greatest benefits.
Bromelain has several therapeutic effects on the body, and is a good aid to digestion. The enzyme can boost the digestive processes and so reduce the incidence of problems such as heartburn, acid reflux and any other condition caused by the incomplete digestion of foods. It does this by breaking down proteins so they are more easily digested.
In fact its potency is sometimes measured in GDUs (Gelatin Digesting Units), gelatin being a common protein that is easily used for the measurement of bromelain activity. It is also measured in MCU (Milk Clotting Units), since bromelain can also be used to clot milk, and a standardized dose should contain 2 MCU per milligram. The dosage to use depends a great deal on the condition being treated, but a good general average for digestive problems is 500 mg three times daily.
Bromelain works best at an optimum pH of 4.5 – 5.5 and can therefore help to balance the pH in its environment. It is extremely important to the immune system that the pH of the body is balanced and controlled to within certain limits, and bromelain can help to achieve that. In helping to reduce the excessive acidity caused by poor digestion, a balanced pH of the stomach is also maintained, helping to reduce the feeling of nausea, common with some digestive defects. The overall result of bromelain supplement is to help to maintain a better digestive system and ease the discomfort of many people for whom a meal is frequently not the pleasure it should be.
Bromelain is also an anti-inflammatory, and used for temporary relief of the inflammation caused by surgical procedures, arthritis and various injuries and forms of disease It is commonly used for the treatment of sports injuries and also immediately after surgery to reduce the risk of inflammation. It appears to have an inhibiting effect of the production of pro-inflammatory metabolites in the body, although the mechanism by which it works is not yet fully understood.
In fact many of the therapeutic benefits of bromelain have been show to be only partially due to its proteolytic activity, and it is now believed that there are also as yet unidentified non-protein factors present in bromelain that contribute to these forms of health benefit. The biochemistry of bromelain has yet to be fully characterized.
Notwithstanding that, the substance has been recommended for the treatment of a wide range of connected conditions, such as gout, arthritis, hemorrhoids, ulcerative colitis, autoimmune disorders, hay fever and sinusitis. It is particularly useful where there is pain, where tissues have become swollen and when tissue repair is needed. It appears to inhibit pain-inducing prostaglandins and is also believed in some way to induce the biochemical production of other prostaglandins that have an anti-inflammatory effect.
All of this knowledge has come as a result of studies carried out on the biochemical activity of bromelain, but have not yet been proved and is indicative of the lack of biochemical knowledge on this substance and the chemicals it contains. What have been demonstrated, however, are its effects on platelets and blood clots in arteries.
It appears to do this by the inhibition of the formation of high levels of fibrinogen from which clots are made, and also inhibits the aggregation of blood platelets and their ability to stick to the endothelial cells of blood vessels, particularly the arteries. The fibrin that is produced from fibrinogen not only promotes blood clotting but is also associated wit the retention of fluid. It is a protein, and the proteolytic effect of bromelain also breaks this down.
Bromelain therefore works in a number ways to reduce fluid retention, prevent blood clotting and inhibit the aggregation of blood platelets on artery walls. The measurable effect of this is the thinning of the blood that such activity promotes. It is logical that if fibrin contributes to the viscosity of blood, then its destruction will result in thinner blood, and hence lower blood pressure.
It is also used in the treatment of burns, where it helps to remove the dead skin that can delay recovery after third degree burns. It also appears to promote the absorption of many antibiotics, which again helps in recovery.
Bromelain is relatively safe to use with few side effects, although, curiously, among the side effects are some conditions it is also used to treat. Among these are nausea and allergic reactions, along with diarrhea and excessive menstrual flow. One of its successes has been in the control of menstrual pain.
Bromelain has been proposed for cancer therapy, its potential use being recommended due to its effect of the adhesion of cells, its regulation of the immune function and its effect on the immunosuppressive cytokine TGF-beta that is involved in several types of cancer and their metastasis (spread to other parts of the body). However, a lot more work is needed on this for definite conclusions to be drawn.
On a more practical note, the effect of bromelain on proteins is put to use as a steak tenderizer. If the product is sprinkled in powdered form onto meat, and then forked into the tissue, the enzymes will break down the protein of the meat and make it tender when cooked. However, don’t overdo it or you will end up eating a meaty mush more akin to a soft meatloaf than a good steak!
All in all, bromelain is a useful supplement for many medical conditions, and does to food in your stomach what it does to steak on the plate. It is generally used in supplement form because the active enzyme is not in a high enough concentration in the fruit itself, but in the stem from which it is extracted after the fruit has been harvested. It is also easier to standardize a supplement than a fruit.
April 29, 2008 10:49 AM
Butterbur extract is taken mainly from the rhizome, root and leaves of the butterbur, a member of the daisy family. They are very hardy and have creeping underground rhizomes and large leaves like those of rhubarb. Another name given to it is the sweet Coltsfoot, and they generally grow in the temperate climates of Europe, North Africa and South west Asia. They like damp conditions, specifically marshes and ditches, and also riverbanks where there are always plentiful supplies of moisture.
It has been used by Native Americans for headaches and inflammation, and has been shown to be an effective remedy for hay fever and to provide relief from painful menstrual cramps. Butterbur has also been used throughout the middle Ages to treat fever and the plague, and has been recorded in the seventeenth century as being used for asthma, wounds and coughs. However, one of its most important applications is in restore bladder function in the incontinent and semi-incontinent.
Urinary incontinence is typified by an unusually high frequency of urination – more than 8 times a day, an immediate strong urge to pass water or leaking and involuntary urination. Any two of these three indicates urinary incontinence. As people age their bladders become smaller, and by definition the periods between urination will reduce. This does not, however, suggest that bladder size is the cause of urinary incontinence.
Urination is caused by the contraction of the smooth layered muscle that surrounds the bladder, called the detrusor, a contraction in turn caused by neurons both in the brain and in the detrusor itself. This naturally contracts and expands according to the volume of urine in the bladder, and once the bladder is about half full the brain will tell you that the detrusor is ready to contract to expel the urine. However, if the time is not convenient, the cortex will suppress this desire until a more convenient time.
In incontinence, the desire is suppressed but the neurons still fire to contract the detrusor, expelling urine at inconvenient moments. Butterbur contains the sesquiterpenes petasin and isopetasin, which are known to reduce spasms in smooth muscle tissue and in vascular walls. It can therefore be used to control the involuntary spasms that cause urine leakage or expulsion against the patient’s wishes. These sesquiterpenes are at highest concentration in the roots of the plant.
The effect that the sesquiterpenes have in inhibiting the synthesis of leukotriene in leukocytes tends to support this effect, since leukotrienes can cause contraction of vascular and smooth muscle tissue. Not only this, but the spasmolytic effect could also be explained by the inhibition of cellular calcium caused by the petasin isomers.
Many studies have indicated that the effectiveness of butterbur extract is also useful in the prevention of migraines. There has been a lot of research carried out on the use of butterbur extract on migraine sufferers, and the effective dose appears to about 75 mg twice daily. There is little evidence of it being a cure but as a prophylactic there appears no doubt of its efficacy: there have been too many positive results against placebos for its effect to be deniable.
It is significant that leukotriene can cause constriction of the small blood vessels in the veins, and so affect the flow of blood. Butterbur, in inhibiting its biochemical production, helps to keep these blood vessels open. Lekotrienes are also important components of inflammation, and altogether it appears that whatever the real cause of migraine, the petasin isomers in butterbur have an effect in inhibiting its initiation. Add to that the potential reduction in calcium content that can cause blood vessels to become less flexible, and the argument for its effectiveness is both irrefutable and well explained.
In one example of such a double blind study that is representative of many, a group of patients given 50 mg butterbur extract twice a day for twelve weeks experienced a 60% reduction in the frequency of attacks, a reduction in the severity of the attacks they did have, and a reduction in the length of the attacks. Although the vascular theory of the cause of migraine is no longer supported, maintenance of the vascular system appears to at least reduce the likelihood of attacks.
The effect of butterbur on asthma and other allergic reactions is also well documented. This again is due to its anti-spasmodic properties and inhibitory effect on the inflammatory immune response through the inhibition of leukotriene synthesis and the consequent positive effect on the metabolism of prostaglandin. Prostaglandins also constrict vascular smooth muscle cells, regulate the mediation of the inflammatory response and constrict general smooth muscle cells. All of these can lead a to a variety of disorders cause by smooth muscle spasms in additional to urinary incontinence, such as menstrual cramps, liver and gastrointestinal disorders and asthmatic conditions.
In one study of allergic rhinitis, administration of butterbur extract appeared to result in a reduction in the histamine and leukotriene content of nasal fluids and no difference was noticed between this treatment and histamine treatment. This was a useful study because histamines causes drowsiness and butterbur can be used as a substitute for histamine without the sedative effect. A study in Germany in 1993 has shown that the stomach ulceration caused by the anti-inflammatory medications for arthritis was reduced by the administration of butterbur extract
Cetirizine is a commonly prescribed prescription treatment for allergic conditions, and studies comparing that with butterbur demonstrated them to be equally effecting in reducing the symptoms typical of allergic reactions such as sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion. 50% of the patients in the group took each and there was no difference in results. Again it was explained by the petasin limiting the production of leukotriene and histamine, both of which are produced by the immune response and promote mucous secretions and inflammation. They also constrict airways that can be serious to asthma sufferers
These studies are simply providing scientific evidence and explanations for the tradition use of this plant for such conditions. Butterbur has been used for centuries to treat such conditions all over Western Europe, and once again the use of traditional medicine has been supported by modern investigative techniques.
Natural Sweeteners: Which One Should You Take?
December 09, 2007 03:23 PM
There are many natural sweeteners to choose from if you want to avoid sugar, but don’t want any of the artificial sweeteners over which there are a few questions. You can choose from xylitol, luo han, stevia and others, but before discussing these, let’s have a look at the problems with sugar, artificial sweeteners and the American sugar industry.
Sugar as most people know it originates either from sugar cane or sugar beet, though by far the biggest American industry is in the cane. There are many different types of sugar, though that obtainable from cane sugar is sucrose. Sucrose is a disaccharide and carbohydrate, stored by plants as a reserve energy source to be used when needed. Humans cannot directly use sucrose, and it is metabolized in the body to glucose which needs the hormone insulin to help convert it into energy.
Insulin is produced in the pancreas, and a lack of it, or the body’s failure to use it properly, is referred to as diabetes. There are two types of diabetes:
Type 1: A total lack or deficiency of insulin due to the pancreas producing insufficient quantities of insulin, or even none at all. This is often seen in young people and is generally cause by the immune system attacking the insulin-producing sells in the pancreas. The treatment for type 1 diabetes is to introduce insulin to the blood, normally by means of injections, plenty exercise and the adoption of a high carbohydrate low fat diet.
Type 2: This is strongly associated with obesity and weight, and is due either to insufficient insulin production by the pancreas (but not as deficient as for Type 1 diabetes) or an inability of the cells of the body to properly use insulin. Type 2 diabetes does not always require insulin injections, and can be treated by exercise, diet and weight control. However, there are occasions where insulin injections are also required. It tends to affect people older than those with Type 1 diabetes and 90% of cases are of this type.
Both types, however, are connected with an excess of glucose in the blood, into which most sugars are converted. A diet low in sucrose will go a long way towards helping people that suffer from either type of diabetes, and control of carbohydrate intake should include a reduction in the intake of sucrose in the form or beet or cane sugar. This accepted, then if you need a sweetener, a saccharide free natural sweetener would appear to be the logical choice.
You could opt for a synthetic sweetener, but they also have their problems. There is evidence that saccharin could be a carcinogen, and ‘aspartame’ disease is not a myth. The other artificial sweeteners also have sufficient questions that natural sweeteners would appear to be the obvious choice. But which? That is the question. Let’s have a look at some and check out their pros and cons.
The first is Stevia. This is a South American herb that is 400 times sweeter than sucrose and yet is very low in calories and does not affect diabetics. Used throughout most of the world, it has not been approved by the FDA as a food additive due mainly, it would appear, to lobbying by the American sugar corporations. This is understandable, since mass substitution of sugar by stevia in processed foods is entirely possible, but would cost the sugar corporations billions.
However, it is available to purchase from health food stores, and does not appear to possess the problems that aspartame does. Unlike that sweetener, it can be used in baking and cooking, and is ideal for diabetics and people suffering from yeast infections such as candida. Such infections are aggravated by sugar in the colon, since yeasts love sugar, but they cannot survive on stevia. The safety of stevia has been proven through hundreds of years of popular use without any problems.
However, there are others. Luo Han Guo is a sweet Chinese fruit of which extracts are marketed as a natural sweetener. The plant it comes from is the Momordica grosvenori, a member of the cucumber squash family that grows in the mountainous areas of southern China. The sweeteners it contains are called mogrosides that are terpene glycosides, of which there are five different forms, the main one being termed mogroside-5.
The extract is available in the form of a powder consisting of around 80% mogrosides, and possesses around 250% of the sweetness of sucrose. This, too, can be used in cooking; because it is stable to heat and contains about 2% of the calories of ordinary sugar (one half teaspoon is equivalent to 25 teaspoons sugar). You can help 50 medicines go down for the same calories of getting one down using sugar!
Not only that but, like stevia, there are no known side effects. It has been used for many centuries in Chinese medicine in the treatment of gastrointestinal conditions and conditions of the respiratory tract. Unlike natural sweeteners, luo han has been found to be useful in helping to manage diabetes since it does not cause insulin levels to rise and are not involved in energy production, so have no effect on your weight. The mogrosides from luo han are also under study as inhibitors of certain tumors, and might be able to inhibit skin tumor growth. Other possible medical advantages include helping to reduce atherosclerosis and heart disease, so would appear to be a useful sweetener to use in your coffee!
Finally, xylitol. It was during World War II that Finnish scientists rediscovered xylitol that had been previously used in Germany as a sweetener in the late nineteenth century. The sugar shortage resurrected this substance that can metabolize without the need for insulin.
Xylitol is a substance that is found in some fruits and vegetables and also in corn cobs. In fact, it is a product that appears in animal metabolism, and so is perfectly safe. It is known to help support the immune system, and to help reduce the effects of aging. It possesses antibacterial properties due to its 5-carbon ring and has been approved by the FDA. Xylitol can replace sugar in most of its domestic uses, including in baking and as a natural sweetener. It is also used extensively in chewing gum as a sweetener that does not cause dental cavities due the acid caused by bacterial attack on the sugar.
However, one use to which xylitol cannot be put, nor any of the other natural sweeteners mentioned here, is in fermentation. Try these for your wine or beer and you will be very disappointed at the low alcohol level of your brew! This is also, however, one of the benefits of xylitol: it cannot feed the yeasts that cause candida or any other yeast infection. Although it is a saccharide, it is the same as the others in this respect.
So, which of these natural sweeteners should you take? The choice is yours since each has its own benefits with very few disadvantages and certainly no recorded side effects that we know of. Use stevia for superior sweetening effects, and make up a concentrated solution of it in water for your cooking. Use luo han if you have gastrointestinal problems, and use xylitol if you want fresher breath and to protect your teeth.
Use none for brewing or winemaking, and use any of them if you are diabetic. The choice is yours. These sweeteners are available at your local or internet health food store.
Peppermint Oil for IBS
March 24, 2007 11:01 AM
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a painful and frequently frustrating disorder of the intestines that’s often difficult to treat. Fortunately, there are scientifically studied natural products that effectively reduce the distressing symptoms of IBS.
Q. What is IBS?
A. IBS causes crampy pain, gassiness, bloating, and alterations in bowel habits. IBS is termed a functional disorder, because when the colon is examined, there is no visible sign of disease. While IBS causes significant pain and distress, no actual damage is occurring in the intestines.
There is a wide variability in IBS. Symptoms may be mild and fairly well tolerated. Or, the pain, discomfort, and bowel dysfunction may be disabling, limiting social interactions, employment, or travel.
While some individuals with IBS have diarrhea (frequent, loose stools with an urgent need to move the bowels), others have constipation (hard, infrequent stools that are difficult to pass). And, still others may experience both. Individuals with IBS also may have painful abdominal cramps and feel an urgent need to move the bowels, but are unable to do so.
A. The small intestine receives digestive material from the stomach and delivers it to the large intestine (colon). About two quarts (2,000 ml) of digestive material enter the colon from the small intestine every day. The colon absorbs water and salts from the material, which is progressively moved through the colon. This progressive movement continues until most of the fluid and salts are absorbed into the body and stool is formed. The stool passes to the left side of the colon, where it is stored until a bowel movement occurs.
Because researchers haven’t been able to find actual damage in the colon, it once was suggested that individuals with IBS have emotional problems or are overly susceptible to stress. While stress may cause symptoms of IBS to intensify, it doesn’t cause the condition.
Recent study has determined the colon muscle of an individual with IBS spasms after only mild stimulation. It’s thought the symptoms of IBS are produced by hyperactivity of the intestines. In other words, the intestines of individuals with IBS are more reactive to stressors and diet than usual. Almost everyone has experienced abdominal queasiness in response to everyday stress or certain foods. This may result in a brief bout of diarrhea or an upset stomach. However, this response is exaggerated in individuals with IBS.
Q. How prevalent is IBS?
A. IBS is very common. In fact, it’s one of the most frequent problems seen by family physicians. It’s the most common disorder diagnosed by gastroenterologists (physicians specializing in the treatment of digestive disorders). The overall prevalence rates range from 10% to 20% of the general population in most industrialized countries. As a result, the pain and disabling symptoms associated with IBS result in significant socioeconomic costs, as wall as reduction in quality of life for many individuals.
A. Normal bowel function varies from person to person. Some people move their bowels daily, while others may only have two to three stools a week. A normal bowel movement is soft, formed, and is easily passed without cramping or pain.
IBS, however, causes abdominal cramps and pain, which are often severe and disabling. Bowel movements may be irregular and alternate between diarrhea and constipation. The diarrhea may be quite loose and watery. Mucous may be passed. There is often much straining, urgency, and feeling of incomplete evacuation (emptying). Abdominal bloating and passing of gas is common. Nausea, lack of appetite, heartburn, and belching may also be present. Sleep may be disrupted resulting in fatigue and lack of energy. Understandably, persons with IBS often feel anxious and depressed.
Diagnosis of IBS is usually based on the continuous presence or recurrence of these symptoms for at least three months. Other intestinal conditions must be ruled out. These include Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, inflammatory conditions of the stomach or pancreas, ulcers, infectious disease, or gastroesphageal reflux disease.
Q. Are there clinically demonstrated natural alternatives to the over-the-counter drugs prescribed by my doctor?
A. Yes, both enteric-coated peppermint oil and clown’s mustard (in combination with other herbs) have significant scientific research behind them. Both have been demonstrated to benefit individuals with IBS.
Q. What is clown’s mustard and what does it do?
A. The scientific name for clown’s mustard is Iberis amara. Other names for this herb are wild candytuft and bitter candytuft. Clown’s mustard is a white-flowering plant from Spain, where it grows in dry soil on hillsides and in cornfields. It is also grown in Britain, France, and the United States. Iberis amara is a member of the Brassicaceae family. Iberis refers to its place of origin, the Iberian Peninsula. Amara means bitter. The key components of clown’s mustard are glycosides and flavonoids that have specific actions on gastrointestinal tract tone.
Q. Is there scientific evidence that clown’s mustard benefits people with IBS?
A. There has been very impressive research on clown’s mustard (in combination with other herbs). And, it has been used with great success in Germany for many years to treat IBS and other gastrointestinal diseases.
In a study of an herbal combination containing clown’s mustard, 20 patients were given the herbal combination for three to 32 days. They all had been diagnosed with chronic functional disorders for at least one to 20 years. The symptoms the patients experienced included pressure and pain in the abdomen, belching, heartburn, vomiting, nausea, fullness, lack of appetite, constipation, and diarrhea. The patients have been treated for their problems with a variety of antacids, anti-spasmodic agents, and motility-inducing substances. For the purposes of the study, the patients stopped taking these medications and received treatment only with the herbal combination.
Abdominal pressure and pain in the abdomen was the most common of all the experienced symptoms, with 11 of the patients rating it as severe. After six days of treatment, only sic of the patients continued to rate their abdominal pain and pressure as severe. After two weeks, this symptom had completely resolved for 16 of the patients. Diarrhea had been rated as severe in five of the patients. By day 14, only one patient continued to have moderate diarrhea.
Medications prescribed and taken for cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, and autoimmune diseases often cause gastrointestinal problems. Because these conditions are chronic, these medications must be taken for a long time, often for life. With long-term use, these medications can cause erosion of the stomach lining and actual ulcers. Many of these medication-caused symptoms are similar to IBS symptoms: pressure and pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, abdominal fullness, and lack of appetite. Most, if not all, of the individuals who have gastrointestinal problems caused from medications experience two or more of these IBS symptoms.
Forty patients who were taking medications for various types of cardiovascular disease and arthritis, and who are experiencing gastrointestinal problems related to their medications, were enrolled in a study. These symptoms included pressure and pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, abdominal fullness, and lack of appetite. Twenty patients received clown’s mustard combined with other herbs that support gastrointestinal motility. Three days after the trial started, a significant improvement of all s symptoms was noted in those taking this combination. By day 14, abdominal pressure and pain, nausea, and heartburn were completely eliminated in the herbal combination group. Several other clinical trials that were conducted in Germany report similar results.
Q. How does this herb compare to prescription drugs?
A. A study compared clown’s mustard (combined with other herbs) to Reglan (metoclopramide), which is frequently prescribed to reduce the symptoms of IBS. While metoclopramide is a very effective medication, it also has numerous side effects. Metoclopramide can cause fatigue, anxiety, agitation, jitteriness, insomnia, yellowing of the skin or eyes, changes in vision, hallucinations, and seizures. Because of these serious side effects, metoclopramide must not be taken longer than 12 weeks.
In comparison study, 77 subjects were randomized to receive treatment of either clown’s mustard in a combination with other herbs, or metoclopramide. All subjects had pain and pressure in the abdomen, cramping, abdominal fullness, nausea, heartburn, and lack of appetite. The subjects took 20 drops of their assigned treatment after meals three times daily. The duration of treatment was one to two weeks.
In both groups, a parallel improvement of all symptoms was observed. At no point in the study was a statistically significant difference in symptoms found. Both treatments significantly reduced pain and pressure in the abdomen, cramping, abdominal fullness, nausea, heartburn, and lack of appetite. In short, both metoclopramide and the clown’s mustard herbal combination worked well at reducing the symptoms of IBS.
However, side effects occurred more frequently and severely in the metoclopramide group. Given the lack of differences noted between the products at reducing symptoms of IBS, it would seem sensible to choose the treatment with the fewest reported side effects and no limits on duration of use.
A. Peppermint oil has been shown to relax intestinal smooth muscle. In Great Britain, peppermint oil is currently being prescribed for IBS by physicians and it has been used as a digestive aid and to soothe upset stomachs for generations.
Peppermint oil has also been studied for use in an important examination of the colon. A colonoscopy is a procedure of viewing the interior lining of the large intestine (colon) using a colonoscope, a slender, flexible, hollow, lighted tube about the thickness of a finger. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine supports the idea that even people who are not at risk for colon cancer should have this test. The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women at average risk of colon cancer should have a colonoscopy every 10 years, beginning at age 50.
During a colonoscopy, individuals are sedated and almost no discomfort is experienced. The insertion of the colonoscope into the rectum and up through the colon causes some spasming. This is a natural and expected event and the physician performing the exam administers medications that effectively reduce the spasms.
A recent study compared the use of peppermint oil and commonly used medications to reduce the colonic spasming in colonoscopy. The peppermint oil was introduced directly into the colon. Effective reduction of colon spasming was observed in 88% of the patients.
In a critical review and meta-analysis of peppermint oil for irritable bowel syndrome published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, eight randomized controlled trials were identified. The studies collectively showed peppermint oil is superior to placebo in improvement of the symptoms of IBS. Because of the good results of these trials, the authors of the review urged additional study of peppermint oil in IBS.
However, straight peppermint oil is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream from the stomach. In recent studies comparing enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules and non-enteric coated oil, both preparations provided effective symptom relief. However, the studies concluded the enteric-coated capsules delivered the benefit of the peppermint oil directly to the intestines. In the treatment of IBS, enteric-coated supplemental peppermint is most definitely preferred.
In fact, an enteric-coated peppermint oil capsule containing rosemary and thyme is extremely effective in the treatment of IBS. All three of these oils are classified as volatile oils, derivatives found in plants that impart taste and aroma. The combination of peppermint, thyme, and rosemary oils in enteric-coated capsules provides significant relief in IBS-related pain.
Q. Can clown’s mustard and other herbs be taken with enteric-coated peppermint oil?
A. Yes, peppermint oil capsules and clown’s mustard can be used together. However, depending on the symptoms, individuals with IBS may want to start with one supplement and then add the other if needed.
Q. How do consumers find these formulas?
A. Fortunately, herbal combinations containing clown’s mustard and enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules are both available at health food stores, natural product supermarkets, pharmacies, and from health professionals. Most knowledgeable sales personnel and health professionals can direct consumers to the most effective products.
Q. What should customers look for when purchasing peppermint oil?
A. As mentioned before, enteric coating of the peppermint oil is extremely important. The coating prevents the oil from being absorbed in the stomach. The enteric coated-capsule moves through the stomach to the small intestine and eventually to the colon, where it is released for maximum benefit.
Q. What is the dosage for peppermint oil?
A. The German Commission E approved peppermint oil for the treatment of irritable colon. In enteric-coated form, the Commission E recommends 0.6 ml per day. Enteric-coated peppermint capsules are available.
Q. Are there side effects or other contraindications?
A. Sometimes, the enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules may cause a transient burning sensation in the rectum when moving bowls. Reducing the dose will correct this.
Individuals who must refrain from alcohol should not take clown’s mustard in an herbal tincture, which may contain alcohol.
Q. What else can IBS patients do to feel better?
A. Food allergies or food intolerance may be associated with IBS. Dairy products and certain grains may trigger a painful episode of IBS. Determining those foods that initiate the problems and eliminating them from your diet can be very helpful.
Many people report their symptoms occur after a meal. Hyperactivity of the intestine of IBS is the response. Often, the strength of this response after a meal is in direct relation to the number of calories and he amount of fat in the meal. Reducing saturated fat, limiting calories, and increasing fiber intake may be helpful.
Stress also stimulates the intestinal hyperactivity. Relaxation training may reduce some IBS symptoms. Listening to therapeutic audiotapes, hypnosis, counseling, and biofeedback all have been shown to improve the healing response in persons with IBS.
IBS can be painful and frustrating, capable of causing much distress. While currently there is no cure for IBS, the symptoms can be managed. The pain, abdominal discomfort, and bowel problems of IBS all respond well to treatment with the use of key herbs, including clown’s mustard, and enteric-coated peppermint oil. These herbal combinations can be both effective and safe in treating IBS. Clown’s mustard and enteric-coated peppermint oil are both effective front-line natural alternatives for IBS treatment.
Pycnogenol: Heart, Blood Sugar and Cellular Health
November 03, 2006 12:16 PM
Pycnogenol (pronounced pic-nojen-all) is a natural plant extract originating from the bark of the maritime pine that grows along the coast of southwest France. Pycnogenol® consists of particularly bioactive flavonoid species and its purity is in strict accordance with the United States Pharmacopoeia. Pycnogenol® was initially developed 35 years ago in Europe. During the past years it evolved as one of the most thoroughly researched nutritional supplements, with over 200 studies published in peer-reviewed journals. Seventy of these studies were clinical with in total more than 4,000 patients. Pycnogenol® taken in dosages from 25mg to 300mg is well tolerated and Pycnogenol® was attributed “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the FDA.
Pycnogenol® supports healthy capillaries
The “Career” of Pycnogenol® began in Europe, where it was first used to maintain vein and capillary health. Pycnogenol® has been shown to strengthen blood vessel walls, with 15 clinical trials showing fast relief from ankle and foot discomfort. A recent study with 200 passengers on long-haul flights showed that Pycnogenol® taken before departure and again during the flight supports foot comfort and healthy circulation. Travelers typically comment that with Pycnogenol® it is much easier to put shoes on again upon arrival. Clinicians in Germany discovered that Pycnogenol® also supports healthy capillaries in the eyes. Retinal capillaries may be affected by imbalanced blood sugar levels. In a multi-center field study with 1169 subjects Pycnogenol® supported healthy capillaries in the retina and improved visual acuity to some extent.
Pycnogenol® benefits the cardiovascular system
More detailed investigation of the interaction of Pycnogenol® with blood vessel walls at the University of Florida, Tampa led to an amazing discovery. Pycnogenol® stimulates an enzyme in blood vessel walls that is responsible for generating the most important vascular mediator, known as “nitric oxide” (NO). NO triggers relaxation of the arteries and supports clear blood flow. Hence, NO is the body’s mediator for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and circulation. NO plays such an important function for cardiovascular health that Dr. Louis Ignarro (UCLA) and his co-workers received the Nobel Prize for this discovery in 1987.
A number of factors, including aging, can interfere with the body’s efficient production of NO. Supplementation with Pycnogenol® for four weeks was shown to restore NO production and improve blood supply to the fingertips of elderly people in a Japanese study. Microscopic evaluation of blood vessel diameter at the root of fingernails showed an increased diameter of capillaries allowing better blood perfusion. Specific sensors applied to the legs showed increased oxygen and decreased carbon dioxide presence. Better blood, nutrient and oxygen supply with Pycnogenol® benefits everybody. Italian researchers were able to show that regular intake of Pycnogenol® helps defy muscle cramps and minor pain in athletes.
The relaxation of arteries has a favorable effect on blood pressure. In two clinical studies Pycnogenol® taken for at least eight weeks was found to significantly support normal blood pressure.
Pycnogenol® stimulated NO generation directly translates into clear blood flow. This was first demonstrated at the University of Arizona, Tucson in smokers. Pycnogenol® dose-dependently, starting at a single dose of 25mg, countered the typical effects of cigarette smoking on the blood. Also, Italian vascular specialists found that Pycnogenol® supported the circulation of individuals on flights between New York and London.
Pycnogenol® supports healthy blood sugar levels
Pycnogenol® can support normal glucose levels when taken as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle plan. A clinical investigation has confirmed the significant glucose-lowering effect of Pycnogenol®. It was noted that Pycnogenol® did not affect insulin levels. Pycnogenol® appears to facilitate previously insulin-resistant cells to uptake sugar from the blood stream by yet unknown mechanisms.
Pycnogenol® limits cellular irritation
Two clinical studies carried out in Germany this year with student volunteers demonstrated that Pycnogenol® has a potent effect in preventing cellular irritation. Pycnogenol® inhibits a molecular “main-switch” in immune cells that triggers the onset of cellular irritation in any part of the body. Moreover, Pycnogenol® was found to inhibit so-called COX enzymes, which are involved with minor pain-sensation related to cellular irritation.
Pycnogenol® sooths menstrual pain
Japanese gynecologists discovered in 1999 that regular supplementation with Pycnogenol® soothes the normal discomfort of menstrual pain, particularly during cramping. Another clinical investigation of 47 women in year 2004 confirmed the effect of Pycnogenol® in addressing menstrual pain. This year a double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center field study with 116 women again confirmed these results. Pycnogenol® is not suitable for on-demand relief during menstruation. The studies show that Pycnogenol® reached highest efficacy when taken regularly for months.
Pycnogenol® helps to support respiratory health
Challenges to normal respiratory function may result from incidents the immune system perceives as harmful. Pycnogenol® offers valuable help in supporting respiration due to its immune-modulating effect and its ability to limit cellular irritation. A study at the University of Arizona found that Pycnogenol® supports clear breathing and lowers mediators of cellular irritation in the blood stream. More recently, a placebo-controlled clinical study at the University of California, Loma Linda described how Pycnogenol® supported healthy respiration in 60 children aged 6-18 years. Pycnogenol® needs to be taken continuously for prolonged periods of time for maximum benefit to the respiratory system.
Pycnogenol® is investigated in clinical trials all over the world. New findings are posted on the website www.pycnogenol.com.
Frank Schonlau Ph.D. is a biochemist who has spent nine years in medical research at the University Clinic of Munster Germany. His area of expertise covers vascular disorders, inflammation and dermatology. He has published more than 20 studies and review articles in the medical literature. Since entering the dietary field in 1999 he was involved in numerous studies on Pycnogenol® and communication of new health discoveries.
PsoriaClear New from Source Naturals
August 01, 2006 12:10 PM
Strangely enough, the secret of soft, smooth, silky skin may be a prickly, thorny bush from the inhospitable mountains of Russia and northern China. The berries of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) are so rich in vitamins and nutrients that they were legendary in China, Russia, and Europe for centuries, but then were forgotten. After many years of being planted as a protective hedge— the thorns are apparently quite vicious—the sea buckthorn is being rediscovered for its nutrients, and particularly, for its amazing properties in skin regeneration.
The oil of the sea buckthorn is one of numerous compounds in Source Naturals PSORIACLEAR ointment, a formula that moisturizes and replenishes the skin cells.
The bounty of the earth has been gathered for this unusual and effective topical ointment— a convenient, natural aid for healthy, glowing skin.
Pegasus, the magnificent flying horse of Greek mythology, was said to have obtained his phenomenal strength from sea buckthorn—berries and leaves so nutritious, they must have been cultivated by the gods on Mount Olympus.
The plant became so identified with Pegasus and legendary racehorses, that sea buckthorn’s botanical name, Hippophae means “shiny horse.” But beyond legend, the benefits of sea buckthorn were discussed in ancient texts such as the Tibetan Rgyud Bzi, by Greek healers Theophrastus and Dioskorid, as well as noted by the court physicians of the Tang Dynasty of China. Used in Russia, Poland, Germany, the Himalayas, and Scandinavia, the sea buckthorn was known throughout the eastern hemisphere and used in traditional herbalism for centuries. Products made from sea buckthorn are valued for their rejuvenating and restorative properties.
Modern studies confirm the nutritious qualities of sea buckthorn. The berries are a natural source of vitamins A, E, B- 1, B-2, K, and P, as well as several carotenes, tocopherols, and flavonoids. The berries are second only to rose hips and acerola in vitamin C content. Most importantly for skin, however, the seeds of the sea buckthorn contain a very high content of essential fatty acids, oleic (C18:1), linoleic (C18:2), pentadecenoic (C15:1), palmitoleic (C16:1), heptadecenoic (C17:1), linolenic (C18:3), eicosenoic (C20:1), eicosadienoic (C20:2), erucic (C22:1) and nervonic (C24:1). Its antioxidant qualities have also been confirmed in modern studies.
The additional ingredients in PSORIACLEAR are natural components that could be found in many farms and forests worldwide: beeswax, animal fat, fatty acids, vitamin C and carotenoids. Source Naturals is pleased to bring you PSORIACLEAR, an easy-to-use topical ointment that has had tremendous success in supporting smooth, healthy, silky skin. Unlike many skin ointments, it is made with natural products; it contains no corticosteroids, hydrocortisone, nor paraffin. Use it as part of your own wellness program, taking charge of your own health and well-being.
Rosch D, et al.2004. J Agric Food Chem 52 (22):6712-8.
Chen, Y, et al. 2003. Formation and Development of New Blood Cells 26(8):572-5.
Rosch D, et al. 2003. J Agric Food Chem 51 (15):4233-9.
Chopra RN, et al. 1986. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants.
Serrapeptase a modern marvel in cardiac research!
April 15, 2006 08:49 PM
Coenzyme Q10 and Cardiovascular Health.
December 13, 2005 11:34 AM
CoQ10 is a vitamin-like compound that is produced naturally in the human body and is also found in most living organisms. It is also called ubiquinone, a combination of quinone, a type of coenzyme, and ubiquitous, meaning it exists everywhere in the human body. CoQ10 plays an important role in your body’s energy production and is an essential component of the mitochondria, where it helps to metabolize fats and carbohydrates and maintain cell membrane flexibility. CoQ10 is also involved in the production of several key enzymes that are used to create ATP, which is burned by your body for energy, and used in the energy transfer between mitochondria and cells. Without CoQ10, you would not be able to function!
CoQ10 is also an effective antioxidant that may beneficially affect the aging process. As we age, our body’s production of CoQ10 declines by as much as 80 percent. Because it is so important to energy production, and therefore life, researchers believe that this decline may be a factor in the effects of aging on the human body. Clinical trials on both animal and human subjects have revealed a marked decrease in CoQ10 levels in relation to a wide variety of diseases. As a free radical scavenger, CoQ10 inhibits lipid peroxidation – a normal aspect of the aging process that is implicated in certain agerelated diseases. Studies conducted in the last fifteen years suggest CoQ10 is important for maintaining healthy intracellular activity, and some researchers have compared its efficiency to that of vitamin E, one of the most effective of all dietary antioxidants. Research has shown that CoQ10, along with glutathione and selenium, works to regenerate or recycle vitamin E after it’s capacity to fight radicals has been diminished, thereby allowing vitamin E to remain active as an antioxidant for a longer period of time in your body.
CoQ10 was first discovered by Dr. Frederick Crane of the University of Wisconsin in 1957. One year later, Professor Karl Folkers and others at Merck Inc. identified and recorded CoQ10’s chemical structure, and were the first to produce it through fermentation. Intermittent research led to its use in Japan for cardiac insufficiencies during the 1960’s. Dr. Folkers championed more intensive research into CoQ10’s role in cardiovascular health in 1972, after he and an Italian scientist, Gian Paolo Littarru, discovered that persons with cardiac insufficiencies had very low levels of CoQ10, and supplementation increased CoQ10 levels and positively affected heart health. Soon afterwards, the Japanese developed a method that allowed pure CoQ10 to be produced in quantities large enough for significant clinical trials. During the 1980’s this method was perfected in Japan, and medical technology finally allowed scientists to measure CoQ10 levels in blood and tissues, leading to a surge in further research. It was during this time that a Swedish researcher, Lars Ernster, drew attention to CoQ10’s role as a free radical-scavenging antioxidant. Today a multitude of research supports CoQ10’s health benefits.
As a result of the overwhelmingly positive reports from studies conducted since CoQ10’s discovery, the Japanese were the first to approve widespread use of CoQ10, granting market approval for it in 1974. From 1974 to 1982, CoQ10 use in Japan grew rapidly until it was one of the most widely used products in the Japanese pharmaceutical industry. It is still widely used today, and has a long history of safe use. In “An Introduction To Coenzyme Q10” by Peter H. Langsjoen, M.D., F.A.C.C., he lists the substantial amount of scientific evidence that supports CoQ10’s benefits. “Internationally, there have been at least nine placebo controlled studies on the treatment of heart disease with CoQ10: two in Japan, two in the United States, two in Italy, two in Germany, and one in Sweden. All nine of these studies have confirmed the effectiveness of CoQ10 as well as it’s remarkable safety. There have now been eight international symposia on the biomedical and clinical aspects of CoQ10 (from 1976 through 1993). These eight symposia comprised over 3000 papers presented by approximately 200 different physicians and scientists from 18 countries.”
“The majority of the clinical studies concerned the treatment of heart disease and were remarkably consistent in their conclusions: that treatment with CoQ10 significantly improved heart muscle function while producing no adverse effects or drug interactions.” There are many CoQ10 supplements on the market today, and it can be difficult to choose the best brand and dosage. CoQ10 is a fat-soluble substance, which means it is more easily absorbed and used by your body in the presence of fat. CoQ10 supplements that include lecithin or another dietary fat will be more effective, and CoQ10 in a softgel form should be in an oil base, usually soybean oil. The dosage most commonly used in research is 30 mg, but higher doses are optimal and may be required to maintain optimal levels as we age. Always remember to consult your health practitioner before taking dietary supplements if you have current health problems or are taking prescription medication.
Now Foods continues to be a leading supplier of high-quality, low cost CoQ10 products. In 1999 and 2003 NOW Foods CoQ10 was voted the best-selling brand in health food stores nationwide, earning the Vity Award from Vitamin Retailer magazine. NOW carries eight different effective potencies of CoQ10, ranging from 30mg to 400mg, in lonzenges, softgels, and vegetable capsules. Many of our formulas are complexed with other synergistic nutrients like vitamin E, selenium, lecithin, and hawthorn for greater absorption and efficiency.
GliSODin® (The Antioxidant Catalyst) 100 mg Fact Sheet
December 07, 2005 12:47 PM
GliSODin® (The Antioxidant Catalyst) 100 mg Fact Sheet Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA 01/31/05
LIKELY USERS: People with exposure oxidizing chemicals; People wanting to increase their body’s production of antioxidants.
KEY INGREDIENT (S): SOD (Superoxide Dismutase antioxidant enzyme) from melons Organic Wheat Grass leaf
MAIN PRODUCT FEATURES: Patented, clinically tested form of SOD to ensure absorbability; Protects cell mitochondria from oxidative stress that leads to genetic damage the cells; Reduces markers of cellular oxidative damage in the blood; May increase the body’s production of important antioxidants including SOD, Glutathione and Catalase.
OTHER IMPORTANT ISSUES: This product contains wheat protein as an aid to protecting the SOD and increasing its absorption. The base of organic wheat grass synergistically provides additional, naturally occurring levels of SOD and other nutrients, though this additional SOD is not well absorbed.
AMOUNT and HOW TO USE: One to three capsules a day, preferably between meals. If taken at mealtime avoid taking non-chelated (alkaline) forms of minerals at the same meal and take this capsule at the beginning of the meal to speed its transit time through the stomach and minimize exposure to alkaline foods and supplements that may cause the capsule to break down prematurely. That could potentially reduce the effectiveness of this form of SOD. The coating is designed to survive stomach acid and dissolve in the more alkaline conditions of the small intestine.
COMPLEMENTARY PRODUCTS: Alpha Lipoic Acid, EGCg Green Tea Extract, Whey Protein Isolate, Selenium, NAC, Vitamin C, other Antioxidants.
CAUTIONS: Contains wheat and wheat proteins, should not be used by people who are gluten-intolerant. Gluten intolerance may manifest with neurological, not abdominal symptoms, so please consider having a gluten intolerance test if you do have any neurological problems. Please notify your physician about your supplement use if you are using any drugs!
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Free Radic Res. 2004 Sep;38(9):927-32. Influence of an orally effective SOD on hyperbaric oxygen-related cell damage. Muth CM, Glenz Y, Klaus M, Radermacher P, Speit G, Leverve X. Sektion Anasthesiologische Pathophysiologie und Verfahrensentwicklung, Universitatsklinikum Ulm, D-89073 Ulm, Germany. PMID: 15621710 [PubMed - in process]
Utah's Inland Sea Minerals – Topical Application
November 22, 2005 09:23 AM
Minerals provide a bounty of healing properties that have scientifically validated their use for topical applications. These applications have been shown to have powerful local and systemic effects. The health of ones skin and hair reflects inner health. Indeed, we judge the health of animals and humans alike by their outward appearance of fur or skin, respectively. The human skin is the largest organ of the body and is highly involved in the detoxification and maintenance processes of health. Skin not only excretes and eliminates toxins; it also has a tremendous capacity to absorb health supportive substances. The pharmaceutical industry frequently takes advantage of the skin’s absorptive capacity with drug therapies. Such therapies include the transdermal delivery of drugs like nicotine, hormone patches, progesterone creams and so forth. Thus, it is apparent that natural therapies can have pronounced and powerful health effects.
Clinical researchers have continued to document the clinical findings that have been observed for decades when it comes to the healing properties of topical minerals. Many of the studies on therapeutic baths have used minerals from the Dead Sea, an ancient inland sea. However, a similar and impressive array of minerals occurs in the other inland sea, the Great Salt Lake. Indeed, the high presence of magnesium from both inland seas appears to be the foremost active mineral. A comparison chart below clearly reflects the mineral analysis and similarity (see chart below). The following survey of medical research reflects a few of the many therapeutic roles for mineral salt baths. Of particular interest are the powerful effects of magnesium salts that are prevalent to both Utah’s Inland Sea and the Dead Sea that exhibit favorable effects in inflammatory disease. Arthritis:
103 patients with arthritic symptoms were treated for 1-2 weeks. They received various bath treatments with the ionic trace minerals. The study showed that the higher concentration baths offered the most impressive results. Those with the greatest physical limitation had the most pronounced improvement. Over 80 percent of the patients reported having less pain, 70 percent reported improved mobility and 60 percent were able to decrease analgesic use (i). In a different double-blind study, the use of warm mineral baths with Dead Sea salt demonstrated a lasting effect for patients suffering from degenerative arthritis. (ii)
In a clinical trial conducted by a leading research university in Germany, patients with atopic (eczema) skin disorders immersed their arms in a magnesium chloride rich bath. The participants immersed one arm in tap water the other in the therapeutic magnesium rich bath. The findings showed that skin hydration was improved and skin roughness and inflammation was reduced. The researchers stated “magnesium salts are known to bind water, influence epidermal proliferation and differentiation and enhance barrier repair.” (iii) Another study showed that magnesium salts when exposed to both psoriatic and healthy skin cells provided an important anti-proliferative effect (iv). Yet another study showed that the effects of mineral baths from the Dead Sea had lasting effects for upwards of a month after treatment. (v) Head to Head Comparison (vi) (vii)
Utah’s Inland Sea Composition Dead Sea Composition
By: Dr. Chris Meletis N. D.
Results of GM Foods...
October 18, 2005 12:37 PM
In a study in the early 1990’s rats were fed genetically modified (GM) Tomatoes, the rats refused to eat them. The rats were force fed and Several rats developed stomach leasions and seven out of 40 died within two weeks.
Whats is GMO?
GMO, Genetic Modified Organism, definition Genetic Modified Organisms according to the Gentechnikgesetz (GenTG)from 20.06.90 (Genetic Technique Law) in Germany are organisms whose genetical material were modified in a way which is not found in nature under natural conditions of crossbreed or natural recombination. The genetic Modified Organism must be a biological unit which is able to multiply itself or to transmit genetic material. Examples of modifications covered by this law are DNS recombination techniques in which vector systems are used; techniques by which genetic material prepared outside of the cell is introduced directly in the organism. These techniques include microinjection, macroinjection and micro encapsulation, cell fusion as well as hybridization procedures by which living cells are formed with a new combination of genetic material using methods which are not found under natural conditions.
Rats fed GM corn had problems with blood cell formation and rats fed GM soy had problems with liver cell formation and livers of rats fed GM Canola had were heavy.
Cows in Germany were fed GM Corn died with out reason and pigs fed GM corn became steril.
The more awareness a population has on GM foods the less the population trusts these types of foods, many Americans believe they have never eaten GM foods but little did they know they eat it daily, the long term effect of this sort of foods may take a decade of more to show up, do you want to take that chance? Not me.
DEPRESSION—STANDARD AND ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS
July 15, 2005 09:13 AM
DEPRESSION—STANDARD AND ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS
Depression is a commonly occurring disorder; according to one recently published report, it affects nearly 17 percent of all Americans for the length of their lives.7 Because depression often involves a complex mixture of severity, length, and mode of treatment, it is often a difficult decision for doctors and patients alike to decide how to treat the depression. Many practitioners and patients are reluctant to use antidepressant drugs because of associated side effects. It seems logical, then that any additional forms of treatment with little risk, credible benefit, and moderate cost would be a useful addition to depression management.
Extracts of St. John’s wort have long been used in “folk” medicine for a range of symptoms and problems, including mood and depression disorders. Extracts of St. John’s wort are licensed in Germany for the treatment of “anxiety and depressive and sleep disorders.” In 1993, more than 2.7 mil-lion prescriptions of Hypericum were counted in the seven most popular preparations in Germany.8 In the past ten years, several randomized clinical trials have compared the effects of pharmaceutical preparations of Hypericum with placebo and common antidepressants, with nearly all showing favorable practical application of Hypericum treatments for depression and other related disorders.
July 12, 2005 09:54 AM
The active ingredients in Milk Thistle consist of a complex of compounds which are referred to as silymarin. These substances can actually protect the liver against certain toxins, while simultaneously boosting the function of the liver. Milk Thistle contains some of the most potent liverp rotecting substances known. For this reason, it is an invaluable herb for the treatment of hepatitis, cirrhosis, jaundice and fatty degeneration of the liver.
In addition, silybin, one of the compounds found in Milk Thistle, has been used as an antidote to the lethal deathcap mushroom whose toxin targets liver cells. Because of this action, in Germany, Milk Thistle has been used to block the action of amanita mushroom poisoning. In the case of mushroom poisoning, the herb is administered intravenously.
Studies have indicated that Milk Thistle has valuable therapeutic merit for severe liver disorders and acts as liver restorative as well.1 Not only does it promote new cell growth in the liver, it also prevents the formation of damaging leukotrienes.
Because the liver plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy immune system, Milk Thistle can contribute to increased disease resistance. This link may explain why it also has value for anyone suffering from psoriasis or chronic fatigue syndrome.
In addition, Milk Thistle can legitimately be called an antioxidant. It helps protect the cells from free radicals by scavenging them before they can cause cellular damage. Flavonoids have tremendous value as antioxidants and Milk Thistle is rich in them. The flavonoid-like compounds of this herb help to promote cell membrane integrity and to reduce its permeability.
Milk Thistle also acts to protect the kidneys, brain and other vital organs from toxin damage, treats allergic reactions, reduces inflammation and promotes healing. It also helps to emulsify fats and enhance bile flow, making it a good remedy for indigestion.
July 12, 2005 09:48 AM
NOTE: Most health food stores stock this herb under the name of Milk Thistle, however, it may also be found as Thisilyn, Silymarin or Silybum
STORAGE: Keep in a dark container in a cool, dry environment.
RECOMMENDED USAGE: Because Silymarin is not very water soluble, decoctions are not as effective as extracts and powder forms of Milk Thistle. The advantages of bound silymarin should be investigated. Obtaining the best results with Milk Thistle depends on taking higher dosages three times daily before meals. For bound silymarin, dosages are less. In cases where poisoning or alcoholism is severe, dosages may be increased without toxicity, side effects or allergic reactions. Alcohol based extracts are not recommended. The best forms of Milk Thistle are guaranteed to contain 80% silymarin.
NOTE: A new form of silymarin has recently become available, which may be even more absorbable than other types. It is silymarin that has been bound to phosphatidycholine. Apparently this binding makes silymarin compounds more clinically effective in the body.
SAFETY: No contraindications are associated with this herb even in substantial dosages. Milk Thistle has been extensively used in Europe and numerous studies have shown very little if no toxicity. Taking silymarin can p roduce looser stools, although the effect is not that common. At high dosages, it may be desireable to add a source of fiber to the diet to prevent loose stools or digestive tract irritation. Suggested fibers include: psyllium, oat bran or pectin. Long term use of Milk Thistle poses no problem because of its non-toxicity. The long-term safety and advisability of the use of Milk Thistle extracts in pregnant or nursing women has not been established.
Digestion - Keeping The Digestive System Balanced
June 30, 2005 09:23 AM
Digestion By Ellen J. Kamhi, Ph. D. with Dorie Greenblatt Digestion is the foundation for the health and balance of the whole body system. In a very real sense our physical body is formed by the molecules we eat and absorb. As the old adage says, “we are what we eat.” Our eating habits, lifestyle choices and state of mind as well as the foods we choose to consume all directly influence the effectiveness of our digestion. Ideally, a diet of good whole organically grown foods eaten at regular intervals in a stress-free environment would be wonderful. The reality is that few of us actually ever attain this ideal. Herbs have been used traditionally by civilizations around the world to aid the digestive system in several different ways. Herbs may act as digestive tonics, bitters, carminatives, vermifuges (killer of parasites), laxatives and astringents, which all benefit the digestive system in different ways.
Digestive tonics can help to balance stomach acidity. Their tonic actions may be in part due to their ability to protect and soothe the mucous membranes of the digestive tract. Nature’s Answer® has many digestive tonic herbs available in the form of fast-absorbing liquid extracts. Nettle Leaf (alcohol-free, organic alcohol) is a mild digestive tonic that is highly nourishing. It tones the walls of the intestinal lining as well as the veins that supply nutrients to the digestive system. Cat’s Claw (alcohol-free, organic alcohol), often called Una del Gato in the Amazon rainforest where it is harvested, is a tonic herb for the entire system. Scientists believe that its overall positive influence on the body is directly related to its healing effect on the digestive system.
Bitters act to stimulate digestion through the increased production of digestive juices, from saliva to the release of bile. The Standard American Diet is sorely lacking in foods that taste “bitter”. There is actually a message sent via the nerves in the tongue to the digestive system to release enzymes and other digestive fluids when bitters are consumed. Herbal bitters can help, such as Nature’s Answer®’s Gentian Root(organic alcohol), Barberry Root (organic alcohol) and Oregon Graperoot (organic alcohol) liquid extracts. Bitters with Ginger (alcohol-free) is a combination “bitters” formula that blends several herbs together for ease of use and extra “bitters” benefits.
Carminatives are a classification of herbs that contain certain volatile oils well-known for their calming and relaxing actions to the stomach (leading to gas relief). Nature’s Answer® offers a variety of carminative herbs in liquid form, rich in the herbs’ roots, seeds, leaves and flowers: Ginger Root (alcohol-free, organic alcohol) is a common spice used throughout the world. It has outstanding medicinal properties that help to relieve conditions such as nausea, “morning sickness” (due to pregnancy), motion sickness (due to traveling in cars and boats) and other digestive complaints. Fennel Seed (organic alcohol) has a licorice like flavor. It is always available when leaving Indian Restaurants because it is a popular digestive aid. Peppermint leaf (alcohol-free,organic alcohol) is one of the most highly recognized and effective herbal treatments for bloating, gas, and “tummy-aches” in adults and children alike. Chamomile Flowers (alcohol-free, organic alcohol) is a popular herb in the United States. In Germany, the name for Chamomile translates to “Mother of the Stomach” because of its usefulness for many digestive complaints. Finally, Di-Jest™ (alcohol-free) is an example of an outstanding combination formula for digestion, featuring a synergistic blend of both carminative and bitter herbs for optimum support.
Vermifuges, also referred to as anthelmintics, are herbs that help rid the body rid itself of worms and other parasites. The presence of these “pests” was a well-known health concern until recent times, when advances in modern medicine essentially relegated these ailments to “the back burner.” It is an erroneous assumption to disregard the presence of parasites, especially in those who suffer from chronic digestive disorders. Nature’s Answer® provides several liquid herbal extracts which are quite effective vermifuges. Black Walnut Hulls (alcohol-free, organic alcohol) has been used historically to help get rid of worms. The combination formula, Black Walnut & Wormwood, combines Black Walnut with the appropriately named Wormwood and other herbs that are useful to help rid the body of parasites.
Laxatives aid with the common problem of constipation. Sufferers of this chronic ailment should examine their diets to be sure it includes a predominance of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. For occasional use, Nature’s Answer®’s Cascara Sagrada (organic alcohol) serves as an excellent laxative that not only stimulates peristalsis (movement of the intestines), but also tones the muscles of the digestive system.
Astringents are useful for diarrhea. They help by firming the tissue in the digestive system. One noteworthy herb in this category offered by Nature’s Answer® in a convenient liquid herbal extract form is Bayberry Bark (organic alcohol).
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
June 25, 2005 10:57 AM
Ginkgo has achieved unprecedented popularity within the last decade and has become a familiar household term. Because interest in treating diseases like Alzheimer’s has escalated over the last decade, the biochemical capabilities of ginkgo in regard to brain function have been investigated and are still being researched. Ginkgo is one of those herbs that has become intrinsically connected with notions of herbal elixirs capable of pre s e rving youth and promoting longevity.
Ginkgo comes from the oldest species of tree in the world dating back some 200 million years. Some ginkgo trees have been known to live well over an average of 1000 or more years. The ginkgo tree is also known as the “maidenhair tree” and would have probably become extinct if the trees had not been cultivated in Far Eastern temple gardens and nurtured by Oriental monks.
Ginkgo is a deciduous conifer with separate male and female types. It resembles the pau d’arco tree and like pau d’arco, possesses an unusual immunity to insects and diseases. Ginkgo’s remarkable hardiness enabled it to survive the atomic blast at Hiroshima. Because of its unprecedented longevity, ginkgo biloba has sometimes been referred to as a living fossil.
Ginkgo has been used in China for over 5000 years. The Chinese refer to the fruit of the ginkgo tree as pa-kwo. This fruit is sold in markets throughout China and resembles dried almonds. Ginkgo fruit is pleasant tasting when fresh, but can become quite disagreeable if allowed to get overly ripe. Asians have relied on extracts of the fan-shaped ginkgo leaf since 3,000 B.C. to heal a wide variety of ailments.
The Chinese have been acquainted with the curative powers of ginkgo for centuries and have typically used the herb for ailments related to aging, such as circulatory disorders, mental confusion and memory loss. In China, ginkgo seeds, called baigou, are considered lung and kidney tonics and are used in conjunction with acupuncture. Ginkgo seeds also help to tonify the urinary system, so they are used in cases of incontinence and excessive urination.1
Practitioners of Chinese medicine routinely use ginkgo leaves. Ginkgo was introduced into Eu rope in 1730 and was we l l received, not for its medicinal value, but for its ornamental appeal. It is used extensively in landscaping because of its lovely fern-like leaf. It was brought to America in 1784 to the garden of William Hamilton who lived in Pennsylvania.
Decades passed before the healing properties of ginkgo we re investigated. Consequently, it has been part of the herbal repertoire only since the 1980s. During this time, it became technically feasible to isolate the essential components of ginkgo. Pharmacologically, there are two groups of substances which are significant compounds found in ginkgo: the flavonoids, which give ginkgo its antioxidant action, and the terpenes, which help to inhibit the formation of blood clots. The majority of scientific interest has focused on Ginkgo’s ability to improve the circulation of blood. O ver the past twenty years, scientific testing on the plant has dramatically escalated. Ha rva rd professor Elias J. Core y, Ph . D , synthesized ginkgo’s active ingredient, ginkgolide B, for the first time in the laboratory. Consequently, stepped-up research in this country and in Eu rope resulted. Ginkgo has been the subject of over 300 scientific studies and continues to intrigue scientists. Much modern research has confirmed ancient applications of ginkgo as well as discovered new ones.
Ginkgolide, the active component of the herb, is what creates most of ginkgo’s biochemical attributes. Exactly how ginkgolide B functions is not yet known. One theory is that the compound somehow interferes with a chemical found in the body called PAF (platelet activating factor). PAF has been implicated in cases of graft rejection, asthma and other immune disorders. PAF antagonists have been identified from a variety of medicinal plants. These compounds help to explain the pharmacological basis of several traditional medicines and provide a valuable new class of therapeutic agents.
Particular attention has been paid to ginkgo’s powerful actions on the cardiovascular system. Thousands of Europeans use this herb for peripheral circulatory disorders. As a circulation booster, ginkgo has accumulated some impressive credentials. Because proper circulation is vital to each and every body function, virtually all body systems can benefit from ginkgo therapy.
Ginkgo’s relationship to brain function has also spawned considerable interest. In 1985, Rudolf Weiss said of ginkgo,
“ Significant improvement in mental states, emotional lability, memory, and the tendency to tire easily, have been reported.”
Ginkgo is currently planted in groves and used for a number of medicinal purposes. It is harvested in the summer and can be used in extract, tincture or infusion forms. The therapeutic properties of ginkgo seem endless. Continuing re s e a rch promises to further uncover additional health benefits of this remarkable botanical. Ginkgo extracts are among the leading prescription medications in France and Germany. Currently, millions of prescriptions for ginkgo are written by physicians worldwide.
June 25, 2005 10:52 AM
Extract: An extract made from ginkgo leaves is available in Europe and is used for cerebral arteriosclerosis in peripheral circulatory disorders of the elderly.
Tincture: Ginkgo tincture is often combined with other herbs such as periwinkle and used for circulatory problems and venous disorders.
Infusion: Infusions of ginkgo are used for arteriosclerosis, varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
Capsules: Powd e red forms of ginkgo can be used to enhance brain function and memory.
Storage: Keep in a dark container in a cool, dry environment.
Recommended Usage: Ginkgo should be taken in normal dosages and, if possible, at the same times eve ry day. In the case of ginkgo, taking it consistently for 12 weeks is recommended. Although injections of Gingko have sometimes been used, oral ingestion of a tablet or capsule is therapeutically effective. More advanced p reparations of ginkgo make it possible to obtain higher concentrations of flavoglycosides in smaller amounts of extract.
Safety: Ginkgo extracted from the leaves of the ginkgo tree is considered nontoxic and is virtually without side-effects. It can be safely used with other supplements without interaction and has no reported toxicity. In rare cases, some gastric upset or incidence of headache or skin rash have occurred, which may indicate that the individual is allergic to the substance. The fruit pulp of ginkgo can produce seve re contact dermatitis and other allergic reactions. The leaf extract of ginkgo is usually the only form that is available and is extremely safe.