Search Term: " Petal "
Catnip is for man and beast!
You've probably heard of catnip leaves before and instantly think of cats. Well, it turns out this versatile herb has a few different uses and they're not just for cats!
Catnip is actually a member of the mint family which also includes basil, sage, and oregano. The part of the stem that causes cats to get "high" is called nePetalactone, and it is found in the leaves. It causes our furry little friends to get hyperactive by triggering their pheromones.
When it comes to children with a fever, catnip tea helps their body perspire more and get rid of the fever. The tea also aids in digestion as well as improve sleep, treat migraines, and reduce anxiety. So the next time you're at the pet store getting a treat for Fluffy, pick up some catnip leaves.
September 17, 2014 05:25 PM
What is a Maca Root?
Maca Root is one of the roots and tuber harvests of higher protein content. Until late years, this nutritious base of the Andes was little or nothing known for the lion's share of the individuals thereof, Peru (aside from the tenants of the Andes) and obviously overlooked by whatever is left of the world.
Maca (otherwise called Peruvian Maca or Maca Andina) has an astonishing quality to develop to remarkable statures: from 3800 to 4800 meters high in the most cold Andes mountains, where temperatures are amazing, from exceptional hotness morning to ice on the night, frigid winds, snow and persevering high power of daylight. In this antagonistic region, where there is little oxygen, there is uncommon vegetation develop just potatoes and maca sharp. There are no trees, no plants, just a couple of centimeters tall.
This tuber, irrelevant part of the tuberous root size and state of a typical radish, is effectively dried under the sun and keeps up its nutritious qualities, with elevated amounts of iron, for a few years stockpiling. It is brilliant nourishment and Incas additionally utilized it for its richness improving activity and its impact on sexual conduct.
There have been various effective studies on the action manure Peruvian maca creatures and people. In 1980, researchers from Germany and North America who were doing investigations of the herbs in Peru, rekindled enthusiasm toward its momentum Maca, naming it "the lost products of the Incas."
A percentage of the elements that have been recognized: amino acids, proteins, vitamins, minerals, follow components and auxiliary metabolites.
Maca - History:
Anthropological confirmation has been found in the development of maca in Peru since 1600 BC. The Incas considered Maca as a blessing from the divine beings. They additionally develop maca as nourishment, Lamac - developed in the Andes utilized for religious services and custom moves. Spanish accounts report that amid the victory of Peru, creatures brought from Spain not play ordinarily as of right now, the locals cautioned the vanquishers who nourished their creatures with maca, with what they got the levels of typical generation.
Concerning the stretcher, Father Cobo, amid the pilgrim time, he said: "Maca develops in the most rough and frosty of the good countries where there are chances to develop any plant sustenance."
Maca - Morphology and plant science
Maca is a biennial plant statures conduct, being pollinated toward oneself, cleistogamous, with a five-month conceptive stage and with a blossom that keeps going two roots.
Maca Root: Roots have shades extending from light yellow to dark through the tan, purple, and so on with sizes of 3-6 cm. transverse measurement of 4-7 cm. longitudinal, in the same way as a radish (reversed cone). The root is first in the improvement of items. There is no true distinction in taste or substance organization as the color of the root.
Stem: Short, subtle, in the same way as a carrot or radish.
Leaves: rosette, made with flanges sheath, petiole length with the top leveled. Limbo compound, has a length of 6 to 9 cm; the basal and cauline pinnatifid are somewhat lessened.
Inflorescence: group compound and infrequently basic. The blooms structure bunches, are helper bisexual, actinomorphic, green light and little, white pre-flowering calyx and corolla with 4 free Petals somewhat bent at the peak.
Soil grown foods: units somewhat amagrinado. With a solitary seed in each one cell, ovoid, yellowish-red, 1-2 mm. wide.
Maca – Cultivation
Cultivola Maca is developed fundamentally for its tuberous root is naturally known as hipocolito (eg radish, turnip). The maca plant has the astonishing quality to develop to unprecedented statures (from 3800 to 4800 meters) in the unfriendly Puna Peruvian where temperatures are great: the serious high temperature of the morning to the sub zero frost of the night.
The puna is a pleasant yet great condition in this environmental locale is uncommon vegetation, just potatoes become astringent and maca. The air contains little oxygen, the sun is amazingly exceptional and extremely solid winds, it is consequently that no trees and plants have just a couple of centimeters tall.Maca planting is carried out from September to December. The seeds are scattered in the fields to be reaped in 6 to 8 months. After Recolta the roots to dry in the sun for 2 months, amid which they lose 75% of its unique weight. This moderate drying methodology causes the maca change of taste: an intense hot taste with a caramel flavor. The dried root could be put away for 4 years without losing its properties.
How chamomile works to relax you and help you sleep better
October 24, 2013 09:33 AM
What is chamomile
Chamomile is a short low growing herb with small fine-leaves and daisy like flowers. The herb's flowers have a small-yellow center which is surrounded by thin white-Petals. The Chamomile leaves have a sweet-apple smell, The herb thrives in warm-humid conditions and it has a tendency to becoming invasive if its left to just grow freely.
Flaxseed oil benefits
July 09, 2012 08:32 AM
Flaxseed oil is extracted from the flax plant which is native to Europe. The flaxseed plant has the botanical name of Linum Usitsissimum and also goes by the name linseed plant. The flax plant is an annual plant which grows to a height of around 1.2 meters. It has glaucous green leaves and normally produces pale blue flowers with five Petals. The seeds from this plant are normally brown in color and are contained in a round capsule, these seeds are the ones normally used to produce flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil has also very many health benefits associated with it.
Flaxseed oil extraction
Oil has to be first extracted from the flax plant before it can be used. The oil is usually obtained from the flax seed through a certain physical and chemical processes that are usually aimed at increasing its purity.
The normal procedure is usually to mechanically cold press the seeds so as to produce the oil. Solvent extraction usually follows up if the oil required is to have a high level of purity. The oil obtained is normally clear to yellowish color depending on the level of purity.
Components of flaxseed oil
Linseed oil or flaxseed oil is triglyceride in nature like many other types of essential oils. The main components of the oil include: Omega 3 fatty acid this acid is very essential to the body but has to be obtained from external sources since the body cannot make it. Omega 9 or oleic fatty acid, Omega 6 fatty acid or linoleic acid, Vitamin E which acts as an antioxidant for the body system.
The combined effect of these compounds usually provides the body with a lot of health benefits. The health benefits associated with linseed oil have been known for thousands of years and there is documented cases of its use amongst the ancient Romans.
Some of the benefits associated with linseed oil include Cardiovascular well being.
This is one of the most important health benefits associated with the use of this kid of oil. Omega 3 or alpha-linoleic fatty acid is the compound which is attributed to a healthy heart and cardiovascular well being of an individual. This fatty acid acts as a lubricating cushion and hence helps to counteract the stresses the body might undergo. It also has anti inflammatory properties.
It is also important in maintaining the rigidity of cell membranes and also lowers the amount of harmful cholesterol within the body.
The omega 3 that is contained in flaxseed oil has got anti inflammatory properties that makes it an effective tool against arthritis as it reduces the inflammation of joints.
Reduces risk of cancer
Vitamin E contained within flaxseed oil has got anti-oxidant properties which make sit effective against the occurrence of cancer. Omega 3 has also got anticancer propertiesHealthy skin The compounds that make up flaxseed oil are very effective in the elimination of eczema and acne. Therefore, the use of cosmetic products which have linseed oil incorporated in them can go a long way in ensuring that an individual has a young and beautiful skin.
Increases calcium absorption
Research has shown that linseed oil increases calcium absorption within the body. This is very important for women who are in the post- menopausal period as their bone density normally drops during this period and they require increased calcium intake. Linseed oil has also instrumental in burning calories and also increases the body's metabolic rate. It is therefore recommended that an individual should incorporate this oil into h9is or her diet.
How Does Borage Oil Boost Your Health?
October 06, 2011 12:05 PM
Borage Seed Oil
Borage, also known as starflower, is a medicinal herb that is native in Syria. The plant could approximately grow up to two to three feet in height having a hairy appearance all over its leaves and stems. The leaves of the plant are about half feet in length. Its flowers resemble five narrow and triangular Petals that are blue in color. However, there are few instances that borage flowers are pink in color. One distinct characteristic of the borage plant is that it follows an indeterminate growth habit that could lead to a fruitful spreading. In places where climate is mild and good, the plant grows all year round.
In ancient years, the plant was used as a flavoring for wines which ancient Celtic warriors drink before engaging themselves into battle. It has been a tradition because they believe that the wine could boost both their strength, and courage. As time pass by, people discover new uses of borage leaves and flowers. During the middle ages, the people utilized the plant as a relief for melancholy. As a matter of fact, the renowned scholar named Pliny believed that the herb is very effectual in curing depression and boosting mood. During the 16th century, John Gerard was able to discover the herb’s potential in making the heart healthier.
To add, borage is also utilized as a cure for bronchitis because of its soothing effect and capacity to lessen inflammation. Aside from that, borage is also noted for its capability to protect the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat as well as ensuring that the kidneys and adrenal glands are well functioning.
Borage is helpful in rejuvenating the body during recuperation from a disease. This herb is also useful for curing and correcting problems of in the digestive tract. Research would also show that the herb is effectual in increasing the quantity and quality of mother’s milk.
The seed oil of borage contains liberal amounts of GLA which is highly beneficial for the human body. as a matter of fact, virgin borage oil contains vital components such as essential fatty acids, gamma-linolenic acid that will aid the body in times of stress.
There are a lot of preparations which will allow you to grasp the benefits of borage plant. And two of the most common is to use it as a vegetable or as a dried herb. People enjoy eating borage because it tastes like cucumber hence it is perfect for salads or as a garnish. Borage flower is also palatable. Its taste is similar to that of honey hence, it is also good to incorporate in desserts.
Among the many health benefits of borage leaves would include the following: purgative properties, blood purifier, diaphoretic, galactoagogue, and febrifuge. Vital nutrients such as potassium and calcium are also abundant in the herb. Because of these potent and vital components that the herb contains, various conditions can be corrected and prevented by borage just like inflammation of the eyes, excessive mucus, and a lot more.
You too should grab some borage oil to help improve your health and wellness.
Can I Increase Blood Oxygen With Periwinkle?
September 14, 2011 02:00 PM
The body is made of different cells and all of them depend on oxygen for them to keep on living. It does make sense doesn’t it? I mean, as human beings we live off oxygen, simply put, if we do not breathe in oxygen we die. We can find oxygen in the air around us and in fact that is the main source. Another thing that would tell you how important oxygen is to our body, just thinking requires us to have enough oxygen in the brain. That is why whenever someone is out of breath and unconscious for minutes the main concern is what damage will that time do to the brain when there is no oxygen travelling to it because the brain could not maintain its function without oxygen.
Blood Oxygen Levels
The levels of oxygen in our blood are related to how efficient our body is able to function. We have to understand that our cells run on oxygen and various health issues can arise with levels of blood oxygen being low. The good news though is that there are lot of different ways to build oxygen levels in the body. We have some natural ways that have been tested and proven to help. Firstly is to make sure we have foods high in antioxidants. These substances have been known for its health benefits and now we can also add to that list how it is able to initiate further release of oxygen from the blood.
Another one is by focusing on foods that are rich in Vitamin F because this vitamin helps the capacity of oxygen to hold haemoglobin which is important when trying to increase oxygen levels. Studies also have proven that constant exposure to fresh air and daily exercises are also beneficial as it aids in the increased capacity of our heart to pump blood which in turn will give more chances for your lungs to oxygenate blood, allowing once again for more oxygen to be used all throughout your body.
Perwinkle and blood oxygen levels
Periwinkle is primarily a ground hugging evergreen shrub and is known to be a native of Europe. It has shiny elliptical leaves and a five-Petaled blue flower. Usually it is most abundant during spring and could be found in roadsides and is cultivated for use as a garden ornament all over Europe. The other variety is the Madagascar periwinkle which as its name suggest is a native of Madagascar. However in the modern world it is now common in the tropics and in many gardens around the world. Roots and the herbs are gathered in the summers.
Many studies have shown that periwinkle has the ability to increase blood flow and in turn aid in the increase of oxygen supply in the brain. In more severe scenarios it even has been used to aid in the relief of arteriosclerosis. Furthermore it has even been shown to be effective against brain function problems that are caused by lack of oxygen in the blood which impairs brain health.
Grab some Vinpocetine a periwinkle extract and increase brain blood flow today!
September 28, 2009 11:10 AM
Figwort is the common name for some members of the Scrophulariaceae family, which is comprised mainly of herbs and small shrubs. These plants are distributed widely over all continents, with the family including few types of climbing plants and some parasitic and saprophytic forms.
There are approximately 2800 species and 200 genera of Figword distributed worldwide. Many of these grow in the American Northwest. The name was derived from European species of Scrophularia, which is the common figwort. The plants are used to treat hemorrhoids, which were known as figs. Additionally, figworts were used to treat scrofula, which is a form of tuberculosis that is carried in the milk of infected cows.
Figwort finds the majority of its use in the treatment of skin problems. In a broad manner, it acts to help the body function well. This herb brings about a state of inner cleanliness. Figwort may be used for eczema, psoriasis, and any skin condition where there is itching and irritation. Part of the cleansing that comes from figwort is due to the purgative and diuretic actions that it possesses. The herb may be used as a mild laxative to treat constipation. It can also be used as a heart stimulant. For safety purposes, figwort should be avoided where there is any abnormally rapid heartbeat.
The figwort family is characterized by irregular, bilaterally symmetrical flowers with four to five Petal, joined to a calax and four to five Petals, joined to a corolla. This forms a tube, with the Petals flaring outward at the end. The lower ones form a down turned lip. The flowers are bisexual and are sometimes brightly colored. The leaves of the plant are alternate, opposite, and sometimes whorled. The fruit is typically a two-chambered capsule. Some common hemiparasites can be found in the figwort family. Among these are Indian paintbrush, owl’s clover, lousewort, and bird’s beak. These hemiparasites have green, photosynthetic leaves. A substantial portion of the parasite’s carbon comes from the host plant, which is parasitized from the roots.
Figwort is typically used as a skin medication for eczema, scabies, tumors, and rashes. The herb also provides hormone-like materials that are helpful in soothing the digestive organs. The herb has diuretic properties and can help to clean the kidneys. Figwort is sometimes used to treat circulatory disorders and may assist with the treatment of varicose veins. The herb is recommended for its ability to lower high blood pressure. Figwort can be used as poultice for ulcers, piles, scrofulous gland sin the neck, sores, wounds, and toothaches.
The leaves, stems, and roots of the figwort plant are used to provide alterative, anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic, bitter, demulcent, diuretic, purgative, parasiticide, and stimulant properties. Primarily, figwort is extremely beneficial in dealing with abrasions, athlete’s foot, cradle cap, fever, impetigo, indigestion, restlessness, and skin diseases. Additionally, the herb is very helpful in treating anxiety, burns, cuts, eczema, hemorrhoids, insomnia, kidney problems, and light flow in menstruation, nightmares, and worms. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by figwort, please feel free to contact a representative from your local health food store with questions.
September 25, 2009 10:56 AM
The eyebright plant is elegant and small, growing between two and eight inches high. This plant is an annual, commonly growing on heaths and other dry pastures, especially on chalky soil. The plant flowers from July to September and has deeply cut leaves and small, white or purplish flowers. The stem is erect and wiry. It comes in either unbranched, small specimines, or with many opposite branches. The leaves are tiny, about 1/6 to ½ inches in length and opposite to one another on the lower portion of the stem. The flowers, which are white or lilac, have purple veins and terminal spikes. The structure of the flower places the plant in the Scrophulariaceae family. The seeds in this flower are produced in tiny, flattened capsules, and are numerous and ribbed.
When a bee visitor comes in search of the honey lying around the ovary at the bottom the Petal tube, it knocks against the anther spurs, setting the pollen free so that it falls on the insect’s head. When visiting the next flower, the bee will then rub its head against the outstanding stigma, in which cross-fertilization takes place.
The eyebright plant has white Petals that have a red or purple tinge, resembling bloodshot eyes. It is this appearance that is thought to be the reason for the use of eyebright in treating eye irritations as far back as the Middle Ages. Topical applications of this herb were prescribed by Dioscorides and Theophrastus for eye infections.
The eyebright plant will not grow readily in a garden if it is transplanted unless it is protected by grass. The reason for this is that it is a semi-parasite and relies on its nourishment on the roots of other plants. Above ground, the plant appears to be a perfectly normal plant, with flowers and bright green leaves. But below the surface, suckers from its roots spread around and lie on the rootlets of the grass plants surrounding it. The grass preyed upon does not suffer very much. The eyebright plant, being an annual, renews itself each year. For centuries, eyebright has been the herb of choice for treating eye irritations. It is extremely helpful in conditions that involve the mucous membranes. This herb can help to relieve eye irritations or eyestrain when used as eyewash. The herb’s antiseptic properties allow it to help fight eye infections. Traditional uses of eyebright include eye problems such as failing vision, eye inflammation, eye ulcers, conjunctivitis, and eyestrain. This herb is able to strengthen all parts of the eye and provide elasticity to the nerves and optic devices that are essential for sight. Additionally, eyebright is stimulating to the liver, as it helps cleanse the blood.
The entire eyebright plant is used to provide alterative, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, bitter, and stimulant properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are copper, iodine, iron, silicon, vitamins A, B, B-complex, C, D, and E, and zinc. Primarily, eyebright is extremely beneficial in dealing with blood impurities, cataracts, colds, conjunctivitis, eye disorders and infections, eyestrain, and glaucoma.
Additionally, this herb is very helpful in treating black eyes, sinus congestion, coughs, hay fever, headaches, hoarseness, memory loss, and sties. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by this herb, please feel free to contact a representative from your local health food store.
August 28, 2009 01:50 PM
Jojoba is a shrub that is native to the Sonoran and Majoave desserts of Arizona, California, and Mexico. It is the only species in the family SImmondsiaceae. Sometimes, it is also placed in the box family, Buxaceae. This herb is also known as goat nut, deer nut, pignut, wild hazel, quinine nut, coffeeberry, and gray box bush. The jojoba plant grows one to two meters tall and has a broad, dense crown. The leaves are opposite, oval in shape, and approximately two to four centimeters in length and 1.5 to 3 centimeters wide. The leaves are thick, waxy, and gray-green in color. The flowers are small and greenish-yellow in color. They have five to six sepals and no Petals. Each plant is neither male or female. Hermaphrodites in this species are extremely rare. The fruit of the jojoba plant is an acorn-shaped ovoid that is one to two centimeters long. The mature seed is a hard oval, dark brown in color, and contains about fifty-four percent oil.
Jojoba foliage gives a year-round food opportunity for many animals. Among these include deer, jaelina, bighorn sheep, and livestock. The nuts are often eaten by squirrels, rabbits, other rodents, and larger birds. The only animal known to be able to digest the wax that is found inside the jojoba nut is the Bailey’s Pocket Mouse. The seed meal is toxic to many mammals when taken in large quantities. The indigestible wax often acts as a laxative in humans.
Native Americans in Arizona, California, and northern Mexico used jojoba for the hair and as a tonic for the body. The herb is a valuable crop for some Native American tribes in those areas. This herb can be found in shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, and sunscreens.
Jojoba oil, which is made from the seeds of the plant, has been used traditionally by Native Americans. They use this herb to promote hair growth and relieve skin problems. Jojoba helps to remove the sebum deposits that are responsible for causing dandruff and scalp disorders. This herb is responsible for making the scalp less acidic.
One study found the wax that is in the jojoba oil to treat acne and psoriasis. This herb has traditionally been used successfully for this purpose. In addition, it is used to heal minor skin irritations. A study on rabbits found that those who were fed jojoba oil had a reduction of forty percent in their blood cholesterol levels. The reason or component that is responsible for this activity still remains unknown.
The oil of the jojoba plant is used to provide emollient properties. The primary nutrients found in jojoba are chromium, copper, iodine, silicon, vitamins E and B complex, and zinc. It is important to consult your health care provider before consider using this or any other supplement while on prescription medications. Primarily, jojoba is very beneficial in treating dandruff, hair loss, psoriasis, and dry scalp.
Additionally, this herb is extremely helpful in dealing with abrasions, acne vulgaris, athlete’s foot, cuts, eczema, pimples, seborrhea, mouth sores, warts, and wrinkles. For more information on the many benefits provided by jojoba, please feel free to contact a representative from your local health food store with questions.
August 13, 2009 03:49 PM
The mullein is a genus of about 250 species of flowering plants. They are all part of the figwort family. Mullein plants can be found growing natively in Europe and Asia. The highest species diversity can be found in the Mediterranean region. The mullein plant is a biennial or perennial plant that grows from 0.5 to three meters tall. They have leaves that are spirally arranged and often densely hairy. The flowers have five symmetrical Petals and can be yellow, orange, red-brown, purple, blue, or white depending upon the species.
Mullein was suggested to be used in treating eye problems, tonsillitis, coughs, stings, and toothaches by Dioscorides. This herb was first introduced to America by the early European settlers. Native Americans used mullein to treat lung problems, with some tribes even smoking the leaves to treat asthma. Mullein was used during the Civil War for respiratory problems. It was made into syrup for coughs. Dr. Edward Shook referred to mullein as a great herb for treating tuberculosis and other lung problems.
Mullein is traditionally well known for its use in treating respiratory disorders such as asthma, bronchitis, coughs, tuberculosis, and congestion. The herb can help to loosen mucus from the respiratory and lymphatic systems. Mullein both nourishes and strengthens the lungs. This herb is also used to relieve pain, soothe hemorrhoids, treat burns and bruises, and to induce sleep. Mullein has a calming effect on tissues that are inflamed and irritated nerves. Mullein helps to control coughs, cramps, and spasms. In tea form, this herb is good for dropsy, sinusitis, swollen joints, and can be applied to mumps, tumors, a sore throat, and tonsillitis. Though this herb has been used traditionally for centuries, there is still very little information known of its healing components.
Recent research has determined that the saponins, mucilage, and tannins in this herb contribute to the soothing topical effect that it possesses. These properties are ideal for treating lung ailments, coughs, colds, asthma, whooping cough, and emphysema. Also, this herb is suggested for pain, as a sleep aid, a laxative, and to get rid of warts. One study concluded that mullein inhibits the growth of bacteria, which is a known cause of tuberculosis in vitro.
The leaves of the mullein plant are used to provide analgesic, anticatarrhal, antispasmodic, antitussive, astringent, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, mucilant, and vulnerary properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are calcium, iron, potassium, sulfur, and vitamins A, B-complex, and D. Primarily, this herb is extremely beneficial in treating allergies, hay fever, asthma, bleeding of the bowels, bleeding of the lungs, bronchitis, colds, sinus congestion, coughs, croup, diarrhea, dysentery, earaches, emphysema, glandular problems, hemorrhages, insomnia, swollen joints, lung disorders, lymphatic congestion, irritated membranes, nervousness, pain, pleurisy, pulmonary disease, and tuberculosis. Additionally, mullein is very helpful in dealing with bruises, constipation, diaper rash, edema, eye problems, intestinal problems, menstrual symptoms, mumps, skin disorders, sore throat, toothaches, tumors, venereal diseases, ulcers, warts, 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 mullein, please feel free to consult a representative from your local health food store with questions.
August 13, 2009 12:09 PM
The mugwort plant is one of several species in the genus Artemisia. In Northern America, this plant is considered to be an invasive weed. The plant is very common and can be found growing on nitrogenous soils, like weedy uncultivated areas such as waste places and roadsides. The mugwort plant is a tall herbaceous perennial plant that grows from one to two meters tall and has a woody root. The leaves, which are between five to twenty centimeters in length, are dark green, pinnate, with dense hairs on the underside. The stem has a red-purplish tinge. The flowers are rather small with many yellow or dark red Petals. This plant can be found flowering from July to September.
The mugwort plant is native to Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. Sometimes, it is referred to as the felon herb, St John’s plant, chrysanthemum weed, and wild wormwood. The plant’s root has a history of medicinal use. Mugwort was used in the ancient world as a treatment for fatigue and to guard travelers from evil sprits and wild animals. Roman soldiers are said to have placed mugwort in their sandals to keep their feet energized. One could curb fatigue by chewing mugwort leaves. Sometimes, mugwort is confused with wormwood.
Mugwort is popular in witchcraft. It is said to promote lucid dreaming and astral travel. Smoking or eating mugwort before going to sleep is supposed to make dreams much more intense. It also helps the dreamer to remember them upon waking. This herb contains wormwood oil, thujone, flavonoids, triterpenes, and coumarin derivatives. Thujone is toxic. For this reasons, expectant mothers should avoid consuming large amounts of mugwort. Due to toxicity concerns, the plant is recommended less often now.
In traditional Chinese medicine, mugwort still has a role in an aged, pulverized, and recompounded form. In this form, it is used to correct breech birth presentation. Additionally, mugwort can cause uterine contractions, so it has been used to induce abortion.
The leaves of the mugwort plant have been recommended for colic, diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps, weak digestion, worm infestation, and persistent vomiting. This herb has also been used to stimulate the secretion of bile and gastric juices. It has also been used as a laxative, liver tonic, and sedative. Mugwort promotes circulation. Additionally, it helps with hysteria, epilepsy, convulsions in children, and menstrual problems. This herb has been used as a tonic to boost energy and strength. It has been used, combined with other ingredients, for neuroses, neurasthenia, depression, hypochondria, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, and anxiety.
In summary, the root and leaves of the mugwort plant are used to provide abortifacient and anthelminthic properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are lipophilic flavonoids and sesquiterpene lactones. Primarily, mugwort is extremely beneficial in treating anxiety, colic, constipation, depression, diarrhea, digestion, epilepsy, hysteria, insomnia, menstrual problems, vomiting, and worms. 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. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by mugwort, please feel free to consult a representative from your local health food store with questions.
Marshmallow Root Herb
August 12, 2009 11:30 AM
The marshmallow plant can be found in southern and western Europe, western Asia, and the northeastern region of North America. The plant originally grew in salty soils, but now it thrives in moist, uncultivated ground. The fleshy, upright stems of the marshmallow plant reach a height of three to four feet. The pale yellow roots are tapered, long, and thick. They have a tough, yet flexible, exterior. The short-stemmed leaves are round, with irregularly toothed margins and three to five lobes. The leaves and stem are covered with a soft and velvety down. The flowers have five reddish-white Petals. The whole plant, especially the root, is filled with a mild mucilage.
Since ancient Egyptian times, marshmallow has been used as food and medicine. One of the herbs found in the grave of a Neanderthal man in a cave in Iraq was marshmallow. This herb was used anciently for irritated throats and intestinal tracts. The Europeans used marshmallow for bronchitis, colds, and coughs. This was because of its soothing and healing properties. Native Americans also used marshmallow to treat snakebites and wounds.
This herb is responsible for helping to expel phlegm and relax the bronchial tubes while soothing and healing. The herb aids in healing lung ailments such as asthma and inflammation. The soothing and healing properties that are found in the mucilage in marshmallow make it a valuable herb for many lung ailments. Also, it is useful on sore throats, infections, diarrhea, dysentery, skin irritations, and for coughs. This herb is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant. This fact makes it good for both the joints and the gastrointestinal tract. Marshmallow is used as a poultice with cayenne, which allows it to help with gangrene, blood poisoning, burns, bruises, and wounds.
Studies have found that the mucilaginous properties of marshmallow yield a soothing effect on the mucous membranes. A study that was done on animals showed some indication of a reduction in blood sugar levels and hypoglycemia activity. This may be beneficial for diabetics.
The root of the marshmallow plant are used to provide alterative, anticatarrhal, anti-inflamamtory, antilithic, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, galactagogue, lithotriptic, mucilant, nutritive, and vulnerary properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are calcium, iodine, iron, pantothenic acid, sodium, and vitamins A and B-complex. Primarily, marshmallow is extremely beneficial in treating asthma, bed-wetting, bleeding, boils, bronchitis, emphysema, kidney problems, lung congestion, nervous disorders, pneumonia, urinary incontinence, urinary problems, uterine problems, whooping cough, and wounds. Additionally, this herb is very helpful in dealing with allergies, breast problems, burns, constipation, coughs, diabetes, diarrhea, dysentery, sore eyes, gangrene, gastric disorders, glandular problems, inflammation, intestinal problems, kidney stones, absent lactation, liver disorders, irritated membranes, excessive mucus, and skin disorders.
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 marshmallow, please feel free to consult a representative from your local health food store with questions.
Borage Seed Oil (GLA)
June 10, 2009 11:34 AM
Borage, often referred to as starflower, is an annual herb that originated in Syria. However, it was naturalized throughout the Mediterranean region and in Asia Minor, Europe, North Africa, and South America. The plant grows to a height of two to three feet, having a bristly hair all over the stems and leaves. The leaves are alternate, simple, and ranging from two to six inches in length, while the flower are complete with five narrow, triangular-pointed Petals. The borage flower is most often blue in color, but occasionally pink flowers are observed. White flowers can also be cultivated. The borage plant has an indeterminate growth habit, which may lead to prolific spreading. In milder climates, borage will bloom for most of the year continuously.
Borage was often used to flavor wine drank by ancient Celtic warriors before going into battle because it held the reputation of enhancing both courage and strength. During the middle Ages, the leaves and flowers of the borage plant were combined with wine to relieve melancholy. The Roman scholar Pliny believed that this herb was useful for treating depression and lifting the spirits. John Gerard, a sixteenth-century herbalist, thought of borage as an herb to comfort the heart and increase joy.
In addition to its mood-boosting properties, borage is often used to treat bronchitis. This is because of its soothing effect and its ability to reduce inflammation and detoxify the body. Borage is known to help heal the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat and to stimulate activity in the kidneys and adrenal glands to rid the body of catarrh.
Also, borage is useful for restoring vitality during recovery from an illness. This herb is helpful for treating problems of the digestive system and has been used to increase quantity and quality of mother’s milk. Borage was traditionally cultivated for culinary and medicinal uses, but today it is commercially cultivated as an oilseed. The seed oil provides a desired source of GLA, for which borage is the highest known plant-based source. Virgin borage oil contains essential fatty acids, especially when they are in concentrations with gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). This fatty acid can account for as much as 26 percent of the oil’s content. It is best known for its source of concentrated GLA. The borage plant is known to stimulate the adrenal glands to help the body during stressful times.
Borage includes use as either a fresh vegetable or a dried herb. As a fresh vegetable, borage has a cucumber-like taste and is often used in salads or as a garnish. The flower has a sweet honey-like taste and is one of the few truly blue-colored things that are edible, making it popular for the decoration of dessert.
The leaves of the borage plant are used to provide blood purifier, diaphoretic, febrifuge, galactoagogue, and purgative properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb include calcium and potassium. Primarily, borage is most beneficial in dealing with bronchitis, congestion, inflammation of the eyes, fevers, heart problems, absence of lactation, excessive mucus, PMS and rashes. Additionally, this herb is extremely helpful in treating blood impurities, colds, gastric disorders, insomnia, jaundice, lung disorders, nervous disorders, pleurisy, ringworm, and urinary problems.
Borage oil is available in softgel or bulk liquid forms at your local or internet health food store. Always purchase name brands to ensure quality and purity of the product you purchase. For more information on the beneficial effects of borage, please contact a representative from your local health food store.
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.
Exotic Herbs From The Amazon Basin
June 22, 2007 05:07 PM
Although many traditional herbal medicines have yet to find complete scientific corroboration in the West, it follows logically that people wouldn't use an herbal product for centuries if it didn't work.
Many of the popular herbs we all recognize as having great health benefits were only recently considered pretty exotic. Even green tea - a staple in China for centuries -has only lately gone main stream.
So it will likely be with herbs from the Amazon basin and its environs. The Amazon basin is one of the most bountiful environments on the planet. Explorers and botanists from the West have looked to this region for generations for the "next big thing." Of course, in many cases, the "next big thing" has already been in use for centuries.
In this issue of Ask the Medicine Hunter, we're going to look at some energizing and life- stimulating herbs that also happen to have great antioxidant properties, too. Best yet, many of them are available to us here from companies that practice fair trade policies.
Let's take a look at some of the herbal powerhouses coming out of the Amazon (and its nearby neighborhoods):
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) has been cultivated for a long time at least 2000 years. Related to brassica family plants like radishes, mustard and cabbage, its foliage does actually look somewhat radish-like, but grows close to the ground.
Maca is cultivated by the Andean people in Peru's central highlands, and contains a plethora of beneficial compounds that enhance overall health and vitality. The tradition of cultivating maca is an old one some strains have been found in Incan sites that date from 1600 B.C. During early European colonization, maca was used by the local native culture as a form of currency, much of the way cocoa was used by the Aztecs, further north in pre-Columbian Mexico.
Maca thrives in high altitudes - between 10,000 and 16,000 feet. The harsher the conditions, the better it grows, or so it seems. In fact, efforts to grow the plant in Central Europe haven't been as successful - maca seems to enjoy its home turf the best. In Peru, maca is a popular and beloved nutrient-packed superfood, and is commonly powdered and mixed into drinks at roadside stands throughout the Andes.
Q. I've heard of maca being used for healthy libido - are there any other benefits?
A. Maca is a natural energizer, and although it is recognized for it's libido enhancing abilities, it has other uses, too, acting as an adaptogen - similar to rhodiola or ginseng. In fact, in South America, maca is known as "Peruvian Ginseng." Though maca is not ginseng at all, some of the benefits of both plants are similar.
In any event, maca is recommended for boosting the immune system, menopause support, and hormonal balance in general. For daily use, maca is most recognized as a great source of energy and all-day endurance. Alkaloids from maca root may be partially responsible for both maca's energizing and libido boost. Research shows that maca affects the hypothalamic-pituitary (HPA) axis - boosting energy and overall aphrodisiac prowess in men and women. Maca contains novel compounds called macamides and macaenes, which have been proven in animal studies to significantly enhance energy, stamina and sexual function reasons people have been so consuming maca for 2000 years.
There are other serious reasons why maca is such an excellent plant. One group of compounds in maca is the isothiocyanates-aromatics constituents that are responsible for the "hotness" of mustards and radishes - fellow members of the brassica family. Isothiocyanates from other members of the brassica family may reduce the risk of breast and stomach cancer. Although the same constituents specifically from maca haven't beentested, it's plausible that they could have the same effects.
Q. I've heard a little about guarana extracts - is it just caffeine?
A. Guarana is widely loved for its mild stimulating effect, which is due to caffeine. But this is by no means this Amazonian herb's sole beneficial compound. Guarana (Paullinia cupana) is so logically ingrained in the culture of Brazil that it's practically a rival (actually out-sells) Coca-Cola in its soft-drink form. Like many other indigenous herbs, guarana was in use locally well before European settlement. Its Latin name comes fromthe German botanist C.F. Paullini, who first encountered the herb in the 1700s. This evergreen vine typically climbs fairly far up the Brazilian forest trees. The seed is the part that gets used. In one clinical study, guarana boosted the memory alertness of participants, even when the caffeine level per dose was a low 9 mg., as compared with approximately 100 mg for a cup of coffee. This effect suggests that other agents than caffeine contribute to a feeling of well being.
Guarana also contains powerful antioxidants including catechin, epicatechin and proanthocyanidins, which protect cells against destruction from free radicals, and impart benefits to the body's tissues and blood. The small seed of this plant is powerful in its health benefits.
Catuaba (Erythroxylum catuaba) is a common tree found in South America from Brazil to Peru, in the same genus as the coca plant. Catuaba contains components known as alkaloids. These alkaloids (called catuabine A, B, and C) are probably responsible for themental boost most people get when they take catuabe-based supplements or mixes.
There may be little confusion regarding catuaba, because various species and genus typesuse the common name. As a result, "catuaba" gets bandied around a lot, and one person'scatuaba may not be the next. Read labels carefully. The catuaba I've had the best luck with is Erythroxylum catuaba.
One of my favorite drinks in the world is coffee, and I'm sure at many people reading thisconsider it the essential part of their morning, too.
The part of coffee that we use the most is the seed of the coffee fruit - which appears as a bright, red berry. Most of the time, this fruit is sloughed off and left behind in the process of making coffee - it's really too delicate to last long in hot conditions.
But advances in technology have tapped a previously discarded resource. Though the fruit of coffee is available in any coffee-growing economy, a high antioxidant commercial extract of "coffee cherry" is now available from the fruits of coffee plants in Mexico.
Coffee fruit has many of the attributes of other dark-colored, anthcyanin-rich fruits. Coffee fruit (also referred to as "coffee cherry") appears not to be just another antioxidant, however. Current research on this once-forgotten, former castoff shows impressive abilities to decrease tumor size, and possibly even prevent their formation in the first place. It seems that the elements in coffee berry activate T-lymphocytes in such a way that mammary tumors are shrunk or simply put on hold. It will be fascinating to see how this science plays out.
Muira Puama Bark:
Muira puama (PtychoPetalum olacoides) grows between 15 to 45 feet high. Native to theAmazon basin of Brazil, the dried bark has been used for centuries as a traditional energysupport. Components include beta-sitosterol, campesterol and lupeol.
Muira puama, like other central nervous stimulants has been researched lately for its ability to boost memory retrieval and protect neural (brain) tissue. Who knows? Maybe this traditional ingredient could someday be on the cutting edge of natural medicines fighting Alzheimer's, much the way green tea and turmeric are currently. In one unpublished French study of 262 men with low libido and poor erectile function, 62% experienced significant improvement after taking an extract of Muira puama for two weeks.
Acai (Euterpe acai) berry is a traditional favorite (and readily available) food source for people in the Amazon. The tree is a tall-growing palm with berries that provide - a rich source of anthocyanins, potent purple pigments with extraordinary high antioxidant activity.
Once harvested, acai fruits decay rapidly. As with coffee fruits, special processing is the surest way to make certain the nutrients of acai berry make it to those of us outside the Amazon basin.
However, these wonderful fruits not only fight against free radical damage, but help our natural digestive enzymes and boost natural immune defenses, too. In fact, current research is investigating whether compounds in acai may have a fighting effect on leukemia, too. So far, the results have been very positive.
Look for supplements made using organically-grown, fair trade acai berry. The best companies ensure that the local people harvesting acai and the communities where they live gather more than just short-term benefits. The best companies work not just to provide jobs, but better lives for generations to come.
Q. What is sustainability and fair trade, anyway?
A. Sustainability refers to a set of naturally occurring circumstances, or intentionally designed practices and principles, which ensure that all parts or members of a situation are adequately nourished to promote their healthy continuance. In current parlance, sustainability often refers to practices and programs designed and implemented to keep natural systems healthy and flourishing. Many such programs focus on environmental protection and preservation of traditional cultures. In the world of medicinal plants, sustainable practices include organic agriculture, species management, fair trade, and benefit-sharing programs.
In other words, sustainability pays people fair wages, puts resources back into their communities, and ensures that the resources that benefit us all are going to be around for a long time. It is an earth-friendly, people-friendly concept of commerce that happily, is taking root around the world.
The traditional cultures that use - and have used - these ingredients for generations wouldn't have done so if they hadn't been effective. Fortunately we live in an era when formerly locally-used herbs are now available far beyond their previous range. We are also fortunate to have companies and individuals working hard to make sure that the people who tend and care for these precious resources are paid fairly for their efforts, andthat their families and communities benefit from this commerce as well.
The great thing about using traditional herbs and ingredients that have been gathered in this manner is that you know they'll be around for a long time.
ST. JOHN’S WORT (Hypericum perforatum)
July 14, 2005 10:42 PM
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) belongs to the family Hypericaceae, which consists of eight genuses and about 350 species. St. John’s wort is a plant whose leaves are whorled, gland-dotted, simple, and usually smooth-margined. Its flowers are five-Petalled and yellow with many stamens, which are often united in bundles. St. John’s wort was first known to be used in the Crusades to treat battle wounds. Contemporary research supports this, with various diseases proving Hypericum’s worth in aiding all types of topical wounds in their healing and recovery. It is specifically used for putrid leg ulcers that are difficult to heal, and is used to treat many varying septic wounds, boils, and inflammation in cellulite and lymphangitis.1
For centuries, St. John’s wort has been used to treat disor-ders of mood and temperament.” Modern research is also backing this up, with several very recent studies demonstrating St. John’s wort’s ability to treat mild and moderate forms of depression as well and with fewer side effects as the standard antidepressant drugs used.
Recent investigation is also revealing St. John’s wort to be helpful for a number of other disorders. Among them is AIDS/HIV, a disease that leads several age/gender groups in cause of death. But St. John’s wort is being researched for its ability to hinder viral growth and production, perhaps making it key to at least treating the virus, if not able to cure the disease. Hypericum is being used for treatment research of several other virus-caused diseases as well. Another area in which St. John’s wort is showing great promise is that of cancer. Various forms of cancers and growths have been successfully treated with therapies including Hypericum or hypericin (one of its compounds). And the list goes on and on. St. John’s wort is certainly an herb worth investigating for its seeming abilities to combat various disorders prevalent among us.
Echinacea - Choosing The Ideal Immune Support
June 30, 2005 09:27 AM
Echinacea By Ellen J. Kamhi, Ph. D. with Dorie Greenblatt Echinacea, pronounced ek-i-NAY-see-a, is one herb that has become a “household” name in the 1990’s. Many refer to it as “Purple Cone Flower” because of its large purple daisy Petals, which contain a hard and spiny center cone. These spines probably give the plant its name, since sea animals with spines are called “echinoderms”. Echinacea is indigenous to the U.S., and can be found both growing wild in many areas as well as in cultivated gardens. There are actually nine different species of the plant; two are most popular as remedies: Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea. Echinacea has a long history of use by Native Americans, who have utilized the herb for a wide variety of treatments ranging from stings, poisoning, toothaches and swollen glands to colds and sore throats. It has also been touted as an ideal natural remedy for snake bites. In particular, the benefit of Echinacea as a treatment for snake bites brought national attention to the herb in the last half of the 1800’s. Dr. H.F.C. Meyer of Pawnee City, Nebraska first tried to interest Eclectic Physicians (doctors who used natural medicines) to use Echinacea as an herbal remedy for snake bites by volunteering to be bitten by a rattlesnake to prove its effectiveness. Although his dramatic offer was rejected, his enthusiasm and concerted efforts led to renewed interest and investigative studies on Echinacea, resulting in the herb’s emergence as one of the most popular natural plant therapies by the turn of the century.
Extensive studies on Echinacea’s medicinal properties continue to mirror the earlier usages of the herb as experienced by indigenous people. In fact, Echinacea is part of the official materia medica listed in the German Commission E. Monographs, a universally recognized publication reputed to be the official information authority on herbal medicines. The Commission lists a number of medicinal applications for Echinacea as an ideal treatment for such conditions as colds, chronic infections of the respiratory tract and lower urinary tract ailments, as well as topically for chronic ulcerations and slow healing wounds.
Echinacea has been shown to be a potent immune system stimulant. Nature’s Answer® offers an outstanding Echinacea fluid herbal extract formula in a unique blend that contains both Echinacea angustifolia root and Echinacea purpurea whole plant. Fluid extracts that feature both whole plant and root parts in the formula insure that the highest levels of the whole herb’s active constituents are maintained. A further advantage to this kind of supplement lies in its delivery system– liquids are faster to absorb and easier to assimilate by the body than tablets or capsules. Nature’s Answer®’s Echinacea formulas are available in either alcohol-free or organic alcohol forms. In addition, the alcohol-free supplements are also offered in a tasty grape or tangy orange flavor.
Two popular blends featuring Echinacea with other supportive herbs are Immune Boost™ and Re-Zist™. Immune Boost™ combines Echinacea with Wild Indigo and Maitake Mushroom. Re-Zist™ contains Echinacea, Goldenseal, Wild Indigo, Cayenne and Myrrh for potent support.
Echinacea is also recognized for its ability to enhance the resistance of cells to viruses, especially when used after cells have been exposed to colds and flus. As a preventative, formulas such as Nature’s Answer®’s Echinacea/Goldenseal (alcohol-free, organic alcohol) are ideal. This is an excellent supplement for soothing sore throats and helping to shrink swollen glands. An added benefit to the formula is the presence to berberine, the active ingredient in Goldenseal, which provides further wellness enhancement.
Many studies have focused on Echinacea’s possible use for ailments such as psoriasis and early rheumatoid arthritis. The herb also acts as an overall anti-inflammatory tonic. Nature’s Answer®’s Blood Support™ (alcohol-free) combines Echinacea with Dandelion, Licorice and other herbs for an anti-inflammatory effect. Allertone™ (alcohol-free) blends Echinacea with Mullein Leaf to help support the respiratory and sinus areas.
Most herbal practitioners suggest using Echinacea for short-term periods. There has been evidence to suggest that the herb loses its effectiveness when used over longer periods of time. Also, in the case of autoimmune illnesses, some people believe Echinacea may OVER-stimulate the immune system, although there is no solid research to back this contention. Echinacea is probably most effective if used in frequent doses for 5-7 days at the early onset of symptoms. It may also serve as a preventative during periods after known exposure or during extra stress, taking it two to three times a day every other or every third day. The German Commission E lists no known drug interactions or side effects with Echinacea. It is indeed one of the safest and most effective herbs for natural immune support today.
Echinacea seems well suited to life in the 90’s with all the stresses upon our immune systems. Its importance and effectiveness as an immune stimulant is as true today as it was in 1927 when Dr. Liebstein stated:
“Nature has probably destined Echinacea to be used for remedial purposes only, as a sustainer of vitality, an organizer of the defensive powers of the system, to such an extent as to be justly crowned the greatest immunizing agent in the entire vegetable kingdom....” written in 1927 by Dr. A. M. Liebstein (Foster, 1991)
The A Team
June 14, 2005 06:04 PM
The A Team
by Gregory Meade Energy Times, October 11, 2004
Want the A Team playing to improve your health? When you accumulate enough antioxidants to help you attack the molecular marauders out to mar your well-being, you improve your chances of avoiding illness.
Nowadays you hear plenty of talk about the benefits of antioxidant nutrients. Antioxidants are the ammunition the body uses to fight off internal damage. They offer the body the means to fight against disease but, at the same time, your body must be in the position to use them optimally. That means getting enough sleep, consistently exercising and avoiding overly processed foods. Those lifestyle habits allow your body to garner its resources and effectively implement antioxidants in its quest for well-being.
Your body has a love-hate relationship with oxidation: Can't live without it, often has trouble living with it. For instance, the production of energy in your cells requires oxidation. But the byproducts of that process, problematic molecules called free radicals, have to be chemically changed or eliminated to avoid the damage that results when they interact with other parts of the cell. Left unchecked, these molecular troublemakers can wreak havoc, oxidizing and punching holes in cell membranes and damaging other structures they contact. Antioxidant nutrients are used to defend against oxidation, quell these harmful destroyers and limit the potential harm they can cause.
For a quick glimpse of one of your basic antioxidant defenses, look in the mirror. The color in your eyes represents antioxidant protection against oxidative injury from the ultraviolet rays in sunlight. Sunlight's energy sets loose free radicals every time it enters the lenses in your eyes. Pigments absorb this radiation and, in most cases, render it harmless.
As part of your vision's defenses, two of the antioxidant pigments in your food, lutein and zeaxanthin, are deposited by your body in certain areas of your eyes-in a section called the macula as well as the lens (BJ Opthalmol 1998; 82:907-10).
Lutein and zeaxanthin are classified as carotenoids, chemical relatives of beta carotene, the antioxidant pigment that makes carrots orange, and lycopene, the anticancer red coloring found in tomatoes. These fat-soluble nutrients are also present in algae. In both your eyes and plants, these nutrients absorb the destructive ultraviolet rays that give birth to free radicals.
Studies show that consuming large amounts of these pigments lowers your risk of a common form of blindness called age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) and drops your chances of age-related cataracts. (More than 30 million people worldwide suffer from ARMD, and cataracts is the leading cause of blindness across the globe.)
When the sun's rays enter the eye, lutein and zeaxanthin absorb and filter out dangerous radiation before it can injure the macula. The macula is the central part of the retina that allows us to see very fine detail. Otherwise, over time, as the macula deteriorates, our vision worsens. In addition, some researchers believe these nutrients help lower your chances of cancer.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in spinach, Brussels sprouts, corn, collard greens, green beans, egg yolks, broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuce, kiwi and honeydew melons. The Petals of yellow flowers like marigolds and nettles are also rich in these antioxidant nutrients.
You can also increase your chances of better sight as you age by consuming sulphoraphane, an antioxidant found in broccoli. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found that sulphoraphane takes part in the body's efforts to shield eye cells from free radicals generated by ultraviolet light (Proc Natl Acad Sci 2004; 101(28):10446-51).
The researchers who performed this study believe that unlike the antioxidant nutrients vitamin C and natural vitamin E, sulphoraphane acts as an "indirect" antioxidant. That means that while those two vitamins are used by the body to directly defuse the harmful oxidative force of free radicals (and then must be replaced or regenerated in the cells), sulphoraphane acts indirectly, boosting the body's immunity defenses. Because of that indirect action, researchers point out, sulphoraphane lasts longer in the body and may produce a more profound, long-term antioxidant effect.
In other laboratory tests, researchers have discovered that sulphoraphane can kill Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium recognized 20 years ago as the cause of debilitating stomach ulcers and often-fatal stomach cancers (Proc Natl Acad of Sci 5/28/02). This research shows that sulphoraphane is even effective against antibiotic-resistant Helicobacter. Adding to its benefits, sulphoraphane can help kill bacteria both inside and outside stomach cells; when this bacteria hides inside of cells it is particularly difficult to fight.
" We've known for some time that sulforaphane had modest antibiotic activity," says Jed Fahey, a plant physiologist at Hopkins. "However, its potency against Helicobacter, even those strains resistant to conventional antibiotics, was a pleasant surprise."
Looking for Mr. Good Diet
For the biggest bang for your antioxidant buck, combine antioxidants with good lifestyle habits. A laboratory study of the heart-healthy effects of taking supplements of the antioxidant vitamins C and natural E along with L-arginine (an amino acid) found that exercise magnifies benefits (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 5/24/04, online). The scientists who performed this study recommend exercise along with antioxidants to boost your nutritional advantage.
The box score shows that when playing with the A Team you've got the best chance of hitting an antioxidant home run.