Search Term: " SCHISANDRA "
Adaptogens for a Stressful World
August 16, 2017 09:14 AM
The hottest selling botanicals fall under the category of adaptogens. Business in this area is thriving very well. This could be due to the influence of two different consumer targets that are interested in it. The differences are in age mostly. Recently, curcumin has been one of the top selling nutritional ingredients in the United States of America. Curcumin is an anti inflammatory agent and it comes from the golden yellow turmeric plant. This is an important health benefit.
"In recent years, curcumin (Curcuma longa) has been among the top-selling nutritional ingredients in the U.S. market."
Read more: https://www.naturalproductsinsider.com/articles/2017/07/adaptogens-for-a-stressful-world.aspx
Adaptogens: Herbs That Can Help In Fighting Stress
It has been proven through various researches that cortisol hormone in your body can cause stress by effecting its physiological system like adrenal glands or thyroid, etc. The anxiety and irritation caused by the elevation of cortisol can cause a number of health problems including diabetes, weight gain, depletion of energy level and risk of heart problems etc. Most researchers have found adaptogenic herbs as the best and effective natural source of fighting stress caused by the elevation of cortisol in the body.
A group of plants that can be used for fighting stress caused by the increase of cortisol hormone in the body are known as Adaptogens. They can help in protecting and restoring the body by balancing its hormonal growth. Some of the popular herbs used for this purpose may include Ashwagandha, American Ginseng, Astragalus, Asian Ginseng, Eleuthero, Cordyceps, Maca, Holy Basil, SCHISANDRA and Rhodiola.
Here's a brief description about these herbs:
Ashwaganda: It is also known as Indian ginseng as Ayurvedic medicine science uses it since thousands of years not only for fighting stress but also for regulating your immune system by lowering the level of cortisol hormone.
American Ginseng: This adaptogenic herb is also known as Panax Ginseng as it belongs to the botanical family of Panax. Normally two types of Ginseng are used for relieving stress including American and Asian ginseng.
Asian Ginseng: Researches have proved it to be one of the most popular adaptogens that can help in improving your ability to handle stress along with your mental performance due to its antidepressant and antioxidant properties which can lower the levels of your blood sugar and blood pressure. Though American and Asian ginsengs belong to the same medicinal group, their healing properties are different from each other.
Astragalus: The root of this herb is used in various Chinese medicine to reduce the effect of stress along with boosting your immunity level. It can reduce the receptor binding ability of cortisol, a stress causing hormone.
Eleuthero: It reduces the symptoms of adrenal fatigue due to its Panax Ginseng like properties. It soothes the stimulated adrenal glands producing stress causing hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
Cordycep: It is a kind of fungus which has antioxidant properties to help you in fighting stress along with boosting your immune system.
Maca: It is a root vegetable that is used to reduce the risk of various health problems like arthritis and diabetes etc. caused due to increased stress along with increasing your libido. Along with wide variety of nutrients, it also provides healthy fiber to your body.
Holy basil: Tulsi is another popular name of this adaptogenic herb. Along with boosting your immune system it also helps you in fighting stress and regulating blood pressure.
Schizandra: The berries of this adaptogenic herb are used for making various stress relieving medicines and general tonics in China.
Rhodiola: According to various health experts it helps in reducing physical fatigue along with stress related problems like mental stress etc. due to its antioxidant properties.
What is Schizandra Fruit Good for?
May 17, 2011 02:57 PM
Schizandra and your Health.
Schizandra fruit refers to the berries of schizandra. It is widely used in China and the plant is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is a highly prized ingredient to a health tonic historically prepared for Chinese royalty and nobility. In recent years it has become available to more people across the globe as cultivation increases to meet large-scale productions. Also, herbal supplements that contain extracts of schizandra fruit are becoming popular.
SCHISANDRA chinensis is an indigenous plant species of, as the name suggests, China. However, its native range goes as far north as Asiatic Russia. It is cultivated for its leaves, bark, and berries. The name of the fruit in Chinese translates as “the berry that possesses all five basic flavors,” inasmuch as the Chinese believe it contains organic compounds responsible for its unique taste: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy. The berries are often dried and made into tea that can be served hot or cold.
Scavenges Reactive Oxygen Species
Reactive oxygen species, or ROS, are natural by-products of cellular respiration, the process of energy metabolism that takes place within each individual cell. These include peroxides, singlet oxygen, and free radicals. ROS can interrupt cellular activities and even damage DNA synthesis, the reason why each cell has its own antioxidant defense. That being said, cells are overwhelmed by ROS as we age.
The process of aging has been tied to the weakening antioxidant defense of cells. Free radicals are also believed to be responsible for the fast progression of many life-threatening diseases, such as cancer. Schizandra fruit is a natural remedy for oxidative stress, the cellular damage brought on by ROS. The berries are rich in antioxidants that help replenish the antioxidant stores of the body.
Displays Hepatoprotective Properties
Schizandra fruit is particularly good for the liver. Practitioners of Chinese herbal medicine believe that its berries rejuvenate the liver, the kidneys, and the circulatory system by washing away the toxins these tissues have amassed over the years. The cleansing properties of juices and tinctures that contain schizandra have been ascribed to the organic compounds naturally occurring in the fruit.
Lignans are a class of polyphenolic substances that occur naturally in nature. Schizandrin, deoxyschizandrin, gomisin, and pregomisin are lignans unique to the schizandra fruit. The antioxidant properties of lignans are well established, but those found in the berries of this plant species have an affinity toward hepatocytes, or liver cells. It protects liver cells from oxidative damage and raises the capacity of liver to deal with drugs and their harmful metabolites during first pass metabolism.
Increases Physical Working Capacity
Schizandra fruit is a symbol for youth in the East, and for good reason. For one, it is an adaptogen that increases tolerance to stress and raises the physical capacity of the human body. It is also an aphrodisiac believed to enhance libido and improve sexual performance. Modern herbalists believe its aphrodisiac effects are attributable to its stress-relieving properties.
You too can experience the health benefits of schizandra by picking up a bottle at your health food store.
Dr. Verghese, M.D. Liver Detoxifier & Regenerator Fact Sheet
December 07, 2005 12:16 PM
Dr. Verghese, M.D. Liver Detoxifier & Regenerator Fact Sheet Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA 02/10/05
LIKELY USERS: People with exposure to toxins that stimulate liver activity; People with exposure to infections that may have damaged liver tissue
KEY INGREDIENT (S): Milk Thistle extract (Silymarin), Glutathione, NAC, Bupleurum extract, Grape Seed Extract, Dandelion Root extract, Artichoke Leaf, SCHISANDRA and about a dozen additional herbs, along with synergistic ingredients
MAIN PRODUCT FEATURES: This formula was developed by a physician based on his clinical experience.
Artichoke leaf has antioxidant properties and restores healthy growth to liver cells.
Bupleurum may promote normal cell growth, immune function and is a staple of Chinese liver formulas. Dandelion Root may serve as a natural down-regulator of inflammatory chemicals in the body. NAC supports liver Glutathionestores (antioxidant, detoxifier, heavy metal chelator). SCHISANDRA protects liver cells from toxins and may help to regenerate damaged cells. Milk thistle’s antioxidant Silymarin improves liver function tests and protects liver cells against oxidative damage. It also protects liver cells by blocking and removing toxins from the liver. Silymarin aids in regenerating injured liver cells and blocks fibrosis.
OTHER IMPORTANT ISSUES: Samuel Verghese, M.D. (AM), Ph.D., BCIA-EEG, DAAPM, holds a degree in Alternative Medicine and specializes in Nutritional, Ayurvedic and other Alternative Health Solutions. He is certified as a BCIA-EEG Associate Fellow.
AMOUNT TO USE: Three or more capsules a day, preferably with meals.
COMPLEMENTARY PRODUCTS: Antioxidants (supports liver detoxification), Alpha Lipoic Acid, EGCg Green Tea Extract, Astragalus, medicinal mushrooms (shiitake, reishi), SAM-e (may improve bile flow and promotes methylation to detoxify chemicals), TMG, lecithin, thymus glandular extract, Cordyceps.
AVOID: acetaminophen, alcohol, iron supplements (also red meat, fortified flour)
CAUTIONS: This formula should not be used by pregnant women, nursing mothers children or those with liver problems unless recommended under the supervision of a healthcare professional. 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.
1. Salmi HA, Sarna S. Effect of silymarin on chemical, functional and morphological alterations of the liver. A double-blind controlled study. Scand J Gastroenterol 1982;17:517–21.
Immune Health - Herbs to Maintain A Healthy Immune System
July 01, 2005 04:21 PM
Immune Health By Ellen J. Kamhi, Ph. D. with Dorie Greenblatt The immune system has been receiving a lot of media attention, especially since the rise in recognized immune system deficiency diseases. The efficient functioning of the immune system is of paramount importance to everyone, adults and children alike, since it controls our ability to fend off illness, whether it is a common cold or more deadly disease. The immune system is made up of a combination of specialized cells, chemicals, tissues and organs. These include the lymph nodes, thymus gland, spleen, bone marrow and tonsils, as well as specialized white blood cells, which recognize and engulf invading microorganisms and cellular debris.
The ability of the immune system to function optimally is influenced by many factors. These include inherent genetic makeup, environmental influences (such as pollution, pesticides, hormones, artificial flavoring/colorings in food), obesity, stress levels, exposure to infective agents, etc. Specific research suggests that consuming excessive amounts of sugar interferes with immune function. We can aid our immune system by eating a high amount of organic green vegetables, whole grains and nuts, while cutting down on 'junk food' consumption. Stress reduction, through prayer, meditation, yoga and moderate exercise can also help.
Herbs may be used in two different ways to help the immune system. Tonics strengthen the immune system over time, while strong immune system stimulants have a more immediate action, and are used during an acute infection.
Herbal tonics work to help maintain a dynamic balance in the body and usually need to be taken long-term. Astragalus is said to build "Wei chi". "Chi" is the Chinese concept of life energy force. "Wei chi" is thought of as 'protection'. Current scientific studies confirm the positive benefits of Astragalus on the immune system. One study by the National Cancer Institute demonstrated Astragalus' ability to help strengthen resistance of the immune system, especially to viral infections. Reishi, called the "mushroom of immortality", has been used for centuries as an overall tonic. Chinese physicians have used Ligustrum berries specifically for their immune-enhancing activities. They are often combined with Astragalus for a synergistic effect. Coptis is another Chinese herb that contains the bitter yellow compound, berberine. This herb helps the immune system prevent infections. Many of these herbs can be found in the unique combination formula called Immunotonic™ (alcohol-free). Immunotonic™ offers the ideal way to experience the benefits of many herbs in one convenient supplement.
Other immune system tonic herbs include Siberian Ginseng and SCHISANDRA. Siberian Ginseng is an adaptogen that helps to balance the immune system. It gives strength and fortitude, especially when dealing with environmental stress. SCHISANDRA has been shown to build non-specific resistance, improve brain function, increase work capacity and build strength.
Osha Root has been used traditionally by both Chinese and Native Americans (who called it Chuchupate) for colds and flues, sore throats and other health ailments requiring a higher level of immune support. Echinacea is a well-researched and respected immune system stimulant. (Refer to our Echinacea article for further information). It helps increase the activity of white blood cells, which engulf invading microorganisms. Thuja is an herbal extract from the Northern White Cedar tree. It is a strong immune stimulant that Native Americans used for colds, coughs, bronchitis and other respiratory infections. Possibly the mushroom with the greatest capability of stimulating the immune system is the Maitake. It is known as the "dancing mushroom" because it was so highly prized that whoever found some would dance for joy. Maitake contains specific chemical components that have been scientifically studied for their strong immune enhancing effects; (refer to Maitake Bio-Beta-Glucan™ article for further information). Nature's Answer® combines these herbs in Immune Boost™, a combination formula for use during acute illness and infections. Try it along with the combination formula Echinacea & Goldenseal. Nature’s Answer® offers a selection of all these herbs in liquid and/or capsule forms. Check with your local health food store, or visit www.naturesanswer.com, for more information.
Children can often use a boost to their immune system to help ward off colds and flues. Nature's Answer® comes to the rescue with three alcohol-free formulas specifically designed for their special needs - E-KID-nacea™, E-KID-nacea Plus™, and NatChoo™. All of these outstanding formulas help promote a healthy immune system.
The important role the liver plays in maintaining health
June 21, 2005 04:56 PM
Most practitioners who practice various forms of natural medicine know the important role the liver plays in maintaining health in general. The liver is involved in thousands of biochemical mechanisms making it second only to the brain in importance and complexity. Natural health practitioners are also acutely aware of the detrimental effects on the liver of modern living, with its chemicals, excessive fat intake, pesticides, hormones, and stress. This suggests that we as a culture are in need of liver support. History suggests, and modern research is supporting, that botanicals have an important role to play in supporting a healthy liver.
The liver has an almost miraculous ability to biochemically transform, break down, store, eliminate, and build up the plethora of chemicals to which it is exposed. Many botanicals have a very specific effect of modifying these biochemical processes. Some botanicals can enhance the liver?s phase I (cytochrome P450) and phase II (glutathione conjugation) detoxification processes, promote the flow and production of bile (one means of eliminating toxins), inhibit the attachment of viruses or chemical antagonists to hepatocytes, strongly enhance the liver?s powerful antioxidant systems, or promote the regeneration of liver tissue-the liver being the only organ in the body except the skin able to regenerate itself. Many botanicals have been used historically for promoting liver health. Today, modern research is confirming these benefits while shedding light on their mechanisms of action. Following is an overview of a number of these botanicals.
Milk Thistle Silybum marianum
The extract of the seeds of milk thistle is perhaps the most well researched of all the liver supportive botanicals. Part of its benefit has been in its ability to scavenge free radicals and to stimulate the regeneration of hepatocytes. In Germany, it is the botanical extract of choice for use in supporting a healthy liver. Typically, an extract yielding a minimum of 70% silymarin (a specific class of flavonoids) is used clinically at a dose of approximately 420 mg of the extract daily (Morazzoni and Bombardelli 1995).
Schizandra SCHISANDRA chinensis
Schizandra, known as bei wu wei zi in China, is one of the most widely used tonics of Chinese herbalism. Its original use was to support the health of the heart, kidneys and lungs and as a longevity tonic. Modern research has focused attention on its role as an adaptogen and for supporting a healthy liver. Adaptogens are substances that positively affect overall health by reducing stress mechanisms which can contribute to a number of biochemical reactions that can be detrimental to health. While the mechanism of action of adaptogens has not been definitively determined, the existing literature suggests they work endocrinologically through the pituitary and adrenals and substantially reduce the negative effects that stress has on the system (Wagner et al. 1994). In China and Japan, the modern use of schizandra has focused on its benefit in those in need of liver support. In one review of its pharmacological activity, stabilization of liver enzymes was reported in more than 5,000 people. The benefits were experienced within 20 days of administration of schizandra with 75% of patients returning to normal values (Chang and But 1986). A limited number of controlled studies similarly reported on the beneficial effects of the equivalent of 1.5 grams of schizandra for reducing elevated liver enzymes (Liu 1991). There are three primary mechanisms of action of schizandra reported with regards to its ability to support a healthy liver: 1) its ability to reduce lipid peroxidation induced by a number of different antagonists (antioxidant activity); 2) induction of hepatomicrosomal cytochrome P-450; 3) stimulation of protein biosynthesis and liver glycogen (Liu 1991). Such mechanisms make schizandra ideal as a liver-supportive botanical that is underutilized in the West.
Bupleurum Bupleurum chinense, B. falcatum
Bupleurum, also known as chai hu in China, is perhaps the most important of liver-supportive botanicals in China and Japan, and, like schizandra, is far underutilized in the United States, except by traditional Chinese herbalists. Traditionally, it has been regarded as an herb that helps to normalize the function of the liver from a traditional Chinese perspective. Modern research has identified a group of compounds known as saikosaponins that strongly support liver health (in humans and rats). Mechanisms of action specifically regarding liver health identified for bupleurum include anti-inflammatory activity, as well as its ability to stimulate the production and release of bile, thus facilitating the detoxification process (Wagner et al. 1996).
Sho-Saiko-To Minor Bupleurum
In Chinese herbalism, herbs are seldom prescribed singularly. Rather they are combined according to very sophisticated principles of formulation based on the differential diagnosis of the patient. One of the most widely used and researched botanical formulas for the health of the liver used in China and Japan is Sho-Saiko-To, known in China as Xiao Chai Hu Tang (Minor Bupleurum). This classic formula consists of the following botanicals: ginger, scutellaria, jujube, ginseng, licorice, pinellia and bupleurum. It is widely used throughout Asia for supporting liver health and currently is the subject of phase II clinical trials at Sloan Kettering. The formula with its main ingredient, bupleurum, was first introduced in Japan by Chinese Buddhist priests between the 6th and 8th centuries. Modern research suggests that Sho-Saiko-To modulates the immune response, specifically in addition to other mechanisms, by increasing levels of interleukin and interferon (Huang et al. 2001).
To the same extent that herbs are seldom used singularly in Chinese herbalism, they are similarly used within a broader context that incorporates dietary and other lifestyle changes to support the botanicals. In my clinic, I routinely recommend that patients eliminate alcohol, coffee, sugar, and refined foods from their diet and eat whole grain foods, fish, and several servings of green vegetables daily along with their herbal program. For these individuals this is a simple program to follow, and many are able to live a normal productive life with a greater level of liver health. Such a liver-supportive program must be maintained as a way of life to lessen the burden that modern society and exogenous factors put on our livers.
The herbal world offers a potential natural health care approach that focuses on protecting and restoring the health and functioning of the liver. Both traditional experience and modern investigation suggest that botanicals can play a role in world health, specifically in promoting liver health.
The use of botanicals should be used under the guidance of a qualified health care professional. The combined use of conventional and natural therapies may not be appropriate. Before attempting to combine such therapies, discuss your therapeutic options with your primary health care provider.
Chang HM, But PH. 1986. Pharmacology and applications of Chinese materia medica. World Science. Singapore. Huang et al. Semi-quantitative analysis of cytokine mRNA expression induced by the herbal medicine sho-saiko-to (TJ-9) using a gel doc system. J Clin Lab Anal 15: 199-209. Liu GT. 1991. Pharmacological actions and clinical uses of Fructus schizandrae in recent advances in Chinese herbal drugs-actions and uses. Scientific Press Beijing. Morazzoni P, Bombardelli E. 1995. Silybum marianum (Carduus marianus). Fitoterapia LXVI (1):3-42. Wagner H, Noerr N. Winterhoff K. 1994. Plant adaptogens. Phytomedicine 1: 63-76. Wagner H, Bauer R, Peigen X, Jianming C, Offermann F. 1996. Chinese Drug monographs and analysis: Radix Bupleuri (chaihu). Verlag fuer Ganzheitliche Medizin Koetzting/Bayer. Wald, Germany.
Michael Tierra, L. Ac., O.M.D., is a clinician and world-renowned author of the best-selling Way of Herbs and Planetary Herbology. As product formulator for Planetary Formulas, he draws on 30 years of clinical experience to create formulas renowned for their dependability and effectiveness.
Pep Up and Go!
June 14, 2005 05:45 PM
Pep Up and Go!
by Harris Parker Energy Times, February 2, 2000
Feel your energy flagging?
You've lost count of the number of phone calls you fielded all afternoon-the last was from your son, who missed the late bus home from school-and colleagues needing your decision are lined up outside your office. Your husband has invited clients home for dinner. You wilt like a new hairdo on a damp August day and pray for a miracle to jump-start your engine.
Your pep quotient depends on three essential ingredients: nutrients you consume through your diet and supplements, how much you exercise and your sleep schedule.(Of course, if you're troubled by any kind of disabling, ceaseless fatigue accompanied by mental fuzziness, joint pain, sore throat, swollen glands, headaches and other chronic distress, consult your health practitioner.)
Vitamins and Energy
Certain nutrients are called vitamins because scientists consider them to be crucial for vitality. They generally function as coenzymes, partnering with the enzymes that are catalysts for the chemical reactions constantly taking place in our bodies. Our need to replenish our store of vitamins, which may merge with cell, muscle, enzyme, hormone, blood and bone structure once they have been absorbed, depends on their rate of utilization, according to The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book (Avery) by Shari Lieberman, PhD, and Nancy Bruning.
While a low-fat diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables helps supply important nutrients, a B complex supplement and a balanced multivitamin can guarantee daily vitamin levels.
Be Energetic with B Vitamins
Vitamins, especially the B vitamins, play extremely important roles in producing cellular energy. The chart on page 39 lists the key vitamins and describes their effects as well as the consequences of not getting enough of them. Their benefit is felt most profoundly in the energy producing process known as the Krebs cycle (which we'll explain in a moment).
Vitamins B2 and B3, for example, supply the major building blocks for substances that are called flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD and FADH) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD and NADH), which are critical elements of energy production in the Krebs cycle as well as a process called oxidative phosphorylation.
Hundreds of Reactions
Even though you may never have heard of NAD and NADH, these molecules are found in very many places throughout your body; they play a role in hundreds of biochemical reactions in all kinds of cells. B vitamins also combine with other materials to build coenzymes, chemicals which help form other chemicals necessary for cellular energy. B vitamins are crucial: miss out on one or more and you may break these metabolic chains necessary for peak energy.
Energy to Spend
The main energy currency of every cell single cell is ATP: a chemical called adenosine triphosphate. This material is used by cells for every imaginable task including reproduction, growth, movement and metabolism. Specialized metabolic cycles within the cell are designed to generate ATP.
Consequently, the more ATP our cells create, the more energy can be generated. The raw materials used to make cellular energy are glucose (blood sugar) and "free" fatty acids. The best way to supply your cells with the sugar they need is to consume complex carbohydrates which also supply fiber and other nutrients. When you eat carbohydrates, they are made into glucose which is stored as a starch called glycogen in muscles and the liver. Your body can rapidly turn glycogen into glucose for extra energy. (The process of making energy from glycogen yields carbon dioxide and water as well as ATP.)
The first step in making glucose into energy is called glycolysis. This complicated process requires nine different steps. During these steps, glucose is made into a substance called pyruvate. The process of glycolysis requires ATP, but yields twice as much ATP as is present when it starts.
From here, the process gets a little more complicated as pyruvate enters into a complex chain of events in tiny cellular structures called mitochondria. (Many metabolic events take place in the mitochondria.) The pyruvate molecules are converted to a molecule known as acetyl coenzyme A and eventually made into carbon dioxide, water and more ATP.
This process is known as the Krebs cycle or citric acid cycle. It also involves a series of events known as oxidative phosphorylation in which NADH formed during the Krebs cycle is oxidized to form ATP.
Why is fat such a concentrated source of energy? Free fatty acids enter the Krebs cycle to help generate ATP much more efficiently than glucose - producing roughly six times more energy per gram than glucose.
And Don't Overlook. . . . . .other supplements that may aid energy production: • Alpha Lipoic Acid, an antioxidant that works in the fatty tissues of cell membranes and in cells' watery interiors • Coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone as it exists everywhere in the body, acts like a vitamin because it stimulates some reactions. CoQ10 protects cell membranes, especially of the heart, against oxidation and toxins.
Ginsengs: Energy Generators
With their legendary and slightly mysterious characteristics, the ginsengs are greatly respected natural energy boosters. " Perhaps no herb has excited so much interest in medical circles as ginseng, and yet, strangely, it does not actually 'cure' any one particular ailment," reports Michael Hallowell, the author of Herbal Healing (Avery) and a frequent lecturer on botanic medicine. "Rather, its virtue lies in its tremendous power as a tonic and invigorator. Russian athletes are prescribed large amounts of ginseng because researchers in Moscow have shown that it not only improves stamina, but also increases the efficiency with which blood is pumped to the muscles."
What are the physiological mechanisms that allow ginseng to bolster your get up and go? In order to unravel the legend and lore of ginseng, the first step is understanding the intricacies of the three types: • Asian (Panax ginseng), which produces the strongest and most profound stimulation; • American (Panax quinquefolium), which soothes at a more subtle level; • Siberian (Eleutherococcus senticosus), a stamina booster embraced by a wide range of athletes. All three varieties are treasured for their ability to help people adjust to stress.
The ginsengs are adaptogens, "biologically active substances found in certain herbs and plants that help the body and mind adapt to the changes and stress of life," says Stephen Fulder, MD, author of The Book of Ginseng and Other Chinese Herbs for Vitality (Inner Traditions). "Stress is not an illness in itself. Stress is change, our ability to adapt to all the changes that occur in life, emotional or physical, from exercise, work, chemicals, drugs, food, radiation, bacteria, disease, temperature, or simply too many late nights or too much fun."
The body reacts to stress by producing the hormone adrenaline, which throws the whole body into a state of alert. Metabolism, blood pressure and circulation accelerate; immunity and resistance drastically decline; performance suffers.
Enter the ginsengs, with their varied, subtle tonic qualities. The Greek name for this herb, "panax," means "panacea" or cure-all. But the Chinese, who first referred to it 2,000 years ago, more literally called it "ren shen" or "person root," in reference to its physical resemblance to a miniature human form.
" Most exhibit medicinal properties, but each species has a different chemical makeup and has a unique application in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)," says Kim Derek Pritts, author of Ginseng: How to Find, Grow and Use America's Forest Gold (Stackpole). "In general, all true ginseng contains biologically active saponins (chemicals similar to human hormones), essential oils, carbohydrates, sugars, organic acids, nitrogenous substances, amino acids, peptides, vitamins and minerals."
Building Vital Energy
All the ginsengs strengthen, nourish and build Qi, the TCM concept describing basic vital energy circulating through our bodies. Every physical and mental function, from breathing, thinking, nutrition and circulation, is regulated by Qi. Although many of the Native American tribes used the abundant, indigenous Panax quinquefolium ginseng extensively, particularly to increase mental acuity and boost fertility, the herb never has been as popular in North America as it is in Asia. American ginseng traditionally has been a lucrative export crop to China, where the wild native variety suffers from overharvesting. Even today, according to Paul Bergner in The Healing Power of Ginseng & the Tonic Herbs (Prima), 95% of the American ginseng crop is exported to China, where XiYang Shen, or "western sea root," as it is called, is immensely valued and costs double what it does here.
Jacques MoraMarco, author of The Complete Ginseng Handbook: A Practical Guide for Energy, Health and Longevity (Contemporary), as well as a licensed acupuncturist and doctor of Eastern medicine, suggests American ginseng for a slight energy boost. The moderate effect of American ginseng is considered a more appropriate tonic to the intensity of our pace and diet.
Variations on a Theme
In TCM terms, American ginseng cools and moistens, as well as lubricates and strengthens the body. It is reputed to reduce fevers and night sweats and alleviate hot, dry lung problems like smoker's cough. With its emollient qualities, American ginseng is considered to treat dry, wrinkled skin effectively.
The Bolder Energizer
Asian ginseng, which includes red Korean panax, is a bolder energizer taken by those who feel depleted from anemia, blood loss, cardiovascular weakness, injury, shock or trauma, as well as the disabling effects of age. In general, Asian ginseng is warming and stimulating, urging the body to run faster.
Siberian ginseng, though botanically not a true ginseng, still acts similarly to Asian ginseng in its reputed power to control stress, boost energy, support the immune system, enhance performance and increase longevity. Called Wu Cha Seng in Chinese, Siberian ginseng is perceived by natural practitioners as an ideal herb for the healthy who want to lift both stamina and endurance. Experts believe it counteracts the effects of cortisol, the stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to injury, pain or emotional turmoil.
Natural Energy Boosters
The herbal pharmacopeia includes several other natural energy boosters available in various forms-shakes and bars for those on the run-loaded with nutrition absent from commercial snacks. Some choices: • Ginkgo biloba-used in Chinese medicine to heat the body and increase sexual energy. Ginkgo enthusiasts take this herb to increase the supply of oxygen to the brain and generally increase circulation. • Gotu kola-may stimulate the central nervous system and help eliminate excess fluid, thereby reducing fatigue. • Astragalus-a Chinese herb that enhances energy and builds the immune system. It is credited with strengthening digestion, improving metabolism, increasing appetite, combating diarrhea and healing sores. • SCHISANDRA-also a Chinese herb, treats respiratory illness, insomnia and irritability and rejuvenates sexual energy. Its mild adaptogens help the body to handle stress. • Licorice-is a favored endocrine toner in Chinese medicine. It is reputed to support the adrenals, the pair of small glands directly above the kidneys that secrete steroidal hormones, norepinephrine and epinephrine, the "fight or flight" hormones. People with high blood pressure or edema, or pregnant women, should avoid it. • Ashwagandha-an Ayurvedic herb used for thousands of years in the traditional healing of India as a potent strength builder for men and women.
Experienced herbal practitioners acquire an impressive and fascinating store of knowledge and experience-you'll find it helpful to visit one as you begin your course of ginseng or other energy-boosting herbs.
When you visit a TCM practitioner, you'll notice that she evaluates your body's condition through an extremely careful examination of all the different systems: Several pulse points are felt in order to ferret out and detect troubling abnormalities. The condition and color of the tongue is observed to decipher digestive disorders. In addition, your urine may be examined to determine other imbalances and specific health problems.
In many cases, your TCM practitioner will recommend ginseng as an adaptogen that can give you an overall boost. When taking ginseng, follow the directions on the package. Note: in some cases, you may want to consume a little bit less if you suffer headaches, insomnia or high blood pressure. Consult your health practitioner if you are afflicted with either acute inflammatory disease or bronchitis.
Then take comfort in the eternal soothing wisdom of Chinese Traditional Medicine. In the first century A.D., the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (The Divine Husbandman's Classic of the Materia Medica) effusively described ginseng and the tonic herbs in this beguiling and intriguing manner: "The first class of drugs...are considered to perform the work of sovereigns. They support human life and they resemble heaven. They are not poisonous regardless of the quality and duration of administration."
Women and Depression!
June 13, 2005 07:48 PM
Women and Depression by Lisa James Energy Times, March 11, 2004
Just as fog veils a beautiful landscape, so depression veils life itself: rendering existence dark and dreary, narrowing the scope of one's dreams. And women are particularly prone to this lingering sadness.
The good news: Depression doesn't have to linger forever. With proper nutrition, lifestyle changes and a revived outlook, you can break through that fog into a sunnier emotional clime. Women are more likely than men to fall prey to depression throughout their lifetimes, with women being twice as likely as men to experience major depression.
While the greatest risk for both sexes falls at midlife, the gender difference appears early; one in ten teenage girls was found to suffer from major depression in one study (International Journal of Behavioral Development 2004; 28:16-25). What's more, childhood depression leaves a person more susceptible to mood problems in adulthood.
One reason for the gender difference in depression, according to researchers, is that women tend to dwell on depressed feelings to a greater degree than men. Some scientists believe a family history of depression carries greater weight for women. Others theorize that the inner fluctuations of a woman's monthly cycle can leave her susceptible to stresses emanating from the outer world. Studies indicate that almost three-quarters of all premenstrual women experience some level of mood difficulties (Summit on Women and Depression, APA, April 02), and a woman's hormonal ebb and flow may even make her more vulnerable to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the kind of depression linked to a lack of natural light.
Warning Signs Not surprisingly, many depressed folks feel sad and lethargic, down on themselves and the world. But in some people, depression is marked by agitation and concentration difficulties, or is accompanied by anxiety. Sleep disturbances-either insomnia or excessive sleepiness-often ensue, and activities that used to provide pleasure lose their appeal.
Breaking depression's grip can do more than just lighten your mood-it may help safeguard your health. Studies suggest depression dampens the immune response and may increase the risks of coronary heart disease and diabetes (Archives of General Psychiatry 2003; 60:1009-14; Circulation 2000; 102:1773; Diabetes Care 2004; 27:129-33).
Origins of Depression
The reasons some people are pulled down by depression's undertow while others are able to stay afloat emotionally are complex, but researchers believe common factors link them all.
One factor that can't be ignored is genetics. "If you are depressed, there is a 25% chance that a first-degree relative-a parent, child or sibling-is also depressed," says Hyla Cass, MD, author of St. John's Wort: Nature's Blues Buster (Avery). Other factors are physical problems and medication side effects. That's why your first step should be a consultation with your health care practitioner (if your moods are especially dark, seek professional assistance as soon as possible).
Life's worries and cares also weigh more heavily on some people than on others. " [N]ot only will certain stressors [adverse events] cause depression as a direct response," notes Dr. Cass, "but they may predispose an individual to future episodes of depression." For example, the end of a relationship when you feel you've lost a lover and been humiliated (and been cheated on) raises your risk of depression (Archives of General Psychiatry 2003; 60:789-96).
The Depressed Brain
When depression hits, brain chemistry shifts. As a result, chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which relay messages between brain cells, go awry. For instance, a neurotransmitter called serotonin-critical to mood control-may decrease, leaving you feeling depressed, anxious, craving certain foods and unable to sleep.
Conversely, "high levels of serotonin are associated with emotional and social stability," according to Dr. Cass. She adds that, in addition, sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone "affect brain cells directly."
Lifting the Fog
Because the causes of depression are so complex, leaving the darkness behind generally requires opening up several pathways. Part of feeling better simply lies in believing that you can. Researchers have found that depressed people who feel they have a sense of control over their troubles, do, in fact, have a better chance of recovery (General Hospital Psychiatry 2000; 22(4):242-50). Finding a community of like-minded folks bolsters your capacity to deal with mood problems. In some cases, time spent with a therapist can be a valuable aid in figuring out what's bothering you.
On the physical side, losing weight can lift your spirits. Among women with severe obesity-itself a depression risk factor-losing weight has led to depression relief (Archives of Internal Medicine 2003; 163:2058-65). Research also indicates that exercise helps brighten dark moods.
A change in diet, along with certain supplements, can also help dispel depression. The first step on the road to emotional recovery: eat a lot of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, and stay away from overly refined foods with high levels of sugar.
Omega-3 fatty acids, the kinds found in flax seed and fish, are essential to proper brain function. In several studies, people who took supplemental omega-3s found significant relief from depression.
Key amino acids-the basic units of which proteins are built-serve as starting points for the production of mood-lifting neurotransmitters. In one trial, people who took an amino-acid mix that included tyrosine enjoyed better moods and were happier than people who took amino acids without it (Psychopharmacology (Berlin) Sept 4 2003).
Along with amino acids, the body needs the right vitamins-especially members of the all-important B family-to create depression-fighting brain chemicals. In one study, people with depression who took vitamin B12 improved their chances of recovery (BMC Psychiatry 2003; 3:17).
Another interesting observation: Vitamin B12 and its partners vitamin B6 and folate are essential to keep a protein called homocysteine (known primarily as a cardiovascular hazard) from reaching excessive levels, and people with high homocysteine are twice as likely to be depressed. This has led some researchers to speculate that folate may help keep depression under control (Archives of General Psychiatry 2003; 60:618-26).
Herbs that may help beat back the blues include two that help the body deal with stress, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) and SCHISANDRA (S. chinensis).
A new diet, a new outlook: With the help of the right nutrients and the right support, you can break the bonds of depression.