Search Term: " indigenous "
Study looks at anti-diabetes properties of a barberry plant nativeto Africa
April 09, 2019 10:19 AM
Type 2 diabetes is a major health concern, but the drugs healthcare professionals currently turn to are expensive and have negative side effects. As an alternative, researchers in Kenya have found that the spiny evergreen shrub Berberis holstii has anti-diabetic properties. It is traditionally used as a medicine against a wide variety of ailments. The researchers found that, in rats, the plant could reduce blood glucose level. Berberis holstii isn't the only alternative substance that has anti-diabetic properties, other plants/foods include fatty fish, leafy greens, cinnamon, eggs, chia seeds, and turmeric.
"This spice reduces hemoglobin A1c, a marker of long-term blood sugar levels. It is also known to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2019-02-06-study-looks-at-anti-diabetes-properties-of-barberry-plant.html
Cracking the coconut oil craze
April 20, 2017 08:44 AM
Despite a high saturated fat levels, coconut oil is celebrated as having a variety of health benefits. But those benefits may not be supported by science.
Studies have shown that coconut oil does not lower the risk of heart disease relative to other oils. Populations that traditionally consume large amounts of coconut oil also have diets rich in fish and vegetables, so their diets cannot really be compared to standard American eating habits. Small quantities of antioxidants in some coconut oils may lessen inflammation related to heart disease, but this has not been demonstrated in humans.
While there is little evidence for coconut oil's health claims, there is plenty of science to show that diets rich in unsaturated fat, such is olive oil, do help prevent heart disease.
"If you want to lower your risk of heart disease, coconut oil is not a good choice."
Read more: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cracking-the-coconut-oil-craze-2017041011513
Top 10 amazing, indigenous, all-natural cures from around the world
November 05, 2016 10:54 AM
When it comes to medicine what you put in to your body is important. For centuries people used natural cures from around the world to cure what ails them. Today we are quick to look to traditional medicine but perhaps it is time we step off the beaten path.
"Try the top 10 amazing, indigenous, all-natural cures from around the world, and never suffer another side effect, never perpetuate illness, and never, ever eat cancer again."
Lion's Mane Mushroom; The Ultimate Natural Memory Enhancer
Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) also bearded tooth mushroom, bearded hedgehog mushroom, or satyr's beard is an edible and medicinal mushroom indigenous to Europe, Asia, and North America.
Lion’s Mane for neuroprotection, brain function, and enhanced memory
Nootropic effect is perhaps the biggest draw of Lion’s Mane mushroom. Scientifically, the mushroom has been proven to have neuroprotective abilities as well as boost cognitive function such as enhancing memory. It’s also associated with the manufacture of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) which is a natural antidepressant. All these gives it the ability to help in maintaining attention and focus. It's therefore, a natural supplement for general brain function.
Other health benefits
Digestion aid - Lion’s mane contains glucan polysaccharides which improve stomach mucosa functioning that enhances digestion as well as protect the skin against aging. In addition, it contains cythan that aide in the treatment of esophagus cancer and peptic ulcers.
Enhances Immune System – the mushroom is rich in antioxidants, polysaccharides, beta-glucan and beta-glucoxylan that strengthens the immune system, by exhibiting immune-modulating features that decrease arthritis.
Lowers High Cholesterol – research carried on an animal indicated that the mushroom reduced 45% bad cholesterol and added 31% good cholesterol making it a substantial ingredient in cholesterol-free diets.
Myelin sheaths Repairs- Lion’s mane does not show any toxicity when consumed. It also enhances myelin sheath growth. This explains why it’s used to treat multiple sclerosis and other conditions related to the central nervous system.
Lion's Main is a great supplement for older individuals looking to improve mental function.
Maca Root And Your Health
Maca, (Lepidium meyenii) also Peruvian herb is a biennial herb indigenous to Andes, Peru. It’s also grown in Brazil and Bolivia. It’s cultivated for its fleshy hypocotyl and tap root which is a root vegetable and a medicinal herb.
For over 2000 years, Maca root has been used by the ancient Incan culture for medicinal uses. They highly revered the plant for its legendary ability to offer mental clarity and energy as well as enhancing sex drive.
Today, Maca root is medicinal and health benefits such as:
Maca root and Energy improvement
Maca contains vitamins, fatty acids, proteins, and minerals. These are elements to naturally support energy supporting as well as aid in injury recovery. Those who have used maca root in powder form have testified that it makes them awake, driven and energized. They even prefer it over caffeine as it doesn’t give jitters.
Clinical studies have revealed that maca is useful in maintaining positive energy levels and reducing anxiety and depression. It’s also important in regulating the hypothalamus, which improves the functioning of pituitary glands and thus balancing focus and energy. Researchers believe this is enhanced by balancing blood sugar levels.
Maca root holds many health benefits, if you are over the age of 50, you should be taking maca root daily to help balance hormones and feel better.
Benefits of Chanca Piedra (phyllanthus niruri)
Chanca piedra also known as phyllanthus niruri and whose common names are stonebreaker, seed-under-leaf or gale of the wind is a tropical plant, indigenous to Amazon Rainforest in South America and India. It is a highly regarded plant, familiar to naturopaths. Read on to find why?
For centuries, the indigenous people of Amazon have used Chanca piedra to treat and remove kidney gallstones. In fact, the name Chanca piedra is a Peru word for “stone breaker”. In addition to curing gallstones, the plant has diuretic qualities which, is why over 300 studies have been done since the 1960s to ascertain its healing abilities.
From this research, the plant has been found to cure a number of diseases. These include;
Gallstones, and Kidney Stones – Chanca is believed to hold the most promising treatment for kidney stones, not only among the indigenous people but also, in the Ayurvedic medicine.
Preliminary studies indicate that the plant has the potential to protect the kidney from kidney stones by simply increasing the secretion of bile and reducing the formation of any obstructions in the kidneys and the gall bladders. The extra bile secreted enhances digestion and increase absorption fats, like fat soluble vitamins.
Chanca piedra and the Liver – the herb contains a protein which research has shown that it protects the tissues of the liver against oxidative stress by simply increasing antioxidative defense.
Antioxidant Activities – Chanca piedra has also been found to contain phenolic content which reflects antioxidant activities when tested. The antioxidants support optimal blood pressure levels in addition to supporting balanced blood sugar levels.
Defense against harmful organisms – water extracts from this herb have indicated toxic activities against several organisms that are harmful to human body. Additionally, Chanca piedra has been found to defend the body against;
Botanical benefits buchu leaves
Giving off a sweet, peppermint fragrance, buchu or Agothosma Betulina has been part of the indigenous culture and heritage of South Africa for more than three centuries. Its earliest documentation dates back to 1652 when the Khoisan bushmen first introduced this versatile plant to the Dutch colonists.
Today, it is a well-recognised culinary leaf-spice commonly featured on the menus of top South African restaurants. But apart from its contemporary culinary uses, did you know that it is chock-full of health benefits too?
This herb contains antibacterial, antifungal and antispasmodic properties, providing relief to pre-menstrual cramping and bloating. What’s more, these unassuming leaves have also been used in Western herbal medicine to relieve inflammation, treat kidney, urinary infections, used as a diuretic, as well as a stomach tonic. Like many natural diuretics, buchu doesn’t seem to lower potassium levels like some drugs do.
It is no wonder the early Khoisans championed this healing herb as an elixir of youth!
Black Seed Oil Health Benefits
Black seed oil is derived from black cumin seeds. Black seeds, also known as black cumin seeds, black caraway or kalonji have been used medicinally since ancient times. In cooking, they are added as a whole for flavoring dishes. The seeds come from the annual flowering plant, Nigella sativa, which is indigenous to Asia. Just like the seeds, black cumin seed oil is highly prized for its culinary and therapeutic applications.
Black seed oil is a multivitamin loaded with nutrients. It contains Iron, Zinc, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Linoleic acid, Selenium, Oleic acid and vitamins A, B, B2 and C. This light brown oil is slightly bitter and has a mildly pungent aroma. Possessing antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, this oil is effective in treating many external and internal health problems.
Here are some benefits of Black Seed Oil:
The nigellone in black seed oil helps open up the lung’s air passages and makes a person breathe easier. This oil is thus considered effective against respiratory problems. The oil can be used internally and externally to fight problems like cough, bronchitis and asthma.
Nigella sativa can be used to treat several skin problems due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Acne sufferers can mix the oil with honey and use it as an acne treatment mask. The oil helps renew cells and heals acne scars. Apart from this, it can also be used to treat fungal infections. Since skin infections are caused by bacteria and fungus, this oil can be used to treat many skin infections.
Pure oil extracted from black seeds can be added to routine hair and nail care regimen. The vitamins present in this oil helps improve hair texture and strengthen hair the natural way. Some of the improvements can also be observed in nail health.
The carminative action of black seed oil makes it an excellent remedy for reducing bloating and other digestion problems. Adding this oil in your cooking is a simple way to combat indigestion and excess gas formation.
This oil contains thymoquinone, a powerful antioxidant that helps flush out toxins from the body. Regular consumption of this oil can help improve your general health.
What Is The African Mango Diet?
September 16, 2014 08:16 PM
What is African Mango?
Things to Know Before Using Arnica Cream for Pain Relief or Bruise Treatment
April 26, 2014 09:36 PM
Arnica medicinal qualities
The medicinal qualities of Arnica, or scientifically Arnica Montana, are known since long. This is a plant indigenous to Northern Europe. This herbal medicine is widely used as pain reliever. Rich in antioxidants. Arnica contains high amount of flavonoids such as carotenoids, tannins and inulin. It helps to alleviate pains of arthritis, bruises and injuries in short period of time. Since it has some dominant side effects, it is recommended that arnica should be taken under prescription of medics. However, arnica cream is available for common usage.
Healing qualities of arnica ointment:
Uses of Arnica
Things to Consider
What Is Marjoram Oil?
February 21, 2014 04:52 PM
What is marjoram
Marjoram oil is extracted from the marjoram plant. The plants’ flowering leaves are distilled (using steam) to obtain the yellow marjoram essential oil. The plant is cultivated primarily for its leaves. Though the name marjoram is derived from French, the plant is indigenous to the Southern regions of present-day Turkey and Cyprus.
Historically, marjoram oil has been used by traditional healers thousands of years back. It is mentioned in old medical texts as an essential oil with healing properties for many illnesses. Up to date, the plant’s oil is renowned for its great medicinal value. The essential oil has a woody and spicy aroma when dilute and pungent-smelling when concentrated. Some of marjoram oil’s health benefits are discussed below.
Benefits of marjoram
Marjoram oil has therapeutic properties. Rich in antioxidants, it is used to calm nerves and relieve headaches when massaged on the temple. The essential oil is also used to soothe and relieve muscles of pain. A body massage with the oil helps ease stiff joints. Inhaling the marjoram oil’s aroma helps clear mucous from the breathing system as well as easing a congested nasal tract. It helps stem severe coughing.
Marjoram oil is best known for improving digestion and easing digestive tract disorders. It is a common essential oil used in aromatherapy as well. Adding a few drops of marjoram oil to bathing water or using it for massage helps relax the mind, bringing calmness. This can be used to pacify people who are stressed because it is a great sedative.
As an antiseptic, marjoram oil can be applied on wounds to help prevent these sores from becoming septic. For ladies who have to endure painful menstruation, this essential oil can be used to relieve menstrual cramps. Studies have also shown that this oil has the ability to lower blood pressure, slightly. Marjoram oil has quite a number of medicinal uses making it a versatile essential oil.
Can Guarana Boost Energy?
January 24, 2013 01:29 PM
Guarana, scientifically named as Paullinia cupana is an evergreen vine indigenous to the northern regions of Brazil and Venezuela. Guarana berries are widely considered to be a great source of organic caffeine and also have been used for hundreds of years by native Amazonian tribes, the Guaranis to help retain their stamina levels and improve physical endurance. The natives believed that the drink made from this powdered ground seeds of the berries could provide more energy. They also claimed that, by drinking Guarana juice one could go on hunt for many days without food and also without feeling fatigue.
Guarana is used as an organic and effective energy booster. It has an identical chemical composition to that of caffeine, and also the plant seeds produce even greater caffeine effects than usual caffeine drinks. Guarana is released into the body much more slowly to provide longer stimulation. The plant immediately energizes the nervous system to provide sustained energy and may be taken in small dose to fight weakness and improve activity levels. Additionally, it decreases tiredness, and improves mental alertness. Also, Guarana extract is taken by sports athletes to keep up their peak performance.
Guarana is traditionally used for weight Loss as well. It helps reduce fluid retention, inhibits appetite and boosts metabolic process. As a result, the extra fat stored becomes a source of fuel to the body.
Guarana also consists of tannins, which is valuable in treating diarrhea and other types of digestive problems.
Because of higher content of caffeine, Guarana has received a reputation of a powerful stimulant and also aphrodisiac. When compared to other libido supplements, Guarana doesn't have any side effects.
As an all-natural adaptogen, Guarana can be used to boost the body's effectiveness against anxiety, stress and fatigue. It's traditionally been useful for migraines, menstruation pains as well as heart related illnesses.
African Mango Fuit and Seed
December 12, 2012 10:49 AM
The African mango (Irvingia Gabonensis) also commonly known as the bush mango or wild mango is the fruit of the tree that is mainly found in Africa and South Asia. This tree belongs to the family of Irvingiaceae. These trees bear fruits that look like mango and hence the name. They contain nuts that are rich in fats and proteins. Besides being very tasty, African mango brings a lot of health benefits when consumed. The indigenous people of Africa used to eat the fresh fruits and nuts like all other nuts in bulk amounts. They were also ground and used to garnish the food. During early 1990s, this fruit had caught the attention of scientists from western countries. It is those people who have brought to light the wonderful medical powers of this fruit and discovered that the nuts of this fruit possess weight reducing properties.
This was however confirmed later with the help of some tests. In the first test, the subjects were given the fruit and were asked to continue their lifestyle by not making any changes to the type and the amounts of the food they consume and by not changing their exercise habits. Miracle! The subjects have lost weight! This test stood as the conformity to the weight loss property of African mango. Besides reducing the weight of the people, African mango also has certain other health benefits. It suppresses hunger and also contributes to a drastic reduction in the levels of cholesterol. It can also well regulate the sugar levels of blood.
African mango is also good for the health of heart. Above all, it does not cause any adverse side effects even when consumed in large amounts. It is been consumed in large amounts by the people since times immemorial. This is considered to be the secret behind the slim build of many tribes living in Cameroon and Nigeria. Also the people of these tribes are very less prone to cardiovascular diseases. The African mango reduces the body weight via various processes. It boosts the body metabolism and helps in burning the stored fats. It regulates the levels of leptin, the hormone that lets the body know it is hungry. Hence this reduces the appetite naturally and allows people to eat little. It also delays the process of digestion.
Hence it makes the body to feel full and avoids all the unnecessary craving for food that makes people put on weight. Hence this will help in losing weight without putting any extra efforts for it. With the increasing popularity of African mango as weight-loss aid, many extracts or supplements of African mango are now available in the market. However, one has to make sure about such products before using and check if Irvingia Gabonensis is the main ingredient in it. In the end, it can be said that African mango is really a boon to all those suffering from excessive body weight or obesity. The fact that is adding up to their happiness is that it does not demand any exercise or diet control to reduce the weight.
Bitter Orange Extract
November 22, 2012 10:46 AM
indigenous to the Meditteranean region today, but brought to their shores by Arab tradesmen in 1200 , bitter orange or citrus aurantium was highly popular among herbalists all over the southern parts of Europe is mainly France, Greece, Spain and Italy. A botanical species commonly termed as seville orange and bigarade orange, this bitter citrus fruit is known for its oil extract, flavoring and use in the perfume industry.
However , the ancient Chinese used it for treating dyspepsia , abdominal distention and diarrhea. These uses also drew from its roots in ancient Greek experiments in aromatherapy, phyto-therapy and cosmetology. Its arrival in America can be credited to the Spaniards and the Portuguese who for very long had been using the fruit for its medical component. Bitter orange trees grew in abundance in the states of Florida, Louisiana and California way back in the middle of the nineteenth century.There have been numerous pharmacological indicators in the study of C aurantium actions and it has been termed as an anti spasmodic, anti fungal , anti bacterial, anti-inflammatory, sedative, tranquilizer and also a vascular stimulant.
Recent studies about its effect on cancer cells is underway. A Closer Look At Its Health Benefits Bitter orange peel, flower and seed are known to have varying effects on the human body and its studies date back centuries. Quite simply it has the ability to squeeze blood vessels, affect the heart rate and also change the level of metabolism. A closer look at its components would help focus on their particular impact on health.
It results in faster metabolism, increase in heart rate by affecting the adrenaline system, and in turn aid in weight loss. What needs to be seen is whether this metabolism booster is in any way a retardant with any other medication that you may be taking.
Many have reverted to bitter orange extracts to tackle their weight problem after the ban on ephedra by the US drug administration . what is needed is prudence as most consider bitter orange as a health supplement forgetting its rather potent effect on the body .
What is Fenugreek Seed and How Does It Boost Your Health?
July 07, 2011 11:16 AM
Fenugreek seed and your health
Fenugreek seed is a spice often added to curries and other Indian dishes. It is a good source of protein and nutrients. In folk medicine, it has been used in the treatment of pain and irritation characteristic of inflammation. It is historically utilized to promote lactation. More recent studies have shown that it displays antiviral properties. In particular, it has been tested in allaying symptoms of cold infections.
Trigonella foenum-graecum is a plant species that belongs to the legume family. As such, it has been cultivated as a vegetable even before the ancient times. It is believed to be an indigenous species of the Fertile Crescent, a historic region that comprises the modern countries Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria. To this day, it remains an important crop, herb, and food source in these countries.
Combats Diabetes Mellitus
Fenugreek seed has been the subject of scientific research in the past few years. Drawing on its use in traditional medicine, it has been employed in the management of blood sugar. It improves the effect of the hormone insulin in regulating glucose levels. In fact, it has shown great potential in treating both type I insulin dependent diabetes mellitus and type II noninsulin dependent diabetes mellitus.
Alters Blood Lipid Profile
The phytochemical content of fenugreek seed enables it to effectively lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Clinical trials have recorded changes in lipids present in the systemic circulation after intake of fenugreek seed products. It is now postulated that it blocks the metabolic pathway for the synthesis of low density lipoproteins or bad cholesterol. Some sources say that it raises good cholesterol levels.
Increases Milk Production
Fenugreek seed is rich in organic compounds that promote the secretion of milk products within the mammary glands of lactating women by as much as 900 per cent. Traditionally, the seeds are ground into powder and consumed in large quantities by pregnant women. Today they are made into capsules, which have been reported to display the same benefits and remain popular in the Indian subcontinent.
Relieves Viral Infections
There is a growing body of literature devoted to the putative antiviral properties of fenugreek seed. A number of researchers have attested that the seed displays biochemical activity that interferes with the replication of viruses. For instance, topical applications of fenugreek extracts have shown desirable results in removing viral skin conditions, and oral intake has been effective in easing the common cold.
Promotes Skin Health
Fenugreek seed is a natural conditioner and moisturizer. It promotes retention of moisture in the skin and protects the outer layer of the skin from irritants. It has been used as salves to wounds, rashes, boils, bruises, allergies, and insect bites. It is made into a syrupy mixture that is directly applied to the hair. It regulates the production of sebum in the hair follicles and helps control dandruff.
Grab some fenugreek seed and feel the difference!
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.
Gooseberry Benefits Vision, Blood Sugar, Cholesterol And More
April 09, 2011 11:17 AM
Gooseberry And Your Health.
Gooseberry is a group of fruit-bearing plant species that belong to the same family as currants. They are easily recognizable by their round berries that are either bright green or deep purple in color. While most of the cultivars produce fruits that are bitter in taste, gooseberries are often added to desserts and preserved as jam or pickle. They are an excellent source of many nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B complex, phosphorous, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium, among others. Herbalists believe that the vitamin and mineral content of gooseberries do not significantly change after washing, heating, and other cooking preparations.
Different varieties of gooseberries are widely distributed across the Old World, with species native to Europe, Africa, and Asia. The American species are also considered indigenous to North America although many dispute this claim. Each species have been linked to varying herbal remedies, but they all have similar genetic traits and nutrient contents. European and American cultivars are known for the following uses:
Counters Visual Decline
Gooseberry is often associated with the improvement of eyesight. There have been numerous articles about its medicinal potential in the treatment of cataracts, myopia or nearsightedness, and macular degeneration. The fruits are indeed a good source of biological precursors of vitamin A, and the juice extracted from the fruits are believed to contain phytochemicals that contribute to the upkeep of healthy cells found in the human eye.
Reduces Blood Sugar
Almost all varieties of gooseberry are believed to lower blood glucose levels. Proponents of its use as a therapeutic remedy for hyperglycemia point to the modulating effects of its organic compounds and metabolites on the hormone insulin. Gooseberry appears to increase production of insulin and improve glucose sensitivity of cells, the reason why it is also in use in conjunction with other common treatments for type 2 diabetes.
Promotes Cardiovascular Health
The organic compounds naturally occurring in gooseberry have been observed to show cardioprotective properties. First, they help lower serum cholesterol by interfering with the release of low-density lipoproteins, or bad cholesterol, from the liver. Second, they relax the smooth muscle cells within blood vessel walls, resulting in increased blood flow. Third, they strengthen heart muscles, promoting heart health.
Improves Hair Loss
The buzz around the ability of gooseberry products to control hair is supported by very encouraging results. It is believed that topical applications containing gooseberry extracts act on hair follicles, or hair roots, the part of the scalp that grow hair. Practitioners of folk medicine in Europe and Asia usually boil gooseberries, add the pulp to other ingredients to make paste, and apply the paste to the scalp.
Scavenges Free Radicals
Gooseberries are rich in polyphenols, with different species containing flavonoids, tannins, lignans, or their combination. Plant-based polyphenols are known for their antioxidant properties, which of course is important to neutralizing free radicals. Gooseberry is historically noted for its anti-aging effects, and modern research support this centuries-old with the discovery of its polyphenolic antioxidants.
Give Gooseberry A Try Today!
Is Pycnogenol a Good Antioxidant?
April 01, 2011 03:10 PM
Pycnogenol And Your Health
Pycnogenol is the latest innovation in the antioxidant supplement industry. It makes use of oligomeric proanthocyanidins, select bioflavonoids, and organic acids that have been well investigated in a span of more than 30 years. As a trademarked product, it has been cited in more than 230 published works and systematic reviews that came into the conclusion that it is safe and effective. In fact, it is now an ingredient in over 300 health products.
Pinus pinaster is an indigenous plant species of western Mediterranean from which the patented pycnogenol is extracted from. It is most populous in southwestern France, but it can also be found in large numbers in Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Morocco. Unlike new ingredients in some dietary supplements, pycnogenol is all-natural and completely derived from the Maritime Pine, which may well be known in the now-obsolete scientific name Pinus maritima.
Neutralizes Reactive Oxygen Species Fast
Antioxidants work on the principle of replenishing the antioxidant reserves of each cell especially at times when our body is most susceptible to physical fatigue. Radical chemistry has taught us that reactive oxygen species, or ROS, are natural by-products of oxygen metabolism. There is nothing we can do to inhibit their releases, but our body does have a mechanism to neutralize them. Free radicals are one of the best known ROS and they are particularly reactive, causing a damaging chain reaction called oxidative stress.
What makes pycnogenol different from other antioxidant supplements? It is the fastest-acting antioxidant out there with an absorption rate of only 20 minutes. In contrast with other known antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, pycnogenol is believed to readily cross the blood-brain barrier, expanding its uses in the central nervous system. This is the reason why it has been suggested to be of value in treatment of known disorders of the nervous system. More importantly, it works up to a record-high 72 hours before it gets excreted by the body.
Fight Inflammation and Cardiovascular Disease With Pycnogenol
Displays Potent Anti-Inflammatory Activities
There have been numerous citations that pycnogenol is an effective inhibitor of inflammation intermediaries. It is postulated that it influences the productions and releases of eicosanoids that govern inflammatory responses. It has associated with the treatment of osteoarthritis, and preliminary results are encouraging. Also, it is believed that pycnogenol interferes with the effects of histamine via its receptors, and acts on mast cells responsible for mediator release. This is the reason why it is widely accepted as a viable treatment option for asthma, multiple sclerosis, allergic rhinitis, acute dermatitis, atopic eczema, and other skin conditions.
Contributes to Overall Circulatory Health
Pycnogenol is one of the antioxidants under scrutiny for its medicinal potential in the prevention of major diseases that afflict the circulatory and cardiovascular systems. For one, it has been observed to significantly lower systolic blood pressure, making it an effective therapy for hypertension. It has shown to alleviate chronic venous insufficiency and remove varicose veins. Moreover, regular supplementation of pycnogenol appears to improve performance in endurance athletes.
Pycnogenol is an excellent herb to add to anybodies diet. Give Pycnogenol a try today!
How Does the Herb Holy Basil Help with My Health?
March 10, 2011 02:04 PM
Holy Basil And Cholesterol, Inflammation, and more
Ocimum tenuiflorum, known as Holy Basil in the vernacular, is an herbal plant indigenous to South Asia, where it is called Tulsi. It is widely distributed across the subcontinent of India and surrounding countries and is primarily cultivated for its age-old medicinal benefits in addition to its religious significance to Vaishnavite practices of Hinduism. It has earned popularity as a health tonic over the centuries, and recent studies have supported its positive effects on human health. Today it is often associated with lowering cholesterol and glucose, acting as an antioxidant, and regulating inflammatory intermediaries.
Counteracts Stress Factors
The juice of holy basil has long been reputed to display adaptogenic properties. There have been countless accounts of its effectiveness in combating stress. In fact, the most compelling of all anecdotal evidence has something to do with its ability to create a feeling of wellness right after ingestion, the same tonic benefits attributed to ginseng. To date studies point to its homeostatic effects on the stress hormone cortisol, creating homeostatic effects on its metabolites and their interactions with compounds released in response to stress.
Neutralizes Free Radicals
Holy basil has been observed to show antioxidant activities, and this is one of its mechanisms in allaying symptoms brought on by fatigue. Free radicals are released by the body to dispose of pathogens, but are in turn disposed of by endogenous antioxidants. Oxidative stress ensues when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to neutralize them. The polyphenols found in holy basil helps the body quench excesses of free radicals.
Lowers Bad Cholesterol
There has been a growing body of literature devoted to the lipid-lowering properties of holy basil. The phytochemicals found in holy basil have been cited to affect the metabolic pathway that produces very-low-density lipoproteins, which is a precursor to low-density lipoproteins, or bad cholesterol, and bring about an increase in high-density lipoproteins, dubbed good cholesterol. Also, it has been associated to the overall decrease of lipids present in the bloodstream, notably free fatty acids.
Reduces Blood Glucose
One of the earliest observations on the health effects of holy basil is its properties that counter the progression of diabetes. It has been reported many times to have helped patients of type 2 diabetes mellitus, which results from the compromised ability of cells to respond to the hormone insulin. The use of holy basil extracts has yielded promising results on promoting the glucose uptake of cells, and, of course, the consequent decrease in glucose present in the blood.
Holy basil has been extensively studied for its anti-inflammatory benefits. The most recent research has pointed out that organic compounds found in holy basil may inhibit the enzyme called COX-2, which facilitates the synthesis of inflammatory mediators. Eicosanoids are endogenous substances produced by local tissues during inflammation, and a special group called prostanoids is responsible for the pain tied to inflammation. By targeting COX-2, holy basil greatly aids against inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
What is stopping you from giving holy basil a try today?
Catuaba bark and its benefits
October 18, 2010 08:21 PM
Catuaba Bark (Erythroxylum catuaba) is a small tree that grows and produces yellow and orange flowers. Its shape is oval, yellow colored and looks like a small inedible fruit. In Brazil, the catuaba bark belongs to the family Erythroxylaceae and grows mostly northern part in Amazonas in and many other areas. Today, in the mid-forests of Brazil the trees are harvested in the form of catuaba and are sold all over the world.
There are two types of catuaba, one is Big Catuaba and the other is Small Catuaba. The Big Catuaba is also known as Trichilia catigua that grows up to 6-10 meters tall in the mahogany family in Brazil. It is cream colored and referred as catigua and angelim-rosa. The Small Catuaba, also known as Erythroxylum catuaba grows up to 2-4 meters tall in Brazil. The Tupi Indians an indigenous tribe of Brazil came to know first the various incredible benefits of catuaba. They learnt that it has sex-enhancing properties.
Later the Tupi Indians came to know about many other health benefits it provided like pain relieving, control of fatigue, reducing nervous and depression, sharpening memory. They were so impressed with the incredible and powerful action of catuaba that they spread the knowledge of its benefits to other Brazilian tribes and even praise the herb by singing songs. It is traditionally drunk by the Tupi Indians as a bark decoction by boiling it in water to make tea. This would improve sexual interest in people who lack sexual interest. Catuaba bark is a potent and a natural aphrodisiac. It remarkably enhances male's reproductive system, although this herb is primarily used to improve erection in men, it was found to be effective as libido-enhancing element for both men and women. It prevents us from feeling agitated and also helps in combating forgetfulness and dementia.
People feel more relaxed and energetic after taking it. Many others reported benefits of catuaba that it relieves from insomnia, hypertension, restless sleeping patterns and memory loss. It is non toxic in nature and is equal to aromatic oils, tannins and alkaloids. Now-a-days this herb is available in all health food stores in the form of capsules with dosage of 500-1000 mg. You can also obtain the bark in tincture or powder. The significant feature is that it causes no side effects at all. Many researches conducted in Japan stated that the catuaba bark contains antibacterial and antiviral compounds as well. Many other studies also stated that it has relaxing effects and it tones the overall body functions.
Still various studies and research are going on Catuaba bark, since it also promises to prevent opportunistic HIV infections. If it is really does then it will be a great achievement to mankind.
Lomatium by Planetary Herbals
June 03, 2010 12:16 PM
Planetary Herbals is pleased to introduce full spectrum lomatium, a botanical used traditionally by Native Americans for centuries to support immune and respiratory health.
The resinous roots of lomatium dissectum were extensively used by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest and Northern Nevada were the plant grows. Lomatium, a perennial plant that sprouts and flowers in early spring, was often called “biscuit root” since the pulp was pounded into cakes, or “Indian carrot” due to its resemblance and kinship with carrots.
Support for the Respiratory and Immune Systems
Native Americans gather the lomatium dissectum plant in late fall, and use it to enhance respiratory health. Modern research indicates that certain compounds in lomatium may stimulate white blood cell activity (Phagocytosis). Phagocytosis is a process that is part of the body’s first line of immune defense.
Two Beneficial Liquids
Planetary Herbals full spectrum Lomatium is available in 1:3 root extract, prepared with grain alcohol (70%) and purified water. Also, alcohol free full spectrum Lomatium Glycerite. Both products can be taken in water, or made into a tea and sipped. This ancient and renowned herb can enhance our health year round.
The PhytoDynamic Difference
Planetary herbals Full Spectrum Lomatium was developed with a profound understanding of the ways in which plant compounds interact with human physiology. Planetary Herbals phytodynamic principles draw on herbal tradition, scientific research, and a level of clinical expertise unmatched in the natural products industry. The result: herbal products unsurpassed for quality and consumer satisfaction.
Kava Kava Root
September 05, 2009 12:11 PM
Kava is an ancient crop of the western Pacific. The word kava refers to both the plant and the beverage that is produced from its roots. Kava is a tranquilizer that is primarily consumed to relax the body without disrupting mental clarity. The active ingredients found in this herb kavalactones. Kava extract is marketed as an herbal medicine in some parts of the Western world, fighting against stress, insomnia, and anxiety. It has been concluded that this herb is more effective than a placebo at treating short-term social anxiety. Safety concerns have been raised over liver toxicity, but research indicates that this may be largely due to use of stems and leaves in supplements, which were not indigenously used.
Kava is used by many island communities in the Pacific in their ceremonial drinks as a mild sedative and relaxant. Among these include Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. This herb was used to relax the body and mind and to promote restful sleep. Kava is considered to be an important herb for pain relief. It is also helpful for insomnia and nervous conditions.
This herb is recommended to be used as a strong muscle relaxant. It is considered to be one of the most powerful of all of the herbal muscle relaxants. Kava is used as an analgesic sedative, for rheumatism, for insomnia, and to relax the body.
Studies have determined that kava contains anticonvulsant and muscle-relaxing properties. This may be extremely helpful to those people who have stress-related muscle tension or seizures. Those individuals who drink kava often relate the effects to a sense of tranquility and sociability. The herb helps to achieve a feeling of well-being and relaxation. Kava seems to have an advantage over other drugs that are prescribed for anxiety and insomnia because it does not seem to lose effectiveness over time. A variety of studies have shown that there is a significant benefit for individuals who are suffering from anxiety. This is extremely promising for those individuals who require long-term therapy for anxiety disorders. Kava is not addictive and is free of associated complications. This is different from many of the medications that are routinely prescribed.
Kava also provides benefits as an analgesic for pain relief. The chewed leaves of this herb cause numbness in the mouth. This anesthetic activity is similar to cocaine and it lasts longer than benzocaine.
The root of the kava plant is used to provide alterative, analgesic, anesthetic, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, diuretic, and sedative properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are calcium and magnesium. Primarily, kava is extremely beneficial in dealing with insomnia and nervousness.
Additionally, this herb is very helpful in treating anxiety, asthma, bronchitis, fatigue, pain, rheumatism, uterine infections, vaginitis, and venereal diseases. It is important to consult your health care provider before taking this herb so that you do not have any adverse reactions to medication which is associated with this herb. In order to obtain more information on the many beneficial effects provided by kava, please feel free to contact a representative from your local health food store.
June 07, 2009 04:16 PM
Blue cohosh is one of the oldest indigenous plants that can be found in America. Blue cohosh is a woodland herb that is slowly becoming endangered because of over harvesting. A small plant that rarely grows more than two and a half feet in height, it can be found blooming in early April on wooded slopes. It was used by Native Americans to treat rheumatism, colic, cramps, epilepsy, and fevers. This herb also aided in childbirth and acted as a contraceptive. Blue cohosh was adopted by early settlers for both delivery and to help reduce fevers. The dried root was considered to be an official herb, found in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1882 to 1905, where it was recognized for its abilities to induce labor and menstruation.
Blue cohosh is also known as Caulophyllum thalictroides, blue ginseng, papoose root, yellow ginseng, blueberry root, and beech drops. This herb has been used to stimulate menstrual flow, induce labor, and for rheumatism, cramps, and epilepsy.
The chemical caulosaponin is found in blue cohosh. It is this chemical that induces uterine contractions and should be used only under medical supervision. Additionally, a study that was published in the Journal of Reproduction and Fertility found that blue cohosh is responsible for inhibiting ovulation in animals.
Blue cohosh is recommended by herbalists for irregular menstrual cycles, inflammation of the uterus, and to stop false labor pains. This herb has also been used as an antispasmodic and to relieve muscle cramps. Scientific studies have validated these uses, especially the herb’s estrogenic and antispasmodic properties. The hormone and menses-regulating powers have been shown to work best when the herb is combined with pennyroyal. Some studies have found that blue cohosh may also stimulate the immune system. This herb helps with cases of toxemia and has also been found useful in reducing emotional and nervous tension.
In short, the rhizome of blue cohosh is used to provide alterative, anthelmintic, antispasmodid, diuretic, emmenagogue, estrogenic, expectorant, and oxytocic properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are calcium, chlorine, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, sodium, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and E, and zinc. Primarily, blue cohosh is very beneficial in dealing with pain in childbirth, cramps, epilepsy, and estrogen deficiency, absence of menstruation, urinary problems, and uterine problems. Additionally, this herb has been shown to be extremely helpful in treating high blood pressure, bronchitis, colic, convulsions, cystitis, diabetes, edema, heart palpitations, excessive mucus, neuralgia, spasms, vaginitis, vaginal discharge, and whooping cough. For more information on the many beneficial effects of blue cohosh, please contact a representative from your local health food store.
Blue cohosh’s use in cultural and traditional settings is somewhat different from the concepts that are accepted by current Western medicine. It is advisable to consult with a primary health care professional when considering the use of herbal supplements. It may also be advantageous to consult with a practitioner that is trained in the uses of herbal supplements. It is important to note that one should always purchase herbal supplements from a reliable source in order to guarantee safety and efficiency.
Blue Cohosh is available in capsule or tablet forms at your local or internet health food store. Look for blue Cohosh in name brands like Natures Answer and Solaray to ensure that you receive a quality product that is pure.
*Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Blue Cohosh is not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease. Always consult with your professional health care provider before changing any medication or adding Vitamins to medications.
Guar Gum Fiber
October 27, 2008 04:21 PM
Guar gum is what is known as a soluble fiber, and it is well known that it promotes a healthy colon. You will not find soluble fiber in what you believe to be 'high fiber foods', yet it is a very important part of your diet, particularly if you have problems with your colon such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or even colon cancer.
Traditional high fiber foods, such as bran, leafy vegetables and cereals, contain insoluble fiber that mechanically act as an aid to digestion and the movement of your food through your gastrointestinal system. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, is found in what are more commonly regarded as starchy foods, although unlike starch, the chemical bonds that attach the various sugar molecules together cannot be broken by the acids and enzymes used by your gastric system to digest them.
They thus pass through the body undigested, in the same way as insoluble fibers, and so contribute to the mechanical system upon which the peristaltic pumping motion of the intestine depends. Because it is not digested, soluble fiber contains practically no calories since it does not contribute to the metabolism of your body. Fiber imparts many benefits in addition to enabling your intestine peristalsis to move your food through your digestive system.
For a start they don't contribute to your nutrition, either negatively or positively, but provide bulk to what you eat and provide help to your bowel movements by giving the intestinal muscles something to bite on. One of the benefits of such foods is their effect on your blood sugar and preventing the onset of diabetes. They can also help you to avoid obesity through providing virtually calorie-free bulk to your meals. Some fibers can bind chemically to toxins and certain fats, and can clean out your colon. So what's the benefit of soluble fiber over the insoluble type, and where does guar gum enter the equation?
Basically, soluble fiber is water soluble while insoluble fiber is not. Insoluble fiber is contained in cereals, beans and peas, fruits and in fact anything that doesn't dissolve in water, even when acted upon by that concentrated hydrochloric acid that is the basis of your digestive juices. Soluble fiber can help to prolonging the time that your stomach acids and enzymes spend in digesting your food. Soluble fiber is reported as conferring many health benefits, and guar gum and pectin are two of its major forms.
Guar gum is obtained from the guar bean, indigenous to India and Pakistan, but also grown in the USA, China Africa and Australia. The bean is edible to humans, and also used as cattle feed and fertilizer. TO obtain the gum, the seeds are dehusked and milled, and the gum is a whitish powder, not gummy as you might believe. However, when dissolved in water it gels when it comes into contact with calcium or borax.
It is effective as a laxative, due to the bulk it forms when dissolved in water, and can relieve not only constipation, but is also an effective treatment for IBS, Crohn's disease, colitis and other conditions of the lower digestive tract. Because it enables the colon to eject toxins and other undesirable waste products much more rapidly, guar gum is good for the health of your colon, and absorbs not only toxins but also undesirable bacteria.
Guar gum is what is known as thermogenic: it helps your body to burn fat by converting it to energy, with a resulting increase in your body heat. Not only that, but because it contains very little calorie content, it can bulk up a meal, help to make you feel satisfied and lower the glycemic index of your meal. It is used in many types of weight loss products and diets, although its uncontrolled use can be dangerous due to the potential blockage of your esophagus through insufficient fluid intake. For that single reason you are unable to purchase guar gum in non-prescriptive weight loss products.
Another of the benefits of soluble fiber, and guar gum in particular, is that it accelerates the absorption of calcium in the colon. Since calcium is normally absorbed in the small intestine, as opposed to the colon, this is good news for those seeking to lose weight. The reason for that is that the dairy products which traditionally contain most calcium tend to be high in calories, and guar gum enables you to get your RDA of calcium from a diet lower in these products by maximizing the calcium extraction and absorption right through the intestinal tract, and not only in the small intestine.
It has also been found to improve your tolerance to glucose. One of the problems that diabetics have is that sugars are absorbed mainly in the small intestine, whereas guar gum also enables it to be absorbed in the colon. Therefore, while the overall absorption level remains constant, there are no peaks and troughs since the absorption is constant through the entire intestinal tract rather than all the demand being in the small intestine. There is therefore less of a demand for insulin at certain times after a meal, so that the overall level of blood insulin can be reduced.
Guar gum is used as a delivery medium for certain drugs. Where it is desirable for a drug to be released into the colon as opposed to any other part of the gastrointestinal tract, this is the ideal substance. Guar gum can be degraded, if not digested, by anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that live in the absence of oxygen). Certain drugs can be attached to the guar gum molecule, and after consumption will pass unchanged through the stomach, duodenum and small intestine.
However, when it reaches the colon, the anaerobic bacteria that populate the large intestine degrade the gum, and release the drug molecules into the colon where they are needed. There are a number of delivery techniques in addition to using the gum itself, including using derivatives of guar gum, using a combination of the gum and other polymers and also multiparticulate delivery techniques.
Partially hydrolyzed guar gum also seems to increase the population of your bowel with friendly bacteria, or probiotics, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. These can help to prevent or reduce the symptoms of many bowel conditions, and probiotic drinks taken with guar gum can be extremely beneficial to people suffering the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and other similar disorders of the lower intestinal tract.
So if you have a disorder of your lower intestine or colon, try a soluble fiber such as guar gum as a natural treatment, and where appropriate also take that with a probiotic. Most people find that their symptoms improve and in many cases they disappear altogether.
July 08, 2008 03:00 PM
Garcinia cambogia is a small tree bearing a small pumpkin-like fruit of the citrus family, and is steadily appearing in an increasing number of weight loss supplements. It is indigenous to parts of Africa and Asia, and the rind is commonly used in Indian cookery.
Although the fruit is particularly sour to the taste, it is used in form of an extract of the rind and claimed to act as an appetite suppressant and also to increase the body’s capacity to metabolize fat. Although there are conflicting claims being made about its efficacy, or lack of it, research shows that it definitely has promise as an agent to prevent and fight obesity and its use is steadily increasing in this respect.
The active ingredient is hydroxy citric acid, otherwise known as HCA, contained in the form of the potassium and calcium salts of the acid in the aqueous extract of the garcinia cambogia rind. It forms up to 30% by weight of the rind. It is tasteless and odorless, and so far found to have no toxic effects on humans. Animal studies have also been generally favorable.
HCA works in two specific ways both to reduce the desire to eat and to inhibit the storage of fat in the body. In each case, as with so many supplements that have an inhibitory effect on a physiological or psychological function or on a metabolic process, it involves an interaction with enzymes.
Citrate lysase is an enzyme in the body that helps to prevent lipogenesis and instead promotes the conversion of carbohydrates into fat. When this enzyme is inhibited from carrying out its intended part in the body’s metabolism, the process of carbohydrate oxidation is boosted, or, in other words, the excess carbohydrate is burned off, or changed into energy.
More fats could also be expelled unchanged from the body, but irrespective of that the end result is that less carbohydrate tends to be converted to fat. Garcinia cambogia, however, has not been found to reduce the body’s uptake of essential fatty acids which are necessary for health. Had this occurred, you would feel a raging hunger as opposed to the appetite suppressing properties the extract is claimed to have.
The oxidation of carbohydrates can also lead to thermogenesis, or the boosting of the metabolism by increasing your body temperature. An increase in the metabolic rate helps weight reduction through an increased calorie demand while your body is at rest. However, that is not the only way in which the HCA extract works to help reduce your weight, or at least help to maintain it at a healthy level. Let’s return to its specific appetite suppression properties.
Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) is a neuroreceptor found in the central nervous system. It has many regulatory effects on the body, one of which is appetite. Although it is by no means the only chemical in the body that has an effect on the appetite, serotonin is a significant factor. As you get hungry, serotonin is released in the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that regulates sleep and eating. The release of serotonin increases when you see and or smell food. It is the agent that starts canine salivation, and a ravenous hunger in those that have no immediate access to food.
It also causes you to snack, and, as you eat, the serotonin level in the hypothalamus continues to increase until it reaches a point where it provides the hypothalamus with a feeling of repletion or satisfaction. You then stop eating. So the more serotonin is produced, the quicker you stop feeling hungry.
Garcinia cambogia extract has the effect of stimulating the emission of serotonin into the hypothalamus, and so suppresses your hunger quicker. You don’t stop eating altogether, but attain that feeling of satisfaction much quicker and so tend to eat less with each meal. This can not only help you maintain your weight at a healthy level, but also to reduce weight in the obese.
Although the extract can work through each of these mechanisms, it does not have such a significant effect on a very fatty diet. It can help if you switch to a relatively healthy diet, lower in fats, but the effect might not be strong enough to compensate for a poor diet in terms of fat content.
Studies have indicated an anti-oxidant activity that likely comes from the xanthones and xanthone derivatives that are also contained in the fruit. In fact there are other recorded uses of garcinia cambogia, and it has been used in traditional Indian medicine to treat fevers, dysentery, open wounds, ulcers and tumors.
According to a study carried out for the National Cancer Institute there is no documented toxicity effects on humans, and there is no regulation regarding the use of garcinia cambogia. It has not been evaluated by the FDA.
However, there are contra-indications in the case of pregnant and lactating women, more as a safety measure than for any particularly known risk. Alzheimer patients should avoid taking HCA since there is a possibility of it promoting the synthesis of acetylcholine in the brain, and its glycemic action renders it unsuitable for diabetics.
Conversely, this same action is a positive benefit by reducing the craving of healthy adults for sweet foods. However, HCA is frequently taken in combination with chromium due to the latter’s positive effect on the regulation of blood sugar levels. Nevertheless, diabetics should avoid any supplement containing chromium without professional medical advice.
The supplement should be standardized on the HCA content, and an average dose is around 500 mg – 1000 mg of 50% extract a day. However, this varies, and the most important aspect of such extracts is that when changing brands; be sure to compare the strength of the relative extracts and change your dosage accordingly.
Although the benefits of garcinia cambogia to those seeking to lose weight are debated, there is ample evidence to suggest that a regular intake of the extract is beneficial – and not only with respect to the maintenance of healthy weight.
Better Vision Through Bilberries
January 17, 2008 02:20 PM
"Eat your carrots! They're good for your eyes!" Isn't this what your mother always told you? Isn't that what you learned as a kid? Well, how about re-writing that phrase? How about making it into the phrase: "Eat your bilberries!"
What is a bilberry? A bilberry is a shrub just over a foot tall. The bilberry plant possesses a fruit, the cousin of the blueberry, that is indigenous to Northern Europe. These fruits contain bioflavonoids, an antioxidant with a variety of health benefits. A thousand years ago bilberries were used to relieve diarrhea and kidney stones. Today, the bilberry sees use as a treatment and preventive measure in a variety of situations. Some of the benefits seen in the modern age include possible prevention of heart disease and macular degeneration. In fact, bilberries may help strengthen the eyes when used by people regularly who aren't suffering from any ocular conditions.
The active ingredients in the fruit are tannins, which are an astringent and anti-inflammatory. The bilberry also contains anthocyanidins, which are compounds that strengthen capillaries and improve the flow of blood through the circulatory system. These anthocyanidins also increase the body’s production of rhodopsin, which is a pigment responsible for enhanced night vision and increased adaptability to changes in light by the eye. In fact, a jam made from the fruit was used by British Royal Air Force pilots in World War II who often reported that it improved their night vision, a crucial aid in an ace pilot's career.
The anthocyanidins in the bilberry fruit are a bioflavonoid. A bioflavonoid is a substance found in plants which helps strengthen the walls of capillaries. Many bioflavonoids support human health in various ways, such as naringenin which aids in cancer prevention. Others may be useful in treating liver conditions such as cirrhosis. The variety of bioflavonoid uses is a field that is still being developed.
Bioflavonoids have an extensive history. From the previously mentioned uses for bilberries to research after World War II into the connection between bioflavonoids and vitamin C, these biologically active wonder substances are an exciting branch of health supplements. They are available in various forms for your convenience.
Bilberry extract comes in a capsule form, usually meant to be taken three times daily. The manufacturer will have instructions in case of varying dosages. Bilberry extract contains the most potent dose of bioflavonoid that the bilberry has to offer. It is this potency that makes the extract the best choice for maximum ocular benefit. But it is not the only choice, in case you are looking for another way to enjoy receiving its unique health bonuses.
Bilberry tea is also made from the dried berries or the leaves of the plant. The berries are also eaten fresh or made into jam, just like the aforementioned British pilots did. The taste of a bilberry is very similar to that of a blueberry: slightly tart, slightly sweet. It has traditionally been baked in pies and it a special treat with syrup and ginger ice cream. That's a taste worthy of the fruit's pedigree!
In the world of health supplements, the unique properties and advantages this fruit, particularly bilberry extract, make it a worthy addition to anyone's daily regimen. Maybe there's a toddler in the house who won't eat his carrots. He will get similar eye benefits by eating the sweet fruit of the bilberry plant. Perhaps a tasty dessert that packs its own reward would be a welcome addition to the dinner table. The possibilities are limitless. Try some of the fruit or extract and invest in a healthier future.
Now Available in Vegetarian Capsules - Triphala
December 20, 2007 04:17 PM
Sustainably wildcrafted—organically cultivated fruits
Planetary Herbals, the company that introduced Triphala to the American health food market, offers you this premier product made from organic fruits: Triphala Gold.
The most highly revered detoxifying and tonifying compound in the 5,000-year Ayurvedic tradition.
Combines three sour and astringent fruits, legendary for their health-promoting effects: amla, behada, and harada.
Planetary Herbals: Your Source for Triphala
Triphala, an Ayurvedic staple, is designed to support digestion, assimilation, and elimination. In the United States, it is the cornerstone of botanical intestinal cleansing programs. Triphala Gold is made from fruits sustainably wildcrafted on certified organic land in the foothills of Sri Lanka or Northeastern Madhya Pradesh. The fruits are then processed to maintain their freshness, purity, and quality. The indigenous community that harvests our three fruits is paid more than market price, which supports the ability of community members to remain in their ancestral homelands. The local pickers are trained in methods that allow for preservation of local forests and long-term ecological sustainability.
Tongkat Ali: The Natural Viagra?
October 22, 2007 10:02 AM
Tongkat Ali is also known as Longjack, and is a well known aphrodisiac in South East Asia, the root of which has been found effective both as an aphrodisiac and in treating certain sexual problems including failure to achieve an erection. What Viagra does in the west, Longjack does in the east, only cheaper.
The tree is also called Pasak Bumi, and had originally been used for many years as a treatment for malaria, the side effects being accepted but not understood as originating from the malaria medication. Some though that the malaria itself perhaps caused them, and was a long time before the effect of tongkat ali on the testosterone levels in the body was understood.
The name literally means Ali’s walking stick, and is named after the long roots from which it is extracted. The tree itself is about ten metres high, and grows beneath the canopy of the Indonesian rainforests. However, due to a heavy demand for the product, the older trees are increasingly more difficult to find, and most of the herbal preparation is extracted from younger trees. The tree itself is not easy to cultivate outside its natural environment, and is very slow growing.
Unlike many herbal remedies used in Asia, the effects of Tongkat Ali on the libido have been supported by scientific medical evidence, and it has been demonstrated to support the availability of unbound testosterone and to support hormonal balance in general. It had been used for many years to promote sexual desire and sexual ability before the medical evidence was obtained to provide scientific support to what was already known by the indigenous population: that it was effective in improving sexual ability, stamina, and endurance and to reduce mental fatigue in general.
Although it was originally used as a treatment for malaria, Longjack increases the natural production of testosterone in the body and hence improving the male sex drive and also that of women. It is a little known fact that women, too, need testosterone for their sexual impulses. However, it is probably more important from a physiological point of view that testosterone is essential to women in that it increases the metabolic rate and accelerates the burning and elimination of fats, and the production of red blood cells and the development of muscle tissue.
As the production of testosterone drops off with age, generally starting after about thirty years, bodybuilders find it increasingly more difficult to maintain a good body shape and muscle shape. They are interested in anything that could feasible maintain or even increase the production of testosterone by the body, and Tongkat Ali does this. To them, the increase in their libido, or sex drive, is a bonus that they will not refuse to take advantage of!
Eurycoma longifolia, the scientific name for the tree, increases the amount of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the body. ATP, along with its cousin adenosine diphosphate (ADP), is responsible for the availability of energy for use by the body. It is normally created from ADP and glucose, and an increased availability in the blood can reduce the fatigue caused by its consumption through vigorous exercise. However, if too much ATP is available, the subject can suffer from insomnia and restlessness since there is too much ATP in the body.
The function of the ATP is to provide available energy that can be used by the muscles in exercise. When energy is used up the ATP is converted to ADP, which needs more glucose to reform the ATP. If there is excess ATP, it is like a charged battery within the body, and we become restless until the energy available is used up.
Another benefit of this amazing substance is that it helps the body to increase its own production of sex hormones, rather than simply provide them for it. People who suffer from sexual dysfunction conditions tend to be provided with HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) from their physicians or doctors which involve the introduction of testosterone intravenously. The result of this is that your body recognizes that it has a sufficient supply of testosterone and so stops making it for itself. Eventually your body just stops testosterone production, and relies on the artificial supply it has got used to receiving. Longjack treatment, however, does not provide a supply of testosterone, but stimulates your body to produce its own, which is better for it in the long run.
You should, however, be made aware of the possible side effects or testosterone administration which are insomnia, anxiety and a possible reduction in your immune functions. There are also other possible side effects if you suffer from diabetes, or heart liver or kidney disease, and you should always refer to your doctor before commencing its use. If you start off your treatment with small doses and check out the side effects at each stage, then you will be able to safely find out if these side effects relate to you. If not, then you are all set as long as you obey the advice of your physician.
Another natural product that is recommended as an aphrodisiac is Horny Goat Weed, but when used in combination with Tongkat Ali it appears to have a synergistic effect. Horny Goat Weed is also called Fairy Wings and a number of other alternatives names, and is not one but about 60 different flowering plants found in southern China. It works by increasing the nitric oxide concentration in the body that helps to relax the smooth muscles.
By itself Horny Goat Weed is an effective aphrodisiac, but the combination of its effect in relaxing the penile muscles and the increased testosterone levels promoted by Longjack is extremely powerful, and much more effective in resolve sexual problems in men that either of them alone.
For this reason tongkat ali is frequently sold in combination with horny goat weed. Although not unusual, it is not common to find natural herbs that have such a profound effect on the libido and whose effect is backed up by scientific evidence. Tongkat ali is one of those, and although it is still currently mainly used in Asia, demand for it in the west is rising.
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.
March 08, 2007 12:27 PM
Revita, the most efficient hair growth stimulating shampoo available in the market is the final result of DS Laboratories efforts on cutting edge research. Revita is a powerful and unique SLS/SLES free combination of active ingredients specially designed to maintain scalp vitality and act on folicle dysfunctions in order to achieve best results in short periods of time. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate, commonly used low cost detergents in shampoos and cleansers, are linked to skin irritation, skin drying and hair loss due to follicle attack. Revita is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate free, providing a high quality scalp skin safe shampoo product.
Revita was developed with a cost-no-object approach. Revita’s compounds have been chosen based exclusively on their properties, quality and efficacy (in the opposite of the majority of available products, which are usually developed with production costs in mind). The final result is a very high quality shampoo product with absolutely no equivalent competitor in the market. Revita combines costly first line compounds at high concentrations like Caffeine at 4.0%, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Seed Extract at 1.0% and Spin Traps (SOD Mimic) at 0.1% with other top level ingredients which make Revita a unique product in its class.
To improve the efficacy of this synergic combination, DS Laboratories developed a unique “chemical free” extraction process that keeps original properties and clinical efficacy of final components. Through gentle mechanical compression, Revita’s compounds are obtained as pure and chemically preserved active molecules.
Revita starts acting on your scalp and hair follicle since the first day of use. The time you will need to note the first results will depend of the severity and duration of your hair loss. No matter how long or how intense your hair loss is, using Revita on daily basis will improve the vitality of your scalp, maintaining the quality of your hair and stimulating new hair growth.
Through the synergic interaction of very effective compounds, Revita brings you a highly effective product designed to maintain scalp vitality and act on hair loss. By combining an antioxidant effect, anti-DHT properties, powerful hydrating molecules, hair growth stimulants and structural amino acids, Revita brings you the most effective hair growth stimulating shampoo available.
Apple Polyphenol (procyanidin B2 and C1) - phytochemical concentrate found in the skin of unripe apples that acts as potent antioxidant. It protects cells against free radicals, reactive atoms that contribute to tissue damage in the body. These chemical compounds are being studied extensively in labs around the world for their health effects in major diseases including treatment of hair growth. Studies showed that after sequential use, an increase of almost 80% of hair diameter and an increase in number of total hairs was shown, with no side effects.
In 2000, Japanese researchers presented their findings to the international community on the hair growth effects of apple polyphenols - specifically one known as procyanidin B-2. They identified two successful compounds- one from chardonnay grapes, and one extracted from unripe apples. The procyanidin B-2 fraction clearly outperformed the grape extract. "Procyanidin B-2 purified from apples," stated the research team, "shows the highest activity of more than 300% relative to controls."
In the same year, in a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, nineteen men with male pattern baldness were studied with a daily topical application of a 1% procyanidin B-2 solution, extracted from apples. Ten other balding men served as controls, receiving a placebo solution. After 6 months, the study concluded:
• The increase in number of total hairs and terminal hairs in the procyanidin B-2 group subjects was significantly greater than controls.
• 78.9% of subjects showed an increased mean value of hair diameter.
• "Procyanidin B-2 therapy shows promise as a cure for male pattern baldness."
Following the revelations, an attempt was made to further understand the mechanism by which the remarkable hair growth effects occurred. The results were published in the prestigious British Journal of Dermatology: Procyanidin B-2, extracted from apples, promotes hair growth: a laboratory study, Br J Dermatol. 2002 Jan;146(1):41-51. In this study, the researchers concluded that procyanidin B-2 acts to diminish protein kinase C isozymes, which play an important role in the hair growth cycle. Procyanidin B-2 seems to promote hair growth by down regulating PKC in both the anagen (active growth phase) and telogen (resting phase) of the hair follicle. When the anagen phase is prolonged, and the telogen phase is shortened, increased hair growth results.
Two more clinical trials and a total of seven published studies have now confirmed the surprising hair growth-promoting effects of apple procyanidins. Here is a summary of those findings:
• Total Number of Hairs: Significantly Increased
• Total Number of Terminal Hairs: Significantly Greater
• Increase in Hair Diameter: 78.9% Positive • Ratio of Thicker (terminal) Hairs: Significantly Higher
• Hair Follicle Activation: Intensive
In the most exciting development yet, Japanese researchers released a new study late in 2005. Once again, procyanidin therapy was proven successful in regrowing hair in subjects with male pattern baldness. The new study, published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, confirmed the findings of earlier studies, showing clear improvement in the number of hairs and the density of hairs in the treated area. Building on the success of earlier trials, the study was extended to 12 months in the procyanidin group, and proved that longer term procyanidin therapy was even more successful than prior 4 and 6 month trials.
Cooper Peptides - Cooper Peptides have two main properties: (1) potent tissue protective anti-inflammatory agents that limit oxidative damage after tissue injury, and (2) tissue remodeling activation agents, that is, the processes for removal of damaged protein and scar tissue and their replacement by normal tissue. Studies at numerous universities and research institutes have found copper-peptides to improve hair transplant success, increase hair follicle size, stimulate hair growth and reduce hair loss.
Research scientists at the University of San Francisco Wound Center stumbled upon very interesting results. Their discovery was made while applying a synthetically formulated compound, Copper Peptide, to severe wound areas on several patients. During this process something unusual happened. Not only did the wounds heal about 30 percent faster, but a significant stimulation of the follicular cells occurred. As a side effect, these tripeptide complexes actually grew hair around the wound area.
The discovery was so startling that they then applied the same Copper Peptide complex to a female patient who had suffered roughly 90 percent alopecia (hair loss) for years. After about six months of use, she had recovered almost 100 percent of her hair. Dr. Loren Pickart, the leading authority in Copper Peptide technology, describes it as being like a protein injection to the scalp.
Tests were then conducted with chemotherapy patients and recent hair transplant recipients, all with great success in stimulating newer and stronger hair follicles.
Spin traps – are very special compounds that were originally utilized in measuring free radical activity because they react with free radicals both in vitro and in vivo, producing stable complexes. The most commonly used spin trap and the standard which measures new ones is PBN - alpha-phenyl- N-tert butyl nitrone. Hundreds of studies have been conducted over the last ten years that have tested PBN and other “spin traps” in numerous conditions. Later it was discovered that these spin traps had powerful free radical quenching abilities in living systems and could treat a variety of conditions. Spin traps could provide unique protection against free radical damage that complements and enhances the activities of the classical antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E.
Spin traps modulate NF kappa-B regulated cytokines and inducible nitric oxide synthases that are implicated in pro-inflammatory disease conditions. A method for ameliorating a cellular dysfunction of a tissue such as the treatment of hair loss and stimulation of hair growth comprises administering a nitroso or nitrone spin trap to the affected tissue. These agents inhibit the reaction of superoxide and nitric oxide to produce peroxinitrite. Scientists discovered that nitrone and nitroso spin traps have properties in the body for ameliorating cellular dysfunction in tissue attributed, in part, to high energy oxygen and hydroxyl free radicals, and enhancing recuperation of the tissue. Alpha-phenyl-N-tert butyl nitrone (PBN) can be administered, for example, as an anti-alopecia agent to stimulate hair growth.
Spin traps can be administered to the skin to be treated, such as the scalp. Depending on the type of hair loss or alopecia being treated and the conditions thereof, the stimulation of hair growth can usually be obtained by topical application, preferably repeated daily application. The utility of topically applied spin traps is not limited thereto, however, and the stimulation of hair growth can include an increased rate of growth, increased hair diameter, follicular neogenesis, and the like; inhibiting hair loss or alopecia from progressing.
Ketoconazole - Topical ketoconazole shows itself to have an anti-DHT binding effect in the scalp. Nevertheless, it is likely that ketoconazole exhibits other methods to its anti-hair-loss effect. One such theory of ketoconazole anti-alopecia effects may be on its activity upon the removal of sebum, a fatty substance that accumulates in the scalp around the hair follicles. In addition, ketoconazole is an antifungal medication and is significant for people combating hair loss since acting as an antifungal agent it reduces scalp irritation caused by fungal colonization or infection. Reduction of the inflammatory process that occurs in male pattern alopecia is crucial.
If we first examine the role of androgens, specifically dihydrotestosterone (DHT), we find that this hormone has been thought to slowly "choke" the growth of the hair follicle by inhibiting the function of an enzyme in the hair follicle called adenylate cyclase. Suffice it to say that when DHT concentrations remain high in the scalp, we see terminal (thick, coarse) scalp hair become reduced to vellus hair (fine, thin peach fuzz). On March 04, 2001, at the American Academy of Dermatology Meeting in Washington DC, scientists presented the findings of a study done on 1% ketoconazole shampoo which had good news for hair loss sufferers. In the study presented, one hundred male volunteers with mild to moderate dandruff and somewhat oily scalp, were using in a double-blind fashion either a 1% ketoconazole shampoo or a 1% zinc pyrithione shampoo, 2-3 times a week for 6 months.
Analysis of the different parameters set up in the study shows that the hair diameter gradually increased with ketoconazole use (+8.46%) over a 6 month period, whereas the diameter showed a trend to decrease with zinc pyrithione use over the same period (-2.28%). The sebum excretion rate was reduced with ketoconazole (-6.54%) while it increased with zinc pyrithione (+8.2%) over the same period of time. The number of hairs shed over a 24-hour period was reduced by 16.46% with ketoconazole and 6.02% with zinc pyrithione after 6 months. Finally, the percentage of hairs in the anagen phase increased by 6.4% and 8.4% respectively during the study.
The results are similar to a previous study done on 2% prescription strength Ketokonazole where it was shown that use of 2% ketoconazol yielded an increase in hair shaft diameter similar to what was achieved by the control group using 2% Minoxidil and a non-medicated shampoo.
Rooibos - Rooibos or Red Bush Tea - a hardy shrub indigenous to the North Western Cape of South Africa – is an exciting new botanical ingredient with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties well documented in medical literature. In alternative medicine Rooibos is often prescribed for nervous tension, allergies, stomach and digestive problems. Results from an independent study also showed a significant improvement in hair loss. Studies were initiated at an independent laboratory (Dermascan, France) to study the effect of the use of Rooibos in a hair lotion on a group of healthy persons who were suffering from the problem of hair loss. A 90 day trial was conducted comparing a hair lotion containing Rooibos with a placebo lotion.
After 90 days results showed a significant increase of the hair growth in the lotion containing Rooibos compared with the placebo. An increase in the hair growth was observed with 89% of the volunteers with no undesirable reactions (irritation or allergy). The participants were next asked to fill in a questionnaire. When the results were tallied, 67 percent rated their hair loss as zero or low, 78 percent saw a low to medium improvement, 45 percent saw a low to medium regrowth of hair, and 63 percent considered their hair had become smoother and shinier.
Conclusion: results show that most of the volunteers had a remarkable improvement in both the increase of hair growth and the decrease in hair loss.
MSM - Sulphur is present in protein-rich foods containing high levels of the amino acids methionine and cysteine. These foods include meat, fish, legumes, nuts, eggs, and vegetables, especially onions. However, sulphur has recently become a popular nutritional supplement and topical treatment thanks to the discovery of methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM.
The use of MSM as a nutritional supplement and topical application is relatively recent. An American chemist named Robert Herschler, began studying MSM in 1955. However, another man, Dr. Stanley Jacob with Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, is considered by many to be the father of MSM. Dr. Jacob found that simple marine life like algae and plankton convert inorganic sulphur to organic sulphur compounds. These compounds are known as dimethylsulfonium salts. These salts are transformed into dimethyl sulfide (DMS), which is released into the atmosphere and is converted by ultraviolet light into dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). When DMSO oxidizes, it turns into MSM and is absorbed by plants that become food for animals and humans. MSM is a white, crystalline powder that is odorless and nearly tasteless. When taken as a dietary supplement, MSM proved to have the same health benefits as DMSO without side-effects such as bad breath, itchy skin, nasal congestion, and shortness of breath. Why does MSM help with the development of stronger hair? Various scientific studies have proven that MSM contributes a definite normalizing effect on body functions. The sulfur normally provided to the body by MSM is required for healthy collagen and keratin which are essential for healthy hair, skin and nails. MSM also has proven antioxidant benefits which can disrupt or alter damaging chain reactions of lipid peroxidation in the cell membranes.
MSM has been widely used as a dietary supplement without any reports of allergy or intolerance related to its use. Supplements of MSM are comfortably assimilated without side effects. There are no known contraindications.
Caffeine 4% - Active caffeine ingredient helps to regulate the effects of testosterone levels. Male pattern baldness is known to occur in individuals with sensitivity to testosterone, causing damage to hair follicles that eventually leads to baldness. Caffeine is a xanthine alkaloid compound that acts as a stimulant in humans. Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, having the effect of warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness.
The independent study at the University of Jena used hair samples from the scalps of young men entering into the first stages of hormone-related hair loss. The study relied on a hair organ culture that used four different types of testing samples. The first was a nutrient-based sample, the second a testosterone only sample, the third was a caffeine only sample and the fourth a mixture of caffeine and testosterone.
According to the research, the results showed that the samples containing the caffeine nutrient helped to stave off hair loss and encouraged new hair growth, while the sample that relied on testosterone only led to increased hair loss. But perhaps the most impressive was the testosterone and caffeine sample, which helped to prevent further hair loss.
The results showed that using the caffeine treatment average growth was increased by around 46 per cent and the life cycle of the hair was extended by 37 per cent, when compared to the control study.
Carnitine Tartrate - L-Carnitine, a vitamin-like nutrient, occurs naturally in the human body and is essential for turning fat into energy. Active energy metabolism is an essential prerequisite for the growth of strong and healthy hair. In biological systems ATP acts as the universal energy currency. One of the most potent bio-actives that significantly increases cellular ATP content is carnitine tartrate.
Statistical evaluation demonstrated a significant increase in ATP equivalents in human hair roots treated with carnitine tartrate, showing that carnitine tartrate is an ideal ingredient for hair care formulations, providing energy for the optimal environment to produce strong and healthy hair. Throughout the test period ATP content within plucked hair follicles was determined twice daily using a commercially available test kit. Statistical evaluation of baseline adjusted values demonstrated a significant increase in ATP equivalents in human hair roots treated with carnitine tartrate. These effects were absent in the placebo group, thus underlining the stimulating activity of carnitine tartrate.
The outstanding bio-activity of carnitine tartrate was furthermore demonstrated in a second study, assessing the effects after a single application of a shampoo formulation supplemented with carnitine tartrate. Again, ATP levels in plucked human hair follicles were significantly increased.
Amino Acids: Ornitine, Taurine, Cysteine - Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, from which hair is created. They are assembled in the correct sequence by stem cells to form keratin, a complex and immensely strong hair protein. Vital amino acids have to be replaced consistently, as damage is accumulated over time. We can replace a combination of these lost amino acids directly into the hair, where they are shown to provide significant tensile benefits to the hair shaft.
Hair is composed primarily of proteins (88%). These proteins are of a hard fibrous type known as keratin. Keratin protein is comprised of what we call "polypeptide chains.” The word, polypeptide, comes from the Greek word "poly" meaning many and "peptos" meaning digested or broken down. In essence, if we break down protein, we have individual amino acids.
Many (poly) amino acids joined together form a "polypeptide chain". Two amino acids are joined together by a "peptide bond", and the correct number of amino acids placed in their correct order will form a specific protein; i.e. keratin, insulin, collagen and so on. The "alpha helix" is the descriptive term given to the polypeptide chain that forms the keratin protein found in human hair. Its structure is a coiled coil. The amino acids link together to form the coil and there are approximately 3.6 amino acids per turn of the helix (coil). Each amino acid is connected together by a "peptide bond". The peptide bond is located between the carbon atom of one amino acid extending to bond with the nitrogen atom of the next amino acid. In many individuals the extremities, including the top of the head, are the most difficult places to maintain blood flow. Follicles which are constantly deprived of blood, and therefore nutrients, cannot produce hair properly. Lack of proper nutrients, amino acids, minerals and vitamins can certainly hamper hair growth.
L-Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid synthesized by the body from L-Ornithine. Arginine + Ornithine support protein synthesis because they are involved in the transport and storage of nitrogen. The usage of taurine corrects the "rigidification" of the connective sheath that surrounds the Pilosebaceous unit and hair follicles, specifically those affected by pattern hair loss. This is a novel and previously undisclosed angle on hair loss treatment that has yet to be touched upon in any of the medical literature or prior publications.
The amino acid, l-cysteine speeds up hair growth and increases hair shaft diameter resulting in fuller hair. L-cysteine has been reported to facilitate longer hair growth, beyond what is genetically programmed. L-cysteine also provides potent antioxidant protection to the hair follicle. Users of topical n-acetyl-cysteine have reported hair regrowth.
Emu Oil - The emu, dromaius nova hollandiae, is a flightless bird part of a group called ratites which also includes the ostrich and the kiwi. Modern Australians learned early on from the Aborigines the many valuable qualities in the emu and its oil. The earliest research studies in emu oil come from Australia, and Australia continues to export emu oil to this day.
In the United States today there is a growing network of research labs interested in emus and their incredible oil. Emu oil is rendered from a thick pad of fat on the back of the bird that was apparently provided by nature to protect the animal from the extreme temperatures in its Australian homeland. Emu oil is deep penetrating and super hydrating to the skin - an all-natural tissue nutrient. Michael Hollick, MD, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine, Physiology, and Dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine conducted a study involving emu oil and hair growth. His study found that there was a 20% increase in growth activity of skin that received emu oil compared to skin that received corn oil. Looking at the hair follicles Dr. Hollick realized they were much more robust, the skin thickness was remarkably increased suggesting that emu oil stimulated skin growth and hair growth. Additionally, the study showed that over 80% of hair follicles that had been "asleep" were woken up, and began growing.
Emu oil is anti-inflammatory, which may be in part why it stimulates hair growth. Emu Oil has also been shown to be a 5 alpha reductase inhibitor in target tissues when topically applied, which likely contributes significantly to its hair growth properties. A third important property of emu oil is that it is bacteriostatic.
Emu Oil contains a multitude of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) which helps to "feed" the skin. Consumers who suffer from natural forms of baldness have reported hair re-growth. Since Alopecia Areata only suppresses the hair follicle (vs. killing the hair follicle), emu oil may have an effect to assist with hair regrowth.
Biotin – Biotin is a member of the B-vitamin family and a major component in the natural hair manufacturing process -- it is essential to not only grow new hair, but it also plays a major role in the overall health of skin and nails. The beneficial effects of biotin on hair may be linked to its ability to improve the metabolism of scalp oils. Biotin when absorbed by the scalp may promote hair growth and it is able to penetrate the hair shaft making it expand which actually thickens the hair cuticle.
Biotin is used in cell growth, the production of fatty acids, metabolism of fats and amino acids. It plays a role in the Krebs Cycle, which is the process in which energy is released from food. Biotin is so important to hair health, that many dermatologists prescribe biotin supplements to their patients as part of their medical treatment for hair loss.
After applying Revita with a gentle massage, you should leave it on the scalp from 1 – 2 minutes before rinsing. Then repeat and leave on the scalp for 3 – 5 minutes. If desired, follow with a high quality conditioner. For optimal results, Revita should be used at least 5 times per week.
This formulation is contraindicated in individuals with a history of sensitivity reactions to any of its components. It should be discontinued if hypersensitivity to any of its ingredients is noted.
Q. Is Revita safe ?
A. Revita primarily contains compounds that are not only safe in topical use, but actually dramatically enhance overall skin health. The other active ingredients such as Ketoconazole have been tested in clinical studies and have been shown safe.
Q: Can I use hair sprays, mousses, gels, etc.?
A: Hair spray, gel, and other styling aids are not recommended since they tend to clog the hair shaft. However, you can use them while using Revita.
Q: Can I have my hair colored or permed while using Revita ?
A: While there is no evidence that coloring or perming hair can lead to or even worsen hair loss, it is generally not recommended for people with hair loss. If you are experiencing hair loss then perming and coloring hair is not recommended. However, this will not interfere with Revita.
Q: What is SLS/SLES free ?
A: SLS means Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and SLES means Sodium Laureth Sulfate, commonly used low cost detergents in shampoos and cleansers. They are linked to skin irritation, skin drying and hair loss due to follicle attack. Revita is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate free, and that means that Revita does not irritate you scalp and preserves your hair follicale health.
Q: Can I blow dry my hair after using Revita ?
A: Extreme heat damages the proteins in the hairs making them fragile. Nevertheless, if you need or want to blow dry your hair, you can do it after using Revita.
Q: Who is a candidate for Revita ?
A: Ideal candidate is someone with little hair loss or at the beginning stages of hair loss, since it is much easier to prevent hair loss then to grow new hair. Someone who is concerned with hair loss prevention should start using Revita immediately.
Q: What type of results should I expect with Revita ?
A: When deciding to use Revita, it is important to have realistic expectations. Depending of severity and duration of your hair loss, it could take some time to see hair growth. In fact, during the first 2 weeks of treatment you may actually notice increased hair loss as old hairs are being pushed out and the hair follicles start growing new hair. Do not become alarmed with this and just stick to the treatment.
Q. Does Revita have any systemic side effects ?
A. No, when used as directed, Revita active ingredients have a long history of use both orally and topically.
Q. Does Revita work for women?
A. Yes. In most cases, the cause of hair loss in women is surprisingly similar to men. Fortunately for women, estrogen helps to protect the hair follicle from the destructive effects of DHT. However, many women develop thinning hair and loss due to fluctuation of estrogen levels and/or over production of DHT. Revita can help protect the hair follicle from DHT resulting in a thicker, fuller and healthier hair.
Q. I am using other topical treatments. Can I use Revita at the same time ?
A. Yes. Revita has no side effects and does not cross react with other topical treatments. You can safely opt to use Revita with other products, and we strongly recommend the association with Spectral.DNC for more severe hair loss or Spectral.RS for thinning hair.
Q. Do I need to use Revita for a long time ?
A. Once you have reached the desired results, you should continue to use Revita as your regular shampoo to maintain the revitalized hairs and a healthy scalp.
Q: Is stress a factor in hair loss?
A: When the body is under significant physical and emotional stress it is possible that the immune system will produce anti-bodies that attack hair follicles, and this results in bald patches or diffuse loss. Stress-induced loss will respond very well to Revita and you should keep using Revita as your regular daily shampoo to keep your scalp healthy.
The Power Plant of the Amazon
March 02, 2007 11:34 AM
It may surprise most Americans to know that rainforest plants are the original source for one-fourth of the chemotherapy medications used today. Plants offer a plethora of beneficial compounds, and rainforests contain a superabundance of beneficial plants.
In fact, plant medicines are the most widely used medicines of all types in the world. Over eighty-five percent of the world’s population uses plant and herbal medicines as their primary medicines. That’s 5.1 billion (5,100,000,000) people worldwide! While Americans overwhelmingly use synthetically manufactured pharmaceuticals to cure their ills, the vast majority of Earth’s inhabitants use healing plant medicines instead.
One of the most powerful healing rainforest plant medicines is cat’s claw, or Uncaria tomentosa. This high climbing woody vine grows at the base of tall trees in the Peruvian rainforest. The plant’s claw-shaped thorns latch onto the trees and spiral further upward, nourished by the lush rainforest environment. For over 2,000 years, the Ashaninka, a tribal people of the Peruvian rainforest, have used the root of U. tomentosa to treat illnesses in the tribe, including asthma, bladder infections, infected wounds, arthritis, bone pain, bowel inflammation, and cancer.
Q. I’ve heard about cat’s claw, but what does it do and how do I know which one is right for me?
Cat’s claw might be one of the most confusing (and most effective!) nutritional supplements available in health food stores today. One reason that it’s so confusing is there are so many kinds of cat’s claw supplements-there are cat’s claw leaves, cat’s claw bark, and even cat’s claw twigs. While each of these supplements claim to help the immune system, it is the root of Uncaria tomentosa that is proven to impart the true cat’s claw health benefits.
Scientists, who have extensively studied every part of the plant, discovered that extracts made from selected cat’s claw roots possess the healing power to treat and prevent diseases like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers and degenerative diseases. In addition, it demonstrates anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-microbial benefits.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that not all Uncaria tomentosa roots actually contain healing properties.
Healers in the Ashaninka tribe attribute the healing properties in cat’s claw to the “good spirits” that live in the plant’s roots. The Ashaninka healers, or sancoshi, are able to actually “see” the good spirits hidden inside the root of the plant before they harvest them.
Some cat’s claw plant roots have the good spirits. Some don’t. If the good spirits are mixed with any cat’s claw root without good spirits, the healing power is lost. While there are no apparent differences in the plants or the roots to the untrained eye, only certain cat’s claw roots possess the power to heal. And, for a very long time, only the Ashaninka tribal healer seemed to be able to identify them. They call the good spirit cat’s claw Saventaro, or “powerful plant”.
However, scientists who were given cat’s claw roots by the Ashaninka to study in the laboratory discovered that they could “see” the good spirits, too! Using high performance liquid chromatography, or HPLC, a laboratory process that identifies various chemical compounds, the good spirits of cat’s claw roots were revealed to be important medicinal compounds called pentacyclic oxindole alkaloids (POAs). Research has learned that POAs provide powerful benefits for the human immune response.
Q. Why are good spirits, or POA’s, good for the immune system?
Cat’s claw POAs work to keep us healthy by directly interacting with white blood cells, the backbone of our immune system. Our white blood cells are the disease fighting cells of the human body. These highly specialized cells fight diseases we catch, such as colds and flu, as well as diseases that start within our own cells, such as cancer and autoimmune diseases. There are many kinds of white blood cells; each has a specific job to do in fighting diseases.
Certain POAs help white blood cells called macrophages work faster. The macrophages’ job is to engulf and digest foreign material. This means that macrophages can ingest m ore bacteria and disease causing microbes when they are exposed to POAs. The scientists also discovered that POA cat’s claw extract increases the production of a chemical protein called interleukin that is secreted by macrophages. This macrophage-secreted interleukin (IL-1) has important immune enhancing properties. IL-1 alerts resting white blood cells and spurs them into action. It also helps make other biochemicals that are essential to an activated immune system.
POAs also help B cells. B cells are white blood cells that make antibodies that kill germs. Each B cell is programmed to make one specific antibody that is effective against one specific germ (such as a bacteria, virus, or fungus). When scientists looked at the number of B cells after they were exposed to POA cat’s claw root extract, they found that the B cells had increased significantly, resulting in an increased supply of antibodies. And perhaps most importantly as they relate to cancer, the POAs in cat’s claw root extract help increase the number of T cells, the true soldiers of the immune system. There are many different kinds of these white blood cells, including Helper T cells, Suppressor T cells, and Killer T cells. Increased Helper, Suppressor, and Killer T-cells can more effectively destroy cancer cells. Increasing the number of circulating T-cells is very important in a disease like AIDS as well.
Q. Can cat’s claw and other plants in the rainforest really cure diseases? Isn’t that just folklore?
It’s folk use and modern science combined-plants have long been known for their ability to kill cancer cells. In fact, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has identified over 3000 plant extracts that can kill cancer cells. More than 70 percent of these plants are found only in the rainforest.
Q. What is it about the rainforest that gives plants like cat’s claw these cancer killing compounds?
Most of the time when we talk about rainforests, we’re talking about the tropical rainforests. While other forests, like the old-growth temperate forests of the Pacific Northwest, also have high rainfalls and tall trees, the tropical rainforests located near the equator are where most plant medicines come from.
The Amazon rainforest in South America is the world’s largest, covering an area about two-thirds the size of the continental United States. Depending on the elevation and distance to the equator the Amazon rainforest receives between 160 and 400 inches of rain per year. The rain is spread pretty evenly from January to December-it’s always the rainy season-and the temperatures remain between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit all year.
This fertile environment continually recycles itself. When leaves fall from the trees, flowers wilt, and animals die in the rainforest-all of the nutrients are recycled back into the roots of the trees and plants. Because the rainforest reuses almost everything that falls to the ground, the plant growth is amazingly rich in alkaloids and other medicinal compounds. Researchers think these compounds and alkaloids, like POAs, protect the plants from illness and insect attacks. These are the very same compounds that protect us from disease.
Q. When the Ashaninka harvest the cat’s claw roots, does it impact the rest of the plant?
No. The Ashaninka work intelligently to keep rainforest cat’s claw plants perpetually healthy. The Ashaninka employ responsible and innovative harvesting techniques to keep the plants alive and tribal members healthy. Individual cat’s claw plants are never completely harvested. Only one third of the lateral roots are collected at any one time to allow re-growth by the remaining root. Once a plant’s lateral roots have been partially harvested, that plant is left to regenerate, and no more root is harvested from it for 10 years.
Q. Why are the Ashaninka willing to share their cat’s claw?
They are generous people. The Ashaninka see no benefit in hoarding cat’s claw for themselves alone. They also want to make sure that the plant’s healing properties continue on. As their homelands continue to be destroyed by deforestation, rainforest peoples are also disappearing. There were an estimated ten million tribal and indigenous peoples living in the Amazonian Rainforest in 1510. Today there are less than 200,000.
Since the 1900’s more than 90 indigenous tribes have died out and disappeared. Each time a rainforest medicine man or woman dies without passing their arts on to the next generation, the tribe and the world loses thousands of years of irreplaceable knowledge about medicinal plants. With them, centuries of accumulated knowledge of the medicinal value of rainforest species have been lost.
A good example of the impact of this loss can be seen in cat’s claw. When European explorers began venturing into the Amazon River basin, t hey were skeptical of the stories the Ashaninka people told them of U. tomentosa’s amazing healing powers. But when the explorers became sick with colds, flu, or other illnesses, they harvested cat’s claw root for themselves and gave the plant a try. Sometimes the explorers got better when they used the cat’s claw root, sometimes they stayed the same.
Q. Why didn’t the cat’s claw root help all the explorers?
Because some cat’s claw plant roots have good spirits-POAs-and some cat’s claw plant roots have tetracyclic oxindole alkaloids, or TOAs. While the POAs have very powerful effects in the immune system, the TOAs have different effects in the body, none of which help the immune system cells at all. All U. tomentosa plants look virtually identical, so it’s hard to tell if they have the healing POAs or non-helpful TOAs.
What makes cat’s claw identification even more challenging is the fact that plants with POAs one year will have TOAs the next. Cat’s claw plants seem to change their alkaloid chemotypes at will, an incredibly powerful accomplishment for a plant to possess. Harvesting of cat’s claw roots that contain POAs is very tricky. Unless the person gathering the root extract is an Ashaninka sancoshi. These medicine men know which cat’s claw to use; they can actually “see” the good spirits hidden inside the root. When scientists studying cat’s claw discovered they could “see” presence of TOAs using HPLC technology, they were able to harvest cat’s claw root extracts with POAs that consistently helps people get and stay healthy.
Q. Do some cat’s claw root extract supplements contain TOAs?
Yes they do. And buying those products will only benefit the cat’s claw distributor; they won’t help you stay healthy. When cat’s claw root is harvested from the rainforest, responsible supplement maker examine the root with HPLC to make sure that only POA roots are collected. But, this identification of the chemotypes takes significant time and costs money. For these reasons, many cat’s claw distributors don’t include this important process in their harvesting. The POAs and TOAs are simply just mixed together and sold as a cat’s claw product with no mention of any alkaloid content on the label.
Q. Why should I avoid TOAs?
While the POAs in cat’s claw root extracts have numerous benefits to the immune system, the TOAs have different effects in the body, none helping the immune system cells. Most importantly, however, when POAs and TOAs are mixed together, the TOAs actually work against the POAs. TOAs reduce the capacity of POAs to beneficially modulate the immune system.
Q. How can I be sure the cat’s claw I buy is POA cat’s claw?
Read the label of the cat’s claw root extract product you are considering buying. If it does not clearly state that it is the high POA cat’s claw, then chances are that it’s not.
Q. What do the Ashaninka receive in return for the cat’s claw harvesting?
The Ashaninka and reputable distributors of cat’s claw root extract have established a mutual and ethical relationship. Both groups benefit from the sale of the plant material. Maintaining this relationship is important for both the tribe and the distributors.
The distributors are paying a fair price for the raw material directly to the tribe. No intermediary is involved. This payment covers the raw material itself, a license-fee for the k knowledge of the plant, and a guarantee (from both sides) of a lasting relationship. Payment is also made for the protection of the rainforest. No deforestation is allowed. The area where the cat’s claw materials are processed is also leased and payment is made for this, as well.
This arrangement allows the Ashaninka to make independent decisions in how to spend this income from sale of their cat’s claw plants. They have been able to make improvements in the tribe’s water supply and in their living areas. They are also able to obtain outside medical aid as needed and provide for education of their children.
The partnership with cat’s claw distributors has created a sustainable resource for the Ashaninka. The tribe has been able to not only preserve their rainforest, but also compete financially with unsustainable income sources offered by timber and agricultural firms.
Q. Why is it important to preserve the rainforest?
The most amazing fact about these impressive medicinal plants is the vast number that5 has yet to be discovered. In fact, the rainforest’s abundance is one reason it is home to so many healing plants. Within a four square mile patch of rainforest, you could see 1500 species of flowering plants, 750 species of trees, 125 mammal species, 400 species of birds, 100 reptile species, 60 amphibian species, and 150 different species of butterflies.
Unfortunately, not everyone looks to the rainforest for the same reasons. Many consider its real value in board feet and cultivated acreage. The forces pushing industrial development move quickly; experts estimate that we’re losing over 130 plant, animal, and insect species every day/ That amount to almost 50,000 species a year.
A combination of logging, petroleum interests, cattle grazing operations, and, of course, our own consumer appetites are putting pressure on rainforest resources. The consequences are sobering:
By leaving the rainforest intact, however, and harvesting its many nuts, fruits, oil-producing, and medicinal plants, the rainforest has more economic value than if it was cut down for timber or to make grazing land for cattle. If managed properly, the rainforest can provide the world’s need for sustainably harvested natural resources on a perpetual basis. That’s what the Ashaninka are doing with their cat’s claw harvesting.
The discovery of medicinal plants is dependent upon healthy rainforests. When an acre of tropical rainforest is lost due to deforestation, the impact on the number of plant and animal species lost and their possible uses is staggering.
We can all help the development of sustainable rainforest industries. By purchasing renewable and sustainable rainforest products, like POA type cat’s claw root extract, we are keeping rainforests alive and well. By benefiting from the innate wisdom of the Ashaninka people we are keeping ourselves just as alive and well. By honoring the science and the sacred of the world’s rainforests, like my friend the oncology nurse, the massive wealth and diversity will be there for generations to come.
HERBAL EXTRACTS FOR IMMUNE SYSTEM SUPPORT
December 23, 2005 12:27 PM
For years, Nature’s Apothecary’s reputation for producing high quality natural products, specifically multi-herb and single herb extracts and aromatherapy products, has been unparalleled. This family-owned, environmentally-conscious herbal extract company has laid deep roots on the front range of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, and in the natural products industry as well. NOW® is proud to continue their tradition of excellence in providing only the highest quality natural herbal extracts with the purchase of this premier liquid herbal extract supplier. We’re committed to using the same processes and procedures that have made the Nature’s Apothecary line one of quality and longevity.
Nature’s Apothecary herbal extracts are created with pure herbs grown on small organic farms, or herbs that have been ethically hand-harvested with respect for the earth, just as herbalists have done for thousands of years. While the various herbs used in these formulations offer a broad range of health benefits, two of the most important are immune system enhancement and detoxification. Herbs have a long history of usefulness in these categories. There is evidence of the use of herbs by Stone Age humans, who either cultivated or gathered hundreds of herbs and plants for a variety of uses. The histories of various cultures are filled with references to the use of herbs. Ancient Sumerians, Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Chinese, Europeans, and American Indians – all used herbs to heal and to nourish. Herbs that support the immune system and provide detoxification benefits were, and still are, very popular. Two of the most effective are Astragalus and Shiitake Mushroom.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is a member of the legume family and is considered an adaptogenic herb in traditional Chinese medicine, where it has been safely used for centuries. Native to central and western Asia, specifically China, Korea and Taiwan, Astragalus offers a unique benefit found in very few herbs - it seems to selectively support immune system function by stimulating certain immune functions and depressing others. One reason is that Astragalus has a high selenium content, a trace element with documented immune system benefits. It also contains polysaccharides and flavonoids, which support healthy immune system function as well as minimizing the effects of free radicals on various membranes. The mechanisms of action through which Astragalus supports immune system function are varied. It has shown promise as a means to stimulate “resting” immune system cells, increasing their activity. Research shows that Astragalus supports the body’s production of immunoglobulins, macrophages, T cells and natural killer (NK) cells, the grunts of the immune system’s army. Astragalus has been shown to support healthy cardiovascular function by protecting membranes from oxidative stress as a result of free radical damage.
Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula edodes) is a culinary delight with some serious health benefits. The name Shiitake is from a combination of shiia, the Japanese word for a variety of chestnut tree, and take, the Japanese name for mushrooms.
Shiitake is also referred to as the Forest Mushroom and the Black Forest Mushroom. indigenous to Eastern Asia, primarily Japan and China, Shiitake is Japan’s leading agricultural export, accounting for about eighty percent of the world’s Shiitake production. While it’s culinary reputation is well-known, Shiitake is also a medicinal herb with a long history of use. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Shiitake is well-regarded and has been used to treat a variety of ailments. Modern research has shown that Shiitake supports healthy immune system function and cardiovascular health, primarily due to the naturally-occurring nutrients found in Shiitake. It contains an excellent B vitamin profile, as well as amino acids, protein, iron, and beta glucan, a major structural component in the cell walls of most fungi, including Shiitake. Beta glucan has been shown to support healthy immune system function by stimulating the activity of phagocytes, white blood cells and NK (natural killer) cells, vital components of the body’s immune system defenses. Astragalus and Shiitake Mushroom are just a few of the immune supporting herbal extracts to be found in the Nature’s Apothecary line. With over 250 SKU’s, Nature’s Apothecary is your best source for high-quality, effective herbal extracts.
December 17, 2005 01:35 PM
Eleuthero- Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a hardy herb indigenous to the Taiga region of the Far East, which includes southeastern Russia, northern China, Japan and Korea. The use of this popular herb can be traced back over 2,000 years in ancient Chinese medical texts, where it is indicated for the treatment of a wide variety of ailments. Although it is a cousin of the Panax ginseng family (Korean, Chinese and American) it’s considered distinctly different. The term panax is derived from the Greek words pan (all) and akos (cure), which means “cure-all”. In addition to its adaptogenic properties, which seem to stem from its ability to regulate the activity of the adrenal cortex in response to stress, Eleuthero has some unique benefits. It stimulates the immune system, especially during times of strenuous physical exertion and stress, and seems especially beneficial for supporting a healthy mood and mental alertness. Eleuthero is also extremely beneficial as a training aid for athletes.
STEVIA: THE IDEAL SWEETENER?
July 15, 2005 12:51 PM
STEVIA: THE IDEAL SWEETENER?
For anyone who suffers from diabetes, hypoglycemia, high blood pressure, obesity or chronic yeast infections, stevia is the ideal sweetener. It has all the benefits of artificial sweeteners and none of the drawbacks. Stevia can be added to a variety of foods to make them sweet without adding calories or impacting the pancreas or adrenal glands. It can help to satisfy carbohydrate cravings without interfering with blood sugar levels or adding extra pounds.
Using stevia to create treats for children is also another excellent way to avoid weight gain, tooth decay and possible hyperactivity. While it may take some getting used to initially, stevia products are becoming easier to measure and better tasting.
Stevia’s Unique Taste Sensation
When the whole leaf extract or powdered forms of stevia make contact with the tongue, the resulting taste can be described as a sweet flavor, with a slight licorice-like and transient bitter flavor. If stevia is used correctly with hot water or some other liquid, both those flavors will disappear. At this writing, researchers are working on a new extraction process that will preserve stevia’s sweetening potency while minimizing any aftertaste associated with the herb.
Additional Therapeutic Benefits
Consider the following quote: Stevia . . . is not only non-toxic, but has several traditional medicinal uses. The Indian tribes of South America have used it as a digestive aid, and have also applied it topically for years to heal wounds. Recent clinical studies have shown it can increase glucose tolerance and decrease blood sugar levels. Of the two sweeteners (aspartame and stevia), stevia wins hands down for safety. (Whitaker) Stevia has a long history of medicinal use in Paraguay and Brazil and while many of the therapeutic applications of stevia are anecdotal, they must be considered in that they have spanned generations. Experts who work with indigenous cultures frequently find that traditional applications of folk medicine can be verified with scientific data.
Stevia and Blood Sugar Levels
Clinical tests combined with consumer results indicate that stevia can actually help to normalize blood sugar. For this reason, the herb and its extracts are recommended in some countries as an actual medicine for people suffering from diabetes or hypoglycemia. Recent studies have indicated that stevia can increase glucose tolerance while decreasing blood sugar levels. Paraguayan natives have traditionally used stevia tea to regulate blood sugar. Stevia decoctions for diabetes are common and are usually prepared by boiling or steeping the leaves in water (Bonvie, 53). While scientific studies are certainly warranted, it is thought that disturbed blood sugar levels respond to stevia therapy while normal levels remain unaffected.
Stevia and Weight Loss
Stevia is an ideal dietary supplement for anyone who wants to lose or maintain their weight. Because it contains no calories, it can satisfy cravings for sweets without adding extra pounds. It is also thought that using stevia may decrease the desire to eat fatty foods as well. Appetite control is another factor affected by stevia supplementation. Some people have found that their hunger decreases if they take stevia drops 15 to 20 minutes before a meal. While scientific studies are lacking in this area, it is presumed that the glycosides in stevia help to reset the appestat mechanism found in the brain, thereby promoting a feeling of satiety or satisfaction. Much of our nation’s obesity epidemic is due to the over consumption of sugar-containing foods. Unfortunately, most sugary snacks are also loaded with fat, compounding the problem. When a sugar craving hits, anything will usually do. Doughnuts, candy bars, pies, pastries and cookies are considered high calorie, fattening foods. Using stevia to sweeten snacks and beverages can result making weight loss and management much easier.
High Blood Pressure
It is thought that taking stevia can result in lowering elevated blood pressure levels while not affecting normal levels. This particular application has not been researched, but its potential as a treatment for hypertension must be considered when assessing the value of herbal medicines for disease.
Stevia is thought to be able to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria and other infectious organisms. Some people even claim that using stevia helps to prevent the onset of colds and flu. Tests have supported the antimicrobial properties of stevia against streptococcus mutans (Bonvie, 54). The fact that stevia has the ability to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria helps to explain its traditional use in treating wounds, sores and gum disease. It may also explain while the herb is advocated for anyone who is susceptible to yeast infections or reoccurring strep infections, two conditions that seem to be aggravated by white sugar consumption.
Stevia can be used as an oral tonic to prevent tooth decay and gingivitis. Stevia extracts are sometimes added to toothpaste or mouthwashes to initiate this effect. Stevia is used in some Brazilian dental products with the assumption that the herb can actually help to prevent tooth decay and retard plaque deposits (Bonvie, 53). Stevia offers the perfect sweetener for oral products like toothpastes and mouthwash, enabling them to be more palatable without any of the drawbacks of other sweeteners.
Brazilians have used stevia to boost and facilitate better digestion (Bonvie, 53). Again, while this therapeutic application remains unresearched, the fact that stevia has a long history of use as a gastrointestinal tonic must be acknowledged. Plant glycosides can exert numerous therapeutic actions in the human body.
Stevia and Skin Care
Whole leaf stevia or its by-products have been used to soften and tone the skin and to ease wrinkles and lines. Facial masks can be made by adding liquid to the powder, and liquid elixirs can be used as facial toners to help tighten the skin. Stevia concentrate in the form of drops has also been used directly on sores or blemishes to promote healing. For this reason, some advocates of stevia use it on other skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, or minor cuts or wounds. Stevia tea bags can be placed over the eyes to ease fatigue and to tone the skin. Stevia skin care products are available in clay bases, masks, and water-based creams. Liquid extracts can be directly applied to the skin.
STEVIA (Stevia rebaudiana)
July 15, 2005 12:24 PM
STEVIA (Stevia rebaudiana)
SYNONYMS: sweet herb, honey leaf
PARTS USED: leaves
Stevia is a small perennial shrub with green leaves that belongs to the aster (Asteraceae) or chrysanthemum family of plants. They grow primarily in the Amambay mountain range of Paraguay but over 200 various species of stevia have been identified around the globe. Stevia rebaudiana is the only species at present which possesses an inordinate ability to sweeten. Its common form is known as stevioside, a fine white powder extracted from the leaves of the plant. Phytochemistry STEVIOSIDE/REBAUDIDOSIDE COMPOUND DUO: The leaves of the stevia shrub contain specific glycosides which produce a sweet taste but have no caloric value. Stevioside is the primary glycoside involved in this effect. Dulcoside and rebaudioside are also major glycosides contained in the herb. Glycosides are organic compounds which contain a sugar component (glycone) and a non-sugar component (aglycone). The glycone constituent may be comprised of rhamnose, fructose, glucose, xylose, arabinose etc. The other portion may be any kind of chemical compound such as a sterol, tannin, carotenoid, etc.
Stevia leaves also contain protein, fibers, carbohydrates, phosphorus, iron, calcium, potassium, sodium , magnesium, rutin (flavonoid), iron, zinc, vitamin C and vitamin A. Human physiology cannot metabolize the sweet glycosides contained in stevia leaves, therefore they are eliminated from the body with no caloric absorption. Stevia, unlike aspartame, can be used in baking because its sweet glycosides do not break down when heated. Definition Stevia is an herb with incredible sweetening power. Its ability to sweeten is rated between 70 to 400 times that of white sugar. Typically, it has a mild licorice-like taste and is completely natural in its biochemical profile. What makes stevia so intriguing is that unlike other natural sweetening agents, its is completely calorie-free, never initiates a rise in blood sugar, and does not provide “food” for microorganisms like bacterias and yeasts.
Stevia may well be the most remarkable sweetener in the world and yet its recognition in this country remains relatively low. Consider the extraordinary attributes of the stevia plant and its extracts:
A Brief History
Stevia is a plant indigenous to mountainous regions of Brazil and Paraguay. For centuries, this herbal sweetener has been used by native cultures to counteract the bitter taste of various plant-based medicines and beverages. The Guarani Indians of Paraguay have used this potent sweetener in their green tea for generations. The name they designated for stevia leaves was “sweet herb.” In addition, these native peoples have historically used stevia as a digestive aid and a topical dressing for wounds and other skin disorders.
In the sixteenth century, Europeans became aware of the herbal sweetener through the Spanish Conquistadors. In the late 1880s, Moises S. Bertoni, director of the College of Agriculture in Asunción, Paraguay, became extremely intrigued by the stevia plant. Its reputation was that it was so sweet that even just a small leaf part could sweeten an entire container of mate tea. Be rtoni wanted to find out if this was true. After several years of studying the plant, he wrote about it in a local botanical publication. In 1905, Bertoni published an important article about the incredible sweetening power of the stevia plant, which he considered superior to sugar and extremely marketable. Other articles written by Bertoni note that stevia is unquestionably superior to saccharine because it is nontoxic and has significant therapeutic benefits. It sweetens with unprecedented potency and can be used in its natural state.
The first stevia crop was harvested in 1908 and subsequently, stevia plantations sprang up in South America. In 1921, the American Trade Commissioner to Paraguay, George S. Brady, wrote that although the herb is an extraordinary sweetener with remarkable properties, little had been done to commercially cultivate the plant. He suggested that stevia may be an ideal sugar product for diabetics and strongly advised that American companies pursue its importation.
During the decade of the 1970s, the Japanese developed a new method which could better refine the glycosides contained in the stevia leaf. The result was a compound called ste-vioside which is from 200 to 300 times sweeter than white sugar. The Japanese approach artificial sweeteners with great caution and they believe stevioside to be safer and more effect i've than other non-nutritive, chemical products. Stevioside is considered superior in its ability to sweeten; however, it does not exhibit some of the other therapeutic actions found in whole stevia leaves .
Stevia enjoyed substantial popularity during the 1980s as a natural sweetener and was found in a variety of consumer products. In 1986, however, the FDA abruptly seized stevia inventories and in 1991 claimed it was not suitable as a food additive. Advocates for stevia claim this happened because the herb is a natural, powerful, inexpensive and non-patentable sweetener, and therefore poses a threat to pharmaceutical sweeteners and sugar-alcohol sweeteners like mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. At this writing, stevia has received approval by the FDA to be sold only as a dietary supplement, not as a sweetening agent.
Currently, stevia is commercially grown in Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, Central America, Israel, China, Thailand, and the United States. It is considered an important natural sweetener in both Japan and Korea, and has been safely used in these countries for decades. Extracts of stevia and related products make up a considerable portion of the Japanese market for natural sweetening agents. They use stevia in sweet sauces, pickles, beverages, etc., making Japan one of the largest single consumers of stevia in the world. Today, because the demand for stevia is escalating, several Paraguayan organizations are looking to expand the commercial cultivation of the plant. Currently, Canadian researchers and chemists are working to provide even better stevia supplements and may even end up teeming with governmental agencies to raise stevia crops as economic replacements for tobacco leaves (Bonvie, 64). Stevia has not been officially approved by Canadian agencies, but it is still available for purchase in tea form.
FDA & Congress: Stop The Madness- Let the natural health revolution enhance our lives.
July 14, 2005 09:24 AM
FDA & Congress: Stop The Madness!Let the natural health revolution enhance our lives.
Here's a memo to the Food and Drug Administration and Congress: Enough is Enough. The American people are fed up with backroom politics. We are sick and tired of having our God-given right to natural health threatened by attempts to "protect" us from the very natural therapies that can help ensure our national health. You do not have the power to dictate or control our pursuit of natural health. First and foremost, end your attempts to regulate or even ban nutritional supplements! Americans choose to take supplements because we believe they contribute to optimal health and vitality. Who are the FDA and Congress to trample on our beliefs and pursuit of health and happiness?
Next, our enemies need to open their narrow minds to the sublime power of nature. We must embrace nature to evolve in body, mind and spirit. Our understanding of the healing power of natural elements has progressed significantly over the past century. We are on the cusp of a natural health revolution that will enhance the well-being of millions.
Natural supplements can change the world for the better. And yet, there the governments stands like an ignorant behemoth attempting to block our access to natural supplements. Step aside, we say. This is America, and we have the right to choose our own path to health.
Plant a seed and watch it grow. This is nature's most basic miracle. Part of this miracle is nature's inherent ability to create, perpetuate and enhance life. Science has proven that thousands of plants have healing powers, including powerful benefits for depression and pain management; that scientific knowledge affirms the wisdom employed by indigenous healers for centuries. These plants were placed on earth to comfort and relieve people suffering from painful, degenerative diseases of body and mind.
Who presumes to deny us nature? Look no further than to Congress and the FDA-for they are doing this right now. We must stop this behavior. The health and healing of all our people must take priority over all other interests.
Washington Update readers, rise up and unite! If the phiosophies in this column resonate with your own beliefs, then join the health freedom revolution! To uphold our freedom to take natural supplements, we must support like-minded souls and revolt against those working to rip our rights away.
Facing the right senators is an easy, effective way to help save supplements. Fax encouragement to key vitamin advocates, Senators Tom Harkin at 202-224-9369 and Orrin Hatch at 202-224-6331. Fax your disapproval to Senator Dick Durbin, a key figure in the movement to ban supplements, at 202-228-0400. Fax Senator Michael Enzy, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, at 202-228-0359. Tell Senator Enzi that you demand the freedom to take natural supplements. If you have already sent a letter or fax, please send another fax. Our health freedom depends on this fax campaign.
You can take action by visiting www.NHA2004.com and taking advantage of revolutionary technology that lets you rapidly and easily compose faxes to Congress. With your help, we can win the fight to keep safe, healthy supplements in our lives! For health, freedom, and liberty join NHA today!
HAWAIIAN NONI (Morinda citrifolia)
July 11, 2005 08:50 PM
In a time when we are more concerned than ever with issues of health, a tried and true tropical herb called noni needs t o be added t o our list of the best natural remedies. It susage over hundreds of years supports it s description as a veritable panacea of therapeutic actions. At this writing, noni continues to accrue impressive medicinal credentials, and its emergence as an effective nat ural healing agent is a timely one. Amidst rising cancer rates, the high incidence of degenerative diseases like diabetes, and the evolution of ant ibiotic resist ant bacteria and new viral strains, herbs like noni are sought after for their natural pharmaceutical properties. Unquest ionably, all of us want to know how to:
Indian Mulberry (India), Noni (Hawaii), Nono (Tahiti and Raratonga), Polynesian Bush Fruit, Painkiller Tree (Caribbean islands), Lada (Guam), Mengkudo (Malaysia), Nhau (Southeast Asia), Grand Morinda (Vietnam), Cheesefruit (Australia), Kura (Fiji), Bumbo (Africa) Note: This is only a small sampling of vernacular names for Morinda citrifolia. Almost every island nation of the South Pacific and Caribbean has a term for this particular plant . This booklet will refer to the herb mainly as “ noni” or M. citrifolia, and is referring primarily to Hawaiin noni.
The parts of the noni plant most used for their medicinal and nutritional purposes are the fruit, seeds, bark, leaves, and flowers. Virtually every part of the noni plant is utilized for its individual medicinal properties; however, it is the fruit portion that is regarded as its most valuable. The seeds have a purgative action, the leaves are used to treat external inflammations and relieve pain, the bark has strong astringent properties and can treat malaria, the root extracts lower blood pressure, the flower essences relieve eye inflammations and the f ruit has a number of medicinal actions.
Morinda citrifolia is technically an evergreen shrub or bush, which can grow to heights of fifteen to twenty feet . It has rigid, coarse branches which bear dark, oval, glossy leaves. Small white fragrant flowers bloom out of cluster-like pods which bear creamy-white colored fruit. The fruit is fleshy and gel-like when ripened, resembling a small breadf ruit . The flesh of the fruit is characterist ically bitter, and when completely ripe produces a rancid and very dist inctive odor. Noni has buoyant seeds that can float formont hs in ocean bodies. The wood of the inflammatory, astringent, emollient, emmenagogue, laxative, sedative, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure) , blood purif ier, and tonic.
Noni has various chemical constituents. First, it has an impressive array of terpene compounds, three of which—L. Asperuloside, aucubin, and glucose— have been identified by their actyl derivatives. Both caproic and caprylic acids have been isolated.1 Second, bushfruits, a category of which noni fruit is a member, are also considered a good source of vit - amin C.2 Third, Hawaiin noni has been linked to the synthesis of xeronine in the body which has significant and widespread health implications. Last , the alkaloid cont ent of the noni fruit is thought to be responsible for its therapeutic actions. Alkaloids exhibit a wide range of pharmacological and biological act ivitiesin the human body. They are nitrogencontaining organic compounds which can react with acids to form salts and which are the basis of many medicines. The following is an in-depth chemical analysis of each plant part and it s chemical constituents.
discovered an alkaloid in the Hawaiin noni fruit which he calls proxeronine and which he believes has appreciable physiological actions by acting as a precursor to xeronine, a very crucial compound (see later sections) . In addition, a compound found in the fruit called damnacanthol is believed to help inhibit cert ain viruses and cellular mutations involved in cancer.
ROOT AND ROOT BARK
Recent surveys have suggested that noni fruit exerts antibiotic action. In fact, a variety of compounds which have antibacterial properties (such as aucubin) have been identified in the fruit.5 The 6-Dglucopyranose pentaacet ate of the fruit extract is not considered bacteriostatic.6 Constituents found in the fruit portion have exhibited ant imicrobial action against Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi (and other types) , Shigella paradysenteriae, and Staphylococcus aureaus. Compounds found in the root have the ability to reduce swollen mucous membrane and lower blood pressure in animal studies. Proxeronine is an alkaloid constituent found in Hawaiin noni fruit which may prompt the production of xeronine in the body. It is considered a xeronine precursor and was discovered in noni fruit by Dr. Ralph M. Heinicke. He has theorized that this proenzyme can be effective in initiating a series of beneficial cellular reactions through its involvement with the integrity of specific proteins. He points out that tissues contain cells which possess certain recept or sites for xeronine. Because the reactions that can occur are so varied, many different therapeutic actions can result when xeronine production escalates, explaining why Hawaiin noni is good for so many seemingly unrelated disorders. Damnacanthol is another compound contained in the fruit of the Hawaiin noni plant which has shown the ability to block or inhibit the cellular function of RAS cells, considered pre-cancerous cells.
Body Systems Targeted
The following body systems have all been effec-freeze-dried capsules, dehydrated powder or fruit, and oil. Noni plant constituents are sometimes offered in combination with other herbs. Some products contain a percent age of the fruit, bark, root and seeds for their individual therapeutic properties.
Extracts of M. citrifolia are considered safe if used as directed; however, pregnant or nursing mothers should consult their physicians before taking any supplement . High doses of root extracts may cause constipation. Taking noni supplements with coffee, alcohol or nicotine is not recommended.
Ideally, noni extracts should be taken on an empty stomach prior to meals. The process of digesting food can interfere with the medicinal value of the alkaloid compounds found in Hawaiin noni, especially in its fruit . Apparently, stomach acids and enzymes destroy the specific enzyme which frees up the xeronine compound. Take noni supplements without food, coffee, nicotine or alcohol. Using supplements that have been made from the semi-ripe or light - green fruit is also considered preferable to the ripe, whit ish fruit .
NONI: ITS USE AND HISTORY
Noni is a tropical wandering plant indigenous to areas of Australia, Malaysia and Polynesia. It is considered native to Southeast Asia although it grows from India to the eastern region of Polynesia. Morinda citrifolia has a long history of medicinal use throughout these areas. It is thought to be the “most widely and commonly used medicinal plant prior to the European era.” 7 Centuries ago, the bushfruit was introduced to native Hawaiians, who subsequently called it “noni” and considered its fruit and root as prized medicinal agents. Among all Polynesian botanical agents of the 19th and 20th centuries, Hawaiin noni has the widest array of medical applications. Samoan and Hawaiian medical practitioners used noni for bowel disorders (especially infant diarrhea, constipation, or intestinal parasites) , indigestion, skin inflammation, infection, mouth sores, fever, contusions and sprains. Hawaiians commonly prepared noni tonics designed to treat diabetes, stings, burns and fish poisoning.8 The herb’s remarkable ability to purge the intestinal tract and promote colon health was well known among older Hawaiian and Tahitian natives and folk healers. Interestingly, field observations regarding its repu-remarkable healing agent .
Wonder Herb of Island Folk Healers
Common to t he thickets and forests of Malaysia and Polynesia, and the low hilly regions of the Philippine islands, noni has been cultivated throughout communities in the South Pacific for hundreds of years. Its Hawaiian use is thought to originate from inter-island canoe travel and settlement dating to before Christ . Its hardy seeds have the ability to float which has also contributed to its distribution among various seacoasts in the South Pacific region. Historical investigation has established the fact that some of Hawaii’s earliest settlers probably came viaTahiti. For this reason, Tahitian herbal practices have specific bearing on the herbal therapeutics of islands to the nort h. The very obvious similarities between the Hawaiian vernacular for herbal plants like noni and Tahitian names strongly suggests the theory of Polynesian migrations to Hawaii. Cultures native to these regions favored using Morinda citrifolia for treating major diseases and ut ilized it as a source of nourishment in times of famine.9 Noni fruit has been recognized for centuries as an excellent source of nutrition. The peoples of Fiji, Samoa and Rarat onga use the fruit in both its raw and cooked forms.10 Traditionally, the fruit was propicked before it was fully ripe and placed in the sunlight . After being allowed to ripen, it was typically mashed and its juice extracted through a cloth. Noni leaves provided a veget able dish and their resiliency made them desirable as a fish wrap for cooking.
Noni’s Medical Reputation
Elaborate traditionalrituals and praying rites usually accompanied the administration of noni. Int erestingly, cultures indigenous to the Polynesian islands had a significant understanding of their flora. For example, native Hawaiians maint ained a folkmedicine taxonomy t hat was considered second to none.11 Noni was not only used for medicinal purposes but for its food value, for clot hing and for cloth dyes as well. Research indicates that noni was among the few herbal remedies that islanders considered “ tried and true.” In Hawaii, trained herbal practitioners reserved the right to prescribe plant therapies.12 Records indicate that Hawaiian medical practices were based on extensive and very meticulous descriptions of symptoms and their prescribed herbal treatments. Dosages were controlled and the collection and administration of plant extracts was carefully monitored.13 In addition to Morinda, it was not uncommon for these herbal doctors to also recommend using In regard to its application for common ailments, Hawaiians and other island communities traditionally prescribed noni to purge the bowel, reduce fever, cure respiratory infections such as asthma, ease skin inflammations, and heal bruises and sprains. In other words, noni was widely used and highly regarded as a botanical medicine.
A Timely Reemer gence
Today, the natural pharmaceutical actions of the chemical constituents contained in noni are scientif-ically emerging as valuable bot anical medicines. Tahitian “nono” intrigued medical practitioners decades ago; however, due to the eventual emergence of synthetic drugs, interest in this island botanical diminished until recent years. Ethnobot anists are once again rediscovering why Hawaiian people havet reasured and cultivat ed Morinda citrifolia for generations. Noni is now finding its way into western therapeutics and is referred to as “ the queen” of the genus Rubiaceae. Its ability to reduce joint inflammation and target the immune system have made it the focus of the modern scientific inquiry. Dr. Ralph Heinicke has conducted some fascinating studies on the chemical constituents of the Hawaiin noni fruit. His research centers on the proxeronine content of the fruit juice and how it profoundly influences human physiology. In addition, scientific studies investigating noni as an anti-cancer agent have been encouraging. It s conspicuous attributes and varied uses have elevat edits status to one of the best of the healing herbs. Today Morinda citrifolia is available in liquid, juice, freezedried capsules, or oil forms, and is considered one of nature’s most precious botanicals.
TRADITIONAL USES OF NONI
Throughout tropical regions, virtually every part of Morinda citrifolia was used to treat disease or injury. Its curative properties were well known and commonly employed. PatoaTama Benioni, a member of the Maoritribe from the Cook Islands and a lecturer on island plants explains: Traditionally Polynesians use noni for basically everything in the treatment of illness. Noni is a part of our lives. Any Polynesian boy will tell you he’s had exper ience with it . We use juice from its roots, its flowers, and its fruit... my grandmother taught me to use noni from the roots and the leaves to make medicine for external as well as internal use, and for all kinds of ailments, such as coughs, boils, diseases of the skin, and cuts.15
decoctions to stimulate delayed menst ruation.
XERONINE: THE SECRET OF NONI?
One informed professional on the subject of noni is Dr. Ralph Heinicke, a biochemist who has researched the active compounds of noni fruit for a number of years. He discovered that the Hawaiin noni fruit contains an alkaloid precursor to a very vital compound called xeronine. Wit hout xeronine, life would cease. In Dr. Heinicke’s view, noni fruit provides a safe and effective way to increase xeronine levels, which exert a crucial influence on cell health and protction. His research suggests that the juice from the M. citrifolia fruit contains what could technically be considered a precursor of xeronine—proxeronine. This compound initiates the release of xeronine in the intestinal tract after it comes in contact with a specific enzyme which is also contained in the fruit .
Because proteins and enzymes have so many varied roles within cell processes, the normalization of these proteins with noni supplemenation could initiate avery wide variety of body responses and treat many disease condit ions. Proteins are the most important catalysts found in the body. The beauty of obtaining a precursor to xeronine from the noni fruit is that the body naturally decides how much of this precursor to convert to xeronine. Disease, stress, anger, trauma and injury can lower xeronine levels in the body, thus creat ing a xeronine deficit . Supplementing the body with noni fruit is considered an excellent way to safely and naturally raise xeronine levels. It is the research and theories of Dr. Heinicke which have made the juice of the Hawaiin noni fruit a viable medicinal substance. He writes: Xeronine is analkaloid, a substance the body produces in order to activate enzymes so they can function properly. It also energizes and regulates the body. This par-ticular alkaloid has never been found because the body makes it, immediately uses it, and then breaks it down. At no time is there an appreciable, isolable amount in the blood. But xeronine is so basic to the functioning of proteins, we would die without it . Its absence can cause many kinds of illness.17 Because so many diseases result from an enzyme malfunction, Dr. Heinicke believes that using the noni fruit can result in an impressive array of curative applications. Interestingly, he believes that we manufacture proxeronine while we are sleeping. He proposes t hat if we could constantly supply our bodies wit h proxeronine from other sources, our need to sleep would diminish.18
How an herb is processed is crucial to how beneficial it is: this is especially true of noni, with its unique enzymes and alkaloids. Morinda citrifolia should be picked when the fruit is turning from its dark green immature color to its lighter green color, and certainly before it ripens to its white, almost translucent color. Once picked, noni, like aloe, will denature extremely quickly due to its very active enzymes. After harvesting, it should swiftly be flash frozen. This is similar to what is done to fish caught at sea to keep them f esh. This stops it from losing its potency while not damaging any of its constituents. To process noni, freeze-drying is recommended. This removes only the water without damaging any of this miracle plant’s vital enzymes and other phytonutrients like xeronine and proxeronine. This pure high-quality noni fruit juice powder is then encapsu-has a very harsh taste and an extremely foul smell, similar to the fruit it self . Other methods of processing include thermal processing, dehydrat ion and air drying. Thermal processing is generally found in liquids, while the dehydrat ed noni is then milled and encapsulated. Unfortunately both methods utilize high heat (110+°F) , which can deactivate many of the vital compounds that make noni so import ant . Air-drying is effect ive without using damaging heat but has serious quality control problems for commercial production.
MODERN APPLICATIONS OF NONI
Noni possesses a wide variety of medicinal properties which originat e from its differing plant component s. The fruit and leaves of the shrub exert antibacterial activities. Its roots promote the expulsion of mucus and the shrinkage of swollen membranes making it an ideal therapeutic for nasal congest ion, lung infect ions, and hemorrhoids. Noni root compounds have also shown natural sedative properties as well as the ability to lower blood pressure.
Leaf extracts are able to inhibit excessive blood flow or to inhibit the formation of blood clots. Noni is particularly useful for its ability to treat painful joint conditions and to resolve skin inflammations. Many people drink noni fruit extracts in juice form for hypert ension, painful menstruation, arthritis, gastric ulcers, diabetes, and depression. Recent studies suggest that its anticancer activit y should also be considered. Concerning the therapeutic potential of the Hawaiin noni fruit, Dr. Heinicke writes: I have seen the compound found in noni work wonders. When I was still investigating its possibilities, I had a friend who was a medical research scientist administer the proxeronine to a woman who had been comatose for three months. Two hour safter receiving the compound, she sat up in bed and asked where she was. . . . Noni is probably the best source of proxeronine that we have today.19 Studies and surveys combined support the ability of noni to act as an immunost imulant, inhibit the growth of certain tumors, enhance and normalize cellular function and boost tissue regeneration. It is considered a powerful blood purifier and contributor to overall homeostasis.
xeronine, which appears to be able to regulate the shape and integrity of cert in proteins that individually contribute to specific cellular activities. Interestingly, this effect seems to occur after ingestion, inferring that the most active compound of noni may not be present in uneaten forms of the fruit or other plant parts. Some practitioners believe that xeronine is best obtained from a noni fruit juice precursor compound. The enzymatic reactions that occur with taking the juice on an empty stomach are what Dr. Heinicke believes set cellular repair intomotion.
A study conducted in 1994 cited the anticancer activity of Morinda citrifolia against lung cancer. A team of scientists from the University of Hawaii used live laboratory mice to test the medicinal properties of the fruit against Lewis lung carcinomas which were artificially transferred to lung tissue. The mice that were left untreated died in nine to twelve days. However, giving noni juice in consistent daily doses significantly prolonged their life span. Almost half of these mice lived for more than fifty days.20 Research conclusions state that the chemical constituents of the juice acted indirectly by enhancing the ability of the immune system to deal with the invading malig-nancy by boosting macrophage or lymphocyte activit y. Furt her evaluation theorizes that the unique chemical constituents of Morinda citrifolia initiate enhanced T-cell activity, a reaction that may explain noni’s ability to treat a variety of infectious diseases. 21
In Japan, similar studies on tropical plant extracts found that damnacanthol, a compound found in Morinda citrifolia, is able to inhibit the function of KRAS- NRK cells, which are considered precursors to certain types of malignancies.22 The experiment involved adding noni plant extract to RAS cells and incubating them for a number of days. Observation disclosed that noni was able to significantly inhibit RAS cellular function. Among 500 plant extracts, Morinda citrifolia was determined to contain the most effective compounds against RAS cells. Its damnacanthol content was clinically described in 1993 as “a new inhibit or of RAS function.” 2 3 The xeronine fact or is also involved in that xeronine helps to normalize the way malignant cells behave. While they are still technically cancer cells, they no longer function as cells with unchecked growth. In time, the body’s immune system may be able to eradicate these cells.
with arthritic disease. One link to arthritic pain may be the inability to properly or completely digest proteins which can then form crystal-like deposits in the joints. The ability of noni fruit to enhance protein digestion through enhanced enzymatic function may help to eliminate this particular phenomenon. In addition, the alkaloid compounds and plant met abolites of noni may be linked to its apparent anti-inflammatory action. Plant sterols can assist in inhibiting the inflammatory response which causes swelling and pain. In addition, the antioxidant effect of noni may help to decrease free radical damage in joint cells, which can exacerbate discomfort and degeneration.
The alkaloid and other chemical compounds found in noni have proven themselves to effectively control or kill over six types of infectious bacterial strains including: Escherichia coli, salmonellatyphi (and other types) , shigella paradysenteriae, and staphylo - coccus aureaus.25 In addition, damnacanthol, was able to inhibitt he early antigen stage of the Epstein- Barr virus.
The bioactive components of the whole plant, combined or in separate portions, have demonst rat - ed the ability to inhibit several different strains of bacteria. Anecdotal reports support this action in that noni seems particularly effective in shortening the duration of certain types of infection. This may explain why noni is commonly used to treat colds and flu. The chemical constituents found in noni and the possibility that they stimulate xeronine production— as well as initiate alkaloid therapy—may explain noni’s reputation for having immuno-stimulatory properties. Alkaloids have been able to boost phagocytosis which is the process in which certain white blood cells called macrophages attack and literally digest infectious organisms. Interestingly, the ant it umoraction of noni has been ascribed to an immune system response which involves stimulating T-cells. tropical regions during World War II learned of the fruit’s ability to boost endurance and stamina. Native cultures in Samoa, Tahiti, Raratonga and Australia used the fruit in cooked and raw forms. M. citrifolia is considered a tonic and is especially recommended for debilitated conditions.
The process of aging bombards the body with free radicals which can cause all kinds of degenerative diseases. The xeronine theory promoted by Dr. Heinicke submit s t hat as our bodies age, we lose our ability to synthesize xeronine. To make matters worse, the presence of many environment altoxins actually blocks the production of xeronine as well. He believes that the proxeronine content of Hawaiin noni fruit juice can help to block these actions, thereby working as an antiaging compound.26 The phytonutrients found in noni assist in promot - ing cell nourishment and prot ect ion from free radicals created by exposure to pollution and other potentially damaging agents. In addition, Morinda citrifolia contains selenium, which is considered one of the best antioxidant compounds available.
While scientific studies are lacking in this particular application of noni, Hawaiians used various parts of the plant and its fruit to treat blood sugar disorders. Anecdotal surveys have found t hat noni is current ly recommended for anyone with diabetes.
A 1990 study found that extracts derived from the Morinda citrifolia root have the ability to kill pain in animal experiments.27 Interest ingly, it was during this study that the natural sedative action of the root was also noted. This study involved a French team of scientists who noted a significant central analgesic activity in laboratory mice.28 Dr. Heinicke has stated, “Xeronine also acts as a pain reliever. A man wit h very advanced int est inal cancer was given three months to live. He began taking the proxeronine and lived for a whole year, pain-free.” 29
Skin Healing Agent
One of the most prevalent hist rical uses of noni was in poultice form for cuts, wounds, abrasions, burns and bruises. Using its fruit extract for very serious burns has resulted in some extraordinary healing. Because skin is comprised of protein, it immediately responds to the presence of xeronine.
burn site throught he direct application of a noni poultice is considered quite effective by Dr. Heinicke and his colleagues, who have studied enzymatic therapy. Concerning burns, he has written: I believe that each tissue has cells which contain proteins which have receptor sites for the absorption of xeronine. Certain of these proteins are the inert for ms of enzymes which require absorbed xeronine to become active. This xeronine, by converting the body’s procol- langenase system into a specific protease, quickly and safely removes the dead tissue from burns.30
The xeronine link to treat ing drug addiction is based on the notion that flooding t he brain with extra xeronine can reverse the neurochemical basis for addiction. This natural alkaloid is thought to normalize brain receptors which subsequent ly results in the cessation of physiological dependence on a certain chemical like nicotine.3 1 The potential of Hawaiin noni as a natural stimulat or for t he production of xeronine may have profound implications in treating various types of addictions.
Complementary Agents of Noni
PrimaryApplications of Noni
Ginsengs - Energy Tonics For Today's Hectic Lifestyles
June 30, 2005 09:34 AM
Ginsengs By Ellen J. Kamhi, Ph. D. with Dorie Greenblatt
What's the difference between Chinese (white root), Chinese (red root), Eleuthero and American Ginsengs? Which one is best for me? There are actually many different "ginsengs." We will discuss those mentioned above since they are the most widely available. All of these Ginsengs are considered to be potent adaptogens, which means that they are: 1) harmless to the body 2) non-specific in their actions 3) have balancing or normalizing effects. An adaptogen helps the body adapt to stress - both mental and physical. It is in this area that ginseng excels.
Chinese Ginseng (Panax ginseng) is what most of us think of when Ginseng is mentioned. It is indigenous to the forests of northeast China, Manchuria and Korea. Red Ginseng is often referred to as "Korean" Ginseng. In traditional Chinese Medicine Ginseng is used to tonify the "Chi" (vital energy or life energy force). Modern scientific studies indicate Panax Ginseng stimulates the immune system, has antifatigue, antistress, antitumor, anticancer and anti-aging properties, balances blood sugar levels, enhances mental performance and memory, lowers cholesterol, strengthens the heart muscle and protects against radiation damage. Panax ginseng has had a notorious reputation as a sexual rejuvenator which studies give some credence to; albeit not to the degree of its reputation. Ginseng "overuse syndrome", although rare, is characterized by irritability, insomnia and rapid heart beat, and is associated with using too much Chinese Ginseng, especially by healthy, active men.
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) is indigenous to the eastern woodlands ranging from Georgia to Quebec and was used by many Native Americans. Jesuit Priests were reported to be trading American Ginseng to the Chinese as early as 1718. Ironically, American Ginseng is highly sought after in China, while Americans chase after Chinese ginseng. While having much the same adaptogenic qualities of Chinese Ginseng, American Ginseng is believed to have a more "yin" or cooler nature. What this means is that American Ginseng is excellent for the high-paced, stressed, not enough time culture that we live in. While still energizing the body, American Ginseng calms the central nervous system, quiets the brain and lowers blood pressure. Also, because of its more "yin" nature, it is generally better to use on a day-to-day, long term basis than Chinese Ginseng. American Ginseng is one of the best tonics for all-around health and vitality, particularly well suited for the hectic world we've created.
Eleutherococcus senticosus (known as Siberian Ginseng in Herbs of Commerce) is native to Siberia, Japan, Korea and China. Although not a "true ginseng", this variety is most highly prized. Eleuthero was traditionally used to promote longevity and general health. Many herbalists prefer Eluthero for helping with women's health issues. It is particularly useful with depression associated with PMS and menopause. Research, mostly from Russia, confirms this herb's ability to increase mental and physical performance, stimulate the immune system, increase phagocytosis (movement of white blood cells) promote circulation and enhance the benefits of medical radiation treatments while lessening its negative side-effects. (The dosage used in one Russian study was 4 milliliters in the morning and 2 milliliters at night.)
Which Ginseng is Right For Me Here's a simple guide for deciding which Ginseng to use. Chinese Ginseng is best suited as a tonic 1)for the fragile and weak 2) during convalescence, and/or 3) to support the immune system. American Ginseng is for regular daily use, specially suited for energetic personality types. Eleuthero is excellent for endurance and stamina, and well suited for athletes as well as for women's issues. If you're still confused, try Balanced Ginseng™ (alcohol-free) a high-powered liquid herbal extract supplement that blends several varieties of Ginsengs together to assure balanced tonic action.
It is important in purchasing Ginseng products to buy from a company you trust and one that has the technical capabilities to test and guarantee quality and activity. Unfortunately, the Ginseng market is prone to both adulteration and poor activity levels. Nature's Answer®, with its full pharmaceutical level in-house laboratory and years of experience, is proud to offer a variety of the finest quality of Ginseng formulations available in either liquid (alcohol-free or organic alcohol) or encapsulated (standardized or single) forms. The company also offers the herb in unique, proprietary blends. All products are Unconditionally Guaranteed.
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)
Sources of Essential Fatty Acids
June 25, 2005 08:38 PM
Sources of Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids are found in both plant and animal sources, although primarily in plants. The EFA family is composed of two main forms, Omega-3 and Omega-6. The following explains exactly what these forms are.
OMEGA-3: The most common forms of Omega-3 are eicosapentaenioic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid, which comes from plants and helps create EPA and DHA. Omega-3 is usually derived from fish oils. Dr. Roger Illingworth, associate professor of medicine and biochemistry at Oregon Health Sciences University, explains that Omega-3 fatty acids are “long-chained metabolic products from linolenic acid. . . When animals consume and metabolize plants rich in linolenic acid, they produce Omega-3.” EPA and DHA are liquid and remain that way, even at room temperature. It is said that they protect fish by providing a body fat that stays fluid even in cold temperatures. OMEGA-6: The most common form of Omega-6 is is gammalinolenic acid (GLA). GLA is known to provide the following benefits, among many others:
Omega-6 is usually found in plant sources. The oils of coldwater fish such as salmon, bluefish, herring, tuna, mackerel and similar fish are known as Omega-3 fatty acids. The freshpressed oils of many raw seeds and nuts contain Omega-6 fatty acids. The most popular sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6 include:
BLACK CURRANT SEED OIL: This oil is rich in linoleic acid (44%) and provides almost twice as much gamma-linolenic acid as evening primrose oil. Black currant seed oil also is an excellent source of an Omega-3 precursor known as stearidonic acid. BORAGE OIL: This oil comes from Borago officinalis, a plant with blue flowers. It is widely recommended in Europe to strengthen the adrenal glands, alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and relieve inflammation. Besides possibly helping with heart and joint function, it may also assist the growth of nails and hair. Borage oil is also an excellent source of GLA. In The Complete Medicinal Herbal, herbalist Penelope Ody asserts that it is “helpful in some cases of menstrual irregularity, for irritable bowel syndrome, or as emergency first aid for hangovers.” SALMON OIL: This oil is high in Omega-3 essential fatty acids. These types of EFAs are known to thin the blood, prevent clotting, regulate cholesterol production and strengthen cell walls, making them less susceptible to viral and bacterial invasion. Salmon oil has a natural ability to help the body relieve inflammation. In the ground-breaking book The Omega-3 Breakthrough: The Revolutionary, Medically Proven Fish Oil Diet, professor Roger Illingworth writes that Linolenic acid is a fatty acid with 18 carbons and 3 double bonds.
It is manufactured exclusively by plants. When animals consume and metabolize plants rich in linolenic acid, they produce Omega- 3. Plankton, a minute form of marine life, is part plant and part animal. Its plant component manufactures linolenic acid. Fish eat the plankton, and the linolenic acid breaks down in their bodies in two types of Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) . . . The liquidity of EPA and DHA serves a vital function in fish, who require body fat that remains fluid even in very cold water. Fish oils, besides containing Omega-3 fatty acids, have shown to benefit those suffering from migraine headaches, arthritis, and high cholesterol levels.
FLAX: Flax is a plant said to date back as far as 5000 B.C. It has been used since approximately 5000 B.C., making it one of the oldest cultivated crops. It is exported from several countries, including Argentina, Canada, India, Russia and the United States. The flowers are usually blue, although they are sometimes white or pink. The mucilaginous seed is, of course, called flaxseed. The oil primarily provides Omega-3/linolenic acid, and provides an average of 57 percent Omega-3, 16 percent Omega-6, and 18 percent of the non-essential Omega-9. Flaxseed oil is said to contain rich amounts of beta carotene (about 4,300 IU per tablespoon) and vitamin E (about 15 IU per tablespoon). In the October 1995 issue of Let’s Live, the history and uses of flax were highlighted by herbalist Carla Cassata. She writes, . . . It’s no wonder the Cherokee Indians highly valued the flax plant. They mixed flaxseed oil with either goat or moose milk, honey and cooked pumpkin to nourish pregnant and nursing mothers, providing them with the needed nutrients for creating strong and healthy children. It was also given to people who had skin diseases, arthritis, malnutrition as well as men wishing to increase virility. They believed flax captured energies from the sun that could then be released and used in the body’s metabolic process.
This belief has merit. Flaxseed oil, rich in electrons, strongly attracts photons from sunlight. To be effective, EFAs must be combined with protein at the same meal. This flaxseed oil/protein/ sunlight combination releases energy and enhances the body’s electrical system. Also, this combination, along with vitamin E, can be beneficial for infertile couples and women suffering from premenstrual syndrome . . . Flaxseed oil, having an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, can benefit the 40 million Americans suffering from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. To achieve optimum results, however, substances that activate the sympathetic nervous system—like refined sugar, soda, coffee, fluoride— must be eliminated. Stress must also be reduced, because it too, activates the sympathetic nervous system, promoting inflammation.
EVENING PRIMROSE: This flower is indigenous to North America, although the oil is particularly popular throughout Europe for therapeutic purposes. It is also known as night wil - low and evening star. It is an excellent source of both linolenic and linoleic acids. Both of these nutrients must be obtained from the diet, as the body cannot synthesize them. The seeds contain gamma linolenic acid. This polyunsaturated EFA helps with the production of energy and is a structural component of the brain, bone marrow, muscles and cell membranes. Evening primrose oil has also benefited those with multiple sclerosis, PMS, hyperactivity and obesity. It is estimated that it takes about 5,000 seeds to produce the oil for one 500 mg capsule.
June 25, 2005 07:23 PM
According to natives of the Amazon, when Tupan, the most powerful of all the Gods, decided to create man and woman and an environment in which they could t hrive, he assembled the other gods and goddesses and sought t heir assist ance. Jaci, the goddess of the moon, offered her help to Tupan. “I will teach the people how to grow seeds for food.
While many beneficial plants are steeped in myth and legend, few are as widely known and consumed among the natives of the Amazon river basin as catuaba, Erthyroxylum catuaba.
Revered as an enhancer of both libido and sexual potency, catuaba is a tree which grows widely across the northern Amazon.This most famous of all reputed aphrodisiac Amazonian plants is the subject of numerous indigenous songs,and the harvesting of catuaba bark (the part used for sexual enhancement) has become big business throughout Brazil.
In January of this year, I and two others went on a mission to the Brazilian Amazon to investigate catuaba as it is harvested and used by the indigenous people of that region. We possessed complementary skills.
My work involves researching and photographing indigenous native uses of plants around the world.My wife Shahannah, whose previous career as a marine mammal researcher put her on the ocean for three years, was our videographer.The third member, Bernie Peixoto, was born and raised in that region, speaks ten native languages fluently, and also holds a Ph.D in anthropology.We were a small, but capable group.
Entering Brazil through Manaus, we made contact with Antonio Matas,the most famous herbalist in that area.Antonio described to us numerous instances in which the use of catuaba had resulted in renewed sexual potency in men, and revived or enhanced libido in both men and women.Antonio also introduced us to a man named Sivao,the primary dealer of catuaba in the entire sprawling Manaus region. From Sivao we learned that catuaba was increasing in popularity every month, and had become one of the most sought after and widely used beneficial plants in northern Brazil, due to its ef fectiveness.
After our meetings in Manaus,we headed down the Amazon river where we stayed with Ipixuna and Crinicoru Indians in floating houses right on the river itself.
With the guidance of an outdoorsman named Geronimo and a fisherman named Jose’,we hiked into the forest,saw catuaba trees growing, and witnessed the harvesting and sale of the bark.In addition,we were led to two elderly women shamans,who described to us the sex-enhancing and restorative virtues of catuaba.
While space doesn’t permit an explanation of all that we saw and learned, we discovered during the course of our travels that while catuaba is used by almost all middle-aged men,it is also popular among couples of all ages for its enhancement of libido. More often than not,catuaba is used with muira puama. We asked repeatedly why this was so,and each time we were told that the combination of the two plants results in significantly greater sexual enhancement than can be obtained by using either herb by itself. Most of the people with whom we spoke use catuaba personally, and they expressed great enthusiasm for catuaba’s sex-enhancing properties. Throughout history, people have sought to enhance their libido and improve sexual potency. Catuaba,a common tree growing widely across the Amazon river basin,has centuries of safe,effective use as a sex-enhancer.As more people become aware of the botanical treasures of the rainforest,catuaba is destined to become popular and widely used in this culture as well. The views expressed in this article are those of the author only, and have not been approved or endorsed by Nutraceutical Corporation or any of its subsidaries or affiliates.
CLINICAL APPLICATIONS OF CAPSICUM
June 23, 2005 11:20 AM
CLINICAL APPLICATIONS OF CAPSICUM
Capsicum is a remarkable whole body stimulant that can boost blood flow, tone the nervous system, relieve indigestion, promote sweating, help to cauterize and heal ulcers, ease persistent pain and fight off infection. One very authoritative work on African plants suggests that Capsicum’s “regular ingestion is highly beneficial in hemorrhoids, varicose veins, anorexia, liver congestion and vascular conditions . . .the indigenous inhabitants of Africa and of the Antilles are remarkably free form all of these conditions as they use Capsicum fruit in their diet.”10 Most of the therapeutic actions of Capsicum are attributed to the alkaloid or glucoside content of the herb.11 The latest scientific studies conducted with Capsicum will be discussed in subsequent sections.
Because Capsicum boosts peripheral circulation and stimulates organ secretion, it expedites the therapeutic delivery and action of other herbs. In other words, the medicinal benefits of these herbs reach infected or inflamed tissue more rapidly due to enhanced blood flow.12 Consider the following statement: “Cayenne will insure the rapid and even distribution of the active principles of the rest of the herbs to critical function - al centers of the body, including those involved in cellular respiration, metabolism, data transmission, and neural-hormonal activation. Cayenne is included in several other blends for this reason. In extremely small quantities it can dramatically increase the efficiency of most other herbs.”13 Many health practitioners believe that the key to healing is CAPSICUM stimulation. Capsicum stimulates eve rything from blood flow to peristaltic action in the stomach, to intestinal transit time. The re m a rkable ability of Capsicum to stimulate organ secretion and even heart action makes it one of the strongest natural stimulants known. Se veral different kinds of herbal blends targeting various body systems will utilize Capsicum to boost the formula’s efficacy.
Capsicum is said to be unequaled for its ability to boost circulation and increase heart action. Interestingly, cultures who consume significant amounts of cayenne pepper in their diet have much lower rates of cardiovascular disease.14 Capsicum exerts a variety of desirable actions on the entire card i ovascular system. It has the extraordinary ability to enhance cardiovascular performance while actually lowering blood pressure.15 A quote taken from a card i ovascular publication re a d s , “Capsaicin has also been shown to prolong cardiac action potential in atrial muscle . . .”16 Michael T. Murray, N.D., has stated, “ Cayenne pepper [Capsicum] should be recommended as a food for its beneficial antioxidant and cardiovascular effects.”17 Herbalists have considered Capsicum as a superior “f o o d” for the heart. In fact, in cases where a heart attack is suspected administering capsicum in hot water has been thought to help lessen the severity of the attack. Capsicum can also be placed on or under the tongue in emergencies involving heart attack, stroke or hemorrhaging. 18 Note: Using Capsicum for any heart-related problem, especially a suspected heart attack should never take the place of medical attention or a physician’s care.
CAPSICUM Blood Cholesterol Reducer
Various studies have conclusively demonstrated that Capsicum reduces the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening of the a rteries) by reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels .19 Additional clinical studies conducted in India found that when cayenne was ingested along with dietary cholesterol, the typical rise in liver and blood serum cholesterol levels was significantly inhibited. In addition, bile acids and free cholesterol were subsequently eliminated from the body through the stool.20 Interestingly, these tests revealed that using Capsicum was actually more effective in reducing cholesterol that capsaicin alone.2 1 Daniel Mowrey, Ph.D., emphatically points out that this is just one of many examples of the superiority of whole botanicals as opposed to their isolated components.22 Note: Using Capsicum in combination with Hawthorn is a particularly good cardiovascular tonic.
Blood Pressure Equalizer
While an added bonus of Capsicum’s capability to lower blood serum cholesterol is a decrease in blood pressure, additional evidence strongly suggests that the herb initiates other mechanisms that fight hypertension .23 “Cayenne, according to another study, also reduces the blood pressure in an even more direct manner: a number of years ago, a team of researchers discove red that capsaicin acts in a reflexive manner to reduce systemic blood pressure, a kind of coronary chemoreflex.”24 Adding Garlic to Capsicum creates an even better therapeutic blend for treating hypertension.
Blood Detoxification CAPSICUM
“Cayenne is a kind of catalyst in the blood purification process . . . it acts as a diaphoretic, stimulating the excretion of wastes in the swe a t . ”25 Because Capsicum stimulates organ secretion and boosts peripheral blood flow, it would only stand to reason that it would also facilitate the faster removal of toxins from the bloodstream and lymphatic system. You may have already noticed that Capsicum is frequently added to blood-purifying herbal combinations. Circulatory Booster Researchers have found that the simulating action of Capsicum on surface capillaries can help to pre vent cold hands and feet.2 6 For this reason, it may be helpful for Reynaud’s Syndrome. Old remedies using Capsicum have even recommended placing it in socks to warm the feet and to help prevent frostbite. An old folk cure for a chilled body was a steaming hot cup of Capsicum tea. Free Radical Scavenger The rich flavonoid content of Capsicum gives it significant antioxidant capabilities. A recent study conducted in 1995 showed that Capsicum has a higher ascorbic acid content than chiles from the jalapeno or serrano varieties .27 Vitamin C and bioflavonoids can scavenge for dangerous free radicals which cause tissue damage and can predispose organs to degenerative diseases. Free radicals are found everywhere and are created as by-products of metabolic p rocesses including the act of breathing itself. Pollutants can expose the body to free radicals. An interesting study done in Mexico City and published in 1993 found that Capsicum extract was able to modulate the mutagenic activity of urban air samples.28 In other words, these potentially dangerous nitro - a romatic compounds found in polluted air were kept from mutating by red chile extract.29 Chemical breakdowns of Capsicum have also found that CAPSICUM the pepper is high in Provitamin A, which significantly contributes to its healing ability and immune fortification.30 Anti-Carcinogenic Compound Anti-cancer research recently tested Capsicum on laboratory rats and found that it does indeed demonstrate anti-cancer properties by inhibiting certain enzymes which can initiate the mutation of cells.31 What this implies is that taking Capsicum can afford the body some protection against the cellular mutation which occurs in malignant growths. Capsicum actually inhibited the formation of dangerous metabolites under laboratory conditions where they should have normally been activa t e d .3 2 This study implies that Capsicum may have many more sophisticated bio-chemical actions than previously thought.
An Impressive Pain Killer
Capsaicin has recently emerged as a remarkably effective pain reliever and has become the subject of recent clinical research . Applying capsaicin in cream or ointment form to painful joints, scar tissue or other painful conditions involving peripheral nerves confuses pain transmitters. In other worlds, capsaicin temporarily disrupts sensory nerve cell biochemistry there by impeding the relay of pain sensations from the skin surface. It does this by inhibiting a neurotransmitter called substance P. This specific compound is thought to be the main mediator of pain impulses from peripheral nerve endings.33 Substance P has also demonstrated its ability to inhibit inflammatory pain generated in arthritic joints in much the same way.34 Today, several over-the-counter topical preparations utilize capsaicin for the pain of arthritic joints. The ability of Capsicum to control severe and unresponsive pain is significant, to say the least. Modern clinical utilization of topical capsaicin may offer signifi-cant relief for a number of painful conditions including: diabetic neuropathy, cluster headaches, post-amputation pain, post-mastectomy pain, shingles and painful scar tissue.35
In the early spring of 1996, prime time national news show s reported that scientists had found that individuals who had suffered from chronic pain in post-surgical scars (heart bypass, arterial grafts, etc.) were successfully treated with topical preparations containing capsaicin. While this may have been news to many of us, clinical studies had been already published for several years that capsaicin held profound value for various kinds of pain which did not respond to established medical treatments. Typically surgical scars and regions around them can produce persistent pain or can be very sensitive to the touch even when completely healed. This type of pain phenomenon seems to respond well to capsaicin ointments and creams.
When capsaicin preparations were applied following mastectomy or breast reconstruction, pain was significantly relieved. Se veral double blind studies found that using capsaicin creams four times daily for 4 to 6 weeks resulted in much less frequent occurrence of sharp, jabbing pain.3 6 All thirteen patients studied had a 50 percent or greater improve m e n t .3 7 Various unpleasant sensations other than pain also improved with topical applications of capsaicin creams.38
MOUTH SORES FROM RADIATION OR CHEMOTHERAPY
A fascinating study conducted at the Yale Pain Management Center discove red that capsaicin could ve ry significantly lessen pain caused by mouth sores which frequently develop after chemotherapy or radiation.39 Apparently delivering the capsaicin in the form of soft candy (taffy) enabled the substance to be retained in the mouth long enough to desensitize the nerve endings causing the pain. Each one of the eleven case studies re p o rted that their pain had decreased and in two patients, it stopped entirely.40
Diabetic neuropathy is a painful nerve condition which can develop in cases of prolonged diabetes. Several double-blind studies have supported the considerable value of capsaicin creams for relieving the pain associated with this disorder.41 The results of a controlled study using Capsicum for seve re cases of diabetic neuropathy which did not respond to conventional therapy were published in 1992. A cream containing Capsicum was applied to painful areas four time a day and pain was carefully e valuated for 8 weeks at two-week intervals. The results we re impressive, to say the least. In the 22 patients who used the Capsicum the following results we re re c o rded: “Capsaicin tre a tment was more beneficial than vehicle treatment in the overall clinical improvement of pain status, as measured by physician’s global evaluation and by a categorical pain severity scale . . . In a follow-up study, approximately 50 percent of the subjects reported improved pain control or were cured . . .”42 No t e : While there was a burning sensation when the Capsicum c ream was first applied, some subjects found that its magnitude and duration lessened with continued application.43
The FDA has approved capsaicin-based ointments for the treatment of pain that results from diseases like shingles. Again, numerous studies have documented the value of capsaicin for decreasing the miserable nerve-related pain associated with shingles. The general consensus derived from these tests were that approximately 50 p e rcent of people suffering from shingles responded well to capsaicin creams, some even after 10 to 12 months.44
Note: If blisters accompany a shingles outbreak, it is better to wait until they have healed before using any capsaicin-based ointments or creams.
RELIEF FOR BURNING FEET
Frequently an uncomfortable “burning” sensation in the feet will occur in many people, particularly in diabetics. As ironic as it may seem, using capsaicin creams may actually alleviate this burning. “In various studies, diabetics who treated their burning feet with capsaicin got greater improvement and we re able to walk more easily than those not using the cream.”45 In addition, using topical applications of capsaicin as opposed to strong, oral drugs is much more preferable.
Clinical tests have confirmed that topical capsaicin ointments substantially alleviate the miserable pain that characterizes osteoand rheumatoid arthritis.46 These studies revealed that using 0.075 capsaicin cream reduced tenderness and pain.47 Dr. Michael T. Murray writes: “ . . . seventy patients with osteoarthritis and thirty - one with rheumatoid arthritis received capsaicin or placebo for 4 weeks. The patients were instructed to apply 0.025 percent capsaicin cream or its placebo to painful knees four times daily. Significantly more relief of pain was reported by the capsaicin-treated patients than by the placebo patients throughout the study . . .”48 Anyone suffering from osteo or rheumatoid arthritis should evaluate the effectiveness of capsaicin ointments for joint pain. Ester Lipstein-Kresch, M.D., has studied the effectiveness of capsaicin creams for arthritis and has stated: “You need to apply it three or four times a day on the affected area for at least two weeks before you’ll see any improvement. An initial burning sensation at the site is not unusual for the first few days, but this goes away with continued application.”49 Note: Capsaicin is also useful for tennis elbow due to its ability to block the transmission of pain.
MIGRAINE HEADACHES (CLUSTER TYPE)
Topical applications of capsaicin ointments intranasally may also help to relieve the pain of a specific kind of migraine headache called cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are characterized by s e ve re pain which typically radiates around one eye. The term “cluster” refers to the fact that these headaches tend to occur in clusters of one to three per day and can recur at intervals. Headache pain and severity we re reducing in groups using intranasal capsaicin.5 0 This type of capsaicin treatment should be done under a physician’s care. There is some speculation that capsaicin may be more effective in pre venting migraines before they develop into a full blown attack.51
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."
What the Medicine Men Knew
June 12, 2005 02:17 PM
What the Medicine Men Knew by Phyllis D. Light, RH, AHG Energy Times, August 4, 2003
When Europeans first landed on the shores of North America, they were greeted by Native Americans who were healthy and strong, tall and straight-boned, and who generally lived to a ripe old age. Curious and friendly, the Native Americans showed the newcomers how to harvest wild foods and grow suitable crops, and also demonstrated the medicinal use of herbs. The North American indigenous medical traditions evolved into an effective system during its long history, estimated at between 12,000 and 40,000 years. So, herbally, we owe a huge debt to the Native American willingness to share knowledge of North American plants. Many of the herbs sitting on the shelves of natural food stores today were originally found in the medicinal arsenal of Native Americans, including black cohosh, echinacea, goldenseal, pleurisy root, sarsaparilla, red root, black walnut, gravel root and American ginseng.
Unique Healing Traditions
The number of Native tribes in the United States is estimated at about 500, and each possesses a unique set of healing traditions. While the term "Native American medicine" does not describe a homogenous system of healing, common, underlying principles can be discerned in many of these tribal traditions. Most often, these healing traditions and practices have been handed down in a rich oral tradition from practitioner to practitioner, rarely finding their way into written descriptions.
For instance, according to David Winston, a Cherokee medicine priest and herbalist living in New Jersey, "Cherokee medicine is based on connection-body, mind, spirit, family, community and God/Spirit. The Cherokee word for medicine, Nvowti, means 'power.' Anything that has power-water, ceremony, songs, stories, herbs-is medicine."
On the other hand, Charles Alexander Eastman, PhD (Indian name: Ohiyesa), comments in his book, The Soul of an Indian, "The Sioux word for the healing art is wah-pee-yah, which literally means 'readjusting or making anew.' Pay-jee-hoo-tah, literally 'root,' means medicine, and wakan signifies 'spirit' or 'mystery.' Thus the three ideas, while sometimes associated, were carefully distinguished."
Native American healing philosophy advocates a customized treatment plan for each person's unique health problems.
Consequently, healing techniques focus on the individual, not the disease, although the overall treatment may incorporate well-known ways for relieving the specific discomforts, aches and pains associated with an illness. Native healers employ herbs, ceremony, song and prayer in a manner tailored to each person they treat.
A central tenet in many Native American healing traditions is the need to sweat. As a result, Inipi, or Lakota sweat lodges, are located in most areas of the country. Sweating produces many benefits. It opens pores, cleanses the skin, enhances circulation, discourages the growth of bacteria in the body and functions as a detoxification outlet.
The skin is well-suited for the elimination of toxins: Experts estimate that during everyday functioning, 30% of the body's wastes pass through the skin. For the Native American, the sweat lodge offers spiritual help as well as physical aid. And the use of sweating is generally not employed as the only treatment but is always accompanied by other therapies such as herbs.
Native Americans are not alone in their reverence for using sweating to treat disease. A technique for sweating is fundamental to most traditional medicines, including Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Native American Herbs
For native healers, herbs offer physical, emotional and spiritual support. In this tradition, herbs are consumed in teas, tablets or capsules, or are inhaled after being thrown onto the hot stones in a sweat lodge or otherwise burned to release their vapor. Smudging, a ritualized method for bathing a person or object with the smoke from sacred herbs such as sweet grass, sage or cedar, is a way of cleansing individuals, clearing a ritual space or sanctifying ceremonial tools. Each herb in the smudging process is used for a specific reason. Sweet grass grows the spirit, while sage and cedar dispel negativity. Frequently, herbs are taken as preparation for participation in rituals. "Sweet leaf is used as a tea before the sweat lodge ceremony in some Indian communities in South Dakota," notes Matthew Wood, RH, AHG, author of The Book of Herbal Wisdom (North Atlantic Books). "It promotes perspiration, relaxes the nerves, reduces tension and brings harmony and beauty to the participants."
The idea that everything in the universe, including people, is connected is a philosophy shared by many tribes.
When a medicine person assesses an illness, she not only observes physical problems but also analyzes family and community dynamics. A person's relationship with God is believed to influence health. In this vein, prayers like Mitakuye Oyasin, a Lakota blessing that means "all my relations," appeals to the interconnectedness of each of us with other people, with the Earth, and with God.
"Separation and isolation is one of the leading causes of illness," David Winston says. "There is a connection between everything-within ourselves and outside of ourselves. When we isolate and separate ourselves from our family, our community and from God/Spirit, then we suffer diseases of the spirit. Ultimately, we are responsible for our own spirits-to keep them healthy.
"In addition," adds Winston, "from the Cherokee viewpoint, the nuclear family is seen as too small. There are too many single parents working too hard and under too much stress." In a Native American clan-based society, much of this stress is defused with the support of an extended family.
Kinship philosophy is a basic part of the Native perspective, a kinship that extends beyond humans to all life, including animals, fish, and birds as well as the Earth itself. Consequently, care of the Earth is an integral part of kinship philosophy. indigenous cultures have very specific knowledge of ecology and environmental ethics. In the kinship philosophy, damage done by man to the Earth is then reflected back in the body of man by diseases of the body and spirit. Man and his illnesses are seen as part of the ecology of the planet, not a separate, isolated force with the power to control.
Modern Ills, Ancient Treatments
Winston believes that Cherokee medicine offers the greatest aid to people with chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and some female reproductive complaints, as well as individuals with stress-related disorders. It can also offer aid to those who are depressed and feel alienated or disconnected from society.
Native American medicine can offer balance and healing. It can be used in conjunction with Western medicine, providing a holistic and individualized treatments. To find a Native American healer, check with your local tribal community. Mitakuye Oyasin.
In the Clear - Skin is always in danger of acne and inflammations
June 12, 2005 02:13 PM
In the Clear by Dianne Drucker Energy Times, August 3, 2003
Your skin needs protection even as it offers itself as your body's first line of defense against the outside world. Skin is always in danger of acne and inflammations during its daily encounters with stray microorganisms, streams of ultraviolet light and a barrage of pollutants.
Tending to your skin, keeping a clear complexion while safeguarding your well-being, requires proper feeding, watering and tender, loving care.
Your skin not only has to protect you, it has to look good while doing it. Unfortunately, much can go wrong with skin. One of the most common skin irregularities is the acne that often arises when pores clog and inflammation creates unsightly blemishes.
While conventional medicine has long insisted that your chances of developing pimples are unrelated to what you feed your body and your skin, recent studies are calling that accepted wisdom into question.
Research in the Archives of Dermatology (12/02) argues that today's pimples are linked to what you ate yesterday. Skin scientists now suspect that the typical American diet, filled with refined foods, sugars and simple starches, causes the exaggerated release of insulin and related secretions that foment pimples and blemishes.
The evidence: When researchers spent two years combing through the rainforests of New Guinea and trekking to remote parts of Paraguay, they took a close look at indigenous people's faces and couldn't find a single pimple. The inhabitants of these isolated areas eat homegrown food and wild game. They've never eaten crackers or cookies from a box or slurped a milkshake through a straw. And they've never had to cope with embarrassing acne.
The researchers concluded that no refined foods meant no blemishes.
Refining the Pimple Process
According to this latest theory, pimples can start when your digestive tract quickly absorbs refined, starchy carbohydrates from white bread or potatoes or sugary soft drinks. These foods are ranked at or near the top of the so-called glycemic index. That means that these foodstuffs cause your blood sugar to climb rapidly, the process that the glycemic index measures.
That rise in blood sugar causes the release of insulin from your pancreas into your bloodstream. Insulin, a hormone-like substance, helps cells soak up the excess sugar circulating in your blood. However, along with insulin, another substance, is also released. These two chemicals boost the production of testosterone, the male hormone that, in turn, can cause the skin to overproduce sebum, an oily goo that plugs up pores and gives birth to acne. (Previous research has already established the causal relationship of testosterone to pimples.)
Lorain Cordain, PhD, a health professor at Colorado State University and lead researcher in this study, points out that more than 80% of the grains we eat are highly refined and cause significant blood sugar increases, a factor that makes skin break out. In addition, he says, teens are especially susceptible to pimples because they are growing rapidly and, as a result, tend to be insulin resistant. Insulin resistance means it takes more insulin to persuade cells to take sugar out of the blood. This condition consequently results in even larger amounts of insulin being released and more skin blemishes being created.
According to Dr. Cordain, eating low-glycemic foods like whole grains, vegetables, fish and lean meat should lower your risk of acne. These foods don't bump up blood sugar as much, to be released and, as a result, are kinder to your skin.
Aside from improving your skin condition by improving the food you eat, taking supplements to help the bacteria in your lower digestive tract may also clear up your undesirable dermatological developments. Eczema, a discomforting and embarrassing skin inflammation, is now believed to depend on the interaction between intestinal bacteria and your immune system.
According to research in Finland (The Lancet 2001; 357:1076), eczema may appear on your skin when your immune system, influenced by the gut's bacteria, misbehaves, using unnecessary inflammation to defend against a non-existent infection that it mistakenly believes threatens the skin.
Atopic eczema, a variety of eczema that often runs in families, has long been known to be linked to allergies and immune overreactions.
In looking into the fact that more and more people have been suffering eczema, scientists came to the disturbing conclusion that this increase may be at least partly attributed to our obsession with cleanliness.
When we are young, our immune systems learn the proper ways to fight off germs by interacting with the bacteria and viruses they encounter. But during the past ten years, so many of us (and our parents) have kept our houses so neurotically spic-and-span, according to the latest theory, that our immune systems are failing to develop the proper responses. So, like a bored, inexperienced security guard who imagines a threat when there is none, our immune defenses are going slightly haywire, causing the defensive inflammation of eczema even in the absence of real bacteriological invasions. The possible solution: Probiotic supplements of harmless bacteria like Lactobacillus GG. This bacteria, similar to the friendly bacteria that live in our large intestines, seems to calm immunity so that it is less likely to panic and start an unnecessary inflammation.
These supplements are so safe, medical researchers are now giving them to pregnant women and newborn babies. In the research in Finland, giving these probiotics to mothers and newborns cut the rate of infant atopic eczema in half. (Similar, live bacteria are also found in yogurt, although yogurt should not be fed to newborns.)
The skin on these children is benefiting for long periods of time. "Our findings show that the preventive effect of Lactobacillus GG on atopic eczema in at-risk children extends to the age of 4 years," notes Marko Kalliomäki, MD, author of the study.
Tea Tree Help
Further natural skin help can be had from Australia in the form of tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia). Long revered by the aborigines of this continent, tea tree oil was allegedly given its English name by British sea captain James Cook, who used the plant to make a tea that improved the flavor of beer.
But Australians have long used tea tree oil as an antiseptic. Its popularity increased during World War II, when, after it was used as a lubricant on heavy machinery, mechanics who got the oil on their hands noticed it fought skin infections. As pointed out in The Chopra Center Herbal Handbook (Three Rivers Press), "The essential oil of tea tree...contains a number of terpenes, of which terpinen-4-ol is believed to be responsible for its beneficial anti-infective activity." Terpenes are special, beneficial types of protein found in essential oils.
Tea tree is especially useful against skin outbreaks caused by fungus infections. Research in Australia shows that it can help quell athlete's foot (Austr Jrnl Derm 1992; 33:145) as effectively as some pharmaceutical preparations. Other research confirms that it can help quiet many different fungi that cause unsightly skin outbreaks (Skin Pharm 1996; 9:388). The Chopra Center Herbal Handbook recommends that "every household should keep some tea tree oil close at hand. It can be applied directly to skin irritations."
Revered by the pharaohs' healers in Egypt during the ancient age of the pyramids, and depended upon for centuries by the Greeks for a variety of medicinal purposes, chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is still employed for a range of skin problems. This botanical helps ease abscesses, bruises or sunburn, and is included in many massage oils. (But never apply chamomile's undiluted essential oil to the skin.)
In addition, creams and sprays with chamomile are used to calm the nerves and nourish the skin. As an element in aromatherapy, chamomile, whose odor has been compared to apples, is well-known for soothing and rejuvenating the spirit. Explaining exactly how chamomile heals and calms has not been easy for scientists. Essential oils like chamomile contain so many different natural chemicals that exploring their holistic effect on the human body requires detailed analysis. As an aromatherapeutic agent, researchers believe chamomile and other essential oils may interact with the brain, activating glands that stimulate healing systems within the body. But that has yet to be proven.
What has been proven is that herbs like chamomile and tea tree, and natural treatments like probiotics, can make a big difference in keeping your skin healthy and clear. With their help, you can present your best face to the world.
Mucuna Pruriens (DopaBean)
May 30, 2005 11:26 AM
Mucuna and Medicine
Mucuna pruriens, commonly known as velvet bean or cowitch, is a plant indigenous to India A clinical study confirmed the efficacy of the seeds in the management of Parkinson’s disease by virtue of their L-Dopa content1,5. Mucuna pruriens, recognized as an aphrodisiac in Ayurveda, has been shown to increase testosterone levels2, leading to deposition of protein in the muscles and increased muscle mass and strength3. The extract is also known to enhance mental alertness and improve coordination4.
1. Manyam, B.V., et. al. (1995) J. of Alternative and Comp. Med., 1 (3) 249-255.
ButterBur for Irritable Bladder and Urinary tract spasms ...
May 23, 2005 08:56 AM
Monograph. Petasites hybridus. Anonymous Alternative medicine review : a journal of clinical therapeutic (2001 Apr), 6(2), 207-9. Journal code: 9705340. ISSN:1089-5159. United States. Journal; Article; (JOURNAL ARTICLE) written in English. PubMed ID 11302783 AN 2001287848 MEDLINE
Petasides hybridus (butterbur) is a perennial shrub, found throughout Europe as well as parts of Asia and North America, that has been used medicinally for centuries. During the Middle Ages butterbur was used to treat plague and fever; in the 17th century its use was noted in treating cough, asthma, and skin wounds. The plant can grow to a height of three feet and is usually found in wet, marshy ground, in damp forests, and adjacent to rivers or streams. Its downy leaves can attain a diameter of three feet, making it the largest of all indigenous floras, and their unique characteristics are responsible for the plant's botanical and common names. The genus name, Petasites, is derived from the Greek word petasos, which is the felt hat worn by shepherds. The common name of butterbur is attributed to the large leaves being used to wrap butter during warm weather. Other common names include pestwurz (German), blatterdock, bog rhubarb, and butter-dock. Currently, the primary therapeutic uses for butterbur are for prophylactic treatment of migraines, and as an anti-spasmodic agent for chronic cough or asthma. It has also been used successfully in preventing gastric ulcers, and in treating patients with irritable bladder and urinary tract spasms.
Try Butterbur for the above symptoms for relief of chronic cough, migraines, bladder, and urinary tract problems.
Guggul – New Benefits for Heart Health
May 11, 2005 09:00 PM
Gum Guggul–New Benefits for Heart Health from an Age-Old Herbby Richard Conant, L.Ac., C.N.
The 1990's have seen a growing interest in herbs from India's ancient Ayurvedic tradition. One Ayurvedic herb in particular, "gum guggul," stands at the forefront, thanks to its rather remarkable benefits for the heart and cardiovascular health. A relative of myrrh and frankincense, gum guggul is a resin tapped from India's Commiphora mukul tree. Known more commonly in the Far East as simply "guggul," the herb has proven to be one of the most effective natural cholesterol-lowering agents ever discovered. Cholesterol reductions with guggul can be twenty percent or higher, and the herb also raises HDL, the more beneficial form of cholesterol. Studies also show guggul may help prevent atherosclerosis, by retarding the formation of fatty, cholesterol-laden deposits in blood vessel tissues.
Recent research on guggul has revealed that guggul also blocks the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, by acting as an antioxidant. LDL, which carries cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body, is generally regarded as a key element in the development of atherosclerosis. But only when it is oxidized by free radicals does LDL accumulate in arteries. It its unoxidized or "native" state, LDL is more or less benign. Checking LDL oxidation is vital to keeping blood vessels free of plaque.1 (This is one of the major reasons why antioxidants are so important.) Guggul, by both lowering blood cholesterol and acting against LDL oxidation, now stands out as one of the world's most valuable herbs for heart health.
Guggul first caught the attention of the scientific world in1966, thanks to an Indian medical researcher who submitted a doctoral thesis on gum guggul.2 Her interest had been kindled by references to the herb in a centuries-old Ayurvedic text. Apparently, poor cardiovascular health and atherosclerosis were a problem back then just as they are today. Translated from Sanskrit, this text describes, in elegant detail, a condition called "coating and obstruction of channels." The cause, according to the ancient writers? Faulty metabolism due to overeating of fatty foods and lack of exercise. Death was said to be the end result of leaving this condition uncorrected. The recommended treatment plan emphasized diet and herbs, chiefly gum guggul.3
References to guggul in ancient literature actually go back even farther. The herb is mentioned in the Vedas, the holy scriptures of India believed to be anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 years old. One stanza is translated as follows: "Disease (consumption) does not afflict and the curse never affects whom the delicious odor of the healing Guggul penetrates (spreads). The diseases also flee away in all directions from him like horses and deer, O Gugulu! Either born from Sindhu or from the sea. I chant your name for the removal of diseases."3
Struck by the obvious similarity between "coating and obstruction of channels" and atherosclerosis, the Indian researcher decided to study gum guggul's effect on blood fats in rabbits. Over a two-year period, the animals were fed hydrogenated vegetable oil to artificially raise their cholesterol levels. Guggul was administered to one group of rabbits, while the rest served as controls. At the end of the study the rabbits given guggul had normal cholesterol and blood lipid levels. Their arteries showed no fatty streaks or plague deposits. This caught the attention of the Indian scientific community, and numerous clinical trials ensued, both on animals and humans. In study after study, guggul consistently produced substantial reductions in cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while raising HDL.
The active ingredients in guggul are a group of natural plant sterols. Among these, substances called "guggulsterones" are the most important ingredients for the cholesterol and blood fat lowering properties of guggul, with the other sterols acting as a synergistic supporting cast.4 A number of mechanisms are suggested, although not definitely proven, for how the herb works; these include reducing the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver, enhancing cholesterol removal from the gut, stimulating thyroid function and increasing the number of receptors in the liver for uptake of LDL.3,5
Guggul extracts are now standardized for guggulsterone content. The herb naturally contains about 2 percent guggulsterones. Quality extracts contain a minimum of 2.5 percent, which assures the user is getting a product potent enough to produce results. Since the late 1980's clinical trials have used the standardized extract.6,7,8 The product is readily available in the U.S.
The ability of guggulsterones to prevent oxidation of LDL was discovered in a 1997 study done by scientists at the Central Drug Research Institute in Lucknow, India.9 This study sheds light on how guggul works against "coating and obstruction of channels." Remember that oxidized LDL forms the plaque that coats and eventually obstructs blood vessels. The researchers mixed LDL from human blood with a free radical promoting agent, either alone or in combination with guggulsterones. Samples were then analyzed for the presence LDL oxidation byproducts. The results showed that guggulsterones strongly protect LDL from being oxidized. Guggulsterones block the formation of hydroxyl radicals, a potent type of free-radical that attacks cell membranes.
Guggulsterones may also help keep the heart muscle itself healthy. When the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen, a condition known as "myocardial ischemia," it can be severely damaged by free radicals. The body tries to counter this with SOD, a key enzyme present in cells that neutralizes free radicals. SOD levels are significantly reduced in damaged heart tissues. Guggulsterones have been found to reverse this decrease by more than two-fold.10
Like the writer of that age-old verse found in the Vedas, contemporary herbalists hold gum guggul in the highest regard. Backed as it is by scientific research linked to centuries of traditional use, gum guggul has a bright future as a natural resource for maintaining normal cholesterol and blood fats, and for protecting heart health.
1. Heinecke, J.W. Free radical modification of low density lipoprotein: mechanisms and biological consequences. Free Radical Biology & Medicine 1987;3:65-73.
2. Satyavati, G.V. Effect of an indigenous drug on disorders of lipid metabolism with special reference to atherosclerosis and obesity (Medoroga) M.D. thesis (Doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine). Banaras Hindu University, varanasi, 1966.
3. Satyavati, G. Gugulipid: a promising hypolipidaemic agent from gum guggul (Commiphora wightii). Economic and Medicinal Plant Research 1991;5:47-82.
4. Dev, S. A modern look at an age-old Ayurvedic drug-guggulu. Science Age July 1987:13-18.
5. Singh, V. et. al. Stimulation of low density lipoprotein receptor activity in liver membrane of guggulsterone treated rats. Pharmacological Research 1990;22(1):37-44.
6. Nityanand, S., Srivastava, J.S., Asthana, O.P. Clinical trials with gugulipid. J. Ass. Physicians of India 1989;37(5):323-28.
7. Agarwal, R.C. et. al. Clinical trial of gugulipid-a new hypolipidemic agent of plant origin in primary hyperlipidemia. Indian J Med Res 1986;84:626-34.
8. 'Gugulipid' Drugs of the Future 1988;13(7):618-619.
9. Singh, K., Chandler, R. Kapoor, N.K. Guggulsterone, a potent hypolipidaemic, prevents oxidation of low density lipoprotein. Phytotherapy Research 1997;11:291-94.
10. Kaul, S. Kapoor, N.K. Reversal of chnages of lipid peroxide, xanthine oxidase and superoxide dismutase by cardio-protective drugs in isoproterenol induced myocardial necrosis in rats. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology 1989;27:625-627.