Archive for September 2014

Chickweed – Natural appetite suppressant

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

ChickweedChickweed is said to curb the appetite and aid in weight loss by emulsifying fat and then getting rid of it.

As a diuretic its medicinal properties aide the assimilation of other herbs and help them process and dissolve of fat. My personal experience is that Chickweed is a better appetite suppressant than the over the counter products on the shelf today.

Some say that Chickweed is purely an ‘old wives’ tale’ remedy for obesity. But in fact, there’s supporting scientific evidence that Chickweed may indeed be beneficial to weight loss, when included in a healthy lifestyle included proper diet and exercise. Basically, as a mild diuretic containing saponins, Chickweed emulsifies the fat cells and assists them out of the system.

In Healing Wise by Susun Weed, it says that Chickweed is an excellent metabolic balancer with a potentially regulating effect on the thyroid.

Historical or traditional use (may or may not be supported by scientific studies):

Chickweed was reportedly used at times for food. Chickweed enjoys a reputation in folk medicine for treating a wide spectrum of conditions, ranging from asthma and indigestion to skin diseases. Traditional Chinese herbalists used a tea made from chickweed for nosebleeds.

The active constituents in chickweed are largely unknown. It contains relatively high amounts of vitamins and flavonoids, which may explain some of its activity. Although some older information suggests a possible benefit for chickweed in rheumatic conditions, this has not been validated in clinical studies.

Often considered a nuisance to gardeners, this inconspicuous small plant grows world wide in abundance. Generally, it’s one of the first plants in spring. In summer it can be found in cooler, damp shady areas.

PLUS: It makes a wonderful addition to fresh spring salads!

Although formerly used as a tea, chickweed is mainly used today as a cream applied liberally several times each day to rashes and inflammatory skin conditions (e.g., eczema) to ease itching and inflammation.  As a tincture, 1–5 ml per day can be taken three times per day. Two teaspoonfuls of the dried herb may be used to make a tea. This may be drunk three times daily.

No side effects with chickweed have been reported.  At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with chickweed.


Chickweed: The ubiquitous, small, green chickweed plant grows across the United States and originated in Europe. The leaves, stems, and flowers are used in botanical medicine.


Burdock – The Tenacious Tonic – Treatment for Cancer?

Sunday, September 7th, 2014
Burdock

Photo from Wikipedia

In traditional herbal texts, burdock root is described as a “blood purifier” or “alterative,” and was believed to clear the bloodstream of toxins.

It was used both internally and externally for eczema and psoriasis, as well as to treat painful joints and as a diuretic. In traditional Chinese medicine, burdock root in combination with other herbs is used to treat sore throats, tonsillitis, colds, and even measles. It is eaten as a vegetable in Japan and elsewhere.

Burdock root has become popular as part of a tea to treat cancer.  Burdock’s use against cancer goes down through the centuries and has been used as a tumor treatment in Russia, China, India and the Americas. In the United States, it was an ingredient in the popular but highly controversial Hoxsey Cancer Formula, an alternative therapy marketed from the 1930s to the 1950s by ex-coal-miner Harry Hoxsey.

Some studies show anti-tumor or anti-mutation activity.  The National Cancer Institute became interested in burdock as part of its Designer Foods Program, an effort to use biotechnology to introduce cancer-preventive chemicals into common food crops.  Burdock’s action is mild, but real. It has antibacterial and antiviral powers, and it reduces blood sugar, which helps prevent diabetes.  Burdock has value as a tonic, a subtle strengthener with cumulatively helpful effects.

Burdock root contains high amounts of inulin and mucilage. This may explain its soothing effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Bitter constituents in the root may also explain the traditional use of burdock to improve digestion. It also contains polyacetylenes, shown to have antimicrobial activity. Burdock root and fruit also have the ability to mildly lower blood sugar (hypoglycemic effect).

Burdock Usage

Herbalists generallly recommend 2–4 ml of burdock root tincture per day. For the dried root preparation in capsule form, the common amount to take is 1–2 grams three times per day. Many herbal preparations will combine burdock root with other alterative herbs, such as yellow dock, red clover, or cleavers.  Use of burdock root at the dosages listed above is generally safe.

To brew a pleasantly sweet-tasting tonic tea, boil one teaspoon of crushed, dried burdock root in three cups of water for 30 minutes. Drink up to three cups a day.


Burdock  (Arctium lappa) is native to Asia and Europe. The root is the primary source of most herbal preparations. The root becomes very soft with chewing and tastes sweet, with a mucilaginous texture.


Aloe – Special Precautions!

Friday, September 5th, 2014
Aloe

Photo from Wikipedia

The thick, juicy leaves of Aloe contain two distinct products used medicinally and are important to be distinguished for the purposes of caution and to avoid confusion.

  1. a thin clear gel or mucilage that oozes from the middle of a broken leaf.
  2. a bitter latex, referred to as aloe vera juice, derived from the cells just under the surface of the leaf.

Their compositions and uses differ.  The active ingredient in the gel is mucopolysaccharides.  The latex provides anthraquinone derivatives, mostly in the form of aloins, with smaller amounts of hydroxyaloins, aloe-emodin, and aloeresins.

The gel is used topically on wounds and burns to help them heal more rapidly. Taken internally, it is considered a general tonic. Unfortunately, separation of the gel from the latex for commercial preparations is often incomplete, and the gel may end up with some laxative action due to inadvertent inclusion of latex.

Aloe has been recommended for burns due to radiation, but like most of its uses, this is considered incompletely proved and controversial.  There is no harm in applying fresh gel from a broken leaf to a minor cut or burn, and many people find it soothing. In the test tube, gels from some species of aloe have antibacterial activity. A. vera, however, does not appear to kill many microbes.

The latex of Aloe is a powerful laxative that irritates the intestine. We do not recommend using this product.

There are nearly five hundred species of aloe. It’s a type of plant that originated in southern Africa, near the Cape of Good Hope.  The use of aloe goes back in history 5,500 years. There are pictures of aloe plants on some Egyptian temples. The Greek physician Dioscorides wrote of its benefits to heal wounds and treat hemorrhoids.

Aloe plants now grow throughout Africa, around the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, and in many countries in South America.


Aloe Special Precautions:

Pregnant women must avoid aloe latex; use has been known to trigger abortion or premature birth.  Nursing mothers should take this laxative only under medical supervision. Children must not take aloe latex.  Women who are menstruating should not use aloe latex, as it may increase blood flow.  Aloe latex may be very dangerous when there is an intestinal blockage and must be avoided in such cases. Aloe latex is not appropriate for people with intestinal inflammation such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, and it should not be taken by people with inflamed hemorrhoids.  People with kidney problems should avoid aloe latex.  The most serious difficulties encountered with aloe latex occur at higher than recommended doses or when used for more than a few days.  This laxative herb causes the loss of potassium and other minerals, which over time can result in a loss of muscle tone of the intestine and diminished effectiveness. Frequent use may cause irreversible damage.  Large doses of aloe have caused bloody diarrhea, kidney damage, and even death.  The urine may take on a reddish color after taking aloe latex. This color is harmless; however, with the possibility of kidney damage from large doses or prolonged use, any persistent color in the urine may call for medical diagnosis.

Possible Interactions: Low potassium levels can be dangerous in a person taking a heart drug like Lanoxin.  Aloe latex might also be dangerous for anyone taking a diuretic that depletes the body of potassium (Lasix, HCTZ, etc.) because of the additive effect. It should be avoided in such situations.  Aloe latex could reduce the absorption of any pill taken around the same time because it cuts intestinal transit time so drastically.


Alfalfa for high cholesterol, menopause, poor appetite

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Alfalfa

Alfalfa, a natural alternative, may help control high cholesterol, menopause and poor appetite.

Alfalfa leaves also contain flavones, isoflavones, sterols, and coumarin derivatives. The isoflavones are thought to be responsible for the estrogen-like effects seen in animal studies. Although this has not been confirmed with human trials, it is sometimes used to treat menopause symptoms.

Historic Use

Many years ago, traditional Chinese physicians used young alfalfa leaves to treat disorders of the digestive tract.  Similarly, the Ayurvedic physicians of India prescribed the leaves and flowering tops for poor digestion. Alfalfa was also considered therapeutic for water retention and arthritis. North American Indians recommended alfalfa to treat jaundice and to encourage blood clotting.

Although conspicuously absent from many classic textbooks on herbal medicine, alfalfa did find a home in the texts of the Eclectic physicians (19th-century physicians in the United States who used herbal therapies) as a tonic for indigestion, dyspepsia, anemia, loss of appetite, and poor assimilation of nutrients.  These physicians also recommended the alfalfa plant to stimulate lactation in nursing mothers, and the seeds were made into a poultice for the treatment of boils and insect bites.


Alfalfa:  Common name: Lucerne.  Botanical name: Medicago sativa.  A member of the pea family it is native to western Asia and the eastern Mediterranean region. Sprouts have become a popular food and herbal supplements primarily use the dried leaves of the plant. The heat-treated seeds of the plant have also been used.

Vitamins

Besides protein you have vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Nutrient analysis also demonstrates the presence of calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc.

Active Constituents

While the medicinal benefits are poorly understood, the constituents in alfalfa have been extensively studied. The leaves contain approximately 2–3% saponins.  Animal studies suggest that these constituents block absorption of cholesterol and prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.  One small human trial found that 120 grams per day of heat-treated alfalfa seeds for eight weeks led to a modest reduction in cholesterol. However, consuming the large amounts of alfalfa seeds (80–120 grams per day) needed to supply high amounts of these saponins may potentially cause damage to red blood cells in the body.

For more information, consult Wikipedia >>