Archive for Herbal Remedies

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

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.


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 >>


Gentian Root

Coutesy of Wikipedia

Gentian root and other highly bitter plants have been used for centuries in Europe as digestive aids (the well-known Swedish bitters often contain gentian). Other folk uses included topical use on skin tumors, decreasing fevers, and treatment of diarrhea. Its ability to increase digestive function, including production of stomach acid, has been validated in modern times.

Gentian root contains some of the most bitter substances known, particularly the glycosides gentiopicrin and amarogentin. The taste of these can be detected even when diluted 50,000 times. Besides stimulating secretion of saliva in the mouth and hydrochloric acid in the stomach, gentiopicrin may protect the liver.

Gentian root is also considered useful for poor appetite and indigestion according to the German government’s Commission E monograph.

Here is what Wikipedia reports:

It was considered especially useful in states of exhaustion from chronic disease and in all cases of debility, weakness of the digestive system and lack of appetite. It was also considered one of the best fortifiers of the human system, stimulating the liver, gall bladder and digestive system, and was thought to be an excellent tonic to combine with a purgative in order to prevent its debilitating effects.

Usage of Gentian Root

Gentian root can be taken as a tincture (1–3 grams daily), as a fluid extract (2–4 grams daily), or as the whole root (2–4 grams daily).

Gentian root should not be used by people suffering from excessive stomach acid, heartburn, stomach ulcers, or gastritis.

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with Gentian.


Gentian: (Gentiana lutea)

This plant comes from meadows in Europe and Turkey. It is also cultivated in North America. The root is used medicinally.


Natural Remedies for Anxiety

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Feeling Anxious?Some anxiety is a normal part of life – but extreme anxiety or feeling anxious for no reason can be devastating. If you experience insomnia, inability to reason, tiredness, headaches and/or a number of other maladies, you may be a candidate for some natural remedies that will help you get your life back.

Studies have shown that the following natural remedies can help symptoms of anxiety:

  • Passionflower – Long used to treat anxiety and insomnia, passionflower has been found to cause fewer side effects than prescription drugs such as mexazolam. Don’t take passionflower with other medications without consulting your health care professional.
  • Breathing techniques – Deep breathing exercises associated with yoga and other forms of meditation can positively affect anxiety issues. Research various techniques to find out which is best for you.
  • Valerian – The herb, Valerian, is often used effectively to treat insomnia and promote calmness. As with passionflower, don’t use with prescription medications until you’re sure there will be no consequences.
  • Aromatherapy – Massage oils added to baths or infusers can help anxiety. Some essential oils derived from plants for aromatherapy treatments are lavender, geranium, cypress and jasmine.
  • GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) – GABA is an amino acid that helps ease anxiety symptoms by positively affecting brain receptors.
  • B-Vitamins – Vitamin B12, in particular, helps the body ward off stress and anxiety. Try taking a B-Complex multi-vitamin supplement each day.
  • St. John’s Wort – Often taken as an antidepressant, St. John’s Wort can also lessen anxiety symptoms. Don’t take this remedy with other prescription drugs, especially antidepressants such as Paxil.

Most anxiety is caused by stress, both emotional and physical. It’s a sign that your body and mind are in distress. Seek balance in your life by taking steps to reduce stress, get enough sleep and take better care of yourself.

It’s important that you also reduce caffeine intake and attempt to work some type of daily exercise into your schedule.

It’s unfortunate but true. Stress is bound to have an adverse affect on your life from time to time.  When it hits, it can disrupt your emotions and your physical health. How can create a natural barrier so it can’t do much damage to your system? That’s what we’re discussing today.

Stress takes its toll on your immune system.

Your immune system is like your army of protection to battle the germs that invade your body.  Too much stress weakens the immune system and opens the door for frequent colds and viral infections.

If you’re prone to high stress levels and your immune system is deeply compromised, then you might suffer stronger symptoms of the ailment than if you had your defenses built up.

The doctor can’t prescribe you a magic pill that builds up your immune system, but you can use alternative methods to do the job.  You can also use stress reduction techniques, such as hypnotherapy, aromatherapy, and meditation.

Your nutrition is also important to your immune system.

Make sure you get plenty of vitamins and nutrients that balance out your body’s needed intake.  Try to eat with the color of the rainbow in mind, mixing a combination of nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, and grains. (Visit my other natural remedies site for more information about holistic nutrition >>)

Many natural herbs can provide a boost in your immune system, too.  Herbs like Astragalus, Sage, Garlic, Honey, mushrooms, and St. John’s Wort all have immunity-enhancing qualities.

Astragalus is generally used as a tonic. In Chinese medicine, it’s been touted to restore the immune system and help tissue cells regenerate.  They’ve found it crates a natural obstacle to cancer cell growth, and provides many other health benefits.  Specific to the immune system, it increases the white blood cells that act as your army of protection against foreign invaders.

St. John’s Wort and garlic have been active in helping fight Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).  Aside from inhibiting infections of AIDS patients, they’ve also been known to prevent herpes outbreaks, an obvious sign of their immune-boosting powers.

To help stave off frequent infections, make sure you adhere to a healthier lifestyle that includes exercise and nutrition.  But get an added boost by enhancing your immune system with alternative therapies that reduce stress and elevate your body’s natural defense system.

Natural Hair CareNatural and beautiful hair. That’s what I wanted! But my quest for the perfect hair care products was a long and frustrating one.  It wasn’t until I started using natural products and homemade herbal infused products that I found the secret to healing my damaged hair.

If you’re longing for the gorgeous, shiny, bouncy hair like what’s portrayed on television commercials for hair products, you’ve probably run into the same problem.  I don’t recommend rushing out to buy all those products. I have wasted a lot of money that way.  I as usually very disappointed when I tried them with few exceptions.  And when I did find something, it was discontinued shortly afterwards. I have no idea why!

But don’t despair! You can get the look you want from natural products that cost less and perform better. First, you have to understand the structure of your hair and how both internal and external factors can affect the way it appears.

A healthy diet and adequate exercise will bring circulation to your scalp and is one of the best things you can do to keep your hair healthy and shining. External factors such as sun and harsh chemicals contained in products used to color your hair can also dry out your hair and make it dull and listless.

Chemicals contained in most commercial shampoos and conditioners can also affect your hair negatively. Here are some natural methods for cleaning, conditioning and general care of your hair that should bring it back to a lush, manageable state:

  • Use natural-ingredient shampoos – Look for shampoos that contain chamomile, lemon verbena, seaweed extract, rosemary, keratin, tea tree oil and plant proteins. Stay away from products that contain harsh cleansers that may cause lots of suds and bubbles, but are damaging to your hair.
  • Condition with natural remedies – Jojoba oil, aloe and henna are just a few herbal remedies that can condition your hair without leaving it oily and limp.
  • Use a brush made from boar bristles. They’re natural and will help lubricate your hair using the natural oils that come from your scalp. Never brush your hair while it’s still wet. Use a wide-tooth comb to detangle your hair and wait until it’s partially dry before using the brush.
  • Dry your hair on the lowest setting of a blow dryer. Heat tends to dry your hair, and sprays, styling mousse, and gels that have alcohol only make it worse. If you can get away without blow drying your hair, all the better! For curling irons, get a “teflon” one. They seem to be gentler on your hair.
  • If your hair has been damaged from sun and too much processing, repair it by using deep conditioners made from botanicals. Look for “leave-in” conditioners – they tend to repair the damage much more quickly.

If you color your hair, ask the colorist if there is a product that will prepare your hair for touch ups or overall coloring. Using the products as recommended will also help to avoid damage.

If you liked this article and want to see more, visit our virtual Herbal Spa >>

St John's Wort helps treat depressionSt. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is an herb that’s sometimes used effectively for treatment of depression. It is believed to contain ingredients that may help the brain produce more serotonin, which produces feelings of well-being in the body.

The plant is named after St. John, the Baptist and produces yellow petals in groups of five that resemble a halo. Red sap runs from the plant and is said to be a symbol of the blood of St. John. Part of its scientific name, Hypericum, means “greatest health” in Greek.

For many centuries, St. John’s Wort has been used as a sedative and to treat wounds, burns and sleep disorders. Now, St. John’s Wort is believed to be valuable in treating anxiety, sleep disorders such as insomnia and depression.

St. John’s Wort can be purchased in capsules, extracts and teas. In the United States, it’s not sold as a prescription, but can be purchased over-the-counter. In Europe the herb is prescribed by physicians for depression and other illnesses.

Even though St. John’s Wort has been tested and scientifically researched it’s never safe for you to diagnose your own illness. Here are some things you need to consider BEFORE taking an herbal remedy – or any type of medication: Read More→

Effective herbal remedies can help those that suffer from common ailments rather than an expensive trip to the doctor and resulting prescriptions. Specific herbs can be made into healing salves, tonics and teas not only to relieve irritating symptoms that accompany these ailments, but also to cure them. (Make your own herbal preparations >>) Or, you can buy these already ready!

Herbal remedies have innate benefits that can work for a variety of common ailments from acne to warts. Below are some herbal treatments for everyday ailments:

Acne – There are a number of conditions that can perpetuate acne, but the most common causes are hormonal imbalance (such as in adolescence), stress and some medications.  Effective herbal remedies include:

  • Enchinacea – Reduces inflammation and has healing qualities.
  • Witch Hazel – Used as a topical astringent.
  • Aloe Gel – Topically applied as an antibacterial (and astringent) agent.

Bladder infections – This type of infection occurs when bacteria enters the urinary tract — generally, in women. Some symptoms include constant or painful urination. Treat bladder infections with the following herbal remedies:

  • Barberry – Helps the immune system fight infection.
  • Cranberry juice – Inhibits bacterial growth by increasing acid in the urine.
  • Dandelion – Detoxifies the bladder. Read More→
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It’s very frustrating to even go through one sleepless night because you end up so tired the next morning that you may be disoriented and unable to function as you should. However, if you suffer from sleep loss on a regular basis, you most likely have insomnia. (Generally speaking, this is not a diagnosis.)

Hormonal changes, heart disease, depression and sleep apnea can all cause insomnia. Check with your doctor.

If you’re having trouble sleeping and you want to try some natural remedies here are some natural sleep tips.

  • Melatonin – One of the most popular natural remedies for insomnia, melatonin is actually a hormone produced naturally in the body. The brain makes serotonin which is then made into melatonin, which helps you fall asleep naturally. If your body isn’t producing enough melatonin, you may need to take a supplement before retiring each evening.
  • Meditation – Yoga practices of deep breathing and meditation before you go to bed have proven beneficial to help sufferers of insomnia fall asleep naturally.
  • Aromatherapy – The sedative qualities of inhaling lavender, ylang ylang and chamomile are found to be useful in treating insomnia.
  • Valerian – Non-addictive Valerian has been used for years as a remedy for insomnia. It has qualities that are believed to affect the brain’s calming neurotransmitters. Read More→