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THIS PAGE IS ABOUT NATURAL HERBS AND THEIR BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES AND USES.
"If we were to design a drug that had perfect properties according to what we know about heart disease and associated risk factors, we couldn't improve on garlic," says Amanda McQuade-Crawford, herbalist and director of the Ojai Center of Phytotherapy in Ojai, Calif. Regular use of garlic is associated with the prevention of cardiovascular disease, she explains. Garlic raises protective HDLs (high-density lipoproteins), while it lowers harmful LDLs (low-density lipoproteins) and triglycerides (blood fats). Garlic is also known to help lower high blood pressure, she says. Garlic aids in cancer prevention by raising the body's level of glutathione transferase, a liver enzyme known to detoxify the body of carcinogens, says McQuade-Crawford. In China, researchers found gastric cancer was reduced where garlic intake was high. Other researchers have noted improved helper/suppressor ratios of T-cells in AIDS patients who take garlic. Proven to work against various micro-organisms including bacteria resistant to antibiotics, garlic is known to be antifungal and antiviral
Ginkgo Biloba extract from the ginkgo tree has been shown to benefit visual function by improving microcirculation to the eyes especially among patients suffering from senile macular degeneration, a common condition thought to involve free radical damage, says Steven Schechter, N.D., author of Fighting Radiation & Chemical Pollutants With Foods, Herbs &Vitamins (Vitality, Ink).
More than 280 scientific studies indicate standardized ginkgo extract prevents and/or benefits ailments such as vertigo, tinnitus, inner ear disturbances, memory impairment, ability to concentrate, anxiety, depression, neurological disorders, senility, circulatory disorders, edema and Raynaud's disease (a vascular disorder). Ginkgo extract improves the quality and increases the quantity of capillary circulation, thus increasing blood flow to the brain, heart and tissues in organs and glands, Schechter says. In addition, he notes, the flavonoids in ginkgo are potent free radical scavengers.
Also known in Chinese as ma huang, ephedra may be the world's oldest herb cultivated for medicinal purposes, dating back nearly 5,000 years, says McQuade-Crawford. It's commonly used in cold formulas as a decongestant.
"Ephedra is a great bronchial dilator," McQuade-Crawford says. It helps asthma sufferers by opening the sinus passages and has an antihistamine effect which aids chronic and acute allergies. Ephedra also acts as a circulatory stimulant to blood pressure and heart function; it elevates blood pressure. Ephedra's main constituent is ephedrine, which increases adrenaline secretion in our bodies. The boost you get from ephedra stimulates certain glands, muscles and tissue functions, while it suppresses others.
"In the long term, ephedra's adrenaline overdrive can lead to chronic stress and even to degenerative disease," warns McQuade-Crawford. She notes this is important for people using ephedra for dietary weight loss or "pep pill" purposes because the effects of ephedra linger in the body long after the herb is gone. "Ephedra shouldn't be used with drugs for the heart or for the lungs and never with antidepressant drugs. It's not for use with the weak or the ill and when used long term, dosages should be conservative," McQuade-Crawford cautions.
Licorice has been most recently researched as an antiviral and in the treatment of gastrointestinal ulceration, explains McQuade-Crawford. Its soothing, anti-inflammatory and relaxing actions help smooth muscles in the gastrointestinal tract on contact. "Licorice gets into a painful, contracted, tight digestive tract and coats the raw places, relaxes the clenched-up muscles and acts as a local anti-inflammatory," she says. Licorice also increases bile secretion. Licorice is indicated for any gastrointestinal ulcers, including mouth ulcers. The root is indicated for chronic coughs and bronchitis as a soothing decongestant. It's also indicated in small amounts to reduce sugar cravings.
The Chinese often use licorice to improve the taste and the effects of other herbs in complex formulas. Japanese research has shown licorice to decrease high testosterone levels in women with ovarian cysts and to increase their fertility. Large amounts of licorice or long-term use raises blood pressure in some people.
A strong antioxidant, bilberry benefits your circulatory system, eyes, heart and brain, and helps generate overall good health, says Schechter. Bilberry fruit contains a type of flavonoid called anthocyanosides, which are responsible for increasing flexibility of capillaries and increasing blood flow.
Research shows that standardized extract of bilberry can enlarge range of vision and improve sharpness of images, enhance ability to focus, and improve blurred vision, eyestrain and nearsightedness. Bilberry extract also helps strengthen coronary arteries and helps prevent atherosclerosis and venous insufficiency, which causes swollen ankles and feet. "Since adding bilberry to my own health program, I've noticed my muscles seem to recover slightly faster, I experience less muscular pain and my vision has improved from 20/100 to approximately 20/50," says Schechter.
Decades of research prove echinacea's value for aiding the immune system, Schechter explains. Studies have determined echinacea's ability to activate white blood cells and stimulate the regeneration of the cellular connective tissue and the epidermis. Schechter notes that echinacea's infection-fighting properties stem from its ability to neutralize a harmful enzyme involved in the infection process. Echinacea also increases two vital components of your immune system that consume and eliminate invading organisms and foreign particles.
German studies have shown echinacea extract contains proteins that help protect noninfected cells against viral infections, one reason why echinacea is regarded as an influenza preventor. Another German study found echinacea effective in allergy treatment because it helps prevent tissue inflammation due to harmful foreign toxins.
"I consider standardized milk thistle seed extract the most beneficial herbal product for liver detoxification, regeneration and protection, and, in general, one of the most universally necessary herbal products for the 1990s," says Schechter. He notes that the stress of toxins from chemical pollutants, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, tobacco smoke, drugs and different forms of radiation have cumulative side effects that need to be addressed.
More than 120 scientific studies have shown that milk thistle extract regenerates, regulates and strengthens liver functions. Because free radicals attack the liver, primarily the fat tissue in the liver, the antioxidant qualities of milk thistle are extremely beneficial. Milk thistle stimulates your body to produce superoxide dismutase, which is one of two primary antioxidants the body can manufacture.
Astragalus has been used as an immunity booster in China for nearly 4,000 years, according to Rob McCaleb, founder of the Herb Research Foundation in Boulder, Colo. Astragalus extracts can increase immune system efficiency by increasing immune activity. One study found that astragalus extracts could increase the impaired immune function of blood cells up to and sometimes beyond normal cell ability.
According to Planetary Herbology (Lotus Press) by Michael Tierra, N.D., astragalus helps strengthen digestion, raise metabolism, strengthen the immune system and promote wound healing. It can also treat chronic weakness of the lungs, shortness of breath, low energy, prolapse of internal organs, spontaneous sweating, chronic lesions and deficiency edema.
Ginseng is one of the most widely studied herbs, having been the subject of more than 3,000 scientific studies to investigate how ginseng helps improve a person's physical and/or mental performance, notes McCaleb. Studies have shown ginseng helps increase memory and learning by improving circulation. It's also been shown to reduce cholesterol and protect the liver from toxins. Ginseng, according to Tierra, is known to strengthen the lungs, nourish body fluids and calm the spirit. It may be used for shock, collapse and heart weakness, as well as for promoting longevity and increasing resistance to disease.
A Japanese study showed cancerous liver cells could be reverted to normal cells in a Petri dish culture when treated with Panax ginseng extract. Siberian ginseng has also been shown to stimulate the immune system.
The berries of this flowering shrub are best used for the heart, says McQuade-Crawford. Hawthorn aids the heart's pumping action by opening the coronary arteries to nourish the heart muscle. The herb can also slow a rapid heart rate and strengthen a failing heart. Hawthorn usually lowers high blood pressure, especially a raised diastolic high blood pressure, and it benefits low blood pressure due to weak heart muscles with arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm).
"Hawthorn takes a long time to do its best -- six months or longer. In the style of a true herbal tonic, it can be taken safely and effectively over time for its best effects," notes McQuade-Crawford.
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Elderberry (Sambucus nigra [Latin]), also called elder flower, is a tree that bears cream-colored flowers followed by dark purple berries in autumn. Elderberry trees are native to Europe, but have been naturalized to the Americas, and have a long history of medicinal use, particularly in England, where it is commonly used to make elderberry wine and pies, and was once referred to as “nature’s medicine chest.”
Elderberry has been traditionally used for to relieve pain, inflammation, water retention, and congestion. All parts of the elderberry tree, including the bark, flowers, and leaves, have been used in herbal medicine. Elderberry leaves are added to topical creams and sitz baths to treat inflammatory disorders, such as arthritis, boils, and eczema. Aged elderberry bark has been used to treat water retention and constipation, and to induce vomiting.
However, it is the flowers and berries of this tree that are most often used medicinally. Elderberries contain flavonoids, which are natural chemical substances that give food their taste and color; they also boost the immune system, and supply the body with antioxidant protection. Elderberry may be effective in treating some diseases related to a depressed immune system, and preliminary studies have shown it may be effective against some viruses, including herpes and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Elderberry is one of the most effective herbs for preventing and treating upper respiratory infections. Laboratory studies have shown that elderberry reduces excessive sinus mucus secretion, and some studies also suggest that elderberry can help lessen swelling of mucous membranes, improve sinus drainage, and decreased nasal congestion in those with bacterial sinusitis. The combination herbal product Sinupret, which contains elder flowers, has been used successfully to treat bronchitis. There are also commercial syrups and lozenges with elderberry extract available for treatment of cold or flu symptoms.
The Marijuana Conspiracy
Sacred Weeds - Amanita Muscaria
The Pharmacratic Inquisition
A very well built documentary about cannabis and drug prohibition. Does the drug prohibition work? Have a look and think for yourself.
How Weed Won The West
Big Pharma Scores Big Win: Medicinal Herbs Will Disappear in EU
Heidi Stevenson Gaia Health September 21, 2010
Big Pharma has almost reached the finish line of its decades-long battle to wipe out all competition. As of 1 April 2011—less than eight months from now—virtually all medicinal herbs will become illegal in the European Union. The approach in the United States is a bit different, but it’s having the same devastating effect. The people have become nothing more than sinks for whatever swill Big Pharma and Agribusiness choose to send our way, and we have no option but to pay whatever rates they want.
Big Pharma and Agribusiness have almost completed their march to take over every aspect of health, from the food we eat to the way we care for ourselves when we’re ill. Have no doubt about it: this takeover will steal what health remains to us.
It Begins Next April Fools Day
In the nastiest April Fool’s Joke of all time, the European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products (THMPD) was enacted back on 31 March 2004.(1) It laid down rules and regulations for the use of herbal products that had previously been freely traded.
This directive requires that all herbal preparations must be put through the same kind of procedure as pharmaceuticals. It makes no difference whether a herb has been in common use for thousands of years. The costs for this are far higher than most manufacturers, other than Big Pharma, can bear, with estimates ranging from £80,000 to £120,000 per herb, and with each herb of a compound having to be treated separately.
It matters not that a herb has been used safely and effectively for thousands of years. It will be treated as if it were a drug. Of course, herbs are far from that. They’re preparations made from biological sources. They aren’t necessarily purified, as that can change their nature and efficacy, just as it can in food. It’s a distortion of their nature and the nature of herbalism to treat them like drugs. That, of course, makes no difference in the Big Pharma-ruled edifice of the EU, which has enshrined corporatism in its constitution.
Dr. Robert Verkerk of the Alliance for Natural Health, International (ANH) describes the problem of requiring drug-like compliance on herbal preparations:
Getting a classical herbal medicine from a non-European traditional medicinal culture through the EU registration scheme is akin to putting a square peg into a round hole. The regulatory regime ignores and thus has not been adapted to the specific traditions. Such adaptation is required urgently if the directive is not to discriminate against non-European cultures and consequently violate human rights.(2)
To best understand how this can be happening, one needs to see that trade laws have been at the center of the moves to place all aspects of food and medicine under the control of Big Pharma and Agribusiness.
If you’ve followed what’s been happening in the United States regarding raw milk and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) claims that foods magically become drugs when health claims are made, you may have noted that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been part of the process.
Rather than treating food and traditional medicines as human rights issues, they have been treated as trade issues. That makes the desires of large corporations the focus of food and herbal law, rather than the needs and desires of people. It’s this twisting that has resulted in the FDA’s making outrageously absurd statements, such as claiming that Cheerios and walnuts quite literally become drugs simply because of health claims made for them.
The goal of it all is to make the world safe for the megacorporations to trade freely. The needs and health of the people simply are not a factor in their considerations.
How to Fight This Encroachment on Our Health and Welfare
It’s not a done-deal, at least, not quite. If you value your access to herbs, or if you care about access to vitamins and other supplements, please take action. Even if these issues seem meaningless to you, consider the people who do care. Should they be denied the right to the medical treatment and health maintenance of their choice?
The ANH has been active in fighting these encroachments. They are currently going to court in an attempt to stop the implementation of THMPD. We can hope that they’ll succeed, but recent history shows that no legal maneuver is likely to stop this juggernaut. We cannot afford to sit back and wait for the results of their efforts. We need to see their endeavor as part of a whole, one in which each of us plays a role.
It’s up to us—each and every one of us—to take action. If you live in Europe, please, send a letter or message to your Member of European Parliament. Go to this page to find out who is your MEP and the contact information. Then, send a letter that states, in no uncertain terms, that you strongly support the ANH’s actions in trying to suspend the implementation of THMPD and that you hope they will also take a stand in support of the people’s right to choose herbal treatments.
If you find it difficult to write such a letter, click here for a sample (in the universal .rtf format) suggested by ANH. Feel free to use it.
Try to imagine facing your children or grandchildren when they ask why you didn’t. How will you tell them that you really weren’t that interested in their welfare? How will you tell them that it was more important to watch the latest fake reality show on television than to take the time to write a simple letter?
It is only by actively protesting that this travesty against our welfare can be stopped. If we sit back in apathy, then it will happen. Our right to protect our health and that of our children is hanging in the balance. If you care for your child’s or grandchild’s welfare, then you must act. Speak out, for now is the moment of truth. You can sit back and do nothing, or you can speak out.
And then, once you have, talk to everyone you know. Tell them that it’s time to act. There truly is no time to waste.
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Rhodiola rosea (Golden Root, Roseroot, Aaron's Rod) is a plant in the Crassulaceae family that grows in cold regions of the world. These include much of the Arctic, the mountains of Central Asia, the Rocky Mountains, and mountainous parts of Europe, such as the Alps, Pyrenees, Carpathian Mountains, Scandinavia, Iceland, Great Britain and Ireland. The perennial plant grows in areas up to 2280 meters elevation. Several shoots grow from the same thick root. Shoots reaches 5 to 35 cm in height. Rhodiola rosea is dioecious – having separate female and male plants.Rhodiola rosea may be effective for improving mood and alleviating depression. Pilot studies on human subjects showed that it improves physical and mental performance, and may reduce fatigue.
Rhodiola rosea's effects are potentially mediated by changes in serotonin and dopamine levels due to monoamine oxidase inhibition and its influence on opioid peptides such as beta-endorphins, although these specific neurochemical mechanisms have not been clearly documented with scientific studies.
Rhodiola is included among a class of plant derivatives called adaptogens which differ from chemical stimulants, such as nicotine, and do not have the same physiological effects.
In Russia and Scandinavia, Rhodiola rosea has been used for centuries to cope with the cold Siberian climate and stressful life. Such effects were provided with evidence in laboratory models of stress using the nematode C. elegans, and in rats in which Rhodiola effectively prevented stress-induced changes in appetite, physical activity,Rhodiola rosea contains a variety of compounds that may contribute to its effects, including the class of rosavins which include rosavin, rosarin, and rosin. Several studies have suggested that the most active components are likely to be rhodioloside and tyrosol, with other components being inactive when administered alone, but showing synergistic effects when a fixed combination of rhodioloside, rosavin, rosarin and rosin was used.
Although rosavin, rosarin, rosin and salidroside (and sometimes p-tyrosol, rhodioniside, rhodiolin and rosiridin) are among suspected active ingredients of Rhodiola rosea, these compounds are mostly polyphenols for which no physiological effect in humans is proved to prevent or reduce risk of disease.
UPDATED NOV 06, 2015
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