Herbs: Echinacea

Echinacea-FieldandHerbs Echinacea

Echinacea is certainly one of the most popular herbs of our times, and for good reason. It is one of the top immune-enhancing herbs, helping to build immune-system strength and to fight off disease and infection. Many herbalists and natural-medicine practitioners feel it’s the most important immune-enhancing herb in Western medicine. Echinacea has been called the “great herbal diplomat” because it, perhaps more than any other medicinal plant, rescued herbalism from its twentieth-century obscurity.  Continue reading “Herbs: Echinacea”

Plant: Garlic

 

GarlicGarlic

Garlic has been used for centuries as a culinary spice and medicinal herb. Garlic has been cultivated in the Middle East for more than 5,000 years and has been an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The region with the largest commercial garlic production is central California. China is also a supplier of commercial garlic. The bulb is used medicinally. Continue reading “Plant: Garlic”

Plant: Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne-PeppersCayenne Pepper

Taxonomists have only recently begun to agree regarding classification of the domesticated species of Capsicum. Although five species are described, only two, C. annuum and C. frutescens have any significance commercially in the U.S.A. Of the two, C. annuum is the most important domesticated species in the U.S.A. The only C. frutescens pepper of any significance is Tabasco. The Tabasco pepper is difficult to cross with C. annuum types. Hot peppers may belong to any of above species and others. The C. chinense varieties, Habanero and Scotch Bonnet, are considered the hottest. Continue reading “Plant: Cayenne Pepper”

Fruit: Grape Seed Extract

 

GrapeSeedGrape Seed Extract

The grape has a long history of medicinal uses. Ancient Egyptians treated asthma with grapes. More recently, sap from grape branches was used to treat skin issues and scrapes.

The seeds inside grapes used to be considered the worthless by-product of wine production. In the past, they were thrown out as waste. Come to find out, the seeds are extremely valuable. Instead of getting rid of them, grape seeds are in demand to create the extract. Because, let’s face it, eating fruit seeds is not enjoyable and it’s difficult for the body to digest. Continue reading “Fruit: Grape Seed Extract”

Plant: Cilantro (coriander)

CilantroCilantro

Like politics and religion, cilantro elicits strong opinions. People love it or hate it. For some, it’s an acquired taste. Even the name of the plant can be controversial. In the U.S., the leaves are called cilantro, while the seeds are called coriander. In Europe, the leaves are called coriander, while the seeds are also called coriander. To confuse matters further, cilantro leaves are also known as Chinese parsley. Continue reading “Plant: Cilantro (coriander)”

Plant: Hawthorn Berry

Hawthorn-BerriesHawthorn Berry

Hawthorn is a plant in which the leaves, berries, and flowers are all used in naturopathic medicines.  According to the Natural Medicines physicians reference, the name has a Greek derivation, Crategus, meaning “always been there”.  It is suggested that in Christianity, the hawthorn thorns formed the crown of thorns placed on Jesus’ head.

Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn) is native to Britain and Europe but is naturalized in the United States and Canada. It can be found north and east of Tennessee, up the west coast from California to Alaska, as well as in Utah, Montana and Arkansas. Local and regionally known Hawthorns are C. aestivalis (commonly known as the May Haw). Continue reading “Plant: Hawthorn Berry”

Plant: Aloe Vera

AloeVeraAloe Vera

The aloe plant originally came from Africa. The leaves, which are long, green, fleshy, and have spikes along the edges, are used medicinally. The fresh leaf gel and latex are used for many purposes. Aloe latex is the sticky residue left over after the liquid from cut aloe leaves has evaporated.

More than 200 known species of aloe exist. The term “aloe vera” translates from Arabic and Hebrew to mean a “true shining, bitter substance.” The succulent leaves are the part of the plant that’s most often used. The flower may also be used. Continue reading “Plant: Aloe Vera”

Plant: Arbinogalactan

Arabinogalactan-AG-WesternLarchArabinogalactan (AG)

What is it? Arabinogalactans have long been used as a dietary fiber and have recently been shown to significantly boost the immune system. Arabinogalactan (AG) is a unique polysaccharide, or complex carbohydrate.

Where does it come from? Arabinogalactans have been part of the human diet for thousands of years. They have been detected in seeds, leaves, roots, fruit and xylem sap of representatives of all higher plant families. Dietary sources of arabinogalactans include leek seed, carrot, radish, pear, maize, wheat, and tomato. Sources also include medicinal herbs such as Echinacea species, Baptisia tinctoria, Curcuma longa, and Angelica acutiloba, which are cultivated all over the world. Continue reading “Plant: Arbinogalactan”

Plant: Boswellia Serrata (Frankincense)

Boswellin (Boswellia serrata extract, aka Frankincense)

Boswellia is a large branching tree native to India, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. The trunk is tapped for its resin, which is purified and used in herbal preparations. The resin, known as frankincense, has been used in religious and cultural ceremonies since antiquity. This resin, or gum, also contains the primary active components, boswellic acids, used in modern herbal preparations. Clinical trials have demonstrated that boswellic acids have anti-inflammatory action similar to that of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). However, unlike NSAIDS, long-term use of boswellia does not appear to lead to irritation or ulceration of the stomach. Continue reading “Plant: Boswellia Serrata (Frankincense)”