Fungus: Shiitake Mushroom

Shiitake Mushroom

Medicinal mushrooms have an established history of use in traditional oriental therapies. Contemporary research has validated and documented much of the ancient knowledge. Over the last three decades, the interdisciplinary fields of science that study medicinal mushrooms has sprung up and has increasingly demonstrated the potent and unique properties of compounds extracted from a range of species. Currently, the field is being developed into a very fruitful area. Modern clinical practice in Japan, China, Korea and other Asian countries rely on mushroom-derived preparations. Mushrooms have been studied for nutritional and medical purposes for its various potential anti-tumoral and immunomodulatory components like polysaccharides that have been identified. Continue reading “Fungus: Shiitake Mushroom”

Fruit: Amla Fruit

Amla Fruit

Many holistic healers appreciate and use amla (aka Indian Gooseberry) to treat a host of diseases and promote positive health. Amla [Emblica officinalis, or emblic myrobalan], is called amalaki in Sanskrit. Amla is also used widely in combination with other two [chebulic and belleric] myrobalans [fruit-bearing plant species] as triphala. Amla is indeed, the key ingredient in the popular ayurvedic recipe, Chyavanaprasha. It is one of the oldest oriental medicines mentioned in Ayurveda as a potential remedy for various ailments. The fruit is rich in quercetin, phyllaemblic compounds, gallic acid, tannins, flavonoids, pectin and vitamin C and also contains various polyphenolic compounds. A wide range of phytochemical components including terpenoids, alkaloids, flavonoids, and tannins have been shown to posses useful biological activities. Many pharmacological studies have demonstrated the ability of the fruit to show promise as an antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, tumor reducer, and antigenotoxic. It has also been found to have anti-inflammatory activities. Continue reading “Fruit: Amla Fruit”

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”

Tree: Arjuna

Arjuna-Tree Arjuna

Terminalia arjuna (Arjuna) is a well-known medicinal extract whose bark is extensively used in ayurvedic medicine, particularly as cardiac tonic. Arjuna refers to the bark of Terminalia Arjuna; this tree is an evergreen tree that grows in Himalayan forests. Arjuna is a medicinal herb, used in Ayurveda treatment to treat numerous disorders particularly used as a cardiac tonic. Demand for Arjuna bark, both in India and abroad has been growing rapidly for over a decade. Continue reading “Tree: Arjuna”

Tree: Guggulsterone

GuggulsteronesGuggulsterone

The mukul myrrh (Commiphora mukul) tree is a small, thorny plant distributed throughout India. Guggul (aka Guggulsterone) and gum guggulu are the names given to a yellowish resin produced by the stem of the plant. This resin has been used historically and is also the source of modern extracts of guggul (aka guggulsterone).

There are about eighty species in the Commiphora genus that grow from India to Greece, but two of the most well-known are guggul (C. mukul) and myrrh (C. myrrha). Both plants produce a resin that has been used both as a perfume or incense, and as a medicine. Guggul has a long history of use in India as an aid for weight loss, as an anti-inflammatory in arthritis rheumatism, and as a remedy for skin disorders such as acne. It has also been used for neurological diseases, hemorrhoids and water retention. Continue reading “Tree: Guggulsterone”

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”