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”

Herb: Licorice Root

Licorice-Root-FieldandHerbsLicorice Root

Most licorice root grows in Greece, Turkey, and Asia.  Licorice is harvested from the plants’ roots and underground stems. Licorice supplements are available as capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts. Centuries ago, licorice root was used in Greece, China, and Egypt for stomach inflammation and upper respiratory problems. Anise oil is often used instead of licorice root to flavor licorice candy. Licorice root also has been used as a sweetener. Today, people use licorice root as a dietary supplement for digestive problems, menopausal symptoms, cough, and bacterial and viral infections. People also use it as a shampoo. Continue reading “Herb: Licorice Root”

Herb: Elderberry

 

Elderberry-FieldandHerbsElderberry

Elderberry, also known as sambucus, are small bluish-black berries that grow in clusters on a shrubby bush. Not to be confused with blueberries, elderberries are native to parts of North America and have been a staple in folk medicine for centuries.

Elderberries have been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years as an immune supporter and cough suppressant. Elderberries are an excellent source of vitamins A, B, and C, and could support immune function year-round. Bioflavonoids present in elderberries could soothe inflammation and irritation of the throat, acting as an all-natural sore throat soother and making elderberries a popular ingredient in many over-the-counter medications and cough drops. Elderberries could support immune function with their high levels of antioxidant properties and vitamin C. Potent levels of vitamin A and anthocyanins in elderberries could improve skin health and encourage production of collagen. Continue reading “Herb: Elderberry”

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”

Tree: Cinnamon

Cinnamon-FieldandHerbsCinnamon is a familiar kitchen spice used around the world, adding fragrance and warmth to everything from oatmeal to curries. What many don’t realize is it is also used for its powerful medicinal properties.

Cinnamon is actually the bark of fast-growing trees, members of the laurel family, native to Sri Lanka and India. The bark is harvested from young shoots that sprout from the stumps of the trees, which are cut back every couple of years. The bark is high in essential oils, coumarins, tannins, and other chemical constituents that help define its medicinal uses. Continue reading “Tree: Cinnamon”

Herb: Lemon Balm

 

Lemon-Balm-Melissa-Officialis-FieldandHerbs-labeledLemon Balm

The lemon balm plant (Melissa officinalis) originated in southern Europe and is now found throughout the world. The lemony smell and pretty white flowers of the plant have led to its widespread cultivation in gardens. The leaves, stems, and flowers of lemon balm are used medicinally.

How It Works

The terpenes, part of the pleasant smelling volatile oil from lemon balm, are thought to produce this herb’s relaxing and gas-relieving (carminative) effects. Flavonoids, phenolic acids, and other compounds appear to be responsible for lemon balm’s anti-herpes and thyroid-regulating actions. Test tube studies have found that lemon balm blocks attachment of antibodies to the thyroid cells that cause Grave’s disease (hyperthyroidism). The brain’s signal to the thyroid (thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH) is also blocked from further stimulating the excessively active thyroid gland in this disease. However, clinical trials proving lemon balm’s effectiveness in treating Grave’s disease are lacking. Continue reading “Herb: Lemon Balm”

Herb: Eleuthero Root

 

eleuthero-root-fieldandherbs-labeledEleuthero Root

Eleuthero belongs to the Araliaceae family and is a distant relative of Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). Also known commonly as touch-me-not and devil’s shrub, eleuthero has been most frequently nicknamed Siberian ginseng in this country. Eleuthero is native to the Taiga region of the Far East (southeastern part of Russia, northern China, Korea, and Japan). The root and the rhizomes (underground stem) are used medicinally. Continue reading “Herb: Eleuthero Root”

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”