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Herbs 1: The Original Health Builders and Healers

This is not a Herbal. It does not pretend to be exhaustive - there are very many wonderful Herbals out there on the net. It is simply a compilation of a number of good herbs I have found useful for myself and other people I have helped. I hope it gives you some inspiration.

Aloe Vera - Guarana

Biochemistry is beginning to confirm the historical use of herbs to assist specific ailments. Plants have been found to contain many natural substances which act as antioxidants to scavenge damaging free radicals in the body. For example, carotenoids and flavonoids, which are now recognised as powerful scavengers, are responsible for the wide range of plant pigments found in leaves, fruits and berries.

Many of the medicinal actions of herbs are now known to be directly related to their flavonoid content. Different flavonoids have been shown to have a preference for specific tissues. Research is uncovering the connections between the flavonoid contents of particular herbs and their historical use to treat a specific organ or condition. Milk Thistle, Ginkgo Biloba, Bilberry and Hawthorn Berries are cases in point. See below, and check out Antioxidants for more about the importance of antioxidants.


Aloe Vera: The first aid plant - it cleans, soothes and heals. Promotes removal of dead skin and stimulates the normal growth of living cells. Reduces chance of infection and scarring while helping the healing process. The main ingredient in this process is ALLANTOIN. See also HERE. Aloe Vera contains enzymes which aid the digestive process and a 3% saponifying (detergent) agent which cleanses and improves digestion in the liver, small intestine and colon. In addition it contains 18 of the 22 amino acids used by the body. Available in liquid and gel forms. Useful for arthritis, gout, peptic ulcers, digestive problems; externally - cuts and abrasions, burns and stings, scalds, psoriasis, varicose veins, scar removal.
Note: Should not be taken as a laxative during pregnancy.

Angelica: For digestive troubles, including colic and heartburn. One of the best herbs for relieving colic. Reduces gas in the intestines and increases production of urine. Improves functioning of liver and spleen. A tonic to improve wellbeing and mental harmony. High in estrogen, which tends to stimulate all the glands. Stimulant for vital organs - heart, liver, lungs and brain.

Bilberry: Active especially in collagen structures. Helps with capillary fragility, encephalic circulation disorders, venous insufficiency, varicose veins, poor night vision, inflammatory or degenerative conditions involving the connective tissues, such as osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, periodontal disease. Its flavonoid component works with hawthorn and ginkgo and is non-toxic. Its anthocyanosides possess significant collagen-stabilising action and can cross-link collagen fibres, reinforcing the natural crosslinking that forms the collagen matrix of connective tissue. Prevents free radical damage. Prevents the release and synthesis of histamines, prostaglandins and other inflammatory compounds. Historically used for scurvy, urinary infections and kidney stones. Bilberry also has an affinity for the eyes and has traditionally been used for eye health. Research has confirmed bilberry's action in speeding up the eyes' adjustment to light fluctuations, improving vision in dim light, and reducing sensitivity to glare.

Black Cohosh: Tonic for central nervous system. Contains natural estrogen, helps in hot flashes, contracts the uterus and increases menstrual flow when sluggish. Loosens and expels mucous of the bronchial tubes and stimulates secretions of the liver, kidneys and lymph glands. Has the ability to neutralise poisons in the bloodstream and helps uric acid and toxic wastes in the body. Contains: Effective quantities of calcium, potassium,, magnesium, iron; some vit A, B5, inositol, silicon and phosphorus.

Cayenne: Strong stimulant, producing a natural warmth and improving circulation. The best and purest stimulant in the herb kingdom. The supreme and harmless internal disinfectant. Antispasmodic, gives relief to all types of fevers.

Celery: Diuretic. Acid neutraliser. Stimulates kidney function and the excretion of uric acid. Widely used for relief of arthritic pain, rheumatism and related conditions. Useful for headaches when taken as a tea. Produces perspiration and is useful for nervousness. Relaxing, calming.

Damiana: Aphrodisiac and nerve tonic. Strengthens reproductive organs, helps balance the hormones in women. Increases sperm count in the male. One of the most popular and safest of all plants claimed to restore sexual capacities and functions. Especially beneficial for an exhausted state of the body and of the vital powers of the system.

Devil's Claw Root: Anti-inflammatory and analgesic action. Extensively proven to have healing powers in arthritis, rheumatism, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, and liver, kidney and bladder diseases. Cleanses sytem of toxic impurities, especially lymph and blood.

Dong Quai: Naturally high in plant estrogens - rebalances monthly cycle by bringing harmony to the hormones. Analgesic power twice that of aspirin. Smooth muscle relaxing action. Stabilises blood sugar levels.

Echinacea: Strong healing properties, based on its ability to stimulate the response of the immune system especially to allergies and upper respiratory problems such as hayfever, catarrh and infections. Antibacterial. Improves lymphatic filtration and drainage and helps remove toxins from the blood: the king of blood purifiers. Good for enlargement and weakness of the prostate.

Equisetum: Silicic acid the most important ingredient - aids circulation and hastens healing of fractured bones. Used for urinary tract disorders, especially lower urinary tract - diuretic. Relieves pain of rheumatic diseases and gout. Women's health.

Euphrasia: Eyebright - this name was given to the plant by the ancient Greeks in recognition of the clear look it gives to sore and irritated eyes. A salve for sore eyes. Mildly anti-inflammatory, as well as antiseptic and astringent. Can be obtained in the form of eye drops, as well as in tincture form for internal use. Stimulates liver to clean the blood and relieve the conditions that affect clarity of vision and thought. Strengthens all parts of the eye and provides elasticity to the nerves and optic devices responsible for sight. (See also Bilberry above)

Evening Primrose Oil: Provides Gamma Linoleic Acid, and EFA necessary for the production of prostaglandins. These control many of the body's most complex biochemical functions, including the inflammatory processes associated with some forms of joint discomfort and the menstrual cycle. The biosynthesis of prostaglandins also requires other special nutrients including vitamins and minerals.

False Unicorn: Excellent overall tonic. Useful to mucous membranes and a delicate stomach. Stimulates reproductive organs in men and women. Important for menopausal problems because of its effect on uterine disorders, headaches and depression.

Feverfew: Anti-inflammatory action. Reduces painful effects of headaches and other conditions. Continual claims by migraine sufferers that feverfew helps relieve their attacks led to a clinical study in Britain which concluded in favour of the herb's use for this purpose. A further study found it beneficial for arthritic pain in that it inhibits the secretion of certain leucocyte granules (polymorphonuclear leucocyte -PMN- granules) which have a damaging effect on inflamed joints and the skin.

Garlic: Contains active sulphur compounds which are antibacterial and also stimulate the body's immune response. Lowers blood fat levels, especially cholestrol. Provides many essential nutrients and is a rich source of vitamins and minerals including trace elements such as germanium and selenium which the body requires for a healthy immune system.

Ginger: General tonic for nerves and digestive organs. Stimulating, warming, aromatic, digestive. Tends to excite the glands to action. Loosens mucous and gas conditions. Helpful in travel sickness.

Ginkgo Biloba: Chief action is in increasing blood circulation. Increases flow of blood and nutrients to the brain, thereby improving memory, thinking processes, memory span, eye and hearing weaknesses. Improves brain efficiency. Powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger. Protects small blood vessels against spasm and loss of tone. Aids vascular insufficiency, chronic cerebral arterial insufficiency, peripheral arterial insufficiency. Increases cellular glucose uptake. Inhibits platelet aggregation. Improves transmission of nerve signals. Relaxing. Has beneficial effect on women's health. Beneficial for short-term memory loss, vertigo, headache, tinnitus, lack of vigilance, depression, claudications, blueness of hands and feet, phlebitis. Pharmacological activity is due to content of terpenes flavonoids, proanthocynadins and ginkgo heterosides (flavoglycosides). Is rapidly absorbed and accumulated in the thyroid, adrenals and central nervous system. Half life of approximately 3 hrs.
Note: It is unwise to take Ginkgo Biloba if you are already taking any form of chemical blood-thinning agent.

Gotu Kola: The longevity plant. Has a marked energizing effect on the cells of the brain, and can help preserve it indefinitely. The leaves are not necessarily a stimulant, but they are a brain food. Increases physical energy. Said to increase the span of life by helping develop a brain that is incapable of breaking down. The elephant food.

Green Tea: Digestive aid. Possibly a potent weapon in the war against chronic disease (US Health Foundation study). Contains substances that may lower blood pressure and blood cholestrol levels, stabilise blood sugar levels, kill decay-causing bacteria, block the action of many carcinogens and inhibit the growth of cancerous tumours. Slows down reproduction of leukaemia virus and HIV virus. Has beneficial effect on hangovers.

Guarana: High potency body tonic that works on rebalancing the body's energy flow. Imparts a natural energy and vitality along with intense feelings of well-being but is also soothing, pain-relieving and calming. Stimulates brain function and is thought to improve intellectual activity and alertness.

Specific Herbal Glandular Agents: Bladderwrack; borage; bugleweed; ginseng; goats rue; liquorice; wild yam.
Thyroid (overactive): Bugleweed, nettles, valerian; yarrow.
Thyroid (underactive): Bladderwrack; damiana; kola; nettles; oats; wormwood.
Adrenals: Borage; ginseng; liquorice; wild yam.
Endocrine Glands:The bitters, together with the alternatives to cleanse and promote proper blood functions. The best bitters for the glandular system are golden seal; mugwort; rue; wormwood; yarrow. Useful alternatives are sarsaparilla; burdock; cleavers; red clover.

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Note: The above information is offered not as a prescription or in place of proper medical care, but as a report on research findings which may be of interest. In cases of sickness, the attention and care of a nutritionally aware health professional are essential.


Resources:
(Note: Click on the title for more info about obtaining these books)
"The Healing Power of Herbs" May Bethel - Wilshire Book Co, US.
"The Holistic Herbal" David Hoffmann - Element Books, UK.
"The Illustrated Herbal Handbook" Juliette de Bairacli Levy - Faber & Faber, UK.
"Today's Herbal Health" Louise Tenney - Woodland Books Australasia, Aust.
"Can You Remember What to Take?" J Priest - Healthy Options Ltd, NZ.
"Pocket Guide to Your Herbal Medicine Chest" Nancy Evelyn

Some Great Sites to Visit

Raintree Nutrition

Two Great New Zealand Sites


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