Category Archives: Herbal Health

5 Things You Need to Know About the Health Benefits of Quinoa.

Apr 26, 2011 | By Sonya Welter

1. The Gold of the Incas

Over 5,000 years ago, high in the Andes mountains, the Incas began to cultivate quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) as one of their staple crops, believing that it gave power and stamina to their warriors. Quinoa was also used in their ceremonial rituals. When Spanish conquistadors arrived in South America in the sixteenth century, they burned and destroyed the quinoa fields as part of the effort to annihilate Inca culture. But quinoa survived by growing wild in the mountains or by being cultivated in secret in small quantities. In the 1980s, two North Americans stumbled upon this ancient, super-nutritious food and began cultivating it near Boulder, Colorado. Since then, quinoa’s popularity has exploded worldwide.
2. Getting to Know Quinoa

Although it is cooked and eaten like a grain, quinoa is technically a seed, and is related to spinach, chard and beets. It grows best in mountainous regions, 10 thousand feet or more above sea level, and thrives in poor soil, thin air and extreme weather. Quinoa stalks are 3 to 6 feet tall, and each plant can produce up to a cup of seeds! The seeds are round, about the same size of millet or sesame seeds, and come in a rainbow of colors, from red to purple to green to yellow, but the quinoa that is most commonly found in stores is an off-white color. Look for quinoa in the bulk section of natural food stores, or in the organic section of conventional supermarkets.

3. A Complete Protein and so Much More

Quinoa is a complete protein, which means that it contains all the amino acids necessary for our nutritional needs. Complete proteins are rare in the plant world, making quinoa an excellent food for vegetarians and vegans, or for anyone looking for healthy protein source. It’s also high in iron and calcium, and is a good source of manganese, magnesium and copper, as well as fiber.

4. Cooking With Quinoa

Most commercially available quinoa has already been cleaned, but you should still give it a thorough rinsing before cooking to be sure to remove any remaining saponins, a soapy resin that protects the seeds while they are growing, but can impart a bitter taste if not removed. Combine one cup rinsed quinoa to two cups water or broth, bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the seeds become translucent and the germ of the seed uncoils to form a little “tail.” Quinoa has a light, slightly nutty taste and a fluffy texture. It makes a tasty porridge or casserole and can be added to soups and stews.

5. The Gluten-free Grain of Choice

Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, making it an excellent food for celiac patients or other people following a gluten-free diet. Quinoa flour is great for baking cookies, breads and muffins, and quinoa flakes are a perfect substitute for oatmeal.

* Source LiveStrong.com

Note:  I will be posting more on this amazing SuperFood…

Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera)

Ashwagandha, one of the most vital herbs in Ayurvedic healing, has been used since ancient times for a wide variety of conditions, but is most well known for its restorative benefits. In Sanskrit ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse,” indicating that the herb imparts the vigor and strength of a stallion, and it has traditionally been prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system after an illness. In fact, it’s frequently referred to as “Indian ginseng” because of its rejuvenating properties (although botanically, ginseng and ashwagandha are unrelated). In addition, ashwagandha is also used to enhance sexual potency for both men and women. Ashwagandha

Belonging to the same family as the tomato, ashwagandha (or Withania somnifera in Latin) is a plump shrub with oval leaves and yellow flowers. It bears red fruit about the size of a raisin. The herb is native to the dry regions of India, northern Africa, and the Middle East, but today is also grown in more mild climates, including in the United States.

Scientific Research

Ashwagandha contains many useful medicinal chemicals, including withanolides, (steroidal lactones), alkaloids, choline, fatty acids, amino acids, and a variety of sugars. While the leaves and fruit have valuable therapeutic properties, the root of the ashwagandha plant is the part most commonly used in Western herbal remedies.

Medical researchers have been studying ashwagandha with great interest and as of this date have carried out 216 studies of its healing benefits, summarized below:

  • confers immune system protection
  • combats the effects of stress
  • improves learning, memory, and reaction time
  • reduces anxiety and depression without causing drowsiness
  • stabilizes blood sugar
  • lowers cholesterol
  • reduces brain-cell degeneration
  • contains anti-malarial properties
  • offers anti-inflammatory benefits

Some studies have also found that ashwagandha inhibits the growth of cancer cells in small animals, but further research is needed to determine whether the herb prevents the development of tumors in human beings.

Practical Uses and Precautions

The usual recommended dose is 600 to 1000 mg, twice daily. For people who suffer from insomnia and anxiety, having a cup of hot milk that contains a teaspoon of powdered ashwagandha before bedtime is beneficial. In extremely large doses, ashwagandha has been reported to induce abortions in animals. Although no similar studies have been carried out on humans, women should avoid the herb during pregnancy.

*Taken from TheChopraCenter

Green Tea

Green Tea Benefits.

Green tea has been the focus of exciting studies indicating its effectiveness in raising metabolism for weight loss and preventing & fighting cancer and other disease with its super antioxidants. It has a long list of potential health benefits and is used to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, boost the immune system, prevent ulcers, control inflammation, viral colds and flu, prevents gum disease, cavities, and bad breath. It also been indicated for lowering cholesterol, preventing heart disease, osteoporosis and blood clots.

Green Tea is well-established as a potent source of healing antioxidants called polyphenols, the same beneficial compounds found in fruits and vegetables and even in red wine. The leaf also boasts the presence of a superstar antioxidant called EGCG (epigallocatechin-gallate) as well as other notable healing substances including fluoride, catechins, and tannins.

Tannins are thought to help the body discharge toxins due to pollution and to accelerate the metabolism of fats.

Chemical analysis has revealed that green tea contains significant amounts of water-soluble vitamins and minerals, particularly zinc, manganese, potassium, niacin, folic acid and vitamin C. In fact, one cup of green tea has more vitamin C than an orange. Researchers at the University of Kansas attributed green tea with 100 times the antioxidant strength of vitamin C, and 25 times that of vitamin E. A United States Department of Agriculture study found that the antioxidant capacity of green tea is better than twenty-two various fruits and vegetables.

It aids in treating high cholesterol, high triglycerides, hypertension, and stimulates immune functions. Green Tea may actually lower the risks for arteriosclerosis. Research has shown that it guards against cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol levels, improving the ratio of LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol, reduces platelet aggregation (clumping or clotting of blood cells), and lowers blood pressure.

This herb eases mental fatigue and has been used in treating digestive tract infections. The Chinese often use it to treat migraine headaches. It can also help to prevent plaque buildup on the teeth, and since the leaves contain a natural fluoride, may be helpful in preventing tooth decay (taken bitter, NO SUGAR). It can help to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. Swiss researchers even have preliminary evidence that green tea accelerates the burning of fat calories in people who are overweight.

A small but interesting 1999 study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported increased energy expenditure and fat oxidation in men who took a green tea extract as opposed to a placebo or caffeine alone.

Green tea may help to:Lose Weight

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted a study in which it was found that green tea extract significantly increased energy expenditure (a measure of metabolism), and fat oxidation. The researchers felt that this study had wonderful implications for weight control. The study indicated a nearly 40% increase in daytime thermogenesis. In other words, dieters would burn 40% more fat during the day with Green Tea Extract.

Prevent cancer

The antioxidant EGCG sets in motion a process called apoptosis. Interestingly, the cell death that ensues only affects cancer cells, not healthy ones. EGCG may well enhance the body’s natural antioxidant system as well, encouraging the elimination of damaging oxygen molecules called free radicals.

Hasan Mukhtar, Ph.D., professor at Case Western Reserve University and a prominent researcher in this area, believes there is “a strong indication that green tea is protective for prostate as well as esophageal and stomach cancers.”

Japanese men, who commonly drink four to six cups of green tea daily, have a significantly lower mortality rate from prostate cancer than Westerners. And the incidence of prostate cancer in China, whose population consumes green tea regularly, is the lowest in the world. Evidence from a growing number of animal and lab studies suggests that green tea may be protecting these men against prostate cancer. A Mayo Clinic study found that the main polyphenol in green tea, called EGCG, inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells and in high concentrations destroys them. Scientists at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland reported that green tea polyphenols inhibit an enzyme that is over-expressed in prostate cancer, indicating that green tea might be effective in prostate cancer prevention. And a preliminary study by Japanese researchers at Kobe University showed that mice fed a green tea extract and then injected with a substance that causes prostate cancer were less likely to grow tumors than control animals.

In a large-scale study of more than 35,000 post-menopausal Iowa women (American Journal of Epidemiology, 7/96), those who drank two or more cups of tea daily were less likely to develop cancers of the urinary or digestive tract.

One large-scale study in China found that people who drank as little as one cup of green tea a week for six months had a reduced risk of developing certain kinds of cancers (rectal, pancreatic, and others) than did people who drank green tea less frequently or not at all. Other preliminary research indicates that green tea can help to combat breast, stomach, and skin cancer.

Scientists have even discovered that applying green tea to the skin can help cure and prevent some forms of skin cancer and other skin disorders, protect the skin from both long-term and short-term damage from the Sun’s ultraviolet rays and act as an antibacterial agent when applied to skin infections.

Evidence from the Nurses’ Health Study suggests that green tea beverage consumption is associated with a lower incidence of breast cancer, lung cancer, and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. In a physiologic study, green tea beverages drunk with meals inhibited the development of nitrosomines (carcinogenic compounds) in human volunteers.

Treat Arthritis

Antioxidants in green tea may prevent and reduce the severity of osteoarthritis. Studies have shown that if you consume approximately four cups of green tea a day you may be able to protect yourself from developing arthritis, and if you already have arthritis, consuming green tea can help to diminish the inflammation it causes.

In an animal study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 1999, researchers found that polyphenols, the antioxidants found in green tea, reduced the likelihood of developing a type of arthritis similar to human rheumatoid arthritis. Not only was the polyphenol group less likely to develop arthritis but, in those who did develop the condition, the disease occurred later and was milder than that which occurred in the water-drinking group. Of 18 animals drinking polyphenols, only eight developed arthritis, compared with 17 of 18 mice in the control group. According to the investigators: “Based on our data, it is tempting to suggest that green tea in general, and the polyphenols present therein in particular, may prove to be a useful supplement/addition with other agents for the treatment of arthritis.”

Green Tea Herb Information / Side Effects

Latin Name: Camellia sinensis

Common Name: Green Tea

Properties: anti-viral, antioxidant, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic, analgesic, astringent, cardiotonic, digestive, nervine, and carminative.

Indicated for: Fighting Cancer, Preventing Cancer, Lowering Cholesterol, Preventing Heart Disease, Facilitates in weight loss and fat oxidation. Can reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes and several types of cancer. Helps regulate blood sugar. Prevents or lowers high blood pressure. Boosts the immune system. Helps prevent ulcers. Slows the aging process. Controls inflammation. Reduces blood cholesterol. Fights viral colds and flu. Prevents gum disease, cavities, and bad breath. Can help prevent osteoporosis and blood clots. Helps stabilize blood lipids. High triglycerides, hypertension. May actually lower the risks for arteriosclerosis. Improving the ratio of LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol. Reduces platelet aggregation

Green tea contains caffeine and as such should not be used in large quantities while pregnant or nursing or by people who are not allowed caffeine.

*Taken from HerbsWisdom

Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)

Aloe vera Benefits

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is one of the very few known natural vegetarian sources of Vitamin B12, and it contains many minerals vital to the growth process and healthy function of all the body’s systems. Numerous studies worldwide indicate that it is a general tonic for the immune system, helping it to fight illness of all kinds. Various research studies are underway to explore the potential of the components to boost immunity and combat the HIV virus, and to treat certain types of cancer (particularly leukemia). It may even have a role to play in managing diabetes.

Over 200 worldwide scientific research papers have been published on the effects. The three main categories of research include anti-inflammatory, anti- bacterial, and anti-viral actions of the plant. The juice is said to soothe digestive tract irritations such as colitis, ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. It’s ability to encourage the release of pepsin (a gastric juice enzyme necessary for digestion) when the stomach is full is a possible reason for its ulcer-healing effects (Journal of the American Osteopathic Society, 1963, vol.62). In one study, oral use for six months helped mitigate asthma symptoms in almost half of the participants. Eleven of twenty-seven patients studied who drank Aloe reported feeling better at the end of the study. Researchers think that results might be due to stimulation of the immune system, as well as naturally occurring anti-inflammatory agents in the plant.

In 1994, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Aloe vera for the treatment of HIV. On-going studies worldwide show that taken in highly concentrated doses can stimulate the production of white blood cells that may help fight viruses and also tumours.

Aloe vera contains protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins A, B12 and E, essential fatty acids and is naturally rich in:

Vitamin C which helps maintain tone of blood vessels and promotes good circulation and is essential to the health of the adrenal gland which supports our body in times of stress.

Amino acids which are chains of atoms constructing protein in our body.

Enzymes, which are the life-principle in every live, organic atom and molecule of natural raw food, rejuvenate aged tissues and promote healthy skin.

Germanium which is a mineral that some health authorities claim therapeutic benefits for: immunodeficiency, pain, cardiac disorders, circulatory disturbances and eye problems.

 The juice is said to be one of the finest body cleansers, cleaning morbid matter from the stomach, liver, kidneys, spleen, bladder, and is considered the finest, known colon cleanser. Studies have shown that it is healing and soothing in the relief of indigestion, stomach distress and ulcers. People claim relief from arthritis, bladder and kidney infections; leg cramps, constipation, hemorrhoids, insomnia, and for vaginitis, it is said to be an excellent vaginal douche. An excellent internal tonic for energy and well being Aloe juice may add greatly to the strength of the food fed, digestive tract, skin, and overall good health and happiness.

It is also used to ease heartburn, ulcers, diverticular disorders, and other types of digestive upset. It is used as an anti-inflammatory and may be taken internally as a remedy for certain digestive complaints. European folk medicine calls for using the juice to relieve heartburn and ulcers. Preliminary research has shown promising results. Clinical trials in Japan indicate that certain compounds in the herb reduce the secretion of stomach juices and the formation of lesions.

Animal studies and anecdotal reports claim that drinking the juice or taking it as a tablet or capsule can reduce swelling and inflammation in arthritic joints. Drinking the juice may also help those asthmatic patients who are not dependent on cortico-steroids.

In 1997, University of San Antonio researcher Jeremiah Herlihy, Ph.D., conducted a study to observe any negative effects of drinking it daily. Rather than exhibiting negative effects, however, test animals receiving daily Aloe showed a remarkable reduction in leukemia, heart disease, and kidney disease. Dr. Herlihy concluded, “We found no indication of harm done to the rats even at high levels.” In fact, the Aloe-drinking animals actually lived 25 percent longer than those in the control group (IASC Conference, Texas, 1997).

There is no single ingredient that makes it very potent and healthful. Researcher Robert Davis, Ph.D., an endocrinologist-biologist, explains that fifteen different compound groups of nutrients work together to make the plant effective. This means that Aloe vera’s effects cannot be synthesized easily in a laboratory. On the upside, this makes the plant useful across a wide spectrum of circumstances. And because the various elements that make it effective are nutrients rather than drugs, the juice may complement medical treatments. In fact some cancer patients state that Aloe vera seems to reduce nausea, increase energy, and may help to minimize low blood counts caused by chemotherapy or radiation.

Aloe vera may help adults, children, and even pets receive more value from daily foods and supplements.

*Taken from HerbsWisdom

Yerba Maté (Ilex paraguariensis)

Yerba Maté Benefits:

                                                         Yerba Mate

Yerba mate has been used as a beverage since the time of the ancient Indians of Brazil and Paraguay and is considered a national drink in several South American countries.

Woman’s World writer Barbara Tunick reports; “A drink from South America has hit U.S. shores-and experts say it’s the ticket for those who love the boost of coffee but hate it’s side effects.”

In addition to its standing as a popular beverage, yerba mate is used as a tonic, diuretic and as a stimulant to reduce fatigue, suppress appetite and aid gastric function in herbal medicine systems throughout South America. It also has been used as a depurative (to promote cleansing and excretion of waste). In Brazil, mate is said to stimulate the nervous and muscular systems and is used for digestive problems, renal colic, nerve pain, depression, fatigue, and obesity. It also has bitter qualities which help stimulate digestion. It has been used traditionally as a tonic, nervine, mild diuretic and stimulant.

In Europe it is used for weight loss, physical and mental fatigue, nervous depression, rheumatic pains and psychogenic and fatigue related headaches. In Germany it has become popular as a weight-loss aid. Yerba mate is the subject of a German monograph which lists its approved uses for mental and physical fatigue.

In France yerba mate is approved for the treatment of asthenia (weakness or lack of energy), as an aid in weight-loss programs and as a diuretic.

It also appears in the British Herbal Phamacopoeia (1996) and indicated for the treatment of fatigue, weight loss and headaches. In the U.S., Dr. James Balch, M.D. recommends yerba mate for arthritis, headaches, hemorrhoids, fluid retention, obesity, fatigue, stress, constipation, allergies and hay fever, and states that it “cleanses the blood, tones the nervous system, retards aging, stimulates the mind, controls the appetite, stimulates the production of cortisone and is believed to enhance the healing powers of other herbs.”

Millions of South Americans drink Mate on a daily basis where weight problems are uncommon. Researchers think that Yerba Mate may be an important factor. A couple of cups a day may just set you on the course to your goals.

Yerba Mate contains xanthines, chemicals that boost your metabolic rate by 10% and is is rich in pantothenic acid, which prevents overstimulation of the nervous system. Yerba Mate has a host of anti-oxidants that boost immunity and protect against colds and flu. Studies show it is as powerful a cell protector as vitamin C, reducing the effects of aging as well as protecting against cancer and other disease. Furthermore, researchers say that Yerba Mate is a rich source of magnesium that has been proven to ease anxiety: unlike the herbal formulas such as Metabolife that reduce appetite by overstimulating the central nervous system. Drinking 8 oz before a meal can be as effective as diet drugs in taking the edge off your appetite!

Ilex Paraguariensis (Yerba Mate)

Yerba Mate Herb Information / Side Effects

Latin Names: Ilex paraguairensis, Ilex paraguayensis Ilex paraguensis, Ilex mate, Ilex domestica, Ilex sorbilis

Common Names: Yerba mate, mate, erva mate, congonha, erveira, Paraguay cayi, Paraguay tea, South American holly, erva-verdadeira, St. Bartholomew’s tea, Jesuit’s tea, hervea.

Properties: Anti-allergy, antidepressant, appetite suppressant, astringent, bile stimulant, blood cleanser, cardiotonic, central nervous system stimulant, depurative, digestive stimulant, diuretic (mild), hypotensive, laxative (mild), nervine, neurasthenic, neuroprotective, purgative, stimulant, thermogenic, tonic, vasodilator, relieves pain, promotes perspiration, stimulates immune cells

Indicated for: Allergies, arthritis, constipation, hay fever, headaches, hemorrhoids, fatigue, fluid retention, increasing energy, obesity, stress, burning fat, cleansing the blood and bowels, toning the nervous system, retarding ageing, stimulating the mind and enhancing memory, controlling the appetite, stimulating the production of cortisone, stimulating digestion and heart.

Also In vivo and in vitro studies are showing mate to exhibit significant cancer-fighting activity. Researchers at the University of Illinois (2005) found mate to be “rich in phenolic constituents” and to “inhibit oral cancer cell proliferation”.

* Taken from “HerbsWisdom”.