The ancestors of humans evolved to leave the trees and walk upright approximately 4.4 million years ago. They did this to take advantage of ground level foods like the nutritious roots of plants and their teeth changed to enable them to do this. Chimpanzees were more fruit eaters whilst gorillas stayed with leaves.
The roots of plants have been consumed by humans as nutritious food and medicines ever since. Many have astonishing properties which can heal and treat most human ailments and diseases without the harmful side effects of powerful medications. They should be an important part of the daily diet but most are often neglected.
Because the roots of plants grow underground they absorb many nutrients from the soil especially minerals and then they store these nutrients which microbes and other organisms in the soil try to consume. Plants evolved in thousands of diverse shapes and structures to find sustenance, reach the sunlight, reproduce and try to evade being eaten and microbes and other organisms evolved similarly to overcome the obstacles plants placed in their way. Plants also developed antimicrobial substances to repel or kill off particular invading foragers and parasites and, when consumed, these substances have a similar effect within and upon the human body. They will destroy the microbes and parasites that also try to feed on humans.
Many roots are a prebiotic food containing carbohydrates, such as inulin, that encourages a healthy intestinal environment to benefit probiotic intestinal flora. Prebiotic is a fairly recently coined name to refer to food components that support the growth of certain kinds of bacteria in the colon (large intestine). Oligosaccharides, resistant starch and fermentable fibre feeds these bacteria who have an important influence on the rest of the body and all these can be found in root vegetables.
The human digestive system has a hard time breaking down many of these carbohydrates. Almost 90% escapes digestion in the small intestine and reaches the colon where it performs a different function: that of a prebiotic. The bacteria that reside in the colon feed on fermentable carbohydrate produce many beneficial substances, including short-chain fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin K2 and certain B vitamins. They also promote further absorption of some minerals that have escaped the small intestine, including calcium and magnesium and vitamin K2 is essential for the human body to direct calcium to the bones.
When someone takes a course of antibiotics, the beneficial colon bacteria will also be destroyed by the drug and can cause an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria and yeasts that also reside there and lead to health issues like inflammation and a leaky gut. This then allows undigested protein to escape into the blood stream. This in turn sets off the immune system to attack these foreign invading proteins and, because they are similar in structure to the body’s own tissues, the immune system may start to attack these tissues elsewhere body and cause great damage. It is therefore very important to consume root vegetables during infection to fight off the disease and after taking any antibiotic medications.
The A-Z of medicinal roots
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Little is known about this Amazonian plant but the root is known to have powerful antibiotic, antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
Ajos Sacha (Mansoa alliacea)
Due to its antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties a decoction or tincture made from the leaves or bark of the Amazonian ajos sacha plant is used for treating colds, coughs, fever and influenza. It also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can help to reduce pain, spasms and swellings and it also lowers cholesterol and fights free radicals. An alcoholic maceration of the stem and roots is also used for rheumatism.
Alisma (Alisma plantago aquatica, Alismatis rhizoma, Alisma orientale)
The alisma root has an antibacterial action on Mycobacterium (tuberculosis) and Staphylococcus and mycobacterium and is used in the treatment of oliguria, oedema, nephritis, acute diarrhoea and fatty liver. It is also useful for treating Streptococcus pneumoniae which can cause bacteremia (blood stream infection), ear infections, meningitis (infections of the brain and spinal cord), pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and sinus infections and may lead to serious complications especially for young infants and the elderly. The alisma root can lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels and it has been thought of as a cure for rabies, though this has not been substantiated. The whole plant is believed to promote conception.
The root is harvested before the plant comes into flower and is dried for later use. A homeopathic remedy is obtained from the fresh root. It is used cooked and is rich in starch. Caution is advised as the root is acrid if it is not dried or well-cooked before use.
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Alum Root (Heuchera, cranesbill root, spotted cranes bill, wild geranium, crowfoot, dovefoot, American keno root)
Alum root is a strong astringent used to stop the bleeding of cuts, superficial abrasions and ulcers on the lips. It is used in dilute form as a mouthwash or gargle and has been effective for mouth and throat ulcers. Internally, it is useful as a tea or in capsules to help ease malaria symptoms, diarrhoea, for loose bowels and for excessive mucus in the urinary tract accompanied by frequent urination.
A decoction can be made of grated alum root simmered in a litre of water until the liquid has halved, strain then drink when cooled.
NOTE: Alum root can cause gastrointestinal irritation if taken in large amounts.
Angelica (Angelica archangelica, dong quai)
Chinese angelica is a herb which has been used for centuries in the Far East as a tonic, spice and medicine. The health benefits of Chinese Angelica come from the plant's root. It has powerful antibacterial properties and studies have shown good antimicrobial activity against Bifidobacteria, Candida albicans, Clostridium difficile, Clostridium perfringens, Enterococcus faecalis, Eubacterium limosum, Lactobacilli and Peptostreptococcus anaerobius.
Due to angelica’s antihistamine properties it is used to treat allergies. It is also used as a muscle relaxant and pain killer and is also beneficial for sufferers of lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis. Used in conjunction with other herbs like Asian ginseng, it produces the ability to decrease chest pain in patients suffering from heart disease.Further health benefits of Chinese angelica are its ability to stabilize female hormones, ease the pain of arthritis and lower blood pressure. Nutritionally it supports the digestive and respiratory systems.
Dong quai calms the central nervous system and nourishes the brain. It also balances and strengthens the female organs and regulates their functions. Dong quai can be taken by mouth in the following forms:
NOTE: Avoid angelica if taking any type of medication that thins the blood or for hormone therapies and contraception.
(Ferula assa-foetida, hing)
Asafoetida is the dried latex (gum oleoresin) exuded from the rhizome or tap root of several species of the Ferula plant. It is often used as an alternative to garlic and onions for those that cannot tolerate the taste or digest these root vegetables. It is highly favoured as a spice amongst the Jain and Brahmin Indians. It is also known to eliminate tapeworms. For this purpose, dissolve a small piece of asafoetida in water and drink it on an empty stomach once a day for three days.
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Balloon Flower Root (Platycodon grandiflorum, Campanulaceae, jie geng)
Changkil saponins isolated from the roots of the balloon flower have been found to increase intracellular glutathione content and significantly reduce oxidative injury to liver cells, minimise cell death and lipid peroxidation. Glutathione is found in every cell of all human tissues, with the highest concentrations found in the liver and eyes. It is the body's most potent and important antioxidant because it is within the cell and protects fatty tissues from the damaging effects of free radicals and this is especially important for the brain.
Glutathione also plays a vital role in the detoxification of harmful substances in the liver such as drugs, pollutants and other toxins and can chelate (attach to) heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium and eliminate them from the body. This is particularly beneficial to those that may be prone to developing, or have developed, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease and those that smoke tobacco.
As an immune system booster and a detoxifier, glutathione can also help the body repair damage caused by aging, burns, drugs, infection, injury, pollution, poor diet, radiation, stress and trauma. It has the potential to fight almost any disease, particularly those associated with aging, as free radical damage is the cause of many of the common diseases of old age. It is also believed that glutathione carries nutrients to lymphocytes and phagocytes which are important immune system cells.
Beetroots are ideal for treating anaemia. With its high iron content, beetroot juice regenerates and reactivates the red blood cells, supplies the body with fresh oxygen and helps the normal function of vesicular breathing.
Beetroot also helps prevent spina bifida in babies when consumed during in pregnancy. Regular consumption also reduces the risk of heart disease, helps control cholesterol levels, stops the spread of cancer tumours, prevents diseases of liver, kidney and pancreas and treats ulcers in the stomach. It also strengthens the immune system, improves the vision and is good for eye redness treatment. It also reduces pain after intense physical training and is a useful refuelling food for tired muscles. It also eliminates hard stools, positively affects the colon, strengthens the lungs, regulates high blood pressure, improves bad breath which occurs due to indigestion of food, helps treat acne and creates healthy skin and reduces menstrual pain.
Beetroots possess beta-cyanin which gives them their deep red colour and provides the essential ingredient which can assist the body with recovery from many ailments.
Significant nutrients in beetroot
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Significant minerals in beetroot
Healthy raw juice
Wash and chop the ingredients (do not peel) before placing in a juicer of at least 900 watts then drink immediately. Do this three times a day for maximum benefit especially if unwell. What is known as a ‘slow juicer’ is the best type to use to gain most nutrients from juiced fruit and vegetables. Always try to use organic produce to avoid pesticide residues.
(Vernonia amygdalina, ewuro, hausas, ironweed, mujonso, onugbu, shiwaka, yorubas)
Bitter leaf is a member of the daisy family and an African herb of which the bark, leaves, roots and stems are used for culinary and medicinal purposes. The juice from the leaves is good to reduce fever and lowers blood sugar and raises the metabolism which is beneficial for diabetics and those wishing to lose weight. It is also good for mild stomach disorders and has been known to increase breast milk production in nursing mothers. Its anti-inflammatory properties can also help to treat rheumatism. Bitter leaf can also cleanse the lymphatic system and protect the lungs against chemicals found in tobacco smoke and, due to its natural quinine content, it is useful for preventing malaria sickness. It is a powerful tonic for women to take before, during and after the menopause as it helps the body produce the correct oestrogen levels and in doing so can prevent the hot flushes and other symptoms that can occur.
The washed roots and stalks can be boiled and a cup of the liquid drunk first thing in the morning before food to expel worms and parasites.
Externally the juice from the leaves can be used for eczema, haemorrhoids, ringworm, warts and dry skin conditions but do not use on broken skin.
Bitter leaf contains steroid glycosides known as type vernonioside B1. These compounds possess potent antibacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-tumour and anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, C and E.
NOTE: Bitter leaf juice can cause contractions of the uterus so should be avoided by pregnant women.
NOTE: Bitter leaf should never be harvested from locations near to mines, power stations or road sides as it absorbs heavy metals from traffic pollution and chemical combustion which can then be ingested and cause many ill health effects.
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
The early Native Americans used black cohosh to treat snakebite and a tea from the root is reputed to soothe sore throat. They also used the root to help ease complaints associated with the skeletal system.
It is a traditional approach for many gynaecological topics, including menstrual cramps, labour and delivery and menstruation. When combined with other nervine herbs, it provides excellent soothing properties. Black Cohosh also nourishes the respiratory system. Black Cohosh has traditionally been used to calm the nervous system by nourishing blood vessels and balancing the hormones in menopausal women. Studies show it contains substances that bind to oestrogen receptors. It has also been shown in lab experiments (in vitro) to inhibit microbial activity and can treatintestinal infections such as helicobacter pylori.
NOTE:Black Cohosh should be taken with caution as it can cause an allergic reaction.
Blood root (Sanguinaria canadensis, Bloodwort, Coon Root, Indian Plant, Indian Red Paint, Pauson, Red Indian Paint, Red Puccoon, Red Root, Sang-Dragon, Sang de Dragon, Sanguinaire, Sanguinaire du Canada, Sanguinaria, Snakebite, Sweet Slumber, Tetterwort)
The root of this plant has powerful antibacterial properties and is used to cause vomiting and empty the bowels. It is also used to treat achy joints and muscles (rheumatism), croup, fever, hoarseness (laryngitis), Lyme disease , nasal polyps, poor circulation in the surface blood vessels, reduce tooth pain, syphilis bacterial infections, sore throat (pharyngitis) and treat warts.
Blue cohosh nutritionally supports the female reproductive system. It was used by native Americans to treat menstrual cramps, to suppress profuse menstruation and to induce contractions in labour
NOTE: Blue cohosh should be taken with caution as it can cause an allergic reaction. Pregnant women should avoid this herb.
Native Americans used the root of this plant to make poultices to treat skin cuts and burns and chewed it to protect themselves against rattle snake bites. It is also used as a laxative and to relieve fluid retention and bloating. Other uses are to treat chronic rheumatism, colic, enlargement of the thyroid gland, pelvic inflammatory ailments, skin disorders, swelling (inflammation) and weight gain. Some people also use it for liver disorders and to increase bile production.
The medicinal compounds in blue flag are iridin, isophthalic acids, resin, salicylic acids, tannins, triterpenoids and volatile oils.
NOTE: Blue flag can have side effects such as headaches, nausea, vomiting and watery eyes and should never be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women or children.
Burdock (Arctium lappa)
This plant needs moist ground and is able to grow without shade. The root of the burdock plant is an excellent blood purifier and detoxifier. Very few, if any, herbs possess more curative powers equal this one. It has ancient history as a reliable herbal aid for blood disorders, ulcers and tumours. Italso nutritionally supports joints and other skeletal tissues and the urinary and respiratory systems. It promotes glandular and hormone balance and removes accumulations and deposits around the joints. it is also helpful for treating cancer, dyspeptic complaints, leprosy, liver and gall bladder problems, neurologic disorders, scrofula, syphilis and throat and chest ailments and expels toxic products from the blood through the urine. It is also an appetite stimulant and can control blood sugar and cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart rate and weight and can help to prevent muscle wasting.
Place a tablespoon of chopped burdock root into one pint of boiled cold water. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. Strain, cool, keep in a cold place and drink four times a day. This tea can also be used as a skin and face wash. Apply the cooled tea to the skin with a clean facecloth and rinse in cool water.
Dose for adults. A wineglassful (2 oz) 3 or 4 times a day. For children, less according to age.
Western and Chinese herbal medicine both use burdock in the methods of detoxification. Its root is commonly used for treating ‘toxic overload’ that leads to throat infections and skin ailments such as:
The leaves can also be crumpled and the seeds crushed to treat bruises, burns, ulcers and sores topically.
Burdock root is very low in calories; 72 calories per 100 g, and a good source of non-starch polysaccharides such as inulin, glucoside-lappin, mucilage, etc. It also contains high amounts of electrolyte potassium and is low in sodium. It also contains many vital vitamins, including vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B9 (foliate), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)
Butterbur is a perennial wild flower/herb with lilac-pink flower heads and large rhubarb like leaves mainly found on river banks, streams and in damp woods. The leaves were once used to wrap butter. This plant has been used as a herb as far back as the Iron Age. The leaves and roots can be used fresh or dried to treat coughs and respiratory infections as an external poultice.
NOTE:Not recommended for internal use due to toxic alkaloids.
Carrots are an excellent source of antioxidant compounds and one of the richest vegetable sources of the pro-vitamin A carotenes. The antioxidant compounds help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer and also promote good vision, especially night vision. They can also prevent blood clots and arterial blockages reducing the risks of heart disease. They also prevents a variety of cancers and protect against the damages caused by nicotine. They are also high in anti-ageing vitamin C and a good source of dietary fibre. Eating two carrots a day can lower bad cholesterol by 10%.
Cook or juice carrots to release nutrients from the tough cell structure to benefit from its high beta-carotene content. Research has shown that people with low levels of beta-carotene in their blood are more likely to have heart attacks, strokes and certain cancers. This nutrient also protects against the sun's rays. Taking carotenoids equivalent to two large carrots a day gives a natural SPF of 2 to 4 in light-skinned people.
The raw juice of parsley, carrots and celery it is very valuable as nourishment for the optic system, also for the kidneys and bladder and as an aid in allaying inflammation of the urethra and genital organs.
Carrots can eliminate threadworms from children. A small cup of grated carrot taken every morning for three days, with no other food added to this meal, can clear these worms quickly.
Significant nutrients in carrots
Significant minerals in carrots
Carrots can be grown in a container that is more than two feet deep such as a plastic refuse bin as the carrot flies, that attack them, cannot fly higher than two feet above the ground. Cut some holes in the bottom of the bin then add a layer of stones or broken pots for drainage. Then add sieved stone free soil and top with a good potting compost before sowing your organic carrot seeds. Grow some spring onions around the edges to provide even more protection.
NOTE:Carrots, like all carotenoid containing vegetables, must always be consumed with a fat-rich food like avocado, olive oil, rapeseed and other plant, fish, nut or seed oils so that the fat-soluble carotenoids can be absorbed by the body. Consuming raw carrots on their own will not provide any carotenoids to the body.NOTE: Carrots have been proven to prevent cancers in those that smoke.
Celeriac is related to the carrot family and has powerful analgesic, anti-allergic, antiseptic, calming and other therapeutic properties. It can help with digestive disorders such as constipation, diarrhoea, gastritis and indigestion and can improve the appetite. It is also useful for arthritic pain, bladder and liver disorders, improving vision and reducing swellings.
Regular consumption of celeriac has been known to improve memory and cognitive functions and can help to reduce inflammation and protect the urinary system. It is a food that should be consumed regularly by those with Alzheimer's disease or dementia. It is also useful for those with nerve disorders and can protect against heart disease and cancers such as colon cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Celeriac also contains nutrients that can prevent anaemia and improve bone and teeth strength.
The fact it is very low in calories (100 g contains just 42 calories) and high in fibre and stimulates fat burning and the metabolism means celeriac is a useful food for those trying to lose weight.
Significant nutrients in celeriac
Significant minerals in celeriac
NOTE: People taking diuretic or anticoagulant medications should avoid celeriac.
NOTE: Celeriac contains some furano-coumarin compounds such asbergapten, isopimpinellin, psoralen and xanthotoxin. These compounds can be harmful to sensitive skin.
Chicory (Chihorium intybus, Cichorium endivia, escarole, common chicory, blue sailors, succory, coffee weed, cornflower, endive, radicchio, Belgian endive, French endive, red endive, sugarloaf, witloof)
Chicory is an erect perennial herbaceous plant of the daisy family, related to the dandelion and is native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia. Chicory use in herbal medicine has a long history and some of its health benefits have recently been confirmed by science. First recorded usage of it was in ancient Egypt where it was known to have health benefits for the liver and gallbladder. Chicory are prized for the leaves, roots and buds (chicons) which are all edible. The leaves and buds are used in salads and other dishes, while chicory roots are used as tea or a caffeine-free coffee substitute and additive.
It is very low in calories but highly nutritious and one of the richest sources of vitamin A amongst all green leafy vegetables which can nourish the eyes and improve and retain the vision. Chicory leaves are also recommended to be included in weight-loss diets especially to those who are high risk for diabetes mellitus. The inulin controls the level of sugar in the blood, decreases the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood and reduces a rapid heartbeat.
Chicory root contains inulin which feed the beneficial bacteria of the large intestineand these produce many beneficial substances, including short-chain fatty acids and certain B vitamins. They also promote further absorption of some minerals that have escaped the small intestine, including calcium and magnesium. Chicory has a mild laxative effect that is beneficial for digestive problems such as dyspepsia, indigestion and constipation.
Chicory is rich in beta-carotene that can fight and prevent cancer especially, colon cancer, and also contains intybin and chicorin which stimulates the appetite and digestion of food. It can also eliminate intestinal worms and parasites and clean the colon. It also promotes the production of urine, cleans the blood, circulatory system and the liver by eliminating toxins from them and improves bowel movement.
Dried chicory roots and leaf juice are used to treat jaundice and as protection against liver damage. The leaf juice mixed with water can clean up an enlarged liver and treat gallstones and liver stones by increasing the secretion of bile from the liver and gallbladder promoting urination and excretion of harmful substances.
Chicory consists of lactucin and lactucoprin which taste bitter but can act as a natural sedative for nervous system. A decoction of chicory root is beneficial for those with central nervous system disorders.
Leaves of chicory are used to treat cuts and wounds and as anti-inflammatory treatment for arthritis, gout, headaches and rheumatism to reduce swelling. The juice extracted from chicory leaves is widely used to reduce the sore breasts of lactating mothers.
Significant nutrients in chicory
All amino acids, choline, copper, fibre, magnesium, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, selenium, sodium, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K. It is an especially exceptional source of soluble fibre, beta-carotene, vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
NOTE: Chicory should be consumed with a fat-rich natural food like olive oil, nuts or avocado so that beta-carotene can be absorbed by the body.
Chinese rhubarb root (Rheum palmatum, Rheum rhaponticum, R. palmatum, Rhizoma rhe, false rhubarb, garden rhubarb, India rhubarb, pieplant, sweet round-leaved dock, Turkey rhubarb)
Chinese rhubarb root has been used for over two thousand years as a mild, yet effective, laxative. It supports good colon health by cleansing it and treating constipation; and in smaller doses, its astringents ease diarrhoea and haemorrhoids. It also helps to modify the process of nutrition and excretion and restore normal bodily function, acting to thoroughly cleanse and stimulate the efficient removal of waste products from the system. It not only cleanses the intestinal tract and blood, but it is also cleanses the liver by encouraging bile flow. The herb is also said to enhance and improve gallbladder function and relieve both liver and gallbladder complaints by releasing an accumulation of toxins.
As an antimicrobial, it is used to treat internal pinworms, threadworms and ringworm. The herb stimulates the uterus and is thought to move stagnated blood, which also helps to relieve pains and cramps and premenstrual tension.
Mix 1 teaspoon of rhubarb powder to 1 cup of water. Then, bring to boil and simmer at a reduced heat for 10 minutes. Add a little honey to sweeten.
NOTE: Not suitable for pregnant or breast feeding women, children under twelve years of age, those who suffer from colitis or have intestinal obstruction or have a history of renal stones or urinary problems, or if taking anticoagulant (blood thinning) medicine or aspirin.
The pieces of roots and stems of this Amazonian plant are macerated in aguardiente (alcohol) to make a stimulant liqueur used for rheumatism. The resin is used for fevers and toothache, being as effective as clove oil. It is also an aphrodisiac mainly for women, but excellent for males as well.
Coccinia (Coccinia indica, Coccinia cordifolia)
Coccinia is a medicinal herb used abundantly in India as it reduces inflammation in the body. It is particularly effective at treating diabetes, orchitis and urinary tract infections. It is also a good laxative and stimulates digestion and bile production in the liver. It can help to treat dysentery and parasitic infections of the intestines.
Coccinia also helps to open pores which can stimulate sweat which helps to eliminate toxins in the body. It is also a good wound healer and helps to treat asthma, bronchitis, colds and coughs and other respiratory disorders.
Coccinia leaf or root extract has antibacterial properties which can help to treat bacterial infections. Boil 10 to 12 leaves or chopped up roots in water for 10 to 15 minutes, strain and drink two times a day until the infection is gone.
The leaves of coccinia can be used externally to treat injuries and wounds.
Comfrey root and leaves are used to treat pulmonary haemorrhages, diarrhoea, dysentery, internal ulcers, glandular disorders, chronic coughs, bronchitis and gout, as gargles to treat hoarseness and sore gums and as fomentation used to treat varicose veins, inflammations, burns, sores, sprains, fractures, gangrene, otitis, mastitis, fibrositis and pleurisy.
The plants high concentration of mucilage provides rationale for comfrey's historical usage in treating stomach ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease and for upper respiratory conditions. Comfrey nourishes the pituitary gland (the master gland of the body) as well as the bones and skin. It also strengthens the respiratory system and is considered to be one of nature's great healers.
Comfrey also makes a good plant feed for vegetable and flower crops in the garden. See Grow Your Own Health Garden
Daikon is a large mild flavoured Asian radish eaten raw, pickled, juiced or cooked. Both the root and leaves of this brassica are edible. It can also be sprouted in a jar with a daily rinse of water. See the Micro Diet Sprouting page. Daikon has antibacterial. anti-inflammatory, antiviral and diuretic properties. It also contains digestive enzymes that help the body process proteins, oil, fat and carbohydrate particularly those found in raw fish. When daikon is cooked with kombu seaweed it makes a broth that removes dairy build up. The enzymes found in daikon can slow the production of a carcinogen found in the chemicals of many processed foods, and a few natural ones. This carcinogen, nitrosamine, will attack the stomach, but daikon is used to combat nitrosamine's effects. Daikon radish is extremely low in fat and cholesterol, but dense with nutrients, making it a great addition to the diet for the over weight or obese.
Raw daikon juice can help dissolve mucus and phlegm and aid in the healthy function of the respiratory system. Its ability to combat bacteria and viral infections may make it an effective combatant of respiratory disease such as bronchitis, asthma and flu. Applied topically or ingested, daikon juice has proven effective in preventing and treating acne and other skin conditions. It can also be used to cleanse the blood of toxins and support a healthy circulatory system.
The nutrients found in daikon can provide an increased immune function, protection against heart disease, DNA repair and protection, alleviation of cardiovascular disease and hypertension (high blood pressure), Alzheimer's and stroke prevention and slow down the aging process.
an excellent herb for arthritis and recovery from injury and surgery and has antibacterial properties that can treat many infections including erectile dysfunction, orchitis (inflammation of the testes) and urinary tract infections. It also has antifungal properties especially against the Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast.
Dandelion is a rich source of nutrients like potassium, iron and Vitamins A, B, C and D. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties that make it effective in dealing arthritic pain. Dandelion is believed to be effective in dealing with symptoms of arthritis, rheumatism and other chronic joint pain conditions as this herb is capable of flushing toxins that causes the joints and muscles to inflame. Also, it plays a vital role in reducing the level of uric acid in the body which results to reduced pain and stiffness in the joints and increased joint mobility and can help to relieve symptoms of gout.
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Many people have observed good effects taking echinacea in cases of syphilis. The longest time, to affect the cure was nine days. The patient begins to feel a general improved condition after taking the remedy a few days. It removes the pain and discomfort, removes the fever and abates the evidences of the disease without after-effects. The leaves, flowers and roots can be used medicinally.
With flowers that resemble miniature sunflowers and a basal leaf rosette that resembles a mullein plant, elecampane is an attractive member of the asteraceae or daisy family. Ancient Roman healers treasured the roots as a digestive remedy and Native Americans and herbalists continue to value the medicinal properties and uses of elecampane. It grows well in northern Europe including the UK. The roots are not ready for medicinal use until the autumn of the second year, when they have developed their healing properties. It is a natural expectorant and nourishes the respiratory system.
People have used elecampane as a digestive stimulant and remedy for upset stomach for hundreds of years due to a chemical called alantolactone for expelling worms and parasites from the digestive tract. Taken before a meal, the root decoction has a bitter principle called helenin which promotes digestion, improves vitamin and mineral absorption and stimulates the appetite. This remedy is especially helpful for reviving the appetite after a bout with the flu or other illness.
When dug up during the autumn, the roots are a rich source of inulin, a type of fibre named after this plant’s botanical name. Inulin, which is different from the hormone insulin, helps stabilize blood sugar and improve absorption of nutrients from foods.
As a topical remedy, elecampane root has anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve eczema and other types of skin inflammation. The alantolactone in the roots appears to be responsible for this healing property. Prepare a wash by diluting the root decoction..
Prepare an infusion by placing an ounce of dried elecampane root in a pint canning jar and filling the jar with boiling water; cover the jar and let the mixture brew overnight. Strain the infusion, place it in a stainless steel pot, and slowly heat the infusion until it is reduced by half. After it cools, refrigerate the decoction for two or three days in a jar. The decoction maybe mixed with honey for a soothing cough syrup.
The elephant foot yam is a tropical tuber crop grown mainly in Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the tropical Pacific islands. It is used as a medicine and a nutritious dietary supplement. Its health benefits come from the fact that it contains 40% glucomannan fibre that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon, relieves constipation and boosts the immune system. Glucomannan has also been shown to lower blood cholesterol and help with weight loss, while improving carbohydrate metabolism. It can be consumed in the form of dishes, made with the elephant foot yam, such as shirataki noodles.
Fagara is a rutaceae that is widely distributed in Uganda and other African countries. It is well known for its varied uses in traditional medicinal practices. The root-bark extract is used in treating abdominal pain, elephantiasis, dysmenorrhoea, gonorrhoea, malaria, sexual impotence and toothache. Workers in West Africa have reported the anti-sickling and antimicrobial activity of the extracts of the plant and in Nigeria fagara is used as a chewing stick. In studies, extracts from the plant showed activities against bacteria significant to periodontal disease. The anthelmintic (antiparasitic) activity of the methanolic extract of the root-bark of fagara was also reported and it is very popular amongst the various tribes in Uganda. It has also been found that the alcoholic extracts of the root-bark possess considerable antibacterial activity effective against Lyme disease and syphilis.
False Unicorn (Chamaelirium luteum) The false unicorn root is considered a tonic to the reproductive organs and addresses symptoms of headaches and depression in menopausal women. The root is also used for treating infertility, menstrual problems, ovarian cysts and vomiting during pregnancy. Some women take it to normalise hormones after discontinuing birth control pills.
Garlic (Allium sativa)
Garlic is a natural antibiotic, anti-microbial, a fungicide, a cleanser and antioxidant. Useful for arthritis, asthma, bacteria infections, bronchitis, cancer, candida, poor circulation, colds, colitis, coughs, digestive problems, fever, flatulence, flu, high blood pressure, intestinal infections, lung disorders, parasitic diarrhoea, warts, worms, blood purifier, detoxifying the liver, mucus, prostate, sore throats, toothache, tumours, whooping cough and yeast infections, viruses and the toxoplasmosis gondii parasite and protects against stomach cancers.
Garlic provides nourishment for the circulatory, immune and urinary systems. It aids in supporting with normal circulation, nourishing stomach tissues, maintaining normal blood pressure and aids the body's natural ability to resist disease. It also helps to reduce cholesterol and blood fats.
Garlic has been used for expelling intestinal worms and parasites from ancient times by the Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Hindus and Babylonians. Garlic is a natural anthelmintic. It is especially useful against roundworms, giardia, trypanosome, plasmodium and leishmania.. Both fresh garlic and its oil are effective. Chop finely or crush 4 cloves of garlic and mix with 1 glass of liquid (water, juice or milk) and drink daily for 3 weeks.
Garlic is able to slow and kill over 60 types of fungus and 20 types of bacteria, as well as some of the most potent viruses. It has a history of killing parasites and controlling secondary fungal infections, detoxifying while gently stimulating elimination and has antioxidant properties to protect against oxidation caused by parasite toxins. The active components in garlic that kill parasites are allicin and ajoene. These compounds can kill amoeba’s including one-cell varieties, as well as pinworms and hookworms. Allicin is not present in garlic in its natural state. When it is chopped or otherwise damaged, the enzyme alliinase acts on the chemical alliin converting it into allicin, the active component contributing for its success for killing parasites.
It has now been proven scientifically that garlic is 100 times more effective than antibiotics at killing food poisoning bacteria in the intestines.
Externally a slice of raw garlic held onto the affected skin for just a few minutes can heal cold sores and other skin eruptions and even naturally remove cancerous moles painlessly and without surgery. Also use externally as an infusion in oil for sprains, joint problems, fungal infections, earache and chest infections.
Garlic has nutrients that provide nourishment for the circulatory, immune and urinary systems. It aids in supporting with normal circulation, nourishing stomach tissues, maintaining normal blood pressure and aids the body's natural ability to resist disease. It also helps to reduce cholesterol and blood fats and is a good source of vitamins B1 (thiamine), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid), C and K1, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorous, selenium and zinc.
Gentian Root (Gentiana lutea)
Gentian root can help to strengthen the digestive system. It stimulates the appetite, nutritionally supports the liver and nourishes the spleen, pancreas, stomach and kidneys. Gentian is one of the most useful bitter vegetable tonics. It is specially useful in states of exhaustion from chronic disease and in all cases of general debility, weakness of the digestive organs and want of appetite.
It is one of the best strengtheners of the human system and is an excellent tonic and of extreme value in jaundice. Can also improve and treat anaemia, blood impurities, poor circulation, colds, constipation, indigestion, heart burn, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, dysentery, fever, flatulence, gout, menstruation/absent, nausea, gall bladder, liver, kidneys, urinary problems, malaria,worms and parasites, wounds and yeast infections.
To eliminate worms and parasites take 1oz of gentian root powder in a glass of any available liquid.
NOTE:The highly toxic white hellebore (Veratrum album) can be misidentified as gentian and has caused accidental poisoning when used in homemade preparations.
Ginger (Gingiber officinalis, Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is good for bronchitis, colds, cough, digestion problems, muscle and menstrual cramps, increasing energy, sore throat, poor circulation, flu and infection with helicobacter pylori in the stomach. It has antioxidant, antiseptic and expectorant properties, promotes perspiration in a fever, cleanses the digestive tract in cases of diarrhoea, lowers blood pressure and thins the blood. It is also very useful for coughs, colds and flu, indigestion, nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness and motion sickness. It also helps the body to eliminate wastes through the skin. Ginger enhances circulation and acts as a catalyst for other herbs, to increase their effectiveness and helps relieve congestion.
Consuming 2 g of ginger per day can produce significantly higher insulin sensitivity which is beneficial to diabetics as well as lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Ginger can be taken with food, as a tea and the raw peeled root can be dabbed onto the affected area for relief of hives.
Externally, ginger is applied as a fomentation for the treatment of pain, inflammation and stiff joints. Simmer one ounce of dried ginger root in two quarts of water for ten minutes. Strain and soak a cloth in the water and apply to the affected area. Keep changing the cloth to keep a constant warm temperature on the skin. The skin should become red as the circulation increased.
For children and adults with bronchial coughs: mix ginger root powder with a non-petroleum jelly and rub on the chest to help loosen coughs and expel mucous.
NOTE: Avoid cumin, ginger and turmeric if taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication), or hormone therapies and contraceptive pills or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen, have heart problems or during the first three months of pregnancy or are breast feeding.
Ginseng (Panax spp)
The name "Ginseng" evolved from the Chinese name "man root". Since the 1950's an increasing amount of worldwide research was done that revealed ginseng's healing properties. Nutritionally beneficial for the immune system and long term energy. It nourishes the circulatory system and enhances mental alertness and stamina. For over 2000 years,
Ginseng has been used in the Far East as a tonic with revitalizing properties and to help boost energy. Ginseng is especially beneficial during times of stress and fatigue because it preserves glycogen, the glucose that is stored in the liver and muscle cells, by increasing the use of fatty acid as a source of energy. It has been shown that the active compound, Ginsenosides, helps the body to respond to stress and is also noted for its endurance enhancing effects.
The possibility of side effects with ginseng use is low. Inappropriately high dosage levels may cause insomnia and nervousness. It should not be used by individuals who have asthma, emphysema, fibrocystic breasts, high blood pressure, clotting problems, and cardiac arrhythmia.
NOTE: Avoid ginseng under any of the following conditions
Golden Seal (Hydrastis canadensis).
American natives used goldenseal as a medication for inflammatory internal conditions such as respiratory, digestive and genital or urinary tract inflammation induced by allergy or infection. The Cherokee used the roots as a wash for local inflammations, a decoction for general debility, dyspepsia and to improve appetite. The Iroquois used a decoction of the root for whooping cough, diarrhoea, fever, flatulence, liver disease, pneumonia, stomach disorders and with whiskey for heart trouble. They also prepared a compound infusion with other roots for use as drops in the treatment of earache and as a wash for sore eyes
Golden seal can be used both internally and externally to help the body fight infections with its nutritional properties. It helps the body soothe inflammations of the mucous membranes and balance their function. This herb especially nourishes the liver, glandular and respiratory systems. Golden seal helps cleanse the system of foreign organisms.respiratory and gastrointestinal.
This Amazonian fruit is edible fresh or in ice creams. A leaf decoction is used for catarrh and the crushed seed to kill parasites. The bark, roots and leaves are used in teas for diabetes and as a sedative and heart tonic. Some natives use the leaf tea to cleanse and support the liver. Elsewhere it is used for chills, colds, diarrhoea, dysentery, dyspepsia, fever, flu, gallbladder attacks, hypertension, insomnia, kidneys, nervousness, palpitations, pediculosis, ringworm, sores and internal ulcers. It is also used against cough, fever, flu, rheumatism, malaria, skin disease, heart problems, etc. It can also fight breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers.
White horehound is a bitter herb from the mint family that grows like a weed in many areas of the world. It was first mentioned in the first century in ancient Rome. In his manual of medicine A. Cornelius Celsus, described antiseptic uses as well as treatments for respiratory ailments using horehound juice. In his book, 'On Agriculture', first century agriculturist Lucius Columella wrote about the use of horehound for various farm animal ailments such as ulcers, scabs and worms. In humans it is soothing to the respiratory system and a natural expectorant. It can also stimulate menstrual flow and induce abortions.
NOTE: Excessive use of horehound root may lead to high blood pressure.
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Horseradish is low in calories and fat and contains a good amount of dietary fibre. The root also contains many volatile phyto-chemical compounds, which give its pungent character, such as allyl isothiocyanate, 3-butenyl isothiocyanate, 2-propenylglucosinlate (sinigrin), 2-pentyl isothiocyanate and phenylethyl isothiocyanate. It has been found that these compounds have been anti-oxidant as well as detoxification functions. Horseradish has good amounts of vitamin C which is a powerful water soluble anti-oxidant. 100g fresh root provides 29mg or 41% of RDA of vitamin C. It also contains moderate amounts of copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc plus small amounts of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B9 (foliate).
It is a potent gastric stimulant, increases appetite and aids in digestion. The volatile phytochemical compounds in the root stimulate salivary, gastric and intestinal glands to secrete digestive enzymes. Horseradish helps remove harmful free radicals from the body and protect it from cancers, inflammation and infections etc.
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense, Vegetal silica, common horsetail, field horsetail, shavegrass)
Horsetail is a herbaceous perennial plant, native throughout the arctic and temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Oil from the roots can be used to treat toxoplasmosis. Horsetail is also rich in "beauty" nutrients that nourish the nails, skin, hair, bones and the body's connective tissue. It is also benefits the glands and urinary tract. Horsetail helps heal fractured bones because of its rich supply of nutrients.
Ho Shou Wu (Polygonum multiflorum, flowery knotweed, fo-ti, he shou wu)
Fabled in Asian history to restore the original colour of greying hair, compounds in the ho shou wu root can help to support the glandular, nervous and skeletal systems. This herb is also reputed to enhance the health of the liver and kidneys. The properties of ho shou wu are said to be similar to golden seal, chamomile and ginseng. It is known to help improve health, stamina and resistance to diseases. It is also effective in the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, especially Alzheimer's disease.
Huang Lian (Coptis chinensis, Picrorhiza kurroa)
Huang lian is a Chinese medicinal herb. Berberine is a major active component in the root of this herb which has been used in China to treat what is now identified as type 2 diabetes for thousands of years. In 2008 it was found that the natural plant alkaloid berberine is just as effective and much safer than metformin, the patent medicine most commonly now prescribed to help re-regulate blood sugar in type 2 diabetes.
It is also used for yellowed skin (jaundice), liver infections caused by a virus (acute viral hepatitis), fever, allergy and asthma. Some people use it for digestion problems including indigestion, constipation and ongoing diarrhoea. Other uses include treatment of infection, scorpion stings, epilepsy, malaria and rheumatoid arthritis.
It is used externally to treat toxic sores, vitiligo (a disorder that causes white patches on the skin). eczema, burns, painful red eyes, sore throat, ear infections, boils and carbuncles.
An alcoholic maceration of this Amazonian plant's root is used for arthritis, rheumatism and diarrhoea. There is another species: Unonopsis spectabilis also commonly called “icoja” and its bark is used for arthritis, bronchitis, diarrhoea, lung disorders, malaria and rheumatism.
Japanese or Chinese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica, Polygonum cuspidatum)
Japanese knotweed is an excellent source of the potent antioxidant resveratrol. Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant and has been shown to have positive cancer and weight loss benefits. Resveratrol helps reduce inflammation, prevents the oxidation of LDL"bad" cholesterol, and makes it more difficult for platelets to stick together and form the clots that can lead to a heart attack. It is a tremendous anti-aging agent and may protect nerve cells from damage and the build-up of plaque that can lead to Alzheimer's disease.
Resveratrol also helps prevent insulin resistance, a condition in which the body becomes less sensitive to the effects of the blood sugar-lowering hormone, insulin. Insulin resistance is a precursor to diabetes. Resveratrol protected mice fed a high-calorie diet from obesity-related health problems by mimicking the effects of caloric restriction.
Japanese knotweed root is known to aid the central nervous system and kill the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease.
Significant components in Knotweed
Other components in knotweed are alkaloids, astringin, barium, bromine, calcium, catechin, chrysophanol, citreosein, copper, dimethylhyroxychromone, emodin, emodin monomethyl ether, fallacinol, glucofragulin, glucoside, iodine, iron, isoquercitrin, manganese, methylcourmarin, molybdenum, napthoquinone, nickel, oxalic acid, phenolics, phosphorus, physcion, physide, piceid, piceatannol, plastoquinone, polydatin (piceid), polydatoside, polygonin, potassium, protocatechuic acid, quercitrin, questin, questinol, resveratrol, reynoutriin, rheic acid, rubidium, rutin, sterol/terpenes, sulphur, tannin, trans-resveratrol and zinc.
NOTE: Avoid Chinese or Japanese knotweed if taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as aspirin and ibuprofen due to the risk of bleeding.
Jergon Sacha (Dracontium
loretense) Described in depth on the A-Z of Medicinal Herbs and Spices page.
Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus, sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple, topinambour)
The Jerusalem artichoke (not to be confused with the globe thistle like artichoke) is the tuber of a species of sunflower native to eastern North America. It actually has no relation to Jerusalem and it is not even a type of artichoke, though both are members of the daisy family. The name was derived from a corruption of the Italian 'girasola articiocco', the Sunflower Artichoke, Girasola meaning 'turning to the sun,' an allusion to the habit it is supposed to have in common with many of the sunflower species. The North Italian word articiocco - modern carciofo - comes through the Spanish, from the Arabic Al-Kharshuf. False etymology has corrupted the word in many languages: it has been derived (though wrongly) in English from 'choke' and 'heart,' or the Latin hortus, a garden, and in French, the form artichaut has been connected with chaud, hot, and chou, a cabbage.
The Jerusalem Artichoke is rich in the carbohydrate inulin (76%), which is a polymer of the monosaccharide fructose. Inulin contains fructans, which are food for beneficial bacteria in the gut but if the tubers are stored for any length of time, they will digest the inulin into its component fructose. Inulin (not to be confused with the hormone insulin) is a zero calorie, saccharine, and inert carbohydrate, which does not metabolize inside the human body, and therefore; make this tuber an ideal sweetener for diabetics and dieters when consumed fresh. They are an especially good addition to soups.
Jerusalem artichokes contains 10% protein which is more than most other root vegetables and it’s particularly high in the sulphur-containing essential amino acids cysteine, homocysteine, methionine and taurine. These components are essential for maintaining the flexibility of connective tissue as well as helping the liver carry out detoxification which helps protect against cancer.
It also promotes regular bowel movements which protects against bowel cancer. Regular consumption can lower the blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels due to rich potassium content and prevent anaemia due to it's high iron content. It lowers fats in the blood and helps to protect and cleanse the liver and protects against hepatitis and protects against skin cancer.
Kava kava's botanical name roughly translated means "intoxicating pepper". The rhizome (underground stem) is used as a sedative to alleviate stress, anxiety and insomnia and soothe the nerves. The active components in kava root are called kavalactones. Specific types of kavalactones include dihydrokavain, methysticin, kavain, dihydromethysticin, dihydrokawain, yangonin and desmethoxyyangonin.
NOTE: Possible side affects of over consumption of kava kava can include indigestion, mouth numbness, skin rash, headache, drowsiness and visual disturbances. Chronic or heavy use of kava has linked to pulmonary hypertension, skin scaling, loss of muscle control, kidney damage, and blood abnormalities.
Kava may also lower blood pressure and it also may interfere with blood clotting, so it should not be used by people with bleeding disorders. People with Parkinson’s disease should avoid kava because it may worsen symptoms and it should not be taken within two weeks of surgery. Pregnant and nursing women, children, and people with liver or kidney disease should also avoid kava.
Kudzu Root Extract (Pueraria lobatam Japanese arrowroot)
A relative to the pea family and native to China (known as gé gēn) and Japan, kudzo is a voracious invasive plant that is often sprayed with herbicide so source is important. It contains isoflavones puerarin and daidzein (an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent) and daidzin (structurally related to genistein). It has shown value in treating migraine and headaches. and is often used for allergies and diarrhoea.
In Chinese medicine it is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs and is used to treat tinnitus, vertigo, alcoholism and hangovers. The flowers are used to detoxify the liver. Kudzu may also be helpful in treating Alzheimer's and cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The roots, flowers and leaves of kudzu all show antioxidant activity.
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root herb or vegetable
Lady slipper is a member of the orchid family and its root contains many nervine properties. The plant was held in high regard by the indigenous tribes of America, who used it to ease menstrual and labour pains and to counter insomnia and nervous conditions, headaches, spasms and cramps. The Chippewa placed the dried and remoistened root directly onto skin inflammations and toothaches to relieve discomfort. The Cherokee used one variety to treat worms in children. It has also been used to treat reflex functional disorders, chorea, hysteria, nervous headaches, insomnia, low fevers, nervous unrest, hypochondria, and nervous depression accompanying stomach disorders.
Like valerian,, lady's slipper is an effective tranquilliser, reducing emotional tension and often calms the mind sufficiently to allow sleep. It appears to have more positive restorative effects than that of valerian. However, because of its scarcity and cost, lady's slipper is now used only on a small scale as a sedative and for relaxing herb treating such stress-related disorders as palpitations, headaches, muscular tension, panic attacks, and neurotic conditions.
Land caltrop (Tribulus terrestris, abrojos, al gutub, bai ji li, gokshura, puncture vine, tack weed)
The fruit, leaves and roots of land caltrop have properties known to optimise the function of the prostate and urinary tract and can help to treat orchitis which is a swelling of one or both testicles. It contains a saponin which is also known to help with premature ejaculation and sexual function by increasing sperm production, motility, survival time and the quality of the sperm.
It has properties which can help to support the liver and kidneys and can help to treat anaemia, diabetes high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and urinary tract infections. It also promotes a good mood and helps to counteracts anxiety, depression, nervousness and stress.
It can also help to treat the andropause in men and dysuria (painful urination) associated with cystitis and is a diuretic herb. It also helps to strengthen and enhance the blood circulation and immune system. If taken with ginger it can help to treat gout.
To treat bladder and kidney stones make a paste with land caltrops seed powder and mix with honey. Take one teaspoon three times a day under the stones are gone.
It also helps to promote recovery after physical exertion and is popular with athletes.
NOTE: Land caltrop can cause foetal miscarriage and must be avoided by pregnant or breast feeding women or individuals with breast or prostate cancer. Excess consumption of land caltrop can cause sleep disturbances and irregular menstruation and high doses may adversely affect the eyes and liver.
Liquorice root nutritionally supports the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, heart and spleen. This herb can soothe irritated mucous membranes and help the body get rid of unwanted mucus with its expectorant properties. Liquorice root has properties similar to cortisone and oestrogen. It stimulates the adrenal glands and helps the body cope with stress.
Genuine liquorice root has been a key ingredient in most Chinese herbal formulas for more than 3,000 years. Research indicates that liquorice's two primary ingredients-glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhetinic acid boost production of interferon. Active ingredients hypericin and pseudohypericin, are phytochemicals that display strong antiviral properties enough to overpower herpes simplex viruses type 1 and 2, certain flu viruses (influenza A and B) and EBV.
It can also treat chronic hepatitis B. Glycyrrhizin interferes with hepatitis B surface antigen and is synergistic with interferon against hepatitis A virus. It is also used at times to treat hepatitis C. Liquorice root helps protect the liver from damage due to chemotherapy. At low doses, the herb stimulates the liver to manufacture cholesterol and excrete it in bile. This can help lower serum cholesterol levels.
NOTE: If suffering from high blood pressure, a heart condition, oedema or are taking certain medications such as warfarin or diuretics, do not take liquorice root.
Lomatium Dissectum (Lomatium cous, lomatium geyeri, lomatium macrocarpum, biscuit root)
Lomatium, a member of the parsley family, is historically, one of the most important medicinal plants of the native American Indians who used the herb as an internal remedy for viral and bacterial infections, especially those of the eyes, respiratory tract and urinary tract. Several tribes of Indians ate the shoots and roots. Some also immersed the fresh root in streams to stun fish for harvesting. However, the most important use of the herb was as a medicine. A decoction of the root was taken internally, and the above ground portion of the plant was smoked or burned and inhaled to treat coughs, colds, ocular infections, throat infections, hay fever, bronchitis, asthma, influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis. The decoction was also applied externally for cuts, sores and rashes; the oily sap was placed on skin lesions and used in the eyes for trachomal, gonorrhoeal infections, rheumatic conditions, as well as the chronic viral infections and immune system suppression prevalent today (HIV/AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, viral hepatitis, herpes simplex I and II and candida infections. Lomatium can inhibit bacteria, fungi and viruses and decrease inflammation.
A doctor named Ernest Krebbs, who was working in the desert in Nevada, found that the Indians there were peeling lomatium root, drawing and boiling it and skimming off the oil. Using about a pound of herb, the Indians were getting well within a week’s time. Krebbs and other doctors began using the root and found it had significant healing effects. It gained in popularity, and soon four manufacturing plants were producing the extract. Since it was a Western frontier remedy, however, lomatium never attracted the attention of the medical profession in general, and shortly after the influenza epidemic died off, interest in lomatium died as well
Lomatium contains coumarins which have a broad range of physiological activities such as estrogenic action; spasmolytic, sedative, anthelmintic and/or uricosuric actions. They have been found to activate adrenaline, useful in the treatment of malignant metastasis and in therapy for retinal pigment degeneration. Coumarins are free of toxic side effects and may be used for years without cumulative effects.
Lomatium also contains saponins and have been used historically as medicinal remedies, specifically as tonics, tranquilizers, expectorants and antitussive agents. Recent research reports anti-tumour, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of saponins, as well as their ability to stimulate production of serum proteins. Water soluble triterpenoidal saponins reportedly enhance antibody production which actively stimulate the immune system.
NOTE: Lomatium is best to use with a liver/urinary stimulant such as dandelion to help avoid a lomatium rash side effect.
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(Lepidium meyenii) See Pepperwort
Mandrake (Mandragora officianarum, atropa mandragora, Alraun, Devil's Testicles, Mandragora, Satan's Apple)
The Greek name from which the word 'Mandragora' is derived implies a plant that is harmful to cattle
The leaves can be applied as a poultice to swellings, inflammations and hardened glands.
NOTE: The 'apples' are narcotic, milder than the root, but still powerful enough to kill if taken in excessive quantity
NOTE: Mandrake contains the tropane alkaloids atropine, cuscohygrine, hyoscyamine, mandragorine and scopolamine that have a powerful effect on the central nervous system therefore extreme caution is advised.
Marshmallow (Althea officinalis, mallow, white mallow, common marshmallow, malvavisco, altea, hatmi, iviscus, ghasul, khitmi, khatmah, usubeni-tati-aoi)
The marshmallow herb should not be confused with the confectionery of the same name. This is a herb native to Europe which thrives in an environment of dark and salty marshes. The flowers of the marshmallow root are used to make expectorant syrups. They are picked when the flower has matured to at least two years old and in August just as the flower is coming into bloom.
When it comes to the leaves, they can be eaten as an addition to a salad or boiled or fried. They are very helpful in the fight against cystitis and frequent urination. The Roman poet Horace refers to his own diet in his Odes “As for me, olives, endives and smooth mallows provide sustenance.”
The root is exhumed in the late autumn; cleaned of root fibres then shredded or desiccated immediately. Marshmallow root has soothing properties and nutritionally supports the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. It has a long history dating back thousands of years as an herbal remedy for cough, sore throat and other respiratory problems such as bronchitis and whooping cough (pertussis). This is due to the large amounts of mucilage found in the flower as well as the root. This plant's botanical name 'Althainein', means “to heal” and the root is the part which is mostly used for healing.
Health disorders marshmallow can be used to treat.
A tea made from the roots may be used as a mouthwash and used to treat inflammation and mouth ulcers. The root may also be peeled fresh and given to infants to chew on for teething issues. See Nature Cures For Babies.
As a cough, mouthwash and respiratory agent two grams of the root should be put into one cup of cold water, soaked for two hours and then gargle with it.
Externally, shredded root should be mixed with enough warm water to form a thick paste and spread onto a clean cloth. Apply to irritated area as needed. It can then be used to treat:
The Mashua or Anu is a perennial climbing tuber/salad crop from the Andes related to the nasturtium. It has been cultivated since approximately 5500BC and has been an important food source for more than 9 million indigenous people living in the Andes mountains at elevations between 2500 meters and 4000 meters. One plant can yield up to 4 kilos of tubers. This, plus the ease of cultivation, makes it a good crop to grow for both human and animal consumption. Both the tubers and vigorous profusion of leaves are edible. The tubers contain isothiocyanates (mustard oils) that give them a sharp, peppery taste reminiscent of hot radishes when eaten raw When cooked they turn sweet.
Mashua is resistant to many insects, nematodes, fungi and other pathogens including the Andean weevil which attacks potatoes and other tuber crop. These insect repellent properties makes a very good companion plant but cabbage white butterflies are strongly attracted so it is best planted where birds can easily feast on caterpillars.
The tuber has antibiotic and diuretic properties and can treat nephropathy (damage or disease of the kidneys), eliminate bladder and kidney stones, skin ulcers and kill lice. It also has anaphrodisiac effects and was used by Incas to feed troops to keep their mind on fighting and off of sex as it causes a drop in the levels of testosterone/dihydrotestosterone. In Bolivia it is used to induce menstruation as it has a beneficial effect on oestrogen in females. It has also been shown to prevent the development of cancerous cells in stomach, colon, skin, and prostate.
Mashua is a good source of antioxidants such as delphinidin 3-glucoside-acetylrhamnoside , cyanidin 3-glucoside and delphinidin 3-sophoroside-5-acetyl rhamnoside, plus isothiocyanates (glucosinolates), all of the essential amino acids, protein, carbohydrates, carotenoids, tryptophan, valine, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin C, calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium.
NOTE: Mashua must be consumed with fatty foods like avocado, nut, seed or fish oils or olive oil in order to absorb the fat-soluble carotenoids.
(Moringa oleifera, drumstick tree, horseradish tree, ben oil tree, or benzoil tree)
Moringa is a tree native to parts of Africa and Asia and the name is derived from murungai/muringa, the Tamil/Malayalam word for drumstick. Currently, most Moringa comes from India, but it is also found in Thailand, the Philippines, Africa and Taiwan. The taste resembles horseradish and led to its nickname of the horseradish tree. Many underdeveloped countries rely on the Moringa to help with their malnutrition problems and some humanitarian aid organisations use it to help keep people’s nutrition levels up and prevent starvation.
The nutrients in drumstick leaves are equivalent to seven times the vitamin C in oranges, three times the potassium in bananas, two times the protein in milk, four times the vitamin A in carrots and more iron than in spinach.
The leaves which are rich in vitamins A, C and the B complex, can be cooked like spinach or they can be dried and used in soups or other recipes. The pods can be eaten like nuts and the roots can be diced up and used as a sauce similar to the use of horseradish.
Unusual for plants, moringa is rich in protein containing the eight essential amino acids. It also contains thirty six of the known anti-inflammatory compounds. It is known to treat anxiety, depression, diabetes, skin disorders and sleep disorders. It can also provide a huge boost in energy and can even help provide a quicker recovery after a workout. It also protects the stomach lining and can treat ulcers, improves digestion and the immune system, improves the mood and lowers blood pressure.
Because of the high calcium, iron and vitamin content, moringa leaves can be used as a wonderful tonic for infants, growing children and young adults, to promote strong and healthy bones and for purifying the bloodstream. To prepare the tonic, drumstick leaves should be ground with water, filtered and mixed with milk.
Moringa leaf juice is very beneficial for pregnant women as it can help them with an easier delivery and reduce post-delivery complications. In India, drumstick leaves are boiled in water and salt, the water is drained and the leaves are served with ghee (clarified butter) to lactating mothers to increase breast milk. Six tablespoons of leaf powder will provide nearly all of the woman's daily iron and calcium needs during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Moringa leaves, flowers, and seeds are also useful in treating sexual problems.
A soup prepared by boiling a handful of leaves in 177 ml of water for five minutes and cooled is served to those with respiratory problems. A little sea salt, black pepper and lime juice can be added to this soup.
A teaspoonful of fresh moringa leaf juice mixed with black strap molasses and a glass of tender coconut water taken two to three times a day is a good remedy for digestive disorders. Drumstick leaf juice is also effective in treating urinary disorders, such as excessive urination.
The leaves are an excellent source of protein that can rarely be found in any other herb or green leafy vegetable. Altogether 100 grams of fresh raw leaves provide 9.8 grams of protein or about 17.5% of the recommended daily amount. Dry, powdered leaves are a very concentrated source of many quality amino acids.
Moringa seeds produce oil, also known as ‘ben oil’, which is a sweet, non-sticky oil that does not become rancid and can be used in salads. The seeds can also be eaten green, roasted, powdered or steeped for tea, or used in curries.
Moringa has antibacterial properties and as such is very useful in preventing infections such as those of the throat, chest and skin. Moringa soup can be prepared from the leaves, flowers and pods and used for this purpose as an antibiotic.
Moringa can act as a cardiac and circulatory stimulant and possesses antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antipyretic (reduces fever), antispasmodic anti-tumour and diuretic properties. The juice of the moringa flowers can improve the quality and flow of mothers’ milk when breast feeding and is useful for urinary problems as it encourages urination. In Haiti, villagers boil moringa flowers in water and drink the tea as a powerful cold remedy.
If eaten raw, the moringa pods act as a de-wormer and can help to treat liver and spleen problems and relieve pain in the joints.
The roots and the bark have all of the properties described above but are more concentrated so care must be taken when using them as medicines. The roots and bark are used for cardiac and circulatory problems, as a tonic and for inflammation. The bark is also an appetiser and digestive.
The alkaloid spirachin (a nerve paralyser) has been found in the roots and the gum has diuretic, astringent (has a drying, tightening effect on tissues to aid in wound healing) and abortifacient (causes miscarriage) properties and is used to treat asthma.
NOTE: Pregnant women should be aware of moringa’s ability to induce miscarriage.
Disorders moringa can help to treat and protect against
Significant components in moringa
All essential amino acids, beta-carotene, beta-sitosterol, caffeoylquinic acid, chlorophyll, fibre, kaempferol, oleic acid, quercetin, spirachin, terygospermin and zeatin.
A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 and C.
Calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc.
External uses of moringa
Used for their antibiotic, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, the seeds are roasted, pounded, mixed with coconut oil and applied to the affected area. Seed oil is used for the same purpose. Moringa seeds are effective against the skin-infecting bacteria <ital.>Staphylococcus aureus</ital.> and <ital>Pseudomonas aeruginosa</ital.> as they contain the potent antibiotic and fungicide terygospermin.In Senegal and India, roots are pounded and mixed with salt to make a poultice for treating rheumatism and joint pains. In Senegal, this poultice is also used to relieve lower back or kidney pain.
Moringa seed oil is useful in treating conjunctivitis. Fresh drumstick leaf juice mixed with lime juice can be applied to treat pimples, acne and blackheads. Dried and powdered bark of the drumstick root can be used for fungal skin infections. Crushed drumstick leaves are used as a domestic cleaning agent and powdered seeds are used for clarifying honey and sugarcane juice and for purifying water.
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Regular consumption of onions can help to prevent cancer and circulatory disorders and prevent heart disease. It is particularly useful in reducing the development of bladder cancer in smokers. Onions contain vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B9 (folic acid), chromium, quercetin and allicin.
NOTE: After chopping onions always leave them to sit for ten minutes to allow for the production of allicin to take place.
Oregon grape root is a rich source of berberine. This compound is highly effective against fungi, protozoa, worms and parasites as well as bacteria and viruses. Berberine is an isoquinoline alkaloid present in the roots, rhizome and stem bark of this herb. The potential importance of berberine is indicated by its use in the Indian Ayurvedic, Unani and Chinese systems of medicine since time immemorial.
Berberine possesses a wide range of biochemical and pharmacological activities, anti-diarrheal, anti-arrhythmic and anti-tumour activities. Berberine has been shown to inhibit the proliferation of oesophageal cancer cells and inhibits cyclooxygenase-2 transcriptional activity in human colon cancer cells.
In 2008 it was also discovered that berberine is just as effective and much safer than metformin, the patent medicine most commonly now prescribed to help re-regulate blood sugar in type 2 diabetes.
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Parsnips contain far more heart-friendly potassium and vitamin B9 (foliate) than carrots. Foliate required for the creation of healthy cells, and having insufficient levels of it has been linked to cancer and birth defects.
They are an excellent sources of soluble and insoluble dietary fibre, 100 g root provides 4.9 mg. Adequate fibre in the diet helps reduce blood cholesterol levels, obesity and constipation conditions. Parsnips contain more fibre than potatoes and can be cooked in exactly the same way (roasted, baked, steamed and mashed) as a sweet tasting alternative.
A portion of cooked parsnips contains only 55 calories. They are a good source of choline, falcarinol, falcarindiol, panaxydiol, methyl-falcarindiol, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, vitamin C (17% of RDA), vitamin E, calcium, copper, iron, potassium, manganese and phosphorus. Manganese. helps nourish the nerves and brain and aids in the coordination of nerve impulses and muscular actions. It helps eliminate fatigue and reduces nervous irritability.
Use parsnips instead of sugar. In Europe, parsnips were used to sweeten jams and cakes before sugar was widely available and helped the jam to set.
Pepperwort (Lepidium meyenii, ayak chichira, ayuk willku, ginseng andin, ginseng Péruvien, lepidium peruvianum, maca maca, maca Péruvien, maino, maka, Peruvian ginseng, Peruvian maca, maca root, peppergrass)
Pepperwort is a plant that grows in central Peru in the Andes mountains. It has been cultivated as a vegetable crop in Peru since 1600 BC and is a staple diet of the indigenous people in this region to this day due to its very rich nutritional content. It is a brassica relative of radish, mustard and cress, has an odour similar to butterscotch and its root is used to make medicine. It can also be baked and used as a vegetable like sweet potato.
Sexual health, improving fertility and combating the effects of menopause are only a few benefits this healing herb has to offer as it contains compounds that can balance the hormones. It has a centuries-long reputation for being a powerful aphrodisiac and, as it is rich in minerals like zinc and iodine and essential fatty acids, it has the ability to balance sex hormones and improve mood and overall brain health.
Pepperwort is rich in sugars, protein, starches and essential nutrients (especially iodine and iron). It contains alkaloids, whole fibre, lipids, twenty amino acids (including arginine, serine, clycine, valine, histidine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid, etc.), beta-ecdysone, beta-sitosterol, hydrolyzable carbohydrates, fatty acids (including linolenic, palmitic and oleic acids), glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, iodine, phosphorus, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, steroid glycosides, saponins, sitosterols, stigmasterol, tannins, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B12 and vitamins C and E.
The glucosinolates found in the root of the
pepperwort help to combat serious invasive infection. They are the
substances that are also found in other members of the Brassicaceae
family (including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other cruciferous
vegetables) and are said to be particularly effective in building the
body's defences against serious malignant illnesses.
The botanical name of the poke bush comes from the Greek word φυτόν (phyton), meaning 'plant' and the Latin word 'lacca', a red dye. It has anti-arthritic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic and anti-viral properties and is also very effective in treating lymphatic disorders and boosting the immune system. It is also known to treat various types of skin disorders, fungal infections like acne, ringworm and scabies and eye infections such as conjunctivitis.
Decoctions made with poke root can also treat catarrh, constipation, dysmenorrhoea, dyspepsia, Lyme disease, mumps, pharyngitis, respiratory infections, sore throats, syphilis and tonsillitis.
It may also be helpful in treating diseases related to the immune system such as HIV/AIDS as it has certain properties that help strengthen the immune system by interacting with the proliferating T-cells. It also has potential to help treat breast and uterus cancers and is known to shrink tumours.
Poke weed extracts are used as insect repellents and are considered to be extremely effective.
Poke root contains glycoproteins, resins, tannins, triterpene saponins, many other components and also an active glycoprotein lectin called pokeweed mitogen which stimulates lymphocytes.
NOTE: The whole of the plant is toxic and increases in toxicity through the year with children at particular risk of its very poisonous purple-red ripe fruit. The juice of poke root can be absorbed through the skin and therefore contact of plant parts with bare skin should be avoided. Care must be taken to prepare it properly when using this herb medicinally.
Potato (Solanum tuberosum, nightshade family)
The potato belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family whose other members include tomatoes, aubergines and peppers. Potatoes originated in the Andean mountain region of South America and have been cultivated by the Indians living in these areas for between 4,000 and 7,000 years. Unlike many other foods, potatoes were able to be grown at the high altitudes typical of this area and therefore became a staple food for these hardy people. Potatoes were brought to Europe by Spanish explorers who "discovered" them in South America in the early 16th century.
Since potatoes are good sources of vitamin C, they were subsequently used on Spanish ships to prevent scurvy. They were introduced into Europe via Spain, and while they were consumed by some people in Italy and Germany, they were not widely consumed throughout Europe, even though many governments actively promoted this nutritious foodstuff that was relatively inexpensive to produce. The reason for this is that since people knew that the potato is related to the nightshade family, many felt that it was poisonous like some other members of this family. In addition, many judged potatoes with suspicion since they were not mentioned in the Bible. In fact, potatoes initially had such a poor reputation in Europe that many people thought eating them would cause leprosy.
Potatoes are useful for easing indigestion, colic, gastritis, ulcers and constipation. Externally, they useful for minor burns, sunburn, inflamed skin, skin infections, chilblains and even headaches. Potatoes are among the 12 foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of potatoes unless they are grown organically.
They are a good source of fibre, carbohydrates, asparagine, caffeic acid, carotenoids, flavonoids, quercetin, kukoamines, patatin, tryptophan, vitamin B1 ( thiamine), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin C, copper, potassium and manganese.
New potatoes are also a source of potassium and vitamin C is highest in freshly harvested new potatoes.
White potatoes that have turned green and the potatoes leaves contain a compound called solanine which is poisonous. Solanine is a steroid glycoside of the saponin group found in plants from the nightshade family, which in large doses, can cause gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhoea and vomiting, hallucinations, paralysis and death.
One of the triggers for solanine to develop in a white potato is exposure to light, especially fluorescent light. Therefore, it is essential to store potatoes in a dark place, preferably between 50°F and 65°F. If potatoes must be stored in a lighted place, they can be kept in a brown paper bag loosely closed to allow for air circulation.
NOTE: Cooked potatoes are not a concern when it comes to acrylamide, a potentially toxic and potentially cancer causing substance. However, fried, processed foods made with potatoes, such as potato chips and French fries, are considered among the highest risk of foods when it comes to acrylamide exposure. This is a reason to avoid or minimise intake of these foods. See Acrylamide Dangers.
See also Sweet Potato.
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(Filipendula ulmaria, spiraea ulmaria, meadowsweet, bridewort, meadowwort, meadwort, quaker lady, trumpet weed, gravel weed, gravel root)
Queen of the meadow has been used historically since Culpepper's time to treat cold, coughs, headaches and flu. It has antacid, astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, anti-emetic and stomachic properties and the root is traditionally valued to help heal strains, sprains, and the associated aches. It nourishes the ligaments and tendons and assists in restoring their normal function and so is useful and effective for treating arthritis. It helps release inorganic deposits from the joints and tissues and can prevent some types of bladder stones.
Quisqualis Indica (Combretum indicum, Chinese honeysuckle, rangoon creeper)
Quisqualis indica is a vine with red flower clusters found in Asia. The genus translates into Latin for 'What is that?' Decoctions of the root, seed or fruit can be used as antihelmintic to expel parasitic worms or for alleviating diarrhoea. Fruit decoction can also be used for gargling. The fruits are also used to combat nephritis. Leaves can be used to relieve pain caused by fever. The roots are used to treat rheumatism.
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Radishes (Raphanus sativus)
Radishes belong to the Brassica family and can be white, red, purple or black, long cylindrical or round in shape. They are eaten raw, cooked or pickled. The oil obtained from the seeds of is also used. The other parts of which are consumed are the leaves, the flowers, the pods and the seeds. Radish is also known as Daikon in some parts of the world. Radishes may be considered under the general classification of large and small radishes. The large contain a little more than 85% water, but 50% less mineral elements than the small. The small radishes are used either whole or sliced to garnish salads, while the large radishes can be grated or shredded as an ingredient.
Radishes contain a volatile ether which is particularly useful as a solvent for mucus or phlegm. They have also enzymes valuable in aiding the secretion of digestive juices. Because of their diuretic action they are valuable in cleansing the kidneys and the bladder. The juice of radishes blended with carrot juice is a wonderful aid in cleansing and in healing the mucous membrane of the digestive system as well as of the respiratory organs.
Radish is very good for the liver and is a very good detoxifier to purify the blood. It is very useful for treating jaundice as it helps removing bilirubin and also checks its production. It also checks destruction of red blood cells during jaundice by increasing supply of fresh oxygen in the blood. The black radish and the leaves are best for this purpose.
Regular consumption of radishes can help to relieve and cure asthma, bronchitis, constipation, fever, gall bladder , kidney and liver disorders, haemorrhoids (piles), respiratory disorders, urinary infections, skin disorders and many forms of cancer. They are also useful for weight loss and can be used externally for insect bites.
Radishes are low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol, a good source of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus and a very rich source of chlorine, dietary fibre, vitamin B9 (foliate), vitamin C and potassium,silicon, sodium and sulphur.
Rampion (Campanula rapunculus)
The word 'rampion' means bellflower of Europe and Asia and North Africa and is derived from its Latin specific name, rapunculus, a diminutive of rapa (turnip). It is a garden vegetable possessing roots that similar to turnips and boiled tender like parsnips. They have anti-inflammatory benefits, which could be associated with a calmer pregnancy and more successful birth. Rampion contains inulin, a sugar substitute and it is often used in special dietary foods for diabetics.
(Typha latifolia variegata)
Evidence of preserved starch grains on grinding stones suggests reed mace were eaten in Europe 30,000 years ago. The content of protein is comparable to that of maize or rice and 100 g of powdered root provides 266 calories. They also are a rich source of omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic).
The roots of reed mace have been traditionally used as a poultice and the flowers for diarrhoea. The boiled rootstocks can also be used as a diuretic for increasing urination or used mashed to make a jelly-like poultice for sores, boils, wounds, burns, scabs and smallpox pustules.
The outer portion of young plants can be peeled and the heart can be eaten raw or boiled and eaten like asparagus and has often been called the ”Cossack asparagus”, as it has been of great popularity with the Cossacks in Russia. The bases of the leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, in late spring when they are young and tender. In early summer the sheath can be removed from the developing green flower spike which can then be boiled and eaten like corn on the cob. In midsummer, once the male flowers are mature, the pollen can be collected and used as a flour supplement or thickener.
The common restharrow is a perennial plant species of the pea family found by the shore and is also common in dry hill pastures in chalk or limestone areas. It is a favourite food of the donkey, from which the generic name is derived, onos being the Greek word for an ass. but is obnoxious to snakes. A tradition exists that this was the plant from which the crown of thorns was plaited for the Crucifixion.
It possesses aperient, diuretic, expectorant, metabolic stimulant and sedative properties. It is good for oedema and water retention, especially uric acid retention, gravel and stones. It is also recommended for urinary catarrh, kidney inflammation and rheumatism. A decoction of the roots can be used externally for eczema, itching, and other skin problems.
The sweet viscid juice extracted from the root can be used to treat the parasitic toxoplasmosis infection, bladder stones and delirium.. The young shoots can be eaten in salads.
Infusion: steep 3 to 4 tbsp. roots in 1 cup hot water for 5 minutes while
stirring. Take 1 to 1 1/2 cups per day, warm.
(Sedum roseum, rhodiola , golden root, roseroot, Aaron's rod)
This herb has a legendary history dating back to the Greeks in 77 AD. It was used as a treatment for cold and flu and Mongolian physicians prescribed it for tuberculosis and cancer. It has been used extensively by the Russians because it enhances work performance, eliminates fatigue and prevents high altitude sickness. It has been shown to shorten recovery time after prolonged workouts, increase attention span, memory, strength and provide anti-toxic action.
It can strengthen the nervous system, fight depression, enhance immunity, elevate the capacity for exercise, enhance memory, aid weight reduction, increase sexual function, balance lung and circulatory functions, improve energy levels and support physical strength.
Rhodiola both stimulates and protects the immune system by reinstating homeostasis (metabolic balance) in the body. It also increases the natural killer cells (NK) in the stomach and spleen. This action may be due to its ability to normalise hormones by modulating the release of glucocorticoid into the body.
Rhodiola rosea also decreases the amount of catecholamines and corticosteroids released by the adrenal glands during stress. The abnormal presence of these stress hormones will subsequently raise blood pressure, cholesterol, potassium levels and increase risk factors for heart disease. Rhodiola has been found to decrease harmful blood lipids and thus decrease the risk of heart disease. It also decreases the amount of cyclic-AMP released into cardiac cells. Cyclic AMP is related to adenosine triphosphate, the body's primary energy molecule. C-AMP acts as a 'second messenger' or liaison between the outer and inner environments of the cell. It assists in the uptake of more intracellular calcium into the heart thus promoting a greater potential for heart muscle contraction. Rhodiola thus regulates the heart beat and counteracts heart arrhythmias.
It also enhances the transport of serotonin precursors, tryptophan, and 5-hydroxytryptophan into the brain. Serotonin is a widely studied brain neurotransmitter chemical that is involved in many functions including, smooth muscle contraction, temperature regulation, appetite, pain perception, behaviour, blood pressure and respiration. When balanced, it imparts a sense of contentment and mental ease. Either too much or too little serotonin on the other hand has been linked to various abnormal mental states such as clinical depression.
It has also been reported to improve hearing, regulate blood sugar levels for diabetics and protect the liver from environmental toxins, assist with weight reduction. It can also clinically enhance thyroid function without causing hyperthyroidism, enhance thymus gland function and protect or delay involution that occurs with ageing. It can also improve adrenal gland reserves without causing hypertrophy. It has shown to substantially improve erectile dysfunction and/or premature ejaculation in men and normalises their prostatic fluid.
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Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius, white salsify, goatsbeard, vegetable oyster, oyster plant)
Salsify is a vegetable whose root and leaves can be used for cooking purposes. Salsify is a member of the sunflower family and its varieties are named French Blue Flowered and the Mammoth Sandwich Island. It is cultivated in Central and Southern Europe, the United States, and in Asia (Taiwan) and is said to have originated in the Mediterranean.
Salsify contains no cholesterol or fat and is low in sodium. It also provides an excellent source of dietary fibre. It is also is a good source of inulin, vitamin A (retinol), vitamin B9 (foliate), vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.
Sarsaparilla is an Amazonian plant used in cases of pruritus and erythema (redness of skin). There is a Smilax regelii also commonly called zarzaparilla and the roots are mainly used in decoctions and infusions as anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, ant-flu and anti-syphilitic.
It also possesses the following properties: alterative, aphrodisiac, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, carminative, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, protects the liver against hepatitis, formonal, steroidal, stimulant, stomachic and tonic
Sarsaparilla was discovered by the early Spanish settlers in Jamaica, Perus, St. Domingo and Brazil in the middle of the sixteenth century. It was introduced into Seville about 1536 from "New Spain" and another variety soon arrive from Honduras. Pedro de Cieze de Leon in 1553 wrote that he saw it growing in South America. It was recommended as a cure for syphilis and for some time was considered the only effective remedy for this ailment. It was from the time of its introduction considered a superior blood purifier. It fell into disuse for a while until Sir William Fordyce revived it in 1757. After this short resurgence it was ignored. During the latter part of the nineteenth century its use was considered the result of ignorant superstition.
It also contains substances which are similar to the male hormone testosterone and the female hormone progesterone. It can safely help increase the metabolic rate and balance the glandular system.
huang-qin, skullcap root)
Scutellaria is part of the Lamiaceae plant family and is a native of China. It is a very powerful antiviral herb with no side effects and perfect for treatment of pandemic diseases. The root of this plant, which has been used in Chinese medicine for a very long time as the herb Huang-qin, is extremely effective for treating contagious flu-like viruses. There is really no better anti-infection agent in herb kingdom.
It is also one of the most powerful herbs to induce sleep. It calms the nervous system, relaxes the muscles and helps balance blood pressure and has no side effects. It also contains a compound known as baicalin that is as powerful as ibuprofen in reducing pain without the side effects.
The herb is more effective if grown in poor, sandy soil. Added advantages of scutellaria are
(Polygala vulgaris, milkwort, rattlesnake root, seneca, snakeroot)
Senega root was highly esteemed by the native Seneca Indians for its effectiveness in curing rattlesnake bites and many other disorders. It is a diaphoretic (encourages sweating), cathartic, diuretic, expectorant, sialagogue (enhances saliva flow) and has emetic properties. It is especially effective for treating bronchitis and asthma by nourishing the respiratory tract. It is also useful for treating colds, whooping cough, bleeding wounds, rheumatism, pain and inflammation, pneumonia and pleurisy, respiratory tract inflammation, emphysema, tracheitis or inflammation of the trachea.
It possesses an intricate blend of triterpenoid saponins in the roots. These saponins work by causing irritation locally on the stomach’s internal coating and a nauseated feeling that eventually promotes secretions from the bronchial tubes as well as the sweat glands. However, care should be taken not to take this herb in excessive amounts, as it may result in violent purging and vomiting. It also contains phenolic acids, polygalitol, methyl salicylate and plant sterols.
It has been discovered that the saponins present in senega root have the promise to treat type II diabetes, the form of the disease that is not dependent on taking insulin injections.
The bark of polygala senega is used to prepare a tea, which is drunk to induce abortions or cause miscarriage.
NOTE: Senega root may prove to be poisonous when taken in large amounts and cause vomiting and aggressive purging. Excessive use may cause nervousness, vertigo, mental tedium and vision disturbance. People who are hypersensitive to salicylates or aspirin should stay away from using senega root. Pregnant women should also avoid this herb.
In Pucallpa, Peru, the leaf decoction of this Amazonian plant is used internally for arthritis and rheumatism. A root infusion with aguardiente (an alcoholic beverage) is taken for for rheumatism, venereal diseases and chills. The plant is regarded as; diaphoretic, a diuretic, good to reduce fever and can treat yellow fever, snakebite and syphilis, It contains scopoletin, quinic acid, tartaric acid and lactic acid.
Siberian ginseng supports the glandular system. It is called an "adaptogen", which means that it helps the body adapt to any situation which normally would alter its function. Siberian Ginseng has a beneficial effect on the heart and circulation. It stimulates the entire body energy to overcome stress, fatigue, and weakness. Studies suggest that Siberian Ginseng may help reduce blood sugar levels, balance blood pressure levels and enhance the immune system by boosting the body's production of natural killer cells.
Spring onions (Allium cepa, green onions, negi, naganegi)
Spring onions are immature onions, but the name may refer to several members of the onion family. The green and white parts of the vegetable are edible and all of it should be used when adding to meals.
Spring onions are a very good source of fibre, choline, vitamin A (retinol), vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B9 (foliate), vitamin C, (ascorbic acid), vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and potassium.
NOTE: Always leave spring onions for ten minutes after chopping them to allow the production of the powerful antioxidant allicin to take place. Once they are being cooked this ceases.
Stephania root (Stephania tetrandra, fang ji)
Stephania has powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In Japan, it is used as a pain reliever and to treat inflammation and stiffness of the shoulders and back. In China it is used to treat flatulence, kidney and spleen disorders and as an effective diuretic to relieve oedema. It is also known be effective in treating Lyme disease and syphilis and can prevent silicosis. It can also help the cardiovascular system by increasing blood flow, expanding coronary vessels and lowering blood pressure.
This is a perennial medicinal herb in the mint family and its active components are resins, saponins, tannins and mucilage. It is useful for stabilising the lining on the sinus cavities and to minimize the build-up of excess mucus in the sinus cavities, throat and stomach. It also has the ability to relax painful constrictions and spasms of the rectum. As such it is used for fistulas, ulcers and anal fissures. It also has a relaxing activity on urinary organs, where it can relax the ureter and therefore increase urination, reduce irritability of the bladder and assist with the passage of kidney stones and bladder stones.
Suma (Pfaffia paniculata, Brazilian ginseng)
In South America, suma is known as para toda (which means; ‘for all things’) and as Brazilian ginseng, since it is widely used as an adaptogen with many applications (similar to ginseng). The indigenous peoples of the Amazon region have used suma root for generations for a wide variety of health purposes, including as a general tonic; as an energy, rejuvenating and sexual tonic; and as a general cure-all for many types of illnesses. Suma has been used as an aphrodisiac, a calming agent and to treat ulcers for at least 300 years. It is an important herbal remedy of several Amazon rainforest indigenous tribes today.
Suma root is employed as a cellular oxygenator and taken to stimulate appetite and circulation, increase estrogen production, balance blood sugar levels, reduce high blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, enhance the immune system, strengthen the muscular system, treat inflammation, exhaustion, fatigue, PMS, menopause, menstrual symptoms, and hormonal disorders, stress impotence, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, tumours, circulatory and digestive disorders, rheumatism, bronchitis, mononucleosis, sterility, arteriosclerosis, anaemia, enhance memory, restore nerve and glandular functions, balance the endocrine system, strengthen the immune system, for infertility, to minimize the side effects of birth control medications, neutralize toxins, helps to heal wounds, acts as an antifungal and antibacterial agent and as a general restorative tonic after illness.
Suma may also be a helpful adjunct therapy in the treatment of syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections.
It is an adaptogen herb, which means it helps the body adapt to stress, and acts as a tonic to the entire system. By enhancing the body's immune system, Suma aids in preventing free-radical damage to the body and contains significant amounts of germanium, a trace mineral which stimulates the immune system and helps promote oxygen flow to cells. It also contains "allantoin", a substance which assists in healing wounds. Some of Suma's other beneficial nutrients include the natural plant hormones sitosterol and stigmasterol. These phytochemicals nourish the circulatory and glandular systems.
The Japanese investigated Suma in trials against specific types of tumour cells. The researchers discovered that six saponins called pffaffosides A, B, C, D, E, and F are the unique chemicals present in Suma that inhibit tumour cell growth. Brazilian researchers have found that Suma is both safe and effective for altered-immune disorders.
Suma has also been called "the Russian secret," as it has been taken by Russian Olympic athletes for many years and has been reported to increase muscle-building and endurance without the side effects associated with steroids. This action is attributed to an anabolic-type phytochemical called beta-ecdysterone and three novel ecdysteroid glycosides that are found in high amounts in suma.
A French company has also filed a U.S. patent on the topical use of these ecdysterone chemicals, claiming that their suma ecdysterone extract strengthened the water barrier function of the skin, increased skin keratinocyte differentiation (which would be helpful for psoriasis), and gave the skin a smoother, softer appearance and improved hair appearance.
Suma root contains 19 different amino acids, a large number of electrolytes, trace minerals; germanium, iron, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin E and vitamin K. It is high in beta-ecdysterone. The root also contains novel phytochemicals including saponins, pfaffic acids, glycosides and nortriterpenes. Suma's main plant chemicals are: allantoin, beta-ecdysterone, beta-sitosterol, daucosterol, nortriterpenoids, pfaffic acids, pfaffosides A-F, polypodine B, saponins, silica, stigmasterol, stigmasterol-3-o-beta-d-glucoside.
Suma root has a very high saponin content (up to 11%). One of the most famous plant saponins is digitalis, derived from the common foxglove garden plant, which has been used as a heart drug for over 100 years.
The root of the plant is most commonly used in herbal preparations, although the bark, berries and leaves may also contain beneficial medicinal ingredients.NOTE: Avoid if female suffering with oestrogen positive cancers NOTE: The root powder has been reported to cause asthmatic allergic reactions if inhaled. Ingestion of large amounts of plant saponins in general (naturally occurring chemicals in suma) has shown to sometimes cause mild gastric disturbances including nausea and stomach cramping. Reduce dosages if these side effects are noted.
Swede (Brassica napus, rutabaga)
The word rutabaga has been derived from the Swedish word ‘rotabagge’ where ‘rota’ means ‘root’. Commonly known as Swede, Swedish turnip or yellow turnip, rutabaga is a member of the genus Brassica.
Regular consumption of Swede can increase milk production capacity in lactating mothers. It also can increase and enhance stamina and digestion. Swede also helps in reducing wheezing in asthma patients, reduces the risk of cataract formation, supports the structure of capillaries, helps in decreasing stroke mortality, can lower high blood pressure and provides relief from constipation.
It also boosts the immune system, prevents cancer and heart disease and, when consumed by pregnant women before and during pregnancy, it can prevent spina bifida in the new born baby. Swede is also good to include in the diet when suffering from colds and coughs.
Swede can be steamed, boiled and mashed, sautéed, baked or roasted. They make a great addition to soups and dishes with a little sweetness like honey or dried fruit. As a snack cut the Swede into cubes and boil them. Toss them with raisins, chopped walnuts and a little honey. Swedes can be served fresh in salads or chopped up and served with crunchy vegetables as a snack.
170 g of Swede contains 66 calories. It is a good source of fibre and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It has a high content of carotene, vitamin C, vitamin B9 (foliate), choline, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium. Swede also provides vitamin A (retinol), vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin, vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin E, vitamin K, iron, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.
The earliest cultivation records of the sweet potato date to 750 BC in Peru, although archaeological evidence shows cultivation of the sweet potato may have begun around 2500-1850 BC. It was after 1740 that the term 'sweet potato' began to be used by American colonists to distinguish it from the white potato.
When Spanish explorers first arrived in the New World they were searching for an ocean route to India and its legendary treasures of gems, gold, silk, silver and spices. It was in the New World, now known as the Americas, that they discovered the nutritious food crops being grown by the native inhabitants that were very easy to produce and store. Three of them were corn, the white potato and the sweet potato.
Being a tropical plant, the sweet potato was found before the Irish potato by Columbus in the West Indies, Balboa in Central America and Pizarro in Peru. Like corn, it was not found growing wild, but had been cultivated by the Incan and pre-Incan tribes in Sao Paulo and Brazil for thousands of years. They had developed many varieties, as is shown by their ancient pottery. In most places in Latin America, the sweet potato is called ‘camote’, but the Incans called it ‘batata’ which is the origin of the word ‘potato’. Sweet potatoes have been one of the staple foods for the native tribes of the Americas for many centuries and they also make a permanent red dye from the mixed juices of limes and sweet potatoes.
The sweet potato was carried back to Spain and then to Italy, from where it spread to Austria, Germany, Belgium and England before the first white potatoes arrived. The Irish accepted white potato readily, but it took 200 years for the English to accept them being fit for human consumption. In contrast the sweet potato immediately became a treasured and expensive delicacy and the white potato became known as the Irish potato.
Its alleged aphrodisiac properties could be the reason for its popularity in the upper classes of 16th century England and King Henry VIII was said to consume huge amounts of sweet potatoes, especially spicy sweet potato pie. Now it is widely grown in Asia and southern Russia, the Pacific islands, tropical America and in the United States as far north as New Jersey.
Outside of the tropics, sweet potatoes only thrive in warmer temperate climates and loose sandy soil that is well drained and only produce seed in the tropical climates. In northern climates, new plants are obtained by planting roots, or cuttings of the vines, in beds. The sprouts that form are then replanted in a field, one sprout to a ‘hill’ of soil. Once they are established, they require very little watering and, unless attacked by the numerous diseases and insect pests to which they are subject, develop many potatoes in each hill. Sweet potatoes produce more pounds of food per acre than any other cultivated plant, including corn and the white potato.
Sweet potatoes are related to Morning glory and other vines but not yams as often thought and, unlike white potatoes, the leaves are also edible and nutritious whereas white potato leaves, and white potatoes that have turned green, contain solanine which is poisonous. Solanine is a steroid glycoside of the saponin group found in plants from the nightshade family which, in large doses, can cause gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhoea and vomiting, hallucinations, paralysis and death.
Because white potatoes are members of the nightshade family, which some people have intolerances to, sweet potatoes are a good substitute. Although some people call sweet potatoes yams, the true yams originated in China and are a different plant related to the lily.
Health benefits of sweet potatoes
Significant nutrients in sweet potatoes
Sweet potato provides 90 calories per 100 g whereas white potatoes contain 70 calories per 100. They also contain no saturated fats or cholesterol and are a good source of dietary fibre.
Sweet potatoes contain more fibre, iron, vitamins C, B9 and K and potassium but less sodium than the white potato. They also contain betaine, choline and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, D and E.
They contain high amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin A which helps to maintain the health of bones, eyes and also improves the immune system.
The anti-oxidants beta-carotene, manganese, selenium and vitamins A, C and E can improve the condition of the skin and help to treat arthritis, asthma and gout.
Sweet potatoes are extremely rich in minerals such as: calcium, chromium, copper, germanium, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, silicon and zinc which regulate and maintain the overall health of our body.
NOTE: Sweet potatoes are also rich in omega-6 fatty acids which are inflammatory and low in omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory, therefore the best way to consume them would be with a high omega-3 food to balance the ratio of these important fatty acids.
Naturally high sources of omega-3 fatty acids
Black seeds, borage, chia seeds, chlorella, collard greens, durum wheat, eel, endive, flaxseed, hemp seeds, kale, krill oil, maqui berry, melon, millet, mustard greens and seeds, oats, octopus, oily fish, pepperwort, poppy seeds, squid, pumpkin seeds, rapeseed, raspberries, rye, shellfish, soya, spirulina, sumac, Swede and walnuts.
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Tree Turmeric (Berberis aristata)
Tree turmeric is a Himalayan herb found between 200-3000 m height. English names are tree turmeric and Indian berberry. Also known as Bérbero Indio, Chitra, Darhahed, Darhald, Daruhaldi, Daruharidra, Darurajani, Darvi, Épine-Vinette Aristée, Hint Amberparisi, Indian Barberry, Indian Berberry, Indian Lycium, Indian Ophthalmic Barberry, Nepal Barberry, Nepalese Barberry, Ophthalmic Barberry, Pisse Vinaigre, Vinettier Aristé.
It is a cooling laxative for children. The stem is said to be diaphoretic and laxative and useful in rheumatism. The dried extract of the roots is used as an application in ophthalmia and also excellent medication in the case of sun-blindness. The root is one of the few really good medicines in India. In its efficacy, it is almost equal to quinine. It does not produce any bad effects on the stomach, the bowels, the brain and the organs of hearing.
This herb is used to treat
diseases related to the
and face. Also used in cases of enlarged
liver, spleen, jaundice, periodic neuralgia, dysentery and colitis. Tincture
made from the root bark is used as bitter tonic, stomachic, cholagogue,
anti-periodic, antipyretic and also in debility. This is a purgative for
The watery solution of this is also used for washing
sores and glandular swellings.
Topically, tree turmeric is also used for burns and wounds.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa, curcumin)
The bright yellow of the spice rainbow, is a powerful medicine that has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including bacterial infections, flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, haemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain and colic. It may also provide an inexpensive, well-tolerated, and effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's, prostate cancer, arthritis, neurological disorders, liver disorders and ulcerative colitis.
Curcumin, the major constituent of turmeric that gives the spice its yellow colour, can correct the most common expression of the genetic defect that is responsible for cystic fibrosis. The frequent consumption of turmeric leads to lower rates of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer. Even when breast cancer is already present, curcumin can help slow the spread of breast cancer cells to the lungs. Curcumin exerts very powerful antioxidant effects.
As an antioxidant, curcumin is able to neutralize free radicals, chemicals that can travel through the body and cause great amounts of damage to healthy cells and cell membranes. This is important in many diseases, such as arthritis, where free radicals are responsible for the painful joint inflammation and eventual damage to the joints. Turmeric's combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects explains why many people with joint disease find relief when they use the spice regularly.Turmeric is also beneficial in the treatment of measles. Turmeric has also been scientifically proven to be more effective at treating depression than many common anti-depressant drugs.
Treatment of brain cells, called astrocytes, with turmeric has been found to increase expression of the glutathione and protect neurons exposed to oxidant stress.Increasing turmeric in the diet can increase the levels of the amino acid glutathione in the body which can be beneficial for a huge range of diseases and disorders as it is present in every cell of the body and has an important antioxidant role..
Prostate cancer is a rare occurrence among men in India, whose low risk is attributed to a diet rich in brassica family vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and turnips) and the curry spice, turmeric. Both phenethyl isothiocyanate and curcumin greatly retarded the growth of human prostate cancer cells. The combination of cruciferous vegetables and curcumin could be an effective therapy not only to prevent prostate cancer, but to inhibit the spread of established prostate cancers.
Cauliflower spiced with turmeric for protection against prostate cancer, cut cauliflower florets in quarters and let sit for 5-10 minutes; this allows time for the production of phenethyl isothiocyanates, which form when cruciferous vegetables are cut, but stops when they are heated. Then sprinkle with turmeric, and healthy sauté on medium heat in a few tablespoons of vegetable or chicken broth for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and top with olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste.
Makes an excellent arthritis tea as a strong anti-inflammatory, bacterial killer, blood purifier and effective treatment for hepatitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, bruises, colic, ulcers, haemorrhages, yeast infections and is antiseptic. It can be used internally and externally to heal wounds, relieve pains in the limbs, break up congestion and as a restorative after the loss of blood from childbirth.
Turmeric Arthritis Tea Recipe
NOTE: Avoid cumin, ginger and turmeric if taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication), or hormone therapies and contraceptive pills or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen, have heart problems or during the first three months of pregnancy or are breast feeding.
(Brassica rapa, neep)
Turnip greens are supercharged with so many different nutrients, their consumption can help prevent or heal a wide range of health conditions and bacterial infections. Since turnip greens are an excellent source of vitamin A (through their concentration of carotenoids such as beta-carotene), vitamin E and dietary fibre, two examples of conditions for which they may be of special importance are rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis. Turnips prevent blood clots and arterial blockages, reduce the risks of heart disease, prevents a variety of cancers, especially colorectal and protects against the damages caused by nicotine.
Brassicas like turnips are also a good source of carotenoids, indoles, vitamin A (retinol), vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
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Uva Ursi (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Berberis aristata, Berberidaceae, bearberry, Indian barberry, daruharidra, daruhaldi, uva ursi)
Medicinal use of uva ursi back more than 2,500 years. It has been used in Indian folk medicine to treat diarrhoea, reduce fever, improve appetite, relieve upset stomach, and promote vigour as well as a sense of well being. Today, it is widely used for medicinal purposes in Iran, including for biliary disorders, such as gallbladder disease and heartburn.
gallbladder inflammation and jaundice and helps the bile to flow freely. It is also a very mild
laxative and removes toxins from the bowels and it can also help treat an enlarged spleen.
Make a tea with 2 - 4 grams of dried root steeped or 1 - 2 tsp of whole or crushed berries steeped in 150ml of boiling water for 10 - 15 minutes then drink 3 times daily.
Use a decoction to gargle and relieve minor throat irritations. Apply and rub uva ursi juice (the juice from the fruit) on the gums to treat pyorrhoea.
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Valerian root can support the nervous system and has soothing properties. Valerian is a safe and natural sleeping aid. It helps soothe rattled nerves and assists the body in relieving insomnia. Properties of the plant have demonstrated to give calming relief to muscles, the nerves and blood vessels. As it contains a natural tranquilizer it relaxes muscles and lowers blood pressure. Daily consumption of valerian will aid in a state of overall relaxation and elimination of stress which will, in turn, decrease blood pressure in people experiencing hypertension.
Violet Tree Roots (Securidaca longepedunculata, krinkhout, mpesu, mmaba)
This small tree with fragrant purple flowers is indigenous to the tropical parts of Africa. The roots can treat a variety of physical and psychological problems such as discomfort, irritation, nervousness, head ache and epilepsy. It has been scientifically proven that the root extract is as powerful and effective as the pharmaceutical drug ‘phenobarbitone’ often used for epilepsy but without the damaging side effects.
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asabi (Wasabia japonica)
Wasabi is a paste made from the ground up root of this cruciferous Japanese brassica vegetable. It has been used for centuries in Japan because it can kills harmful food borne bacteria, reduce blood pressure, kill cancer cells, improve bone strength and liver function, detoxify the body of free radicals and improve gut actions. It is naturally anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and stimulates the bodies natural immune system.
Glucoraphanin, which transforms into sulforaphane in the body, is found in brassicas like wasabi and blocks a key destructive enzyme that damages cartilage. Consuming plenty of these cruciferous vegetables can protect the joints and help to treat arthritis. Sulphoraphane, which also helps with the detoxification in the liver and may prevent, or even cure, breast cancer. Brassicas can boost the immune system, prevent spina difida in newborns (if consumed during pregnancy) and prevent heart disease and many forms of cancer.
Wasabi may cause temporary inflammation of the throat and sinuses but can help to reduce inflammation in other parts of the body.
Many unscrupulous restaurants and manufacturers will create a cheaper wasabi substitute from mustard, horseradish and food colourings. This does not provide the same set of nutritional benefits as real wasabi so care needs to be taken to ensure that the wasabi being consumed is actually from the wasabi plant itself.
Wild Yam (Dioscorea oppositae)
Wild yam has many effective uses. It is known to relax the muscles and promote glandular balance in women. Wild Yam contains natural plant components which help the body balance hormone levels so is especially useful during the menopause by helping to eliminate hot flushes. Wild yam also nourishes the digestive system and the nerves and is helpful to the liver and endocrine system.
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Yacon is a perennial plant in the Asteraceae family that is mainly cultivated for its sweet flavoured roots. Also known as Peruvian ground apple, yacon is mainly grown in the northern and central Andes. Yacon has also been introduced in countries like Australia and New Zealand where the climate is mild and the growing season long. Today, it is also grown in home gardens in some parts of the United States and the United Kingdom and you may find it at farmers' markets, too. Raw yacon has a crunchy texture and it is good peeled, diced and eaten as a snack. Peeled and sliced yacon can also be added to salads.
Yacon root is a rich source of prebiotic inulin which supports bone health, immune function and gut balance, encourages a healthy intestinal environment to benefit probiotic intestinal flora,. promotes normal development of epithelial tissue, supports absorption of calcium and magnesium, stabilises blood sugar levels, supports immune cell function and antibody production in the gut, promotes a healthy pH in the lower gastrointestinal tract, promotes healthy elimination of waste and is an excellent source of fibre.
Tip: yacon root (or any other asteraceae root) as a salad ingredient, dip the peeled and sliced roots in water that contains a lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Acidulated water helps prevent the light flesh of tuberous root vegetables from discolouring.
(Dioscorea alata, jicama)
Yams, often confused with sweet potatoes, are a tuber native to Africa and Asia. They vary in size, and are generally cylindrical in shape. Yam flesh ranges in colour from tan to pink or purple. Yams tend to be dry and starchy, providing a healthy energy source with important nutritional benefits. Yams are closely related to lilies and grasses and vary in size from that of a small potato to a record 130 pounds (as of 1999). There are over 600 varieties of yams and 95% of these crops are grown in Africa. Compared to sweet potatoes, yams are starchier and drier. They are a very low calorie (35 cal per 100g) sweet root vegetable that looks like a turnip of Mexican origin. They can be eaten raw in salads and replacing potatoes with yams can provide more fibre and antioxidants to the diet. They are an excellent source of many nutrients, dietary fibre, anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
Fresh yam tubers are one of the finest sources of dietary fibre (100g provides 13% of RDA) and an excellent source of oligofructose and inulin, which belong to a class of carbohydrates known as fructans and soluble dietary fibre that feeds the friendly bacteria in the colon. They are also rich in vitamin C; (provides 34% RDA per 100g), copper, iron, magnesium and manganese. They also contain small levels vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B9 (foliates).
Inulin is a zero calorie, sweet inert carbohydrate and does not metabolize in the human body, which make the root an ideal sweet snack for diabetics and dieters plus it offers protection from cancers, inflammation and viral coughs and colds. Also keeps the cells of the colon healthy, preventing such conditions as ulcerative colitis, colon cancer and diverticular disease. They also help regulate cholesterol and insulin responses.
Yams can help lower LDL cholesterol and protect from heart disease as well as relieve premenstrual tension. They are high in antioxidants, fibre, vitamin C, vitamin B9 (foliate), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) copper, iron, manganese and potassium.
Slice yams and sauté them in rapeseed oil with minced onions or grill the slices for a side dish that complements the flavour of grilled venison steak. Combine cooked yam cubes with jalapenos and lime juice and use the mixture to top cooked rabbit.
Yellow Dock Root (Rumex crispus)
Yellow dock is a bitter herb noted for its high iron content and therefore good to treat anaemia. It nourishes the skin, stimulates bile production, and helps the function of the gallbladder and purifies the blood. Is is also known to treat impotency and bacterial orchitis.
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Internally zhi mu used for high fever in chronic bronchitis, infectious diseases, tuberculosis and urinary problems. Zhi mu is used in Chinese herbal medicine for coughs, fever and night sweats. It has a bitter taste and is used to treat canker sores, particularly in combination with rehmannia and Scrophularia ningpoensis.
It has an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Bacillus dysenteriae, B. typhi, B. paraatyphi, Proteus and Pseudomonas. Externally, it is used as a mouthwash in the treatment of ulcers. The rhizome is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use. Therapeutic action is slightly altered by cooking with wine or salt.
NOTE: Zhi mu should not be given to patients with diarrhoea and should be administered with caution since when taken in excess it can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure.
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DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not intended to diagnose medical problems, prescribe remedies for illness, or treat disease. Its intention is solely educational. If you are in any doubt about your health, please consult your medical or health professional. Nature Cures does not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of the information provided here or the outcome of using it.
© Copyright 2010 Nature Cures. All rights reserved.