Power of Herbs
Go back in time several hundred years in North America and what would one discover? One would see trees soaring into the skies, rich under growths of plants and herbs along the ground as far as the eye could see. Now close your eyes and imagine the rich scents unadulterated by modern society. A world would be found that the Native Americans knew how to tap into for health and healing.
Early settlers gleaned information from the natives not only on food sources but also on herbs for healing. Echinacea and Goldenseal being only two of the many herbs the natives used. Unfortunately, when the introduction of antibiotics hit the market in the turn of the century, people began to forget all about the natural paths to be taken to ultimate health.
The Cherokee used Goldenseal for digestive health and local inflammations. The Iroquois used Goldenseal for coughs, fevers, heart problems and liver disorders. The Choctaw and Kiowa used Echinacea for sore throats and coughs. The Oglala and Sioux Dakota tribes used Echinacea for tonsillitis, cooling inflammation and bowel health to name a few. The Crow used Echinacea for colds and toothaches. These are just some of the tribes that put these wonderful herbs to use. So let us take a page out of the book of history and see what these herbs can do for people today.
For a number of years now, Echinacea has made an explosion on the retail market for use against colds and flu. This perennial purple cone flower gets its name from the Greek word echinos which means hedgehog due to the bristly spines in the seed head of the flower. People take it as a precaution to strengthen the immune system or during illness to lessen the length or severity of the cold or flu. How does Echinacea work in the body to do these things?
Echinacea is an immuno-stimulant which means it kills the germs by boosting the immune system. Some studies have found, though still under scientific research, it stimulates the release of interferons. These kill germs and prevent them from reproducing. It has also been found to help the body produce more white blood cells such as T-lymphocytes. These little guys are infection fighting blood cells. Echinacea also puts a stop to bacteria secreting an enzyme called hyaluronidase. This nasty enzyme works hard get into the protective membranes of the lining of the intestines and respiratory tract and invades tissues.
Now let us take a look at Goldenseal. The root or rhizome, of this plant is where the active compound berberine can be found. One of the main effects Goldenseal has been as a mucous membrane tonic. It is also a great anti-inflammatory. It is most often used for digestive issues, which makes it a wonderful cure all for the stomach flu. Goldenseal is a very diverse plant, used for many different afflictions such as eye infections, urinary tract infection, digestive irritations or inflammations, sinus infections, colds and flu.
So what is the advantage of putting Echinacea and Goldenseal together? During a cold, flu or infection, especially of the mucous membranes, Echinacea goes to work doing what it does as previously described, boosting the immune system. Goldenseal, meanwhile, can help control the inflammatory process if there is too much heat, redness, or swelling. In areas that are infected, Goldenseal can help bring more blood into micro-circulation, such as the sinus cavities or urinary tract.
When taken together, it is best advised to take two parts Echinacea to one part Goldenseal three times daily for up to two weeks. This can be taken in tablet, capsule, extract or in tea form. There has been massive over harvesting in the wild of both of these plants. Goldenseal in particular, which has been listed in the Convention on International Trade Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, has had over 60 million plants picked each year with out replacement. Look for products containing organically grown and harvested herbs.
Written by Crusador Staff
Tea tree oil, also know as melaleuca oil, is taken from the leaves from the Australian native evergreen tree, Melaleuca Alternfolia. There are over 200 species of this evergreen which depending on the species can be a tree or a bush. It was originally used by the aboriginal people, the Bundjalung, by crushing the leaves and inhaling the camphoraceous scent of the leaves to treat coughs and colds, making poultices for wounds and by making infusions out of the leaves to treat sore throats and skin ailments. It was not until the 1920’s that the scientific world discovered the amazing antimicrobial effects of tea tree oil, started to refine the process of collection and introduced it to the outer world.
Cat’s Claw or Uña de Gato (Unicaria Tomentosa, Unacaria Guianesis) originates from Central and South America particularly areas in the Amazon Rainforest. Dates of use go all the way back to the Inca civilization. The name comes from the look of the thorns on the leaves of the plants which resemble the look of a cat’s claws, but it is in the root bark that the medicinal value can be found. (This should not be confused with another plant by the same name of Cat’s Claw that grows in Northern New Mexico and Southern Texas also known as Acacia Gregii, which is considered poisonous with no known health benefits.)
Rhodiola rosea also known as golden root, arctic root or roseroot, has been used for centuries in traditional Russian and Scandinavian medicine to increase physical endurance, work productivity, longevity, resistance to high altitude sickness, and to help those dealing with fatigue, depression, anemia, impotence, infertility, gastrointestinal complaints, infections and nervous system disorders. Numerous studies have proved Rhodiola to be a powerful adaptogen that increases ones resistance to chemical, biological, and physical stressors and protects the body from breakdown due to chronic stress.
Rhodiola stimulates the activity of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the cerebral cortex, brain stem and hypothalamus, and increases the permeability of the blood brain barrier to precursors of dopamine and serotonin. This enhances the effects of these neurotransmitters on thye brain and improves cognitive functions (thinking, analyzing, evaluating, calculating and planning), learning, attention span, memory and work productivity. Rhodiola also relieves fatigue and normalizes mood in depressed individuals, and has antioxidant properties that help protect the nervous system from oxidative damage. By stimulating cognitive function, improving resistance to stress and fighting free radicals, Rhodiola can have immediate effects on cognitive function and memory and can also provide long-term support to help preserve future brain functions.
A study involving 56 healthy male and female physicians working the night shift (age 24-35) were given 170 mg of Rhodiola extract for 6 weeks. Their mental performance was evaluated using tests to determine speed of visual and auditory perception, attention capacity, and short-term memory. A significant improvement in mental performance tests was observed in the treatment group during the first two-week period. Another double blind, placebo controlled study involving 60 foreign students at a Russian high school showed that supplementation by the students with Rhodiola resulted in decrease of mental fatigue and situational anxiety and an increase in physical work capacity, coordination, kinesthetic sensitivity, and general well-being.
For athletes or anyone seeking to enhance physical performance, Rhodiola has been shown to improve strength, endurance, cardiovascular measures, coordination and recovery time. In one study, 42 master level competitive skiers were given either Rhodiola rosea extract or placebo 30-60 minutes before a 20 km race on skies that involved carrying a rifle and shooting targets at stops. The athletes receiving Rhodiola showed a significant increase in shooting accuracy, less arm tremor, better coordination, and their heart rates returned to normal more quickly. Rhodiola has also been found to have cardio-protective and anti-cancer benefits and can increase fertility in both men and women.
In 1986 it was discovered that the chemical composition that sets Rhodiola rosea apart from other species of Rhodiola are three cinnamyl alcohol-vicianosides identified as rosavin, rosin, and rosarin. The term rosavins is used to include all three of these chemical compounds. Rosavins are known as the marker compound that differentiates true Rhodiola Rosea Extract from other Rhodiola species.
Sources for this story include:
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The People's Chemist
One of my first lessons as a drug chemist was that bacterial and viral infections could be conquered without a prescription drug. Mother Nature has a secret and extremely powerful antibiotic and immune booster. This substance is so powerful, Big Pharma has been trying to make a synthetic version in their top secret labs for almost 15 years.