Cat’s Claw: is a large vine that derives its name from hook-like thorns that grow along the vine and resemble the claw of a cat. This herb is indigenous to the Amazon rainforest. It has wide use among the indigenous tribes of this area. Cat’s Claw is most noted for its immune enhancing properties but constituents of the plant have also demonstrated anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Echinacea: Both Native Americans as well as early conventional practitioners have used this herb in the 19th century for disorders ranging from venomous bites and syphilis to the common cold. In fact, the American Indians against more illnesses than any other plant used Echinacea. Today, Echinacea enjoys wide use as an immune stimulant maximizing the power of the individuals own immune system by enhancing the production and activity of the body’s own white blood cells (disease fighting cells). Essential Fatty Acids: Essential fatty acids are designated as essential based upon the fact that our bodies do not have the ability to manufacture these critical components of life. Thus, it is "essential" that individuals obtain these nutrients from their foods or through supplementation. Significant research has shown the benefits of appropriate amounts of essential fatty acids in reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. It is of critical importance to obtain both adequate levels and appropriate ratios of the different types of essential fatty acids. Flax Seed Oil provides an excellent source of omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids. Gingko Biloba: Ginkgo is one of the oldest herbal remedies known to man. The Chinese has used it for almost 5000 years. Over recent years this herb has undergone extensive research study. Ginkgo Biloba has demonstrated positive benefits in enhancement of general brain function with improvements in cognition and memory loss associated with aging, enhancement of circulatory blood flow to the brain and periphery, as well as demonstrating anti-oxidant properties also. Golden Seal Root: Native Americans traditionally used goldenseal for digestive, respiratory and urinary disorders. It was also used topically by these cultures for skin and eye infections. It is most commonly used today for its anti-bacterial effects. Kava Kalm: Kava Kava promotes relaxation while maintaining mental alertness. Kava Kava assists in combating nervous anxiety, stress and unrest. Garlic: Garlic not only has been utilized as a medicinal herb within a number of cultures throughout history but also enjoys wide use today based upon good scientific research. Garlic has demonstrated anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-parasitic properties. This herb provides excellent cardiovascular support through its beneficial effects on cholesterol, triglycerides and lowering blood "stickiness" (platelet aggregation). Garlic provides all the benefits of whole garlic without the pungency. Valerian Root: This herb has a long history dating back to the Greeks. It has been used for centuries for its ability to provide a sedative and relaxant effect in individuals. It is commonly used today for nervousness, stress and its sleep promoting benefits.
Generalized Herbal Discussion
Herbal Medicine can be a very powerful source of healing. However there are many sources of herbs that lack the proper potency needed for healing. Without the proper potency, or strength, herbs will have little effect.
There exists today amongst various disciplines of medicine, a lot of controversy surrounding the use of herbs medicinally. It has been my experience that some of this controversy could be seen in plainer light if all the herbs in question had their full potency potential.
It is very important when choosing herbs for purchase, that very careful attention be given to finding the most reliable source of quality herbal products. Cat's Claw Supportive Information
Oxyindole alkaloids appear to provide the immune system stimulation properties of this herb. Glycosides may be responsible for the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions of the plant.
It should be noted that there are no current studies (as far as we are aware) in humans. There do exist, though, a number of animal and test tube studies that confirm the immune stimulating benefits of this herb. Large anecdotal experiences in South America also attest to its immune stimulating properties. Also, lab research has demonstrated anti-inflammatory powers as well as vasodilating and platelet aggregation inhibition all of which may exert potential benefit for cardiovascular disease.
Cat’s Claw is popular in South American folk medicine for intestinal complaints, gastric ulcers, arthritis and to promote wound healing. Cat’s Claw has gained increasing popularity in North America for its immune stimulating properties and its potential benefit in supporting the cardiovascular system. Side Effects: No serious side effects have been reported with Cat’s Claw. Some experts believe this herb is contraindicated in autoimmune disease.
Echinacea Supportive Information
Echinacea’s effectiveness is due to several constituents including polysaccharides, alkylamides and caffeic acid derivatives. These phytochemicals act to increase the production and activity of lymphocytes and macrophages and natural killer cells (the white blood cells). Additionally, Echinacea also increases the production of interferon. This important biologic response modifier assists in the control of viral infections.
A recent review study has assessed the effects of Echinacea in the treatment of the common cold. This review study performed by Bruce Barrett MD, PhD at the University of Wisconsin reevaluated 13 clinical trials held between 1980 and 1999 comprising a total of 2368 subjects. These were all double blind placebo controlled studies (consistent with drug study protocols in the US). When compared to patients on a placebo (sugar pill), those taking Echinacea developed fewer major colds, reported milder symptoms or had colds that ended earlier than the average untreated cold. Based on the evidence, it was Barrett’s opinion that Echinacea may be helpful in treating the severity and duration of a cold when taken early in the course of the infection. According to the author, these studies showed that Echinacea is more effective for acute treatment of colds than for long term prevention. In fact, while additional research has confirmed Echinacea’s benefit for acute cold and flu symptoms (once the infection has begun), other studies have called into question the effectiveness of long term Echinacea use for prevention of cold and flu. Side Effects:
When used in recommended amounts, Echinacea has no toxic side effects. Individuals with a history of allergy to the daisy flower family should check with their health care provider prior to use. Some authorities suggest that Echinacea should not be used in individuals with autoimmune illness.
Gingko Biloba Supportive Information
The two known active components of the Ginkgo Biloba Extract are ginkgo flavone glycosides and the terpene lactones. These compounds have demonstrated anti-oxidant activity, enhanced circulatory activity and ability to decrease platelet "stickiness". These properties allow for improved blood flow to the brain (and other body organs and peripheral tissues) while enhancing central nervous tissue (brain) protection from free radical damage that may occur with aging. These findings make Ginkgo Biloba an important herb for brain and blood vessel protection and health. Research Findings:
Numerous studies have addressed supplementation with Ginkgo biloba and the area of brain function. All of these studies revealed positive benefits of enhanced memory and cognitive function in both Alzheimer’s dementia and senile dementia (loss of memory in the elderly) in those individuals utilizing Ginkgo biloba extract. This is based on Ginkgo’s ability to reduce free radical damage to brain cells and its ability to enhance blood flow to the brain.
One study has suggested that elderly individuals with depression may respond to Ginkgo biloba with improvement in depression. Again, this was felt to be due to improvement in brain blood flow and "awakening" of the brain in these elderly individuals.
Tinnitus or ringing in the ears has also responded to Ginkgo biloba use. One double blind study has confirmed this. This is important research as no conventional treatments are available for this problem. Ginkgo generally requires a minimum of four to six months for benefit in tinnitus.
Also, there has been research demonstrating that males with impotence related to poor blood flow to the penis received benefit from the use of this herb following six months of daily use. Fifty percent of the individuals with previous impotence were able to generate an erection following long-term use of this herb. Side Effects:
This herb is well tolerated by most individuals although headache and gastrointestinal upset has been reported in a small percentage of users. Due to its ability to inhibit platelet function, individuals on blood thinning medication or other medication which affects platelet function should consult with their doctor prior to use.
Golden Seal Supportive Information The two primary phytochemicals in goldenseal are hydrastine and berberine. Little actual research has been done on the goldenseal root itself. Berberine, though, has undergone significant scientific evaluation. Berberine, which constitutes from 0.5% to 6% of the alkaloids present in goldenseal, appears to have antibiotic activity against a number of bacterial pathogens including, E.coli, Salmonella typhi, and Entamoeba histolytica. Research has shown berberine effective in the treatment of diarrhea and gastroenteritis. Side Effects:
There are no significant side effects if used in recommended amounts, although a mild laxative as well as hypertensive effect are possible. If used over an extended period of time, it may cause digestive disorders, excitatory states, hallucinations and occasionally delirium.
Note - Goldenseal is NOT a substitute for antibiotics prescribed by your physician!
Kava Kalm Supportive Information Kava-Kava - This herb, grown in the Pacific islands, is believed to directly affect the limbic system of the brain, the part of the brain associated with emotions. There are a number of excellent studies, which document the effectiveness of kava for people suffering from anxiety. Additionally, women undergoing uneasiness associated with menopause have also been shown to benefit from kava. Unlike prescription anti-anxiety medication, kava has no addictive properties.
Passion Flower - Physicians in Europe recommend passion flower for anti-anxiety treatment, particularly in situations of mental overwork, stress and nervousness. Passion flower has not been demonstrated to have any negative reactions when combined with other sedating agents.
Schizandra - This Chinese herb enjoys wide use in the Far East for numerous medical issues. One of its roles has been to assist in enhancing individuals’ response to stress not unlike ginseng.
Chamomile - Chamomile’s principle ingredients are flavonoids and essential oils. This herb has anti-inflammatory properties and anti-spasmodic properties within the bowel. Its inclusion is based on the ability of promoting a "relaxed stomach" during periods of stress.
Hops flower - Hops has also demonstrated mild sedative properties as well as enhancing digestive wellness. Its inclusion is primarily for promoting gastrointestinal relaxation during times of uneasiness or agitation. Side Effects:
While rare, allergic reactions have been reported. Any such reaction should be reported to your health care professional and the herbs should be discontinued until advised by your health care professional.
Exceedingly strong doses of Kava Kava could result in the inability of the striated muscles, (your voluntary muscles needed for standing and walking etc.), to maintain posture. I witnessed one student of herbal medicine take an entire one ounce bottle of Kava Kava tincture as it was passed around the room for students to look at during an herbal seminar on Kava Kava. That particular student collapsed to the floor and could not move. He was completely consciousness, and all vital functions to maintain health remained intact. (Kava Kava did not affect the smooth muscles, or involuntary muscles of that student, the muscles of the heart, lungs, etc.) He just could not get up off the floor for several hours.
Kava Kava should NOT be taken together with other substances that also act on the central nervous system, such as alcohol, barbiturates, anti-anxiety sleep medications, antidepressants, and anti-psychotic drugs.
Garlic Supportive Information The active constituent of garlic is the sulfur compound allicin. The compound alliin is converted to allicin by the enzyme alliinase, which is activated when garlic is crushed.
A variety of commercial preparations exist on the market. For best results, powdered products standardized for alliin content are preferred. The dosage should provide a daily dose of 8 mg. alliin or a total allicin potential of 4000 mcg.
Pasteur noted garlic’s antibiotic activity in 1858 and Albert Schwietzer in Africa used garlic for the treatment of dysentery. More recent research has shown garlic to have broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against many types of bacteria, viruses, worms, and fungi. Garlic is especially active against Candida Albicans. In addition to its antibiotic activity, garlic also has been shown to enhance various aspects of immune function. These effects support the historical use of garlic for a wide array of infectious conditions.
Garlic, though, is best known for its cardiovascular actions. Clinical studies have shown garlic to positively impact many key factors involved in heart and blood vessel disease. Garlic has been shown to lower blood pressure; lower LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in some studies, lower triglycerides (fats) and decrease blood stickiness (platelet aggregation). Side Effects:
Garlic is generally safe and well tolerated although occasional individuals experience gastric upset or allergic dermatitis. As garlic may inhibit platelet function, individuals undergoing surgery should discontinue garlic at the advice of their health care professional prior to surgery.
Valerian Supportive Information Valerian may bind to the GABA receptors in the brain. These are the "relaxation" receptors within the central nervous system. This would explain its benefits in stress and anxiety reduction.
Double blind studies have shown that valerian is more effective than placebo for people with sleep difficulties. Valerian appears to allow sleep onset to occur more quickly, provides more restful sleep but does not increase total sleep time. Side Effects:
Valerian has no significant side effects. It does not lead to addiction or dependence.
Aloe Vera: Quality Comparisons All Aloe Vera products available on the health food shelves are not equal in quality. To obtain the highest quality products, be sure the aloe your purchase has Certification and Seals from the INTERNATIONAL ALOE SCIENCE COUNCIL (IASC), AND CERTIFIED PLUS™ AND ACTIVE ALOE™ SEALS of Certifications. TeraForma Health is the First Company to offer a full range of CERTIFIED PLUS and ACTIVE ALOE, Aloe Vera products. These products are the next generation of technology, with Certification and Seals of CERTIFIED PLUS and ACTIVE ALOE using International Aloe Science Council (ISAC) approved Aloe. These certifications mean the TeraForma Health's Aloe Vera products can guarantee a retention of medium to high weight polysaccharides (50,000 - 100,000 mw), ensuring a pure Aloe Vera product. THIS MEANS . . . that just one (1) oz of TeraForma Health's Pure Dynamic Plus Aloe Juice has as many or more Active Polysaccharides as one (1) liter of many other brands. These standards are not easy to come by. Jeannie and I personally visited the home office in Houston Texas and interviewed the presidency of TeraForma Health. One of our discussions was how the harvesting of their Aloe Vera differs from conventional harvesting of other Aloe Vera products sold all over the world. If you can obtain a small Aloe Vera plant for your home and look carefully with me, you will get a better understanding. Commercial Aloe Vera plants are very large. Each leaf, when harvested is about 25 pounds. The leaves are processed much like how a fish is filleted. The leaf is laid on a table and the skin is carefully removed. What occurs next is the big difference. On the skin of each leaf are nodules. Directly under each of these nodules are the most potent parts of the Aloe Vera "meat or gel." TeraForma Health uses only those parts of the gel that are the most potent. These specific parts of the gel are about thirty (30) times more potent than the surrounding, or majority of the remaining gel. These small areas of the potent gel are considered the prime parts of the plant. The remaining gel, which is the majority of the gel, is considered the scrape. Most other companies use the "scrape" parts of the gel. The reason is simple economics. It would be far too costly not to use the bulk of the gel (in the opinion of other companies.) As another example: When China purchases Aloe Vera from the United States, they insist on purchasing the leaves as whole and intact leaves. This assures them that they will know which parts of the leaf they are using for their specific marketing uses.
Aloe Aloe is one of the oldest healing plants known to mankind. It is even described in the bible for its healing properties. Hundreds of Scientific Research Papers describe the activities of Aloe Vera taken internally or applied externally to the skin or hair. These Research Papers include, but are not limited to the following nutritional uses: A natural cleaner, powerful in penetrating tissue, relieving pain associated with the joints and muscles, bactericidal, acts as a strong antibiotic, virucidale when in direct contact for long periods, fungicidal, anti-inflammatory, instrumental in increasing circulation to area, breaks down and digests dead tissue, and moisturizes tissues. Aloe has been used topically for cuts, burns, insect stings, bruises, acne and blemishes, poison ivy, welts, skin lesions, eczema, and sunburns. Aloe also has a history of traditional use by Native Americans for stomach disorders and intestinal disorders including constipation, hemorrhoids, colitis and colon problems. Additionally, numerous constituents within aloe vera have demonstrated enhancement of immune system functioning within the body. This plant has been traditionally used through the centuries; for both internal ingestion as well as for topical purposes. Historically, the aloe plant has enjoyed wide use for its enhancement of normal gastrointestinal functioning. It has been used by many for constipation, intestinal colic, and inflammatory conditions of the small and large intestine and for digestive disturbances. Topically, aloe has demonstrated benefits in assisting in the healing of minor cuts, wounds and burns. More recent research and clinical use has shown even wider applications for this amazing plant including enhancing immunity, balancing blood sugar and providing pain relief. With the impressive elements found in Aloe that work in synergy with one another, it's no wonder that Aloe Vera is so effective in the nutritional assistance and supplementation of the human metabolism. Constituents: There are over 100 active biologic constituents found within aloe. The plant is a rich source of many natural health-promoting substances including: Vitamins/Minerals - Vit C, A, E, B vitamins, B-carotene, Zinc, Calcium, Copper, Magnesium, Manganese, and Phosphorous. Enzymes - At least five different enzymes have been identified and likely more are contained within. Amino Acids - Twenty-two amino acids are found within aloe. Plant sterols - These plant based compounds are potent anti-inflammatory agents. Gibberellin - A growth factor which assists in healing. Polysaccharides - Including B1-3 and B1-4 Glucomannans known for their immune stimulating effects Based on its constituent make up, aloe has a wide array of applications. Supportive Information: 1. Wound healing - Numerous studies have shown improved wound healing in both diabetics as well as non diabetic individuals using Aloe Vera. Aloe stimulates epidermal growth factor (responsible for enhancing skin growth), and enhances fibroblast function (cells responsible for collagen formation). This results in the "healing and sealing" of wounds and makes topical Aloe an important product for assistance in the healing of minor burns, cuts, scrapes and even skin ulcers. 2. Immune modulation - Research has indicated that Aloe has the ability to stimulate macrophages. Macrophages help the immune system to "see" dangerous microorganisms and tumor cells and assist in their destruction. The long chain polysaccharides (B1-3 and B1-4 Glucomannans) have direct immune enhancing and modulating properties. These properties include increasing immune cell production and stimulating and improving white blood cell activity. Aloe thus provides excellent nutritional support for an optimum functioning immune system. 3. Enhancing GI functioning - Dr. Jeff Bland studied the effects of Aloe on the GI (gastrointestinal) tract. He found improved bowel regularity, increased protein absorption, decreased unfriendly bacteria and yeast and increased water content of the stool. In this study the use of aloe also resulted in an overall improvement in an individual's energy and sense of well- being in addition to enhanced bowel functioning. 4. Anti-inflammatory - Aloe has shown biologic anti-inflammatory properties over a wide range of animal experiments. The sterols in Aloe have strong abilities to inhibit acute inflammation, similarly to cortisone, without any of the side effects. It is believed that aloe works in a manner similar to aspirin in blocking prostaglandin effects but this remains to be proven. Additional Uses: 1. Analgesia (Pain Relief) - A number of the smaller chain polysaccharides found within aloe have anti-inflammatory activity, as do the plant sterols. Numerous pain conditions, such as arthritis, involve inflammation. Aloe may reduce joint and muscle pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties. 2. Blood Sugar Balancing - Lowering of the blood sugar has been observed in individuals ingesting Aloe on a regular basis. One single-blind study in Thailand reported that combining 1-tablespoon of Aloe Juice twice daily with glyburide (a medication to lower blood sugar in diabetics), significantly improved blood sugar and lipid levels in people with diabetes, compared with placebo. Previously, glyburide by itself had not effectively controlled the diabetes in the people in this study. Aloe may therefore have numerous beneficial effects in diabetic individuals. Recommended Use: Juices - 2 to 4 oz. daily for wellness and prevention purposes, 6 to 12 oz daily for intensive tissue and organ support Topical - Apply 1 to 3 times daily as needed Side Effects: As aloe juice may lower blood sugar, careful monitoring of blood glucose is recommended for diabetic individuals currently on blood sugar lowering medication.
Herbal Medicine is the collective name for 2 fairly different therapies: - Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) - Western Herbal Medicine (mainly Europe and the Americas)
Other regions, such as India of course also use herbs and spices, but I'm not sure how that should be classified. My knowledge about TCM is also very limited, so I'll happily leave that to my friend Peter Lach and others to educate you on that subject.
My knowledge about Western Herbal Medicine goes a bit further but I'll restrict myself to the small area that I have worked in. For more information, a link to Michael Moore's website can be found on the Links page.
I have experimented with herbal tinctures and with infused (macerated) oils. The tinctures are made with an alcoholic beverage and for the oils I use extra virgin olive oil as a base. The oils are used either as base oils for Aromatherapy or as a base for creams and other products. Sometimes I also use herbal infusions (waters) or concentrated Aloe Vera or Kombucha in creams, lotions and face masks.
I want to mention a few of the concoctions that I have used, with either the reasoning why I do so, or the properties of these fine plants:
Aloe Vera This product contains a massive amount of minerals, vitamins and proteins that can help to combat a wide variety of disorders. (eg Skin or Digestive problems, Candida, Flu). It is usually digested as a thick fluid (gel), but can also be used in creams and other products and thus applied externally.
Kombucha This product has very similar properties as Aloe Vera, but lacks the commercial support that Aloe enjoys. It is usually home-brewed and hence very cheap. Great for face masks, in particular for those who suffer acne!
Feverfew Mostly used as a tincture. An ingredient that plays a major role for migraines and headaches, but also good for flu, joint and digestive problems.
Lemon-Balm (Melissa) Again used as a tincture to help in controlling depression and moodswings.
Hypericum (tincture) Hypericum (St John's wort) is now taking the world by storm as an anti-depressant and will hopefully one day take over a well deserved first place from Prozac (without the endless list of nasty side-effects)! I often blend it with Melissa.
Hypericum (oil) Hypericum oil is one of my favorites. Its list of properties is almost endless; I mostly use it for skin problems or joint and muscular problems. Producing the oil is simple but laborous as it is made with millions of small delicate flowers that need careful picking from plants, often growing in hardly penetrable wastelands. The deep red oil that is produced from the bright yellow (!) flowers comes in handy to heal the scars from the harvesting.....
Calendula (Marigold) This oil is really simple to make but its smell may not be appreciated very much. Although it has other uses, I prefer to use it (in synergy with Hypericum) for skin problems or viral infections.
Comfrey Comfrey is a member of the Borage family. Its nickname 'knitbone' clearly indicates its healing properties, not just in healing bones and joints, but also in healing wounds or skin problems! Comfrey is made by means of hot infusion and the oil will have a very deep green colour. This oil is very expensive and for that reason it is well worth producing it yourself.
This information is provided for Educational Purposes Only and has NOT been designed to diagnose, treat or cure any health conditions. Please consult a qualified Health Care Professional with Nutritional Training to diagnose your health conditions and avoid self-diagnosis. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have not evaluated statements about these health topics or any suggested product compositions.