" Herbal Remedies "
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Aloe Vera ( aloe bardadensis)

History and uses : Nowadays a surprising number of people take advantage of the skin-softening properties of aloe vera in some way. It has long been used in folk medicine, and modern research indicates that when applied externally, aloe vera restores skin tissues and may aid the healing of burns and sores. It can also be used on blemishes and dandruff, and it works cosmetically to keep skin soft.

While aloe seems to be the most potent when taken fresh from the leaf, it is an ingredient in several skin creams and shampoos. However, these products contain only small amounts of aloe.

Aloe gel has also been taken internally for stomach disorders, while dried aloe latex - a different substance derived from the leaf - is a strong laxative.

Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaf gel and sap. Aloin.


Anise ( Pimpinella anisum )

History and uses : Anise with it's nippy licorice flavour, has been used for centuries in both foods and medicines. The ancient Greeks, including Hypocrates, recommended it for coughs. Ancient Romans used anise in a special cake that concluded their enormous feasts. They included it not only for it's flavour, but to aid digestion and ease flatulence. The ancients also used anise as an aphrodisiac, for colic, and to combat nausea.

Today anise is still used for coughs, in both syrups and lozenges. Drinking a tea made from the crushed and steeped seeds is said to aid digestion and ease gas pains. Some herbalists also recommend the tea to nursing mothers to increase milk flow. Anise is considered safe when taken in reasonable amounts.

Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Seed. Anethole and other aromatic compounds.


Astragalus ( Astragalus membranaceus )

History and uses : Primarily used in traditional Chinese medicine, astralagus has only recently become popular among western herbalists because of it's purported effects on the immune system. Although there is some evidence, based on experiments done in test tubes, that it stimulates the immune function, there is no scientific evidence that this same effect can be produced in humans. There is evidence, however, that astralagus may have value in protecting the liver, and it is used by some herbalists to lessen the severity and duration of colds.

Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Root. Polysacharides.


Basil ( Ocimum basilicum )

History and uses : Herbe royale to the French, a sign of love to Italians, and a sacred herb in India, basil has a rich and fanciful history, and a reputation for both good and evil. Some ancient herbalists believed that basil damaged the internal organs and caused the spontaneous generation of scorpions inside the body.

Various cultures of the world have found their own uses for basil. In the Far East it has been used as a cough medicine, and in Africa it has been used to expel worms. American colonists considered basil the essential ingredient in a snuff used to ease headaches. One folk remedy says that tea made with basil and peppercorns will reduce fever.

While most herbalists prefer other, more effective herbs, basil is still recommended for a variety of home remedies. The herb is a carmenative, meaning that it relieves gas, and when brewed in tea is said to aid digestion. Basil tea may also be useful for relieving stomach cramps, vomiting and constipation.

Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaf. Volatile oils (up to 28% methyl cinnamate)


Black Cohosh ( Cimicifuga racemosa )

History and uses : Long known to North American Indians, black cohosh has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including rheumatoid arthritis, edema and sore throats. It's primary reputation, however, rested on it's ability to relieve menstrual cramps and the pains of childbirth. For this reason it was often known as "squawroot".

Modern herbalists still recommend black cohosh for menstrual problems. this may be explained by the fact that exttracts from the roots have effects similar to the hormone estrogen. Herbalists also recommend a tea from the roots as a sedative. Current experiments suggest that extracts from the plant's rhizome may have anti-inflamatory effects, and so may be useful in treating neuralgia and arthritis. Balck Cohosh is generally considered safe, although large doses should be avoided because of possible toxicity. Consult an experienced herbal practitioner before using black cohosh during pregnancy.

Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Root. Black cohosh contains a number of potent alkaloids and glycosides.


Boneset ( Eupatorium perfoliatum )

History and uses : Don't be mislead by the name: boneset doesn't mend broken bones. A favorite of both North America's Indians and pioneers, boneset was believed to relieve breakbone fever, caused by a strain of influenza virus, hence the name. It was also thought that a strong infusion of boneset would relieve indigestion, malaria and snakebite.

Herbalists are showing renewed interest in boneset to treat fevers due to colds and flu. It is also used as an expectorant to break up mucus. Boneset is considered safe when consumed in reasonable amounts.

Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaves and flowering tops. Flavonoids and terpenoids.


Buckthorn ( Rhamnus frangula )

History and uses : Alder buckthorn was known as early as the second century AD, when the Greek physician Galen wrote about it. Once credited with the power to protect against demons and witches, it is now known mainly as a laxative. Herbalists often recommend buckthorn tea, made from the bark, to ease constipation. Buckthorn compresses are used to relieve minor skin irritations.

Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Bark. Anthraquinones.


Burdock ( Arctium lappa )

History and uses : Just as the burrs of the burdock plant will attach themselves to any passerby, so has burdock attached itself everywhere in the world of folk medicine. It has been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, indigestion, kidney trouble, dropsy, high fevers, gout, leprosy and dandruff. And in Shakespear's play "As You Like It" , burdock was a symbol of lingering annoyance.

Most commonly, burdock root was brewed as a tonic, which was used as a "blood purifier", a diuretic, a mild laxative and in the treatment of acne and other skin conditions. A poultice made with crushed burdock root is said to be an effective remedy when applied to sores and bug bites. While burdock's widespread application has not stood the test of time, scientific studies have focused on possible value as an external antiseptic.

Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Root. Inulin, a starch (up to 50%)


Cascara Sagrada ( Rhamnus purshiana )

History and uses : Used primarily as a laxative, cascara sagrada was first used by North America's native peoples, and is still in use today. The name means "sacred bark" , a reference to the medicinal part of the plant. Cascara sagrada is popular for the relief of constipation, and it is reported to restore the bowel to a healthy tone, making repeated use of the remedy unnecessary. Small doses of tonic prepared from the bark are sometimes taken to ease digestion. Cascara sagrada extracts are found in many over-the-counter preparations. The bark is considered safe when aged for at least a year, however it should never be used by pregnant women.

Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Bark. Anthraquinone glycosides.


Catnip ( Nepeta cataria )

History and uses : Catnip is a popular ingredient in a variety of traditional remedies. Catnip tea is best known as a sleep aid, but it is also recommended to ease menstrual pain, to help soothe the nerves, and as an insect repellent. Compresses applied to the forehead are said to relieve headaches.

Felines of the world, of course, also appreciate the effects of catnip. But rather than eating the plant, they inhale a volatile oil given off by the plant's leaves.

Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Leaves and other above-ground parts. Nepetalactones


Cayenne ( Capsicum annuum & C.frutescens )

History and uses : Cayenne pepper has been known to the natives of the tropical Americas for thousands of years, but it was Christopher Columbus who first introduced it to the Old World. Since then, it's had a variety of uses, both culinary and medicinal. Perhaps best known today as an ingredient in hot sauces, cayenne has been recommended as a digestive aid, as a treatment for toothache and as a way to ward off chills at the onset of a cold.

Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne, is so effective in relieving pain that it has literally become a hot topic for research. Ointments made from capsaicin stop joint and muscle pain by "confusing" pain transmitters; it temporarily upsets the chemical balance in the sensory nerve cells that relay pain messages from the skin. Several over-the-counter products containing capsaicin as the active ingredient can be used externally to ease arthritic pain.

Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Fruit. Capsaicin.


Chamomile ( Matricaria chamomilla )

History and uses : A soothing cup of chamomile tea has long been a popular way to take the edge off a long, hard day. Indeed, some studies have shown the herb to be an effective mild sedative, and so it has been used to combat insomnia. To get the strongest possible effects, the tea should be steeped in a closed vesel for at least ten minutes.

Chamomile has a number of other uses as well. The oil of chamomile is sometimes prepared as an extract, which, when applied to the skin, may help reduce inflammations, and thereby alleviate the pain of arthritis. The extract may also be used to heal wounds.

When taken internally, chamomile is said to aid digestion and relieve menstrual cramps, as well as settle acute stomach upset.

This variety of chamomile, Matricaria chamomilla, is know as German chamomile. A related plant, Roman chamomile (anthemis nobilis), is less common but has similar effects. Both plants have feathery green leaves and delicate daisy-like flowers that, when crushed, give off a faint scent reminiscent of apples. And both grow along roadsides, in meadows and other abandoned places.

Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Flowers. Chamazulene and alpha bisabolol, both found in the flower's volatile oil.


Cinnamon ( Cinnamomum zeylaicum )

History and uses : Cinnamon is a common ingredient in folk remedies for colds, flatulence, nausea and vomiting. It has been shown to be carminative (releasing gas in the stomach and intestines), and so is useful for settling an upset stomach and for alleviating diarrhea. Cinnamon has also been used as a treatment to stimulate the appetites of anorexics.

Consumers should note that the variety of cinnamon available for home use is actually derived from cassia bark. It is a related species and is said to produce similar effects.

Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Tree bark. Cinnamic aldehyde, eugenol and tannins.


Cranberry ( Vaccinium macrocarpon )

History and uses : More than a mere garnish on the Thanksgiving table, cranberries are proving to be a very useful natural remedy. While folk practitioners have often recommended the berries for bleeding gums, some recent research suggests what many people have thought all along: cranberry juice may help fight urinary infections caused by certain bacteria. However, the treatment is only useful as a preventive measure, not as a cure for an existing ailment.

Plant Parts & Active Compounds : Fruit. Flavonoids.


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