Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Herbal Remedy for Cholesterol

I was recently asked for a natural or herbal remedy for cholesterol. There is one that comes immediately to mind, it's even been called cholesterol's natural remedy, and that is garlic.

Eating garlic regularly can help control cholesterol levels, so can taking garlic supplements. (Follow the manufacturer's directions, if you are using a supplement.) Eating one garlic clove daily has significantly improved cholesterol levels in test subjects. (Eating one half onion daily also improved levels.) Raw garlic has a stronger effect, it seems more effective if it is crushed a few minutes before eating. If the taste of raw garlic is too much for you, even eating food cooked with garlic will help, although the effect will be less.

Garlic also has antibiotic properties, and has been used that way in many different cultures. It also helps lower blood pressure, and has been used for colds and flu, especially to help with respiratory problems.

A note of caution, garlic helps keep platelets from sticking, and
can thin the blood; it should be used with caution if you are taking blood thinners of any kind. A clove a day should not be a problem, but it is best to check with your doctor.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Herbal Remedies and Pregnancy

I frequently get asked about using herbal remedies during pregnancy. It is difficult to give a simple answer to the question "Are herbs safe during pregnancy?"

Many herbs have been safely used for centuries during pregnancy. Pregnancy is a complicated condition and I believe that for anyone contemplating adding herbal remedies during pregnancy, it is absolutely necessary to do so only with the advice of their doctor, and/or an experienced herbalist. For that reason, I never give a direct answer to this question. And when I have personally worked with clients during pregnancy, I have always insisted that they clear all herbs with their doctor.

I have included some links to websites where you can find more specific information related to pregnancy; some include discussions about complementary or alternative medicine, such as herbs or acupuncture, some give the option of asking questions of pregnancy specialists. (Please discuss any information you get from these sites with your doctor, before acting on any recommendations. Remember that recommendations on a website are very general, your personal doctor is better suited to make specific recommendations appropriate to your situation.)

Useful links:

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Asthma and Herbal Remedies 2

I have uploaded a longer article about asthma and herbal remedies on my website: The article can be reached directly at this link: Asthma and Herbal Remedies

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Asthma and Herbal Remedies

I was asked recently about herbal remedies for asthma. I thought of a few off the top of my head, which have been traditionally used treatments for asthma.

Chamomile tea has some anti-allergenic properties, and seems to inhibit the allergic response. Also chamomile's essential oil seems to block the release of histamine, and these two together can sometimes help with asthma.

Fennel seed and anise seed have traditionally been used for asthma and other respiratory ailments. They have a calming anti-spasmodic effect, and also help loosen bronchial mucus.

Dried ginger also has some effect on asthma and allergies.

Both green and black tea contain a chemical which relaxes the smooth muscles of the bronchial tubes and can reduce the severity of asthma. And drinking either green or black tea provides a sufficient dose of this chemical to help asthmatics.

These are a few of the herbs which have traditionally been used as treatments for asthma. I am preparing a longer article which will be published on my website by Monday, June 25.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Herbal Remedies from the Kitchen: Oregano

Continuing my discussion of herbal remedies from the kitchen, I want to talk about oregano, (Origanum vulgare) and marjoram (Origanum marjorana), which are both members of the mint family of herbs.

Both these herbs are common in Italian (and Greek) cooking, and widely available in any supermarket.

Some herbalists do not distinguish between the two, and simply include them both as species of oregano, I've even seen one reference to oregano as "wild marjoram".

They both have similar properties, with some minor differences I will mention.

Both oregano and marjoram have been used for respiratory disorders such as colds and coughs, and for some digestive complaints, especially spasms in the digestive system and to treat indigestion.

Marjoram has been used to treat headaches, including migraines, and to treat some menstrual complaints, especially cramps.

Oregano has been used as a diaphoretic (makes you sweat) and as an expectorant (helps expel mucus from the lungs and bronchii).

Bruised leaves of either plant (fresh, not dried), used inside a pillow, are a traditional remedy for insomnia.

Both these herbs deserve a place in your herbal medicine chest.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Herbal Remedies from the Kitchen: Sage

This is the first of a series of postings where I will talk about herbal remedies you may find in your kitchen spice rack. (If your herbs and spices are of indeterminate age, and covered in dust, you should probably buy some new herbs if you want to use them as herbal remedies. And you will find that they work better in cooking as well.)

Most of the herbs I will talk about in this series may be used either as fresh herbs, or dried; it depends on what you have available.

I want to start with the herb Sage. There are many varieties of Sage, they all have similar properties, so I am going to just use the term Sage to include them all.

The botanical name for sage is Salvia (Salvia Officianalis isthe common garden sage; whenever you see the term "Officianalis" as part of the name of an herb, it means that herb was part of an official materia medica, and has a long history of use.) and the root of the word "salvia" also gave us the words "salvation" and "salve"; Sage has been referred to as "Sage the Savior".

Most cooks know sage as a poultry seasoning, but at one time it was considered virtually a panacea, and reputed to be a longevity tonic. (There is an ancient Latin saying which translates roughly as: Why should a man die while sage grows in his garden?)

Sage was widely recommended to treat many health problems including menstrual problems, digestive problems, liver and kidney trouble, intermittent fevers, depression and nervous disorders, impotence and frigidity, hangovers, joint pain, and headaches to name a few.

The Chinese prized sage highly, it was worth several times its weight in Chinese tea.

More recent herbalists use sage for many problems.

Sage is used for a range of menstrual difficulties, and has some estrogenic activity.

Sage is an astringent, and is used to stop perspiration, and also the secretion of breast milk, after a baby has been weaned. (For this reason, it should not be used by nursing mothers; some herbalists also say it is contraindicated during pregnancy.)

Sage also is useful for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, especially night sweats.

Sage also has been used as a hair rinse, especially for dark hair (Chamomile is better for blond hair) and is said to promote shine and even hair growth.

Sage may interfere with iron absorption, and should not be used by anyone with a seizure disorder.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Herbal Remedies from the Kitchen

Over the next several days, I am going to discuss some of my favorite, and most used, herbal remedies. And they are all easily available, in any supermarkets spice section.

Some of the remedies I will talk about are: sage, fennel seed, rosemary, black pepper, basil, oregano, caraway seed, anise seed, and cinnamon.

It may seem strange that these common culinary herbs have medicinal uses, but they are very effective at treating some common complaints, such as indigestion, headache, nausea, colic, and bloating, even hangovers.

Check back over the next few days for detailed information on using kitchen herbs and spices to treat a variety of everyday complaints.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Garlic, the Stinking Rose

Garlic is valued world wide as both a culinary and a medicinal herb.

There is a lot of research that points to its ability to reduce cholesterol levels, in fact, one company that manufactures a garlic supplement refers to garlic as "cholesterol's natural enemy."

The health benefits of garlic are much wider than just affecting cholesterol.

Garlic enjoys a considerable reputation as an immune booster, said to prevent colds and flu, and to shorten recovery time if you catch a cold or flu.

There is also research which demonstrates garlic has the ability to prevent blood clots. (If you are about to have any surgery, discuss with your doctor any herbs you may be taking, and especially those like garlic which affect blood clotting.)

There is some disagreement about taking garlic as a raw herb or supplement, and also whether you lose health benefits if you cook the garlic clove. In my opinion, garlic is useful in all these forms. The standardized supplements will not have identical effects as garlic cloves; raw garlic has different effects than cooked garlic. There are health benefits to all these forms, use it any way you like.

I enjoy cooking with garlic, and frequently add it to soups, stews and sauces; I also include raw garlic in salads and find supplements convenient when travelling.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Herbal Remedy for Holiday Over-Indulgence?

It's a new year, the holidays are behind us. Some of us may have eaten too much rich, fatty food, or had more alcohol than we should. We may be suffering the after effects of celebrating too well.

One of the body organs which is greatly affected by both rich, fatty foods and over-eating, as well as drinking alcohol is the liver. There is an herbal remedy that has been traditionally used to help support the liver for centuries, milk thistle.

In Europe, it is used not just as a supplement, but eaten as food. They use the leaves as salads, and eat both the stalks and the heads.

But the herb has a long history as a remedy and tonic for the liver, and has been used to treat many liver and gall bladder problems. It has even been used to treat cirrhosis (a hardening of the liver, often caused by excessive alcohol consumption), and has improved liver function.

So, if you have over-indulged over the holidays, try supplementing your diet with milk thistle; your liver may thank you.

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