Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Everyday medicine of the Native Americans: 15 of their most-used plants

Native American medicine has long been lauded for its effective use of plants in alleviating a plethora of diseases. The healing art is believed to be as old as 40,000 years. An article posted on the Health and Healing website reveals that the healing art is known to combine and incorporate the health practices of more than 500 distinct nations residing in the Americas prior to European exploration at the end of the 15th century.
Native American medicine is founded on a sound philosophy that man is a part of nature and that health is about achieving balance. In this article, we will walk you through some of the most common plants that Native Americans use in their treatments.

Flowers and fruits as Native American medicine staples

  • Yarrow — Yarrow poultice has long been used by Native Americans as a topical treatment for wounds to stem the excess bleeding. Likewise, a decoction made from fresh yarrow juice and water is known to ease upset stomach and other intestinal disorders.
  • Wild rose — The plant is commonly used to address cold and cleanse the bladder and kidneys. The fruits also contain high levels of vitamin C, which makes it an excellent immune booster.
  • Lavender — Lavender is traditionally used to calm the mind and alleviate stress-related disorder. Bio Prepper article notes that lavender is a perfect remedy for insomnia, anxiety, and depression as well as headaches and fatigue.
  • Hummingbird blossom — Native Americans, especially the Cherokees, use hummingbird blossom for more serious conditions such as cysts, fibroid tumors, and inflammation as well as mouth and throat problems. Likewise, the plant helps address inflamed tonsils, enlarged lymph nodes, and enlarged spleens as well as hemorrhoids and menstrual bleeding.
  • Honeysuckle — Honeysuckle is commonly used as a first-line treatment for various respiratory disorders such as asthma, upper respiratory tract infections, and pneumonia.
  • Rosehip — The plant is known to address stomach spasms, stomach acid deficiency, and stomach irritation as well as ulcers and other intestinal diseases.
  • Blackberry — The berries are prized for their strong anti-inflammatory properties that help ease swelling and improve joint mobility across the body, according to a Daily Health Post entry.

Herbs, roots, reeds and many more

  • Mint — The popular and refreshing herb is touted for its high antioxidant content, and is a widely used remedy to a host of digestive illnesses. Likewise, essential oils obtained from mint may be used as a topical treatment for various skin conditions.
  • Prickly pear cactus — This prickly plant has long been valued for its efficacy in treating urinary tract infections and boosting the immune system. The plant is also found to lower cholesterol and reduce the odds of developing diabetes and diet-related heart disease. Moreover, Native Americans used mature pads to make a poultice for wounds, burns, and boils.
  • Mullein — Mullein is a highly popular herb among Native Americans due to its efficacy in relieving asthma and chest congestion. Native Americans are known to burn mullein roots and leaves and inhale the smoke to help calm the respiratory tract and open up the air passages.
  • Licorice root — Native American healers used this food flavoring to relieve stomach problems, bronchitis, food poisoning and chronic fatigue.
  • Wild ginger — The Cherokee people are known to drink wild ginger root tea to address digestive conditions including intestinal gas, upset stomach, and colic. On the other hand, the Meskwaki people steeped the plant’s crushed stems to ease an earache.
  • Sumac — Sumac is a commonly used treatment for eye disorders, sore throat, diarrhea and skin allergies.
  • Sage — This flavorful herb is traditionally used to relieve abdominal cramps, spasms, and cuts as well as bruises, colds, and flu.
  • Cattail — An article posted on the Healthy Holistic Living website notes that while cattail is not exactly considered as herbal medicine, Cherokees often ate cattails to speed up the body’s healing process.
For more info, visit: Traditional Medicine

Sunday, 24 June 2018

An herbal mixture of bamboo leaves and Japanese apricot can prevent blood clots

An herbal mixture of Phyllostachys pubescens(commonly referred to as bamboo) leaf extracts and Prunus mume (commonly known as Japanese apricot) fruit extracts can prevent the formation of blood clots, according to a study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
  • A team of researchers at Korea Institute of Oriental MedicineDaejeon University, and Dankook University used a 2:1 mixture of bamboo leaf extract and Japanese apricot fruit extract to evaluate inhibitory effects on platelet aggregation.
  • The research team also assessed the mixture’s potential as an herbal remedy to prevent and/or treat diseases caused by platelet aggregation and thrombus formation.
  • They prepared washed platelets and induced platelet aggregation by adding 5 micrograms per milliliter (μg/mL) of collagen.
  • Different doses of the mixture (75 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg), 150 mg/kg, and 300 mg/kg) were used in ex vivo and in vivo assays to evaluate the mixture’s anti-platelet effects; while 50 μg/mL, 100 μg/mL, and 200 μg/mL were used for in vitro assays.
  • In ex vivo assays, they orally administered the mixture to mice every day after overnight fasting for three days. They then collected the animals’ blood one hour after the final treatment.
  • In in vivo assays, they examined the antithrombotic effect of the mixture from a carrageenan-induced mouse tail thrombosis model.
  • Results revealed that the mixture remarkably prevented platelet aggregation and thrombus formation. The mixture increased intracellular cAMP level and decreased ATP, thromboxane A2, serotonin, and calcium ion. In addition, it prevented fibrinogen binding to integrin αIIbβ3 and inhibited the activation of ERK2, p38, PLCγ2 and PI3 K.
In conclusion, bamboo leaf and Japanese apricot fruit extracts can prevent the clumping of platelets and the formation of blood clot.

For more info, visit: Traditional Medicine

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Are you familiar with these 20 herbs that can be used as medicine?

We are more familiar with herbs when they are included in our culinary experience in restaurants we frequent or even at home. But years ago, these herbs were recognized by our ancestors as a solution for different ailments.
  1. Thyme – This herb is recommended for respiratory diseases. Its most notable chemical compound, thymol, is recognized for its strong antiseptic action.
  2. Calendula – The petals of Calendula are rich in flavonoids, a plant metabolite thought to provide health benefits through cell signaling pathways and antioxidant effects.
  3. Motherwort – This herbal plant is effective in reducing dysmenorrhea pain, and correcting amenorrhea. It is also known for its stress and anxiety relieving properties.
  4. Echinacea – Several benefits brought by these herb includes fighting off cancer, alleviating joint pain, stimulating the growth of blood cells, and improving the immune system.
  5. Lavender – Lavender contains antioxidant properties that help in reducing inflammation.
  6. Chamomile – Chamomile is very popular for effectively curing an upset stomach. Furthermore, it helps solve problems related to sleeping, morning sickness, skin swelling, and other skin problems.
  7. Dandelion – Dandelion, a flowering plant, is known for being used as a detoxifying agent for the liver and the kidney. Dandelion can also help treat infections, minimizes swelling, balances blood sugar, and improves pancreas function.
  8. Sage – Sage disinfects sores, heals ulcers, and cures coughs and hoarseness. 
  9. Peppermint – Peppermint is used to alleviate ailments such as dyspepsia, gastritis, intestinal colic, and spasms of the bile duct, gallbladder and GI tract.
  10. Burdock – Burdock is useful for gout, arthritis, glandular swelling, canker sores, burns, skin wounds, and hemorrhoids.
  11. Holy basil – This herbal plant is also known for having anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.
  12. Spilanthes – This herb has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties making it a potent medicine for disinfecting wounds and curing ringworm infection.
  13. Chickweed – Chickweed has high nutritional value and has astringent, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, and demulcent properties.
  14. Lemon balm – Easy to grow, the lemon balm is popular for its anti-viral and relaxing properties. It can also be used to treat upset stomach, freshen breath, and treat sores.
  15. Milk thistle – It is a herb rich in vitamins E and C. Milk thistle is also used to treat liver and gallbladder problems.
  16. Witch hazel – Witch Hazel contains procyanidins, resin, and flavonoids that promote anti-inflammatory agents and relieve hemorrhoid pain.
  17. Aloe vera – It is widely used to heal wounds and various skin and hair conditions. Orally taken, and this herb can act as a laxative.
  18. Yarrow – It has an active compound that acts as tryptic (stops bleeding), astringent (makes tissue contract), antiseptic (inhibits bacterial growth), vulnerary (helps tissue heal), anti-inflammatory, and possibly anesthetic. Several studies also show its benefits to ease menstruation for spasm and flow.
  19. Feverfew – This herb brings down the temperature, thus lowering fever. It has a substance that acts similarly to as aspirin. It effectively treats pain by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins.
  20. Bergamot – It’s essential oils help treat high fever, intestinal worms, and even malaria. It can also be used for aromatherapy and act as a tonic for the nervous system. Its scent can help alleviate stress, anxiety, tension headache, and depression.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Plant-based antimicrobial compounds offer a variety of alternatives to an over-dependence on toxic synthetic antibiotics that are increasingly less effective

In the 20th century, synthetic antibiotics were considered to be the silver bullet for most medical conditions: It treated most diseases, reduced overall mortality, and extended a person’s lifespan. However, what was supposedly a gift has turned into one of the worst things to ever happen, with the rise of multidrug-resistant bacteria strains.
Now, scientists are turning to plants to combat this modern-day scourge. In an article published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, they called for the development of business models to support the development of plant-based medicine to address the increasing number of drug-resistant microbes.
The current trend of antibiotic-resistant bacteria could be traced back to a number of factors – these include improper use, overexposure due to antibiotic use in animals, and increasing patient movement around the world. This, in turn, gave rise to conditions such as Vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus (VISA), Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE), Methicillin-resistant S. aureus(MRSA), and ESBL (extended spectrum β-lactamase) enzyme producing Gram-negative bacteria – all of which display antimicrobial resistance. The results are devastating, at best: In the U.S. and Europe, antimicrobial resistance accounts for at least 50,000 deaths a year. If this problem is not addressed, the figure is expected to balloon to around 10 million a year by 2050.
In the study, researchers looked at the possibility of using botanicals to treat antibiotic resistance. Traditional systems of medicine have long used plants to treat various diseases. In particular, plants have “secondary metabolites,” which they use as a defense mechanism against potential pathogenic microbes. These metabolites also affect cell signaling and can offer protection against cell oxidation or UV stress.
The presence of these secondary metabolites, according to researchers, affect bacteria during treatment. Compared to synthetic drugs which only reduce the permeability of the cell wall or alter the mechanism responsible for compound movement (efflux), secondary metabolites also address DNA and RNA function in the microbe and interrupt cell communication.
Plant extracts, in particular, may not all be antibacterial, but the can still reduce the virulence factor, or their ability to evade a host’s immune system and cause infection, of bacteria. One example identified in the study is the effect of the Indian barberry (Berberis aristata) and the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) on the virulence factor of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a frequent cause of infection for patients who have been hospitalized for over a week. (Related: Prepper medicine: 7 natural pain-relieving plants.)
That said, the researchers urge further studies to be conducted, as plant-based antibiotics could potentially be used to deal with the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.
“The efficacy of herbals in treatment of diseases for decades suggests that bacteria, fungi and viruses may have a reduced ability to adapt to a plant based antimicrobial regime,” they wrote in their report. “There is an urgent need for new business models to be developed to support development of botanicals to counter drug-resistant microbes as well as regulatory reforms so that clinical development programs are equitable, feasible, rigorous, and clinically relevant.”

Some examples of medicinal plants

Additionally, plants are far cheaper than antibiotics, and they won’t burn a hole in the pocket. Here are some of the most powerful medicinal plants you’d do well to stock up in your kitchen.
  • Ginger – This powerful plant helps the body absorb nutrients, and its anti-inflammatory qualities cure joint pain. Ginger prevents nausea after surgery, and it fights cancer, diabetes, and asthma. When turned into juice, ginger can balance digestion.
  • Lavender – This purple beauty not only makes skin glow, but it also keeps airborne viruses from causing illnesses. It’s also an excellent antidepressant.
  • Garlic – This popular herb is low in calories and rich in vitamins C and B6, manganese, and fiber.
  • Spinach  This edible flowering plant boosts the cardiovascular and nervous systems, and it protects eyesight, powers up bones and combats cancer.
  • Catnip  This plant helps the body get rid of toxins, fights headaches, calms nerves, and balances the digestive system.
  • Thyme – This aromatic plant prevents foodborne bacterial infections, balances blood pressure levels, prevents colon cancer, and calms the nerves.
  • Tea tree – This top herbal remedy prevents the development of head lice, gives immediate relief from cuts and burns, and fights headaches, toothache, and colds.
  • Lady ferns – This long plant with widespread leaves provides quick relief from cuts and sunburn and protects against disease-carrying worms.
  • Peppermint – This plant improves digestion and the body’s ability to take in nutrients.
You need not look far for a natural treatment for almost any disease. You can plant many of these herbs in your backyard: You’ll only be healthier. And, you’ll end each day relaxed, free from the dangers of antibiotic overuse.

Monday, 18 June 2018

The problem we have with diabetes isn’t going away anytime soon. Based on the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 400 people around the world have the condition, and 1.6 million deaths per year are directly caused by diabetes.
The most common is Type 2 diabetes. In the past three decades, reported cases have skyrocketed. To make things worse, at least one in three adults over 18 years old is overweight, which increases the likelihood of getting the disease.
That said, there isn’t a lack of literature on how to manage diabetes; however, most only talk about living with the condition. An article published in the Journal of American Herbalists Guildlooked at taking it a step further by using herbs to maintain a metabolically normal state.
  • Ivy gourd (Coccinia indica) – The plant, which is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine, is used in India to treat diabetes. Multiple studies have also noted its ability to prevent glycemia – the unusual amount of glucose in the blood – with no adverse effects.
  • Panax ginseng – Studies have shown that P. ginseng, commonly referred to as Korean ginseng, can help with glucose transport, which allows it to be better absorbed by cells. It was also found to strengthen the effect of administered insulin. People with existing hypertension and acute asthma, however, are advised to avoid P. ginseng as it may cause overstimulation, headaches, and insomnia.
  • American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) – Clinical trials have found American ginseng to decrease both fasting blood glucose and postprandial glucose (the amount of glucose after a meal). It was also found to reduce HbA1c, which is a biomarker for increased blood sugar levels.
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) – The spice is well known for its anti-glycemic properties, with some studies indicating that it increases the potency of insulin. Others also suggest that it induces insulin production in the pancreas through beta cells and converts them from bound to free form.
  • Garlic (Allium sativum) – While the main concern is tolerability – a lot of people can’t stand an increased intake of fresh, raw garlic, studies have shown that it can significantly reduce blood sugar levels. This is because of garlic’s ability to stimulate beta cell insulin production, resulting in insulin-like activity in the body. (Related: Research shows garlic may be an effective treatment for diabetes and oxidative stress.)
  • Psyllium seed (Plantago ovata) – Studies have shown that psyllium seeds can dramatically reduce postprandial blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes, based on both human trials and animal models. To take advantage of its effects, experts recommend taking 10 to 15 grams a day. This could be taken three times a day before meals or twice per day before eating breakfast and dinner. Unlike other herbs which affect insulin production, the anti-glycemic effects of psyllium seeds target the contents of the intestine: It increases their viscosity, which prevents intestinal absorption and speeds up their movement in the stomach and bowels. Always drink enough water when taking in psyllium.
  • Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) – A staple in Mediterranean cooking, fenugreek is proven to be an anti-glycemic both by itself and with other plants. Studies have shown that fenugreek has similar glucose-inhibiting properties with that of traditional Indian medicinal plants. In addition, trials have demonstrated the herb’s ability to improve glycemic control and insulin sensitivity, with no negative side effects reported.
“All of the herbs described have a long history of use and an exemplary safety record,” author Richard Karel concludes. “The clinical herbalist can, with the few caveats mentioned, feel confident when employing these medicines as part of a program of glycemic control.”

Saturday, 9 June 2018

A new study shows that vitamin C might just function as powerful anti-cancer medicine. Researchers at the University of Salford in the U.K. found that using vitamin C inhibited the growth of cancer cells in the laboratory. Vitamin C also showed a potency that was 10 times higher than the experimental drug 2-DG in the process, researchers said. The findings were published in the journal Oncotarget.

Cancer remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease is the second most common cause of death and disease around the world, accounting for nearly nine million deaths in 2015 alone. Data shows that new cases of cancer are expected to surge by around 70 percent in the next two decades.

The National Cancer Institute in the U.S. projects that nearly 40 percent of American men and women will develop the disease at one point in their lives. Various cancer therapies — such as surgery, radiation therapy and systemic treatments — are currently available, but may not always show efficacy. Some of the treatments are deemed to be toxic and may result in a host of adverse side effects.

More aggressive forms of cancer may not always respond to treatments, and cancer stem-like cells were believed to be the cause of disease recurrence and metastasis. According to an American Association of Cancer Research panel, a CSC is “a cell within a tumor that possesses the capacity to self-renew and to cause the heterogeneous lineages of cancer cells that comprise the tumor.”

Vitamin C starves cancer stem-like cells in recent study

According to researchers, vitamin C starves cancer stem cells by blocking a process called glycolysis. The process is responsible for glucose metabolism, and inhibiting it prevents the mitochondria from gaining essential energy for survival. Using vitamin C as an add-on treatment to chemotherapy may show potential in stemming tumor recurrence and further progression of cancer.

Researcher Dr. Gloria Bonuccelli said the findings suggest that vitamin C is a promising candidate for cancer treatment. “We have been looking at how to target cancer stem cells with a range of natural substances including silibinin (milk thistle) and CAPE, a honey-bee derivative, but by far the most exciting are the results with vitamin C. Vitamin C is cheap, natural, nontoxic and readily available so to have it as a potential weapon in the fight against cancer would be a significant step,” said study author Dr Michael Lisanti.
However, Cancer Research UK official Anna Perman cautioned that the results are at its preliminary stages.

“The important thing for cancer patients to remember is that this study is looking at the action of vitamin C in the laboratory, not the effect of eating foods or supplements that contain vitamin C. This should not prompt anyone receiving treatment for cancer to change their diet or treatment plan,” Perman said.

The study backs the findings of a 1971 research by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling. Pauling was a pioneer in testing vitamin C efficacy against cancer. In his study, Pauling examined 1,100 terminally ill cancer patients. One hundred patients were given 10 grams of vitamin C daily, while the remaining cohort was used as the control group.
During a follow-up in 1978, the team found that all patients in the control group died of cancer, while 13 of those who took daily doses of vitamin C survived. In addition, 12 of these patients exhibited no further signs of the disease.

Many studies that followed concludes that high vitamin C doses, at more than 5,000 mg per day, provide optimal protection against cancer. Source: Naturalnews.com

Friday, 8 June 2018

One of the challenges that older medical systems have is being recognized in a world filled with Western medical procedures and medication. A classic example is Ayurveda (or Ayurvedic medicine): It has been used for over 3,000 years in India, but its potential benefits have been largely ignored in conventional medicine. However, an article in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine described that while the methods in Ayurveda may be ancient, it still is sound, based on modern scientific concepts. In the article, the researchers looked at Mahamrutyunjaya rasa (MHR), an ayurvedic formulation used to treat cardiovascular disorders, to determine the physical and chemical characteristics of its raw materials and analyze its manufacturing process.

Mahamrutyunjaya rasa is an herbal medicine used to boost the heart and stimulate its activities. It is also used to treat all types of fever, as well as those brought by malaria. In the study, the team used the formulation from Bhaishajya Ratnavali – one of the most popular texts of Ayurveda – which calls for the following ingredients.

  •          A processed visa (Aconitum ferox) – The plant, also referred to as Indian aconite, is used as a poison for arrows, according to ancient Vedic texts. The plant, while it is considered to be one of the most poisonous plants in the world, becomes a therapeutic agent for nerve pain and inflammation once it is carefully treated before use.
  •          Brihati (Solanum indicum) – According to Ayurvedic concepts, brihati is an excellent herbal remedy that contains digestive, diuretic, and cardioprotective properties.
  •          Pippali Kana (Piper longum) – The Indian long pepper is an important plant in many systems of medicine, and it is known to treat conditions ranging from constipation, bronchitis, respiratory infections, to even tumors and sexually-transmitted diseases. (Related: Do dandelion and long pepper extracts have anti-cancer properties?)
  •          Marica (Piper nigrum) – Black pepper is ubiquitous: You can find in almost everywhere, usually together with salt, as a seasoning. However, studies have shown that black pepper is a potent antioxidant and can inhibit inflammation, protect the body against fungi and bacteria, and even protect the liver.

To make MHR, the herbs are powdered and sieved. They are then mixed with purified gandhaka (sulfur), tankana (sodium metaborate), hingula (cinnabar). These three ingredients are known to contain heavy metals, but Ayurveda uses an extensive process to make it fit for human consumption.

“In this regard, it uses drugs medicinally but in a careful, complex and safe manner,” the authors wrote of the process. “Ayurveda can employ the great healing power of minerals while avoiding their side effects.” Aside from these ingredients, they also used chloroform and toluene as solvents.

The purification process differed for each ingredient. For visa roots, it involved washing the roots with water and soaking it in cow urine for 48 hours. After soaking, these were washed in water and boiled in milk, washed again, and then dried. For gandhaka, it was first mixed with ghee, then heated to its melting temperature. The heated mixture was then filtered and poured into boiled milk. The final mixture was then isolated, washed with hot water, and dried. Steps were also made to purify hingula and tankana; a sample was collected from each step of the process.

The researchers, using high-performance thin-layer chromatography (HPTLC), observed a change in the chemical concentration of alkaloids in the visa roots during the purification process, indicating that the poison found in the roots have been transformed. Infrared spectroscopy of the roots also revealed similar results: the esters naturally present in visa (peak at 1720 cm−1) were replaced with a keto-group (1676 cm−1).

The results also revealed that elements with have a toxic nature – in this case, cinnabar and sulfur – could be made homologous to the body when it is treated or impregnated with organic material.

The researchers concluded that the traditional methods used in making MHR could be scientifically proven to reduce the toxicity of specific raw ingredients and make it therapeutically useful. “The data obtained certainly proves that all the procedures had marked effect on the nature of the raw materials,” they wrote in their article. “It indicates that the traditional methods of purification are responsible for making the formulation therapeutically useful with less toxicity and thus should be followed very carefully.” Source: Naturalmedicine.news