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Rosemary

Rosemary has historically been used to alleviate  ailments ranging from indigestion to poor memory. The University of Maryland  Medical Center reports that at least one study proved rosemary beneficial for  relieving anxiety; However, another study found rosemary can actually increase  anxiety. If you find rosemary to be relaxing, you can take the dried herb as a  tea preparation, or added to bath water. Rosemary essential oil is used in  aromatherapy, but can have a convulsant effect on those susceptible to epileptic  seizures.

 
 

Chamomile

The variety of chamomile most popular in the United  States is German chamomile, or Matricaria recutita. Chamamelum nobile, also  known as Roman or English chamomile, is also available as a herbal supplement.   Both kinds of chamomile are used to reduce stress, anxiety and nervousness.  Chamomile is also believed helpful for relieving muscle spasms and skin  conditions.  There are few human studies regarding the calming effect of  chamomile, but research on animals show that a low dose of chamomile reduces  anxiety and promotes restful sleep.

Oatstraw

Avena sativa, or oatstraw, is the stalk part of the oat  plant which is used in cereals and other foods. As well as being part of a  staple food crop for people in many countries, oatstraw has traditional herbal  uses as a stress reliever. Oatstraw can be taken as a supplement or in a tea  infusion, and is believed effective in combating exhaustion associated with  neurological pain.  Additionally, oatstraw is commonly used as a remedy for  attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and for more general  anxiety.

 

References

Herbal Stress Remedies

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Licorice Root: History and Uses

 

 

Licorice

Latin name:  Glycyrrhiza glabra

Common names:  Chinese Licorice, Gan Cao, Licorice Root, Sweet Wood, Kuo – lao, Ling – t’ung

Medicinal part:  Rootstock

How Licorice Root Is Used :

 Peeled licorice root is available in dried and powdered forms.

 Licorice root is available as capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts.

 Licorice can be found with glycyrrhizin removed; the product is called DGL (for “deglycyrrhizinated licorice”).

 

World view of the Licorice Root

    As this herb has been used for a wide variety of ailments, for the purpose of this article I will limit those to the most commonly utilized along with any recent research findings related to the medicinal usage of the licorice root.   Most herbal preparations are made from the dried fruit of the plant.

   Licorice is a perennial plant that can be found in southern and central Europe and in some parts of Asia.  Licorice is popular in its natural form in Italy (particularly in the South) and Spain. The root of the plant is simply unearthed, washed and chewed as a mouth freshener.  Licorice is not only the number one DRUG used in the world today but it is also the most frequently administered herb by herbalists for themselves.  Europeans use the licorice root for the treatment of chest pains, cough, congestion, overall fatigue and constipation.  The root is more commonly used in India and in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), compared to North America, making it more widely used than any pharmaceutical drug on the market today.   Also known as the “Great Adjunct”, the “Great Detoxifier” and the “Grandfather of Chinese herbs”, licorice is thought to be beneficial in the treatment of conditions that affect the stomach, kidneys, lungs as well as the spleen.  It can also be used affective in the treatment of auto-immune conditions including lupus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis and animal dander allergies according to TCM.

  In the East Indian or Ayurvedic  (Sanskrit: आयुर्वेद; Āyurveda, “the knowledge for long life”) culture, Licorice is thought to be a “liquifier of the stomach”, aiding in the digestion process,   Again respiratory conditions appear to be minimized with the use of licorice root, specifically in cases of asthma, bronchitis and colds.   The East Indians believe that the licorice root can strengthen cases of fatigue as well as promote eye sight.  Arthritic conditions, urinary complaints, fevers and circulation can all be improved with treatment of this herb.

   Looking at the North American Indians, licorice root was commonly administered for sore throats, bronchial conditions and for calming an upset stomach.   Like the Cheyenne, licorice was taken for gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea.  Ear aches, fever and toothaches were treated with licorice root by the Dakota and Pawnee.  The Navaho used the root as a mild cathartic (laxative) also as a form of cleansing which was prepared as a decoction ( water solution of plant extracts which is boiled).

 

Modern confirms that the pharmaceutical licorice is beneficial in the following situations:

    As an estrogenic, anti-allergic, expectorant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-convulsive, choleretic, anti-tussive ( relieves coughing) , anti-hepatotoxic (strength and stimulant for the functioning of liver), and antineoplastic (to prevent, inhibit or halt the development of a tumor).

    Licorice has been proven to regulate estrogen metabolism as well as stimulate the immune system which has been instrumental in the treatment of CFS and Fibromyalgia by increasing cortisol activity and reducing stress levels.  Evidence suggests that this herb inhibits the growth of RNA and DNA in certain viruses such as herpes among others. Various studies suggest that licorice root is highly effective in the treatment of ulcers, inhibits toxicity in the liver and has a cortisone-like action as an anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory.  This is good news in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis which affects many people in the older population.

According to the many sources I have consulted licorice root is used to eliminate side effects from other herbs.

  The compounded carbenoxolone is derived from licorice. Some studies indicate that it inhibits 11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1, an enzyme that is highly expressed in liver and fat tissues, where it plays a role in metabolism, and in the brain, where the same enzyme is involved in stress response that has been associated with age-related mental decline.

   The herb is primarily used in medicine for respiratory conditions such as: allergies, bronchitis, colds, and sore throats.   It is also used as treatment for acid reflux, heartburn and stomach ulcers, digestive tract inflammation, diseases of the skin, relief from physical and emotional stress, and certain diseases of the liver.  Licorice can be used to treat ileitis, leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease as it is antispasmodic in the bowels.[20]

    According to Science Daily, Scientists are reporting identification of two substances in licorice — used extensively in Chinese traditional medicine — that kill the major bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease, the leading causes of tooth loss in children and adults.

   The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) claims the licorice root has anti-inflammatory effects and has been used to treat stomach ulcers, bronchitis, sore throats, and infections caused by viruses. They also point out that several clinical trials found that the component glycyrrhizin, also found in licorice could reduce complications from hepatitis C in some patients.

  The benefits of using licorice root are far more extensive then I have explored in this article.  I strongly encourage readers to look further into the use of licorice root to attain a more comprehensive understanding of this powerful herb.

     Licorice root may cause water retention, raise blood pressure and should not be combined with medications that are used for heart conditions.  One must be extremely cautious when taking any pharmaceutical drugs with any herb, herbal preparation of supplement as harmful interactions can occur.  These include OTC medications and prescription medications.  When in doubt ask a herbalist, or wholistic therapist, or naturopath with training in herbology.  Ensure that you provide your medical professional as well as your herbal advisor with a list of all the medications you are using at the time.

 

 

 

Bibliography: 

 

Lust. John ( 1979). The Herb Book.

Sandeep, T. C.; Joyce L. W. Yau, Alasdair M. J. MacLullich, June Noble, Ian J. Deary, Brian R. Walker, and Jonathan R. Seckl (19 April 2004). “11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase inhibition improves cognitive function in healthy elderly men and type 2 diabetics”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101 (17): 6734–6739. DOI:10.1073/pnas.0306996101. PMC 404114. PMID 15071189.

Winston, David; Steven Maimes (2007). Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. Healing Arts Press.

by Terry Willard, Ph.D. assisted by James McCormick, M.Sc. (June 1997). Textbook of Modern Herbology. 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120104115106.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fhealth_medicine%2Falternative_medicine+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Health+%26+Medicine+News+–+Alternative+Medicine%29

http://nccam.nih.gov/health/licoriceroot

 A. Penn (c) June 2012

 

5 Interesting Facts About Lavender You Might Not Know

     One of my favourite herbs is lavender which I often use for treating insomnia.  After doing some research I found a few more uses for it other than the just for the treatment of insomnia.  I particularly like that lavender has antibacterial qualities that can offer an option for people that may not be able to use hand sanitizer gels.

Acne Treatment

Lavender is one of the most valuable oils for the treatment of acne, according to aromatherapists. “It inhibits the bacteria that cause the skin infection, helps to rebalance the over-secretion of sebum, which the bacteria thrive on, and reduce scarring”. Add a few drops of lavender oil to a plain cream sold by chemists and use as a moisturizer or cleanser.

  Insomnia
In a number of small case studies, elderly psychiatric patients have been shown to sleep better and be more alert during the day when their sleep medication is replaced with lavender oil either dropped on their pillows, or placed in a diffuser on the ward.  To induce sleep, put 3 or 4 drops of lavender oil on your pillow. For babies, add 1 drop of lavender oil  & geranium oil in carrier oil and massage into a babies back or a few drops in their bedtime bath.

Fatigue
Add 5 drops of lavender oil to a hot foot bath and relax while your feet soak in it.  The soles of the feet are particularly porous, so lavender reaches your bloodstream very quickly, exerting its stimulating and soothing effects on various systems of your body

Sinusitis

For the sinus and allergy sufferers this one may be very useful in the treatment of said conditions.
Lavender is one of several essential oils that aromatherapists recommend for inhalations to relieve sinusitis, add two drops of lavender & thyme oil to a bowl of near-steaming water and inhale slowly and deeply, with a towel over your head & bowl.

  Antibacterial

French laboratory studies in the early 20th century showed that lavender is a powerful antibacterial in dilutions of 5 per cent or less it is lethal to bacteria that cause typhoid, TB & diphtheria. Combined with Lemon Balm, for its clinically tested anti-viral properties.

Natural Headache Relief

In the past year nearly 80% of men and 95% of women have had at least one headache. While most headache sufferers resort to OTC drugs and pain relievers to treat their symptoms, many are now turning to natural headache remedies to provide a safe but effective solution for their headaches.

There are two general types of headaches: primary and secondary. Primary headaches include tension, migraine, and cluster headaches, which are not caused by any underlying medical condition. Nearly 90% of all headaches that occur are primary. Unlike primary headaches, secondary headaches are caused by medical conditions, such as infection or increased pressure in the skull due to a growing tumor. These account for a very small percentage of all headaches.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches, like migraines, are extremely painful. They tend to occur in clusters of several intense headaches during a short period of time, after which additional headaches may not be experienced for many weeks. Cluster headaches have been known to last more than one year and less than a few weeks. Cluster headaches that extend over a year are considered chronic and are difficult to treat.

Migraine Headaches

Migraines are severe headaches that many times begin in one area of the head and then spread to other areas. Migraines may become more severe with exposure to light and are usually preceded by symptoms that may include depression, irritability, restlessness, loss of appetite, and visual disturbances such as flashing lights or localized blindness. Migraines many times cause extreme nausea, vomiting, and altered vision.

Tension Headaches

A tension headache is usually experienced as a dull, yet persistent pain in the back of the neck extending to the base of the head. Tension headaches many times are associated with sensitive points in the neck called trigger-points or in the neck muscles themselves. Individuals with a tension headache may also complain of pain, throbbing, and a sensation of tightness in the head. Tension headaches often include irritability, insomnia, and extreme fatigue.

 

The natural options for treatment include, herbal supplements, shaitsu and yoga to name a few.

 

Herbal options:

1. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) This herb treats  migraine pain by interrupting its main cause: inflammatory reactions in your  head that aggravate nerve endings and cause the blood vessels to expand. When  taken daily, feverfew can prevent migraines, according to Gene Bruno, a  nutritionist in New York City, as well as “reduce their severity, duration, and  frequency.” Be patient: The results can take four to six weeks. But if you stop  taking it, your migraines might return.

Take 500 to 600 mg of standardized feverfew daily to treat migraines. Take two equal portions of feverfew on an empty stomach in the morning and evening.

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Feverfew

Butterbur root According to the journal Neurology, the root extract from this daisy plant is one of the best herbs to prevent  migraines; patients who took butterbur extract saw migraine frequency decrease  by as much as 48 percent.

Take: 100 to 150 mg two to three times per day. Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council, suggests looking for extracts with low levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA), which are  naturally occurring in the butterbur plant and can be toxic to the liver. He recommends the brand Petadolex.

 

 

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Shiatsu and You

Shiatsu is a form of massage which concentrates on  placing pressure on specific acupressure points with the fingers to help  increase the flow of energy and improve circulation in the body. Based on  Japanese healing methods, shiatsu is a great alternative treatment for  migraines, helping to reduce the tension and increase the flow of blood which  triggers your migraines. While full body shiatsu sessions must be performed by  qualified practitioners, you can learn a few basic techniques as self treatment  for migraines.

 Begin With Your Breath

Begin by practicing deep breathing techniques which will  help to calm the mind and body. Breathe in slowly and deeply through the nose  and exhale through the mouth, finding a smooth, relaxing rhythm. Place your  thumbs on either side of your nose, near your eyebrows and apply a gentle  pressure, holding the position for at least 3 full breaths. Move your thumbs up  about 1/2 an inch until your find the ridge above your brows, again, holding the  pressure point. Using your index and middle fingers, continue this technique  along the top of the head, moving 1/2 an inch at a time until you reach the base  of the skull.

 Pressure Relief From the Neck to the Temples

Once you reach the base of the skull, use your index  fingers and thumbs to gently pinch the tissue of your neck. Your index fingers  should be close together at the base of your neck with your thumbs directly on  the outer edge of the muscles which extend up your neck. Hold this position for  at least 3 full breaths. Now, return to your first position, repeating the same  technique, but this time moving horizontally across the brow 1/2 an inch at a  time until you come to your temples. Hold the temple position for at least 5  full breaths.

 Shiatsu Isn’t Just Relief, It’s  Prevention

These shiatsu techniques for migraine relief will help  to reduce your symptoms during a migraine, but you can use them at any time to  help prevent your headaches from coming on. Whenever you begin to feel tension  in the head and neck, use these techniques. Whenever you take notice of the  warning signs of an oncoming migraine, use these techniques. A combination of  deep breathing and pressure point activation will help you get relief and even  prevent a migraine headache.

 

Yoga

Yoga can be a beneficial therapeutic tool for relieving headaches brought on by muscle tension and stress.  The majority of headaches originate from muscle stiffness and imbalances emanating from the neck and upper back.  When headaches set in, using a series of restorative yoga exercises can greatly relieve both the cause and symptoms.  Here are our top yoga poses and exercises that naturally treat headaches.

1) Cat Pose: The flowing motion of breath and spine helps release tension from the neck and upper back while also pouring refreshing energy through the body and mind.

2) Seated Twists like Half Twist: Besides increasing circulation throughout the entire length of the spine, the twisting motion in the upper spine (cervical region) often alleviates tension coming from the scalene muscles of the neck (anterior aspect).

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3) Chest Openers like Yoga Mudra Arms: Much of the tension in the back body is a result of muscle dominance from the front body (called Upper Cross Syndrome).  Expanding the chest and front shoulder muscles helps break down muscular imbalances and frees the tension coming from the neck.

4) Eagle Arms:This simple crossed arm pose can be done in Mountain Pose or any natural seated posture.  This back expander can reach well into the mid and upper back targeting problematic muscles around the shoulder blades and the base of the neck.  Take time in this arm pose to breath slow and full into the upper back and insure that you perform this arm pose on both sides.

5) Simple Neck Stretches: Gently move through the various muscle fiber lines by allowing your head to float down to one shoulder with gravity, down across the chest and into the other side – repeat with a natural, unforced motion.  Avoid letting the head fall back-keep the motion in a half circle from one shoulder to the other.  Pause where you find extra areas of resistance….

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All images by www.freedigitalphotos.net

References:

: http://www.livestrong.com/article/6381-need-using-shiatsu-relieve-migraine/#ixzz29N5LXg81

Top Yoga Poses for Headaches By Kreg Weiss, B HKin • June 25th, 2009

Natural Ways to Fight Allergies

Members of the sniffling, sneezing and itching allergy demographic typically  rely on numerous drugs and sprays for relief — often with mixed results. Many  pharmaceutical treatments relieve sneezing and itching, but do little to treat  congestion, and vice versa. In fact, at a recent meeting of the American College  of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Dr. William E. Berger reported that nearly a  third of allergy patients think their medications don’t work. Plus,  pharmaceutical remedies are often expensive and frequently come with unwanted  side effects, such as drowsiness and nasal irritation. The sedative effects of  these drugs can impair driving ability and cause a mental disconnect that many  users find irritating.

ButterBur

Often sited as an allergy reliever, a German study found that the sesquiterpenes (forms of hydrocarbon found in essential oils) in butterbur, a herbaceous perennial plant, are thought to possess anti-inflammatory properties. Another study done in 2002 found that the herb was just as effective as the anti-histamine cetirizine (sold as Reactine in Canada), without the common sedative side effects. Take one tablet four times daily for best results.

Vitamin C

Allergens can cause certain cells in the body to produce histamine, which is responsible for common seasonal complaints like tearing, excess mucus and a runny nose,” says Natasha Turner, Toronto naturopathic doctor and bestselling author of The Carb Sensitivity Program.  Adding Vitamin C prevents the formation of histamine when compared to the typical OTC options, which work by interfering with the histamine after it’s produced. For best results, take it with bioflavonoids throughout the day, and aim for 2,000 mg daily for immune support.

Allergy-Fighting Foods. A German study, published in the  journal Allergy, found that participants who ate foods rich in omega-3  fatty acids were less likely to suffer allergy symptoms than those who didn’t  regularly eat these foods. Omega-3s help fight inflammation and can be found in  cold-water fish, walnuts and flaxseed oil, as well as grass-fed meat and  eggs.

To help keep airways clear when pollen counts are high, add a dash of  horseradish, chili peppers or hot mustard to your food — all act as natural,  temporary decongestants. It’s also a good idea to avoid foods that you’re  slightly allergic to until the air clears. Fighting off allergies can render the  body hypersensitive to those foods, causing more severe reactions than usual.

Clary Sage for Depression

Clary sage:  is the most euphoric of the essential oils, and it can produce an almost drug like narcotic “high”.  Combined with its pronounced anti-depressant qualities, this euphoria makes clary sage a powerful aid to easing depression, anxiety and stress.   One must use Clary Sage with caution, only a minor amount is required to create relaxation.

 

 

Lavender Oil Recipe

Today’s Herbal Tip:
Lavender Oil Recipe
1-1/2 to 2 Cups Lavender buds or flowers …

1-1/2 Cups Olive Oil 7 Capsules Vitamin E (Pierced and drained, 400 IUs or adjust quantity) Jar with a tight fitting lid (about a two cup capacity, sterilized) Non-reactive pot (glass, ceramic or stainless steel) Non-reactive bowl Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer Coffee filter Directions for Making Lavender Oil Heat olive oil till it starts to bubble at the edge of the pot. Add lavender and simmer for half an hour on low. Cool to room temperature Strain in batches through a large strainer and then through a coffee filter. Pierce vitamin capsules and add vitamin E oil to the mixture. Pour into a decorative, sterilized jar. Refrigerate The mixture will become cloudy when it’s cold but clear up again as it reaches room temperature. It should last about six weeks in the refrigerator. You can also freeze a portion for later use.  Frozen lavender oil will stay fragrant for four to six months.