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In written records the study of herbs dates back over 5000 years to the Sumerians who described some of the medicinal plant uses.
Egyptian medicine of 1000 B.C are known to use: garlic, opium, castor oil, coriander, mint indigo and other herbs.
The Old Testament also mentions herbs as mandrake, vetch, caraway, wheat, barley and rye.
In India Ayurveda medicine has used many herbs and describing use of turmeric as early 1900 B.C. In the 6 th century they described as many as 700 medicinal plant, 64 preparations of mineral sources and 57 animal sources.
First Chinese herbal book compiled the Hung Dynasty going back to 2700 B,C. and lists 365 medicinal plants.
The ancient Greeks and Romans made medicinal use of plants.
De Materia Medica written in first century AD describes the compendium of more than 500 plants.
Medical schools known as Bimaristan began to appear from the 9 th century in the medieval Islamic world. Ibn-al-Bitar described more than 1,400 different plants. This allowed the study of materia medica to evolve into the science of pharmacology.
15 th and 16 th century were great age of herbals, many of them available for the first time in English and other languages other than Latin or Greek.
The Columbian exchange introduced new medical plants to Europe. The Badianus Manuscript was an illustrated Aztec herbal translated into Latin in the 16 th century.
Slow erosion began with the Black Death where all the knowledge of the herbs was powerless.
A century later, Paracelsus introduced the use of active chemical drugs
Like( arsenic, copper sulfate, iron, mercury and sulfur). These were accepted despite the toxic effect.
Many of pharmaceuticals currently available to physicians have long history of use as herbal remedies including opium, aspirin, digitalis and quinine.
The use of and search for drugs and dietary supplements from plants accelerated in recent years.
According to World Health Organization 25% of modern drugs used in the United States were derived from plants.
The word drug comes from Dutch word “droog” which means dried plant.
Variety of phytochemicals recovered from plants
Alkaloids contain a ring with nitrogen. Many alkaloids have dramatic effect on CNS. (Caffeine is an alkaloid that provides mild lift). Alkaloids in general cause severe intoxication even death.
Polyphenols contain phenol ring, The Anthocyanins that give grapes their purple color, isoflavons, the phytoestrogens from soy and tannins that give tea its astringency are phenolics.
Terpenoids are built from terpene building blocks. Each terpene consists of two paired isoprenes. The names of monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, diterpenes and triterpiens are based on the number of isoprene units. Fragrance of the rose and lavender is due to monoterpenes.
Carotenoids produce red and yellow and orange of pumpkin, corn and tomatoes.
Glycosides consists of glucose moiety
Types of herbal medicine systems and routes of administration
Tinctures- Alcoholic extracts of herbs obtained by 100% ethanol or ethanol mixed with water.
Herbal wine and elixirs – alcoholic extract of herbs 12-38%. Herbal vine is maceration of herbs in vine and elixir is maceration in alcohol.
Tisanes- Hot water extract (teas)
Decoctions – Long term boiled extracts as roots or bark.
Macerates - Cold infusion of plants with high mucilage-content as Sage, Thyme etc. Plants area chopped and added to cold water and left to stand for 7-12 hours.
Vinegars Prepared the same way as tinctures except using a solution of acetic acid as the solvent.
Herbal tea, tisane or ptisan is herbal or plant infusion and it is typically combination of boiling water and dried fruits, flowers or herbs. Herbal teas are consumed for their physical or medical effects, especially for their stimulant, relaxant or sedative properties. Medicinal effect of some of the teas controversial and makers are not allowed to make unsubstantiated claims about the medicinal effects of their products.
While most herbal teas are safe to use, there are some that could have toxic effect and permanent damage to the liver like Comfrey
With chronic use and Lobelia which contains toxins similar in effect to nicotine.
Most of the ingredients in the India herbal teas are non-toxic but should be checked for the presence of heavy metals.
In China traditional Chinese Medicine approach is used in formulating natural herbal teas.
Anise is sweet and very aromatic licorice-like flavor. The seeds are used in food preparation and as tea is used for improving digestion. It is used as additive in liquor, candies, baking cookies. Anise like fennel contains anethol, a phytoestrogen. It is used to relieve the menstrual cramps and is used by nursing mothers to improve the flow and improving quality of milk.
Artichoke is used in culinary art. It is rich in vitamins and minerals. As tea is acting as diuretic and is improving the liver function. Cynarin and active chemical in artichoke causes increased bile flow and it is mainly located in the pulp. It is produced into tea in Vietnam. In Italy is made into liqueur Campari and is used as appetitive. Cooking tips at: www.dmoz.org .
Azadirachta indica – there is use of flowers, leaves and fruit. Properties are anthelmintic, antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, contraceptive and sedative. Neem oil is used as repellent and in cosmetics. It is used in skin disease and keeps skin elasticity. It is used in pest control.
Bee Balm called Monarda. The leaves are used for common cold, fever, sore throat and inflamed mucus membranes it is used in the cream form for eczema, psoriasis and acne. Aromatherapy of bee balm can treat headaches and insomnia. The main use is respiratory track, antimicrobial on skin infections.
Boldo (Peumus Boldus)used in South America. Leaves of the tree are used for culinary purposes. Boldo fruit is edible tasty small spheres. Is used for gallbladder but also to calm the upset stomach
Bitter melon there are different varieties and it has culinary and medicinal use. It is generally eaten green and is with similar texture as cucumber. As the fruit rips and flash becomes tougher and more bitter but pit becomes sweat and intensely red. It can be eaten uncooked at this stage. In India is cooked with coconut and is considered beneficial to diabetics. The plant contains several bioactive glycosides and number of terpenoid compounds. Is claimed to stimulate digestion, helps to treat dyspepsia and constipation. It is used as : Antihelmitic, Antimalaria, Antiviral for Herpes I, chickenpox, measles and HIV. It is cardioprotective by down-regulating inflammatory factor. It improves immune cell function. Bitter melon increases insulin sensitivity. Bitter melon tablets are sold in Philippines as a food supplement under name “Charanti”. Other compounds activate AMPK the protein that regulates glucose uptake. It contains as well lectin, that has insulin like activity. Extract from seeds induced apoptosis of leukemia cell in vitro and in rats prevented colon carcinogenesis. It had been used as well for dysentery, colic, fevers, burns, painful menstruation, scabies and other skin problems.
Centella asiatica is used in Ayurverdic medicine, African and Asiatic medicine. It is called Gotu Kola. It is used in culinary and medicinal treatment as well. Gotu Kola is mild adaptogen it is mildly antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcerogenic, cerebral tonic, circulatory stimulant and diuretic. Could be used in treatment of Anxiety. In Thailand gotu kola leaves are used as afternoon stimulant. A poultice of the leaves is also used for open sore. Had been used in wound healing and for treatment of leprosy. It increases attention span, concentration, combat aging and re-vitalize the brain. It has anti tumor properties as well. Decreases inflammatory reaction and myofibroblast production.
Caraway seeds are used mainly in cooking: bread, liquors, curry and other foods. Medicinally caraway has a long history used for colic, loss of appetite and digestive disorder. It is of Arabic origin. The oil component is used in soaps, lotions and perfumes.
Cinnamon is spice from inner bark of tree. Had been used as early in 2000 BCE in Egypt. Its origin is in Sri Lanka. Should not be used in large doses due to presence of coumarine that is known to cause kidney and liver damage. It is used as spice in cooking. It has broad range of the health application. Is Helping digestion, improving memory, inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage. Helps with overeating and tobacco use. It is used in treatment of diabetes, indicates anti melanoma activity, treatment of toothache, bad breath, common cold , targeting colorectal carcinogenesis. It has very large antioxidant activity as well
Citrus is good source of flavonoids and limonoids and contain large amounts of citric acid. Orange peal is used for digestion and upset stomach and It is high antioxidant.
Crataegus commonly called hawthorn. Used as antioxidant and it contains many substances that are beneficial for the heart. These antioxidant flavonoids may help dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow and protects blood vessels from damage. Helps control blood pressure and high cholesterol. It helps combat chest pain. It is available in capsules and liquid form. Tea could be made from dried hawthorn.
Cymbopogon Lemon grass called as well Citronella. It is used in culinary art as food flavoring. Lemon grass has calming effect and detoxify the Liver, Kidney, bolder and digestive track. Cuts down uric acid, cholesterol and excess fat. It is high in B-carotene.
Dill originated in Eastern Europe. It is used to flavor the food. Dill seeds are used to sooth the stomach similar to caraway seeds. It has high anti gas properties.
Echinacea – the studies show that Echinacea has immunomodulating properties and can cut the chances catching the cold and could shorten the duration of cold. It should be taken at very first signs of cold and than followed every 2 to 4 hours
Essiac or Essiac Tea is a blend of herbs as an alternative treatment for cancer. Some other ailments treated with Essiac include Aids, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, Immune system disorder, stress, depression, burns, chronic cough, liver, kidney problem, Lime disease, Blood cleanser, Gout, skin sores, boils, Lupus and Hepatitis.
Fennel it has culinary use. Fennel has similar properties then Anise and dill. Good for treating the colic in babies it has suiting effect on digestive system. It is used as diuretic.
Ginger is the rhizome of the plant consumed as delicacy, medicine or spice. Flavor of Ginger is caused by mixture of volatile oil that compose 1-3 % of weight of fresh ginger stimulates the production of saliva which makes swallowing easier, they are active against diarrhea, nausea, sea sickness and chemotherapy. Tea brewed from ginger is used as common cold remedy. Ginger ale or ginger beer are also drunk as stomach settlers. Ginger candy is used as anti cough remedy. It is used for antiinflamation.
Ginseng is considered to be adaptogenic drug, nourishing stimulant, treatment of type II diabetes and in sexual dysfunction in man. It had been identified as an anti inflammatory agent. It reduces fatigue in cancer patients and is known contain phytoestrogen and has high anti cancer properties.
Gynostemma it is powerful antioxidant and adaptogenic effects increase longevity. It lowers cholesterol, high blood pressure, strengthens immunity and is inhibiting cancer growth
Hibiscus- consuming lowers blood pressure. Dried Hibiscus id edible and is as delicacy in Mexico.
Kuding Tea disperse wind-heat, clears the head and the eyes. It is used for cold, rhinitis, alleviate thirst especially with disease that causes fever. It is used in bronchitis and against the cough. Promotes blood circulation, lowers blood pressure and lowers blood lipids. It seems to invigorate digestion and improves mental focus and function
Labrador tea – leave beverage is used for week blood, colds, tuberculosis, dizziness, stomach problems, heartburn, kidney problems and hangover Substance ledol could cause cramps and paralysis.
Lapacho comes from South and Central America. Appears to have antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties. It is used for cancer. HIV, psoriasis, insect bites, candida and other maladies.
Liquorice used for Liquorice candies. The compound glycyrrhizic acid found in liquorice is now routinely used in Japan to treat chronic viral Hepatitis, Kaposi sarcoma and herpes virus infections. Large doses could increase blood pressure. It is used as topical agent for shingles ophthalmic, oral or genital herpes, cough, anorexia and persistent low fever.
Mate (beverage) is used mainly in South American Tea bag is marketed in Argentina and is called “Cruz de Malta”. It is considered anti oxidant, high in vitamins a,B1, B2, c and E. Inhibits proliferation of oral cancer cells, it has effect on LDL and triglycerides
Mentha – Mint is used as culinary source. It is used as medicinal and cosmetic and in tobacco industry. Mint kills mosquitoes, drives ants away. Tea is used for problem with digestion.
Mtricaria chamomilla - it is used medicinally to treat irritable bowl syndrome, it is mild laxative and is anti inflammatory and bactericidal. It is used as mouth was against oral mucositis, speeds healing. It has antioxidant , antiviral and antimicrobial activity. In vitro inhibits HSV-2, cancer and is used for diabetes fungal growth. It contains coumarin and should not be used by people taking blood thinners.
Marinda Citrifolia – ( Noni) fruit is high in carbohydrates and vitamins. The fruit leaves had been use for menstrual cramps, anti inflammation, acne reduction, moisture retention.
Melisa officinalis – Lemon Balm has culinary use in flavoring ice cream and the teas. In medicinal use crashed leaves are repellant for mosquitoes. It is used a s herbal tea claiming to have antibacterial and antiviral properties mainly against herpes. It is used as mild sedative or calming agent. It appears to improve mood and mental performance it effects GABA and acetylcholine receptors. It improves mild conditions of Alzheimer patients. It should be avoided by patients taking thyroid medication.
Monarda didyma (Oswego tea ) it is source of bergamot oil Used to flavor Earl Gray tea. It has strong antiseptic action and is used for skin infections and minor skin wounds. Tea treats mouth and throat infection and gingivitis. It sis used in commercial mouth wash.
Ocium tenuiflorum is used in in cooking and as tea. For medical use it might be a COX-2 inhibitor It is effective for treatment of diabetes . It has antibacterial activity and is used in skin preparations. It shows promise in radioprotection.
Nettle - The toxins secreted by nettles contain formic acid, Various types of nettle have been studied on effect on prostate hypertrophy, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation, pain, constipation , GI disease, headache, nausea, common cold, inflammation, asthma, bleeding, rhinitis, kidney disease, prostate cancer, urinary track disease and skin disease.
Pine tea made by steeping young green pine needles are high in vitamin A and C. Pine nuts are used in cooking.
Polygonum multiflorum- Fo-ti contains alkaloid that has rejuvenating effects on the nerves, brain cells and endocrine glands. It stimulates the portion of the adrenal gland and helps to detoxify the body; It had been used for long list of ailments atherosclerosis , constipation, fatigue, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, nerve damage, eczema, inflammation of lymph nodes, it increases immune system and sexual vigor. The Chung Yun Chinese herbalist reportedly lived to be 256 year old by using Fo-ti
Rose hip – it is particularly high in vitamin C, A and B. It has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effect. It is used for cold and flu.
Rosemary – it has culinary and medical use as well, it is high in iron, Ca++ and B6. It improves memory. Carnosic acid in rosemary protects brain from free radicals lowering the risk from stroke and neurodegenerative disease, cancer chemoprevention. It has some anti carcinogenic properties. It reduces formation of mammary tumors.
Salvia officinalis – as a kitchen herb sage has a slightly peppery flavor.
Investigation have taken place into using sage as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. It may be effective in the hyperlipidemia. Shows possible uses as anti sweating agent, antibiotic, antifungal, astringent, antispasmodic, estrogenic, hypoglycemic and tonic. It contains tannic acid, oleic acid, and number other acids, flavones and glycosides
Siraitia grosvenorii – the sweat fruit is used for medicinal purposes and as the sweetener. The fruit is used in herbal tea an soup. It is anti oxidant. Enhances immunity in mouse. It has glucose lowering effect. It is used for chronic cough, sore throat, aid to longevity.
Stevia – in 1970 Japan began cultivating stevia as alternative to artificial sweetener.
St John’s wort - is used for depression.
Sambal is chili based sauce.
Trifolium pratense – used for treatment of menopause, reduction of hot flashes,
Tilia – is used as a tea from the flowers. It is used for colds , cough, fever, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache, diuretic. Relieves indigestion , promotes sweating to reduce the fever. Induces urine production, relieves muscle spasm and inflammation of the skin.
Uncaria tomentosa – Cat’s claw some ingredients appear to b e anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer. It is used to treat Crohn’s disease, gastric ulcer, AIDS, diverticulitis, diabetes, PMS, chronic fatigue syndrome, prostate condition, lupus, rheumatism, parasites, colitis, Lyme disease, immunomodulating activity.
Valerian herb – it is used as sedative, anti convulsion, pain reliever, and is used for sleeping disorder. Use mainly for mind and nerve disorder.
Wolfberry – it is made into goji juices are used as anti oxidants, benefits are neuroprotective, anti cancer, anti obesity, anti inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial and benefits cardiovascular dieses.
D-Manose – beats bladder infection. The simple sugar D-Manose has the ability detaching the E.coli from the walls of bladder without upsetting the friendly bacteria necessary for good health. After being loosened from the bladder walls are rinsed away by normal urination. D-Manose does not effect blood sugar levels.
Xylitol – is used for ear and sinus infection. Bacteria stick back of the nose and by using the Xylitol infection could be cured. www.nasal-xylitol .com. It as well reduces tooth decay and prevents cavities.