Sunday, May 22, 2016
HELICHRYSUM: Helichrysum italicum, Helichrysum augustifolium, Helichrysum gymnocephalum, Helichrysum chasmolycicum, Helichrysum pallasii, Helichrysum armenium, etc.
Also known as: Immortalle, Everlasting, Italian Strawflower
Parts Used: flowers
Systems/Organs affected: skin, muscles, structural, auditory, olfactory, circulatory, lymphatic, endocrine, nervous
Properties: emollient, antibacterial, anti-fungal, analgesic, respiratory, nervine, anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, stimulant, alterative, anti-spasmodic, anti-allergenic, antiviral, anti-catarrhal, expectorant, emmenogogue, cytophylactic, vulnerary, cholagogue, diuretic, astringent, nutritive tonic, anti-hematomal, anti-tussive, febrifuge, hepatic, splenic, detoxifying
Helichrysum is a member of the Compositae (Sunflower) family. It has golden yellow. ball-shaped flower heads that emit a sweet fragrance that might remind one of honey, It has hairy, silvery leaves and grows like a small shrub. There are both annual and perennial varieties. (The look of it kind of reminds one of tansy). Native to Australia and Africa, it will grow in almost any hot, dry climate that has plenty of sunshine. As it is very dry naturally, it often takes far more plants to produce an oil than that of other herbs which is one of the reasons the oil is so expensive, roughly $120-200.00 for just 1/2 ounce. Helichrysum essential oil is distilled from the flowers and more often than not is done using multiple species of helichrysum rather than just one. There are about 600 species of this plant and it now can be found in Spain, Italy and France as both a wild and cultivated crop. The helichrysum most often used medicinally is the Italicum variety, although any of them will do. Just be sure it is 100% helichrysum and has at least 25% or more concentration of neryl acetate.
Helichrysum comes from the Greek words 'helisso' and 'chrysos', which means 'to turn around' and 'gold' respectively. (This is one oil that could very well be liquid gold due to tis sheer medicinal uses). In ancient times the plants were dried and then offered at the altars of the Greek gods. It was prized as a dried plant as the flowers would retain their golden hue even when dried. Early physicians used the plant for liver and skin disorders, respiratory complaints (bronchitis, asthma, whooping cough, etc.), headaches and more. The early European practitioners used it for inflammatory conditions and bacterial infections.
More recent studies have found that helichrysum is full of 'diketones', items which stimulate new skin growth and help to reduce scar tissue. In Flavour and Fragrance Journal (Jan/Feb 2001, Vol 16, Issue 1:30-34) an article entitled, Composition of Helichrysum Italicum found that the oil of this amazing plant has an exceptional amount of diketones. This is no doubt one of the reasons why this species is also referred to as Immortelle or Everlasting.
Another study in 2002 had even more promising results. This study discovered that the oil had powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. As such it has been hailed as an 'anti aging' miracle. (J. Pharm. 2002 Mar., 54(3):365-371)
Helichrysum also has been used for stomach and abdominal cramping, sinus infections, colds, gall bladder issues, to stimulate the pancreas and liver, for digestion, muscle spasms, sunburn, joint pain, eczema, psoriasis, to heal wounds, varicose veins, sports injuries, tinnitus, nerve pain, etc. It has been used in conjunction with cardamom oil for heavy metal detoxification. The list seems as endless as its medicinal properties.
In aromatherapy it helps to activate the right side of the brain-opening one to new ideas and stimulating creativity and intuition. It is said to improve meditation and visualization and to make dreams far more vivid. It uplifts one's mood and helps to reduce feelings of stress and depression. It also is believed to work well with the heart chakra and is neutral for all three doshas (or a combination dosha type). It pairs well with bergamot, rose, chamomile, tea tree, lavender, lemon, geranium, cypress, neroli, rosemary and juniper oils.
Helichrysum is, as mentioned before, unbelievably expensive but is well worth the cost. It is an oil that has so many healing components that one would be advised to keep some in a first aid kit.
There are a few things to keep in mind when using this oil or plant, most notably, that it is an anticoagulant so if one is on blood thinners it is best not to use this. Always consult a physician before starting any herbal
As is customary with my posts I am including some links herein for your perusal. May they assist you in your journey for knowledge and better health.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Saw Palmetto: Serenoa Serrulata, Sabal Serrulata, Serenoa Repens
Also known as: fan palm, dwarf palmetto, sabal, serenoa
Parts used: berries
Systems/Organs affected: reproductive, lungs, heart, kidney, spleen, liver, urinary, glandular, prostate, structural
Properties: sedative, diuretic, antiseptic, yin and yang, tonic, cardiac, expectorant, aphrodisiac, roborant (strengthening), nutritive, endocrine and anabolic agent, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine
Saw palmetto is a member of the Palmaceae (palm) family. It is a 'fan' palm native to North America and grows in thick bunches, usually around the roots of other trees. Typically found in the southeastern United States, it is a very hardy plant-some are as old as 700 years. The saw palmetto can get up to 10 feet tall with the large leaf fans themselves being close to two feet in length. The leaf stalk has sharp spines that give the plant its famous name. The berries are a reddish-brown to black and are generally harvested in September. The berries are food for both animals and humans as well as being a source of valuable medicine.
Saw palmetto's medicinal beginnings were first recorded in 1879 by a physician in Savannah, Georgia known as Dr. J.B. Read. He published an article in the American Journal of Pharmacy in April of 1879 on its medicinal uses. He stated, "...its peculiar soothing power on the mucous membrane helps induce sleep, relieves the most troublesome coughs, promotes expectoration, improves digestion and increases fat, flesh and strength. Its sedative and diuretic properties are remarkable." He was amazed that such a plant had escaped notice for so long. Since that time there have been several studies conducted on the benefits of saw palmetto.
In Austria, Germany and Italy, this herb is combined with others in a formula widely used for prostate issues. BPH (benign prostate hypertrophy) is a common condition among aging men. It affects about 8% of men in their 40's and by the time men are 70 the ratio is close to 60% and the ratio continues to climb to about 90% of men in their 80's. One quarter of these will develop moderate to severe urinary issues. The prostate gland is responsible for secreting fluid necessary for reproduction. It takes a large amount of androgen hormones for that to take place.
In studies done on saw palmetto for BPH it was found that the herb relieved urinary issues as well as the pharmaceutical drug Proscar, also known as 'finasteride'. Saw palmetto also acted as an anti-inflammatory which also was of benefit to prostate health and overall function. In a study done with 2,939 men with BPH, it was found that those using saw palmetto extract had a much larger imrpovement in urinary related issues than did the controls. This same group also reported less night time episodes with urination and an improvement in overall urine flow. In a similar study it was found that not only had urine flow and prostate size improved but that over a period of 2 years so did sexual function.
Another study was published in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine (2002, April; 8(2): 143-152) on using saw palmetto for androgenic alopecia. Nineteen men between the ages of 23-64 with mild to moderate androgenic alopecia were given 200 mg. of saw palmetto and 50 mg of beta sitosterol or a placebo for four and one half months. Their hair was assessed on a standardized scale both before the experiment and after. By the end of the study, 60% of the men had improved.
Saw palmetto has been used for many other things over its lengthy history. Jethro Kloss (Back to Eden) stated it was useful in all diseases related to the reproductive area (for both sexes) and is a general tonic in times of illness. He also stated that it was useful for such things as bronchitis, colds, sinus infections, diabetes and Bright's disease (also known as nephritis or inflammation of the kidneys). Saw palmetto also has been used in the past for asthma, to help build muscles and increase strength, for impotence, headaches, migraines and to strengthen the immune system. There are some references to its use in aiding digestion and strengthening the thyroid as well.
The Native Americans have used the berries for hundreds of years as a source of nutrition and to stimulate the appetite. One of the early eclectic physicians, Doctor Ellingwood, used it for infertility in women and to increase milk flow in nursing mothers.
This is an herb that deserves a place on the supplement shelf for daily use. However, some practitiioners have found that, used in high doses, it can lead to a loss of libido in both sexes. It is also known to interact with prostate medication, birth control pills, blood thinners and blood clotting agents. In excess, saw palmetto can cause nausea, constipation, dizziness and diarrhea. It is believed to be safe supplementing daily at 160-320 mg for men and 160 mg for women. As always, consult a physician before starting any herbal regimen.
As is customary for my posts I am including some links below for your benefit. Use them wisely. Stay strong and healthy!
Friday, May 6, 2016
Agrimony: Agrimonia Eupatoria, Agrimonia Pilosa, Agrimonia Gryposepala, Agrimonia Incisa, Agrimonia Corcana, Agrimonia Microcarpa, Agrimonia Parriflora, etc.
Also known as: Cocklebur, Sticklewort, Church Steeples, Da Hua Long, Ya Cao, Philanthropos, Liverwort, Burr Marigold.
Parts Used: Aerial Portions
Systems/Organs affected: liver, kidney, bladder, lungs, stomach, blood, intestines, spleen, female reproductive, heart.
Properties: astringent, analgesic, hemostatic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, digestive bitter, antispasmodic, diuretic, tonic, promotes bile flow (cholagogue), depurative, emmenogogue, hepatic, vulnerary, anti-carcinogenic, anti-parasitic, cordial, deobstruent
Agrimony is a showy plant. The cylindrical shaped stems are slightly rough and can get up to 24 inches or more in height. Depending on the variety, it can have some branches or no branches. It has an abundance of leaves that are bigger near the bottom and taper off as they grow up the stalk. The leaves can be anywhere from 3-8 inches in length, are pinnately formed and divided into pairs of leaflets. They are oblong and oval in shape, are toothed and kind of downy. The stems terminate in lovely spikes of yellow flowers that are slightly aromatic and smell of apricots. When it goes to seed, agrimony develops little burrs that stick to one's clothing, which is why it has the cocklebur reference.
Agrimony is a member of the Rose family and blooms from June to September. It can be found in meadows and along roadsides and grassy places. It is believed that there are at least 15 species of agrimony just in the Americas.
Agrimony has roots in ancient times, as many plants do. The word 'argemone' is Greek and means 'healing to the eyes'. Eupatoria comes from Mithridates Eupator, a king once known for his herbal remedies. In Chaucer's time agrimony was often mixed with vinegar and mugwort to help with back issues and wounds in general. One old reference said it could heal internal bleeding if mixed with 'pounded frogs and human blood'. Witches would use it to ward off hexes and negative energy. The French used it for gunshot wounds as early as 1476 and are still using it today for sprains and bruises. It was once in the London Materia Medica and Gerard actually said that a decoction of the leaves was good for liver complaints. Pliny referred to it as an 'herb of princely authoritie' and Dioscorides claimed it was useful for snake bites. In the middle ages, agrimony was believed to have magical power and would often be put under one's pillow to induce sleep. In fact, they believed that a person would sleep until the herb was removed from underneath the pillow. (Now I can understand the "Sleeping Beauty" story even better...).
Culpeper used it for gout, sores, bruises, colic, coughing, general wound healing, malaria, snake bites, and as a drawing herb. Green compared the root of agrimony to that of Peruvian bark and that if taken in large amounts it never fails to cure fevers. It was once quite popular as a tea and was part of a 'spring drink' often consumed to purify the blood. The ancient Greeks used it for eye disorders, diarrhea, and for problems with the kidneys, gall bladder and liver. They also used it as a foot soak for tired feet. In Austria, it has been used for gastrointestinal issues and problems related to the liver and bile and the respiratory system. The French drink the tea for blood disorders, colds, hepatitis, gallstones, jaundice, acne, indigestion, sore throat, fevers, conjunctivitis, gout, snake bites and worms. (Whew!) A poultice of fresh leaves has been used for ulcers, sores, wounds and to draw out splinters. The Native Americans used it up until the late 19th century for coughs, diarrhea, sore throats and skin conditions. In some cases, agrimony has been used as a suppository to help with tapeworms, diarrhea and hemorrhoids. The Chinese consider it to be an important herb for cancer and it has been used in combination with a number of other plants for just that purpose. This plant has a significant silica content and as such has been used for a variety of skin conditions and to curtail bed-wetting.
Agrimony has a number of beneficial elements in its makeup. It contains thiamine, catechin (a water-soluble polyphenal and antioxidant) as well as quercetin (another well known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory). It also contains a significant amount of palmitic, ursolic and silicic acids. Palmitic acid has recently been found to help with skin cancer. Ursolic acid is a well known diuretic and anti-inflammatory. Silicic acid is needed for healthy nails, skin and hair. Agrimony is a source of vitamin K, vitamin C, iron and polysaccharides as well.
Agrimony is one of the Bach flower essences. It is for those who tend to hide their trouble under a mask of happiness. They often turn to alcohol or drugs to make them happy. They dislike being alone and seek out parties and friends. Dr. Bach said, "Though generally they have troubles and are tormented and restless and are worried in mind or in body, they hide their cares behind their humour and jesting and are considered very good friends to know. They often take alcohol or drugs in excess to stimulate themselves and help themselves bear their trials with cheerfulness."
Today this herb is used in China for excessive bleeding. Chinese research has found that it can increase blood clotting up to 50%. This explains multiple references to it being used for hemorrhages in a number of cultures. The Germans use it to help treat cirrhosis and gallstones.
Agrimony interferes with the following medications: diabetic drugs, ace inhibitors, aspirin, calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, anti-platelet or anticoagulant medications and diuretics. It also may affect those who suffer from chronic constipation or have serious liver and/or kidney issues. DO NOT USE if pregnant or nursing and always consult a physician before starting any herbal supplement or regimen.
As is customary with my posts I am including some links below for your perusal. Use them as you see fit. Stay strong and healthy!