Eleuthero Root

Latin Name

Eleutherococcus senticosus, Acanthopanax senticosus

Common Names

Ci Wu Jia, Devil’s Bush, Eleuthero, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Russian Ginseng, Siberian Ginseng,Russian Root, Shigoka, Taiga, Thorny Pepperbush, Touch-Me-Not, Wild Pepper

Properties

Adaptogenic, anti-aggregatory, anti-diabetic, anti-edema, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative effects on leukemia cells in vitro (Bradley, 1992; Hacker and Medon, 1984), anti-stress (Takasugi, 1985), endocrine, endurance-enhancing, hypoglycaemic, hypertensive, immunomodulator, immunoprotective, immunostimulant, platelet aggregation-inhibiting, radiation protection (Yonezawa, 1989), restorative, stimulant, tonic, vasodilator.

Indicated for

Addictions, Alzheimer’s disease, athletic support, bone cancer, boosting immune system, breast carcinoma, bronchitis, cardiovascular health, chemotherapy support, chronic fatigue syndrome, countering athletic fatigue, depression, diabetes mellitus, energy and vitality, enhancing vision,enhancing resilience, exhaustion and debility, fatigue, fibromyalgia, hantavirus, heart ailments, herpes, HIV support, Hodgkin’s disease, impotence, improving athletic working capacity, general health & mental resilience, increasing stamina, physical endurance under stress & mental alertness, infections, influenza, kidney cancer, lung ailments, maintaining well-being, malignant tumours, memory, myopia, neural diseases, oral cavity carcinoma, ovarian carcinoma, preventing respiratory tract infections, colds & flu, promoting healthy appetite, protection from toxins, radiation, reduce the effects of physical stress, rejuvenation, rheumatism, restore vigour, sore throat, skin melanoma, stomach carcinoma, stress, supporting the endocrine system.

Siberian Ginseng is different from both American ginseng and Panax ginseng. They are not interchangeable.

Reported side effects have been minimal with use of Siberian Ginseng. Mild, transient diarrhea has been reported in a very small number of users.

Siberian Ginseng may

* cause insomnia in some people if taken too close to bedtime.
* interact with certain medications, such as sedatives, barbiturates and antipsychotic drugs.
* cause an increase in the effects of oral anti-diabetic medications. 

Diabetic patients should ingest it solely under medical supervision.

Avoid

* in pregnancy and lactation.
* use in patients with high blood pressure, liver or kidney disease.
* combining this herb with other plants or substances that have a stimulating effect upon the central  nervous system, such as Guaraná, Coffee, Ephedra (Ma Huang), mate or black tea.
* use during acute phase of infections.
* use at night in patients suffering from insomnia. 

This herb is not prescribed for children, and should not be used for more than 3 weeks at one time. Avoid caffeine when using this herb.

Siberian Ginseng, a relatively new addition to Western natural medicine, has quickly gained a reputation similar to that of the better known and more expensive Korean Ginseng. Unlike many herbs with a medicinal use, it is more useful for maintaining good health rather than treating ill-health. Research has shown that it stimulates resistance to stress and so it is now widely used as a tonic in times of stress and pressure. Regular use is said to restore vigor, improve the memory and increase longevity. It has been used during convalescence and in the treatment of menopausal problems, geriatric debility, physical and mental stress and a wealth of other ailments.

Siberian ginseng - Acanthopanax

Siberian Ginseng or Eleuthero has been used in China for 2000 years as a folk remedy for bronchitis, heart ailments, and rheumatism, and as a tonic to restore vigor, improve general health, restore memory, promote healthy appetite, and increase stamina. Referred to as ci wu ju in Chinese medicine, it was used to prevent respiratory tract infections as well as colds and flu. It was also believed to provide energy and vitality. In Russia, eleuthero was originally used by people in the Taiga region of Siberia to increase performance and quality of life and to decrease infections.

The ability of Siberian Ginseng to increase stamina and endurance led Soviet Olympic athletes to use it to enhance their training. Explorers, divers, sailors, and miners used eleuthero to prevent stress-related illness. After the Chernobyl accident, many Siberian citizens were given eleuthero to counteract the effects of radiation.

Although a relatively new addition to Western natural medicine, it has quickly gained a reputation similar to that of the better known and more expensive Korean Ginseng. Unlike many herbs with a medicinal use, it is more useful for maintaining good health rather than treating ill-health. Research has shown that it stimulates resistance to stress and so it is now widely used as a tonic in times of stress and pressure. Regular use is said to restore vigor, improve the memory and increase longevity. It has been used during convalescence and in the treatment of menopausal problems, geriatric debility, physical and mental stress.

They are classified to the group of adaptogens, which raise resistance to various negative factors: physical, chemical, biological and psychological. The preparations stimulate physical and mental ability, raise the organism resistance at various kinds of sicknesses, poisoning, irradiation. They stimulate the central nervous system sex glands activities, decrease sugar and cholesterol level in blood, improve appetite, sharpen sight and hearing.

Siberian Ginseng produces a comprehensive strengthening and toning impact; it has been recommended in treating various neural diseases, impotence, lung ailments, medium forms of diabetes mellitus, and malignant tumors.

The results of pharmacological investigations of Siberian Ginseng have been summarized by I. V. Dardymov and E. l. Khasina (1993) in their book. The authors postulate that effects of Siberian Ginseng on the body, which involve an energy-mobilizing impact primarily through intensified utilization of glucose and a stress-protective effect conditioned by a change in the central nervous system and hormonal regulation. In an alarming situation, the adrenal glands release corticosteroids and adrenaline which prepare the organism for the fight or flight reaction. When these hormones are depleted, the organism reaches an exhaustive phase. Siberian Ginseng delays the exhaustive phase and can allow a more economical and efficient release of these hormones.

Another way that Siberian Ginseng reduces stress on the body is to combat harmful toxins. Siberian Ginseng has shown a protective effect in animal studies, against chemicals such as ethanol, sodium barbital, tetanus toxoid, and chemotherapeutic agents. Siberian Ginseng can also reduce the side effects of radiation exposure.

Siberian Ginseng has been shown to have neuroprotective effects against breast (mammary gland) carcinoma, stomach carcinoma, oral cavity carcinoma, skin melanoma and ovarian carcinoma. It was found to have a pronounced effect on T lymphocytes, predominantly of the helper/inducer type, but also on cytotoxic and natural killer cells. Its active ingredients may also be of use in combating herpes simplex type II infections.

Germany’s Commission E approved Siberian Ginseng as a tonic in times of fatigue and debility, declining capacity for work or concentration, and during convalescence. Other uses for Siberian Ginseng are for chronic inflammatory conditions and traditionally for functional asthenia (Bruneton, 1995). Siberian Ginseng has also been reported to increase stamina and endurance and protect the body systems against stress-induced illness and fatigue.

Siberian Ginseng has been shown to enhance mental acuity and physical endurance without the letdown that comes with caffeinated products. Research has shown that Siberian Ginseng improves the use of oxygen by the exercising muscle. This means that a person is able to maintain aerobic exercise longer and recovery from workouts is much quicker.

Other findings that are more positive have resulted from animal and human studies of Siberian Ginseng, other potential effects. Chemicals in Siberian Ginseng appear to produce moderate reductions in blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels and modest improvements in memory and concentration. Siberian Ginseng may also have mild estrogenic effects. In laboratory studies, various chemicals found in eleuthero have also shown antiviral and anticancer properties, but these effects have not been well studied in humans.

Several studies were conducted to evaluate the effects of Siberian Ginseng on eye conditions and color distinction. One study evaluated the pre and postoperative effects of Siberian Ginseng extract (1.5 ml twice daily) on 282 male or female patients suffering from primary glaucoma (102 cases) and eye burns (58 cases). Beneficial effects were noted in both treatments. Siberian Ginseng was also found beneficial in 122 cases of myopia treatment (Zaikova, 1968).

In 50 patients with normal trichromatic vision, a single dose of Siberian Ginseng extract (2 ml) stimulated color distinction (red and green) within 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion. The maximum effect was reached in six to seven hours and persisted for a minimum of 29 hours (Sosnova, 1969).

Immune System

The evidence is also mounting that Siberian Ginseng enhances and supports the immune response. Siberian Ginseng may be useful as a preventive measure during cold and flu season. Recent evidence also suggests that Siberian Ginseng may prove valuable in the long-term management of various diseases of the immune system, including HIV infection, chronic fatigue syndrome, and autoimmune illnesses such as lupus.

In perhaps the most convincing study carried out so far, B. Bohn and co-workers in Heidelberg, West Germany looked at immune parameters in 18 individuals in a randomized, double-blind fashion for a total of four weeks. The subjects in this study had venous blood drawn both before and after Eleutherococcus Senticosus administration, and the samples were analyzed by flow cytometry, which counted absolute numbers of immune cells present in their blood.

Overall, the Eleutherococcus Senticosus group showed an absolute increase in all immune cells measured. Total T-cell numbers advanced by 78 per cent, T helper/inducer cells went up by 80 percent, cytotoxic Ts by 67 percent, and NK cells by 30 percent, compared to the control group. B Lymphocytes, which are cells that produce antibodies against infectious organisms, expanded by 22 per cent in the Eleutherococcus Senticosus subjects, compared to controls. Most importantly, no side effects were noted in the Eleutherococcus Senticosus subjects up to five months after Eleutherococcus Senticosus administration ended.

The researchers stated: ‘We conclude from our data that Eleutherococcus senticosus exerts a strong immunomodulatory effect in healthy normal subjects.’ The Bohn study has caused drug companies to spend millions of dollars in an effort to get Eleutherococcus Senticosus approved as a drug by the FDA in the States.

The increases in T, B, and NK cells in people given Eleutherococcus Senticosus suggest that it could be very useful in alleviating immune suppression associated with strenuous exercise. In addition, one might speculate about a positive effect of Eleutherococcus Senticosus in the very early stages of HIV (AIDS-virus) infection. In an HIV-infected patient, Eleutherococcus Senticosus might prevent or retard the spread of the virus, thanks to the synergistic positive actions of elevated numbers of both helper and cytotoxic T cells.

Supporting these findings, Eleutherococcus Senticosus is now used in the support of cancer patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, especially in Germany. Studies have shown that E.S., when administered to patients, drastically reduces the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy (e.g., nausea, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, and loss of appetite). Other research with cancer patients has linked Eleutherococcus Senticosus with improved healing and recovery times, increased weight gain, and improved immune cell counts. In Russia, the administration of Eleutherococcus Senticosus to cancer patients seemed to permit larger than normal doses of drugs utilized in chemotherapy, thus speeding treatment periods.

How does Eleutherococcus Senticosus actually spur the immune system to greater activity? At present, there is no consensus. Some researchers believe that Eleutherococcus Senticosus induces increased interferon biosynthesis (interferon is a powerful chemical which boosts immune system activity), while others believe that polysaccharides (long-chain sugar molecules) naturally found in Eleutherococcus Senticosus stimulate the activity of special white blood cells called macrophages. These macrophages play a number of roles in the immune system, including the breakdown of infected cells and the stimulation of other immune cells. However, the polysaccharides are probably ‘nonspecific’ immune stimulants, which means that their effectiveness fades fairly quickly and that they must be administered continuously or at regular intervals in order to produce a positive effect.

Athletes & Antibiotics

Why should athletes try to stimulate their own immune systems, rather than rely on antibiotics and other remedies to control infections? Obviously, prevention of infection can promote more consistent, high-quality training and lower the risk of missed competitions. In addition, many microorganisms are now resistant to many of the commonly used antibiotics. That means that an infection picked up during heavy training may be more difficult to shake off than ever before.

Some of the more notable antibiotic-resistant organisms include Streptococcus pyogenes, which causes ‘strep throat’, upper respiratory infections, and is reported to be resistant to both penicillin and chloramphenicol. Another common bacterial species, Haemophilus influenzae, which produces both ear and upper respiratory tract infections, is now resistant to a variety of antibiotics, including chloramphenicol, ampicillin, and tetracycline. Staphylococcus aureus, which causes ‘staph infections’ of the skin, especially around surgical wounds, is resistant to erythromycin, tetracycline, and the so-called B-lactam antibiotics. Finally, certain strains of Escherichia coli, which have caused deaths in recent incidents when customers of restaurants have consumed contaminated or poorly cooked meat, are resistant to a variety of different drugs.

Investigators in the US recently completed a pilot study in which Eleutherococcus Senticosus extract was given to AIDS patients in hopes of improving their immune-system functioning and overall survivability. The results were very promising, and so a four-city, randomized, double-blind, clinical trial will be carried out with Eleutherococcus Senticosus in the near future.

Extracts of Eleutherococcus senticosus appear to have the ability to prevent immune suppression in vigorously training athletes and may limit the risk of infection. By boosting recovery following hard workouts, E. senticosus may also downgrade athletes’ chances of overtraining.

There is a relatively small number of controlled clinical trials performed with Siberian Ginseng. A single-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial lasting eight days investigated the effect of Siberian Ginseng extract (2 ml, twice daily) on working capacity, and fatigue of six male athletes, aged 21-22. Oxygen uptake, heart rate, total work, and exhaustion time were measured. Significant results were observed in all parameters, particularly the 23.3% increase in total work noted in the Siberian Ginseng test group compared with 7.5% of the placebo group (Asano, 1986).

An eight-week double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluated the efficacy of Siberian Ginseng extract (3.4 ml daily) on submaximal and maximal exercise performance of 20 highly trained distance runners. No significant difference was observed between test and control groups in heart rate, oxygen consumption expired minute volume, respiratory exchange ratio, perceived exertion, and serum lactate levels (Dowling, 1996).

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Cardamom Health Benefits

What Is Cardamom?

Scientific Name: Elettaria cardamomum

Other Names: Amomum cardamomum, Bai Dou Kou, Black Cardamom, Cardamome de Malabar, Cardamome Noire, , Cardamome Verte, Cardamomo, Cardomom, Cardomomi Fructus, Ela, Elettaria cardamomum, Green Cardamom, Huile Essentielle de Cardamome, Indian Cardamom.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is a plant that is native to India, Bhutan and Nepal in the ginger family Zingiberaceae, that is highly valued as an expensive culinary spice next only to saffron and vanilla. Cardamom fruits or seeds are primarily used as flavoring for drinks, baked goods, and confection. Cardamom is also valued for its traditional use in herbal medicine, providing health benefits for those suffering from stomach problems, liver, and gallbladder ailments, and as a stimulant. Other species that are closely related to genus Amomum in the ginger family are likewise called cardamom. These cardamom species have larger and darker fruits and have somewhat coarser taste and aroma.

Plant Description

Cardamom (Elletaria cardamomum) is a herbaceous perennial plant usually found in the wild in India and Sri Lanka but has since been cultivated in other tropical areas. Cardamom is a clumping plant of up 20 leafy shoots arising from the rhizome. The shoots are composed of overlapping leaf sheaths, lanceolate in shape with dark green color. The clump of leaves can reach up to 6 meters in height. Some shoots produce flowers on a drooping pinnacle. The flowers are both male and female and are pale green in color. The cardamom fruits are pale green to yellow in color but turn into brown when dried and contain 15 to 20 small aromatic seeds about 3 mm in length which are highly valued as flavoring.

Cardamom, Nutrient value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient Database)
Proximates NV %RDA
Energy 311 Kcal 15.5%
Carbohydrates 68.47 g 52.5%
Protein 10.76 g 19%
Total Fat 6.7 g 23%
Dietary Fiber 28 g 70%
Vitamins

Niacin 1.102 mg 7%
Pyridoxine 0.230 mg 18%
Riboflavin 0.182 mg 14%
Thiamin 0.198 mg 16.5%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin C 21 mg 35%
Minerals

Calcium 383 mg 38%
Iron 14.0 mg 78%
Magnesium 229 mg 57%
Phosphorus 178 mg 32%
Sodium 18 mg 1%
Zinc 7.5 mg 50%
Copper 0.4 mg 19%
Percent daily values are based on 2000 Kcal diets.

Traditional Health Benefits Of Cardamom

Cardamom being native to South India and Sri Lanka, it has a long history of use in Ayurveda medicine. When the Chinese discovered this spice, it was brought to China and likewise applied in traditional Chinese medicine.

Cardamom has long been used as an effective herbal remedy for digestion problems including intestinal spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, liver and gallbladder complaints.

Other traditional uses and health benefits of Cardamon include the treatment of;

Bronchitis
Cold
Constipation
Cough
Gallbladder problems
Gas
Heartburn
Intestinal spasms
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Liver problems
Loss of appetite
Preventing infections
Sore mouth and throat
Urinary problems

In recent years, claimed health benefits of Cardamom include its strong antioxidant property and an effective body detoxification agent,

Cardamom is rich in minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium maintains cell and body fluids that help control heart rate and blood pressure. It also contains copper and iron that is important in the production of red blood cells.

Cardamom is also rich in vitamins including riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C and contains essential oils that improve overall health.

Cardamom promotes urination that improves kidney function by eliminating excess calcium, urea, and other toxins. It is also used in the treatment of genital and urinary infections. Cardamom is also believed to improve sexual performance.

Other health benefits of cardamom are its use in the treatment of gum problems and in preventing bad breath. It is also used as an antiseptic and antimicrobial.

Scientific Studies Of Cardamom Health Benefits

Blood pressure lowering, fibrinolysis enhancing and antioxidant activities of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum).The Indigenous Drug Research Center, RNT Medical College, Udaipur, India conducted a study on  Elettaria cardamomum  (Small cardamom) fruit powder to evaluate its antihypertensive potential and its effect on some of the cardiovascular risk factors in individuals with stage 1 hypertension.
Results have shown that administration of 3 g of cardamom powder to patients with primary hypertension of stage 1 for a period of 12 weeks demonstrated a significantly (p<0.001) decreased systolic, diastolic and mean blood pressure and significantly (p<0.05) increased fibrinolytic activity at the end of 12th week. The total antioxidant status was also significantly (p<0.05) increased by 90% at the end of 3 months.
Additionally, all study subjects experienced a feeling of well-being without any side-effects. Thus, the present study demonstrates that small cardamom effectively reduces blood pressure, enhances fibrinolysis and improves antioxidant status, without significantly altering blood lipids and fibrinogen levels in stage 1 hypertensive individuals. (Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics. December 2009).Protective effect of Eleteria cardamomum (L.) Maton against Pan masala induced damage in the lung of male Swiss mice.In a study conducted in Ranchi University India, the potential ameliorating properties of cardamom Elettaria cardamomum (E. cardamomum) L. Maton against pan masala induced damage in the lung of male Swiss mice was investigated.  Results have shown that the lungs of pan masala treated group showed adenocarcinoma, edema, and inflammation with increased activity of acid phosphatase, alkaline phosphatase, and lactate dehydrogenase. While the deleterious effects were seen to be less in cardamom treated group and the enzymatic activity also decreased significantly (P<0.05) in the ameliorating group. This study suggests that cardamom supplementation may decrease the damage to the lungs of pan masala treated subjects. (Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, July 2013)

Chemopreventive effects of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum L.) on chemically induced skin carcinogenesis in Swiss albino mice.

The potential of cardamom as a chemopreventive agent was investigated in a study done in the College of Health Sciences, University of Hail, Saudi Arabia. The study was done on mice treated orally with 0.5 mg of cardamom powder in suspension continuously at pre-, peri-, and post-initiation stages of papilloma genesis compared with the control group. It was observed that the treatment of cardamom suspension by oral gavage for 15 days resulted in a significant decrease in the lipid peroxidation level of the liver (P < .01). In addition, the reduced glutathione level was significantly elevated in comparison with the control group (P < .05) following cardamom suspension treatment. These findings indicate the potential of cardamom as a chemopreventive agent against two-stage skin cancer (Journal of Medicinal Food, June 2012).

Antioxidative effects of the spice cardamom against non-melanoma skin cancer by modulating nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 and NF-κB signaling pathways.

Cardamom,  a dietary phytoproduct, has been commonly used in cuisines for flavor and has numerous health benefits, such as improving digestion and stimulating metabolism and having antitumorigenic effects.  A study done in Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, Kolkata, India, investigated the efficacy of dietary cardamom against 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-induced skin papilloma to genesis in Swiss albino mice that closely resembles human NMSC. Results from the oral administration of cardamom to DMBA-treated mice up-regulated the phase II detoxification enzymes, such as glutathione-S-transferase and glutathione peroxidase, probably via activation of nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 transcription factor in ‘DMBA+CARD’ mice. Furthermore, reduced glutathione, glutathione reductase, superoxide dismutase and catalase were also up-regulated by cardamom in the same ‘DMBA+CARD’ group of mice compared with DMBA-treated mice. Cardamom ingestion in DMBA-treated mice blocked NF-κB activation and down-regulated cyclooxygenase-2 expression. As a consequence, both the size and the number of skin papillomas generated on the skin due to the DMBA treatment were reduced in the ‘DMBA+CARD’ group. Thus, the results of the study suggest that cardamom has a potential to become a pivotal chemopreventive agent to prevent papilloma genesis on the skin (British Journal of Nutrition, Sept 2012)

Gut modulatory, blood pressure lowering, diuretic and sedative activities of cardamom.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is traditionally used in various gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and neuronal disorders.
A study was done in the Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan have using Cardamom crude extract in guinea-pig, mice and rabbits suggested that cardamom exhibits gut excitatory and inhibitory effects mediated through cholinergic and Ca++ antagonist mechanisms respectively and lower BP via a combination of both pathways. The diuretic and sedative effects may offer added value in its use in hypertension and epilepsy. (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, February 2008).

Cardamom extract as an inhibitor of human platelet aggregation.

The Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition, Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, India, investigated the protective effects of cardamom extract against platelet aggregation and lipid peroxidation.  In the study, a sample from the blood of healthy volunteers was taken and the platelets were subjected to stimulation with a variety of agonists including ADP, epinephrine, collagen, calcium ionophore and ristocetin.  Results have shown that the inhibitory effects of cardamom against lipid peroxidation and platelet aggregation were dose-dependent and time-dependent and an increase in the concentration of the aqueous extract of cardamom results to significantly decreased MDA formation.(Phytotheraphy Research, May 2005)

Allergic contact dermatitis from cardamom.

Cardamom is a popular traditional flavoring agent for baked goods and confectionery.  A case is presented of a confectioner with a chronic hand dermatitis and positive patch test reactions to cardamom and certain terpenoid compounds present in the dried ripe seeds of cardamom. Dermatitis from skin exposure to cardamom has to the best of our knowledge not been reported.

Cardamom Side Effects And Warnings

Cardamom may be considered safe for most people in food amounts and there were no reported side effects from its consumption.

Cardamom is considered safe for use by pregnant and breastfeeding mothers if taken in food amounts. But caution should be taken if to be taken in large doses as there are no sufficient studies that determine its full effects.

Large doses of cardamom have been found to trigger gallstone colic that causes spasmodic pain.

Cardamom may trigger an allergic reaction for sensitive people. Severe side effects include difficulty in breathing, hive, swelling of skin and heaviness of chest.

Cardamom Availability And Preparation

Where To Buy Cardamom

Cardamom comes in several forms depending upon how the cardamom seed pods are treated. Cardamom is usually available in most grocery stores along with the other spices;

Green cardamom pods are the preferred form of this spice in its native country, India. This fancier cardamom has been picked while still immature and sun-dried to preserve its bright green color. Green cardamom pods are harder to find and more expensive than the other forms of cardamom in part because of their superior ability to retain aroma and flavor longer. This premium form of cardamom is all connoisseurs will use in any recipe which calls for cardamom.

Cardamom seed has had the outer pod, or cardamom fruit, removed so that only the pure seeds remain. This form of cardamom spice is sometimes called cardamom-decort, which simply means the seeds have been removed from the pods or hulled. The seeds are crushed or ground prior to use, which provides plenty of cardamom flavor at a more economical price, substitute 12 seeds for every whole pod called for in a recipe.

Black cardamom is the seed pods of closely related species that also are aromatic and have an appearance similar to that of true cardamom. Although, black cardamom is not a suitable substitute for recipes that call for cardamom. Its flavor is much earthier with sweetness and a flowery accent that is different from that of true cardamoms. It is an ingredient used in some African cooking and abroad to add a bacon-like a flavor to some vegetarian dishes.

Ground cardamom is convenient to have for baking and other applications where the spice needs to be ground. Freshness and thus flavor are of course compromised when cardamom is pre-ground because it loses flavor soon after grinding. To appreciate cardamom’s true flavor we suggest grinding it before use in a spice mill, electric coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle.

White cardamom that was commonly available in the North America and Europe had been bleached to achieve its color or lack of it. It is used in baking and some desserts because its color helps keep light-colored batters, sauces, and confections speck-free. The bleaching process also destroyed much of the cardamom’s flavor leading to white cardamom’s decline in popularity.

Cardamom {Elettaria cardamomum}

Also, Known As:

  • Bastard Cardamom
  • Cardamom
  • Cardamom Seeds
  • Cardamon
  • Ela
  • Elaci
  • Malabar Cardamom
  • Sha-ren

Queen of the Spices.

The plant is one of the oldest known spices in the world. The ancient Egyptians made extensive use of the cardamom in the manufacture of perfumes and cosmetics. However, the use of the cardamom as an herbal medicine is not as well known as its use in culinary and cosmetic preparations. In the Indian system of medication known as Ayurveda medicine, cardamom is utilized in the preparations of many remedies. The cardamom has been used for thousands of years in India as a medicine mainly employed as an excellent remedy for the treatment of many different digestive problems, particularly to help soothe indigestion and excess abdominal gas. The pungent and aromatic taste of the cardamom ensures that it combines well with other useful herbs in the preparation of herbal medicine.

Cardamom is a spice scented herb-like plant that grows perennially and up to a height of anything between 2 meters and 4 meters. The leaves of this herbaceous plant appear alternately in two levels, are straight and lance-shaped, growing up to 40 cm to 60 cm in length and having elongated sharp tips. The color of cardamom blooms vary from white to lilac or light violent and they appear on loose spikes that are about 30 cm to 60 cm in length. Cardamom fruits are three-sided pods that measure about 1 cm to 2 cm in length. These pods have a yellowish-green hue and each of them encloses many black seeds.

The seeds of the cardamom plant, which is indigenous to Southeast Asia, especially India, are used to make a spice. The cardamom plant is a member of the Zingiberaceae family and genuine cardamom is grouped as Elettaria cardamomum. The seeds are used to make a spice that is heady, as well as aromatic and people in Europe, have been using this spice since roughly 1214 A.D. while people in India have been using it for a very long time. Currently, cardamom is grown in several parts of the world, including India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Central America, Mexico, and Guatemala. Besides adding essence to foods, cardamom is also used to prepare traditional medicines.

cardamom_a natural perspective

The typical firm cardamom seeds that are used in the form of a spice are sold in their pods, after removing the seeds from the pods or most commonly after pounding the seeds to make a powder. The texture of the cardamom seed pods are akin to that of a rough paper and can be bought a split or as a whole. Ideally, you should buy the whole pods because when bought otherwise, the spice may give up its essence very quickly. Cardamom is a very well liked herb in India, where the plants grow naturally in the forests and are available in two major types – Malabar and Mysore, both names of well-known cities in south India. The Mysore variety encloses additional limonene as well as cineol, which makes this type of cardamom extremely fragrant.

Since cardamom is an extremely aromatic spice, it is preferred by chefs for preparing baked items, especially used in sweet bread. Its flavor is so strong that cardamom may also be used to add essence to teas and coffees. Occasionally, people in South Asia use cardamom to give flavor to entrees, counting a number of biryani varieties and also pilaf rice. In addition to its culinary use, cardamom is also used in an assortment of traditional medications all over Asia and is known to be excellent for promoting digestion, keeping the teeth clean and also counteracting certain varieties of poison.

In present times, cardamom is primarily used in food preparation and medicines, but this is definitely an ancient herb having several historical utilities. In ancient times, it is said that the Egyptians chewed cardamom with a view to cleansing their teeth while the Romans and Greeks used this herb in the form of a perfumed substance. Interestingly, the Vikings came to know about this herb when they first visited Constantinople approximately 1000 years back and they later took the herb to Scandinavia, where it continues to be popular even today.

It is worth mentioning here that cardamom is among the most costly spices anywhere across the globe. In addition to cardamom, only vanilla and saffron are sold regularly at elevated prices. Usually, it is difficult to find genuine cardamom, as unscrupulous traders adulterate this spice by mixing other substances. A number of low-quality substances, which are sold as genuine cardamom, including Siam, Nepal as well as winged Java cardamom, have flooded the market.

Plant Part Used:

Seeds.

Herbal Remedy Using Cardamom:

cardamom teaThe cardamom was one of the most valued spices in the ancient world and it was one of the principal items of trade. The ancient Greeks around the 4th century B.C. highly valued the cardamom as a culinary spice and as a base for herbal medicines. Trade in cardamom was an important part of the trade links between the India and the Mediterranean region.
In the ancient world, remedies made from the cardamom were used to bring relief from digestive problems, the historical uses of the cardamom in this respect include its use particularly in the treatment of problems such as indigestion, excess abdominal gas, and to bring relief from muscular cramps. Many other herbal digestive remedies were flavored using the cardamom, as the herb possesses a very pleasant taste and aroma, the delicate and nice flavor aids in suppressing the bad taste of less palatable but effective herbal remedies. In the ancient world, it was an additive to many medications.
The Indians have used the cardamom in herbal medications since ancient times for treating various conditions, these problems include disorders such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, problems like kidney stones, disorders such as anorexia, debility, and a weakened vata. Indians also use the cardamom extensively as a spice; it is used as a flavoring in many delicious Indian foods. The ancient medical system of China also included the cardamom in its herbal repertoire, in traditional Chinese medicine, the cardamom is used in the treatment of urinary incontinence and as a general herbal tonic.
One very effective use of the cardamom is its effective alleviation of bad breath. Cardamom also helps to mask the flavor of herbs such as the garlic, helping to suppress the pungent and strong aroma of the garlic. One long-standing reputation of the cardamom herb is its aphrodisiac effect.

Habitat of Cardamom:

cardamon flowersThe cardamom is an indigenous south Asian plant, growing in southern India and the island of Sri Lanka. In these tropical areas, the cardamom can be found teeming in forests at elevations of 2,500 ft – 5,000 ft – about 800 m – 1,500 m – above mean sea level. These days, cultivation of the cardamom at a commercial level occurs in India, in other tropical South Asian countries like Sri Lanka, in South East Asian countries such as Indonesia, and in tropical areas of Latin America like the country of Guatemala in Central America. The seed of the cardamom is the main method of propagation for this herb in commercial plantations. The seeds are sown in the fall, alternately, the plants are also propagated by root division method in the spring and summer seasons. Cardamom plants require shaded sites to grow well; such sites must have rich and moist soils that must also be well drained without the risk of water logging. Cardamom spice is actually the seedpods of the cardamom plant; these seed pods are harvested just before they begin to open in the dry weather during the fall. Collected seedpods are then dried by spreading them out in full sunlight for several days.

Research:

The volatile oil found in the cardamom was found to possess a potent antispasmodic effect during the course of research conducted on the herb in the 1960’s. This result of the clinical research confirmed the effectiveness of the cardamom herb in relieving gas and its use in treating colic and muscular cramps.

Components:

Cardamom contains volatile oil (borneol, camphor, pinene, humulene, caryophyllene, carvone, eucalyptol, terpinene, sabinene).

Infusion Of Cardamom:

Cardamom herbal infusion: this infusion can be prepared by using a cup of water to boil, a teaspoonful of the freshly crushed cardamom seeds, the herb must be allowed to infuse into the water for ten to fifteen minutes before it is cooled, strained and used as a remedy. The herbal infusion can be used thrice daily in the treatment of different disorders. The infusion can be used in the treatment of problems such as flatulence or a sudden loss of appetite; the ideal time to drink the infusion is thirty minutes before meal time.

Possible Side Effects and Precautions:

cardamom-botany

The use of cardamom hardly results in any undesirable side effects. However, sometimes cardamom seeds are likely to result in a condition known as allergic contact dermatitis. In addition, seeds of cardamom may possibly also activate gallstone colic (simply speaking, spasmodic pain) and it is advisable that people having gallstones should not use cardamom as a self-medication. While not much research has been undertaken on this particular aspect of cardamom, use of this spice may possibly enhance the chances of hemorrhages. Hence, people who are already taking medicines that may augment bleeding risks should use cardamom with great caution.

In addition, pregnant women or nursing mothers should also avoid cardamom as there is an absence of sufficient evidence regarding the safety of using this herb during these conditions. Besides, everyone should be especially careful to keep away from ingesting cardamom in amounts that exceed its normal content in food products.

As mentioned earlier, cardamom has the potential to enhance the chances of bleeding. Theoretically speaking, this hazard may augment further if cardamom is ingested in conjunction with different herbs and/ or supplements that also possess the aptitude to enhance the chances of hemorrhages. There have been several reports of hemorrhages following the use of the herb ginkgo Biloba and two specific incidences of bleeding after taking saw palmetto with cardamom. Hypothetically, using several other substances together with cardamom may possibly enhance bleeding risks. However, this hypothesis is yet to be established in the majority of the incidents.

Cardamom has the potential to obstruct the manner in which our body processes specific herbs as well as supplements making use of the cytochrome P-450 enzyme secreted by the liver. Consequently, this may temporarily enhance the intensity of these medications in our bloodstream resulting in augmented consequences or possibly a number of grave unfavorable reactions. In addition, in the long-term, it may also lessen the levels of these medications in the bloodstream.

It is likely that using cardamom may result in antispasmodic consequences. Hence, it is advisable that people who are already using herbs and supplements or even muscarinic agents having antispasmodic effects should use cardamom very cautiously.

 Harvesting Cardamom Seeds:

Cardamom seeds are principally obtained from commercial plantations found in Sri Lanka or in the Southern Indian states. In these areas, the cardamom crop is harvested in the fall, from October to early December. Most of the world’s cardamom supplies come from India and Sri Lanka.

cardamom-essential-oilCardamom essential oil is helpful to the respiratory and digestive systems. It can also help relieve a headache. Rub the respiratory blends (below) on the chest, throat, back, and/or sinuses to help open airways and clear coughs. Rub the digestive blends on the abdomen to help reduce flatulence, bloating, belching, hiccups, and heartburn. Cardamom is a safe essential oil to use with children, so it is a great choice over peppermint to open their little airways and support their digestive systems.

Respiratory Support (6+ years):
5 drops eucalyptus
5 drops peppermint
5 drops lemon
3 drops cardamom
2 drops rosemary
2 drops Melaleuca
(20% dilution in a 5 ml roll-on or
10% dilution in a 10 ml roll-on)
Little Lungs Respiratory Support (Children):
1 drop cardamom
1 drop frankincense
(2% dilution in a 5 ml roll-on or
1% dilution in a 10 ml roll-on)
Digestive Support (6+ years):
5 drops cardamom
3 drops ginger
3 drops peppermint
(10% dilution in a 5 ml roll-on or
5% dilution in a 10 ml roll-on)
Tiny Tummies Digestive Support (Children):
1 drop cardamom
1 drop orange
1 drop fennel
(3% dilution in a 5 ml roll-on or
1.5% dilution in a 10 ml roll-on)
Headaches:
4 drops peppermint
3 drops cardamom
3 drops rosemary
(10% dilution in a 5 ml roll-on or
5% dilution in a 10 ml roll-on)

Add oils to a 5 ml roll-on bottle or 10 ml roll-on bottle depending on desired dilution percentage. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with a carrier oil. Common carrier oils for use in a roll-on bottle include Fractionated Coconut Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, and Jojoba Oil.

3. Use in a Bath or Shower:

Cardamom essential oil is excellent as a bath oil. Combine one of the following oil blends with 1/4–1/2 cup (60–120 g) Epsom salt, and evenly disperse throughout the tub. Alternatively, you can add these essential oil combinations to bath bombs.

Muscle Aches:
2 drops cardamom
1 drop peppermint
1 drop clove
1 drop copaiba
Congestion Bomb:
2 drops eucalyptus
2 drops peppermint
2 drops cardamom
2 drops Douglas fir (or another fir oil)

If you prefer taking showers, try adding the Congestion Bomb blend or cardamom essential oil to shower disks. The steam from the shower and the cardamom essential oil can be beneficial to clearing congestion.

Lunar Tinctures

Making your tinctures following the phases of the moon allows the powerful gravitational pull of the moon to draw out the properties in the plant and also adds a bit of ancient wisdom to your mixture. Just as the gravitational pull of the moon affects many things in nature and our lives, it’s thought that this very same phenomenon affects the strength of our tinctures. Although there is no scientific proof that the moon gives our tinctures a little something extra, herbal traditionalists have long believed in the power of the moon in regards to making plant medicine.

Herbalists of old knew how to plant, harvest, and preserve food and herbs, among other things, following the phases of the moon. For instance, seeds for above ground plants were planted with the new moon, as the lunar gravity pulls water up from the ground creating perfect conditions for a seed to sprout. As the moon grows the pull lessens; however, the moonlight is strong, which creates wonderful leaf growth. When the moon wanes after the full phase, the light decreases, putting more energy into roots, and that is when root crops were planted (Gardening by the moon, n.d.).

How To Make Lunar Tinctures

Lunar Tinctures 101 | Growing Up Herbal | There are many different ways to make tinctures, and one of those ways is to make what’s called a lunar tincture. Learn today how to make your own!

Traditionally, lunar tinctures are started on the New Moon or Dark Moon phase. This marks a time of new beginnings and is the perfect time to start your herbal brew. Beginning at the New Moon phase allows your tincture to infuse as the moon grows into a full moon.

Once your lunar tincture has finished macerating (or sitting for 2-6 weeks), it’s time to decant it.

It’s best to decant and bottle the tincture at the Full Moon phase, which is about 2 weeks from the New Moon. If you want to infuse your tincture longer, just bottle it on the next Full Moon, giving your tincture a 6 week maceration time. The New Moon and the Full Moon both have a 3-day cycle and you can infuse and bottle during those three days, which are the day before, the day of, and the day after each phase.

Making lunar tinctures is a fun way to attune with the natural cycles around us and honor the old traditions!

A Lunar Dream Tincture Recipe to Try

Here is one of my favorite lunar tinctures to make following the phases of the moon.

Simply take this wonderfully calming tincture before bed to encourage a restful sleep and peaceful, but vivid, dreams. Feel free to make this tincture with freshly wilted or dried herbs—preferably organic.

Dream Tincture

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
  • ¼ cup lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • ¼ c. rose petals (Rosa damascena)
  • ¼ c. chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
  • ¼ c. lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • 100 proof alcohol such as vodka (use glycerin for an alcohol-free version)

Directions:

  1. Place the herbs in a quart Mason jar and cover completely with the alcohol. Place in a cool, dry area and allow to infuse.
  2. Allow this to sit for 2-6 weeks, or until the full moon of your choosing, before straining your herbs from your liquid. Compost the herbs. Bottle the liquid in a clean glass jar. Label well, and store.

To Use:

Place 30 to 40 drops in a cup of your favorite nighttime brew, glass of water, or juice. Sleep well!

Health Benefits of Yellow Dock

Rumex Crispus

Also, Known As:

  • Chin-ch’iao-mai
  • Curled Dock
  • Garden Patience
  • Narrow Dock
  • Parell
  • Patience Herb
  • Sour Dock
  • Yellow Dock

For centuries, herbal medical practitioners have been prescribing the roots of the various genus of the dock as a therapy for blood and liver ailments. Even to this day, many herbalists continue to prescribe the same, but with somewhat dissimilar terms. Books on modern herbal medicine describe the yellow dock or Rumex Crispus L. belonging to the Polygonaceae family as an effective alternative as well as a laxative. In brief, alternative means a remedy for healing syphilis and other associated venereal ailments (diseases pertaining or related to or transmitted by sexual contact).

Yellow dock is a perennial herb. The herb normally grows around four feet above the ground and bears willowy leaves that are marked by undulating and twisted edges. Owing the special characteristic of the leaves, yellow dock is also known as the curly dock. Although the herb is indigenous to Europe and some parts of Africa, it is now found in most places, including the United States. It may be found growing in abundance in waste places, roadsides or even dumps and ditches. While the leaves of yellow dock are also eaten as a potherb (any plant that is boiled to be eaten), basically the deep yellow roots and rhizomes (subversive parts) are therapeutically useful. In fact, a number of similar species of yellow dock are used for medication. It may be noted when The National Formulary listed Rumex Crispus L. as a medicinal herb, R. obtusifolius L. was also selected as a basis for the remedy.

Scientific researchers have recognized the presence of various anthraquinone by-products such as chrysophanic acid, emodin, physcion and others to be present in the yellow dock. All these derivatives are responsible for the herb’s proven laxative action. In effect, one of the researchers has shown that the total anthraquinone content in yellow dock’s root is 2.17%, much higher that the 1.42% strength of the substance found in therapeutic rhubarb. It may be noted here that the medicinal rhubarb should not be confused for the garden rhubarb that has a very poor concentration of anthraquinones. The fact is that rhubarb, as well as yellow docks, are members of the same family and many members of the Polygonaceae enclose anthraquinones together with the considerable percentage of tannin.

It is interesting as well as difficult to comprehend how an ordinary laxative medication has succeeded in preserving its repute and value for also being an efficient remedy for venereal disease (sexually transmitted ailment) and its different symptoms, particularly the skin disorders. This only goes on to show how insignificantly the qualities or their absence in different herbal remedies are still be evaluated by their admirers. However, in the case of yellow dock, there is no physiological or chemical proof to back up such medicinal assertions. Nevertheless, the presence of anthraquinones and tannin in the yellow dock, the laxative as well as astringent properties of this medicinal herb are well established.

Not aware of the herb’s therapeutic value, many consider yellow dock as a problematic weed that grows abundantly in the garbage dumps and fields all over Europe, the United States as well as southern Canada. Yellow dock has a spindle-like yellow taproot that sends up a soft, somewhat slim stem that grows up to one to four feet in height. The contour of the leaves of the herb is lance-like or oblong-lanceolate and primarily has undulating edges. The lower part of the herb’s leaves are larger and longer petioles compared to the tip. In other words, the leaves are much longer than wide, broadest below the middle and tapering to the apex. The herb bears plentiful of light green floppy flowers that form a loose group arranged along a single peduncle. The seeds of yellow dock are pointed and triangular in shape while the kernel often resembles the form of a heart.

A decoction prepared from the yellow dock is an immensely beneficial laxative and helps heal constipation. Preparing the decoction too is easy. In order to formulate an effective yellow dock decoction, simply boil one qt of water, reduce the heat and add one cup of sliced fresh or dehydrated root of the herb. Cover the container and steep for around 12 minutes. Next, remove the cover and allow the chopped roots to steep in the liquid for another one to one-and-a-half hours. Sieve the liquid, sweeten it with honey and drink as many as four cups of it daily, particularly during the brief weekends. It is a mild-mannered foodstuff from which much of the nutrients are derived from liquids.

When the decoction prepared from yellow dock roots is cooled, it may be used to wash or bathe different skin problems and essentially alleviated itching and inflammation. Equivalent amounts of sage and yellow dock root may be used to prepare a fantastic tea which can be drunk while using a sauna or sitting in a Jacuzzi. However, here is a word of caution. People suffering from hypertension should essentially stay away from such extreme heat. Drinking a cup of warm tea prepared with yellow dock root chopping enhances digestion and improves appetite. This is especially beneficial after a heavy meal or consuming rich foodstuff. In addition, the yellow dock tea is also helpful in assisting the liver as well as invigorating the colon.

Syrup prepared from the yellow dock is an efficient medication for alleviating problems of the upper respiratory system like emphysema (a chronic, irreversible disease of the lungs). Preparing the syrup is simple. Take a pint of distilled water and boil half a pound of yellow dock root in it until the liquid is diminished to a meager cupful. Sieve the liquid and throw away the boiled root. Add half a cup dark honey, half a cup blackstrap molasses (thick, dark, heavy sweet syrup) and one teaspoon of pure maple syrup to the strained liquid. You may also add a pinch of vanilla to it for essence. Blend everything by hand till you produce a smooth thick sweet sticky liquid or syrup. This syrup may be taken one teaspoon at a time to heal bronchitis, asthma as well as cease tickling or scratching commotion in the throat or the lungs.

As mentioned earlier, yellow dock has a strong purification result in the body. The herb helps to incite a bowl movement inside a few hours of consuming it. At the same time, yellow dock lessens any surplus activity of the intestines and comforts inflammation of the intestinal lining. These properties of the yellow dock have helped to establish the herb as a long-term therapy for slow-moving bowels. Yellow dock is also beneficial for curing bowel infections as well as treating peptic ulcers. The herb also comforts irritation or itchiness in the respiratory system. Sour glycosides present in yellow dock aids in assisting as well as invigorating the liver, healing poor absorption of nutrients by the body as well as alleviating wind. Additionally, yellow dock root also possesses diuretic functions and enhances urine production. It also removes toxins from the body through the urinary system. Yellow dock roots are also beneficial for healing gout (arthritis caused by a salt of uric acid crystals in the joint), cystitis (inflammation of the bladder), water retention, urinary stones and gravel (stone particle).

Over the centuries, yellow dock has proved to be an outstanding medication for skin problems like weeping eczema,psoriasis (a chronic disease of the skin consisting of itchy, dry, red patches, usually affecting the scalp or arms and legs), nettle rash, boils and abscesses (pus-filled, inflamed area around a tooth). This medicinal herb is effective in activating clogged blood and lymph. In addition, the yellow dock can extract toxins out of tissues and also ensure their removal from the body. In fact, the herb can be used wherever there is a blockage, heat, and irritation. Yellow dock is an outstanding supplement to recommendations for arthritis, gout, rheumatism (any painful disorder of the joints or muscles or connective tissues) and chronic lymphatic congestion. The herb is also beneficial for women as it has been extensively used for healing unbalanced menstrual cycles, heavy bleeding during periods, menstrual pain and also as fibroids (non-cancerous tumors) in the uterus.

The yellow dock roots are rich in iron content and hence offer an exceptional medication for anemia (low hemoglobin content in blood). The herb has earned a reputation as a reinvigorating remedy owing to its iron content as well as it beneficial action on the liver. Yellow dock is intensively used for curing general weakness or loss of strength, mental stupor, headaches, convalescence, depression as well as irritability. Yellow dock also has calming and healing effects and hence it makes for a superb medication of all types of swollen or irritating skin conditions.

Plant Part Used:

Root, leaves, seeds.

yellow dock

Herbal Use:

Yellow dock’s laxative properties make it an important herbal medication for minor cases of constipation. The laxative action of yellow dock increases when one enhances the fiber content in his diet. Anthraquinones in yellow dock invigorate the colon as a result of which feces are thrown out more effectively lowering the possibility of re-absorption of toxins into the system. In addition, yellow dock is considered to be helpful in enhancing bile secretion that again helps in the detoxification process. It may be mentioned here that this is possible because all waste products inside the system are eliminated through the bile ducts.

Normally, when a yellow dock is blended with other cleansing herbs like burdock and dandelion, the herb is useful in healing a wide range of ailments by significantly reducing the toxic contents in the body. In fact, most of the ailments and disorders have their genesis in the toxins accumulated in the system and so when these noxious substances are removed it becomes easier to heal conditions like acne, boils, eczema and psoriasis as well as fungal infections. In addition, use of yellow dock decoction or tincture is also helpful in alleviating poor and slow digestion, constipation, arthritis as well as rheumatic troubles, particularly osteoarthritis.

dock curlyThe Habitat of Yellow Dock:

Although yellow dock is indigenous to Europe and Africa, the herb is frequently found in other parts of the world, too. Normally, yellow dock grows and flourishes in odd places like abandoned lands, along the roads and even in ditches and trenches. The root of yellow dock is burrowed out during the autumn, chopped up and dehydrated for storing.

Research:

Not much research work has been done so far to explore the medicinal properties of the yellow dock. But still, people are well aware of the herb’s laxative (a substance that promotes bowel movements), and cleansing functions. It has been established that the yellow dock’s laxative and cleansing properties are primarily owing to the presence of a substance called the anthraquinones. This ingredient of yellow dock is beneficial as a laxative and when used in high doses acts as a purgative. The action of anthraquinones is similar to that of Chinese rhubarb, but comparatively much more placid. Since ages, the leaves of yellow dock have been used as a spring tonic, but researchers have shown that the herb contains large proportions of oxalates that may cause kidney stones and gout if consumed in huge doses. However, it has been found that the content of oxalates in yellow dock root is safe for use.

Constituents:

Leaves: chlorophyll, vitamins A and C, oxalic acid.
Roots: tannins, chrysophanic acid, rumicin, minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus), tonic, bitter principle.

Decoctions, Tincture:

The root of yellow dock herb can be used both as a decoction (an extraction by boiling of water-soluble drug substances) and as a tincture. To heal constipation, take 100 ml or 4 fl oz of the decoction for brief periods. On the other hand, to heal skin problems, combine the yellow dock decoction with marigold and cleavers. Use 100 ml or 4 fl oz of the mixture of the three herbs daily. Alternatively, 2.5 ml or 50 drops of the yellow dock tincture may be taken three times daily to get rid of the above-mentioned problems.

How Yellow Dock Works in the Body:

As mentioned earlier, the presence of anthraquinones in yellow dock enables the herb to function as a laxative. In fact, yellow dock is mainly prescribed by herbal medicine practitioners for its laxative and cleansing properties. The anthraquinones invigorate the colon which in the process helps to throw out the waste and toxins from the body. It may be noted here that any substance that has laxative property also helps in cleansing the system when taken in small proportions. However, when they are taken in large doses they act as purgatives leading to peristalsis (causing a rippling motion of muscles in the intestine) and gripping pain. However, when the yellow dock is taken in the right doses, it acts gently and helps to alleviate constipation. In addition, the yellow dock is also beneficial for the digestive system. When mixed with other herbs, yellow dock is also useful in assisting the liver, removing toxins from the skin as well as healing ailments like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Yellow dock also acts as a cleansing agent in the musculus-skeletal system where there is a regular accumulation of toxins owing to constipation.

Applications:

Leaves of yellow dock make an effective poultice for contagious skin disorders like acne, sores, and eczema. However, in order to make the poultice, one needs to steam the soft leaves of the herb and place them directly on the affected area. The new leaves of the herb can also be consumed raw in the form of a salad using a maximum of three leaves in each serving or drank as a decoction after boiling them in water. It may be taken for many days at a stretch to cleanse the liver as well as the blood circulation system.

The root of the yellow dock has a special action on the lower portion of the digestive system as well as the intestines and assists in regulating these organs. For an effective laxative action, 15 grams of the yellow dock root may be added to one cup or 250 ml of water and consumed. If the yellow dock is to be taken as an astringent (an agent that contracts or shrinks tissues), add five grams of the root extract in one cup or 250 ml of water and drink the solution. If a mother tincture is prepared with the root and seeds of the yellow dock by adding 15 grams of the herb in one cup or 250 ml of water and consumed on a regular basis, it is helpful in fighting anemia, reinvigorating the nervous system as well as increasing fertility, particularly in women.

Navajo Syrup

  • 4 cups (1 liter) water
  • 2 lb (300 g) fresh yellow dock roots
  • 2 cups (500 g) wildflower honey

Slowly boil the roots until half the water has evaporated. Strain and melt the honey in the liquid, heating slowly. Keep this syrup cool: it’s ideal in the fall for treating respiratory ailments. Take 1 tsp. (5 ml), 3 times daily, as a pectoral, cholagogues and laxative syrup.

Winter Health Benefits Of Echinacea And Sage

Beautiful Echinacea and earthy sage both have extensive historical uses. They’re easy to grow, and — in the case of Echinacea — you’re helping to cultivate and restore an endangered plant if you grow certain cultivars. The health benefits of Echinacea and sage are particularly helpful in winter, as both plants can be used for respiratory ailments and to ease sore throats.

Health Benefits of Echinacea

Members of the genus Echinacea have been used most effectively as an internal application against the common cold, fatigue, upper respiratory infection. Practitioners often recommend Echinacea for a sore throat, strep throat, tonsillitis, bronchitis, flu symptoms, canker and cold sores, swollen lymphatics, septic conditions, and gangrene. Externally, as an ointment or poultice, it’s been used for boils, eczema, bee stings, and snakebites.

Echinacea is not, contrary to popular belief, useful to take day in and day out as a preventative. The compounds within this plant marshal our white blood cells to move efficiently toward a place where our body is losing a battle with infection.

Contraindications: Echinacea may be detrimental to those with autoimmune diseases. People who have allergies to chamomile, marigold, yarrow, ragweed, chrysanthemum, or daisy, or people who have asthma, might develop allergic reactions to Echinacea.

Growing: Three species of Echinacea are most commonly grown and used medicinally: Echinacea purpurea, E. pallida, and E. Angustifolia. Newer hybrid cultivars grown for interesting color may not have the same potent medicinal properties as these three traditional species. The perennial prairie plants are in danger of overharvesting and loss of habitat, so source Echinacea responsibly or grow it yourself — it’s easy to do.

Echinacea seeds germinate best when given a period of stratification (cold conditioning). Either store the seeds in your refrigerator before planting, or direct-sow untreated Echinacea seeds four to six weeks before your average last frost. Sow seeds in full sun or partial shade, and keep the soil well-drained. Echinacea will thrive almost anywhere and will require very little tending, as long as it’s not overwatered.

Harvest notes: All parts of the plant are useful; however, it is the root that has primarily been used in traditional applications. Harvest leaves just as the flower is developing; harvest flowers just as they’re unfurling, and dig the roots either in spring or fall after they’ve had three or four years to become established.

Health Benefits of Sage

One of the most prized herbs on our farm, the health benefits of sage far exceeds its culinary flavoring. Sage (Salvia officinalis) is high in volatile oils, which makes it especially good for ailments in the digestive system, for bleeding gums and tongue inflammation, sore throat, laryngitis, tonsillitis, gas, chronic diarrhea, ulcer, and excessive salivation.

This wonderful plant is also well known for its work on the reproductive system. It has been talked about and researched for some time in regard to menopausal hot flashes. It does indeed cool the experience of a hot flash while also providing a tonic to the underlying endocrine imbalance in the adrenal glands.

Sage is also useful for missed cycles and a lack of sufficient bleeding in them, for morning sickness, preventing yeast infections, and for cysts in the breasts. Because of its ability to decrease fluids in our bodies, sage is often used to decrease the flow of breast milk while weaning a child to solid foods.

Sage behaves differently depending on the temperature at which it’s served. A warm sage tea will encourage secretions in the body, stimulating sweating to reduce a fever. A room temperature tea will allow the antibacterial qualities of sage to shine — this is how you want to serve your sore throat tea (see the sage tea recipe below). A cold tea will decrease the flow of secretions and cause tissues to dry.

In the nervous system, sage has applications for canker sores, memory improvement for Alzheimer’s patients, treating symptoms of arthritis, headache, and insomnia. For the circulatory and lymphatic systems, sage has benefits for lipoma, hair loss, dandruff, excessively dry skin, and blood stagnation. In the urinary tract, it can help with cystitis and stones.

Contraindications: Sage should not be taken long-term or in excessive doses during pregnancy. Except for in small amounts in food, it should be avoided during lactation. Avoid internal use of essential oil or alcoholic extracts during this time as well; the thujone in sage stimulates blood flow to the pelvic area, thus promoting menstruation and possibly causing miscarriage.

Growing: Sage grows well in full sun and cooler climates, so plant in partial shade (if you have hot summers) and in well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Prune plants to 4 to 6 inches as soon as they begin to grow the first year, and pinch back stem-tips two or three times during the first summer to encourage branching.

Plants become woody and less productive after three or four years, so you can replace them or root a few stem cuttings each year.

Harvest notes: The leaves are used for medicine, and the flowers are a delicious edible. Collect leaves on a dry day just before or just as the plant is beginning to flower. You can harvest leaves during the first year after the plants become established.

Hang small bunches of sage upside down to dry in a well-ventilated area out of sunlight or dehydrate leaves in a 150-degree-Fahrenheit oven. Store your sage in airtight containers.

Keep your dried sage on hand for a hot or room-temperature tea or to use as a garnish or flavoring in a variety of warming winter dishes.

Sage Herbal Tea for Sore Throat

For sore throats, my absolute favorite remedy is sage herbal tea served lukewarmly. Remember that temperature does matter when it comes to this plant, and lukewarm is where it’s at its best in fending off bacteria. In our house, if someone has a mild sore throat, we make a strong sage tea with honey and lemon, and the throat heals very quickly. When a sore throat is a little more serious, we use sage herbal tea as a gargle and combine it with a pinch of salt and cayenne. The gargle is used every couple of hours and is also effective.

Sage Tea Recipe: To brew an infusion of our own sage herbal tea at home is not just as easy as throwing a tea bag in some hot water. To obtain the most medicinal benefit from your herbs, consider different methods depending on the part of the plant that’s being brewed.

When using leaves, fruits, flowers, and roots high in volatile oils (such as sage), heat water in a tea kettle and then pour over the herbs. (On the farm, we use a mason jar and brew teas by the quart for simplicity.) Cover and let steep for at least 10 to 20 minutes. Then, strain, (let cool to lukewarm for sage) and drink, or store in the refrigerator for one to two days.

Looking for more ways to use Echinacea?

We often use Echinacea for a sore throat. If we need to be away from the house while one of us is suffering from a sore throat, I will often make an Echinacea spray. The best part about this throat spray is that it can fight the infection while providing a soothing, numbing sensation.

Ingredients:

• 2 tablespoons Echinacea tincture
• 2 tablespoons raw honey
• 1 tablespoon warm water
• 2 drops essential oil of your choice (peppermint, eucalyptus, or tea tree are great options)

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a small spray bottle (preferably glass).

Store the bottle in the refrigerator, and it should keep for a couple months.

Always shake before spraying. Use as needed.

Winter Self-Care

When you feel those dreaded flu symptoms coming on, you want to take something you know will stop sickness in its tracks. According to a recent study, your options now include herbs. A new study shows a combination of echinacea and elderberry is as effective as the conventional antiviral medicine Tamiflu in the early treatment of influenza. In the study, 473 patients with flu symptoms for less than 48 hours were randomly given either a syrup containing echinacea herb and root supplemented with elderberry for ten days or Tamiflu for five days followed by a placebo for five days. Observing the two groups at one, five, and ten days of treatment to see who had mild or no symptoms, researchers found a similar number of patients had recovered in both groups. Researchers even noted a small trend towards a higher percentage of recovered patients after ten days of treatment with the herbal syrup. Early intervention is key to any flu treatment, so consider keeping a bottle of echinacea/elderberry extract on hand just in case.

echinacea-final

Medicinal Echinacea

Echinacea is one of the most well-known herbal medicines today. Its characteristic cone-like flower has graced gardens and medicine cabinets for centuries as a trusted plant in our wellness toolkit.

It is a member of the Asteraceae or Compositae family (commonly referred to as the aster, daisy, or sunflower family) and a hardy perennial flower which is native to North America, although much of what is available out there today is cultivated. The name “Echinacea” comes from the Greek word ekhinos and the Latin prefix echino-, both of which describe something prickly (these words are also the origin of the echinoderm “spiny skin” family of marine animals, which includes starfish and sea urchins.) Echinacea is commonly called purple coneflower because the rich, bright purple flowers gradually form into a hardened cone.  The most commonly used medicinal varieties are Echinacea purpurea and angustifolia. In the northeast where our growing season is much shorter compared with other temperate places, the plant takes two years to flower and become large and potent enough to harvest for medicinal qualities. With Echinacea, the whole plant can be used, and often the most well-rounded Echinacea tincture is made from the root, leaf, and flower.

The fresh root is slightly sweet and pungent and has a characteristic tingle that lingers on the tongue. The tingling sensation is due to the alkylamides, which are especially concentrated in the roots. This is a good way to determine the quality of your medicine; potent Echinacea is strong and tingly.

Echinacea’s energetic qualities are cooling, drying and stimulating, and the plant has been traditionally used for added immune support. Our bodies often bear the brunt of seasonal changes or busy periods in life. There are naturally-occurring processes in our bodies that are designed to keep our systems active and strong, but extra support from herbs and from lifestyle decisions can aid our bodies’ natural processes of being well.

 

There is historic textual evidence from a group of early American physicians called the Eclectics that indicates extensive use of this plant during the early 18th century. The Eclectics were introduced to the plant by various Native American peoples, whose usage of the plant included chewing the root and applying it topically as a poultice, and making a tea use internally.

Today, modern research on the chemical compounds of Echinacea has shown that the plant can play a supporting role in our immune cells.  Our immune system is the protective shield of our body, and immune cells or white blood cells are the system’s worker bees.

A relatively large dose, alongside other synergizing plants, keeps our immune system doing its best work. To encourage healthy immunity, the extract is taken at doses of 1 teaspoon up to 5 times a day. At these dose ranges, Echinacea is a safe herb for short-term use.

While we have many excellent tools in our kit, Echinacea carries with it a long history of use and has become one of our true “Elder” herbs. The plant has deep roots in North American herbal tradition.