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January/February 2007
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Angelica Sinensis: The Science Behind Dong Quai

Do you understand how herbs work? We profile dong quai (Angelica sinensis), a medicinal Chinese herb...

In The News: Fenugreek Seeds and Herbal Supplements Recalled

Evidence of fenugreek seeds contaminated with E. coli leads to a recall of teas and dietary suppleme...

Peak Coffee?

As climate variability causes coffee yields to shrink and prices to soar, we may need to start looki...

Every Herb Has a Story: Fenugreek Uses

Did you know that fenugreek was once used in embalming mummies? Explore the history and benefits of ...

Perk Up with Cardamom Coffee

Looking for a special pick-me-up on a cold afternoon? Try this delicious Middle Eastern coffee for a guaranteed energy boost.

Arabic Cardamom Coffee

Serves 4

4 split green cardamom pods
4 heaping teaspoons finely
ground coffee
2 heaping teaspoons sugar
2½ cups water
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Add cardamom, coffee and sugar to water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer 20 minutes. Let steep 2 minutes to allow coffee grounds to settle. Sprinkle with ginger and pour carefully into small coffee cups.

Source: McIntyre, Anne. Drink to Your Health. New York: Fireside, 2000.

Dong Quai: A Great Herb for Women

In China, dong quai (Angelica sinensis) is considered the best tonic herb for women. The herb helps regulate the hormones and keeps the reproductive system running smoothly. It also is used to relieve menstrual cramps, ease the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, regulate the bowels and increase energy. Herbs for Health editorial adviser Christopher Hobbs likes to use dong quai for his patients that are experiencing “general weakness and debility and circulatory disorders, such as angina.” The herb also is used to help overcome anemia.

In tea form, the herb tastes pleasantly sweet and slightly pungent. To make tea, place 2 tablespoons sliced, dried dong quai in a saucepan with 2½ cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and drink 2 cups daily. Another way to use the herb is to add it to soups and stews—the way it’s traditionally used in China.

Fenugreek: A Plant with Promise

Common names: Fenugreek, hu lu ba, Greek hayseed
Latin name: Trigonella foenum-graecum
Family: Fabaceae
Part used: Seeds
Medicinal uses: Fenugreek has shown promise in lowering both cholesterol and blood sugar. In a study conducted in India, participants (who were type 2 diabetics) ate a soup containing 1 ounce of powdered fenugreek seed before lunch and dinner each day. After 24 weeks, participants’ cholesterol levels fell 24 percent; their blood-sugar levels dropped also. The herb also might help increase lactation in nursing mothers and relieve bronchitis.
Forms commonly used: Capsules, tinctures, tea
Side effects: Fenugreek may stimulate the uterus and should not be used during pregnancy.
Notes: Many herbalists like to use fenugreek in tea form, rather than in capsules or tinctures. To make tea, simmer 1 to 2 tablespoons fenugreek seeds, ground or crushed, in 4 cups water for about 15 minutes. Steep 15 minutes, strain and drink 1 cup, twice daily.

A poultice of fenugreek seeds can help heal boils and sores. Crush the seeds and simmer them in water to make a thick, slimy tea. Spread the mixture on a piece of cloth and place over sores to draw out waste and speed healing.

Fenugreek seeds were a popular remedy in ancient times—they were even found in King Tut’s tomb.

The taste of fenugreek can be described as a cross between bitter celery and maple syrup, according to health writer Michael Castleman. The herb often is used to flavor horse and cattle feed.


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