Mother Earth Living

Herbs for Health: Capsules

By Steven Foster
February/March 1996
Add to My MSN


Content Tools

Related Content

Herbal Sun Soother: Aloe Vera

The Hawaiian summer sun is relentless and can leave you with achy sunburns. Fortunately aloe vera na...

Converting the Herbal Skeptics

I'd love to see "modern" medicine get hip to herbs before they get patented and turned into expensiv...

ALŌ Drink Gets Straight To the Pulp of the Plant

ALŌ Drink blends are made with real aloe vera pulp and juice straight from the aloe vera plant - nev...

5 Foods to Eat for Ulcer Relief

A healthy diet plays an important role in healing a peptic ulcer. Try these five foods to relieve pa...

Ginseng Detective

If you watch much TV news, you’ve probably heard about the use of DNA “fingerprinting” to identify victims or perpetrators of crimes. A Hong Kong research group has recently used this method to determine the identity of ginseng species and adulterants in Hong Kong herb markets. Pang-Chui Shaw and Paul Pui-Hay But of the Chinese Medicinal Material Research Centre at the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that “fingerprints” of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (P. ginseng) could clearly and consistently be distinguished, regardless of how old the roots were or where they came from.

In the Hong Kong market, American ginseng is five to ten times as expensive as Asian ginseng; consequently, it is often adulterated not only with Asian ginseng, but with the roots of other plants, such as balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus), four-o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa), and Asian pokeweed (Phytolacca acinosa). Those of four-o’clocks and Asian poke can be toxic. Before the advent of DNA fingerprinting, assays of ginsenoside compounds used to distinguish the two species of ginseng could be unreliable, as amounts of these compounds vary with the age and source of the roots. DNA fingerprinting of ginseng (and presumably other herbs) is expected to ensure that consumers receive exactly what the label claims.(1)

Great Grapes

Grapes are among the best known of human foods. Vitis vinifera is native to Asia Minor but was introduced into Europe and other continents centuries ago. The common cultivated grape is now represented by more than 8000 varieties. Familiar as they are as a fruit and the stuff of fermented beverages, however, grapes are less well known for their medicinal uses.

In recent years, plant-derived antioxidants have received increasing attention for their role in preventing chronic degenerative diseases and aging skin. Procyanidins extracted from grape seeds are among the more interesting of this class of compounds. Numerous pharmacological and clinical studies have confirmed their usefulness in treating chronic circulatory insufficiency related to disorders of the capillaries, showing that they increase the tone of veins. Procyanidins are now available in standardized products for ­circulatory disorders. Several clinical studies have shown that procyanidins also produce improvement in visual acuity and contrast sensitivity.(2)

Aloe and Wound Healing

No other plant is used as a folk medicine in the United States as much as aloe (Aloe vera). Everyone knows of its reputation for treating minor burns and cuts. A number of properties have been attributed to aloe gel, including the ability to penetrate and anesthetize tissue, kill micro-organisms, reduce inflammation, dilate capillaries, and enhance blood flow. The fact is, however, few studies have examined aloe’s role in wound healing. Recently, researchers from the surgery department at the University of Texas Medical Branch and Shriners Burn Institute in Galveston and at the University of Texas (San Antonio) reported that aloe and other topical antibacterials all increased overall healing rates significantly compared with control groups. Furthermore, topical aloe gel, when combined with silver sulfadiazine (an ingredient of some prescription antibacterial ointments), reversed the tendency of that compound to retard healing. The researchers also confirmed the presence in aloe gel of an unidentified substance that encourages cellular growth. The results of this study are likely to stimulate further work to maximize aloe’s efficacy in wound healing, whether used alone or in combination with other substances.(3)

Fenugreek and Blood Sugar

A number of animal and human studies have reported that eating the seeds of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) can lower blood sugar. However, there are differing opinions on the nature of the active compound or compounds and their mechanism of action. Recently researchers at the Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation in Diabetes, Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders studied fenugreek seed powder, a methanol extract, and the residue of methanol extract. They found that a soluble dietary fiber fraction and other, as-yet-unknown compounds are responsible for lowering blood sugar. This study supports the development of fenugreek seed products in the management of diabetes, especially in developing countries.(4)

References

(1) Shaw, P. C., and P. P.-H. But. Planta Med. 1995, 61:466–469.
(2) Bombardelli, E., and P. Morazzoni. Fitoterapia 1995, 66(4):291–317.
(3) Heggers, J. P., et al. Phytotherapy Res. 1995, 9(6):455–457.
(4) Ali, L., et al. Planta Med. 1995, 61:358–360.


Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.