Herb Basics

By Staff
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Herbalist and acupuncturist Chris-topher Hobbs
created this tea blend for a patient who suffered from frequent
headaches. It’s tasty and helps ease the tension that often
accompanies headaches.

Hobbs says this tea can be used for immediate relief or on a
regular basis to reduce the incidence of headaches.


1/8 cup dried lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
1/8 cup dried chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
1/8 cup dried linden (Tilia spp.)
1/8 cup dried passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Blend the herbs and store the mixture in an airtight jar in a
dark place.

When you’re ready to make the tea, steep 1 teaspoon of the blend
per cup of hot water for 20 minutes. Strain and drink a cup two to
three times daily.


Looking to add more heart-healthy soy to your
diet? Health experts now suggest eating 25 grams of soy protein a
day to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. If
you’re unsure what to do with tofu, tempeh and other soy products,
check out these tips.

• Mix soy protein powder into milk, juices and smoothies.

• Snack on a soy protein bar.

• Substitute soy milk for cow’s milk by the glass or in

• Crumble firm tofu into eggs when making scrambled eggs.

• Mash firm tofu and mayonnaise with season- ings for a sandwich
filling similar to egg salad.

• Add crumbled tofu or tempeh to recipes calling for ground beef,
chicken or turkey.

• Slice tempeh or firm tofu, then marinate and grill it as a
substitute for grilled meats.

• Sprinkle roasted soy nuts on salads, or add them to your
favorite snack mix.


New research, published in Neurology in
December 2004, shows an extract of the herb butterbur (Petasites
hybridus) helps prevent migraines.

In the study, 245 migraine sufferers took either a placebo or
two 75-mg tablets of a proprietary butterbur extract called
Petadolex. During the four-month trial, the butterbur group
experienced a 48 percent reduction in the occurrence of migraines;
the placebo group had a 26 percent reduction. The study
participants ranged in age from 18 to 65 and met the International
Headache Society’s criteria for migraine headaches. Each
participant had experienced two to six migraines a month for at
least three months prior to the study.

According to the American Botanical Council, previous research
on butterbur shows it to be a safe herb with few side effects. In
this trial, the most common side effects were gastrointestinal
issues, such as burping.

The study’s lead researcher, Richard B. Lipton, M.D., vice chair
and professor of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of
Medicine, says, “Our study shows that butterbur really does reduce
the frequency of migraine attacks, so it’s a welcome addition to
the therapeutic arsenal we have available to combat migraine.”

Source: American Botanical Council; www.HerbalGram.org.


Common names: Borage, bee plant, beebread, starflower, ox’s

Latin name: Borago officinalis

Family: Boraginaceae

Part used: Flowers, seeds

Medicinal uses: Borage seed oil (in capsules) is a terrific
source of essential fatty acids (see Page 40 for more information
about healthy fats). The oil helps soothe premenstrual complaints,
rheumatic problems, and eczema and other skin conditions.

Borage flowers are edible (they have a flavor reminiscent of
cucumber) and are used to add beauty and color to salads and other
dishes. The flowers also can be frozen into ice cubes for festive
summer drinks (see Page 64).

Forms commonly used: Capsules of seed oil, fresh flowers,

Side effects: Borage leaves contain low concentrations of
pyrrolizidine alkaloids, the same potentially toxic compounds found
in comfrey (which also is a member of the borage family). It’s best
to avoid consuming the plant’s leaves. In his book 101 Medicinal
Herbs (Interweave, 1998), Herbs for Health editorial adviser Steven
Foster writes that you should avoid borage oil if you have

Notes: Foster says that in the first century, both Pliny the
Elder and Dioscorides identified borage as Homer’s famous
“nepenthe” which, when steeped in wine, produced “absolute
forgetfulness.” In medieval times, borage was associated with
mirth, courage and “gladdening the heart.”

Borage is a common Mediterranean weed thought to originate from
southern Spain and Morocco. It is a popular garden herb; even
though it spreads easily, the plants are easy to pull up when
they’re not wanted.

Another variety of borage, B. o. ‘Alba,’ has pure white


Give boring, nutritionally deficient iceberg
lettuce the boot — one of the best things you can do for your
health is to add variety to your daily salads. Spicy, bitter
greens, such as arugula, watercress, dandelion greens, chicory and
nasturtium leaves are chock-full of calcium and other important
vitamins and minerals.

See “Best Antioxidant Bets” on Page 21 to learn which foods are
highest in antioxidants, and add them to salads. Mix and match the
following ingredients to create delicious, antioxidant-rich super

T Spinach
T Alfalfa sprouts
T Broccoli
T Strawberries
T Beets
T Red bell peppers
T Onions
T Garlic

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