In the following articles I plan to outline a few herbs, which I personally value as great anti-virals, herbs, which have been found to be useful in both stimulating and strengthening the immune system. Some of these herbs have even been used with some success in previous pandemics (including the 1918 ?Spanish Flu? and the SARS virus).
Herbs & Pandemics - Part 1
ANDROGRAPHIS ? The King of Bitters
(Chiretta, Andrographis paniculata).
Andrographis is a member of the gentiana family and grows prolifically throughout the east where it is used traditionally to reduce fever and other infections; other areas of use include sore throats, digestive problems, snakebites and malaria (andrographis is a major ingredient in the traditional Ayurvedic malaria powder known as mahasudarshan churna).
It was during the last year of the First World War that andrographis took on a totally new role in helping to overcome the flu virus, which killed 10 million people in India.
Modern antibiotic and antiviral medicines not only produce side effects but also help in the creation of drug resistant ?super bugs? whereas potent botanicals such as andrographis and golden seal ? are generally safe to use when taken as prescribed by a herbalist.
The problem with golden seal is that it is now endangered in the wild, and (although it is now successfully cultivated in the U.S.) is a very expensive herb, whereas andrographis grows abundantly in Northern India, Nepal and certain parts of Africa and (unlike golden seal) can be easily cultivated in the U.K.
In a recent study involving 158 participants suffering from the common cold, andrographis and a placebo was given daily for four days; by the second day those taking the herb showed significant improvements as compared to those taking the placebo.
Andrographis appears to be faster acting than Echinacea and is often referred to as ?Indian Echinacea? due to its similar actions (including its ability to encourage the production of the cell protein interferon). In Scandinavia, Andrographis is even more popular than Echinacea, becoming the No.1 flu remedy.
This potent herb can also be likened in action to Milk Thistle, whose active ingredient sylmarin is known to repair liver damage.
All herbal traditions use bitter herbs to reduce fevers and treat toxic heat conditions;
in China the herbs gentian and coptis are widely used for this purpose, whereas in N.America Golden Seal would be the herb of choice; cinchona (known for its active ingredient quinine is used by the indigenous Amazonian tribes and European herbalists have traditionally used herbs such as centaury and barberry; Andrographis is India?s contribution to this area of treatment, it is referred to by Ayurvedic doctors as The King of Bitters and is used to subdue the pitta (fire) dosha.
Andrographis can also be compared in action and potency (but without the side effects*), to three commonly used drugs AZT an AIDS drug, the cancer drug Tamoxifen and loperamine (Imodium) a common drug in the treatment of diarrhoea.
Andrographis has cytotoxic properties, giving it potential use in the treatment of cancer. In a 1977 study 12 skin cancer patients given andrographis all recovered
In a very large study the overall effectiveness in using andrographis to relieve bacterial dysentery and diarrhoea was found to be 91.3%.
* the side effects of AZT range from headaches and nausea to reduced red blood cell count, those of tamoxifen include weight gain and hot flushes, loperimide may cause abdominal distension, pain, nausea and vomiting.
References: Bartameus.P, Andrographis. Health Science. (Newsletter of the Health Science Institute). May 2002.
Pole. Sebastian, Using Ayurvedic Herbs in the Western Clinic (URHP Spring Newsletter) 2003.
Smith.J, Herbal Alternatives to Antibiotic Drugs. Discovering Herbs Newsletter. Autumn. 2002.
Smith.J, 100 Herbs of Power, Strategic Press Publications, New York. 2008
Any health benefits cited in this article are based on centuries of traditional herbal use, and not, unless specified, on modern scientific findings.
The information contained is for educational purposes. It is not intended as an alternative to the advice of a qualified health professional.
This article was originally published in www.oofoo.com
HERBAL STRESS BUSTERS:
For many of us, life can become a little overwhelming at times.
It is becoming generally accepted that stress is a factor in 60 - 90% of all health disorders. Various herbal approaches are used to combat stress but there are many other factors to also consider. As the pace of life increases, changes in lifestyle, including sensible approaches to diet, exercise and rest are imperative.
We also need to adopt a realistic attitude to the use of stimulants, such as caffeine, nicotine and electronic gadgetry. Harmonising techniques, including yoga, meditation, tai chi etc. will unquestionably provide relaxation while releasing stress and tension. However I am writing this piece as a herbalist, so without further ado I will recommend some herbs, from the major herbal systems, which will calm the spirit, relax the mind and nourish the nerves.
Two key herbs from the Western tradition:
VALERIAN (v. officinalis, "all heal"). Valerian has been used medicinally since the time of Hippocrates as an aromatic and diuretic herb. Generally classified as a warming sedative and nervine tonic, it became known in the sixteenth century as a cure for epilepsy. In the Second World War valerian was widely used in the treatment of PCS ("shell shock"). N.B.Valerian officinalis should not be confused with the garden variety (Centranthus).
CALIFORNIAN POPPY (Escholzia californica). The state flower of California. Although it is related to the Opium Poppy, escholzia contains no opiate alkaloids, and is non addictive. It has analgesic, sedative and nervine properties and can be used in cases of insomnia, migraine, depression, anxiety or stress. There are no known side effects or drug interactions with this herb.
Two key herbs from the Chinese tradition:
CHINESE ZIZYPHUS SEED (Zizyphus jujube). Zizyphus is usually referred to as the seed of a wild date (jujube) from the family of buckthorn. It is lentil-like in appearance, can be eaten (best combined with berries such as goji ), or added to decoctions. Its flavour is sweet/sour. Actions: Nourishes heart and stabilizes spirit (shen). Uses: Anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and palpitations. Zizyphus seed also acts as an oxygenator (re altitude sickness), and its regular use can brighten the complexion. Properties: Nutritive, nervine, sedative, analgesic, high in saponins.
LONGAN (Euphoria longan, dimocarpus longan, long yan rou, dragons eye). Longan is a Chinese fruit similar to lychee but with a smoother shell. It is valued in China as a major blood tonic, useful in strengthening both heart and spleen, and it is described as a "Shen" (spirit) herb. Active Ingredients: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, protein, and Iron (Longan contains approximately fifteen times the iron as that found in spinach). Uses: Longan can be useful in cases of anaemia, insomnia, amnesia, dizziness, and low stamina. Longan can be used as a food or medicine.
Two key herbs from the Indian Ayurvedic tradition:
GOTU KOLA (Indian Pennywort). A great source of magnesium, vitamin K, calcium and sodium this highly respected herb is said to develop the crown chakra and synchronize the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and is therefore used to improve meditation and revitalize the nerves and brain cells. Gotu Kola is known to strengthen immune function, tonify the adrenals and reduce blood pressure and anxiety. This herb also contains the saponin glycosides brahmoside and brahminoside (the herb is often referred to as Brahmi - a sanskrit name for The Creator in Indian Mythology - a title it shares with the herb Bacopa - see below). These saponins have diuretic and slightly sedative actions, together with wound healing properties, aiding the stimulation of lipids responsible for healthy skin and hair.
BACOPA (Bacopa monnieri). A rejuvenative nerve tonic, regenerating mental health, improving memory and promoting intellect. This herb was first recorded in herbal texts around 800 B.C. and is considered to be effective in treating memory loss, insomnia and decrease the signs of ageing.
The above six herbs can be used singly or in various combinations and it is recommended to seek advice from a herbalist. Stress mainly occurs when our lifestyle becomes over complicated and we move out of step with the natural rhythms of life. The use of nature?s medicines, as well as lifestyle changes, can help us to restore that balance.
John E Smith F:URHP is a qualified herbalist and the author of two books 100 Herbs of Power and Food, Herbs, Health & Healing both published in The U.S.A. by Strategic Book Publishers. John can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note: The above article was first published in "Inspired Times Magazine" for further details re this "Inspiring" quarterly magazine - Contact http://www.inspiredtimesmagazine.com/
KEY CHINESE FORMULAS
1. Xiao Yao Wan ? (Free & Easy Wanderer)
Major Organ System: The Liver is the organ which deals with almost everything that enters the body, whether physical (e.g. foods, toxins, etc.) mental (thoughts, mental pressure etc.) emotional (worries, feelings, stress etc). When unable to deal with these pressures immediately, the liver (due to its nature as a storage organ) will put them aside for later processing; this can often result in stuckness or stagnant qi.
Stagnant Qi is expressed by such symptoms as tightness of neck, shoulders and breasts, headaches, fatigue, poor digestion and moods such as frustration or depression.
Xiao yao wan cleanses the liver by moving stuck qi allowing its function to return to normal. This formula is a useful adjunct to treating most disorders including menstrual and digestive imbalances (such as infertility, PMS, abdominal bloating and poor appetite).
Traditional Use: To nourish liver yin and blood, invigorate congested liver qi, harmonise liver and stomach-spleen.
Xiao yao wan is a basic formula for stagnation of liver qi due to deficiency of liver blood.
Ingredients: Chinese Angelica, Bupleurum, Atractylodes, White Peony, Ginger, Poria Cocos, Licorice and Mint.
Planetary Herbals Training Manual 3rd Edition - Edited by John.E.Smith B A (Hons) M:URHP Dip CH
Chinese Herbal Patent Formulas A Practical Guide -Jake Fratkin 1986
BUPLEURUM (bupleurum falcatum, Chai Hu, Hare's Ear)
Bupleurum is a perennial Asian herb being part of the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae family, being related to carrot and parsley). Its leaves are said to resemble dill or fennel and it has an attractive yellow flower, but it is the root, which is used, in Chinese herbalism. The Chinese name for Bupleurum is Chai Hu which means "kindling of the barbarians"; it is first mentioned in a 1st century C.E. Chinese text. The Divine Farmers Materia Medica (shen nong ben cao jing).
Traditional Uses: Flu, common cold, fatigue, liver disorders, pre-menstrual syndrome, pain, as a sedative, anti-oxidant, anti-fungal, anti-viral. Bupleurum is generally used in combination with other herbs for sluggish liver function a typically example of this is xiao yao wan or free and easy wanderer, probably one of the most prescribed formulas in Chinese medicine.
It appears that Bupleurum works as an immune stimulant by increasing the number of antibody sites on the cell surface and by assisting in the production of interferon[i].
Drug Interactions: None Known.
Precautions: To counteract the over detoxifying effects of bupleurum it should always be combined with either white peony or scutellaria.
References: Phyllis A Balch CNC ? Prescriptions for Herbal Healing ? Avery 2002
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database ? Fourth Edition ?
Therapeutic Research Faculty 2002
Ron Teaguarden ? Radiant Health ? The Ancient Wisdom of Chinese
Tonic Herbs - Warner Books 1998.
[i] Matsumoto T, Yamada H ? Regulation of immune complexes binding of macrophages by peptic polysaccharide from Bupleurum falcatum ? 1995
[ii] Estevez ? Braun A et al 1994
[iii] Ahn B Z, Yoon Y D, Lee Y H et al 1998
[iv] Chui H F, Lin C C, Yen M H et al 1992 - Izumi S, Ohno N, Kawakita T et al 1997
2. Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan -(?Tonify Centre to Invigorate Qi Pills?)
A primary strengthening herbal compound used by traditional herbalists throughout The Orient. This formula is designed to pick up ?sagging qi? (including such symptoms as low energy, poor digestion, diarrhoea and prolapse) and is useful for long-term deficiency syndrome such as malnutrition and wasting disorders.
Traditional Uses: Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan is a classical formula for tonifying stomach and spleen qi, invigorating liver qi and raising yang.
It was originally used to treat prolapse of organs (including prolapse of rectum, uterus, and colon and such conditions as varicose veins, haemorrhoids and hernia). This formula is also useful for uterine bleeding and habitual miscarriage.
Ingredients: Ginseng (ren shen), astragalus, Licorice, Chinese angelica, cimicifuga, Codonopsis, Atractylodes, citrus peel, bupleurum, jujube dates and ginger root.
Acknowledgements: Guide to Planetary Formulas - Michael Tierra 1997
Key Ingredient: PANAX GINSENG
Panax (ren shen) is a deciduous perennial herb whose fleshy man shaped root is best used medicinally on the 6th or 7th year of maturity. The most highly esteemed roots, found growing wild in remote parts of Manchuria, may value up to several thousand dollars per mature root.
Ginseng has been known in China for at least 2,000 years; written records of its use go back to circa 100 C.E.
Panax was reported in The Classic of the Divine Farmer as: - a herb to quiet the essence spirit 1. eliminate evil qi 2.brighten the eyes , open the heart and prolong life.
Traditionally Panax Ginseng is classified as a spleen 3. tonic with a slightly cold energy (although steam processing the root to produce red ginseng lends it a warmer energy). Panax is said to tonify both Yin and Yang and be of benefit in all cases of deficiency.
It is from the Latin word for ginseng (Panax) that we have the word panacea or cure all.
Ginseng is an Adaptogenic*herb, which means that it has its use as a self balanced stimulant / sedative - not only does ginseng assist in promoting endurance, it also has a relaxing effect on the nervous system, enabling the user to function under pressure.
In modern herbal medicine Panax is used as a Qi 5.tonic, particularly for the digestive system, to stimulate the appetite and correct prolapse, to calm the mind and clear perception.
Scientists (in their need to break things down into component parts) have isolated certain saponins in Chinese ginseng, known as ginsenosides, which are thought to have tonic properties; together with polysaccharides known to enhance immune function. It is generally felt that the active ingredients in ginseng are more prevalent in the outer bark and the root-tails of the herb itself, and become more concentrated by steam processing.
Author?s Note: I feel it is important to add that isolating active ingredients tends to lead to the conversion of harmless herbs to potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals, giving herbal medicine a bad name. Not only do herbs contain ingredients which can be described as medicinal - they also contain buffers which cushion the effect of the more active ingredients, making them safer and more holistic by nature.
In the same way it must be said that ginseng would rarely be used in isolation in Chinese Medicine, but would be the Emperor Herb of a formula also including herbs to support, harmonize and direct its function.
1. Essence Spirit (jingshen) loosely refers to the mind.
2. Evil Qi refers to the negative environmental factors involved in the cause of disease.
3. Spleen in Chinese medicine refers to a major energetic function and id not to be confused with the western concept of spleen as a relatively insignificant organ.
4. Yin and Yang refer to the polarities of Chinese philosophy, Yin being more internal and relating to substance, Yang being more expressed and relating to energy.
5. Qi a term used to describe energy.
*Adaptogen a substance that helps the system maintain or regain homeostatic balance.
Yang SZ. translator. The Divine Farmers Materia Medica. Blue Poppy Press 1998
Tierra M. Planetary Herbology. Lotus Press 1988
Dharmananda S. Panax Ginseng ? Bulletin of the Oriental Healing Arts Institute 1983
3. Rehmannia Six
Historical Antecedents: Liu Wei Di Huang Wan 6 Flavour Rehmannia Pill, Ming Mu Di Huang Wan Bright Eyes Shining Pill Er Ming Zuo Ci Wan Ear Ringing Left Loving Pill.
Rehmannia Six is a slightly modified version of at least three classical yin nourishing formulas from Chinese medicine (see above).
This formula is ideal for people who constantly over extend themselves and become exhausted due to irregular or skipped meals and insufficient rest.
Simple Assessment Guide: (any three of the following) A person who is thin, dry, wasted, with insomnia, low back pain or weakness, night sweats, high blood pressure, diabetes, eye disorders, tinnitus.
Traditional Use: Classical approach to nourishing kidney, liver and spleen yin, including such symptoms as empty heat with night sweats and dizziness, heat in palm of hands and soles of feet, ringing in ears, glaucoma, impotence and diabetes.
Safety: This formula can be used long term, but caution should be taken in cases of extreme dampness and poor digestion.
Key Herb: Rehmannia
(Sheng Di Huang, Radix Rehmannia Glutinosa ,Raw Rehmannia, (Chinese Foxglove)
The herb Rehmannia can be used either in its raw state (Sheng di huang) or processed in wine (Shu di huang). Sheng di is probably more suitable for yin deficiency as it is cooler in action, making it useful in cases of rising fire symptoms such as thirst, mouth sores, irritability or low grade fever.
Organ meridians affected: Heart, Liver, Kidney.
Properties: Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, cardiotonic, diuretic.
Actions & indications: Clears heat, cools blood for warm, febrile disorders with red tongue.
Research: 41 out of 50 cases of hepatitis showed significant progress after 10 days of treatment using raw rehmannia and liquorice; results included reduction in size of liver and spleen plus improvement in liver function tests.
All patients in a rheumatology trial using raw rehmannia found marked reduction in joint pain and swelling.
Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica (revised edition) compiled and translated by Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble with Ted Kaptchuk. P.69 Eastland Press. 1993.
The Way of Chinese Herbs - Michael Tierra L.Ac.,O.M.D. p.72 Pocket Books 1998.
This article was edited and compiled by John E Smith B.A. (Hons) M:URHP Dip C.H.
DISCLAIMER: The information given above is not intended as an alternative to the advice of a qualified health practitioner.
For further information on above or other Planetary Herbals contact the author email@example.com
UK PRELIMINARY TRIAL STUDY OF HERBAL FORMULA TO INHIBIT CRAVING
FOR ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
John Smith UK Herbalist
Article Sourced at: http://www.planetherbs.com/
The following preliminary study was conducted in the UK using Planetary Formulas Kudzu Complex. It is a formula created by Michael Tierra based on a traditional Chinese formula (TCM) called Ko Ken Tang with pueraria lobata as the chief herb. The traditional TCM formula is also popularly known as "drunkenness dispeller" for its ability to inhibit the craving for alcohol, relieves drunkenness and the morning after side effects. Thus it is used as an antidote for alcohol. Commonly known as kudzu the root includes isoflavones, puerarin, daidzin and daidzein. Daidzin appears to block the enzymes, which break down alcohol into toxic components, thereby reducing dependency and hangover.
Apart from the Kudzu root and flowers (the main or Emperor herbs), Kudzu Complex contains other herbs to support and direct their action, including Hovenia, which also can prevent alcohol toxicity, Coptis, an anti-inflammatory, cleansing and liver supporting herb, saussurea, an anti-spasmodic, carminative herb and Ginger root used for digestive distress, gas, and the treatment of nausea.
Many Northern European countries have a problem with over consumption of alcohol which even for the young is a kind of rite of passage. Certainly this is well recognized in countries such as Ireland, Great Britain, Germany, Eastern Block countries but the problem is pretty endemic throughout the European continent. In the UK, sales of Kudzu Complex were steadily increasing and building a steady following amongst customers, the UK distributor of Planetary Formulas, Earth Force decided to investigate further the properties of this formula by setting up a trial of eleven people who would take the indicated dose of two tablets of Kudzu Complex three times daily for a seven week period.
The Trial Participants
The trial involved a cross section of people from various backgrounds including a trainee legal executive, an accountant, a café proprietor and a housewife, between the ages of 33 and 63. None would describe themselves as an alcoholic, but all found themselves not being able to resist that one last drink ?for the road?, which often causes aggressiveness and memory loss.
Earth Force's resident herbal practitioner, John Smith monitored those involved in the trial throughout. At the end of the trial, their general state of health, both mental and physiological was recorded.
64% claimed to be drinking less and experiencing fewer cravings
55% said they felt and improvement in physical symptoms (including greater energy, less headaches, less symptoms of PMT, less hangovers, etc.)
60% said they experienced other improvements including greater alertness, improved emotional well-being and reduced stress.
Average units per week pre-trial: 36 units
Average units per week post trial: 16 units
40% stated they would like to continue taking it at their own expense as they were pleased with the results.
During the trial, many experienced symptoms that could be attributed to the body cleansing itself of toxins. Some felt flu-like symptoms, some felt nauseous, some experienced drowsiness. But in all cases, these symptoms subsided.
For the two who drank most heavily, they found at the end of the trial that they had either lost the craving completely, or certainly were less likely to binge. We were particularly pleased with their results as both cut down substantially and felt much better physically and mentally.
The others in this group all felt they could have a drink without it leading to several others, as was previously the case. Some found that when under stress, the desire to drink did not materialize as before.
In addition to reducing the craving, along with drinking less alcohol, Kudzu Complex seems to have had a positive effect on concentration, alertness and mood in general.
It is obvious from the above results that Kudzu Complex can be instrumental in supporting a decision to reduce alcohol consumption and thereby improve the quality of life in terms of improved functioning, greater alertness and reduced stress. As with all dependencies, to be completely successful, the individual must be dedicated to changing their drinking habits, not be influenced by peer pressure, and perhaps be prepared to make a conscious change in lifestyle. We have been genuinely delighted by the results of the Kudzu Complex trial and hope that many more people with drinking problems will choose this natural approach.
Ingredients: Kudzu flower and root, Hovenia fruit, Coptis root, Poria cocos, Grifola, Atractylodes alba, Codonopsis, Saussurea, Shen-Qu (massa fermentata) Green Citrus peel, Cardamon.
For further information on Kudzu Complex or the above trial contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Therapeutic Use of Perfume - John E Smith F:URHP
Attars and the olfactory system
Each nasal passage has a small (2.5cm square) area containing 50 million sensory receptor cells, which send messages to the olfactory bulb (a projection of the brain). From the olfactory bulb a signal is transmitted to the limbic system where memory is used to recognize odours.
Memory can be enhanced by certain smells e.g. wild daffodil (Nargis), Lily of the Valley and Frankincense these can be used in cases of Alzheimer's, amnesia etc.
The limbic system also regulates mood and emotion. Pure plant oils (attars) can be used to release creativity and resolve disturbed emotions e.g. Rose, Jasmine, Amber, Oudh etc.
Attars are very pure containing no alcohol or solvents which destroy the soul of the plant; they are either cold rolled in stone troughs or distilled in degs (traditional stills with copper lids sealed with cotton and clay); both of these methods have been used for nearly a thousand years. The plant materials used are replaced several times during the process to create a high concentration of their essences.
Although primarily used in Unani Tibb medicine attars are also used in Ayurveda, where they have a place in harmonising doshic imbalances.
Attars for harmonizing specific Doshas (body types) Ayurveda:
VATA: (Air/Ether) warming, calming oils, including: Cedar, frankincense, jasmine, orange, sandalwood, and lotus.
PITTA: (Fire/Water) cooling, sweet smelling oils, including: Rose, sandalwood, mint, myrrh, frankincense, gardenia, vetivert (khus).
KAPHA: (Earth/Water) invigorating, opening, warming, including: Juniper, pine, cinnamon, frankincense, myrrh.
Jasmine: is "tridoshic" as it benefits all body types; it is thought to nourish both bodily tissues (when used in Marma Therapy) and its perfume is thought to nourish the nervous system.
Khus (or Vetivert): is known in India, as "The Oil of Tranquillity" but it is also quite uplifting. Although it is cooling and relaxing, it also helps to concentrate scattered thoughts.
Vetivert strengthens the nervous system. It reduces both tension and depression while stabilizing energy. This deep, dark perfume is a natural tranquillizer, being useful for insomnia, yet (rather like many of the Asian adaptogens) it appears to possess both sedative and stimulating properties.
Frankincense : is specific for enhancing memory ( re Alzheimer's, amnesia etc).
and was favoured by Mohammed who added the resin to his coffee to increase alertness.
The best Frankincense (Hougari) comes from Oman, and is considered to be extremely protective and useful in reducing anxiety and enhancing immunity. Scientists have recently observed that there is some agent within frankincense which stops cancer spreading, causing cancerous cells to close themselves down.
"Frankincense separates the 'brain' of the cancerous cell - the nucleus - from the 'body' - the cytoplasm, and closes down the nucleus to stop it reproducing corrupted DNA codes." *
*Mahmoud Suhail (immunologist)
Acknowledgements: Schrott et al - Marma Therapy? 2016.
John E Smith F:URHP is a herbalist who also imports high quality Attars from the Middle and Far East; he has trained with a Hakim from the Unani tradition. John can be contacted by email email@example.com.