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Healing Herbs: Top 7 Tips to Choose
Those who use over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals always know how much medicine they are taking because FDA regulations require precision. People who use herbs face more of a challenge. However, in controlled doses, herbs cause fewer side effects than pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals are highly concentrated, and pills and capsules have little taste, factors that make it easy to overdose. The active constituents in herbs are typically less concentrated, and most taste quite bitter, which discourages taking too much. Once you decide you want to use herbs, you are still left with some key questions. Which herbs? And how do you use them? Here is a list of common safe and effective herbs to choose from, along with some information about the conditions they treat that you can consider.
In addition to its decongestant value, Chinese ephedra has a long history of use in Asia as a coffeelike stimulant. Recent studies have also shown that ephedra boosts metabolic rate - the speed at which the body burns calories. As a result, it has shown some benefit as a weight-loss aid, but only in those who are significantly overweight. Ephedra can also increase heart rate and blood pressure, so do not use it if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or glaucoma. You should also not take ephedra if you have thyroid problems. In fact, ephedra has been shown to be harmful when taken improperly and should not be used by anyone with health problems. If you want to take ephedra or any product containing ephedra, you should discuss it with your doctor.
Prized above gold for thousands of years, ginseng root has been Asia's most revered tonic. It was viewed as an aphrodisiac that strengthens the body, enhances health and aids longevity. Early Jesuit missionaries in Canada discovered American ginseng in 1704 and made a fortune shipping it to China. The herb was eventually discovered growing as far south as Georgia, and it quickly became one of the American colonies' most valuable exports, until the overcollection just about wiped it out. Today Amercian ginseng is farmed in Wisconsin. Most of the crop is shipped to Asia. Evidence is mounting that the herb helps the body resist illness and damage from stress. Studies show that ginseng stimulates the immune system, helps reduce cholesterol levels, protects the liver from toxic substances and increases stamina and nutrient absorption from the intestines. Asian Olympic athletes take it regularly to boost their performance.
Scientific research has shown that ginger fights nausea better than the over-the-counter anti-nausea drug Dramamine. This root herb does more than simply soothe the stomach, however. An ancient Indian proverb says, "Every good quality is contained in ginger." Well, not quite, but studies show that it also boosts the immune system's ability to fight infection. And like garlic, it lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and helps prevent the blood clots that trigger heart attack.
Long before refrigeration was available, the ancients noticed that wrapping meat in crushed rosemary leaves preserved it and imparted a tasty flavour. To this day, the herb remains a favourite addition to meat dishes, and its preservative action led to its use in herbal medicine. Meats spoil in part because oxidation turns their fats rancid. Rosemary oil retards spoilage and compares favourably with the commercial preservatives BHA and BHT. Rosemary' s preservative action may help prevent food poisoning at your next picnic. Mix the crushed herb into burger meat and tuna, pasta and potato salads. Rosemary also helps soothe the stomach.
5. Aloe Vera
In ancient Egypt (1500 B.C.), the Ebers Papyrus recommended aloe vera for skin problems, and the world has been using this herb ever since. Chinese, Greek, Roman and Arab herbalists recommended it for wounds, burns, rashes and hemorrhoids. During the 1930s, radiologists discovered aloe vera's effectiveness in treating radiation burns. The latest studies show that the herb has clear value in treating minor cuts, scrapes and burns.
When Peter Rabbit ate himself sick in McGregor's garden and got chased out at the wrong end of a hoe, his mother gave him chamomile tea, a traditional remedy for indigestion, anxiety and wounds. Peter's mom was a wise woman...er, bunny. German herbalists once used chamomile so extensively, they called it alles zutraut, "capable of anything." That is an exaggeration, but recent studies show that this popular beverage herb does indeed calm jangled nerves, relieve stomach distress, prevent ulcers and speed their healing and help fight infection by stimulating the immune system. Chamomile tea is an excellent home remedy for indigestion, heartburn and infant colic. It also has mild relaxant and sedative properties.
After ephedra, garlic is considered the world's second oldest medicine. The oldest surviving garlic prescription, chiselled into a Sumerian clay tablet, dates from 3000 B.C. The ancient world revered garlic as a virtual panacea, but none loved it as deeply as the Egyptians who consumed so much that the Greek historian Herodotus called them "the stinking ones." As the centuries passed, Europeans hung braided garlic plants from their doorsteps to keep evil spirits at bay - a custom echoed today in the garlic braids that adorn many kitchens. During World War I, army doctors used garlic juice quite effectively to treat wounds and dysentery. After the war, scientists discovered why it worked: When chewed or chopped, garlic is a potent natural antibiotic. In fact, ten medium cloves pack approximately the same antibiotic punch as a typical dose of penicillin. Garlic also has antiviral properties. Garlic is a useful herb. It can help protect against stomach cancer and reduces risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and decreasing the likelihood of blood clots that can trigger heart attack.
Raymond Lee Geok Seng is one of the foremost experts in the health and fitness industry and is a writer specializing in body health, muscle development and dieting. He has spent countless of time and efforts conducting research and share his insightful and powerful secrets to benefit men and women all over the world. He is currently the author of the latest edition of "Neck Exercises and Workouts." Visit http://www.bodyfixes.com for more information
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