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The Best Herbs/Spices/Beans To Eat Or Drink.

There are literally hundreds of herbs available and trying to decipher the claims made about each of them can be maddening. I have tried to compile a short list to enable the reader some basis of knowledge.

By: Dr. David Ryan

The world of fitness today has been bombarded with multiple claims about various herbs and supplements. Many of these claims are not well established and are often associated with abstract marketing ideas.

Supplements themselves are difficult to understand for the average fitness enthusiast. When the topic of herbs is raised, most people just throw their arms up in the air with overwhelming frustration. The use of herbs has been around for many centuries, but the medicinal value of herbs has really only come to the forefront of knowledge in the past 20 years.

Over 80% of all medications in use today are plant based. The food and drug administration has difficulty ascertaining many of the claims made in association with herbs. Most individuals are familiar with the physician's desk reference, also known as the PDR.

The Physician's Desk Reference
The physician's desk reference is a compiling of information regarding every known medication available.

The argument over if the following are herbs or actually spices or foods started as soon as Ginger Redeker was asked to pre-read this article for content.

Ginger (the Spice Girl) noted that confusion exist over the fact that some things like cinnamon is considered a spice and coffee in many cultures is considered a bean or food. They are actually listed in the PDR as herbs so who am I to argue about it, but just to keep the peace at home, I re-titled the article and all is well at home again.

There are literally hundreds of herbs available and trying to decipher the claims made about each of them can be maddening. I have tried to compile a short list to enable the reader some basis of knowledge.

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Most herbs are available in pill form. Some of them can be added as fresh ingredients to foods and recipes. Be aware, that many of them lose their medical properties if they are heated. Many of these herbs work just fine on salads. Some herbs also can fit into other categories of foods, but their usefulness has landed them here in our topic of discussion. The benefits of most herbs take place in less than two weeks.

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The A List
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arrow Alfalfa (Medicago, Stativa)

    This is the plant that most farmers are familiar with. It started in Iran and was used primarily as horse feed. The most interesting thing about alfalfa is associated with its ability to help with joint and tendon pain. Some forms of chronic tendinosis respond favorably to the use of alfalfa.

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    It is usually dried and comes in the form of a tablet. It usually is not measured by grams, but rather by grains. Taking 6 g per day will demonstrate the results in two weeks, for most cases. Alfalfa is also very high in fiber and is used to clean the colon. A few days after taking alfalfa, your toilet is most likely going to smell like the middle of a cow pasture.

      arrow View Alfalfa Products Sorted By Top Seller Here.


arrow Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa)

    This plant has been used for centuries to treat menopause, premenstrual syndrome, some minor kidney problems, depression, and night sweats. Approximately 70% of all Americans have night sweats, and the cause can be linked to several medical conditions. Prolonged night sweats should be discussed with your physician.

    Idiopathic (unknown cause) is a problem that causes fatigue, depression, and social problems, with night sweats usually being bad enough to result in a lake formation in the individual's bed. The dosage of black cohosh differs, so making a reference for seeking advice from the naturopathic physician would be best.

    The standard dosage is 2 mg per day. Some studies show the higher dosage of 5 mg per day as being less effective. Do not use black cohosh when you are pregnant or actively lactating.

      arrow View Black Cohosh Products Sorted By Top Seller Here.


arrow Cinnamon (Cinniamomum Verum)

    This is actually a native plant to India and grows as a small Evergreen tree in that region of the world. Cinnamon is an amazing natural antibiotic and helps with digestion in several conditions.

    Caution should be noted here, since some forms of true cinnamon contain high amounts of Cassia, which also have high amounts of coumarin, and is known to cause liver and kidney damage in high concentrations. Cinnamon actually is pretty tricky to harvest, and actually a plant... Well, to put it bluntly, it literally stinks.

Cinnamon
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Cinniamomum Verum.

    The mature plant is broken into several smaller starters, and is planted and then taken for harvest when the seedlings are very young. The perfect time for harvest is when the inner bark is very tender. It is dried in the cinnamon stick, as we know it, is the main source of the herb.

    No one really can agree on how it got into this country, but it is very tasty and has been a common spice used by many people. Cinnamon was mentioned in the Bible and it was used by Moses, which denotes how truly old it is.


arrow Coffee (Coffea Arabica Or Coffea Canephora Arabica Robusta)

    Both tell the story of where it is originally from. The Mediterranean worlds originally produced the bean or spice, and not for many years did it finally take to the level that it is sold today. Coffee has some controversial benefits, but its use in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus is well established in the scientific literature.

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    Coffee quite simply is the most powerful naturally occurring antioxidant known to man. Decaf coffee looses the benefits of the medicinal qualities, but the bean in its green form is the most potent. Drip coffee is better than espresso, since the extra processing required removes some of the natural toxic fighting abilities of the herb. Interesting enough the next best antioxidant is another bean called coco (chocolate).

Caffeine Content Of Coffee
Drip Coffee115 - 175 mg
Espresso (one shot: 2 oz)100 mg
Brewed80-135 mg
Instant65-100 mg
Decaf, brewed3-4 mg
Decaf, instant2-3 mg

    Coffee has recently been shown to help reduce the cirrhosis of the liver by 20% with only one cup per day as a dosage. Coffee is also a strong vasodilator and helps with Asthma.


arrow Echinacea (Pron: "Eck-Kin-A-Sha;" Echin-Odermata)

    This plant was an original North American species. It is known as the spiny flower and is used as decorations in many gardens today. This plant has the benefits associated with boosting the immune system.

    Several studies are linked to people using this product with a fight against cancer. There are two active phenols called cichoric and caftaric, mostly found in the flower of the plant. The benefits from a University of Maryland study shows that although the usage of the herb does not prevent the common cold, it does shorten the duration of the illness.

Echinacea
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Echinacea.

    Controversy exists over how to take this product, and the dosage is a huge question of argument. The timing of taking this herb is noted to be every two hours, even if your sleeping. Needless to say, the lack of benefits of this herb are often blamed on the noncompliant sleeping patient. Hopefully, someone will come up with a time released format of Echinacea.

      arrow View Echinacea Products Sorted By Top Seller Here.


arrow Ephedra [pron: F-head-dra] (Ephedra sinica)

    Ephedra is an alkaloid chemical compound originally from China. It is used for respiratory problems such as asthma, common cold, hay fever, etc. Recently, this herb has been used for the dietary aid of increasing metabolism and appetite reduction.

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    There are several recorded ephedra-related deaths and the FDA has battled to maintain the restriction of the use of this product and as of Feb. 2007, the ban of this product in dietary supplements continues, but its use in medications continues.

    This product is banned by the International Olympic Committee and major sports organizations since it appears to have performance enhancing features. This herb is mentioned here simply because it has been so controversial and this author considers it to be very dangerous and not worth any minor benefits that it might contain.


arrow Eucalyptus

    Is mostly native to Australia. There are hundreds of species of eucalyptus and although the oil is mostly used for improved breathing the oil is also very impressive as a mild burn treatment.

Eucalyptus
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Eucalyptus.


arrow Garlic (Allium sativum)

    Garlic is part of the onion family. It has been obviously used more for its culinary abilities, but it has a medicinal quality as well. Care must be taken since garlic oil can harbor botulism, which is the most deadly of all neurotoxins. It has been used to treat smallpox, tuberculosis (phthisis).

    Garlic is a source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, folate, manganese, magnesium, vitamins; B1, B2 and B3. Noted mostly for the value of vitamin C and the natural sulfates, which help form the benefits of stronger tendons and ligaments.

    Garlic has been used clear back to the Egyptian pyramids to embalm mummies. Medically it has been used in the treatment of atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and improves weak immune systems. Garlic has also been proven to help prevent several forms of cancer. Garlic also has some controversy with the possible reduction of cholesterol.

Garlic
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Garlic.

    While it may not alter blood levels of cholesterol, it does appear to prevent the binding of that chemical (plaque) to the blood vessel walls. Garlic also is used to treat the common cold and to help regulate blood sugar levels. Naturopathic physicians use this herb to fight intestinal parasites and it has been shown to boost testosterone levels in rats with high protein diets. The pill form of garlic has been shown to be ineffective.

      arrow View Garlic Products Sorted By Top Seller Here.


arrow Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

    Originally from China and now used throughout the world. It has an amazing anti-inflammatory property. Starches often break down and form prostaglandins, which are the chemical that forms joint irritation and can, lead to arthritis; ginger prevents this chemical production.

    Used prior to physical activity, it can prevent muscle and joint irritation better than simple aspirin. It is also noted ginger gets its abilities from two phenylpropanoids; gingerol and zingerone. Some people are allergic to ginger and will burp or show flatulence with the herbs use.

      arrow View Ginger Root Products Sorted By Top Seller Here.


arrow Lavender (lavandula; abrotanoides, angustifolia, canariensis)

    Lavender is originally from the Mediterranean. It is a flowering plant that makes it way to an extracted oil. Lavender oil is used as an antiseptic, but more so topically as a pain killer. It can stop a migraine if applied to the head and neck.

Lavender
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Lavender.

    It has been shown to cause breast growth in young boys if used as a lotion and pregnant mothers are warned about eating it. The next time you have a burn, migraine headache, or sore joint, rub some lavender oil on it and watch the pain disappear.


arrow Oil Of Evening Primrose (Oenothera)

    Oil of Evening Primrose has common names such as evening Primrose, Suncups, and Sundrops. The young bruits can be evening like a vegetable and have a peppery flavor. The whole plant offers and astringent or sedative property. One of the most amazing properties associated with this herb is associated with its natural liver cleansing capability. Mushrooms are second on the list, when compared to this powerful spice for their ability to keep a liver detoxified.

      arrow View Evening Primrose Oil Products Sorted By Top Seller Here.


arrow St. John's Wort (Hypericum Perforatum)

    St. John's Wort is originally from Europe and has a distinct characteristic of oil glands in the leaves, which look like tiny windows when held up to the light. This plant actually grows as a weed and can be harmful if ingested by livestock. The use of this plant dates back to ancient Greece, and the literature shows it to have anti-inflammatory, astringent, and antiseptic qualities. Its primary use however, is associated with the treatment of depression.

      Arrow View St. Johns Wort Products Sorted By Top Sellers Here.


arrow Turmeric (Curcuma Longa)

    Turmeric was originally harvested in tropical South Asia and the belongs to the ginger family. The primary feature of this herb has been linked to its treatment capability associated with breast cancer. The qualities of this herb appear to actually dry the blood vessels that supply tumors.

Turmeric
Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
Turmeric.

    Turmeric also enhances the effect of a certain drug used in reducing metastasis of breast cancer. Another outstanding quality of this herb is that it works as a natural Cox-2 enzyme.


Conclusion

I will cut the list off here, but there are certainly other herbs/foods/spices worth speaking of. As with most of these herbs, consideration must be taken in the form that they are used in and which variety of species that you have obtained.

Each has the ability to provide some corrective benefit, yet also has the ability to harm if ingested too much. Hopefully this article would encourage you to learn more and begin to add herbs/spices to your diet.

The Best Herbs/Spices/Beans To Eat Or Drink.
DTRRYAN@aol.com

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