Cascara Sagrada – a Herbal Laxative

Cascara sagrada is a natural laxative that comes from the reddish-brown bark of the Rhamnus purshiana tree. It was used by various Native American Indian tribes, but as a laxative it was not widely adopted until the nineteenth century; today Cascara sagrada is an important ingredient in many common laxatives.

Biological Description

Rhamnus purshiana  is a species of buckthorn that belongs to the Rhamnaceae family. Its other names are: Cascara Buckthorn, Bearberry, Cascara, Sacred Bark, Chittem Bark, or just Chittam or Chitticum. Cascara sagrada from Spanish means “sacred bark”.

This is the largest species of buckthorn that grows up to 15 m tallwith a trunk 20-50 cm in diameter. It occasionally looks like a broad large shrub or small tree. The bark of it is brownish to silver-grey with light splotching. Dark green leaves are deciduous, oval and fuzzy. Tiny flowers are greenish yellow and bellshaped with sepals larger than the petals. The berries arebright red at first, then quickly maturing deep purple or black and contain ovate, black seeds.


Rhamnus purshiana is native to  the Pacific Coast of North America, from California to British Columbia, and as far inland as Montana. Today it is grown worldwide and cultivated primarily on the pacific coast of Canada and North America as well as in East Africa.

This deciduous shrub or small tree can be found growing naturally in the moist acidic soils under coniferous forests or the sides of roads.It prefers shady sides.

Parts Used

In folk medicine the bark of the Rhamnus purshiana is used. The harvested bark must be aged for one year or heat-treated prior to use – to make its effect milder (fresh cut, dried bark causes vomiting and violent diarrhea). It is stripped from the trunk of the tree in the spring and summer and left to age for a few years. The number of wild trees has been greatly reduced due to indiscriminate cutting, that is why the tree is now cultivated.


Cascara sagrada is one of the few herbs approved as an over-the-counter drug by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration). It is available on the market in its dried form; dried bark can be made into tea, although it tastes bitter. In its fresh form – fresh cascara bark should not be used, as it can cause bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

Cascara can be found in other various forms: in capsules, tablets taken orally, and  in liquid extracts taken internally, also in the form of  a powder,dry extract for infusion, decoction, elixir, or a cold maceration. Capsules and tablets should be swallowed with a large drink of water, with or without food. If you have a sensitive stomach you should better take Cascara Sagrada in other form, as the comminuted drug.

Cascara should be taken for no more than one to two weeks. Individual dosages should be the smallest amount possible to achieve effectiveness. A typical dosage of cascara is a 300 mg capsule taken in the early evening to stimulate a bowel movement in the morning (the laxative effect usually occurs 6 to 12 hours after cascara is taken). It is stored at room temperature between 15 and 30°C. The raw herb, tinctures or infusions should be stored in airtight, dry, and light resistant containers. Keep away from the children.


Today Cascara Sagrada is one of the most common herbal rather powerful laxatives. It is appeared to influence the motility of the colon, inhibition of stationary and stimulation of propulsive contractions. It also stimulates peristalisis, active chloride secretions and increases water and electrolyte content. The component which is responsible for such laxative effects isanthroquinones. These ingredients eventually trigger contractions in the colon (called peristalsis), which causes the urge to have a bowel movement.

Other notable constituents in cascara sagrada are hydroxyanthraquinone glycosides called cascarosides (A, B, C and D, which account for about 70% of the total with other glycosides in minor concentrations), they exhibit a cathartic effect that also induces the large intestine to increase its muscular contraction (peristalsis), causing a bowel movement.

Some more important constituents include resins, tannins, and lipids which make up the majoriy of the other bark ingredients.Along with such properties cascara is also believed to improve the muscle tone of the colon walls.

Health Benefits

Cascara Sagrada is one of the most effective herbal remedy for getting relief from constipation. Special attention should be paid for proper dosage of the laxative. However, it is a really mild laxative and is acceptable for the elderly, as it is rather safe. Cascara also prevents the pressure and pain associated with hemorrhoids and anal fissures, so it can be used for mild constipation that can occur following anal or rectal surgery.

The proper dosage means that you start with the lowest dose you can, and increase the dose (if only needed) very slowly. It is explained be the fact that everyone responds differently to laxatives. Important issue is to know that a bowel movement usually will take place within six to eight hours of taking a typically recommended dose of cascara. For constipation and related discomforts such as hemorrhoids take 1 teaspoon of liquid extract three times a day or 1 or 2 teaspoons at bedtime; or 1 or 2 capsules of dried bark at bedtime. The usual dose of any form of cascara ranges from 20 mg to 70 mg daily of the anthraquinones. Products containing cascara sagrada should not be used for more than eight or ten days.

Side effects of Cascara Sagrada: it should not be used for longer than 7 days in a row and should not be taken by children, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, or by people having severe hemorrhoids, blood vessel disease, liver and kidney disease, and gastrointestinal cancer (and some others). Side effects of cascara may include strong cramping in the abdomen, and with longer term use one may experience dark pigmentation in the colon (melanosis coli).If you notice side effects – just stop usage  and report it to your health care professional. Long-term use can cause dependence. Large doses of anthraquinones may cause bloody diarrhea or vomiting.

Other traditional usage of Cascara Sagrada is for dyspepsia, and a treatment for liver and gallbladder problems. But these applications have not been clinically validated.

Guarana – Natural Stimulant from Amazon Banks

Guarana (Paullinia Cupana or Brazilian Cocoa) – climbing shrub of Amazon Basin. Found in Brazil, South America and Venezuela. Its growing in Uruguay is a subject of controversy.

First name this plant gained from its native users – Guaranis, a tribe of South American Indians. The origin of second appellation is concerned with German medical botanist C. F. Paullini, which investigated the plant. And “Brazilian Cocoa” – is a popular name, given for its stimulating properties. Six else names of it: Panela Supana, Uabano, Paullinia, Guarana Bread, Uaranzeiro, Paullinia Sorbilis.

This herb was known long ago as energetic enhancer. Ancient tribes ate crushed seeds before battles and used them as medicine. Further observations and investigations discovered also other health benefits. In 18th century this plant was introduced into France by physician after his visit to Brazil. Since that time it became widely adopted for treating migraine and nervous headaches, urinary tract irritation, neuralgia, paralysis and chronic diarrhea.

Guarana seed extract contains a substance called guaranine for its similar properties with caffeine. Some scientists say that guaranine is gust impure caffeine but their common compound methylxanthine releases more slowly (many hours) from guaranine than from caffeine. As a result guarana produces long-lasting boost in energy. Except this caffeine-like substance guarana contains chemicals called tannins which act as astringents.

Mentioned above properties of guarana compounds generated such medical applications:

  1. Stimulant. Brazilian Cocoa increases mental alertness, quickens perception and relieve fatigue. Can be used to extend work hours, delay sleep or improve athletic and mental performance. 2. Pain killer. Paullinia relieves nervous, rheumatic and menstrual pain. Chief use in Europe and America for headaches. Not recommended for chronic pain. 3. Astringent. Guarana alleviates mild forms of diarrhea and leucorrhoea. 4. Fat burning supplement. The remedy increases metabolic rate, curbs appetite and reduces hunger. It should be used with balanced low calorie diet. 5. A medicine for arthritis. 6. Coolant for tropical conditions.

The ability to increase sex drive and even treat alcohol abuse is also ascribed to guarana.

High caffeine content in Uabano had found an application in production of tonic drinks. Besides “Guarana Soda”, a national beverage of Brazil, world market offers dozens of energetic drinks with guarana content. Two nuts per cup is a usual rule for preparing tonic beverage at home. You can crush seeds with coffee-grinder, boil the powder for 10 minutes and drink received substance 3 times a day like tea but don’t forget that one cup (near 250 ml) of it contains 50 mg of guaranine. For those who don’t like the taste of this Guarana Bread encapsulated seed powder is widely available.

Maca that Cmae Down From the Mountains

Far high in the mountains… This is not the beginning of the fairy tale, but the introduction to the story of maca, (also known as Lepidim meyinii or Lepidium perianium Chacon ), radish-like root that grows in the Andes Mountains, and is highly appreciated by Andean Indians and indigenous peoples not only for its nourishing properties, but also for use in medicinal purposes.

Maca was utilized by ancient Peruvians since ancient pre-Incan times; it was noticed that animals fed with maca showed a better fertility than those who weren’t. That fact contributed to the development of the later studies that proved maca’s ability to enhance fertility and sexual arousal.

The nutritional value of the root was one of the factors that made maca popular among the other products: it was traded for green vegetables, rice, cornand and beans. Since maca is rich in sugars, protein, starches, and essential nutrients (especially iodine and iron), it was one of the main food for those areas.

In traditional Peruvian herbal medicine maca is used as an immunostimulant, known remedy for a variety of medical conditions: tuberculosis, anemia, menstrual disorders, menopause symptoms, sterility (and other reproductive and sexual disorders) stomach cancer and memory disorders. At the today’s market maca gained popularity due to its energizing, fertility enhancement, hormonal balancing and aphrodisiac properties.

Nutritional value of maca is equaled to those of cereal grains such as maize, wheat and rice. 60-75% carbohydrates, 10-14% protein, 8.5% fiber, and 2.2% lipids are the elements that make up the nutritional value of the maca root.

The protein content of the maca is represented by the polypeptides and amino acids; 100 g of dried root also contains 250 mg of calcium, 2 g of potassium, and 15 mg of iron, as well as fatty acids, linolenic, palmitic, and oleic acids including. Alkaloids, tannins, and saponins, as well as vitamins and minerals are also presented in maca root.

Moreover, some of the maca chemicals discovered are known to be similar to those in glucosinolates plants, and thus known as cancer-preventive. Arginine and histidine are maca active components responsible for increasing sperm production and motility, as well as ejaculation and orgasm.

Native to the high Andes of Peru, maca is best favors the climat conditions of that region. It is sowed in monoculture or in strips of lands with bitter potatoes in the field that rested around 3-5 years. To get a better distribution, the seed is sowed together with guano. September-November is the time for maca to be carried out.

Maturation sign is the foliage turning yellowish, which as a rule happens in 8-10 month after sowing. The density of the root will depend on the degree of humidity, fertility of the ground and evidence of the rains. Maca produces small, self-fertile, off-white flowers typical of the mustard family to which it belongs.

Complete drying of the root requires the 4-month exposure to the sunbeam, avoiding the exposure to the freezes, which may lead to the degeneration of the root. And after you have it ready for use, maca can be stored for more that 7 years.

Having domesticated maca 2,000 years ago, Incas let us the opportunity to enjoy it is numerous valuable qualities and nutritional properties.

Mangosteen Overview

Biological Description

Garcinia mangostanaL., simply called “the mangosteen” in everyday speech, belongs to the Guttiferae family. It is a slow-growing erect tree, which reaches 80 feet in height. It has a dark-brown flaking bark, covering the inner part of the trunk, which contains yellow gummy latex. The evenly situated side branches form a pyramidal crown.

Mangosteen evergreen leaves are leathery and fleshy, shining dark green on the upper side and dull underneath. They are elliptic with acuminate tips. The specific feature of the new leaves is their beautiful rosy color.

During the flowering period the tips of the mangosteen branches are covered by the clusters of 3-9 wide and fleshy flowers.

Mangosteen fruit is what the tree is, actually, praised for. It is approximately the size of a tangerine. The outer covering of the fruit is a thick purple rind, which, however, is purplish-white on the inside. It contains bitter yellow latex and purple juice. Inside there are 4 to 8 segments of snow-white juicy flesh, which is soft, very aromatic, and absolutely delicious. The tasty flesh is the “bed” of the ovoid-oblong flattened seeds.


The exact origin of the mangosteen is not known. It is believed that the tree indigenous to the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas. These days it is cultivated in Thailand, India, Ceylon, southern Vietnam and Burma, as well as throughout Malaya and Singapore.

Since mangosteen is an ultra-tropical tree, it is best and most extensively grown in the more humid parts of Asiatic Tropics. Actually, it grows well on the banks of the streams, lakes, and ponds; however, it is said that good drainage is a must for mangosteen. The tree needs deep, rich organic soil, sandy loam, laterite, or fertile clay.

Mangosteen is sensitive of the strong winds and temperatures below 40º F (4.44º C), or above 100º F (37.78º C). It prefers full sun or light, afternoon shade.

The tree with so tasty fruits is propagated by seeds. The flowering period and the ripening of the fruits depend on the country, altitude, and climate in general. The first crop may appear (about 300 fruits) in 7-9 years after planting; though, it usually takes 10 or even 20 years for the tree to mature. Average number of fruits of the grown tree is about 500; however, the yield continues to increase up to the 30th year of bearing. The number of fruits diminishes after the 45th year; still, mangosteen can give fruits up to the age of 100.

Parts Used

No doubt that the sweet flesh of the mangosteen fruit is the tastiest part; however, since ancient times people believed that the use of the whole mangosteen fruit, especially its rind, is beneficial for the overall health. In addition, tree root and bark are also used for medicinal purposes.


Though mangosteen is available in the form of capsules filled with dried powdered rind, juice products are far more widely used.


The fruit of mangosteen is rich in iron, fiber and carbs. The special attention and the biggest hopes are, however, laid on the xanthones – polyphenolic compounds with the mighty antioxidant properties. They are capable of enhancing the immune system and helping the body fight free radicals, thus postponing the process of aging, promoting overall health, fighting off the diseases and increasing the resistance against viruses and bacteria.

Scientists know about two hundred types of xanthons for the time being; more than forty (by the way, the most useful, as it is confirmed) are found in the mangosteen fruit. That explains why it is said to be so effective and promising in the treatment of multiple diseases.

Health Benefits

Mangosteen fruit products are used to treat skin disorders, like eczema; urinary disorders; diarrhoea; and gonorrhoea. Fruits, as well as bark extracts, are effective in overcoming dysentery. Root decoction is used to regulate menstruations.

Recent research shows that mangosteen may be effective in treating cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes. It is also thought to be a good pain-reliever, capable to eliminate headache, arthritis, or any other pain.

Due to its antioxidant activity mangosteen can improve the state of the whole organism, promoting vitality, longevity, and the increase of energy levels.

In general, mangosteen possesses anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties. Although scientists note that more research is necessary to evaluate and discover all the power of mangosteen, it is prized by many people all over the world, it is valued by those who claim to have already obtained visible positive results of the “Quinn of the fruits” impact on their health.

Milk Thistle: Plant Description

We got used to the statement that the Chinese are the most experienced and wise herbalists. Traditional Chinese medicine is and has always been treated as the most reliable and effective means for curing almost all diseases known to the human kind.

Surprisingly, the herb milk thistle is far more popular and well-known in the Old World. Europeans have developed ancient traditions of using milk thistle both in medicine and as a vegetable.

The matter is that Silybum marianum (the botanical name for milk thistle) is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe. It is a sort of thistles from the genus Silybum Adans. Sometimes people treat the plant as a weed, which, however, is the potent medicinal herb.

Milk thistle (other names are Holy thistle, Marian Thistle, Our Lady’s thistle, Wild Artichoke) is a tall plant (generally 2-5 feet high, sometimes – up to 10 feet) with an erect, branched and furrowed but not spiny stem. It has large, thorny green root-leaves, which are attached to the stem without petiole; the upper leaves have a clasping base.

The characteristic feature of the plant’s leaves is that they have milk-white veins. The ancient legend says that it was Virgin Mary’s milk that dropped onto the leaves and left white traces. That is why people believe that the herb has lactation improving abilities, therefore, is good for use by nursing mothers.

The flowers of milk thistle are red-purple and spiky; the small black shiny seeds are crowned with feathery tufts, which make it easy for the plant to spread in a field or a garden. Each flower-head produces about 190 seeds, harvested mostly in July or August. They remain viable for 9 (!) years.

The plant prefers well-drained soils and much sunlight, though it can also stand harsher conditions. Strange as it may seem, milk thistle needs some cold temperatures to produce more flowers; therefore, European climate is perfect for it.

For more than two thousand years milk thistle has been cultivated throughout Europe, but it was always especially popular in Greece, Italy, and Germany. Our ancestors used this herb for treating liver, kidney, spleen, and gallbladder diseases. They also healed serpents bites and mushroom poisoning with the plant preparations. Moreover, the tinctures were applied externally to the liver area to promote its protection and to the skin surface for relieving skin conditions.

Usually teas and tinctures were made of milk thistle seeds (when roasted they were used as coffee substitutes), but the whole plant was consumed as a vegetable: young stems and leaves were either boiled or eaten raw as salads.

During the last years the use of milk thistle is tested by multiple scientific studies, conducted mainly in Germany. The German Health Authorities (equivalent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) founded a special Commission E, which is supposed to develop the rules (dosages, indications, and contraindications) of milk thistle preparations usage to promote the best health benefits.

Nowadays the plant becomes more familiar to the American consumers, too, gaining their confidence and trust in its power and health benefits. Since milk thistle is easy to grow, it is already cultivated in many states throughout the country.

‘Warming’ Herb – Osha

Osha is one of the herb of so-called “bear medicine”. In many cultures the bear is considered to be the prime healing animal, which uses herbs for its own good. In case with Osha, bears will roll on it and cover themselves with its scent; it will have the same effect as catnip for cats. Also first thing to do after hibernation a bear will eat osha, if it can find it, to cleanse its digestive system.

Biological Description

Osha, or Ligusticum porter belongs to the family Apiacea (Umbelliferae). It is a perennial herb used for its medicinal properties. Osha is also known by the other names, such as Colorado Cough Root, Indian Root, Mountain Ginseng, Wild Lovage, Mountain Carrot, Empress Of The Dark Forest, Bear Medicine, Nipo, and Porters Lovage.

Osha possesses the characteristic of umbel flower shape and leaves that look a little like parsley. It is pretty high, grows in aspen groves among their roots that makes digging very difficult. It has long thin hollow stalk with large fern-like divided green leaves (and golden in autumn). The seeds and flowers are at the top of the plant and spread out in the form of an umbrella. Osha’s flowers are white and the seeds have a sweet celery-like smell, as well as the entire plant.

The plant can be confused with poisonous hemlock, but the Osha’s root is quite hairy and possesses a strong smell similar to celery. It is brown on the outside and yellow on the inside, with a soapy feeling when you touch it.


Osha grows throughout the entire Rocky Mountain range from Mexico to Canada.

The plant does not like to be domesticated. For that reason, the most available osha is taken from the wild. It inhabits dry, upland meadows and ravines. It can be dried in the sun without harm and will last for years in the dried form. Because of the potent antibacterial and antiviral substances in the root it will not rot. The plant prefers moist, fertile ground.

Osha is already facing extinction in the wild.

Parts Used

For medical purposes the root of the plant is used. Although it is the root that is used medicinally, the leaves and seeds make excellent culinary additions.


Osha root can be found in the dried form, in the form of tinctures and root extracts. A simple cough syrup can be made at home. Mix the ground root with twice the amount of honey, steep for an hour, then press out when cool and use the liquid. You can also find Osha root in the form of tea (remedy in cold and sore throat) and powdered root (excellent on skin wounds to prevent infection, and is used to make cough syrup) in the market. A tea of the boiled root loosens phlegm and combats viral colds and flu. An infusion of the roots is used externally to treat body aches.

Root tea, or a stronger thick boiled decoction, can be used like echinacea for the treatment of respiratory infections such as flu, colds, sore throat, and typical upper respiratory congestion. It is more effective than Echinacea and goldenseal when one is already acute and congested.

Most over-the-counter Osha formulas for colds and flu combine Osha with Echinacea and goldenseal in an alcohol based tincture. Make sure to read labels carefully if you are sensitive to either herb. Osha is also sold in capsule form in combination with Lomatium root, which is another reputed immune enhancer.


The plant is famous for its antiviral, diaphoretic, carminative, diuretic, and decongestant properties. It also stimulates the immune system. Osha is an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, febrifuge, and antirheumatic. It is very effective in case of viral infections of the sinuses, throat, and upper and lower respiratory systems. Osha induces sweating and helps eliminate toxins through the pores of the skin, and helps bring up respiratory secretions and relaxes smooth muscle. The last one is very good for coughs and asthmatic breathing difficulties.

Key components of the herb are volatile oils, essential oil, terpenes, lactone glycoside, alkaloid, sterols, saponins, ferulic acid and phytosterols. Z-ligustilide, one of the active constituents of osha, acts gently against bacterial and yeast infections, while relaxing the muscles lining the respiratory passages. Lactone (ligustilide) is one of the major ingredients responsible for therapeutic effects of Osha. This is, actually, the component, that gives the herb anti-asthmatic properties, together with anti-viral and anti-microbial ones.

Health Benefits

1. “Warming” herb for the respiratory system:

It is good for head colds with dry, irritating coughs, acute influenza with coughing and dyspnea (difficulty breathing), the initial stages of acute (and subacute) pharyngitis and acute bronchial pneumonia with dyspnea. It has rather strong antiviral proterties, that is why should be taken at the first minimal signs of flu or cold. Then the result would be better.

Osha is extremely good for sore throats and bronchial inflammations (chewing the root raw soothes sore throat and gum irritation). It will immediately soothe and cause sweating (thanks to its diuretic properties), thereby helping to eliminate toxins.

It is effective even in such type of infections as herpes. It can be used as a preventative for those prone to sore throats and lung congestion or who get secondary infections from allergies

2. Useful herb for other body systems:

  • the upper gastrointestinal,
  • cardiovascular, central nervous system,
  • lymphatic,
  • reproductive,
  • integumentary,
  • parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems

Osha is excellent for stomach indigestion and for cramping or pain associated with the beginnings of ulceration. The roots, seed and essential oil of this plant stimulates the circulation, kidneys and uterus. Osha is used to treat tuberculosis, headaches, toothache, emphysema, pneumonia, painful menstruation and retained placenta. It has also been used in case of motion and air sickness, as it increases oxygen utilization and uptake into the body.

It you take Osha for extended periods of time, take a week-long break every couple of months. The herb should not be used during pregnancy, as large amounts may cause uterine contractions. Also during breastfeeding.

Graviola Introduction: History, Chemistry, Gardening

Graviola (Annona muricata) is a miraculous evergreen tree found in the rainforest of South and North America. This small tree is well-known in herbal medicine and has several names: Soursop, Brazilian Paw Paw, Guanabana. The plant may grow up to 5-6 meters high. Graviola has large, shining, dark-green leaves and delicious fruits commonly known as paw paw. The latter are heart-shaped and have approximately 15-20 cm in diameter.

Graviola is not a new discovery in herbal medicine. It has been widely used by indigenous population to treat a number of illnesses and diseases. The inhabitants of the Peruvian Andes, for example, make tea from Graviola leaves for catarrh and eat crushed seeds to kill parasites and bacteria. The Peruvian Amazon tribes consider the roots, leaves, and bark of the tree to have sedative and antispasmodic properties.

The population of the Brazilian Amazon has always used Graviola leaf tea to treat liver problems. Their women ate Graviola fruits or drunk the juice to increase lactation. The Brazilians made a mixture from Graviola leaves oil, its fruit juice, and olive oil. It was applied externally for rheumatism, neuralgia, and arthritis pain. The native people of Jamaica, Haiti, and the West Indies used the fruit and fruit juice to treat diarrhea and fevers. The bark and leaves was praised for their antispasmodic and sedative properties and effectiveness for treating heart diseases, cough, flu, asthma, and hypertension. Graviola tea is advised to drink every day in order to elevate mood and increase the quality of life. Indigenous tribes of the rainforest scattered the crushed leaves around beds and pillowcases to have a good sleep. The crushed leaves were also used instead of smelling salts to return to consciousness.

Serious clinical studies on Graviola have been carried out since the 1940s. Most of them have documented anti-tumorous, anti-parasitic, anti-viral, hypotensive, and antidepressive properties of the plant. This is due to the rich chemical structure of Graviola. One of the most active and important constituents is a group of chemicals called Annonaceous acetogenins, which are praised for the unique anti-cancerous and anti-tumorous properties. They can be found in Graviola leaves, stem, bark, and fruit seeds. Scientists have already defined more than 34 compounds of this group. Annonaceous acetogenins are very effective in the treatment of all types of cancer: they kill cancer cells and do not harm healthy ones.

Graviola acts as an antidepressant due to the novel alkaloids found in its seeds and roots. However, one should be very careful while undergoing the treatment with this plant, because these alkaloids may be toxic to the nervous system. Scientists suggest that they may lead to Parkinson disease. One more very important chemical compound found in fruits is serotonin uptake inhibitor that accounts for the feeling of joy.

Graviola is usually grown in wild soils of the rainforest areas and harvested by the indigenous people. To obtain tincture and capsules, the Spagyric method is used. It allows preserving the product’s bioavailability and nutritive properties. At first raw Graviola herbs are crushed and put into a liquid which consists of pure grain alcohol and water and are left there for 3-4 weeks. This liquid helps decompose the herb’s cells structure and release all the important phytochemicals. As a result, the Graviola tincture shows much more bioavailability and is better absorbed. To produce capsules the raw material is used. It is also crushed, then applied with a tincture spray and finally dried and encapsulated. The processed Graviola products (capsules and tincture) are more powerful and have stronger healing properties than the raw material.

Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto is a small plant native to the coastal areas of Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. It has been an important food source for native Americans for at least 12,000 years. Saw Palmetto has not lost its value since then, because all parts of this plant are known to have important health benefits.

The most prized part of Saw Palmetto is the berries, which are harvested, dried, and ground for preparation as a tea or in capsules. The Berries has a pungent, sweet taste, and has a warming affect on the body.

By the native Indians, Saw Palmetto has been used as a tonic for nutritional supplementation. They used the Saw Palmetto’s seeds as food and they believed that the fruits had special health benefits. Early American settlers used the juice from Saw Palmetto berries to gain weight, to improve general disposition and as a sedative. They used it also to treat problems associated with the genitals and reproductive system.

Nowadays, Saw Palmetto is used to treat a variety of ailments. It is believed to fight coughs, bronchitis, dysmenorrhea, and asthma. It is still used to stimulate appetite, balance the metabolism, and aid digestion.

Saw Palmetto is also known as an aphrodisiac for both men and women and as a popular treatment for an enlarged prostate both in Europe and the United States. It also appears to have anti-inflammatory and mild antiandrogenic effects.

Golden Seal – A Healer from Cherokee

Goldenseal is a small (from 6 to 12 inches high) perennial herb, with a horizontal bright yellow root (¼ – ¾ inch thick), erect flowering stem and dark green hairy leaves. A solitary, small, white flower, produced in April, falling away immediately after expansion. The fruit is a fleshy crimson berry, which is ripe in July, has much the appearance of a Raspberry, but is not edible. Botanists refer it to the Buttercup family.

The name Goldenseal this plant gained because of yellow scars left on the rhizome by the stem that burst forth every spring. These scars look like the imprint of an old-fashioned letter seal. The genetic name of the herb is Hydrastis from two Greek words signifying ‘water’ and ‘to accomplish’. Goldenseal is also known as Yellow Root, Orange Root, Yellow Puccoon, Ground Raspberry, Wild Curcuma, Hydrastis Canadensis, Turmeric Root, Indian Dye, Eye Root, Eye Balm, Indian Paint, Jaundice Root or Warnera.

Optimal conditions for its growth are shade and rich moist soil, so shady woods and edge of wooden lands are common places for Goldenseal. This native North American plant is the most abundant in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana and New York states and in Ontario, Canada.

Golden Seal was used by Cherokee Indians as a dye (for clothing and weapons), stain (for faces) and as a medicine (for skin diseases, arrow wounds and sore, inflamed eyes). In 1760 it was first introduced into England by Miller under the name of Warnera (after Richard Warner of Woodford), and later was grown at Kew, Edinburgh and Dublin. Hydrastis Canadensis was listed from 1860 to 1926 in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia. Goldenseal’s use among North Americans flourished after the Civil War as it was an ingredient in many medicines. It has been collected to the point of near extinction. Goldenseal supplies are diminishing and most is now wild crafted, making herbal supplements costly.

The part used is root, other parts of the plant are poisonous. The root contains alkaloids (berberine – 3-4%, hydrastine – 2-4%, canadine), calcium, iron, manganese, albumin, fatty matter, resin, lignin, starch, sugar, volatile oil, vitamins A, C, E and B-complex.

Among known Goldenseal’s actions are: hepatic, alterative, anti-catarrhal, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, astringent, laxative, expectorant, emmenagogue, oxytocic. It may prevent further symptoms from developing and enhance the influence of other herbs which used with.

Yellow Root is a broad spectrum herb so is widely used today in pharmaceutical industry, for production of cosmetics and as food supplement. It’s available as a powder, tincture, capsules, tea, body lotion, eardrops or eyewash.

Long-term use (more than 2 weeks) and high doses of Golden Seal are not recommended. The safe amount for use internally is 250 – 500 mg daily. Pregnant women, children under two and people with high blood pressure should not use the herb at all.

Vitex General Information

The world does not stand still: everything changes each second. However, some things seem to be timeless and everlasting. One of such things is a herb, called Vitex.

Besides the botanical name Vitex Agnus-Castus has many traditional or colloquial names: Chaste tree, Monk’s pepper, Chasteberry, Indian Spice, etc.

The plant grows in Mediterranean countries and central Asia, preferring much sunlight and moisture, and well-drained soil. A deciduous shrub, having an airy and spreading habit, grows up to 10 feet. It has five-fingered leaves, which begin to bud as late as June, and eight-inch lilac flower spikes. Flowers are hermaphrodite and are pollinated by insects. Vitex is in bloom from September to October, forming then pepper-scented seeds. By the way, the leaves and the stems of the plant are also strongly aromatic.

Since ancient times people used Vitex mainly for medical purposes. Hippocrates, Dioscorides, and Theophrastus mentioned in their works that sitz baths for treating the diseases of the uterus and other female disorders were made of Vitex. Besides, even our ancestors knew about the plant’s ability to suppress libido. Women covered their beds with Vitex leaves in order to inspire chastity; monks either chewed the ripe fruits of the plant, or prepared tea from them with the same aim. No wonder that Homer called Vitex a symbol of chastity in his Illiad.

In spite of the fact that curative abilities of Vitex were slightly forgotten in 17-18th centuries, the plant has now returned its status of one of the most important herbal remedies in phytotherapy.

Many different trials had been conducted to prove the possibility of using Vitex with medical aim nowadays. They all showed that this plant has a unique force to regulate the levels of hormones (especially estrogen and progesterone) in the organism.

The extract of all the Vitex fruit constituents affects the activity of the pituitary gland. It helps increase progesterone production, which can be beneficial for women’s health in many cases, as it gives the opportunity to regulate menstrual cycles, reduce the symptoms of menopause and PMS (irritability, breast tenderness, mood switches, menstrual cramps), and even fight women infertility, caused by hormone imbalance. (Vitex has acquired the name “women’s herb” not in vain!) Furthermore, such problem as acne, both in men and women, can be solved or, at least, partially solved with the help of the same plant.

These days the dried herb is available in capsules or in liquid preparations. It is reported that the patients have no side effects if they do not overdose the remedy during the treatment (30-40 mg a day). In rare cases, though, minor stomach upset and mild skin itching is observed. Overdose manifests itself through formication, a sensation of insects crawling over the skin.

Besides medical use Vitex fruit can also serve as pepper substitute, and leaves are used as a spice. Since the whole plant is very aromatic, especially flowers, the latter stand high esteem of perfumery. Young stems are used in basket making. At last, this universal plant is a source of yellow dye, which is obtained from the leaves, seeds, and roots.