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Herbs From Best To Worst

So we’ve told you recently 5 herbs you should be growing, and if you really are interested in growing your own herbs, or just simply knowing which herbs are the worst and the best, read on!

(Because like everything else, herbs can and will be ranked.)

WORST TO BEST:

1. Patchouli
Patchouli Herbs

Patchouli is a species of herb from the mint family known scientifically as Pogostemon cablin, a native of tropical Asia. The name derives from two old Tamil words, “patchai”, which means green, and “ellai”, which means leaf.

It grows to a height of 2-3 feet with leaves that grow upward and produce a strong fragrance that is more woody than herbal. The oil produced from the leaves is unusual as it actually gets better with age – freshly distilled oil is greener and sharper than an aged oil that will develop to smell richer and deeper.

It has been valued since ancient times; the Egyptian pharoah Tutankamun was buried with 40 litres of patchouli oil in around 1323BC and early European traders valued it as highly as gold.

Pros: Smells really good and aroma has many beneficial properties.
Cons: Anyone knows how to cook this?

2. Borage
Pros: The flowers, leaves, and oil from the borage plant can be used as medicine.

Borage Herbs

Borage is eaten in salads and soups and used in skincare products as well.

Cons: Doesn’t it look too pretty to eat?

3. Bay Leaves
Bay Leaves Herbs

Pros: They require no preparation. You just drop one your dish and leave it to do its magic. Want to keep your bay leaves flavorful even longer? Store them in the freezer and they’ll last for years. This is great to know if you’re looking to save some money and buy in bulk.

Cons: Eat a whole one, and you’ll die. Maybe.

4. Lemongrass
Lemongrass Herbs
Lemon grass originated in India and Nepal and it is an integral part of many Thai, Vietnamese and Malaysian meals. This plant is also called citronella, tanglad or Cymbopogon ciatrus (in Latin), while in the Caribbean they call it the fever grass.

Pros:

This herb has sedative effect to the central nervous system, calming the person who takes it.

Lemon grass is used to detoxify the liver and positively affect the function of the digestive tract, pancreas, bladder and kidneys.

Oil extracted from this plant is found to be potential remedy for people suffering from keratomycosis (cornea inflammation that may cause burning and other vision problems).

Some people believe that lemon grass may prevent colon cancer and be extremely helpful remedy for anyone suffering from rheumatism or arthritis. Scientific research has proven that 100g of boiled lemon grass contains about 24mcg of beta carotene, making this herb potentially useful for the treatment of cancers.

Cons: No real side effects have been discovered about this herb, actually.

5. Chamomile
Chamomile Herbs
Chamomile is basically a herb that originates from a blooming plant from the daisy gang. Both the new and dried blossoms of chamomile have been utilized to make teas for quite a long time to cure various wellbeing issues. The dynamic fixing in chamomile key oil is known as bisabolol, which has various hostile to aggravation, calming, and against microbial properties.

Chamomile can be used to treat insomnia and migraines, among others.

Cons: Can’t really be used in any savoury dishes.

Jokes aside, all herbs have their own benefits and side effects. Remember to consume your herbs in moderation and be open to exploring new herbs too! And bookmark our blog for interesting, relevant posts every week.

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5 Herbs Everyone Should Be Growing

The wonders of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can be exhaustive. In our blog posts over the month, we’ve discussed many things, from whether swimming in cold water is advisable to how to eat parsley correctly.

Traditional Chinese medicine and natural remedies can be very effective but most of us spend our time nowadays cooped up in offices or classrooms and not in big, open gardens where we can do a lot of harvesting. So how do we maximise that little garden that we have that comes in the form of a backyard or a balcony garden, and what herbs can we grow?

Lemon Balm: Also called Melissa, this relative of mint looks very similar to its cousin, but with a distinct citrus smell when crushed. It’s a gentle sedative, meaning that you can have it daily if you need a little help getting to sleep. In my experience it grows like wildfire, and you’ll need to trim the stems regularly if it looks like it’s bolting (growing long stems with fewer leaves) – that should keep it thick and bushy. Steep a handful in a pot of boiled water for five to ten minutes, then enjoy a cup or two with a slice of lemon before bed. The herb loses its potency when dried, but the fresh herb can be tinctured to preserve its medicinal properties.

Chamomile: The term Chamomile actually refers to a range of different daisy-like plants, which are a member of the Asteraceae family. There are many different species of chamomile, the two most commonly being German chamomile (Marticaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). They have been used since ancient times for their calming and anti-inflammatory properties, and each offer their own additional health benefits. Fill a jar with the flowers and cover with sweet almond oil. After a few weeks, strain it off and you have an anti-inflammatory oil that is wonderful on sunburn and rashes, and is gentle enough for kids and babies. If you want a stronger herb, or if eczema is your concern, grow marigold instead. Want a hot tip? Plant your marigold next to your tomatoes to ward off pests.

Brahmi: For those of us for whom sleep is not the concern, but never seem to have energy during the day, here’s the herb you need. Devote a whole pot to this one, because it’s a creeper. Brahmi is one of the herbs used in Ayurveda to enhance focus and concentration, and it lifts mood with frequent use. I pick the leaves and add it to my green tea each morning.

Peppermint: Like most of the mint family, peppermint grows easily and should be kept in its own pot to stop it from suffocating everything else. The oils are most potent when grown in full sun, so if you have a sunny space, this is the herb to put there. It likes lots of water and good drainage. Pick the leaves and make a strong tea whenever you have tummy troubles.

Horseradish: Horseradish has been used internally as a condiment, GI stimulant, diuretic, and a vermifuge, and externally for sciatica and facial neuralgia. However, there are no clinical trials to support any therapeutic use for horseradish. Animal data suggest potential antibacterial and hypotensive effects.

Unlike other herbs, horseradish takes a while to cultivate, because it’s the root that’s of use. It’s fantastic to blast congested sinuses due to allergies or a cold. Like peppermint it likes full sun. Plant a root cutting in spring or autumn, cover in mulch, and water once a week. Apart from that you can pretty much forget about it; horseradish is very hardy and will keep on doing its thing until you’re ready to harvest it. I find the best way to use it is food as medicine. Pop it in to a soup or dressing and watch the magic happen!

Horseradish and Herbs

herbs

This post couldn’t have happened without this, this and this.

 

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Better Sleep In A Few Steps

Lack of sleep leads to a whole host of possible health problems – such as heart disease, obesity, depression, and ulcers. It also reduces how productive we are at work.

A recent study from the CDC showed that more than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep. Which makes sense, because there are so many reasons to deter us from getting a good night’s rest. A busy schedule, excessive scrolling through Facebook and Instagram on our phones at night, getting in the way of our levels of melatonin – the natural hormone created by the pineal gland, which regulates your circadian rhythm.

Some have recommended taking melatonin in the form of an oral supplement because it can help tell your body it’s time to head to dream land. It’s also a special kind of antioxidant — it can scavenge free radicals (particularly hydroxyl radicals and hydrogen peroxide, which are very dangerous) and protect your cells from damage. Since it’s something your body makes — and therefore is already familiar with — it can easily and seamlessly diffuse into your cells and cross your blood-brain barrier (not an easy feat).

Melatonin For Better Sleep

Apart from melatonin supplements, there are 5 sleep tips recommended by Chinese medicine.

1. Drink green tea instead of coffee in the morning.
Switch out your coffee cup and take a detour from Starbucks and drink some green tea instead. It’s a myth that green tea has less than half the caffeine coffee has. In general, tea has the same amount of caffeine as coffee, and while both are stimulants, coffee has a much bigger depressing effect (not making you sad but reducing your energy levels) than tea, meaning that while both tea and coffee will give you a bigger rush of caffeine, with coffee, the high will also last shorter and drop quicker. If you’re wanting something to keep you going through the work day, tea is the best choice.

2. Do NOT drink very cold water.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine your body has to work extra hard to heat up the cold water you are drinking. So if you drink really cold water at night, your body is working on overdrive and it over-stimulates your body causing you to stay awake.
3. Block out all the light in your room.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, if you place your hand twelve inches in front of your face and you can clearly see it, then your room is not dark enough. Try to remove any electronics in your room that have bright lights, to make the room darker.
Nestled deep in an area of the brain called the hypothalamus, this timekeeper regulates many of our body’s functions, such as sleep, energy, and hunger.

Hypothalamus And Sleep

Sunlight detected by cells in the retina of the eye sends messages to the brain that keep us in a roughly 24-hour pattern. These light cues trigger all kinds of chemical events in the body, causing changes in our physiology and behavior. For example, as evening approaches and the light in our environment dwindles, the hormone melatonin begins to rise and body temperature falls—both of which help us to become less alert and more likely to welcome sleep. With the help of morning light, melatonin levels are low, body temperature begins to rise, and other chemical shifts, such as an uptick in the activating hormone cortisol, occur to help us feel alert and ready for the day.

4. Eat Longans
The sweet-tasting longan is considered warm in nature.

It is thought to move through the meridians of the heart and spleen. Meridians are channels in the body through which qi (vital energy) travels. In TCM, good circulation of qi and blood is required for optimal health.

It is said that longan is used to address blood deficiency in the body, especially that affecting the heart and spleen.

When a person has blood deficiency, he exhibits symptoms such as palpitations, headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, a pale complexion and a weak pulse.

The heart controls a person’s mental well-being, including the quality of sleep.

Those with blood deficiency in the heart have symptoms such as insomnia, are easily awakened and often have dreams.

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High Blood Pressure & Traditional Chinese Medicine

By 2025, the number of people living with hypertension is expected to be 1.56 billion.

Quick facts about hypertension:

  • Hypertension is a blood pressure higher than 140 over 90 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).
  • One or both readings can be high, either the first, systolic reading (the pressure as the heart pumps blood around the body) or the diastolic one (as the heart relaxes and refills with blood).
  • Modern lifestyle factors are responsible for a growing burden of hypertension: physical inactivity, salt-rich diets with processed and fatty foods, and alcohol and tobacco use.
  • High blood pressure can also be secondary to other conditions – kidney disease, for example.
  • Hypertension itself does not cause symptoms but in the long-term leads to complications caused by narrowing of blood vessels.

Yes, hypertension and high blood pressure mean the same thing.
High Blood Pressure And Traditional Chinese Medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, the following reasons may contribute to the cause of high blood pressure.

The liver balances emotions. Normal emotional health depends on the harmony of qi and blood. When the liver keeps qi flowing smoothly, a relaxed internal, emotional environment is created. If liver disharmony results in stagnant liver qi, emotional disturbances like depression and anger can occur.

Liver and High Blood Pressure

According to Chinese medicine, the liver works hard at night to filter the blood. A substantial amount of blood may be retained in the liver upon waking in the morning if the liver is sluggish. Morning exercises help get blood moving and “activate” the liver. It does not have to be any particular kind of exercise, so long as it involves deep breathing and stretching the torso. Y-Dan is an example of a low-impact morning exercise that meets these criteria. Qigong is another self help method of removing stagnation from the Liver and lifting depression.

To help nourish yin and clear heat, fruits and vegetables like celery, tomato, bok choy, banana, water melon, persimmon, bitter melon and lotus root are beneficial. Others such as laver, black fungus, mung bean, bean curd, daylily flower, preserved jelly fish and green tea also have the effects.

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES TO CONSUME

The salt content in salary is low, and you also get fiber, magnesium and potassium to help regulate your blood pressure, as well.

Celery For High Blood Pressure

 

According to traditional Chinese medicine, tomatoes are cooling for the body and are used to promote healthy digestion, detoxification, and fluid production. Today, tomatoes are famous for their high amount of the phytonutrient lycopene.

Tomatoes can lower high blood pressure

Bok Choy Lowers High Blood Pressure
Potassium, calcium and magnesium (all present in bok choy) have been found to decrease blood pressure naturally. Maintaining a low sodium intake is essential to lowering blood pressure.

Bananas Can Lower High Blood Pressure

The high potassium content in this edible fruit is associated with the ability to control high blood pressure. Bananas can be eaten by themselves, or mixed with yogurt and nuts.

Green Tea Can Lower High Blood Pressure
Studies on green tea has shown that consumption of green tea is associated with blood vessel relaxation.

 

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Herbal Remedies For Lung Health

There’s always a season of the common cold, or more uncomfortable still, the haze. Help yourself more by trying these herbal remedies along with the mask you stretch across your face. Laboured breathing might not bother you for so long!

1. Licorice root
Licorice is one of the more widely consumed herbs in the world. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it occurs in more formulas than any other single herb because it is thought to harmonize the action of all other herbs. Licorice is very soothing and softens the mucous membranes of the throat and especially the lungs and stomach and at the same time cleanses any inflamed mucous membrane that needs immune system support. The compounds also have antibacterial and antiviral effects to them as well which helps fight off viral and bacterial strains in the body that can cause lung infections.

Licorice for herbal remedies

2. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus for herbal remedies

Native to Australia, eucalyptus isn’t just for Koala bears! Aborigines, Germans, and Americans have all used eucalyptus to promote respiratory health and soothe throat irritation. Eucalyptus is a common ingredient in cough lozenges and syrups and its effectiveness is due to a compound called eucalyptole (Any wonder how the name was derived??!) Eucalyptole has numerous benefits — it’s an expectorant, can ease a cough, fights congestion, and soothes irritated sinus passages. As an added bonus, because eucalyptus contains antioxidants, it supports the immune system during a cold or other illness.

3. Peppermint
Peppermint contains menthol, an ingredient that relaxes the respiratory tract and muscles, thus promoting free breathing. Peppermint oil contains many other additional compounds, like limonene and pulegone, which are great decongestants. Many therapeutic chest balms contain these ingredients.

4. Plaintain leaf
Plantain leaf is another herb that has been used for hundreds of years to help soothe an irritated chest and coughs. It also also contains many anti-inflammatory and antitoxic compounds.  Clinical trials have found it favorable against cough, cold, and lung irritation. Plantain leaf has an added bonus in that it may help relieve a dry cough by spawning mucus production in the lungs.

5.  Chrysanthemum flower

This common herbal medicine is useful for treating dry, irritated eyes, high blood pressure, and headaches. Chrysanthemum flowers are often used in combination with honeysuckle to lower high blood pressure and treat arteriosclerosis.

It’s also said to affect the liver and lungs, and is commonly consumed in tea form.

The next time your lungs feel a little itchy and you feel a cough coming on, try these natural herbal remedies instead. Imagine walking into a shop in the 1800s and 1900s and seeing lots of herbs on sale, and knowing what to do with each and every one of them. Times are so different now, where on shelves sit rows and rows of factory-manufactured medicine instead, and we just pop what the doctor says.

Nevertheless, thank God the healing properties of these natural plants still exist, and we can use them as our herbal remedies.

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How Heartburn Relief Is like A School Bully

This Heartburn Post first appeared on The Good Herbs Co. Blog.

Heartburn Relief Location

Heartburn is one symptom that’s associated with the refluxing of contents from the stomach into the esophagus.Where the esophagus meets the stomach, there’s a circular ring keeping food out of the esophagus and in the stomach once it passes the stomach. For some people, this ring is weak, allowing contents from the stomach up into the esophagus, and that’s what we call refluxing. Some of the symptoms associated with that reflux includes heartburn – the sensation of burning in the middle of the chest. http://keranews.org/post/what-you-need-know-about-heartburn

If left untreated, heartburn can lead to Barrett’s esophagus, which is a precursor to cancer.

Like a school bully, sometimes you can sense when heartburn is around the corner. School bullies come stomping in, fists balled, voices angry. Heartburn is like that too.

Common signs of this symptom of heartburn include:

1. Chest pain, which occurs because stomach acid is splashing into the esophagus. This is a classic acid reflux symptom.

2. The acid that is supposed to stay in your stomach is more likely to escape into your esophagus when you lie down or bend over, causing heartburn. That’s why people with heartburn are advised to raise the head of their bed so that gravity can help them keep the acid down.

3. Sometimes acid escaping from your stomach can make its way into the back of your throat, leaving an icky, bitter taste in your mouth. In really extreme cases, this can cause choking. (Just like the nasty words of a school bully!)

4. Hoarse voice. If you haven’t been knowingly exerting your voice or attending one too many conferences at work or karaoke sessions with your friends, hoarseness can be another heartburn symptom, and not an early sign of the cold. This happens because when stomach acid is seeping into your esophagus it can irritate your vocal cords. (Just like trying to talk sense to a school bully and having your words fall on deaf ears no matter how much you speak)

5.  Weight loss. If the heartburn is so bad, the sufferer can experience weight loss. (Just like how a school bully takes away all your lunches and leaves you with not much to eat, so you lose weight………….)

Having heartburn relief can seriously change a person’s life for the worse.

But there are ways to help relieve the situation!

5 ways to help your heartburn
Fortunately, there are things acid reflux patients can do to help prevent and minimize breakthrough symptoms.

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), heartburn is usually caused by emotional upset and eating the wrong foods. Reflux is seen as rebellious qi that is rising where it should be sinking. Luckily, there are several herbal remedies that can be used in addition to the lifestyle and dietary suggestions mentioned above.

One well-known herbal formula for heartburn and GERD (chai hu mu li long gu tang) contains oyster shell (mu li); dragonbone (long gu); bupleurum (chai hu); ginseng (ren shen); ginger (gan jiang); pinellia (ban xia); scute (huang qin); cinnamon (gui zhi); rhubarb (da huang); and saussurea (mu xiang).

Oyster shell and dragonbone (fossilized minerals) are used to reverse reflux by quenching acidity and redirecting rebellious qi downward.  Ginseng and ginger strengthen the digestive organs and calm nausea, respectively. Finally, pinellia harmonizes qi and dispels phlegm.

Oyster Shell

http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=27754

Here’s a great video we found explaining how Heartburn works and affects us.

Share your experiences. Do you have acid reflux? What have you tried?

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Is Swimming In Cold Water Advisable?

Ever stood outside in the freezing cold, wrapped up in your jacket and scarf, and from the corner of your eye, you catch a glimpse of someone swimming lap after lap in an ice cold lake, and you think to yourself how crazy that guy is?

Swimming in cold water might have more benefits than spoken for.
SIberianiceswimming
When people get into cold water, it stimulates the peripheral vasculature to contract.
The blood will therefore be redistributed. More blood will enter the heart. When people get into cold water, it stimulates the peripheral vasculature to contract.

The blood will therefore be redistributed. More blood will enter the heart, brain and kidney. The blood supply of these important organs will thereby be greatly increased.
Upon finishing swimming, the body temperature will gradually return to normal. The peripheral vasculature dilates. The blood distribution returns to normal. During this process the peripheral vasculature moves from a state of contraction to dilation. Long term repetition of this stimulation increases the elasticity of the vasculature, this is good for preventing arteriosclerosis.

This is why winter swimmers have a smaller chance of suffering from hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Cold water swimming can also increase the blood circulation of a swimmer, slowing down the aging process of the skin and increasing the benefits to a person’s immune system. This explains why cold water swimmers rarely catch a cold.

However, cold water swimming does not suit everybody. If someone has been diagnosed with arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure or other cardiovascular diseases, it will not be suitable for him or her to start cold water swimming suddenly. This is because sudden cold stimulation will raise blood pressure, increase the chance of heart attack and stroke. Sometimes, sudden death can even be caused. For individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain might get worse after being immersed in cold water.

So if you can quote Elsa and talk about how “the cold never bothered you anyway”, then take a dip in an open ice lake when winter is here.

Or for starters, just take a freezing cold shower.