Fungus: Shiitake Mushroom

Shiitake-Mushroom-FieldandHerbsShiitake Mushroom

Medicinal mushrooms have an established history of use in traditional oriental therapies. Contemporary research has validated and documented much of the ancient knowledge. Over the last three decades, the interdisciplinary fields of science that study medicinal mushrooms has sprung up and has increasingly demonstrated the potent and unique properties of compounds extracted from a range of species. Currently, the field is being developed into a very fruitful area. Modern clinical practice in Japan, China, Korea and other Asian countries rely on mushroom-derived preparations. Mushrooms have been studied for nutritional and medical purposes for its various potential anti-tumoral and immunomodulatory components like polysaccharides that have been identified. Continue reading “Fungus: Shiitake Mushroom”

Fruit: Amla Fruit

Amla-Fruit-Gooseberry-FieldandHerbsAmla Fruit

Many holistic healers appreciate and use amla (aka Indian Gooseberry) to treat a host of diseases and promote positive health. Amla [Emblica officinalis, or emblic myrobalan], is called amalaki in Sanskrit. Amla is also used widely in combination with other two [chebulic and belleric] myrobalans [fruit-bearing plant species] as triphala. Amla is indeed, the key ingredient in the popular ayurvedic recipe, Chyavanaprasha. It is one of the oldest oriental medicines mentioned in Ayurveda as a potential remedy for various ailments. The fruit is rich in quercetin, phyllaemblic compounds, gallic acid, tannins, flavonoids, pectin and vitamin C and also contains various polyphenolic compounds. A wide range of phytochemical components including terpenoids, alkaloids, flavonoids, and tannins have been shown to posses useful biological activities. Many pharmacological studies have demonstrated the ability of the fruit to show promise as an antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, tumor reducer, and antigenotoxic. It has also been found to have anti-inflammatory activities. Continue reading “Fruit: Amla Fruit”

Herb: Licorice Root

Licorice-Root-FieldandHerbsLicorice Root

Most licorice root grows in Greece, Turkey, and Asia.  Licorice is harvested from the plants’ roots and underground stems. Licorice supplements are available as capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts. Centuries ago, licorice root was used in Greece, China, and Egypt for stomach inflammation and upper respiratory problems. Anise oil is often used instead of licorice root to flavor licorice candy. Licorice root also has been used as a sweetener. Today, people use licorice root as a dietary supplement for digestive problems, menopausal symptoms, cough, and bacterial and viral infections. People also use it as a shampoo. Continue reading “Herb: Licorice Root”

Herb: Elderberry

 

Elderberry-FieldandHerbsElderberry

Elderberry, also known as sambucus, are small bluish-black berries that grow in clusters on a shrubby bush. Not to be confused with blueberries, elderberries are native to parts of North America and have been a staple in folk medicine for centuries.

Elderberries have been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years as an immune supporter and cough suppressant. Elderberries are an excellent source of vitamins A, B, and C, and could support immune function year-round. Bioflavonoids present in elderberries could soothe inflammation and irritation of the throat, acting as an all-natural sore throat soother and making elderberries a popular ingredient in many over-the-counter medications and cough drops. Elderberries could support immune function with their high levels of antioxidant properties and vitamin C. Potent levels of vitamin A and anthocyanins in elderberries could improve skin health and encourage production of collagen. Continue reading “Herb: Elderberry”

Herbs: Echinacea

Echinacea-FieldandHerbs Echinacea

Echinacea is certainly one of the most popular herbs of our times, and for good reason. It is one of the top immune-enhancing herbs, helping to build immune-system strength and to fight off disease and infection. Many herbalists and natural-medicine practitioners feel it’s the most important immune-enhancing herb in Western medicine. Echinacea has been called the “great herbal diplomat” because it, perhaps more than any other medicinal plant, rescued herbalism from its twentieth-century obscurity.  Continue reading “Herbs: Echinacea”

Herb: Dandelion

 

dandelion-FieldandHerbsDandelion

Closely related to chicory, dandelion is a common plant worldwide and the bane of those looking for the perfect lawn. The plant grows to a height of about 12 inches, producing spatula-like leaves and yellow flowers that bloom year-round. Upon maturation, the flower turns into the characteristic puffball containing seeds that are dispersed in the wind. Dandelion is grown commercially in the United States and Europe. The leaves and root are used in herbal supplements and are valued for their various medicinal uses. Continue reading “Herb: Dandelion”

Tree: Cinnamon

Cinnamon-FieldandHerbsCinnamon is a familiar kitchen spice used around the world, adding fragrance and warmth to everything from oatmeal to curries. What many don’t realize is it is also used for its powerful medicinal properties.

Cinnamon is actually the bark of fast-growing trees, members of the laurel family, native to Sri Lanka and India. The bark is harvested from young shoots that sprout from the stumps of the trees, which are cut back every couple of years. The bark is high in essential oils, coumarins, tannins, and other chemical constituents that help define its medicinal uses. Continue reading “Tree: Cinnamon”

Herb: Passion Flower

purple-passion-flower-fieldandherbs-labeledPassion Flower

The purple passion flower is a fast growing vine that can reach up to 20 feet or more. Both the fruits and flowers are edible on some varieties and many food items are made from the plant.

The unique flowers are about three inches wide and they have several petals accented with a purple fringe. The wonderful fragrance this plant gives off resembles that of carnations. The fruits, called may pops, are generally about two inches in size and are ripe when the fruit turns yellow. The fruits taste like a guava. To be fully ripe for eating, the fruits should fall off naturally. Continue reading “Herb: Passion Flower”

Herb: Chamomile

Chamomile-Flower-FiedandHerbs-labeledChamomile

Chamomile, a member of the daisy family, is native to Europe and western Asia. German chamomile is the most commonly used. The dried and fresh flowers are used medicinally. Chamomile has been used for centuries in Europe as a medicinal plant, mostly for gastrointestinal complaints. This practice continues today.

How It Works

The flowers of chamomile contain 1-2% volatile oils including alpha-bisabolol, alpha-bisabolol oxides A & B, and matricin (usually converted to chamazulene). Other active constituents include the flavonoids apigenin, luteolin, and quercetin. These active ingredients contribute to chamomile’s anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and smooth-muscle relaxing action, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract. Continue reading “Herb: Chamomile”