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The herb called, Bitter Melon or Momordica, is a plant food that is bitter or sour. It grows in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. It contains quinine, which is used to treat malaria. It contains many nutrients such as carotenes, lutein, zeaxanthins as well as fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Its actions are as an anti cancer herb, anti viral, anti bacterial and reduces blood sugar. It can be purchased from indian grocers fresh. Some people drink it as a juice or take it as a medicinal tincture or herb. This plant along with others are useful for reducing blood sugar. Others plants such as black cumin, chia seeds, dandelion, eggplant, hemp seeds and artichokes lower sugars along with a lower carb diet.

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The Medicinal Properties of Dandelion, Taraxicum Officianalis

     Dandelion grows wild all over North America and is considered to be a weed. Its leaves are often picked before it blooms and made into salads, sautés and wine. One cup of dandelion greens is quite nutritious. It contains choline, lutein, 218 mgs of potassium, 535 percent of one’s daily recommended intake of vitamin K, 111 percent of vitamin A, 32 percent of vitamin C, 5 percent B6, 10 percent of calcium, 9 percent of iron and 5 percent of magnesium. The leaves and roots are used for medicinal use.

   Dandelion has a great beneficial activity on the kidneys and liver. The French name for dandelion is “pissenlit”, which translates to wetting the bed. This herb acts as a natural diuretic likely due to its high potassium content. It purifies the blood and helps the liver and kidneys remove toxins. It also helps to reduce uric acid levels, stimulates urination and can help with bladder infections. This weed-like superfood helps the kidneys clear out waste and salt making it helpful for edema (water retention) due to excess salt, medication use or PMS. Some use dandelion as a treatment for hypertension due to its diuretic properties.

     Due to its blood purifying effects and support of the liver and kidneys, it is often used for skin disorders like acne, boils, rosacea, psoriasis and eczema. Dandelion helps to remove toxins from the blood and in turn purifies the blood and improves breakouts. Herbal combinations that include dandelion and other herbs like berberis aquafolium, sarsaparilla and echinacea are very beneficial in helping with skin issues due to their cleansing effect.

     Some recent studies suggest that dandelion may help normalize blood sugar levels and lower total cholesterol and triglycerides while raising HDL (good) cholesterol in diabetic mice. Researchers need to do more research on whether dandelion will work this well in humans. A few animal studies also suggest that dandelion might help fight inflammation.

     Dandelion has bitter properties that helps to improve bile flow from the liver and gallbladder. This can improve fat digestion and aid in promotion smoother bowel movements for those with constipation. In irritable bowel syndrome dandelion has been found to improve elimination. One study found that 95% of sufferers reported they were pain free after two short weeks of use. Dandelion’s bitter properties activate a reflex that increases secretion of digestive juices by the lining of the stomach. This means it can help with digestion of foods starting in the stomach and fats due to its increase in bile flow from the liver and gallbladder. This herb can prevent gallstones but should be avoided in those who already have them. Improved bile flow acts like a natural lubricant for the intestinal tract with helps with harder constipated stools.

     Historically dandelion has been used to treat hemorrhaging from the liver. It also improves liver function, by removing toxins and reestablishing hydration and electrolyte balance. Some research has found that this mighty weed can be quite beneficial in cancer prevention. It is thought that because it is rich in antioxidants, supports toxin release and liver and kidney function which in turn may be why it would benefit those with cancer. One compound called luteolin actually harms cancer cells when it binds to them, making them unable to replicate. This may be most beneficial in prostate cancer. Many more studies are being conducted.

     Dandelion can be found in raw leaf form, tinctures, teas, pills and powders. Some even use dandelion coffee instead of regular coffee. Dosages vary according to its form. If you are allergic to dandelion, have gallstones or are taking antibiotics. Check with your pharmacist if this herb contradicts any medication you are taking. Side effects from dandelion may include increased urination, bowel movements and diarrhea.

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The Medicinal Properties fo the Herb and Spice Sage, Salvia Officianalis

The Medicinal Properties of the Herb and Common Spice Sage, Salvia Officianalis

By Heather Caruso BSc., Hom, RNCP/ROHP


     Historically sage was used to heal snake bites and used for centuries for its medicinal and culinary uses. In the 10th century Arabians used it for immortality and Europeans in the 14th century used it to ward off witchcraft. Ancient Egyptians used sage as a fertility drug. In the first century, the Greek physician Dioscorides documented that sage stops the bleeding of wounds and cleaned ulcers and sores. The botanical name salvia is derived from the Latin word "salvere" which means to be saved. Sage is a member of the mint family. It is a perennial woody plant that is closely related to rosemary and many of sage’s health properties comes from a compound called rosemarinic acid. It grows up to two feet high and produces greyish green, leaves. There are many varieties of sage and some are simply ornamental for the garden. Sage comes fresh, ground, dried, in tea, tincture or capsule form. Sage contains a lot of nutrition in just one gram. It contains a hefty dose of vitamin K. Sage also contains fiber, vitamin A, B, C, E, folate, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and manganese.

     Sage is useful for memory. Mercola’s website shared the results of a placebo-controlled, double-blind, “crossover trial on sage involving 44 participants showed significantly improved, immediate, and several-hours-later measures of word and cognitive recall. The results represented the first systematic evidence that "salvia is capable of acute modulation of cognition in healthy young adults.”

     Sage can help reduce blood sugar and cholesterol. A small study of 40 people with diabetes and high cholesterol took sage leaf extract for 3 months. They found that after that period of time, the subjects had lower blood sugar, lower fasting glucose and lower total cholesterol, triglycerides and bad cholesterol (LDL). They increased their good cholesterol, HDL. Researchers reported that “sage leaves may be safe and have anti-hyperglycemic and lipid-profile-improving effects in hyperlipidemic type 2 diabetic patients." Another double blind study of 80 individuals with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, found that sage caused a positive effect on blood sugar levels. After a 2 hour fast they had significantly lower blood sugar than the control group.

     Compounds in sage seem to be anti-inflammatory. One study found that sage helps with inflammation of the gum tissue. Some of the compounds in sage helped to reduce this type of inflammation. Sage is also used for colds and sore throats. Sage juice gargled helps with sore throat, hoarseness and inflammation. Sage has reported as effective for sore throats, dental abscesses, infected gums and mouth ulcers. In vitro, the phenololic acids in sage oil has been shown to be effective against both Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, yeast and fungus like Candida albicans.

     Sage has been reported to help reduce tension in smooth muscle. It can be used in steam inhalation for asthma attacks. It has a good effect on reducing mucous in the airways and preventing further infections. It also seems to help with relaxation in general and may be helpful in nervousness and exhaustion.

     Sage can be helpful in digestive issues and colic. It may reduce colicky pains and other symptoms of indigestion. It is a valuable tool with the treatment of dysmenorrhea. It has bitter compounds that stimulate the upper digestive secretions, intestinal mobility, bile flow, and pancreatic function, while the volatile oil has a carminative and stimulating effect on the digestion.

     Sage is useful for menopausal symptoms. Several studies have found it helpful for hot flushes, night sweats, and its estrogenic effect. One Swiss study, reported that one tablet per day of sage over 8 weeks, helped 71 patients reduce their hot flushes from 50 to 100%. Another study found that 440mgs of dried sage or an infusion of 4.5 grams, helped to significantly reduce menopausal sweating.

     Sage is not recommended for anyone with estrogenic cancers, during pregnancy and breast feeding. A variety of sage, called Spanish sage will increase blood pressure whilst common sage will reduce it. It is not to be used with people who may have seizures or before surgery. Ask your pharmacist about medication and sage’s interaction.

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