HERBAL SAFETY


HERBS A-Z

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A

ANISE (Pimpinella Anisum)

Safety:Tell your doctor if you are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement), are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine, are breastfeeding or have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease.

Dosage: There are many doses for this medicine. The most common doses for Anise Seed are listed. Ask your doctor if your health problem is not on the list or if the dose is not given for a product you want to use. General Use, dried herb: 3 grams, or as a tea, three times daily, by mouth. General Use, essential oil: 0.3 grams three times daily, by mouth.

Contraindications: Do not take Anise Seed without talking to your doctor first if you are taking Iron or iron-containing products, Anise Seed may increase the amount that your body absorbs.Before taking Anise Seed, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Pure Anise Seed oil should not be taken by mouth without consulting your health care professional. Seizures (uncontrolled shaking) and pulmonary edema (water in the lungs) have occurred with as little as 1 to 5 milliliters of Anise Seed Oil.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not take Anise Seed Oil. Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.
Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest, Chest pain, Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin. You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine. Upset stomach and throwing up have occurred when the essential oil is taken by mouth.
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ALFALFA (Medicago sativa)

Safety: Alfalfa in its various forms may present some health risks. Powdered alfalfa herb, alfalfa sprouts, and alfalfa seeds all contain L-cavanine, a substance that may cause abnormal blood cell counts, spleen enlargement, or recurrence of lupus in patients with controlled disease. However, heating alfalfa may correct this problem.
Researchers investigating alfalfa seeds' ability to lower cholesterol levels discovered that it had another effect on the lab animals used for testing. In some of the monkeys, it caused a disease very similar to lupus. Further research on this effect revealed that monkeys that had abnormal blood cell counts when eating either alfalfa seeds or sprouts, and then recovered when alfalfa was no longer part of their diet, developed the symptoms again when given an isolated component of alfalfa called L-canavanine. Alfalfa seeds and sprouts have a higher concentration of L-canavanine than the leaves or roots.
In a clinical trial of alfalfa seeds for lowering cholesterol involving only three human volunteers, one man who participated developed pancytopenia (an abnormally low number of all of the various types of blood cells) and enlargement of the spleen. Additionally, there are two published case reports of patients who had lupus which was controlled with drug therapy, suffering relapses after consuming alfalfa tablets. Again, L-canavanine is thought responsible for these effects.
When alfalfa seeds were autoclaved (heated to extremely high temperatures) and fed to monkeys for a year, no ill effects were seen, and the monkeys' cholesterol levels decreased. It may be that the L-canavanine can be destroyed by extreme heat, while the saponins that seem to be responsible for the beneficial effects of alfalfa remain intact. If so a heat-treated product might prove safe; however, much research remains to be done before we can know this for certain.
At present, it seems prudent that people who have been diagnosed with lupus, or those who suspect a predisposition to it based on family history, should probably avoid alfalfa. This includes the tablets used for supplements and the sprouts on the salad bar (go for the lettuce or the spinach instead).
Because of the estrogenic effects of some of alfalfa's components, alfalfa is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women or young children. In addition, the high vitamin K content in alfalfa could, in theory, make the drug warfarin (Coumadin) less effective.
Finally, a number of cases of food poisoning have been documented from fresh sprouts infected with bacteria that was present on the seeds prior to germination. Unfortunately, sprouts can appear fresh and yet host enough bacteria to cause illness in people who eat them. Some health care workers recommend that those at higher risk for such infections?young children, those with chronic diseases, and the elderly?avoid eating sprouts altogether.

Dosage:A typical dose of alfalfa for tea is 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup, steeped in boiling water for 10 to 20 minutes. Tablets and capsules of whole alfalfa or alfalfa extracts should be taken according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Certain products are said to be free of canavanine and other potentially harmful constituents, and may be preferable.

Contraindications: If you are taking warfarin (Coumadin), the high vitamin K content of alfalfa might make it less effective.
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ASTRAGALUS (Astragalus membranaceus)

Safety: Astragalus appears to be relatively nontoxic. High one-time doses, as well as long-term administration, have not caused significant harmful effects. Side effects are rare and generally limited to the usual mild gastrointestinal distress or allergic reactions. However, some Chinese herb manuals suggest that astragalus at 15 g or lower per day can raise blood pressure, while doses above 30 g may lower blood pressure.
As mentioned above, traditional Chinese medicine warns against using astragalus in cases of acute infections. Other traditional contraindications include "deficient yin patterns with heat signs" and "exterior excess heat patterns." Because understanding what these mean would require an extensive education in Chinese medicine, we recommend using astragalus only under the supervision of a qualified Chinese herbalist.
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.

Dosage: A typical daily dosage of astragalus involves boiling 9 to 30 g of dried root to make tea. Newer products use an alcohol-and-water extraction method to produce an extract standardized to astragaloside content, although there is no consensus on the proper percentage.

Contraindications:
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B

BILBERRY (Vaccinium myrtillus)

Safety: Bilberry fruit is a food and as such is quite safe. Enormous quantities have been administered to rats without toxic effects. One study of 2,295 people given bilberry extract found a 4% incidence of side effects such as mild digestive distress, skin rashes, and drowsiness. Although safety in pregnancy has not been proven, clinical trials have enrolled pregnant women. Safety in young children, nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not known. There are no known drug interactions. Bilberry does not appear to interfere with blood clotting.
Little is known about the safety of bilberry leaf. Based on animal evidence that it can reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, it is possible that use of bilberry leaf by diabetics could require a reduction in drug dosage.

Dosage: The standard dosage of bilberry is 120 to 240 mg twice daily of an extract standardized to contain 25% anthocyanosides.

Contraindications: If you are taking medications to reduce blood sugar, bilberry leaf (not fruit) might amplify the effect, and you may need to reduce your dose of medication.
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BURDOCK ROOT (Arctium lappa)

Safety: As a food commonly eaten in Japan (it is often found in sukiyaki), burdock root is believed to be safe. However, in 1978, the Journal of the American Medical Association caused a brief scare by publishing a report of burdock poisoning. Subsequent investigation showed that the herbal product involved was actually contaminated with the poisonous chemical atropine from an unknown source. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not established.

Dosage: A typical dosage of burdock is 1 to 2 g of powdered dry root 3 times per day.

Contraindications: If you are taking insulin or oral medications to reduce blood sugar, it is possible that burdock will increase its effect.
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BUTCHER'S BROOM (Ruscus aculeatus)

Safety: Butcher's broom is believed to be safe when used as directed, although detailed studies have not been performed. Noticeable side effects appear to be rare. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with liver or kidney disease has not been established.

Dosage: Butcher's broom is sometimes standardized to its ruscogenine (or ruscogenin) content, but due to varying manufacturing methods we suggest following the label instructions. For hemorrhoids, butcher's broom can also be applied as an ointment or in the form of a suppository.

Contraindications:
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C

*CHAMOMILE German (Matricaria recutita), Roman (Chamaemelum nobile)

Safety: Chamomile is listed on the FDA's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list. Reports that chamomile can cause severe reactions in people allergic to ragweed have received significant media attention. However, when all the evidence is examined, it does not appear that chamomile is actually more allergenic than any other plant. The cause of these reports may be products contaminated with "dog chamomile," a highly allergenic and bad-tasting plant of similar appearance.
Chamomile also contains naturally occurring coumarin compounds that might act as "blood thinners" under certain circumstances. Excessive use of chamomile is therefore not recommended when taking prescription anticoagulants. Some evidence suggests that chamomile might interact with other medications as well, but the extent of this effect has not been fully determined.
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with liver or kidney disease has not been established, although there have not been any credible reports of toxicity caused by this common beverage tea.

Dosage: Chamomile cream is applied to the affected area 1 to 4 times daily. Chamomile tea can be made by pouring boiling water over 2 to 3 heaping teaspoons of flowers and steeping for 5 minutes. Chamomile tinctures and pills should be taken according to the directions on the label. Alcoholic tincture may be the most potent form for internal use.

Contraindications: If you are taking blood-thinning medications such as Coumadin (warfarin), heparin, Plavix (clopidogrel), or Trental (pentoxifylline), you should avoid using chamomile as it might increase their effect. This could potentially cause problems.
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CINNAMON (Cinnamomae zeylanicum/cassesiae)

Safety: As a widely used food, cinnamon is believed to be safe. However, cinnamon's essential oil is much more concentrated than the powdered bark commonly used for baking. There is some evidence that high doses of cinnamon oil might depress the central nervous system. Germany's Commission E recommends that pregnant women should avoid taking cinnamon oil or high doses of the bark. Maximum safe doses in young children, nursing women, or individuals with severe liver or kidney disease have not been determined.
When used topically, cinnamon bark oil may cause flushing and a burning sensation. Some people have reported strong burning sensations or mouth ulcers after chewing cinnamon-flavored gum or candy. However, these reactions disappeared within days of discontinuing the gum.

Dosage: Typical recommended dosages of cinnamon are 2 to 4 g daily of cinnamon bark or 0.05 to 0.2 g daily of essential oil.

Contraindications:
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COMFREY (Symphytum)

Safety: Before taking Comfrey, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Comfrey should not be taken internally (by mouth). Eating or drinking Comfrey may cause liver damage. Do not use Comfrey if you have a history of liver disease.Do not apply Comfrey to broken skin. Do not exceed the recommended dose of Comfrey. Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it. Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest, Chest pain, Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin. You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine. Liver damage can occur if Comfrey is taken orally (by mouth).

Dosage: Oral (by mouth) use of Comfrey is not recommended. Ointment (10 to 15% root extract): apply three times daily to the affected area of the skin. Wounds, external use: apply fresh leaves or a cloth soaked in tea (made from 100 grams Comfrey root in 250 milliliters water and simmered for 10 to 15 minutes) three times daily for 1 hour to affected area of skin.

Contraindications:
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D

DAMAIANA (Turnera diffusa)

Safety: Damiana appears to be safe at the recommended dosages. It appears on the FDA's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list and is widely used as a food flavoring. However, because damiana contains low levels of cyanide-like compounds, excessive doses may be dangerous. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not established. The only common side effect of damiana is occasional mild gastrointestinal distress.

Dosage: The proper dosage of damiana is 2 to 4 g taken 2 to 3 times daily, or as directed on the label.

Contraindications:
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DANDELION (Taraxacum officinale)

Safety: Dandelion root and leaves are believed to be quite safe, with no side effects or likely risks other than rare allergic reactions. It is on the FDA's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list and approved for use as a food flavoring by the Council of Europe. However, based on dandelion root's effect on bile secretion, Germany's Commission E has recommended that it not be used at all by individuals with obstruction of the bile ducts or other serious diseases of the gallbladder, and only under physician supervision by those with gallstones. Some references state that dandelion root can cause hyperacidity and thereby increase ulcer pain, but this concern has been disputed.
Because the leaves contain so much potassium, they probably resupply any potassium lost due to dandelion's mild diuretic effect, although this has not been proven. People with known allergies to related plants, such as chamomile and yarrow, should use dandelion with caution. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.

Dosage: A typical dosage of dandelion root is 2 to 8 g ~ 3 times daily of dried root; 250 mg 3 to 4 times daily of a 5:1 extract; or 5 to 10 ml 3 times daily of a 1:5 tincture in 45% alcohol. The leaves may be eaten in salad or cooked.

Contraindications: There are no known drug interactions with dandelion. However, based on what we know about dandelion root's effects, there might be some risk when combining it with pharmaceutical diuretics or drugs that reduce blood sugar levels. If you are taking diuretic drugs or insulin and oral medications that reduce blood sugar levels, use dandelion only under doctor's supervision.
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DON QUAI (Angelica sinensis)

Safety: Dong quai is believed to be generally nontoxic. Very large amounts have been given to rats without causing harm. Side effects are rare and primarily consist of mild gastrointestinal distress and occasional allergic reactions (such as rash). Certain constituents of dong quai can cause increased sensitivity to the sun, but this has not been observed to occur in people using the whole herb.
According to traditional beliefs, inappropriate long-term use of dong quai (such as taking it as a single herb rather than in a combination) can damage the digestive tract and cause other disturbances in overall health. Dong quai is also generally contraindicated during the first 3 months of pregnancy and during acute respiratory infections, and in women with excessively heavy menstruation. However, there is no scientific evidence for these concerns. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established. One case report suggests that dong quai usage by a nursing mother caused elevated blood pressure in both the mother and child.

Dosage: We recommend using dong quai under the supervision of a qualified Chinese herbalist, not because the herb is dangerous, but because it is difficult to self-prescribe Chinese herbal formulas. If you wish to self-treat with dong quai, a typical dosage is 10 to 40 drops of dong quai tincture 1 to 3 times daily, or 1 standard 00 gelatin capsule 3 times daily.

Contraindications: Dong quai may interact with the blood-thinning drug Coumadin (warfarin), increasing the risk of bleeding, according to one case report. Dong quai might also conceivably interact with other blood-thinning drugs, such as heparin, aspirin, Plavix (clopidogrel), or Trental (pentoxifylline). Additionally, dong quai could conceivably interact with natural products with blood-thinning properties, such as garlic, ginkgo, or high-dose vitamin E.
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E

*ECHINACEA (Echinacea purpurea, E. angustifolia, E. pallida)

Safety: Echinacea appears to be safe. Even when taken in very high doses, it has not been found to cause any toxic effects. Reported side effects are also uncommon and usually limited to minor gastrointestinal symptoms, increased urination, and mild allergic reactions.26 However, severe allergic reactions have occurred occasionally, some of them life threatening. Germany's Commission E warns against using echinacea in cases of autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as tuberculosis or leukocytosis. There are also rumors that echinacea should not be used by people with AIDS. These warnings are theoretical, based on fears that echinacea might actually activate immunity in the wrong way. But there is no evidence that echinacea use has actually harmed anyone with these diseases. The Commission E monograph also recommends against using echinacea for more than 8 weeks.
One study raised questions about possible antifertility effects of echinacea. When high concentrations of echinacea were placed in a test tube with hamster sperm and ova, the sperm were less able to penetrate the ova. However, since we have no idea whether this much echinacea can actually come in contact with sperm and ova when they are in the body rather than a test tube, these results may not be meaningful in real life.
One study found evidence that use of echinacea during pregnancy does not increase risk of birth defects. Furthermore, studies dating back to the 1950s suggest that echinacea is safe in children. Nonetheless, the safety of echinacea in young children or pregnant or nursing women cannot be regarded as established. In addition, safety in those with severe liver or kidney disease has also not been established.

Dosage: Echinacea is usually taken at the first sign of a cold and continued for 7 to 14 days. The three species of echinacea are used interchangeably. The typical dosage of echinacea powdered extract is 300 mg 3 times a day. Alcohol tincture (1:5) is usually taken at a dosage of 3 to 4 ml~ 3 times daily, echinacea juice at a dosage of 2 to 3 ml 3 times daily, and whole dried root at 1 to 2 g 3 times daily. There is no broad agreement on what ingredients should be standardized in echinacea tinctures and solid extracts.
Many herbalists feel that liquid forms of echinacea are more effective than tablets or capsules, because they feel part of echinacea's benefit is due to activation of the tonsils through direct contact. Echinacea should only be used as a short term "boost" to your immunity. It does not appear to strengthen your immunity when taken for months. See the articles on ginseng and vitamin E for treatments that might strengthen immunity. Goldenseal is frequently combined with echinacea in cold preparations.

Contraindications: Some evidence suggests that echinacea might interact with various medications, but the extent of this effect has not been fully determined.
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EUCALYPTUS (Eucalyptus globulus)

Safety: Before taking Eucalyptus, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Eucalyptus oil or eucalyptol should not be taken by mouth or put on the skin without diluting. Do not take if you have liver disease. Do not take if you have inflammation (soreness) in your intestinal tract (colon). Less than a teaspoonful of the undiluted oil may cause death. Do not use on the face on children or infants, especially around the nose. Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it. Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest, Chest pain, Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin. You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine. Undiluted eucalyptus oil (or oil that has not been diluted enough) may cause stomach upset, vomiting (throwing up), dizziness, muscle weakness, confusion, and convulsions (uncontrolled shaking).

Dosage: Eucalyptol (also called cineole): 0.05 to 0.2 milliliters (this is less than one drop) by mouth. If using eucalyptol do not take it undiluted, mix 10 teaspoons of water with one of eucalyptol, then use between 10 to 40 drops of this mixture. Eucalyptus Oil: use the same dose and instructions as with eucalyptol for use by mouth. For use on the skin, 6 teaspoons of eucalyptus oil may be mixed with 16 ounces of water, and then some of the mixture is applied to the skin. Fluid Extract, leaf: 2 to 4 grams, by mouth.

Contraindications: Do not take Eucalyptus without talking to your doctor first if you are taking High blood sugar medicine (examples: insulin, Glucophage(R) metformin, DiaBeta(R) Glynase(R) glyburide).
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F

FENNEL (Foeniculum vulgare)

Safety: Before taking Fennel Seed, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not use Fennel Seed for a long time, or in large amounts. Do not take if you have an allergy to members of the Umbelliferae family, like carrots, celery, or mugwort. Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it. Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest, Chest pain, Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin. You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine. Throwing up and upset stomach have been reported. Using too much Fennel Seed may cause your skin to become sensitive to the sun and burn easy.

Dosage: General Use, dried herb: 5 to 7 grams, or as a tea, daily, by mouth. General Use, tincture: 5 to 7.5 grams daily, by mouth. Cough, fennel honey or syrup: 10 to 20 grams daily, by mouth.

Contraindications:
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FENUGREEK (Trigonella foenumgraecum)

Safety: As a commonly eaten food, fenugreek is generally regarded as safe. The only common side effect is mild gastrointestinal distress when it is taken in high doses. Because fenugreek can lower blood sugar levels, it is advisable to seek medical supervision before combining it with diabetes medications. Extracts made from fenugreek have been shown to stimulate uterine contractions in guinea pigs. For this reason, pregnant women should not take fenugreek in dosages higher than is commonly used as a spice, perhaps 5 g daily. Besides concerns over pregnant women, safety in young children, nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has also not been established.

Dosage: Because the seeds of fenugreek are somewhat bitter, they are best taken in capsule form. The typical dosage is 5 to 30 g of defatted fenugreek taken 3 times a day with meals.

Contraindications: If you are taking diabetes medications such as insulin or oral hypoglycemics, fenugreek may enhance their effect. This may cause excessively low blood sugar, and you may need to reduce your dose of medication.
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*FEVERFEW (Tanacetum parthenium)

Safety: Among the many thousands of people who use feverfew as a folk medicine in England, there have been no reports of serious toxicity. Animal studies suggest that feverfew is essentially nontoxic. In the 8-month Nottingham trial, there were no significant differences in side effects between the treated and control groups. There were also no changes in measurements on blood tests and urinalysis.
In a survey involving 300 people, 11.3% reported mouth sores from chewing feverfew leaf, occasionally accompanied by general inflammation of tissues in the mouth.15 A smaller percentage reported mild gastrointestinal distress. However, mouth sores do not seem to occur in people who use encapsulated feverfew leaf powder, the usual form. In view of its use as a folk remedy to promote abortions, feverfew should probably not be taken during pregnancy.
Because feverfew might slightly inhibit the activity of blood-clotting cells known as platelets, it should not be combined with strong anticoagulants, such as Coumadin (warfarin) or heparin, except on medical advice. Feverfew might also increase the risk of stomach problems if combined with anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe kidney or liver disease has not been established.

Dosage: Given the recent confusion surrounding parthenolide, previous dosage recommendations for feverfew based on parthenolide content have been cast in doubt. At the present time, the best recommendation is probably to take 80 to 100 mg of powdered whole feverfew leaf daily. When taken at the onset of a migraine headache, higher amounts of feverfew are often used. However, the optimum dosage has not been determined.

Contraindications: If you are taking Coumadin (warfarin), heparin, aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: Do not use feverfew except on medical advice.
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FO-TI (He Shou Wu),(Polygonum multiflorum)

Safety: Detailed modern safety studies have not been performed on this herb. Immediate side effects are infrequent, primarily limited to mild diarrhea and the rare allergic reaction. Safety for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe kidney or liver disease has not been established.

Dosage: He Shou Wu should be taken at a dosage of 9 to 15 g of raw herb per day, or according to the label for processed extracts. For most purposes, the processed or "red" fo ti is said to be superior. However, the raw herb is believed to be more effective for relieving constipation.

Contraindications:
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G

*GARLIC (Allium sativum)
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Safety: As a commonly used food, garlic is on the FDA's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list. Rats have been fed gigantic doses of aged garlic (2,000 mg per kilogram body weight) for 6 months without any signs of negative effects. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any animal toxicity studies on the most commonly used form of garlic?powdered garlic standardized to alliin content. The only common side effect of garlic is unpleasant breath odor. Even "odorless garlic" produces an offensive smell in up to 50% of those who use it.
Other side effects occur only rarely. For example, a study that followed 1,997 people who were given a normal dose of deodorized garlic daily over a 16-week period showed a 6% incidence of nausea, a 1.3% incidence of dizziness on standing (perhaps a sign of low blood pressure), and a 1.1% incidence of allergic reactions. These are very low percentages in comparison to those usually reported in drug studies. There were also a few reports of bloating, headaches, sweating, and dizziness.
When raw garlic is taken in excessive doses, it can cause numerous symptoms, such as stomach upset, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, facial flushing, rapid pulse, and insomnia. Topical garlic can cause skin irritation, blistering, and even third-degree burns, so be very careful about applying garlic directly to the skin.
Since garlic "thins" the blood, it is not a good idea to take high-potency garlic pills immediately prior to or after surgery or labor and delivery, due to the risk of excessive bleeding. Similarly, garlic should not be combined with blood-thinning drugs, such as Coumadin (warfarin), heparin, aspirin, Plavix (clopidogrel), or Trental (pentoxifylline). In addition, garlic could conceivably interact with natural products with blood-thinning properties, such as ginkgo, policosanol, or high-dose vitamin E. Garlic may also combine poorly with certain HIV medications. Two people with HIV experienced severe gastrointestinal toxicity from the HIV drug ritonavir after taking garlic supplements. Garlic might also reduce the effectiveness of some drugs used for HIV. Garlic is presumed to be safe for pregnant women (except just before and immediately after delivery) and nursing mothers, although this has not been proven.

Dosage: A typical dosage of garlic is 900 mg daily of a garlic powder extract standardized to contain 1.3% alliin, providing about 12,000 mcg of alliin daily. However, a great deal of controversy exists over the proper dosage and form of garlic. Most everyone agrees that 1 or 2 raw garlic cloves per day are adequate for most purposes, but virtual trade wars have taken place over the potency and effectiveness of various dried, aged, or deodorized garlic preparations. The problem has to do with the way garlic is naturally constructed. A relatively odorless substance, alliin, is one of the most important compounds in garlic. When garlic is crushed or cut, an enzyme called allinase is brought in contact with alliin, turning it into allicin. The allicin itself then rapidly breaks down into entirely different compounds. Allicin is most responsible for garlic's strong odor. It can also blister the skin and kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Presumably the garlic plant uses allicin as a form of protection from pests and parasites. It also may provide much of the medicinal benefits of garlic.
When you powder garlic to put it in a capsule, it acts like cutting the bulb. The chain reaction starts: Alliin contacts allinase, yielding allicin, which then breaks down. Unless something is done to prevent this process, garlic powder won't have any alliin or allicin left by the time you buy it. Some garlic producers declare that alliin and allicin have nothing to do with garlic's effectiveness and simply sell products without it. This is particularly true of aged powdered garlic and garlic oil. But others feel certain that allicin is absolutely essential. However, in order to make garlic relatively odorless, they must prevent the alliin from turning into allicin until the product is consumed. To accomplish this feat, they engage in marvelously complex manufacturing processes, each unique and proprietary. How well each of these methods work is a matter of finger-pointing controversy.
The best that can be said at this point is that in most of the clinical studies of garlic, the daily dosage supplied at least 10 mg of alliin. This is sometimes stated in terms of how much allicin will be created from that alliin. The number you should look for is 4 to 5 mg of "allicin potential." Alliin-free aged garlic also appears to be effective when taken at a dose of 1 to 7.2 g daily.

Contraindications: Blood-thinning drugs such as Coumadin (warfarin), heparin, aspirin, Plavix (clopidogrel), or Trental (pentoxifylline): Do not use garlic except on medical advice. Ginkgo, policosanol, or high-dose vitamin E: Taking garlic at the same time might conceivably cause a risk of bleeding problems. Medications for HIV: Do not use garlic.
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GENTIAN ROOT (Gentiana lutea)

Safety: Gentian is somewhat mutagenic, meaning that it can cause changes in the DNA of bacteria. For this reason, gentian should not be taken during pregnancy. Safety in young children, nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is also not established. In the short term, gentian rarely causes any side effects, except for occasional worsening of ulcer pain and heartburn. (For some people, it relieves stomach problems.)

Dosage: A typical dosage of gentian is 20 drops of tincture 15 minutes before meals. To make the intensely bitter taste more tolerable, you can mix the tincture in juice or water.

Contraindications:
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*GINGER (Zingiber officinale recen)

Safety: Ginger is on the FDA's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list as a food, and the treatment dosages of ginger are comparable to dietary usages. No significant side effects have been observed. Like onions and garlic, extracts of ginger inhibit blood coagulation in test tube experiments. This has led to a theoretical concern that ginger should not be combined with drugs such as Coumadin (warfarin), heparin, Plavix (clopidogrel), Trental (pentoxifylline), or even aspirin. European studies with actual oral ginger taken alone in normal quantities have not found any significant effect on blood coagulation but it is still possible that combination treatment could cause problems. Safety in pregnant or nursing women, young children, or individuals with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.

Dosage: For most purposes, the standard dosage of powdered ginger is 1 to 4 g daily, divided up into 2 to 4 doses per day. To prevent motion sickness, it may be best to begin treatment 1 or 2 days before the trip and continue it throughout the period of travel.

Contraindications: If you are taking strong blood-thinning drugs such as Coumadin (warfarin) heparin, Plavix (clopidogrel), Trental (pentoxifylline), or even aspirin, ginger might possibly increase the risk of bleeding problems.
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*GINKGO BILOBA (Ginkgo biloba)

Safety: Ginkgo appears to be relatively safe. Extremely high doses have been given to animals for long periods of time without serious consequences. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease, however, has not been established. In all the clinical trials of ginkgo up through 1991 combined, involving a total of almost 10,000 participants, the incidence of side effects produced by ginkgo extract was extremely small. There were 21 cases of gastrointestinal discomfort, and even fewer cases of headaches, dizziness, and allergic skin reactions. ***Ginkgo is most effective when combined with Hawthorne Berry and Gotu Kola in order to obtain the most beneficial aspects of it memory enhancing properties.***
However, ginkgo is a blood thinner, and there have been two case reports in highly regarded journals of subdural hematoma (bleeding in the skull) and hyphema (spontaneous bleeding into the iris chamber) in association with ginkgo use. Contact with live ginkgo plants can cause severe allergic reactions, and ingestion of ginkgo seeds can be dangerous. In addition, the ginkgo extracts approved for use in Germany are processed to remove alkylphenols, including ginkgolic acids, which have been found to be toxic. The same ginkgo extracts are available in the United States. However, other ginkgo extracts and whole ginkgo leaf might contain appreciable levels of these dangerous constituents. German medical authorities do not believe that ginkgo possesses any serious drug interactions. However, because of ginkgo's "blood-thinning" effects, some experts warn that it should not be combined with blood-thinning drugs such as Coumadin (warfarin), heparin, aspirin, Plavix (clopidogrel), and Trental (pentoxifylline), and use of such drugs was prohibited in most of the double-blind trials of ginkgo. It is also possible that ginkgo could cause bleeding problems if combined with natural blood thinners, such as garlic, policosanol, and high-dose vitamin E.

Dosage: The standard dosage of ginkgo is 40 to 80 mg 3 times daily of a 50:1 extract standardized to contain 24% ginkgo-flavone glycosides. Levels of toxic ginkgolic acid and related alkylphenol constituents should be kept under 5 ppm.

Contraindications: Blood-thinning drugs such as Coumadin (warfarin), heparin, aspirin, Plavix (clopidogrel), or Trental (pentoxifylline): Simultaneous use of ginkgo might cause bleeding problems. Natural substances with blood-thinning properties, such as garlic, phosphatidylserine, or high-dose vitamin E: It is possible that, again, simultaneous use of ginkgo might cause bleeding problems. Antidepressant drugs, especially in the SSRI family: Ginkgo might remedy sexual side effects such as impotence or inability to achieve orgasm. Antipsychotics: Ginkgo might help them work better with fewer side effects.
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*GINSENG (Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolius, Eleutherococcus senticosus)

Safety: The various forms of ginseng appear to be nontoxic, both in the short and long term, according to the results of studies in mice, rats, chickens, and dwarf pigs. Ginseng also does not seem to be carcinogenic. Side effects are rare. Occasionally women report menstrual abnormalities and/or breast tenderness when they take ginseng. However, a large double-blind trial found no estrogen-like effects. Another double-blind trial found no effects on estrogen or testosterone.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that highly excessive doses of ginseng can cause insomnia, raise blood pressure, increase heart rate, and possibly cause other significant effects. Whether some of these cases were actually caused by caffeine mixed in with ginseng remains unclear. Ginseng allergy can also occur, as can allergy to any other substance. In 1979, an article was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association claiming that people can become addicted to ginseng and develop blood pressure elevation, nervousness, sleeplessness, diarrhea, and hypersexuality. This report has since been thoroughly discredited and should no longer be taken seriously.
However, there is some evidence that ginseng can interfere with drug metabolism, specifically drugs processed by an enzyme called "CYP 3A4." Ask your physician or pharmacist whether you are taking any medications of this type. There have also been specific reports of ginseng interacting with MAO inhibitor drugs and also with a test for digitalis, although again it is not clear whether it was the ginseng or a contaminant that caused the problem. There has also been one report of ginseng reducing the anticoagulant effects of Coumadin (warfarin). Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established. Interestingly, Chinese tradition suggests that ginseng should not be used by pregnant or nursing mothers.

Dosage: The typical recommended daily dosage of Panax ginseng is 1 to 2 g of raw herb, or 200 mg daily of an extract standardized to contain 4 to 7% ginsenosides. In one study of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) for diabetes, the dose used was 3 g. Eleutherococcus is taken at a dosage of 2 to 3 g whole herb or 300 to 400 mg of extract daily. Ordinarily, a 2- to 3-week period of using ginseng is recommended, followed by a 1- to 2-week "rest" period. Both Russian and Chinese tradition suggests that ginseng should not be used by those under 40. Because Panax ginseng is so expensive, some products actually contain very little of it. Adulteration of ginseng supplements with other herbs and even caffeine is not unusual.

Contraindications: Ginseng should not be used by pregnant or nursing mothers. Drugs processed by an enzyme called "CYP 3A4": Ginseng might interfere. Ask your physician or pharmacist whether you are taking any medications of this type. MAO inhibitor drugs or digitalis: It is possible that ginseng might cause problems. Insulin or oral hypoglycemics: Ginseng may reduce your dosage need. Coumadin (warfarin): Ginseng might decrease its effect. Influenza vaccine: Ginseng might help it work better.
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*GOLDENSEAL (Hydrastis canadensis)

Safety: Goldenseal appears to be safe when used as directed. One widespread rumor claims that goldenseal can disrupt the normal bacteria of the intestines. However, there is no scientific evidence that this occurs, and many herbalists believe that such concerns are unwarranted. Another fallacy is that small overdoses of goldenseal are toxic, causing ulcerations of the stomach and other mucous membranes. This idea is based on a misunderstanding of old literature.
However, because berberine has been reported to cause uterine contractions and to increase levels of bilirubin, goldenseal should not be used by pregnant women. Safety in young children, nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is also not established. Side effects of oral goldenseal are uncommon, although there have been reports of gastrointestinal distress and increased nervousness in people who take very high doses.

Dosage: When used as a topical for skin wounds, a sufficient quantity of goldenseal cream, ointment, or powder should be applied to cover the wound. Make sure to clean the wound at least once a day to prevent goldenseal particles from being trapped in the healing tissues. For mouth sores and sore throats, goldenseal tincture may be swished or gargled. Goldenseal may also be used as strong tea for this purpose, made by boiling 0.5 to 1 g in a cup of water. Goldenseal tea can also be used as a douche for vaginal candidiasis. For oral use, to aid the digestive tract or loosen clogged sinuses, a typical dosage of goldenseal is 250 to 500 mg 3 times daily. Goldenseal is generally only taken for a couple of weeks at most.

Contraindications:
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GOTU KOLA (Centella asiatica)

Safety: Orally, gotu kola appears to be nontoxic. It seldom causes any side effects other than the occasional allergic skin rash. However, there are some concerns that gotu kola may be carcinogenic if applied topically to the skin. Gotu kola has not been proven safe for pregnant or nursing women Safety in young children and those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.

Dosage: The usual dosage of gotu kola is 20 to 60 mg 3 times daily of an extract standardized to contain 40% asiaticoside, 29 to 30% asiatic acid, 29 to 30% madecassic acid, and 1 to 2% madecassoside. Be patient, because gotu kola takes at least 4 weeks to work. For the prevention of keloid scars, the herb is usually taken for 3 months prior to surgery, and for another 3 months afterwards.

Contraindications: Gotu kola has not been proven safe for pregnant or nursing women Safety in young children and those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
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H

HAWTHORNE BERRIES (Fructus Crataegus oxyacantha)

Safety: Hawthorn appears to be safe. Germany's Commission E lists no known risks, contraindications, or drug interactions with hawthorn, and mice and rats have been given phenomenal doses without showing significant toxicity.11 However, since hawthorn affects the heart, it shouldn't be combined with other heart drugs without a doctor's supervision. People with especially low blood pressure should also exercise caution. Side effects are rare, mostly consisting of mild stomach upset and occasional allergic reactions (skin rash). Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver, heart, or kidney disease has not been established.

Dosage: The standard dosage of hawthorn is 100 to 300 mg 3 times daily of an extract standardized to contain about 2 to 3% flavonoids or 18 to 20% procyanidins. Full effects appear to take several weeks or months to develop.

Contraindications: If you are taking any heart medications, it is possible that taking hawthorn could cause problems.
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HOREHOUND (Marrubium Vulgare)
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Safety: Horehound is a common expectorant component of European?made herbal cough remedies, such as Ricola? lozenges, that are sold in the United States.

For children's coughs and croup, it is given to in the form of syrup, and is a most useful medicine for children, not only for coughs, but as a tonic and a corrective for the stomach.

The tea is used internally and externally for eczema and shingles. Its sedative action works in small amounts to control rapid heartbeats. A hot infusion helps to break fevers and treats malaria when quinine is ineffective. It helps heal skin lesions. The Navajo tribe gave mothers a root decoction before and after childbirth. Horehound's woolly leaves were once used to clean milk pails, and the dried flower remains floated on oil as candle wicks.

Dosage: 2 tsp. per cup of leaves. Steep 10 minutes. Drink up to 3 cups per day. For cough syrup 1 quart horehound leaves to 6 cups of water. In tincture form, take 2-3 droppers full.

Contraindications: None noted.
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K

KAVA (Piper methysticum)

Safety: When used appropriately, kava appears to be reasonably safe. Animal studies have shown that dosages of up to 4 times that of normal cause no problems at all, and 13 times the normal dosage causes only mild problems in rats. A study of 4,049 people who took a rather low dose of kava (70 mg of kavalactones daily) for 7 weeks found side effects in 1.5% of cases. These were mostly mild gastrointestinal complaints and allergic rashes. A 4-week study of 3,029 individuals given 240 mg of kavalactones daily showed a 2.3% incidence of basically the same side effects. However, long-term use (months to years) of kava in excess of 400 mg kavalactones per day can create a distinctive generalized dry, scaly rash called "kava dermopathy." It disappears promptly when the kava use stops.
Kava should not be used by individuals who have had "acute dystonic reactions." These consist of spasms in the muscles of the neck and movements of the eyes, and are believed related to effects on dopamine. They are typically caused by antipsychotic drugs, which affect dopamine. Kava might trigger such reactions too. Kava may very occasionally cause liver inflammation or damage. A 50-year-old man who had been taking a reasonable dose of a well-regarded kava product for 2 months experienced liver failure requiring liver transplant surgery. Due to the absence of any other cause of liver damage, it appears likely that kava was the source of the problem. Liver inflammation was also seen in another person using kava, but the cause-and-effect relationship in that case was not as clearly defined. Based on these reports, we recommend that individuals with any liver-related condition should avoid the use of kava.
Kava does not appear to produce mental cloudiness. Nonetheless, it is not recommended to drive after using kava until you discover how strongly it affects you. It makes some people quite drowsy. Contrary to many reports in the media, there is no evidence that kava actually improves mental function. Two studies are commonly cited as if to prove this, but actually there was only one study performed: It was simply described in two separate articles. This tiny study found that kava does not impair mental function but doesn't show that kava improves it. A slight improvement was seen on a couple of tests, but it was statistically insignificant (too small to mean anything). High doses of kava are known to cause inebriation. For this reason, there is some concern that it could become an herb of abuse. There have been reports of young people trying to get high by taking products they thought contained kava. One of these products, fX, turned out to contain dangerous drugs but no kava at all. European physicians have not reported any problems with kava addiction.
One study suggests that kava does not amplify the effects of alcohol. However, there is a case report indicating that kava can increase the effects of certain sedative drugs. For this reason, kava probably should not be combined with any drugs that depress mental function. Kava should also not be combined with antipsychotic drugs or drugs used for Parkinson?s disease, due to the potential for increased problems with movement. The German Commission E monograph warns against the use of kava during pregnancy and nursing. Safety in young children and individuals with kidney disease has not been established.

Dosage: Kava is usually sold in a standardized form where the total amount of kavalactones per pill is listed. For use as an antianxiety agent, the dose of kava should supply about 40 to 70 mg of kavalactones 3 times daily. The total daily dosage should not exceed 300 mg. The proper dosage for insomnia is 210 mg of kavalactones 1 hour before bedtime.

Contraindications: If you?re regularly taking Xanax or other drugs in the benzodiazepine family, switching to kava will be very difficult. You must seek a doctor?s supervision, because withdrawal symptoms can be severe and even life-threatening. Additionally, if you are taking Xanax on an "as needed" basis to stop acute panic attacks, kava cannot be expected to have the same rapidity of action. It may be easier to make the switch from milder antianxiety drugs, such as BuSpar, and antidepressants. Nonetheless, a doctor?s supervision is still strongly advised. Medications for insomnia or anxiety such as benzodiazepines: Do not take kava in addition to them. Antipsychotic drugs: Kava might increase the risk of a particular side effect consisting of sudden abnormal movements, called a dystonic reaction. Levodopa for Parkinson's disease: Kava might reduce its effectiveness.
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L

LAVENDER (Lavandula officinalis)

Safety: Before taking Lavender, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Never take more than 2 drops of the oil by mouth, as too much can be poisonous. Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it. Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest, Chest pain, Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin. You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine. Constipation, nausea, skin rash, headache, upset stomach, and throwing up have been reported. May cause you to feel tired and sleepy.

Dosage: Sedation, dried herb: 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup (150 milliliters) of water as a tea three times daily, by mouth. Sedation, oil: 10 to 15 drops in a bath. Headache, tea: 1 teaspoon dried flowers per cup of water, left to boil for 10 minutes. Drink up to three times daily. Skin rashes, oil: 1 to 2 drops of oil into 4 oz. of carrier oil and applied to the affected area; or place a few drops of oil into a bath and soak in the bath.

Contraindications: Do not take Lavender without talking to your doctor first if you are taking Alcohol, Benzodiazepines (anxiety medicine, examples: Xanax(R) alprazolam, Ativan(R) lorazepam, Valium(R) diazepam), Narcotics (pain medicine, examples: Percocet(R) oxycodone and acetaminophen, Demerol(R) meperidine, MS Contin(R) Roxanol(R) morphine).
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LICORICE (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Safety: Due to its aldosterone-like effects, whole licorice can cause fluid retention, high blood pressure, and potassium loss when taken at dosages exceeding 3 g daily for more than 6 weeks. These effects can be especially dangerous if you take digitalis, or if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or kidney disease. Licorice may reduce testosterone levels in men. For this reason, men with impotence, infertility, or decreased libido may wish to avoid this herb. Licorice may also increase both the positive and negative effects of corticosteroids such as prednisone and hydrocortisone cream.
DGL is believed to be safe, although extensive safety studies have not been performed. Side effects are rare. Safety for either form of licorice in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established. According to one report, licorice possesses significant estrogenic activity and, as such, shouldn't be taken by women who have had breast cancer.

Dosage: For supportive treatment of ulcer pain along with conventional medical care, chew two to four 380-mg tablets of DGL before meals and at bedtime. Sucking on these tablets may symptomatically relieve mouth sores, although some people find the taste unpleasant. For the treatment of eczema, psoriasis, or herpes, licorice cream is applied twice daily to the affected area.

Contraindications: Digitalis drugs: Long-term use of licorice can be dangerous. Thiazide or loop diuretics: Use of licorice might lead to excessive potassium loss. Corticosteroid treatment: Licorice could increase both its negative and positive effects. Do not take licorice internally if using corticosteroids. Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs: Regular use of DGL might help lower the risk of ulcers.
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M

*MILK THISTLE (Silybum marianum)

Safety: Milk thistle is believed to possess very little toxicity. Animal studies have not shown any negative effects even when high doses were administered over a long period of time. A study of 2,637 participants reported in 1992 showed a low incidence of side effects, limited mainly to mild gastrointestinal disturbance. However, on rare occasions severe abdominal discomfort may occur. On the basis of its extensive use as a food, milk thistle is believed to be safe for pregnant or nursing women and researchers have enrolled pregnant women in studies. However, safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, and individuals with severe renal disease has not been formally established.

Dosage: The standard dosage of milk thistle is 200 mg 2 to 3 times a day of an extract standardized to contain 70% silymarin. There is some evidence that silymarin bound to phosphatidylcholine may be better absorbed. This form should be taken at a dosage of 100 to 200 mg twice a day.
Warning: Considering the severe nature of liver disease, a doctor's supervision is essential. Also, do not inject milk thistle preparations that are designed for oral use!

Contraindications: No drug interactions are known. However, one report has noted that silibinin (a constituent of silymarin) can inhibit a bacterial enzyme called beta-glucuronidase, which plays a role in the activity of certain drugs, such as oral contraceptives. This could theoretically reduce their effectiveness. Medications that could damage the liver: Milk thistle might be protective for some of these drugs. Oral contraceptives: Milk thistle might reduce their effectiveness.
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MYRRH (Commiphora Molmol)
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Safety: Before taking Myrrh, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Myrrh may affect a woman?s menstrual period. Do not take if you have a fever (high body temperature). Do not take if you have stomach or bowel inflammation (soreness and swelling). Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it. Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest, Chest pain, Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin. You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine. Call your doctor immediately if your blood sugar changes suddenly after use. You may get diarrhea (loose stools), hiccups, or may feel nervous.

Dosage: General Use, tincture: 2.5 to 5 milliliters (1/2 to 1 teaspoon) daily, by mouth.

Contraindications: : Do not take Myrrh without talking to your doctor first if you are taking Diabetes medicine (hypoglycemics, examples: Glucophage(R) metformin, Diabeta(R) Glynase(R) glyburide, Glucotrol(R) glipizide.
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O

OREGANO (Origanum vulgare)

Safety: Pregnant or lactating women should consult their doctor.

Dosage:Internally: Take one drop twice per day working your way to one drop four times per day. Mix with one teaspoon of honey, maple syrup, or olive oil to improve palatability. Take for a period of 15 days and then stop for 15 days. Then repeat the process.

Externally: Oil of oregano may also be applied topically to treat itches, infections of the skin, gums, teeth, and just about any orifice in the body. Exercise care if you use it in the genital region where it is best mixed with olive oil or coconut oil before application (1 drop per teaspoon of olive oil or coconut oil/butter). It has a heat sensation.

Contraindications: None known except sensitivity to any ingredient. No interactions with other natural substances or drugs have been noted. Pregnant or lactating women should consult their doctor. Also note that most tests of this substance were done in vitro (in a test tube) and human studies (said to be coming) are very few.
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R

ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Safety: Before taking Rosemary , tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Rosemary should not be taken in amounts greater than those found in a normal meal if you have seizures (uncontrolled shaking). Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it. Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest, Chest pain, Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin. You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine. If you experience seizures (uncontrolled shaking), report it to your doctor immediately. You may get a rash after exposure to the sun. May cause skin irritation.

Dosage: General Use, dried leaf or twig: 2 to 4 grams, or as a tea, three times daily, by mouth. General Use, liquid extract (1:1 preparation in 45% alcohol): 2 to 4 milliliters (40 to 80 drops) three times daily, by mouth. General Use, tincture (200 to 300 grams of fresh chopped herb in a liquid containing 35% to 40% alcohol): 2 milliliters (40 drops) twice daily, by mouth.

Contraindications: Do not take Rosemary without talking to your doctor first if you are taking Seizure medicine (anticonvulsants, examples: Tegretol(R) carbamazepine, Dilantin(R) phenytoin).
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S

*SAW PALMETTO (Serenoa repens or Sabal serrulata)
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Safety: Saw palmetto appears to be essentially nontoxic. It is also nearly side-effect free. In a 3-year study only 34 of the 435 participants complained of side effects?primarily the usual mild gastrointestinal distress. There are no known drug interactions. Safety for those with severe kidney or liver disease has not been established.

Dosage: The standard dosage of saw palmetto is 160 mg twice a day of an extract standardized to contain 85 to 95% fatty acids and sterols. A single daily dose of 320 mg seems to be just as effective. However, taking more than this amount does not seem to produce better results.

Contraindications:
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*ST. JOHN'S WORT (Hypericum perforatum)
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Safety: St. John's wort taken alone usually does not cause immediate side effects. In a study designed to look for side effects, 3,250 people took St. John's wort for 4 weeks. Overall, about 2.4% experienced side effects. The most common were mild stomach discomfort (0.6%), allergic reactions?primarily rash?(0.5%), tiredness (0.4%), and restlessness (0.3%). In the extensive German experience with St. John's wort as a treatment for depression, there have been no published reports of serious adverse consequences from taking the herb alone. Animal studies involving enormous doses of St. John's wort extracts for 26 weeks have not shown any serious effects. There might be problems if you combine St. John's wort with other medications that cause increased sun sensitivity, such as sulfa drugs and the anti-inflammatory medication Feldene (piroxicam). In addition, the medications Prilosec (omeprazole) and Prevacid (lansoprazole) may increase the tendency of St. John's wort to cause photosensitivity.
Like other antidepressants, St. John's wort can cause episodes of mania in individuals with bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disease). A recent report also suggests that regular use of St. John's wort might also increase the risk of cataracts. While this is preliminary information, it may make sense to wear sunglasses when outdoors if you are taking this herb on a long-term basis. One study raised questions about possible antifertility effects of St. John's wort. When high concentrations of St. John's wort were placed in a test tube with hamster sperm and ova, the sperm were damaged and less able to penetrate the ova.43 However, since it is unlikely that this much St. John's wort can actually come in contact with sperm and ova when they are in the body rather than in a test tube, these results may not be meaningful in real life. Older reports suggested that St. John's wort works like the class of drugs known as MAO inhibitors. This led to a number of warnings, including avoiding cheese and decongestants while taking St. John's wort. However, St. John's wort is no longer believed to act like an MAO inhibitor, and these warnings are now thought to be groundless.
Herbal experts have warned for some time that combining St. John's wort with drugs in the Prozac family (SSRIs) might raise serotonin too much and cause a number of serious problems. Recently, case reports of such events have begun to trickle in. This is a potentially serious risk. Do not combine St. John's wort with prescription antidepressants except on the specific advice of a physician. Since some antidepressants, such as Prozac, linger in the blood for quite some time, you also need to exercise caution when switching from a drug to St. John's wort. The antimigraine drug sumatriptan (Imitrex) and the pain-killing drug tramadol also raise serotonin levels and might interact similarly with St. John's wort.
Perhaps the biggest concern with St. John's wort is the possibility that it may decrease the effectiveness of various medications, including protease inhibitors (for HIV infection), cyclosporine (for organ transplants), digoxin (for heart disease), warfarin (a blood thinner), chemotherapy drugs, oral contraceptives, olanzapine or clozapine (for schizophrenia), and theophylline (for asthma). Furthermore, if you are taking St. John's wort and one of these medications at the same time and then stop taking the herb, blood levels of the drug may rise. This rise in drug level could be dangerous in certain circumstances.
These interactions could lead to catastrophic consequences. Indeed, St. John's wort appears to have caused several cases of heart, kidney, and liver transplant rejection by interfering with the action of cyclosporine. Also, many people with HIV take St. John's wort in the false belief that the herb will fight the AIDS virus. The unintended result may be to reduce the potency of standard AIDS drugs. In addition, the herb might decrease the effectiveness of oral contraceptives, presenting a risk of pregnancy.

it is recommend that individuals taking any critical medication should avoid using St. John's wort until more is known.

It is probably advisable on general principles to discontinue all herbs and supplements prior to surgery and anesthesia, due to the possibility of unpredictable interactions. However, there does not appear to be any specific foundation to publicized claims that St. John's wort interacts with anesthetic drugs. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.

Dosage: The standard dosage of St. John's wort is 300 mg 3 times a day of an extract standardized to contain 0.3% hypericin. A few new products on the market are standardized to hyperforin content (usually 2 to 3%) instead of hypericin. These are taken at the same dosage. Some people take 500 mg twice a day, or 600 mg in the morning and 300 mg in the evening. Yet another form of St. John's wort has also passed double-blind studies. This form contains little hyperforin, and is taken at a dose of 250 mg twice daily. If the herb bothers your stomach, take it with food. ***Remember that the full effect takes 4 weeks to develop.***

Contraindications: If you are taking a prescription drug for mild to moderate depression, switching to St. John's wort may be a reasonable idea if you would prefer taking an herb. To avoid overlapping treatments, the safest approach is to stop taking the drug and allow it to wash out of your system before starting St. John's wort. Consult with your doctor on how much time is necessary. However, if you are taking medication for severe depression, switching over to St. John's wort is not a good idea. The herb probably won't work well enough, and you may sink into a dangerous depression. Antidepressant drugs, including MAO inhibitors, SSRIs, and tricyclics; or possibly the drugs tramadol or sumatriptan (Imitrex): Do not take St. John's wort at the same time. Actually, you need to let the medication flush out of your system for a while (perhaps weeks, depending on the drug) before you start the herb. Digoxin, cyclosporine, protease inhibitors (for HIV infection), oral contraceptives, amitriptyline, Coumadin (warfarin), theophylline, chemotherapy drugs, newer antipsychotic medications (such asolanzapine and clozapine) or, indeed, any critical medication: St. John's wort might cause the drug to be less effective. Medications that cause sun sensitivity such as sulfa drugs and the anti-inflammatory medication Feldene (piroxicam), as well as Prilosec (omeprazole) or Prevacid (lansoprazole): Keep in mind that St. John's wort might have an additive effect.
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T

TEA TREE (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Safety: Like other essential oils, tea tree oil can be toxic if taken orally in excessive doses. Since the maximum safe dosage has not been determined, we recommend using it only topically, where it is believed to be quite safe. However, don't get it in your eye or it will sting badly. In addition, an increasing number of cases of skin inflammation caused by allergy to tea tree oil have been reported. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.

Dosage: Tea tree preparations contain various percentages of tea tree oil. For treating acne, the typical strength is 5 to 15%; for fungal infections, 70 to 100% is usually used; and for use as a vaginal douche (with medical supervision), 1 to 40% concentrations have been used. It is usually applied 2 to 3 times daily, until symptoms resolve. However, tea tree oil can be irritating to the skin, so start with low concentrations until you know your tolerance. The best tea tree products contain oil from the alternifolia species of Melaleuca only, standardized to contain not more than 10% cineole (an irritant) and at least 30% terpinen-4-ol. Oil from a specially bred variant of tea tree may have increased activity against microorganisms, while irritating the skin less.

Contraindications:
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TURMERIC (Curcuma longa)

Safety: Turmeric is on the FDA's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list, and curcumin, too, is believed to be extremely nontoxic. Side effects are rare and are generally limited to the usual mild stomach distress. However, safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established. Due to curcumin's effects on the gallbladder, individuals with gallbladder disease should use curcumin only on the advice of a physician.

Dosage: For medicinal purposes, turmeric is frequently taken in a form standardized to curcumin content, to provide 400 to 600 mg of curcumin 3 times daily. Unfortunately, curcumin is not absorbed well by the body. It is often sold in combination with bromelain for the supposed purpose of enhancing absorption. While there is no evidence or even sensible reason to believe that this strategy works, bromelain possesses some anti-inflammatory powers of its own that may add to those of curcumin.

Contraindications:
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V

*VALERIAN (Valeriana officinalis)

Safety: Valerian is on the FDA's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list, and is approved for use as a food. In animals, it takes enormous doses of valerian to produce any serious adverse effects. One report did find toxic results from herbal remedies containing valerian mixed with several other herbal ingredients, including skullcap. Four individuals who took these remedies later developed liver problems. However, skullcap products are sometimes contaminated with the liver-toxic herb Germander, and this could have been the explanation.
There have also been about 50 reported cases of overdose with a combination preparation called Sleep-Qik, containing valerian as well as conventional medications. Researchers specifically looked for liver injury, but found no evidence that it occurred. There are some safety concerns about valepotriates, constituents of valerian, because they can affect DNA and cause other toxic effects. However, valepotriates are not present to a significant extent in any commercial preparations. Except for the unpleasant odor, valerian generally causes no side effects. A few people experience mild gastrointestinal distress, and there have been rare reports of people developing a paradoxical mild stimulant effect from valerian.
Valerian does not appear to impair driving ability or produce morning drowsiness when it is taken at night. However, there does appear to be some impairment of attention for a couple of hours after taking valerian. For this reason, it isn't a good idea to drive immediately after taking it. There have been no reported drug interactions with valerian. A 1995 study found no interaction between alcohol and valerian as measured by concentration, attentiveness, reaction time, and driving performance. However, valerian extracts may prolong drug-induced sleeping time in mice, rats, and rabbits. Thus, it is possible that valerian could compound the effects of other central-nervous-system depressants. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.

Dosage: For insomnia, the standard dosage of valerian is 2 to 3 g of dried herb, 270 to 450 mg of an aqueous valerian extract, or 600 mg of an ethanol extract, taken 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. According to the study mentioned previously that used this dosage, valerian may require weeks to reach its full effects. The same amount, or a reduced dose, can be taken twice daily for anxiety. Because of valerian's unpleasant odor, European manufacturers have created odorless valerian products. However, these are not yet widely available in the United States. Valerian is not recommended for children under 3 years old.

Contraindications: If you are taking medications for insomnia or anxiety such as benzodiazepines, don't take valerian in addition to them.
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Y

YOHIMBE (Pausinystalia yohimbe)

Safety: Yohimbe should not be used by pregnant or nursing women, or those with kidney, liver, or ulcer disease or high blood pressure. Dosages that provide more than 40 mg a day of yohimbine can cause a severe drop in blood pressure, abdominal pain, fatigue, hallucinations, and paralysis. (Interestingly, lower dosages can cause an increase in blood pressure.) Since 40 mg is not very far above the typical recommended dose, yohimbe has what is known as a narrow therapeutic index. This means that there is a relatively small dosing range, below which the herb doesn't work and above which it is toxic. Even when taken in normal dosages, side effects of dizziness, anxiety, hyperstimulation, and nausea are not uncommon. Yohimbe is not recommended for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease.

Dosage: Yohimbe bark is best taken in a form standardized to yohimbine content. Most people take a dose that supplies 15 to 30 mg of yohimbine daily. However, higher doses are not necessarily better, and some people respond optimally to 10 or even 5 mg daily. Furthermore, while some people appear to respond immediately to a single dose, for others it takes 2 to 3 weeks of treatment to provide significant benefits. Because yohimbine is a somewhat dangerous substance, it is recommend that a physician's supervision 0versee any application.

Contraindications: Yohimbe is not recommended for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease. If you are taking tricyclic antidepressants, phenothiazines, clonidine, other drugs for lowering blood pressure, central nervous system stimulants: don't use yohimbine.
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Western Herbal Materia Medica

HERBS A-M

ABCDEFGHIJKLMN-Z

A




Herbal Properties N-Z


Herbal Remedy Reference

Alfalfa Leaf (Medicago sativa):The father of all foods, alfalfa is a super food for energy and staying power. A major source of Vitamin K, this herb is a natural diuretic and laxative use for water retention, cleansing your system and improving digestion. Alfalfa contains eight essential digestive enzymes and eight essential amino acids of protein. It has been used for a mild blood thinner, and a kidney cleanser. Contains natural fluorides, preventing tooth decay and helps rebuild decaying teeth. Athletes use this herb for endurance and energy.

(Panax quinquefolium): The king of tonics, ginseng stimulates the body to overcome all forms of illness, physical and mental. A powerful adaptogen. It is used to lower blood pressure, increase endurance, aid in relieving depression, and is a sexual stimulant. The dried root is used for healing purposes. It has been used throughout ancient times to the present day for use in conjunction with most herbs in treating all sorts of illnesses, including cancers, digestive troubles, and memory. It is used to tone the body during stress and to overcome fatigue. During menopause it assists in rejuvenating the system and balances hormones, as well as helps in regulating hot flashes.

Astragalus Root (Astragali radix): The facilitator and protector Found to an important remedy for the immune system. It has been used since ancient times in Chinese Medicine, also known as Huang Qi. It is also one of the herbs known to stimulate the bodies natural production of interferon. It has also been shown to restore depleted red blood cells in bone marrow and to assist in digestion. This amazing herb helps to balance body fluids, strengthens the cardiovascular system and is one of the best immune boosting herbs on the planet. Useful in helping to restore adrenal function. This herb helps to facilitate the special properties of other herbs when used together.

Bee Pollen (Bee Propolis): The booster this resin collected by bees is utilized for protecting the hive from infection; use for colds, flu, fever, and digestive disorders. Very soothing to the throat and digestive system. A natural booster to the immune system.

Bilberry Fruit (Vaccinium myrtillus): The booster is a four star herb for diarrhea and dysentery as it inhibits bacterial growth. Pack this tea or tincture in your travel bag. Found to strengthen the eyes and their related systems. Helps with computer eye strain and allergic reactions. Increases circulation and reduces hypertension. a great herb for those with diabetes as it helps to increase insulin production and lower blood sugar levels. This herb is an excellent throat gargle for throat inflammation and mouth ulcers.

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa): A sedative root, is a most valuable herb that has a powerful action as a relaxant and a normalizer of the female reproductive system. It may be used beneficially in cases of painful or delayed menstruation. Ovarian cramps or cramping pain in the womb can be relieved by black cohosh. It is also an excellent relaxing nervine and improves blood circulation treating neuralgia pain, muscle tension and therefore, improves peripheral circulation. In Chinese Medicine, black cohosh is one of the herbs used to lower LH (lutenizing hormone) and are used in many other classic Chinese formula for treating a host of conditions. This is one of the many powerful herbs used in treating menopausal symptoms.

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra): An infection fighter, this is one of the most valuable herbs for the whole digestive system. Great for chronic constipation. It is a safe laxative and is known not to be habit forming. It is excellent for intestinal gas, liver and gall bladder complaints.

Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus): The thyroid tonic, bladderwrack has proved most useful in the treatment of underactive (hypothyroidism) thyroid glands and goitre. Through the regulation of thryoid function there is an improvement in all the associated symptoms. Where obesity is associated with thyroid trouble, this herb may be very helpful in reducing the excess weight. It has a reputation in helping the relief of rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis, both used internally and as an external application on inflamed joints.

Blessed Thistle (Cerbenia benedicta): A woman's life cycle herb, this special herb helps in increasing blood flow, circulation and therefore, oxygenation. Credited as an antineoplastic, it can prevent the development of abnormal cells. Considered to have antibacterial and antimicrobal properties. Increases the flow of gastric and bile secretions. Improves digestion and circulation and strengthens the heart. It is useful for all liver, lung and kidney problems. Because of its ability to increase circulation it also acts as a brain food and stimulates memory. Helps nursing mothers by stimulation the blood flow to the mammary glands and increases the flow of milk.

Blue Cohosh (Caullophyllum thalictroides): The soothing root, is an excellent uterine tonic that may be used in any situation where there is a weakness or loss of tone. Blue Cohosh is used to regulate the menstrual flow. It is also used for suppressed menstruation. In all these cases it is a safe herb to use. As an emmenagogue it can be used to bring on a delayed or suppressed menstruation while ensuring that the pain that sometimes accompanies it is relieved. Blue Cohosh may be used in cases where an anti-spasmodic is needed such as in colic, asthma or nervous coughs. It has a reputation for easing rheumatic pain.

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum): The sweating herb, this relative to comfrey was classically used in the treatment of fevers, not to mend broken bones. However, when it is recognized that the old name for dengue was break bone fever, the derivation makes more sense. Used for treating severe fevers, as well as flu and catarrh conditions. One to two tablespoons of the tincture in hot water is used for sweat therapy to break fevers.

Buckthorn Bark (Rhamnus frangula): The bitter tonic, is a safe and effective laxative. Helps to keep the bowels regulated and for cleansing the liver and the digestive organs. Good to use for constipation and improving digestive health. This species is a kin to Cascara Sagrada.

Burdock Root (Arctium lappa): The blood purifier, burdock root is one of the best blood cleansers in herbology. Its bitter qualities are good for the digestive system. It stimulates the digestive juices especially bile secretions. It is excellent for building the health of the skin. It reduces dry scaly skin and is used for skin problems such as boils, styes, carbuncles and canker sores. This herb also helps strengthen the kidneys and helps to lower blood sugar levels. Excess uric acid has been shown to create calcification in joints and cause muscle and joint pain. Burdock root is one of the best cleansers for uric acid and waste.

Cascara Sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana): The great mover, this herb is one of the most valuable herbs for the whole digestive. It is a fantastic herb for detoxing and great for chronic constipation. It is a safe laxative and is known not to be habit forming. It is excellent for intestinal gas, liver and gall bladder complaints.

Catnip Leaf (Nepeta cataria): An anti-stress herb This soothing and sedative herb is a wonderful remedy for stress and anxiety as it is soothing to the nervous system . Use this herb when you need a more gentle way to drift off to sleep. Catnip is also used when someone is trying to de-stress from the internal withdrawals from drugs and nicotine. This herb has been used for centuries for acid reflux and is calming to the stomach. This wonderful herb has been used by woman for centuries to help with the discomforts of PMS when used in a catnip bath. Just add 20-30 drops of the liquid herb to bath water and relax for 20 minutes. This herb has emmenagogue properties, which helps to bring on the period if it is slow to start. As a dandruff remedy, use 20 drops of catnip tincture in 4 oz of water to create a rinse. Massage the mixture into your scalp once or twice a day. Catnip promotes sweating and is beneficial for colds, flu & fevers. It is also used to cleanse and heal the lower bowel.

Cats Claw Bark (Uncaria tomentosa): A great anti-inflammatory Herb Also called Una de Gato, the root and bark of this herb, which has cat-like horns or claws, has been used by since the Inca civilization to treat a variety of health problems, including Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis, stomach ulcers, many inflammatory disorders, dysentery, and fevers. Considered one of the most important botanicals in the rainforest, in Peru, Una de Gato tea is used as a medicinal herb with almost unlimited curative properties. This herb is a powerful cellular rejuvenator and therefore, is used in the treatment of certain cancers. It is also used to treat organic depression.

Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum minimum): The "hot stuff" herb. This red and yellow fruit from Africa, the West Indies and the Caribbean is a hot chilli. Cayenne pepper and Tabasco are chilli-based seasonings and used today all over the world. Cayenne also called capsicum, is very effective added to liniments for all sorts of arthritis and muscle aches. It benefits the heart and circulation when taken alone or added to other remedies. It is also used to stimulate the action of other herbs. It will stop bleeding both externally and internally, making it excellent for use with ulcers. Widely used in conditions where there is reduced blood circulation, including digestive disorders, flatulent colic and reduced peripheral (local) circulation. This herb comes as a tincture, cream or powder and is medically used for joint inflammation, unbroken chilblains, and low back pain.

Chamomile Flower (Matricaria recutita): The "all around soother" . There are many varieties of Chamomile in the plant world, but medicinally, only two varieties are used. Roman Chamomile and German Chamomile both have anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties. Used in many ways, Chamomile tea can be drank for a calm and soothing sleep remedy. The tea is also great for relaxing and soothing achy tired muscles, muscle strain, pain, relieves nausea and stops vomiting. It is also helpful in tincture form for arthritis and PMS cramping. This herb is used in treating cystitis when there is inflammation and bladder infection. This herb fights E coli in the bladder. Use the tincture on burns as it's antiseptic and antibacterial properties help to take away pain. The tincture can be directly taken under the tongue to sooth and calm nerves, , achy muscles and pain or cramping. As a beauty regime, use chamomile tea to soften skin or cool the tea and use it as a hair rinse, as it will add highlights to blond hair.

Chaparral Leaf (Larria mexicana): A powerful antioxidant . Considered to be a blood-purifier. The Native American Indians considered it a panacea. Cleansing to the lower bowel and beneficial to the lymphatics and to the urethral tract via toning the systems and rebuilding the tissues. In addition, at the Brooks hospital in Boston, a team of scientists found that the antioxidant nature of NDGA (nordihydroquaiaretic acid), the primary constituent of chaparral, significantly inhibited the formation of dental cavities.
Safety: Chaparral has been known to cause severe liver damage. Not for casual use. Should be used under the supervision of a licensed professional.


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REFERENCES


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7. Chevallier, Andrew, The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, 1996, Dorlilng Kindersley Limited
8. Clostre F: From the body to the cellular membranes: The different levels of pharmacological action of Ginkgo biloba extract. In: Rokan (Ginkgo biloba) - Recent Results in Pharmacology and Clinic. Funfgeld EW (ed). Springer-Verlag, New York, NY 1988, pages 180 - 198
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27. Shealy, Norman C., The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies
28. The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 9th ed., New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996
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