Herbs

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mmCollagenProFebruary 17, 20183min90

What is Aloe?

Alternate Names: Aloe barbadensis, Aloe capensis, Aloe vera, Cape aloe

Aloe is a plant originally from Africa. The long, green leaves contain aloe gel and a sticky yellow residue called latex.

Why People Use This Herb

  • Constipation – The aloe latex contains anthraquinone gycosides, constituents that have laxative actions.
  • Minor skin irritation
  • Burns, sunburn, frostbite, wounds – Aloe gel has anti-inflammatory effects and is used topically for wound healing.
  • Ulcers
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease – The gel (but not the laxative latex) can be taken internally for inflammatory digestive conditions.

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Common Doses

Aloe can be found in topical and oral preparations. Practitioners often recommend topical gels and creams containing aloe gel be applied as needed for skin irritations. Aloe isn’t recommended as an oral preparation because of its strong laxative effects.

Safety

  • People with intestinal disorders should not use aloe latex.
  • Aloe should not be used by children or by women during pregnancy.
  • Aloe should not be taken internally if you are taking the following drugs: digoxin (Lanoxin), diuretics, steroids, drugs for irregular heartbeat, and drugs that cause potassium loss.
  • Overdose of aloe can cause severe diarrhea, kidney damage, and possibly death.

Important Points About Aloe

  • Aloe is not recommended for use internally for longer than 10 days, because it can cause laxative dependency. Long-term use of aloe latex may cause potassium deficiency and result in irregular heartbeat and weakness.
  • If side effects of dehydration and red urine occur after internal use, consult your doctor.
  • Aloe gel should not be used for severe burns or wounds – people should seek medical attention.

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mmCollagenProFebruary 17, 20182min680

What is Astragalus?

Alternate Names: Huang Qi, Bei Qi, Hwanggi, Membranous Milk Vetch

Astragalus is a plant native to China. The Chinese name of the herb, huang qi, means “yellow leader”, because the root is yellow and it is one of the most important herbs in Chinese medicine. The part of the plant used medicinally is the root.

Why People Use Astragalus

Astragalus is used in Chinese medicine for night sweats, deficiency of vital energy, and diarrhea.

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Immune-stimulant, anti-viral
  • Prevention of colds and flu

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Common Doses

A typical dose is 9 to 12 grams of the root per day. It is usually made in a decoction – the roots are boiled in water then removed. Astragalus can also be found in supplement form.

Safety

People with autoimmune disease should not use astragalus. It should not be used pre- or post-surgery because it can increase the risk of bleeding. Astragalus may interact with blood thinning drugs, such as warfarin.


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mmCollagenProFebruary 16, 20181min1420

What is Artichoke?

Alternate Names: Cynara scolymus

Artichoke is a plant native to southern Europe, North Africa, and the Canary islands. Artichoke herbal supplements primarily use the leaves of the plant.

Why People Use Artichoke

  • Liver and gallbladder concerns – Artichoke is used approved in Germany for use in liver and gallbladder complaints. It has been shown in placebo-controlled studies to stimulate bile.
  • High cholesterol – Artichoke extracts are used to decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Indigestion

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Common Doses

A typical dose is is 320 mg of the leaf extract five times a day.

Safety

Artichoke stimulates bile, so it should not be used if there is a blockage of the bile duct. People with gallstones may experience pain, and there is a risk that a gallstone may become caught in the bile duct.


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mmCollagenProFebruary 16, 20182min370

What is Alfalfa?

Alternate Names: Medicago sativa, Buffalo herb, Lucerne, Purple Medic

Alfalfa is a herb native to the Mediterranean region but is widely cultivated elsewhere. The dried leaves of the plant and seeds are primarily used. Alfalfa has a long history of traditional use in China and India.

Why People Use This Herb

Compounds called saponins in alfalfa act on the cardiovascular, nervous and digestive systems.

  • High cholesterol – Lowers cholesterol, Shown in research to reduce total serum cholesterol, LDL cholesterol.
  • Weak appetite
  • Anti-fungal – Saponins have anti-fungal properties. Applied topically as an ointment.

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Common Doses

Alfalfa is available in tablets, capsules, and as a bulk herb. It is also available as a liquid extract and in bulk dry form. The seeds and sprouts are a popular food. A typical dosage is 500 mg per day.

Safety

Excess consumption of the seeds, over 80 grams per day, may cause damage to red blood cells.

Alfalfa should not be used by people with gout, systemic lupus erythematosus, or pre- or post-surgery. It should not be used in pregnancy.

Alfalfa may reduce the effectiveness of blood thinner drugs, such as Warfarin. It should not be used with prednisone.


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mmCollagenProFebruary 16, 20183min280

What is Cat’s Claw?

Alternate Names: Uncaria tomentosa, una de gato, life-giving vine of Peru

Cat’s claw is native to the Amazon. It’s name comes from the thorns on the plant’s leaves that look like the claws of a cat. The part used medicinally is the root bark.

Why People Use Cat’s Claw

Cat’s claw has a long history of traditional use by indigenous peoples in South America. It’s been used to treat digestive problems, arthritis, inflammation, ulcers, and to promote wound healing.

Cat’s claw has become popular in North America, notably for cancer and HIV. Although cat’s claw stimulates immune function, there is little scientific research supporting it’s use for these conditions.

  • Arthritis
  • Diverticulitis, gastritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory digestive disorders.
  • Rheumatism

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Common Doses

Cat’s claw comes in tablets, capsules, teas, tinctures, or dried bark, root, and leaves.

Some herbalists recommend a typical dosage of 20 to 50 mg in capsule form per day or 1 to 2 mL of the tincture taken up to two times per day. Alternatively, cat’s claw can be taken as a tea.

Safety

li]Cat’s claw should not be used by people with autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis, and tuberculosis.

  • Cat’s claw should not be taken if you are taking the following drugs: blood-pressure drugs, blood thinners such as Coumadin.
  • Cat’s claw should not be taken pre- or post-surgery or if you have a blood clotting disorder.
  • Cat’s claw should not be used in pregnancy.

Important Points About Cat’s Claw

Call your health practitioner if you experience symptoms of low blood pressure, such as dizziness or weakness, or if you notice unusual bleeding, unusual bleeding gums, bruising, or red spots on your skin.


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mmCollagenProNovember 23, 20176min421

Everywhere you look on health websites, they are either pro- or anti-soy. This is because not everyone is well-informed on the actual research and often jump to conclusions with so much conflicting information. While some boast of soy being the ultimate health food, others claim that soy can cause hormonal imbalances or even cancer.

With so many questions about soy, here’s everything you need to know about soy.

What is Soy exactly?

Soybeans are native legumes that stem from Eastern Asia. All Asian countries regularly use soybeans in their cuisines. As they say that soy can be poisonous if not cooked, the fermentation process works to remove the “poison” and make it safe to consume.

Soy rose to popularity with the invention of trans-fat and vegetable oil. With all the oil extracted, manufacturers were left with soy protein. While Asian cultures eat only fermented and whole soybean products, westerners split soy into two food products – soy protein and soybean oil. You can often find these in fast or processed foods.

For this reason, westerners were found to eat more soy that those in Asia.

What are the major conflicts of soy?

Environmental Impact

There is a misunderstanding that choosing soy instead of animal protein is friendlier to the environment and a sustainable option. However, both forms of protein play an equal part. Aside for the need of pesticides, the process of packaging and transporting soy plays a role in the health benefits.

Soy is linked to breast cancer

Some say that soy is linked to breast cancer because of the excess estrogen exposure. Soy contains isoflavones, where are a group of natural plant chemicals. They can be found in small amounts in a variety of grains, legumes, and vegetables. As isoflavones bind estrogen, they are not as strong as animal-based estrogen.

The isoflavones are very positive as they play non-hormonal effects on the body. They will help regulate cell growth that prevents certain cancers as well as regulating cholesterol. Furthermore, Asia has been found to have the lowest rates of breast cancer, where diets in soy are higher.

Soy is bad for thyroids

Various research tells us that soy may not affect the thyroid function. However, soy can be dangerous for those with existing thyroid problems. This may be due to how the body absorbs medication, making it less efficient. Be sure to wait a few hours after taking your thyroid medication before you consume any soy products that may alter your intestine absorption.

Be Wise about Soy Milk

Soy milk carries amazing health benefits. However, there are many types of soy milk on the market that are not made with real soybeans or processed. Purchase fresh soy milk from health food stores. You can also choose whole-bean soy milk rather than soy milk made from soy isolate or soy protein.

Soy Foods: the best soy products to eat

Just as you would with all foods, consume in moderation. One to two servings of fermented and whole soy is best. A half-cup of tofu or 1 cup of soy milk makes one serving. Whole soy foods are the best choices. They are not processed and contain the most nutritional benefits. Choose tofu and edamame as these Asian staples are easy to prepare and loaded with calcium and omega-3 fats to ensure healthy brain function.

Edamame is also an excellent source of protein. Just one half cup of edamame will provide you with eight grams of protein. That’s triple the amount you’d get from other vegetables. Other whole soy options to choose from include miso, natto, and tempeh. The fermentation allows nutrients to be absorbed quickly and provide you with probiotics that will help keep your gut flora healthy and clean.

However, not all soy products are made equal. Be sure to choose the right products to ensure that you’re getting the best and purest forms of vitamins and nutrition from soy. Go for organic whenever possible.

Soy Foods: what to avoid

Soy energy bars and burgers are the worst choices of soy. Why? Because these soy products are processed forms of soy. When you find “soy protein” on the label, this means that soy contains processed materials and the nutrients are stripped away. Other processed soy products are steak strips, cheese, frankfurters and other soy products. Avoid foods like these as they are also likely to be loaded with added fats, sugars, and refined flours.

Soy is a useful food product that is loaded with vitamins, nutrients, and protein. Soy products are versatile and easy to prepare in a range of cuisines and dishes. Just be sure to check the labels and know exactly what you’re buying.


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mmCollagenProSeptember 17, 20179min300

The oldest and most widespread form of medicine is the use of herbs to treat pain, inflammation, cuts, disease, and the many other ills that can damage the human body. For many plants, every part is used; for others, an extract or tincture of specific portions is called for instead. Thousands of indigenous plants all over the world have been used by every human culture for tens of thousands of years; the earliest evidence for herbal medicine was found in a Neandertal grave site dating 60,000 years ago. And many of the pharmaceuticals we use today have been derived from plant products; for instance, aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid, found in willowbark and a few other painkilling plants.

Through thousands of years of trial and error, bodies of knowledge about what plants treat what ailments and how to prepare them have been collected and passed down, sometimes through family lines and sometimes from teacher to student. Until the Egyptians and Greeks started writing these treatments down, they were almost universally preserved through human memory and oral tradition.

Today, our modern world lives far from these herbal healers; instead of going to the local wise woman or wise man to treat your fever, we go to the doctor. Many medical professionals, from physicians to pharmacists, discount the efficacy of these treatments; one must, however, question why our ancestors used them to such great effect. The only problems with herbal medications that work are that it’s hard to get the dosage just right, and that some of them may interact with pharmaceutical medications you’re taking.

The ones I’m going to list here, however, are safe and will not interact with anything unless I say otherwise.

Aloe vera: Your Skin’s Friend

Aloe vera plants are easy to grow, hard to kill, and provide a variety of benefits to those who use them. For instance, aloe leaves split in half and placed on a cleaned cut or burn act as a painkiller, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic bandage; in one study, burns that were treated in this way healed six days faster than burns simply cleaned and wrapped in gauze. The gel exposed when you split the aloe leaf can also be rubbed over a sunburn or irritated skin (for instance, an eczema breakout or an allergic rash) to soothe and cool the skin and help promote healing.

Though you may hear that aloe, taken internally, has a variety of positive effects, the only proven one is as a purgative (laxative and, in high doses, emetic). It also may have serious side effects. You should not use it internally until it has been better studied.

Foods That Are Medicines

Artichokes and similar plants reduce cholesterol levels. Garlic lowers cholesterol, reduces blood pressure and the chance of blood clots, and is an antibacterial. Honey has long been used as an antibiotic, externally, and to treat sore throat internally. Turmeric may be a powerful cancer treatment. Cranberries are very good for your kidneys and bladder, and may be good for warding off or even healing a urinary tract infection.

There are hundreds of other examples, from olive oil (acts as an anti-inflammatory and increases your good cholesterol) to the capsaicin in peppers which increases endorphins and decreases your chances of getting a blood clot. If you read up on the foods that are best for you, it’s possible to create a diet centered completely around foods that have positive medicinal effects.

St. John’s Wort

It’s not a miracle drug, though a lot of its users and proponents seem to think it is. But St. John’s wort has brought comfort and healing to a lot of people with its ability to alleviate mild to moderate depression with few side effects.

St. John’s wort is one of those herbal medicines you must disclose to your doctor. If you’re taking any other antidepressant medications, it can interact with your St. John’s wort and cause some very negative effects, including making your depression worse.

It’s also not going to make you feel better right away. It takes about two weeks to a month for your system to have enough St. John’s wort to improve your symptoms. This means that you should only take it for chronic depression, and only if you’re not taking another antidepressant. You should never take too much; it won’t make it act any faster, and can actually deepen your depression.

A lot of people take Kava along with St. John’s wort because Kava is a mild euphoric, but Kava should only be taken short-term; it has some very negative and even disfiguring side effects if you take it habitually.

Teas For Health

Black tea, green tea, peppermint tea, chamomile tea – there are hundreds of teas on the shelves of grocery stores and health food stores that claim positive effects on your health. The physical properties of teas are naturally calming and help clear your head; the warmth and steam are soothing in the winter.

But not all teas are as great as they claim. Recent studies indicate that green tea doesn’t have many of the properties it’s supposed to have, and chamomile, often cited for its ability to boost the immune system, has very limited effects. However, peppermint teas have been shown to improve mood, temporarily clear sinuses, and sooth the digestive tract.

The rule on teas is to drink them if you enjoy them. Some of them have the effects they claim, and others don’t. The problem with off-the-shelf teas, however, is that they are processed, dried, and often much too old. Teas prepared at a really good health food store on the spot have a better chance of being efficacious.

Herbs Are Safe – Right?

A long time ago, a Greek philosopher took a draft of an herbal drink. It killed him, as it was intended to. Hemlock in small doses acts as a sedative and antispasmodic (stops seizures); in just a slightly too high dose, though, it paralyzes the diaphragm, causing the person taking it to stop breathing.

You should never assume that an herb is safe. Most medicines are poisons, taken in overly high doses. That goes for every medicinal herb, even the foods. And if you take an herb with pharmaceuticals, they can interact badly, or the effects of both can add up to cause an overdose. Medicinal interactions of all kinds are between the sixth and fourth most common cause of death in America, and probably have a similar level in many other countries.

Medicinal herbs are real medicines, and effective treatments for illness. But they must be approached with respect. Tell your doctor about them, and if you start having bad side effects, stop taking them, just as you would with a pharmaceutical drug.


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mmCollagenProApril 16, 20175min250

Hairs depict the overall beauty of a person as the ones with strong and beautiful hairs can carry themselves in nearly all attires. The major concern nowadays that is usually faced by both the sexes is of hair fall. For most of the people, it is in abundance and for others, it results in the thinning of their hairs. In this situation, it is best to make use of important natural Herbs that will help in healthy growth of hairs in both men and women. People can refer to top five herbs that will help you to avoid the usage of harmful chemicals or intake of loads of medicines:

Gooseberry or Amla

Amla or the Gooseberry helps is loaded with the antioxidants and Vitamin C that helps in the collagen production. It boosts the rate of hair growth and ensures that a person gets healthy hair. One can use Amla powder with coconut oil by mixing them and can apply it to the hairs. It can also be mixed with water to form the paste and can be applied to the hairs as a mask and after 30 minutes of application, it can be rinsed off with the cool water.

The Culinary Herbs

Many herbs are rich in iron and helps in the improvement of hair growth. One can even find many spices that have nutrients rich in iron. One can get their share by drinking herbal tea or these can be consumed in a supplemented form. Even the culinary herbs can be used to prepare the paste and can be applied on the hairs too. The culinary herbs that people can choose are the parsley, bay leaves, coriander leaves, rosemary, sage, curry powder, etc.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is known for containing the enzymes that help in the promotion of hair growth and eradicates dead skin cells from the hair follicles. The dead scalp cells and the sebum can be broken down with the help of the keratolic action of the Aloe Vera. The hair growth is promoted by bringing the alkaline properties of the Aloe Vera in one balance. People can use Aloe gel that is excellent moisture and is a prominent protein that makes up the moisture and helps in the promotion of hair growth.

Brahmi

Brahmi or scientifically known as the Bacopa Monnieri is generally used in the powdered or oil form to be applied on hair for promoting the hair growth. The paste can be formed by mixing the powder with water and should be applied to the scalp and hairs for an hour. The usual benefit of Brahmi herb is it nourishes scalp, reduces stress and promotes hair thickness.

Lavender

This is one of the most prominent herbs that help in leaving distinctive aroma and contains anti-microbial and inflammatory properties. Lavender protects the hairs from lice as it can be added to the carrier oil that a person usually uses. Its benefits are keeping the scalp healthy and controlling the production of oil.

These are some of the top five herbs for the people to pick for getting thicker and healthier hair as these herbs help in maintaining the keratin level.