Misai Kucing Herb
10:31 AM | Author: Atie
Misai Kuching is a herbaceous shrub, which grows to a height of 1.5m. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs. There are simple, green,and glabrous with a lanceolate leaf blade and a serrate margin. The leaf apice is acuminate with an acute leaf base. The petiole is relatively short, about 0.3cm in length and reddish purple in color. The stem is quadrangle, reddish in color, erect and branches profusely.
The flowers are borne on verticils about 16cm in length. The terminal inflorescence is borne on a maroon pubescent. Bracts are green minute (1-2mm), caudiform in shape and two bracts normally holds a cluster of 5 flowers. The flowers are campanulate in shape, white bluish in color with long farexerted filaments, making the flowers look like cat's whiskers.

The flowers are hermaphrodite in nature, about 6.2m in length (including the stamens) with a very irregular flower symmetry. There are two calyx lobes, which are greenish red in color, measuring about 6mm in length and partially gamosepalous. One of the calyx margin is toothed and the other one entire, both covered with minute white hairs.

There are two corolla lobes, which are partially gamopetalous and covered with minute hairs. The corollas are light violet in color with lobes much shorter than the corolla tube. The corollas are bilablade in shape with fringed margins.

The labellum is light violet in color, hairy and pinkish on the under surface. There are 4 stamens which are inserted near the base of the corolla tube. The stamens are unequal in length, measuring from 4.7cm to 5.2cm. There is a single, central, terete style with a clavate stigma. Locally Misai Kucing is used for joint aches and pains due to arthritis, gout and rheumatism. This is due to its ability to promote the excretion of uric acid and metabolic wastes from within the muscles and joints.

Misai Kucing Plant

Local Name       : Misai kucing

Scientific Name  : Orthosiphon aristatus /stamineus benth

Others Name     : Kumis kucing, cat whisker, kabling gubat, remujung, Javatee,Lamiaceae, Orthosiphon Aristatus, Orthosiphonblaetter,Indisher Nierentee, Feuilles de Barbiflore, Java Tea, Kidney Tea, KoemisKoetjing and Yaa Nuat Maeo.

Latin name        :  Orthosiphon spicatus
Famili                :  Lamiaceae

The tropical Orthosiphon aristatus or Misai Kucing is often grown in local gardens for its ornamental flower. Its popularity is due to its diuretic effects without harming the kidneys. It contains ample potassiums to replace those lost from the body in the diuretic process, a problem encountered by many diuretic drugs. Java tea or misai kuching began to interest researchers as early as the beginning of the 20th century when this plant was introduced to europe where it became a popular herbal health tea.

Almost all parts of the plant can be used. The healing power of misai kucing plant is because of its great chemical contents for instance cirsimaritin, myoinositol, orthosiphon, pillion, rhamnasin, bmlt oioioldsalvigenin, kerotin, kerotinoid, minyak pati, flavanoid, glukosid, glikoprotein, saponin dan terpenoid. Misai kucing is well-known over the years because its capabalities to Flush the kidneys and urinary tract as it has mild diuretic property,act as a filteration in order to remove the commonest waste products such as urea, or stone in the kidney,replace the potassium lost from the body during urination as it has enough potassium contents,act as the remedy for other diseases such as diabetes, gout, arthritis, rheumatic and kidney stone disease, besides can prevent the formation of kidney stone and infection in urinary tract, arteriosclerosis (capillary and circulatory disorders),reduces the cholesterol level in blood, lower the high blood pressure and relieves spasms of the smooth muscle in the walls of the internal organs, makes it valuable for gallbladder problem.

Traditional bomohs and sinsehs often use Misai Kucing in formulas for diabetes and hypertension. While little research has been done on the herb's purported benefits in diabetes, the Pharmacy Faculty, Fukuyama University, Japan, has conducted scientific research on its effects on high blood pressure.  The School of Pharmaceutical Sciences,Universiti Sains Malaysia contributes to the scientific research and development of Misai Kucing by conducting the extraction, quality control, standardization, pharmacological and formulation research.

It was found that some of the herb's compounds promoted a continuous decrease in systolic blood pressure by virtue of a vasidolating action, a decrease in cardiac output and diuretic action. In Europe, Misai Kucing is appearing in products where safe diuretic action is required such as in detoxification, water retention, hypertension, weight loss and for kidney stones. Misai Kucing is one of the few herbs approved by the German government for increasing urine volume to help prevent kidney stones.

It is considered specifically in the prevention of uric acid stone formation. Recommended dosage of dried herb in 300-500mg daily which is about 1.5 to 4 grams of fresh leaves. Misai Kucing should not be taken simulteneously with medicines intended to acidify urine as it may netralize this effect.

In summary, the importance of Misai Kucing leaves are as follows :-
  • It is believed to have antiallergic, antihypertensive, antiinflammatory and diuretic properties.
  • It is used as a remedy for arteriosclerosis (capillary and circulatory disorders),ghout,rheumatism, kidney stones, diabetes and nephritis.
  • It has mild diuretic action, so it is very useful for flushing the kidneys and urinary tract.
  • It contains ample potassiums to replace those lost from the body in the diuretic process, a problem encountered by many diuretic drugs.
  •  It is believed to have antiallergic, antihypertensive, antiinflammatory and diuretic properties. 
Piper sarmentosum (Daun Kadok)
12:21 PM | Author: Atie

Piper sarmentosum is an erect herb with long creeping stems. The plant is usually found as a weed in villages and places with plenty of shade (Hsuan, 1990). Leaves alternate, simple, heart shaped and young leaves have a waxy surface. Flowers are bisexual or unisexual, in terminal or leaf opposite spikes. Fruit is small, dry, with several rounded bulges. Plant has a characteristic pungent odour (Wee, 1992; Wee and Hsuan, 1990; Hsuan, 1990; 1992).

Common names
Chinese: Jia ju; Malay: Sirih tanah (Indonesia), Chabei, Kadok; Thai: cha-phloo.

This plant, known as Daun Kadok in Malaysia, is often for its cousin Piper betel leaf plant. Daun Kadok is very popular and more widely used. It is a common plant used in traditional medicine and cooking (the subtly peppery taste of the heart-shaped and glossy leaves adds zest to omelets and other viands). A study conducted by the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) shows that extracts from Kadok leaves have anti-oxidant properties. Piper sarmentosum is often made into drink to relieve the symptoms of malaria. The roots could be chewed to stop toothaches. A portion made from its roots is said to be diuretic. The drink has also been known to be effective in treating coughs, flu, rheumatism, pleurosy and lumbago. Young leaves are taken as ulam (condiment).

According to the World Health Organization website, 80 percent of the population in some Asian and African countries count on herbal treatments for their primary health care.

Boost Your Health With Caraway Herb
4:50 PM | Author: Atie

The caraway plant, also known as Persian cumin, is a biennial plant that is found in the Apiaceae family. This plant is native to Europe and western Asia. The plant is very similar in appearance to a carrot plant, with finely divided, feathery leaves that have thread-like divisions that grow on twenty to thirty centimeter stems. The main flower stem is forty to sixty centimeters tall and has small white or pink flowers that are in the shape of umbels. The caraway fruits, which are erroneously called seeds, are crescent-shaped and about two millimeters in length and have five pale ridges. The caraway plant prefers warm, sunny locations and a well-drained soil as well.

The fruits of the caraway plant are usually used whole. They have a pungent, anise-like flavor and an aroma that is derived from the essential oils carvone and limonene. These oils are used as a spice in breads, especially rye bread, which is denser due to the yeast killing properties of the essential oil, limonene. Caraway is also used in liquors, casseroles, and other foods, especially in Central European and Northern European cuisine, like sauerkraut. This herb is also used to add flavor to cheeses. A substance made from the seeds is used as a remedy for colic, loss of appetite, digestive disorders, and to dispel worms.

Caraway herbs have been used as a flavoring in foods such as rye bread for thousands of years. It has also been used medicinally by the Romans, Germans, and the English. Generally, it was used to treat flatulence and indigestion. It was also used to relieve colic in babies.

Caraway is very similar to anise. Both of them are recommended for the same purposes. This herb is a powerful antiseptic. It is especially effective in relieving toothaches. When it is applied locally to the skin, it also acts as an anesthetic. This herb can be mixed with other herbs such as mandrake and culver's root in order to help modify its purgative action. Caraway is also useful in treating stomach problems. Additionally, it helps prevent fermentation in the stomach. It can help to settle stomach after people have taken medication that causes nausea. Caraway also helps to relieve intestinal cramps and colic in babies.

This herb is known to encourage menstruation and the flow of milk in nursing mothers. Caraway also helps to ease uterine cramps.

The root and seed of the caraway plant are used to provide anesthetic, antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, galactagogue, mild purgative, stimulant, and stomachic properties. The primary nutrients found in this herb are calcium, cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, lead, magnesium, potassium, silicon, vitamin B-complex, and zinc. It is important to consult your local health care professional before taking this, or any supplement in order to obtain the best results. Priamrily, caraway is extremely beneficial in treating loss of appetite, colic, uterine and intestinal cramps, gastric disorders, indigestion, and spasms.

Additionally, this herb is very helpful in dealing with colds, absent lactation, absent menstruation, upset stomach, and toothaches. For more information on the many beneficial effects provided by caraway, feel free to consult a representative from your local health food store with questions.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry)
8:09 AM | Author: Atie

Synonyms: uva ursi, mountain cranberry, sandberry, arberry, bear's grape, kinnikinnick, mealberry, mountain box, red bearberry, sagackhomi, rockberry, upland cranberry, hogberry

Order: Ericaceae

Description: This is a small evergreen creeping shrub indigenous to Europe, Asia and the northern United States and Canada, where it grows on rocky hills. A single, long, fibrous main root sends out several prostrate or buried stems from which grow erect, branching stems up to 15cm high. The bark is dark brown or reddish. The leaves are shiny oblong, with entire margins up to 2.5cm long; the small pink to white bell-shaped flowers occur in drooping terminal racemes in groups of four to six. They give way to globular bright red berries containing several one-seeded nutlets.

Parts used: Leaves

Parts used: Leaves

Collection: The evergreen leaves may be collected throughout the year, but preferably in September or October.

Constituents: Hydroquinone glycosides (including 8% arbutin, methyl-arbutin and ericolin), Iridoids, 6% tannins, flavonoids, allantoin, resin (ursone), volatile oil, ursolic, malic and gallic acids.

Actions: Diuretic, astringent effect on lower digestive tract, urinary antiseptic, demulcent

Indications: cystitis, urethritis, dysuria, pyelitis, lithuria

Therapeutics and Pharmacology: Arctostaphylos has a marked antiseptic and astringent effect on the membranes of the urinary system, soothing, toning and strengthening them. It is specifically used where there is gravel or ulceration in the kidney or bladder. It may be used in the treatment of infections such as pyelitis urethritis and cystitis and is specifically indicated in acute catarrhal cystitis with dysuria and highly acid urine, where it helps to reduce accumulations of uric acid. With its high astringency it is used to treat some forms of enuresis and in diarrhoea. It is also used to treat dysuria. As a douche it may be helpful in vaginal ulceration and infection. Arbutin is the principal constituent leading to antibacterial activity, inhibiting the growth of Citobacter, Enterobacter, Escherichia, Klebsiella, Proteus, Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus (Kedzia) - and also by the breakdown of ericolin to a volatile component ericinol. There is thus a delayed-action effect which manifests only at the site of action. Arbutin is converted to glucose and the antiseptic hydroquinone in the kidney tubules, but only if the urine is alkaline. Although Arctostaphylos has long been described as a diuretic, in one pharmacological study it was actually shown to inhibit diuresis.

The high tannin content of Arctostaphylos has an astringent action on the lower digestive tract, and it is used in the management of diarrhoea and to reduce intestinal irritation.

Additional Comments: Uva-ursi was used in the 13th century by the Welsh Physicians of Myddfai. It was described by Clusius in 1601 and recommended for medicinal use in 1763 by Gerhard of Berlin. It appeared in the London Pharmacopoeia in 1788, though was probably in use long before. The tannin in the leaves was used in the past to tan leather in Sweden and Russia and an ash-coloured dye is said to be obtained from the plant in Scandinavia. Cattle avoid it. The leaves from A.glauca (manzanita) from California, A.polifolia from Mexico, and A.tomentosa (madrona) are also used medicinally.

Growing Herbs for Tea
11:34 AM | Author: Atie
Are you interested in drinking herbal tea? If so, you can grow your own herbs garden. More-efficient and easy. Even if you only have a balcony or sunny windowsill, you can grow your own herbs to use for tea. You can dry them for use during the winter, but you can also make great tea with the fresh herbs. If you're going to use fresh, you should tear and bruise the leaves so the aromatic oils can be released into the water. You'll also need to use more fresh herbs than you would of the dried. With most of these plants, you can just pluck off a few leaves throughout the season whenever you want to make tea. If you take off too many leaves at once, you could kill your plant. Grow more than one plant of any herbs you use frequently.

Mint Mint tea is a favourite among herbal tea drinkers and is one of the easiest to grow yourself. The plant is very hardy and may even get out of control in the garden unless you take care to contain it. Mint should get a least a partial day of good sun, but all-day sun might be too much for it. Make sure to water well during the peak of summer heat. There are many varieties to choose from, each with it's own unique taste: spearmint, peppermint, apple mint or even chocolate mint. Mint will grow readily indoors.

Your tea is made with the small white and yellow flowers of the chamomile plant, rather than the leaves. There are two kinds of chamomile (German and Roman) and it's the German variety that makes the best tea. Chamomile likes sandy soils and lots of sun, but you'll need to give it plenty of water during the hottest parts of the summer. Though technically an annual, chamomile goes to seed so readily that you will likely see it every year in your garden. You can grow chamomile in containers on a balcony, but it doesn't do well indoors.

Lemon Balm
The le
mon balm plant is actually closely related to mint, but has a distinct lemon aroma. It likes somewhat dry soil and partial shade during the day. Besides making a nice herbal tea, you can use lemon balm as a spice when cooking (I like it with fish). Like it's minty cousin, you can grow lemon balm indoors.

Lavender ma
kes a lovely addition to any garden, even if you're not using it for tea. Lavender will grow 2 or 3 feet tall which makes it inappropriate for a windowsill, but can easily be grown on the balcony in containers. Your soil should be well-drained and lavender likes plenty of direct sun. Some lavender varities take the cold better than others. You might not think of lavender for tea, but it makes for a floral tasting tea that also blends well with other herbs (like chamomile).

Fennel There are several kinds of fennel, but the type typically grown for tea use is the sweet fennel. When dried, the seeds have a very strong licorice flavour. Unlike the other herbs, you don't really harvest fennel periodically through the summer. The plant will go to seed at the end of summer or start of fall. You can let the seed dry right on the plant and then collect for tea. You won't want to grow fennel indoors because it can grow up to 6 feet tall. Also, don't plant it next to it's close relative, dill, because they can cross-polinate. Fennel likes lots of sun and lots of water.

Rose Hips
Rose hips will make a nicely citrus-tasting tea that is rich in vitamin C. Any rose plant will create 'hips' but Ru
gosa roses produce the largest ones. The hips are actually seed pods that form at the base of the rose blooms. When making tea with dried rose hips, you should slice them in half before steeping. You may want to remove the seeds before making your tea, but it's not necessary. If you do choose to de-seed your hips, do so before you dry them. Rugosa roses are hardy and cold-tolerant. They grow in bushes between 2' to 6' tall. These roses will grow just about anywhere, but aren't really suitable for a windowsill garden.

Herbal Tea
Rosehips are also commonly used to make herbal teas, by boiling the dried or crushed rose hips for10 minutes. About 2 tablespoons of berries are used per pint of water. A half-teaspoon of dried mint may be added to give a different flavor, or the acid-tasting tea may be sweetened. Rose hip tea may also be improved by blending with hibiscus flowers.
Panax ginseng - Asian ginseng
10:29 PM | Author: Atie

Oriental or Asian ginseng has been classified as Panax pseudoginseng Wallich and Panax schinseng Nees. It is native to Korea. Reaching a height of 0.8 to 1 meter, the plant resembles American ginseng.

Korean ginseng is also known as Asian ginseng, Asiatic ginger and Chinese Ginseng. Korean ginseng is a deciduous perennial shrub whose fleshy root requires 4-6 years of cultivation to reach maturity.

Ginseng is known in many Asian countries as the king of all herbs. It is a knobby root light tan in color. Often the center part of the root resembles the human body, as string like shoots stem off from the root and can be seen as arms and legs.

Due to Korean ginseng's unique appearance, ancient herb doctors interpreted this perception to mean that ginseng was a cure-all for the entirety of human illness. Later many cultures started using ginseng to treat almost anything. Ginseng is used by the Chinese to cure nearly everything, and also as a symbol of longevity, strength and wisdom.

Korean Ginseng is part of the Araliaceae family and is also known as Panax, Asian, or Chinese ginseng. It is the original ginseng, and is the one revered most by the Chinese. It is very rare in the wild, and most sold today is cultivated commercially. Peeled roots are steamed before drying, and produce Red Ginseng. White Ginseng is produced by sun-drying the roots. Most Korean Ginseng is sold as Red Ginseng.

Other Names: Asian Ginseng, Chinese Ginseng, Ginseng, Guigai, Japanese Ginseng, Korean Ginseng, Ninjin, Oriental Ginseng, Panax schinseng, Red Ginseng, Seng

Panax ginseng is native to the northern parts of China, Korea, and Siberia. While closely related to American ginseng, Panax ginseng contains different chemical substances. It looks similar to American ginseng, with mature plants having three to seven short stems each containing five leaves. One tall central stem bears a cluster of tiny yellow flowers followed by small red berries. Panax ginseng plants generally are larger than American ginseng plants, their roots may be bigger in diameter, and the roots have a sweetish smell. Typically, fresh roots of Panax ginseng are a slightly darker tan color, as opposed to a yellow or cream color for the roots of American ginseng.

Asian ginseng is perhaps the most widely recognized of the plants used in traditional medicine and plays a major role in the herbal health market. It has been used for more than two thousand years. At least six species and varieties of Panax have been used in traditional medicine. It is a popular ingredient in herbal teas and cosmetics. It is promoted for its antistress effects.

Ginseng's dried root is medicinal. It contains triterpenoid saponins called ginsenosides that appear to be the active ingredients responsible for the plant's immunomodulatory effects. Ginsenosides seem to increase natural-killer cell activity, stimulate interferon production, accelerate nuclear RNA synthesis, and increase motor activity.

The ginsenosides have been found to protect against stress ulcers, to decrease blood glucose level, to increase high-density lipoprotein level, and to affect central nervous system activity by acting as a de pressant, anticonvulsant, analgesic, and antipsychotic.

Ginseng is available as powdered root, tablets, capsules, and tea. Common trade names include Centrum Ginseng, Chikusetsu Ginseng, Gin-Action, Ginsai, Ginsana, Ginseng Manchurian, Ginseng Power Max 004X G-Sana, Ginseng Up, Gin Zip, Herbal Sure Chinese Red Ginseng, Herbal Sure Korean Ginseng, Korean White Ginseng, Lynae Ginse-Cool, Power Herb Korean Ginseng, Premium Blend Korean Ginseng Extract, Sanchi Ginseng, The Ginseng Solution, Time Release Korean Ginseng Power, and Zhuzishen.

Reported uses

Asian ginseng is used to manage fatigue and lack of concentration, and to treat atherosclerosis, bleeding disorders, colitis, diabetes, depression, and cancer. It's also used to help recover health and strength after sickness or weakness.

Bay Laurel - Laurus nobilis
8:34 AM | Author: Atie

Sweet Bay has been used medicinally for centuries and was commonly used by the ancient Greeks and Romans for various ailments as well as ritually for the famous garlands worn on their heads for festivities. The beautiful Bay Laurel was originally found in southern Europe on the shores of the Mediterranean. It is a much loved and highly fragrant tree which is most widely recognized for its resinous, fragrant leaves commonly used as an aromatic spice in cooking. It is an essential ingredient in the famed "Bouquet Garni' herb blend.

Sweet Bay has a long history of medicinal use although it is rarely used internally in modern herbalism. The leaves and fruits have strong narcotic properties and can be emetic in high doses. Bay was commonly used historically for respiratory issues, flu, certain cancers, digestive complaints, and the berries were used to bring on an abortion. Externally, an oil from the fruit was used for sprains and bruises and as an earache remedy as well. The essential oil distilled from the leaves has narcotic, anti-bacterial and fungicidal properties. The essential oil derived from the fruit is used traditionally in soap making.

The Bay laurel is a pyramid-shaped tree with aromatic, evergreen leaves and shiny gray bark. It can reach 60 ft (18.3 m) in height in its native conditions, but generally is much smaller, 3-10 ft (1 to 3 m) tall. The leaves are elliptic, 3-4 in (8 to 10 cm) long, thick and leathery, and shiny dark green. In Classical times the bay leaves were used to make the victor’s ‘crown of laurels’.

bay laurel flower - click to enlargeSmall, rather insignificant clusters of yellow, slightly fragrant flowers are produced in spring. In autumn, on the female plants, green berries appear that ripen to a dark purplish black.

Several cultivars are commonly grown, including: 'Aurea', with yellowish young foliage; 'Angustifolia' (also called willow-leaf bay), with narrow lance-shaped leaves; and 'Undulata' with wavy leaf margins.

Planting and Care of Bay

This evergreen tree grows slowly to about 15 feet. It can be planted as a screen or hedge and if clipped regularly makes a great candidate for topiary. If allowed to grow as a lone specimen, Sweet Bay will round out nicely into a lovely cone shaped tree. Slow growing is the key here! The Sweet Bay grows very slowly indeed but is worth your patience. In hot summer regions it prefers afternoon shade and a well drained, somewhat sandy growing site. The Bay Laurel is also quite drought hardy once established and retains its rich, green color year round. It is hardy to Zone 5, although, some leaf damage may occur in a particularly cold winter. They can resprout quite readily come spring. Bay trees do very well in containers and are highly recommended for a potted culinary garden which many city dwellers and others with small yards can enjoy. A perfect addition for that partly shady spot on your balcony, deck or understory garden! Brushing the Bay Tree on your way passing by on a hot summers day will set your mouth watering for a good meal...

The larger the plant, the more expensive it will be. They are most commonly available in autumn / fall or mid-spring. Planting the tree is straight forward, ensure that it is planted to the same depth as the soil mark on the trunk.

Where To Grow Bay
Most important for Bay laurel is their position. Especially in cold areas it requires a position sheltered from harsh wind. Whilst Bay laurel will grow in shade, it is best suited to a sunny position. It will will grow on most soil types as long as it is well-drained.

If frost does cause all the leaves to turn brown (liable to happen at temperatures cooler than -6C), simple cut the plant down to about 15cm (6 in) above soil level. In Spring, new shoots should then appear from the base of the plant. Young bay plants are at most risk of frost damage.

Bay Laurel leaf. Click picture to enlarge. Copyright David Marks

Where growing bay in a container, it is often best to bring them indoors during the coldest three months of the year. A light, cool airy room is best. Don't water very much during winter, let the compost almost dry out before adding more water.

Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is a species of thistle. The edible part of the plant is the base of the artichoke head in bud, harvested well before any fruit develops. In traditional European medicine, the leaves of the artichoke (not the flower buds, which are the parts commonly cooked and eaten as a vegetable) were used as a diuretic to stimulate the kidneys and as a "choleretic" to stimulate the flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder.

Cynarin, luteolin, cynardoside (luteolin-7-O-glycoside), scolymoside, and chlorogenic acid are believed to be artichoke's active constituents. The most studied component, cynarin, is concentrated in the leaves.

Artichoke has been used in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), alcohol-induced hangover, and for its choleretic (stimulates bile release) and antioxidant properties.

This herb is often used as a vegetable and has diuretic properties, while increasing blood circulation, regenerating liver tissue and stimulating the gall bladder. Artichoke is said to reduce blood lipids, serum cholesterol, and blood sugar.

It contains numerous phenolic acids such as caffeic acid, monocaffeoylquinic acid derivatives (chlorogenic and neochlorogenic acid), dicaffeoylquinic acid derivatives (cynarin) as well as bitter sesquiterpene lactone, cynaropicrin, flavonoids (rutin and luteolin) and sesquiterpenes (caryophyllene and b-selinene).

Therapeutic uses
  • Internal use
    • Artichoke helps to
      • increase circulation
      • stimulates the secretion of bile (cholagogue)
      • help treat hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis)
      • fight liver damage from alcohol abuse
      • treating jaundice and hepatitis
      • lowers cholesterol levels
      • remove excess water with its diuretic actions
    • Artichoke has a determinable hepatoprotective effect which is attributed to the cynarin, chlorogenic and neochlorogenic acid found in the herb.
    • The cynarin is also involved in lowering the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.
    • The ingredient cyanopicrin on the other hand is a bitter and general tonic and is also involved in improving the appetite and helping with digestion.
    • Eating artichoke as a vegetable has value in reducing the symptoms of a hiatus hernia.
    • Italians prepare the unopened flower heads as a vegetable, with parsley, breadcrumbs, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil - steamed first and then baked.
  • External use
    • None noted.
  • Aromatherapy and essential oil use
    • None noted.
Alcachofa, alcaucil, artichaut (French), artichiocco, artichoke, artichoke inulin, artichoke juice, Artischocke (German), artiskok, carciofo, cardo, cardo de comer, cardon d'Espagne, cardoon, chlorogenic acid, Cynara®, Cynara cardunculus, Cynara scolymus L., Cynarae folium, cynarin, cynaroside, French artichoke, garden artichoke, Gemuseartischocke (German), golden artichoke, Hekbilin A®, Hepar SL® forte, inulin, kardone, LI220, Listrocol®, luteolin, Raftiline®, scolymoside, tyosen-azami, Valverde Artischoke bei Verdauungsbeschwerden.

Note: Globe artichoke should not be mistaken for Jerusalem artichoke, which is the tuber of Helianthus tuberosa L. (a species of sunflower).

" Bitter Gourd " or " Bitter Melon" or " Momordica charantia " is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown for edible fruit, which is among the most bitter of all vegetables. English names for the plant and its fruit include bitter melon or bitter gourd, and karela from the Indian name of the vegetable.

The original home of the species is not known, other than that it is a native of the tropics. It is widely grown in India, Southeast Asia, China, Africa, and the Caribbean.

The herbaceous, tendril-bearing vine grows to 5 m. It bears simple, alternate leaves 4-12 cm across, with 3-7 deeply separated lobes. Each plant bears separate yellow male and female flowers.

The fruit has a distinct warty looking exterior and an oblong shape. It is hollow in cross-section, with a relatively thin layer of flesh surrounding a central seed cavity filled with large flat seeds and pith. Seeds and pith appear white in unripe fruits, ripening to red; they are not intensely bitter and can be removed before cooking. However, the pith will become sweet when the fruit is fully ripe, and the pith's color will turn red. The pith can be eaten uncooked in this state, but the flesh of the melon will be far too tough to be eaten anymore. Red and sweet bitter melon pith is a popular ingredient in some special southeast Asian style salad. The flesh is crunchy and watery in texture, similar to cucumber, chayote or green bell pepper. The skin is tender and edible. The fruit is most often eaten green. Although it can also be eaten when it has started to ripen and turn yellowish, it becomes more bitter as it ripens. The fully ripe fruit turns orange and mushy, is too bitter to eat, and splits into segments which curl back dramatically to expose seeds covered in bright red pulp.

Bitter melon comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The typical Chinese phenotype is 20 to 30 cm long, oblong with bluntly tapering ends and pale green in color, with a gently undulating, warty surface. The bitter melon more typical of India has a narrower shape with pointed ends, and a surface covered with jagged, triangular "teeth" and ridges. Coloration is green or white. Between these two extremes are any number of intermediate forms. Some bear miniature fruit of only 6 - 10 cm in length, which may be served individually as stuffed vegetables. These miniature fruit are popular in Southeast Asia as well as India.

Culinary uses

Bitter melons are seldom mixed with other vegetables due to the strong bitter taste, although this can be moderated to some extent by salting and then washing the cut melon before use.

Bitter melon is often used in Chinese cooking for its bitter flavor, typically in stir-fries (often with pork and douchi), soups, and also as tea.

It is also a popular vegetable in the cuisines of South Asia and the West Indies. In these culinary traditions, it is often prepared with potatoes and served with yogurt on the side to offset the bitterness, or used in sabji. Bitter melon is stuffed with spices and then fried in oil, which is very popular in Punjabi Cuisine. It is a popular food in Tamil Nadu and referred as Pagarkai slangily called as Pavakkai. Bitter Gourd is popular in the cuisine of South Indian state of Kerala. They use it for making a dish called thoran mixed with grated coconut, theeyal and pachadi. This is one common medicinal food for diabetics. In Karnataka, the term used for bitter gourd is haagalakai and used in preparation of a delicacy called gojju. In Andhra Pradesh, it is called as " Kaakarakaaya ". Popular recipes are curry, deep fry with peanuts (ground nuts) , 'Pachi Pulusu', a kind of soup made up of boiled Bitter Melon, fried onions and other spices.

Bitter melon is rarely used in mainland Japan, but is a significant component of Okinawan cuisine, it is credited with Okinawan life expectancies being significantly higher than already long Japanese ones. Bitter melon oil contains Eleostearic acid, which is shown to prevent angiogenesis, which is implicated in the growth (but not the incidence) of cancer.

In Indonesia, bitter melon is prepared in various dishes, such as stir fry, cooked in coconut milk, or steamed.

In Vietnam, raw bitter melon slices consumed with dried meat floss and stuffed to make bitter melon soup with shrimp are popular dishes. Bitter melons stuffed with ground pork are served as a popular summer soup in the South.

It is prepared in various dishes in the Philippines, where it is known as Ampalaya. Ampalaya may also be stir-fried with ground beef and oyster sauce, or with eggs and diced tomato.

A very popular dish from the Ilocos region of the Philippines, pinakbet, consists mainly of bitter melons, eggplant, okra, string beans, tomatoes, lima beans, and other various regional vegetables stewed with a little bagoong-based stock.

The young shoots and leaves may also be eaten as greens; in the Philippines, where bitter melon leaves are commonly consumed, they are called dahon (leaves) ng ampalaya.

The seeds can also be eaten, and have a sweet taste; but are known to cause nausea.

In Nepal bitter melon is prepared in various ways. Most prepare it as fresh achar (a type of pickle). For this the bitter gourd is cut into cubes or slices and saut?ed covered in little oil and a sprinkle of water. When it is softened and reduced, it is minced in a mortar with few cloves of garlic, salt and a red or green pepper. Another way is the saut?ed version. In this, bitter gourd is cut in thin round slices or cubes and fried (sauteed) with much less oil and some salt, cumin and red chili. It is fried until the vegetable softens with hints of golden brown. It is even prepared as a curry on its own, or with potato; and made as stuffed vegetables.

In Pakistan bitter melon is available in the summertime, and is cooked with lots of onions.
A Malaysian-style bitter melon dish, cooked with sambal, onion, and red bird's-eye chili peppers

A traditional way to cook bitter melon curry is to peel off the skin and cut into thin slices. It is salted and exposed to direct sunlight for few hours to reduce its bitterness. After a few hours, its salty, bitter water is reduced by squeezing out the excess by hand. Then it's rinsed with water a few times. Then fried in cooking oil, with onions also fried in another pan. When the onions have turned a little pink in color, the fried bitter melon is added to them. After some further frying of both the onions and bitter melon, red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, coriander powder, and a pinch of cumin seeds are also added. A little water can be sprinkled while frying the spices to prevent burning. Then a good amount of tomato is added to the curry, with green chillies, according to taste. Now the pan is covered with a lid, heat reduced to minimum, the tomatoes reduce, and all the spices work their magic. The curry is stirred a few times (at intervals) during this covering period. After half an hour or so, the curry is ready to serve, with soft hot flatbreads and yogurt chutney.

Another dish in Pakistan calls for whole, unpeeled bitter melon to be boiled and then stuffed with cooked ground beef. In this dish, it is recommended that the bitter melon be left 'debittered'. It is either served with hot tandoori bread, naan, chappati, or with khichri (a mixture of lentils and rice).

Medicinal uses
Bitter melons being fried in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Bitter melon has been used in various Asian traditional medicine systems for a long time. Like most bitter-tasting foods, bitter melon stimulates digestion. While this can be helpful in people with sluggish digestion, dyspepsia, and constipation, it can sometimes make heartburn and ulcers worse. The fact that bitter melon is also a demulcent and at least mild inflammation modulator, however, means that it rarely does have these negative effects, based on clinical experience and traditional reports.

Though it has been claimed that bitter melon’s bitterness comes from quinine, no evidence could be located supporting this claim. Bitter melon is traditionally regarded by Asians, as well as Panamanians and Colombians, as useful for preventing and treating malaria. Laboratory studies have confirmed that various species of bitter melon have anti-malarial activity, though human studies have not yet been published .

In Panama bitter melon is known as Balsamino. The pods are smaller and bright orange when ripe with very sweet red seeds, but only the leaves of the plant are brewed in hot water to create a tea to treat malaria and diabetes. The leaves are allowed to steep in hot water before being strained thoroughly so that only the remaining liquid is used for the tea.

Laboratory tests suggest that compounds in bitter melon might be effective for treating HIV infection. As most compounds isolated from bitter melon that impact HIV have either been proteins or glycoproteins lectins), neither of which are well-absorbed, it is unlikely that oral intake of bitter melon will slow HIV in infected people. It is possible oral ingestion of bitter melon could offset negative effects of anti-HIV drugs, if a test tube study can be shown to be applicable to people [4]. In one preliminary clinical trial, an enema form of a bitter melon extract showed some benefits in people infected with HIV (Zhang 1992). Clearly more research is necessary before this could be recommended.

The other realm showing the most promise related to bitter melon is as an immunomodulator. One clinical trial found very limited evidence that bitter melon might improve immune cell function in people with cancer, but this needs to be verified and amplified in other research. If proven correct this is another way bitter melon could help people infected with HIV.

Folk wisdom has it that ampalaya (Momordica charantia Linn.) helps to prevent or counteract type-II diabetes. A recent scientific study at JIPMER, India has proved that ampalaya increases insulin sensitivity. Also, in 2007, the Philippine Department of Health issued a circular stating that Ampalaya as a scientifically validated herbal medicinal plant, can lower elevated blood sugar levels. It is sold in the Philippines as a food supplement and marketed under the trade name Ampalaya Plus and the like. The study revealed that a 100 milligram per kilo dose per day is comparable to 2.5 milligrams of the anti-diabetes drug Glibenclamide taken twice per day.
Bitter melon transformed into capsule form and sold as a food supplement.

Bitter Melon contains four very promising bioactive compounds. These compounds activate a protein called AMPK, which is well known for regulating fuel metabolism and enabling glucose uptake, processes which are impaired in diabetics. "We can now understand at a molecular level why bitter melon works as a treatment for diabetes," said David James, director of the diabetes and obesity program at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney. "By isolating the compounds we believe to be therapeutic, we can investigate how they work together in our cells."

Bitter melon contains a lectin that has insulin-like activity. The insulin-like bioactivity of this lectin is due to its linking together 2 insulin receptors. This lectin lowers blood glucose concentrations by acting on peripheral tissues and, similar to insulin's effects in the brain, suppressing appetite. This lectin is likely a major contributor to the hypoglycemic effect that develops after eating bitter melon and why it may be a way of managing adult-onset diabetes. Lectin binding is non-protein specific, and this is likely why bitter melon has been credited with immunostimulatory activity - by linking receptors that modulate the immune system, thereby stimulating said receptors.

Various cautions are indicated. The seeds contains vicine and therefore can trigger symptoms of favism in susceptible individuals. In addition, the red arils of the seeds are reported to be toxic to children, and the fruit is contraindicated during pregnancy.

Overview of Menopause symptoms

Menopause should not be regarded as an illness or a disease. It is simply an occurrence wherein the woman is entering her second phase of feminine life. Of course, these women are experiencing a gradual discomfort because of the transition…this is only natural. If there are telltale signs of menopause symptoms, you can opt to procure some treatment in order to minimize the feeling of discomfort.

But it is important to remember that any kind of treatment will not prevent you from undergoing menopause process, especially when your age is already falling from and between 48 – 55 years old. It will only help you to deal a lot easier with menopause symptoms or relieve majority of their major discomfort effects. Your lifestyle might also need some changing especially your smoking, eating, drinking, and sleeping habits in order to minimize the severity of menopause symptoms.

What can herbs do to treat menopause symptoms?

There are many types of reliable herbs available that can treat menopause symptoms. They can maintain women’s healthy life even when menstruation process causes a lot of discomfort and decline in their health aspect. With herbs carefully and religiously applied you may not only alleviate those various forms of discomfort but you will also maintain your healthy life.

Two basic types of herbs for menopause

Phytoestrogenic herbs

These are the herbs or plants that contain natural phytoestrogen, a type of chemical compound, which is similar to the women body estrogen. These herbs work by replacing the lost natural body estrogen with the plant hormones, phytoestrogen. Aside from this, there are other elements of phytoestrogenic herbs that are considered beneficial to menopausal women such as amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Generally, these herbs are an alternative to disorders relating to low hormonal/estrogen levels.

Most popular phytoestrogenic herbs:

· Ginseng. Used to improve your overall vitality and energy, this is a dried root from one of the Araliaceae herb species.

· Ginkgo. Used to enhance memory, prevent memory-related diseases such as Dementia, Alzheimer’s and others. This herb is one of the oldest herbal medicines used in China.

· Dong Quai. Most effective in treating gynecological complaints caused by the change in hormonal production.

· Red Clover. Diseases treated are skin disorders and bronchitis, asthma and spasmodic coughing.

· Black Cohosh. Symptoms treated include depression, night sweats and hot flashes.

Non-estrogenic herbs

In contrast with the phytoestrogenic plants, non-estrogenic herbs, as the name suggests, are those plants that do not produce estrogen chemical structures. These plants are widely recognized by the doctors and medical experts because of their effectiveness to relieve women’s menopause symptoms. Furthermore, they are considered completely safe and do not provide side effects.

The right non-estrogenic herbs contain nutrients that can nourish endocrine system, eventually balancing your hormonal levels. With the proper application, occurrences of the loss of hormones will be reduced as they can promote your body to naturally produce the needed healthy level of estrogen hormones, without the distracting side effects.

Specifically, non-estrogenic herbs will provide relief to the following disorders relating to menopause symptoms:

- majority of the menopause symptoms

- hormonal imbalance

- osteoporosis or bone mass loss

- infertility

- sexual intercourse problems

- cardiovascular disease

It is important to note, however, that even these herbs are a natural treatment you need to research on the kind of plant that you are going to take as not all of these will relieve and alleviate you from those menopause symptoms. There are herbal plants that can cause many other side effects, may it be minor or major.

Ganoderma the Miracle Herbs of Asia
6:00 PM | Author: Atie
Let us see if Ganoderma which has been discribed as the "miracle herb" can help you with your health regime.

Ganoderma is a type of mushroom that has been know to the far east for thousands of years for its meraculous medicinal properties. These mushrooms are regarded as "Spirit Medicine" by the Chinese as they are among the most powerful herbs in Asia. Chinese medicine has used Ganoderma for over 4000 years and was highly prized as an elixir of immortality.

Research has been done by both Chinese and Western scholars in recent years and with analysis and clinical experiments done by colleges, hospitals and pharmaceutical manufacturers its potency is finally coming to light. In ancient times, this mushroom was reserved for the Kings, as it was relatively rare and hard to find. Now, thanks to the advent of technology this mushroom can be farmed, making it more affordable and accessible to the average person.

Ganoderma, which is also known as Reishi. Reishi is used to treat many different ailments ranging from stress-related conditions to fatigue and sleep disorders. While it is great for people who suffer from any form of stress anxieties, the mushroom itself is fantastic. As an overall health tonic, Reishi is often used as a preventative measure as a way to avoid any health problems that may arise in the future. The mushroom is well-known for its ability to strengthen the body's immune system, it is said that it can help aid off infections and viruses that may well run riot in a weakened immune system. Science is currently researching Reishi and its healing properties as we speak, hopefully, so that one day, they can fully understand the healing powers of this magical mushroom. It is often prescribed to people who are suffering from cancer and are currently undergoing chemotherapy.

Some of the side-effects of chemotherapy are hair loss, appetite loss, fatigue and lethargy. Ganoderma has been shown to lessen these side-effects. Reishi is thought to be one of the well-respected mushrooms used today in modern medicine.

There are a plethora of other disorders which are known to respond to treatment with this seemingly magical mushroom, these can include lung and liver disorders, HIV/AIDS, allergies and even heart problems. Even conditions such as age spots and acne may benefit from the use of this magical mushroom. This mushroom is also thought to help reverse some of the signs of ageing, including skin and may have been damaged due to excessive exposure in the sun.

This mushroom is mostly composed of carbohydrates that are quite complex in their structure, these are known as triterpeniods, water soluble polysaccharides , amino acids and proteins. Scientists have discovered that because of this they tend to have postive effects such as lowering blood pressure, immune modulating and even anti tumor properties.

Triterpenes are another substance found in ganoderma, these are also known as ganoderic acids. Studies have shown that these ganoderic acides act much like an anti histamine and there for are great for allergies. Triterpenes are quite bitter to the taste and the level of triterpenes can often be known simply by measuring how bitter how bitter the finished product is. The more bitter it is the more triterpenes the product contains.

As we have already mentioned, a regular course of this medicinal mushroom will help improve your bodys immune system in addition to aiding the bodys blood circulation which in turn means better overall health for you.

As with any new treatment or even exercise regimen, we highly recommend that you discuss this with your doctor or GP before deciding to take the course of treatment.

Once you have discussed the option of using it with your doctor, you can then try and source some either at your local health shop or at some of the various web sites found on the Internet.

9:38 AM | Author: Atie

Tarragon or dragon's-wort (Artemisia dracunculus L.) is a perennial herb in the family Asteraceae related to wormwood. Corresponding to its species name, a common term for the plant is "dragon herb." It is native to a wide area of the Northern Hemisphere from easternmost Europe across central and eastern Asia to India, western north America, and south to northern Mexico. The North American populations may however be naturalised from early human introduction.

Tarragon grows to 120-150 cm tall, with slender branched stems. The leaves are lanceolate, 2-8 cm long and 2-10 mm broad, glossy green, with an entire margin. The flowers are produced in small capitulate 2-4 mm diameter, each capitulum containing up to 40 yellow or greenish-yellow florets. (French tarragon, however, seldom produces flowers.)

The name Tarragon is a corruption of the French esdragon, derived from the Latin Dracunculus (a little dragon), which also serves as its specific name. Tarragon is a Eurasian herb in the Aster family, and its name can be pronounced either tehr uh gawn or tehr uh guhn.

Tarragon is native to Europe, Southern Russia and Western Asia. It's a perennial plant, with the best varieties coming from Europe. While both French and Russian tarragon is used in cooking, the French variation is preferred by most, since it exhibits superior flavour over its herbal counterpart. Strange as it may seem, both varieties of the herb originated in Russia, but French tarragon is much more popular, due to its slight liquorice flavouring, which is highly sought after in the culinary world.

Tarragon is the dried leaves of the herb Artemisia dracunculus and is a member of the Composite family, the same family to which daisies belong. It is widely used as a herb in cooking but also has a medicinal history of use. It's a perennial herb that has green leaves and flower heads and even though it's not a beautiful plant specimen, it's still a viable herb to grow in the home garden.

It's best grown in light, preferably sandy, free draining soil. Do not overwater as tarragon is susceptible to root rot in soggy soil. In the garden, it is a good companion to all plants. French tarragon is a hardy perennial and since it rarely sets seed it's best grown from tip cuttings of new growth, root cuttings or divisions taken in the spring or autumn. It's also best if harvested before it flowers.

Tarragon is more common in Continental than in English cookery, and has long been cultivated in France for culinary purposes.

It's grown for its aromatic leaves which are used in a variety of recipes, most notably in flavouring vinegar and is exceptional in egg dishes, poached fish, mushrooms and other vegetables. Tarragon is good with chicken and in salad dressings. It's also used to enhance the flavour of soups and can be chopped and sprinkled over omelets.

It has a flavour that resembles licorice. It's preserved in white vinegar and although tarragon is best when it's fresh, it can be dried or frozen for future use. Since most of its essential oil is lost in the drying process, you'll find that dry tarragon is a poor substitute for the fresh herb.

Tarragon is also a great substitute for salt and is part of the classic Fines herbs mixture along with chervil, parsley and thyme.

Its available fresh in the summer and early fall in the produce section of most supermarkets.

Tarragon is rich in Vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, and potassium, and has a mild anise flavour in its leaves.

Tarragon is also used in perfumes, soaps, and cosmetics, and in condiments and liqueurs.

Tarragon is a recognized herbal treatment for the following conditions and symptoms:


Upset stomach

Loss of appetite

Intestinal Worms


Anti-Bacterial properties for cuts


Stimulates the appetite and digestive process

A mild sedative to aid sleep

A mild, non irritating diuretic that helps the system flush out toxins released from the digestion of meat and other proteins

Rheumatism and arthritis

With its mild menstruation-inducing properties, tarragon is also taken if periods are delayed.

Tea for calming benefits: To prepare tarragon tea, take one cup boiling water and pour over one tablespoon tarragon and let stand for ten minutes and then drink.


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in part or in whole, by nonprofessionals based on information taken from various sources in the internet and
general media. Even if a statement made about medicine is accurate, it may not apply to you or your symptoms,
as treatment varies from person to person. The information provided on this site is, at best, of a general nature
and cannot substitute for the advice of a medical professional (for instance, a qualified doctor/physician, nurse,
pharmacist/chemist, and so on.