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Modern medicine now tends to use the active ingredients of plants rather than the whole plants. The phytochemicals may be synthesized, compounded or otherwise transformed to make pharmaceuticals. Examples of such derivatives include digoxin, from digitalis; capsaicine, from chili; and aspirin, which is chemically related to the salicylic acid found in white willow. The opium poppy continues to be a major industrial source of opiates, including morphine. Few traditional remedies, however, have translated into modern drugs, although there is continuing research into the efficacy and possible adaptation of traditional herbal treatments.
Herbal medicine, also known as herbalism or botanical medicine, is a medical system based on the use of plants or plant extracts that may be eaten or applied to the skin. Since ancient times, herbal medicine has been used by many different cultures throughout the world to treat illness and to assist bodily functions. While herbal medicine is not a licensed profession in the United States, herbal remedies in the form of extracts, tinctures, capsules and tablets as well as teas may be recommended by healthcare practitioners of many different disciplines as a practical way to address a wide variety of medical conditions.
"The oil serves many medicinal purposes, but one of the best-documented uses is for relaxation. The oil has a calming effect on people, and can be used to help induce sleep, ease frayed nerves, and promote a general sense of calmness and well being. It is great for those with nervousness or anxiety problems. Aside from having mental calming properties, chamomile is also good at relaxing sore muscles and tight joints.
Valerian is another great herb that's used as a sedative. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) soothes anxiety and is often used as a sleep aid. Commonly doubled up with California poppy, it makes a powerful, but gentle sedative. Valerian can interact with medications and shouldn't be used without first checking with your doctor. Pregnant and lactating women shouldn't take valerian.
Carbohydrates break down into glucose in the small intestine which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. Spices like Cayenne pepper stimulate glucose absorption from the small intestine, according to a Hungarian study published in the March 18, 2006 issue of the “European Journal of Pharmacology”. Add a bit to cayenne pepper to your home-cooked meals to stabilize your blood sugar levels naturally. The entire pepper family – including bell peppers, chilli peppers, and cayenne are known to help fight inflammation. That is why they are prized in several Asian culinary traditions. Use Cayenne wisely to get its anti-inflammatory benefits as well.
Chamomile is most popular in tea form for use to calm upset stomach and help support restful sleep. Germany's Commission E (a government organization) has even approved the use of chamomile for reducing swelling on your skin and fighting bacteria. Chamomile is a powerful anti-inflammatory that also has antibacterial, anti-spasmodic, anti-allergenic, muscle relaxant, and sedative properties. It is used to treat psoriasis, eczema, chickenpox, diaper rash, slow-healing wounds, abscesses, and gum inflammation,13 and according to Herb Wisdom may also be useful for the following conditions:14
Gerson Healing Centers of America has an office in San Diego, but the main clinic is in Mexico at Oasis of Hope. The diet is used to treat autoimmune disorders, CHD, and Type II diabetes using Gerson's Diet, Issel's treatments, and Danopoulos' protocols. They have clinics in Mexico, Canada, and the UK. See our organizations page. 1-888-4-GERSON www.gerson.org.
Another well know spice in the kitchen cinnamon is also known for it's medicinal properties. While not really an herb I still think it's important to list it in our list of herbs and their uses. Cinnamon actually comes from the inner bark of a tree in the laurel family. It's been used for centuries and was a hot commodity for trade in ancient times. In fact during the first century A.D. in Rome cinnamon was 15 times more expensive than silver. The Chinese were probably the first to use cinnamon as a medicinal herb and used it to treat fevers, and diarrhea. In more modern times cinnamon has been found to stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetics, as it has an insulin kind of effect.