In Dr. Weil’s view, the principle advantage of herbs is their complexity. Medicinal plants contain a wide array of chemical compounds, which gives them versatile therapeutic powers. For example, for Andean Indians, whole coca leaf is the number one medicinal plant. They use it to treat gastrointestinal disturbances; specifically, for both diarrhea and constipation. Its ability to treat two opposite disease states springs from the fact that coca contains 14 bioactive alkaloids, some of which stimulate the gut, while others inhibit gut activity. When the whole mixture enters the body, receptors in the gut’s tissues bind to the alkaloids that are needed for the body to return it to equilibrium.
My mom started following an all-natural plan that included vegetable juicing, probiotic foods, immune-boosting supplements, stress reducing techniques and prayer. And after only four months, the tumors on her lungs had shrunk significantly and one year after that, she was again diagnosed as being “cancer-free” and healthy. It’s now been 10 years and my mom recently turned 60 years old — and she is in the best shape of her life, regularly water skiing, running and still going strong.
Called ALA for short, this vitamin-like substance neutralizes many types of free radicals. A build-up of free radicals, caused in part by high blood sugar, can lead to nerve damage and other problems. ALA may also help muscle cells take up blood sugar. In a German study, a team of scientists had 40 adults take either an ALA supplement or a placebo. At the end of the four-week study, the ALA group had improved their insulin sensitivity 27 percent. The placebo group showed no improvement. Other studies have shown a decrease in nerve pain, numbness, and burning.
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.