Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Psyllium is a Mucilaginous Herb Used for Colon Health

Some of you have seen a variety of Psyllium in your lawn or garden, and pulled it as a weed. The variety pictured is Plantago Psyllium (creative commons image source). 

This is an herbal remedy that I, and others have used to add fiber to the diet, and for colon cleansing. The seeds and husks are ground to a powder and are sold in capsules or bulk form.

This is what medicinal herbalists call a "mucilaginous" herb. That means that when water is added, the powder absorbs the water and swells, and becomes slippery or "slimy" to the touch, though not unpleasant. It is this property that makes it beneficial to those who take it for intestinal health.

The perennial weed grows low to the ground and produces small white flowers. Each seed from the plant is enclosed in a husk. Some of the varieties of Plantago used are Plantago indica, Plantago ovata, and Plantago psyllium (pictured). The plants are native to the Mediterranean, North Africa, and Western Africa.

Chinese medical literature from 220 BC mentions the use of Psyllium for medicinal purposes.

Science Behind the Herb:

Many OTC (over-the-counter) products contain Psyllium because of the ability of the herb to increase in volume in liquid, increase the volume of fiber in the colon, and thereby increase the peristalsis of the colon (the muscle activity of the colon that causes it to eliminate waste - many have sluggish colons and need this additional help). Claims are made that it decreases the incidence of colo-rectal cancer, which is true of any high fiber diet, and has the ability to lower cholesterol levels, most likely because it absorbs fats if taken with a fatty meal.

Contraindications:

If you are allergic to psyllium dust, you should avoid this herb. If you have strictures in the colon, you will want to avoid this herb in order to avoid blockage. Since it has strong absorbent properties, it may be better to take separately from vitamin supplements, or medications, as it will absorb the needed properties and they will pass through the colon unused. If you have IBS, it may be best to use psyllium that does not contain the husks, or Slippery Elm as an alternative.

Here are a few sources of or with Psyllium that I have access to:

Bowel Detox
Dieter's Cleanse
Fat Grabbers
LOCLO
Psyllium Seeds
Taio He Cleanse

As always, please feel free to ask me for fact sheets about any of items in read by writing to me via the comment section.  I approve all comments and will not approve personal requests.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Medicinal Inner Bark of the Taheebo Tree

These are the beautiful, pink flowers of the Tabebuia heptaphylla tree, also known as Ipe Roxo, Taheebo, Lapacho, Ipes and Trumpet Brush, no doubt due to the trumpet shape of the lovely flower.

Image Source - Wikimedia Commons

The medicinal properties of the herb..actually a South American tree..are found in the inner bark. As a "folk remedy", it has been used for years for boils, colitis, diarrhea, dysentery, fever, wounds, cancer, ulcers and the list does go on. But is there any scientific basis for these claims?

Before continuing, I want to thank Carrot Ranch Communications for mentioning us in a recent post, which you can visit right here.

The Science Behind the Herb:

I will share with you what studies have shown, for the sake of time, I have withheld references, but have them at my fingertips if you'd like to contact me through posting a comment.

Analysis of the bark shows that it contains volatile oils, resins, anthraquinones and naphthoquinones. The most significant property is a naphthoquinone derivative known as lapachol. In 1968 lapachol was shown to have activity against the Walker 256 carsinosarcoma.

Other studies found that it also acted against other cancers, including Yoshida sarcoma and Murphy-Sturm lymphosarcoma. Effective levels given to humans lead to the discontinuance of human trials as side effects included moderate to severe nausea, vomiting, anemia and the tendency to bleed.

Being related to vitamin K, it can thin the blood. However, the head of the study claims that political and economic pressure lead to the discontinuance of studies more than side affects. Later studies in the 1970's showed evidence that lapachol was active against lymphocytic leukemia.

My personal interest in the herb is more related to it's antimicrobial activity, not taking it in the amounts needed for conditions like cancer. Some of the organisms shown to be affected by this activity include candida, staphylococcus, trichophyton, malaria, tuberculosis and dysentery. Lapochol and xyloidine, other actives from the pau d'arco, have shown significant anti-fungal activity. Studies have continued, and more positive findings have surely come in since the documentation I have been using for this post.

This is one of the very first herbs I started to use when I first discovered the health benefits of herbs.

Please contact me with a comment if you would like fact sheets about the following, I moderate posts and will not publish the post if it contains a personal request.

Pau d'Arco Capsules
Paw d'Arco Extract
Taheebo (Pau d'Arco) Tea

Monday, February 24, 2014

Myrrh Tree Resin Remedied My Throat

Myrrh is a tree, and it is the resin that contains the medicinal properties. It is one of my favorite herbal remedies. It's origin is Arabia, so this isn't an herb that most of us will be growing in our gardens <smile>.

There are a couple combinations of herbs that I like to use for upper respiratory infections that include a sore throat.  They are Echinacea and Golden Seal as well as a combination that contains Myrrh instead of Golden Seal.

Myrrh seems to have an affinity for the throat, it heals up a sore throat, at least my sore throats, within a couple of days.  This includes sore throats that have white "pus" showing on the tonsils.  Now you do have to beware of strep throat which almost always causes puss on the tonsils...if you think you been exposed to strep, and your throat doesn't heal up right away using herbal remedies, do get to your doctor as this goes into a much more serious condition, Scarlet Fever, which can lead to heart damage, so you need to use wisdom and discretion here.  A visit to the doctor and antibiotics may be necessary.

That being said, when I used the Echinacea and Golden Seal for a typical sore and mildly infected throat, the healing affect was not nearly as fast.

BUT my husband, on the other hand, responds better to the Echinacea and Golden Seal.  Golden Seal has a slight blood sugar lowering affect, and he is a diabetic, so needs this, but at the same time, has to make sure he isn't in a very low range when using it.  Though the lowering affect is only slight, for some it may be enough to be a concern.


Please contact me through a comment if you would like fact sheets about any items marked in red...I moderate comments and will not post a personal request if you prefer.

Image:  In public domain in US - published in the US before 1923 and public domain in the US.